That was not one of my brightest moments. Learning to trust adults or anyone for that matter again was difficult. I’m not going to say that every adult around me failed me. It’s just I knew I couldn’t count on them. So, I learned to handle everything myself. However, I wasn’t good at it. It’s difficult to be objective when fear is in control of your life. So, I learned to lie to protect myself. Lying was one of the better protections against my uncle and to keep my mother safe. However, like with Brother Hickory, lying often caught back up to me one way or another. But this time I hurt others, which made it even worse.
Nearly an entire week went by with no word from Brother Hickory on Mien. And despite him wanting to keep the situation hushed, the entire monastery found out what had happened. From what Soletus gathered from Kiao, the other chanter priests were wary of him. Some were even calling for a tao stone collar imbued with the phrase of silence to act as a fastener on his abilities. Soletus thought that was an over-reaction and would risk everything they worked for if they did. Kiao put his mind to rest, saying,
“Them claiming he’s that dangerous is an excuse. The Arch Priest knows this.”
“An excuse for what,” Soletus asked.
“It’s a rare phrase and some think he’s undeserving because he’s a noble born chanter. However, Dias doesn’t give gifts on a scale of who deserves it. He gives gifts based on who will have the potential to do the most with it. Mien just needed to learn control and they’ll stop.”
Soletus took his word for it and focused on his own problem. He was finally strong enough to return to the field. Even though he wasn’t training as a grappler, he continued his assignment with Master Tyr to help his other brothers with the trials.
He learned during his time off-field Doran had been flapping his lips. The moment he stepped back on the field, everyone was taking teasing pokes at him. They always started with, “Too bad Papa’s boy…” following up with some statement. Or they would call him, “Papa’s Boy.”
The teasing made Soletus’s odd position socially more difficult. Being the Arch Monk’s grandson and the son of a high-ranking master didn’t grant him the privilege everyone though he had. Master weren’t lenient with him. They didn’t want to show favoritism and so he would always had to prove himself to just as good or better. Many of his training brothers and junior warden often thought him to be snobbish and uptight because of it. He never participated in their activities after training. Much of what they did would get grant him was far more than just a lecture like some of them would get.
When he was under Master Marth, the man was good at squelching such behavior. Anyone who continued to would find himself running around the town wall wearing a weighted shoulder pack. Master Tyr didn’t. He just let it slide even when he was ear shot of the teasing. It irritated Soletus to no end.
One particular hot day, Soletus was to help everyone practice counters to a strike to the side of knee. The point was to deflect the strike. Most did what they were told without a word. Then Tyrus strutted up.
He was a few years older than him, always wore a cocky grin, and had a mouth. They matched in height and close in build. As soon as Soletus performed his maneuver, Tyrus then hissed, “Too bad papa’s boy can’t be in a real fight.”
Fury cascaded over Soletus. He pointed the tip of his staff down and jabbed Tyrus hard in the foot before slamming it on the side of his thigh. Tyrus toppled to the ground and Soletus jumped on him, pushing his knee into his back at the same time of taking takin his right arm and twisted it behind his back. The tod screamed for him to let go.
Soletus growled in his ear. “Papa’s boy can be in a real fight any time he wants to.”
“Warder, let him go,” snapped Master Tyr from behind him.
Soletus released him right about the time Master Tyr was upon him. The man stopped a hand width away from his face, trying to tower over him. The effect was lost as Soletus gave him a direct, frigid stare at eye level.
“Warder, why did you attack one of your brothers,” Tyr demanded.
“He provoked me by needless teasing, Sir,” answered Soletus.
“There will be worse things than petty teasing thrown at you when you are on the road.”
“It’s stated in rules of our order that another member shouldn’t be disrespectful to another, Sir. He forgot that. I reminded him.”
Master Tyr’s scowl deepened. “It isn’t you right to remind anyone of anything.”
“True. It’s yours.”
Tyr became bewildered as that was out of character for the young monk. However, Soletus was beginning to think he needed to make it a part of his character.
Tyr pointed to the main building. “Off the field,” he ordered.
Soletus saluted, took his staff, and spun on his heels. He gave Tyrus a parted glare before marching away from the field with everyone giving him a wide berth. Once in his room, he flopped down on his bed, covering his eyes with his forearm.
