Aemir avoided his father for as much of the day as he was able, as per usual. He stewed over Ardrion's intelligence in the confines of his chamber. Hopefully, the kid has the decency to keep his mouth shut. On his cleanly folded bedding lay the sheath of his sword carefully placed so as not to tangle the tassels intricately knotted to it. Lost in thought, he inspected the edges of his blade and went over the necessities of his impending trip back to Kyloserrh.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Aemir passed the doorway to the Great Hall. A dark figure caught the corner of his eye forcing a double take. Valren swayed in deep thought as he stared at the throne from across the hall. Aemir couldn't see his face, but his father looked decidedly heavy.
The whole day had felt that way. Under a thick grey cloud cover, Aemir followed a slow procession through the streets of the city. He remembered attending one other funeral in his lifetime, but there had been no procession. There had been nothing to follow.
This time, he trudged after the steward of the throne. For as long as he could remember, Lord Sendaal had hovered on or near the throne in the absence of his father. Aemir spent a lot of time in the Great Hall, listening to the bustle of administration and tales of life outside of Ellrez. Valren, instead, wandered the halls, aimless and ghostlike.
Now without a man to shoulder the weight, Valren stood silently in the hall, battling the idea of responsibility. On occasion, he had tried to take an interest in the hall's agenda, but it took six years and his steward's death to ascend the narrow stairway. In all that time, Aemir waited silently for his father to remember who he was supposed to be.
Valren described it as a miracle that Roszmirrh stumbled into Ellrez when he did. The court rejected the Kolrav'an presence, but he was quick to gain the King's trust. He had ideas that garnered admiration, and he knew how to act on them. He even got Valren back on the throne and occupied Aemir's seat in the hall, described as a matter of administrative necessity. 'Advisor to the King' was never a more appropriate title.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Aemir rounded the corner toward the Great Hall. He heard the King huff his disapproval, sending a townsman into a fit of bowing and apologizing profusely as he backed away. Have a pair, would you?
With the doorway a few paces away, Aemir stopped to make idle conversation with one of the guards and procrastinate making a presence. He kicked himself for hoping Valren would gain some lucidity before his only son left for unnecessary battle. Or I just want to see the old man capable of conveying emotion. Any emotion; genuine concern, fatherly pride…Fuck, acknowledgment of my presence would do. The thought of apology just made him laugh. He had stopped expecting positive feedback before he knew such a thing existed. Sardonic comments were all he had left to get any sort of reaction from his father—and even that was beginning to fail him. I suppose a silent stewing bitterness slicing into the back of my head will have to get the job done. He only continued his polite discussion knowing his real goal was just to stand outside the hall and catch his name. He kept an ear to the echoes.
“...Your Highness, you're battling with yourself. I have walked these castle walls beside you for eight years, and you have never stopped doing so. Not for Kyloserrh. Vaszalon holds something much more important to you.”
“The bastard stole my son from me.” The statement only served to further prevent Aemir’s appearance.
“The Kolrav'an are on your side. Say the word and I will raise you an army sworn to kill Vaszal himself.”
“No.” Valren thought it out. “He deserves nothing less than to suffer with the rest of us.”
“Sire, you underestimate my people.” Roszmirrh crooned.
Valren measured Roszmirrh’s stature as his thoughts began turning in his mind. “Find me Aemir. His return campaign should wait.”
“Let them go, whatever ground we can gain will still be beneficial.”
Bastard. I promise you, you'll be begging to take my place by tomorrow.
Aemir dismissed the guard and strolled into the hall eyeing Roszmirrh.
“You will remind Vaszal exactly why he is what little mercy you have.”
“I'm not impressed by the supply situation.” Aemir announced to the middle of the hall.
Valren waited expectantly.
“If I was not short of men, I couldn't say I was scarcely able to outfit them.”
“Will they be ready by sunup or not?”
Aemir studied his father for a moment. “My men should be ready by tomorrow,” he sighed.
“I should remind you, your job is to reclaim Kyloserrh with the idea that Vaszal will never again even wave a crimson banner within sight of it.”
“I should warn you, the shape of my company can make you no promises. I don't have the resources to do what you ask of me.”
“To resign yourself to failure will only lead you there.”
Aemir stood in thought for a long time. “Is that why Seven never said goodbye?” He watched Valren's face writhe for a second before he tapped into his resolve.
“He knew how not to disappoint.”
Aemir couldn't help but crack a smile at whatever elaborate joke was being played on him. He swallowed back his growing delirium and looked again to the throne. “Goodbye, Father.”