04c Dreams of Fire and Gods: Gods

04c Dreams of Fire and Gods: Gods by James Erich Read Free Book Online

Book: 04c Dreams of Fire and Gods: Gods by James Erich Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Erich
Tags: mm
appeared in a thunderstorm—inside the chamber—surrounded by Taaweh warriors. Isn’t that enough?”
    His father smiled ruefully and set his glass down upon the table. “Apparently not. Some of the local gossip has him striking out at the generals with lightning from his fingertips, whisking the ömem up in a whirlwind, and spinning them about the room.”
    He made a motion with his index finger as if he were stirring a pot with it, and Sael couldn’t help but laugh. The thought of those old women tumbling ass over teakettle as they sailed about the council chamber struck him as hysterical. Apparently his father agreed, because he likewise burst out laughing. It was the first time Sael could ever recall seeing him laugh.
    When they had both regained their composure, there was a momentary embarrassed silence before his father said quietly. “I loved your mother very much, Sael.”
    Once again, Sael was stunned into silence. Here was yet another subject they had never spoken about. It was turning out to be a day full of surprises, and he wasn’t sure what to make of it.
    “When she died, I wanted to die as well,” his father continued. He glanced up at his son, and their eyes met for the briefest of moments before he looked away into the fire. “And I felt Seffni’s loss more than you could know. I cannot help you… deal with your grief… but I do understand it.”
    Father and son sat in silence for a bit longer, both staring into the fire, too uncomfortable to look at each other. Abruptly, the vek stood. Turning toward Sael, he withdrew a small roll of parchment from his tunic and held it out to Sael. “You can read the proclamation, if you like. I have some things to attend to. Master Geilin has begun training some apprentices in this new ‘school of magic’ he’s created. I’ll be meeting him in the courtyard this afternoon to discuss it. You may wish to join us.”
    “I will,” Sael replied, relieved by the change of subject. He stood to see his father to the door.
    His hand on the doorknob, the vek stopped to turn back and say, rather awkwardly, “You’ve done well, Sael. I confess I had my doubts about your ability to step into Seffni’s position, considering that you had never been groomed for this, but… I’m proud of the way you’ve conducted yourself. However, part of the responsibility you’ve taken on means putting the needs of your people ahead of your own. Grieve for Koreh and mourn him as he deserves to be mourned. But you cannot fall apart. Harleh needs you.”
    Their eyes met, and Sael felt as if he were truly seeing his father for the first time. “Yes, sir. I understand.”
    “I expect to see you this afternoon.”
    With that, he departed.
    Sael returned to his seat by the fire, feeling drained. That had been the most exhausting conversation he’d ever had with his father, yet for once they hadn’t fought. He’s proud of me? It was such an alien concept, Sael had difficulty wrapping his head around it. It felt good, yes, but… strange.
    He unrolled the parchment to read it. Koreh, it seems, had been a Taaweh ambassador. And a minor nobleman at that. The marriage had taken place as part of the treaty signed by the dekan of Harleh and the Taaweh.
    Sael sighed and rolled the parchment back up. It was all to save face for the Menaük family, of course, and that was irritating. But Sael still took some comfort in the last lines:
    His Grace, the Vek of Worlen, grieves with his son, the Dekan of Harleh, Sael dönz Menaük, for the loss of Lord Sael’s beloved husband and nimen , Lord Koreh, Ambassador to the Taaweh. May Lord Koreh find peace in the next life.
    K OREH sat on the hill overlooking the small farmstead as the shadows began to lengthen and Kiishya dipped below the far mountains. Chya had been sitting patiently beside him for a considerable time, but now he stirred. “Why do you hesitate, iinyeh ?”
    Koreh couldn’t articulate why he feared closing the short

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