The room was stuffy enough that he debated on taking his shirt off. He didn’t though. There was a good chance he would be sent to the Arch Monk. Instead of receiving that order, a warder knocked on his doorway with a message in his hand. It was Tyr’s handwriting. It read:
-Go to the chapel. See me when you’re done.
He was sending him to Brother Hickory. Soletus stripped off his training clothes and tossed on a clean warder’s uniform before making his way there. When he got close enough, he saw something surprising. Mien was on the front steps again. This time, he was on his hands and knees, dressed in a set of tattered clothes covered in dirt, scrubbing the front steps with fuming vigor. Soletus stopped short of him and watched. Before he could question him, Mien started complaining.
“I’m a servant now! No, servants get paid. I’m a slave!” He dropped his brush in the bucket of water, then pulled it out, slapping water on the stones in a dramatic fashion. “Cleaning stones. Who cleans outside stones,” he grumbled further. “Rather be in a cellar full of rats. At least my arms wouldn’t feel like they’re going to fall off.”
The stones in front of the chapel looked better in the spots he obviously scrubbed. He still had about a years’ worth of dust to clean on the side he didn’t.
“I did warn you about your wimpy arms,” said Soletus.
The boy flashed his eyes at him, then went on scrubbing, putting his body into it. Soletus tread the steps carefully, so he didn’t leave prints. It was a dry, so he didn’t have mud on the soles of his shoes. He walked inside the chapel and spotted Brother Hickory was talking to a man. Soletus waited off to the side. Once finished, he waved to Soletus to follow him and when he was close, he said, “You know what annoys a child of nobility? Cleaning,” he announced. “It’s the perfect punishment.”
“You set him cleaning?”
Brother Hickory nodded with a proud smile on his face. “Yes, the entire chapel from back to front. He’s done an excellent job.”
Soletus stopped dead in the doorway. Brother Hickory’s living space was spotless. The table was waxed. The window beside it, were not longer opaque. One could see the road. The other windows one could see the back clearly. They also had clean curtains framing them. He looked beside him to the floor and saw it wasn’t covered in ashes, or wood chips, or crumbles of peat. The stove itself was oiled with the metal parts reflecting the natural light. He then looked around to see the shelves were dust frees. The corners were cobweb free. It was very impeccable.
“He had to clean this room twice. Spent a whole day feeling sorry for himself and did a terrible job. I told him to redo it,” said Brother Hickory. The old priest then sat down at his table and pointed across from him. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I did all this.”
Soletus nodded his head, but remained where he was.
“His lies because he’s said more than once to me, he didn’t know any other phrases. He might be forthcoming with you, but not with me.”
“He’s intimidated by you.”
“There is no reason to be. I take a soft hand with him. However, I can’t let him be a careless chanter. Just like you as a monk can’t be careless with your emotions and do something out of frustration.” Brother Hickory gestured to the table again. “It’s time we had a talk.”
Soletus crossed his arms over chest and moved to the opposite wall. “I don’t need a talk.”
Brother Hickory gave him a genial look. “I’ve met a lot of tods over the years. I know at your age the world is a frustrating place.”
“It was nothing. It was hot, and he teased me at the wrong time,” said Soletus. He really wanted to leave it at that.
“And he was teasing you about what,” prodded Hickory.
“About Papa putting his nose in everything I do. It’s embarrassing!”
“That may be, but you’ve no right to get short and hurt others because of it.”
“Maybe I wouldn’t get short if they’ll didn’t think I’m just going to take it with Master Tyr letting them,” he exclaimed.
“You could have broken that young man’s arm,” rebuked Hickory.
“No, I would’ve dislocated it,” returned Soletus.
Hickory leaned back in his chair and said with scrutiny heavy in his gaze. “How’s that any better? You’re a son of Dias. That sort of thing should be below you.”
“Is every adult today so dense that they ignore what Tyrus did and focus on me like I’m the problem,” he thought and then realized he said that aloud. He wasn’t going to take it back.
Hickory gestured to the chair across from him. “Sit down please.”
Soletus remained planted where he was.
Brother Hickory folded his arms on the table. “Soletus, I’m not here to fight you. I just want you to understand aggressiveness is rarely the answer.”
“It does for bullies,” he returned.
