Friday, January 04, 2019

Flash Fiction #336 -- Connor of Northgate/20

The room had gone silent at Liam's words.

Ordin's face reddened, and he reached for Liam. Connor caught his arm.  It would have gone to blows if Antisha and Nylia hadn't arrived.  Antisha grabbed her comrade by the shoulder and propelled him away from the table.  He almost swung back but got himself in control.

"Go sit down.  Now."

"You know he cheated, Tisha!"

"I know no such thing.  Connor explained exactly what he did, and I found it a more than reasonable answer."

"He's human!  Humans lie!"

Connor hadn't expected that line.  He had to grab Erlis by the arm this time.  Ordin spread anger like a plague. All the fae must feel it, Connor realized.

Antisha stared at her companion, saying nothing more.  Ordin bowed his head and stalked to the table where the rest of her group sat.

"I apologize for Ordin because he would only do so at my orders, and that's no apology at all."

She turned away before Connor had a chance to speak.

"At least they'll soon be out from underfoot," Nylia said as she patted Connor on the shoulder.  "Don't let him push you into something where he can justify using his powers."

"I hope never to see him again," Connor replied.

That settled the conversation.  They finished the meal in quiet.  Connor retired early, heading upstairs before any of the others, though Liam, as usual, trailing along with him.  The seer looked glum.

"You aren't letting Ordin bother you, are you?" Connor asked as they started up the last flight of stairs.  Lights flickered brightly in the lamps as the day grew dark and the light from the far window waned.  "Are you worried about how they treat you because you associate with me?"

"I'm safe," Liam said with a wave of his hand.  "Ordin can cause you trouble, Connor.  I'd never thought anyone would attack you for being human --"

"You didn't?  I've wondered why it took so long," Connor replied.  Liam looked startled.  "Really, Liam. This isn't a problem --"

Liam stopped moving and shook his head.  A vision?  Connor didn’t ask.  "I think it will be a problem," Liam finally said.  "If they suspect I'm helping you, Connor, then your life will be in danger.  Right now you are only Lord Northgate's odd ward. Tomorrow you take your oath, and people will realize you are a part of the society --"

"I shouldn't take the oath?"

"That would be unfair to you," Liam said.  "I will tell you this as a friend, not a Seer; you are safer inside society than outside it."

"He's right."

They both jumped, and Connor caught Liam before he slipped. Nylia stood half a floor behind them and looked amused by the reaction.

"You have gotten far too quiet," Connor accused. Nylia had obviously followed them for a reason.  "What's wrong now?"

"Antisha talked to me about Ordin.  He's going to be a problem, in case you missed that point.  She's not sure why, except that you might be a block between him and his goal."

"Which is -- no, let me guess.  He wants to be heir to Northgate."

"Good guess."  She looked down the stairs, but no one else appeared.  "Lord Northgate has repeatedly said he will choose someone from Northgate, which only makes sense, but Ordin thinks he can still win the position."

"Even Ordin can't believe he would choose me," Connor said with a shake of his head.

Nylia gave a little shrug.  "He isn't the first to suggest it."

"Have you people gone crazy?" Connor demanded and won a laugh from Liam this time.  "Or are you just trying to make my life difficult?"

"Oh, don't worry.  None of us who actually know you well have ever suggested it."

Connor laughed.  For a moment it felt more like the old days. She slapped him in the arm and gave a wry shake of her head.  "Antisha has hinted to me that Ordin will be more trouble and he might get out of hand.  She's warned him; but he's stubborn, spoiled, and convinced that your presence is an insult to him.  His family has had trouble with humans in the far past, but that's no reason for him to create this problem.  He's looking for a step up."

"And I'm an easy target."

She agreed with a more serious nod.  "Don't think about dropping out, though.  Ordin has annoyed Lord Northgate.  He can't win by his current behavior unless you let him."

Connor nodded.  Nylia went back downstairs and headed for her rooms.  Liam watched her, and then looked back at him.  "She's smart.  Listen to her."

Connor supposed that was Liam's way of stating what he wanted to without taking credit for it.

"I will consider what she said.  Still, it might be best for a single human to back out of this, you know.  You don't want the kind of trouble that will bring about a long time feud.  It's not worth it."

"Depends, really, on what the feud is actually over, doesn't it?" Liam asked as he paused by his door.  "You and I are pawns, Connor. We've trouble on the way, my friend, and it's coming from different areas, but ... I don't see it clearly.  I just feel a link."

Connor nodded and watched as Liam went into his room, a momentary flash of green and the scent of dirt and plants drifting out until the door closed.  Connor stood there a moment longer and then went into his room.  He pulled the lock into place; something he hadn't done before.  His intuition told him this wasn't a time to take chances.

Late in the night, he came awake to the sound of someone trying the door.  As he rose, he heard the rapid retreat of footsteps down the hall.  Connor didn't open the door to check, but he spent a sleepless night sitting by the window.

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