“I think you could’ve shown him the proper way of things without risking dislocating his shoulder. You should apologize when you have the chance,” said Hickory.
Soletus bobbed his head.
“Good, I’m going to leave at that. I didn’t call you here originally to give you a long-winded lecture. However, if you need to talk about anything, I’m here.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” said Soleus.
“Very good, right now, I need you to speak to Mien.”
Soletus raised his brow.
“I’ve not been able to get to get him to talk to me. I need to know when he learned that phrase. However, every morning I asked him, he refuses to answer me, so I make him clean.”
“And he hasn’t broken down yet?”
“No. As much as he hates cleaning, it doesn’t hurt him, and he’s fine with it.”
Soletus grimaced. He knew what that meant. “The only times he doesn’t want to say anything is when it has to do with his uncle.”
“This isn’t the same sort of silence, I suspect. He’s avoiding something because he doesn’t trust me,” he said.
“You think by this time he should,” said Soletus.
“The last grown man, who wasn’t his father and became his authority, hurt him. Now, I’m another grown man who isn’t his father. So, he’s learned not give me the chance to hurt him. In fact, he likely listens and does what I want because it satisfies me and in return, he doesn’t get hurt. Now we are at a stalemate.
Soletus couldn’t say he understood that logic. He could at least understand the obeying out of necessity. He’s done it a time or two with masters he didn’t care for. However, Brother Hickory was far from cruel.
“Shouldn’t the fact you’ve been kind to him build trust?”
“Trust is hard to build with someone who’s lost all sense of it.”
Soletus didn’t know how Mien was going to survive the Brotherhood or outside it at the rate he was going.
“Since he responds better to you, I would like you to attempt to pry the truth out of him and tell me what you find out.”
Soletus nodded in agreement. Though it felt like an act of betrayal. He didn’t want to turn around and tell Brother Hickory something Mien told him in confidence.
The Priest left, and sat so he could rest his head on his arms. He had a headache. Mien entered the room. His light footsteps stopped at the chair across from him. As he sat down, Soletus felt a finger poke him on the crown of his head. He lifted his head just in time to see Mien withdrawing his hand and folded it on top of his other one so he could rest his chin on them.
“You’re not having a good day either,” he observed.
Soletus mirrored his position and nodded. “I heard Brother Hickory set you to cleaning.”
That indignant expression came back on his face. “Yes, from me standing on a ladder and clean his windows inside and out to cleaning this nasty room,” he said, warming up for a long rant. “I didn’t know dust could be layered, black, and sticky. All that soap and scrubbing made my hands chapped. He even made me clean the attic. I didn’t even know the chapel had an attic! I found a spider up there as big as my palm, though. I like spiders, so I tried not to disturb her too much. It’s a good hiding place, too. It’s warm and quiet up there.”
Soletus smiled a little. “I’m sure you learned something from all of that cleaning.”
“That I hate cleaning,” Mien glowered.
“And that you shouldn’t keep secrets.”
Mien's gaze diverted off to the side. “Everyone has secrets.”
“Yes, but there are some you don’t keep,” advised Soletus. “Like the one you did. I’m not sure why you did.”
The boy swallowed hard and reframed from speaking for a second. However, he parted his lips to speak before his gaze locked on something behind Soletus and above his head. His brow to pull together. Soletus turned just as he said. “Come on, I want to show you the attic.”
There was nothing there as far as the young monk could see. He just followed and wonder if it was a good idea. However, Brother Hickory never stopped them from doing anything. Mien led him to the opposite side of the hall, opposite of where Mien slept. He saw Hickory’s room and across from it was a dark indentation in the wall where a ladder was. Mien went up first and pushed open a hatch before vanishing upwards. Soletus followed and found himself in the dull hot attic. There was only a single round window that lit the place. The glass was stained golden with the pattern on it a sun. Soletus wondered what the boy cleaned aside from dust. The space was empty save a few crates sealed crates pushed up against the far wall.
“Close the door. It can open from this side too,” instructed the boy sitting in the lone beam of light.
“Why,” asked Soletus.
“Brother Hickory’s consort,” he answered. “It’s a whippoorwill. It’s hard to spot, but it’s always positioned around me. I figured out he can hear through it.”
The boy’s observation skills impressed Soletus because he never spotted the consort.
“And you don’t want him to hear this because…”
Mien didn’t answer him until the door was closed. “He asked you to talk to me, didn’t he?”
“You were listening in?”
Mien arched a brow at him and shook his head. “He’s predictable. I didn’t talk to him, so he wants you to do it.”
His tone struck Soletus as odd. The boy appeared vulnerable and small, not so much then. It could’ve been what he learned today, but maybe he also did so to make him unthreatening. Or it could be simpler than that. He felt comfortable around him and decided to reveal more of himself.
“So, if you know that, then I’m obligated to ask why you didn’t tell him about that phrase,” Soletus said.
“And I’m not obligated to answer,” evaded Mien with no remorse.
Soletus frowned. The boy had obviously prepared for this conversation. I guess cleaning gave him a lot of time to think. However, the boy’s hands that were clasped in front of him were trembling. Hickory isn’t the only one who is predictable.
“I’m going to guess you learned the phrase because something happened,” he said, going a different route. “Isn’t that the nature of phrases? They come to a chanter in need. Your uncle did something for you to learn it.”
Whatever resolve Mien had formed in refusing to answer faltered. He withdrew and wrapped his arms around his torso and cast his gaze aside.
Soletus walked slowly towards him and settled in front of him. He waited to see if Mien reacted to him. He didn’t and choose to continue to look away from him. Soletus then asked, “Did you use it on him?”
“I didn’t know I could use it on other people until last week. I used it on myself,” he admitted.
“Because I didn’t want to hear.”
“The world is noisy,” he replied. “It wasn’t so bad before my father died and then it got worse. I even started thinking I heard footsteps coming in my room and the door opening after… something happened. Then one day the phrase came to me, and it silenced everything, and I was able to sleep at night again.”
“And what was this something that happened? It had to do with your uncle, didn’t it?”
Mien ran a hand through his copper hair and muttered. “Of course you would catch that. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
Soletus ignored the statement and pressed on. “What did he do?”
“Why does it matter,” the boy snapped.
“I’m trying to understand why you are so scared of him that you’re scared to tell Brother Hickory the truth,” exclaimed Soletus. “It hurt a lot to talk about it, but does it hurt so much that you couldn’t tell Brother Hickory about a phrase you learned?”
Mien appeared to be turtling up again. However, he opened his mouth and spoke as if he were talking to scared mice again. “If you want to know so badly, he came into my room one night and attacked me after drinking and using his tin.”
Soletus waved a hand to stop him. “Wait, his tin?”
“Blighter, that’s what noble’s call it, using one’s tin because they keep it in a tin.”
Blighter was a medicinal powder ground from plant bark and used for swelling and pain. It was strong and when mixed with other substance, it was stronger, highly addictive, and prohibited. The Seat declared anyone caught selling it were sent to a labor camp.
There was a legal version of blighter made specifically for healers and physicians. It was a refined liquid in tiny bottles and very expensive to buy. The Seat only allowed a few farms to grow the necessary plants to make it. The order wasn’t one of them. They could purchase it and the only place in the entire monetary that could keep it was the infirmary.
The order made sure that it couldn’t be brought or sold in town. Only a licensed merchant could, and they couldn’t sell it to citizens. They banished any sellers not authorized. Anyone caught using was taken and cleansed. If a member was caught using it, they were discharged from duty and put through cleansing as well.
The only reason why it perforated as it did was because nobles use kept the illegal trade alive. Regular folks couldn’t afford to be addicted to it. Those who did lost everything or died. He heard if not taken regularly, the need for it became so great that when an elf got a hold of it after a stint without it, they would often take too much and die. He had never seen anyone on it. Most had the sense not to use it, let alone with alcohol.
“So, he just attacked you for no reason?”
Mien ran his fingernail between boards. “I made him angry. He usually lays there in a daze, but Dalaen made a ruckus and I got blamed for it. Then, after I went to bed that night, he came into my room and woke me up from a dead sleep. He started slapping me around. Then he tossed me from my bed and my head hit my stand, knocking me out. I didn’t wake until midday.”
Soletus gaped at Mien appalled.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Mien begged. “He only did that once. My mother took care of it. She waited until he had his blighter and drink a few days later and terrified him. She put on my father’s old clothes and covered herself in pig’s blood. Then she entered the parlor and tossed bloodied rocks at him. They had notes written in blood around them saying, ‘I know what you did,’ and ‘I’m watching.’ He ended up pissing in his pants and fainting. It spooked him days afterwards.”
What kind of messed up family does he have?
“I know that sounds bad, but that’s all she could do. If I told her how scared I was to sleep after that, she would worry about me, and I didn’t want that. Learning the phrase helped me do that.
Soletus had no words. He couldn’t fathom the condition Mien lived in then. That was just one thing. He didn’t know what else the man had done. Wasn’t there anyone who cared enough to step in and stop him? Surely his mother was tired of seeing her son battered both physically and mentally. Why didn’t she do something? Dias help the person who would hurt him or his sisters like that. He knew his mother would evoke the fury of a she-bear if someone hurt him, Saedee, or Fern like that.
“Why won’t you stop looking at me like that,” said Mien.
“Well, I’m sorry! When you tell me something like that— why didn’t your mother do something? Is she just that useless?”
That statement flew out of Soletus’s mouth quickly, just like the fist that slammed into his jaw. It wasn’t that hard of a strike, but it stunned him enough that he didn’t have time to stop Mien leaping at him. The boy griped the collar of his shirt. The green in his irises started to bleed out, allowing an angry gold seep though.
“Don’t you ever call my mother useless,” shouted Mien in his face, forcing every word into his mind.
Instead of balking, the young monk let out a growl and said with just as much force. “Let me go or I’m going to hit you!”
His voice carried and echoed in the attic, but Mien didn’t even flinch. He bared his teeth and snarled, “What can you do that’s worse than anything I’ve felt already?”
It was then there was a knocking noise on the hatch. “What’s going on up there?”
Mien let go of him and backed down.
“Nothing,” yelled Soletus and scrambled up about the time that the hatch swung open and Brother Hickory’s head appeared. The young monk settled down into a knell. The chanter priest looked at the two, demanding an answer with his gaze.
“Nothing, we’re just having a discussion,” stated Soletus breathlessly.
Hickory's critical stare made it clear he didn’t believe a word he uttered. “Yelling at each other isn’t much of a discussion. Sounds like fighting. I know you wouldn’t get into another one today.”
“No, Sir, I didn’t start any fights.”
The Priest’s gaze fixed on his face before it moved to Mien. “Right, if I hear one more loud discussion, I’m going to summon you two back down and we can work on it together. Understood?”
Mien bobbed his head.
Brother Hickory sank back down, closing the hatch. The two of them waited for a moment until they couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore before glaring at each other.
Soletus started first. “If you ever hit me—”
Mien slapped him with his voice. “Then stop being a bastard. You know nothing!”
The boy then left center of the stuffy attic and crawled to a dark corner behind a few crates. Soletus reached for him, then stopped. He settled back down in the lone beam of light. He massaged his temple to soothe his force of voice induced headache.
The boy’s temper was impressive. It was also a little disconcerting how quick his mood swung and acted with no hesitation. He thought Mien was incapable of hurting his cousin, but he was slowly understanding that was wrong. He wasn’t defenseless.
Soletus rubbed his face where and figured on how to amend the situation. The young monk crawled to Mien. He didn’t want to hit his forehead against the rafters to get where Mien had slunk. He didn’t cross the barrier of crates. There wasn’t much room in the hole that he obviously created for himself. He leaned on the top of one. Mien had his legs drawn up to his chest and head down, ignoring him.
“First off, I’m sorry. That didn’t come out right at all,” said Soletus.
The boy didn’t raise his head but spoke. “No, that came out just the way you intended.”
“How do you even know that,” challenged Soletus.
Mien then muttered, “I felt it.”
“Yeah, well, you aren’t very good at reading people.”
Mien snorted. “You’re as clear as a river. You say what you mean. No matter what you say.”
“What do you mean by feel? You mean I make my words felt? Only chanters can do that.”
The boy didn’t answer him. Clearly, he was still upset.
“I’m sorry I said what I did, but what else am I to think,” he said and ran a hand through his hair. He didn’t know what to say, all he knew was how to be honest. “You’re all scared and shaky all the time. I don’t like it. I don’t like what was done to you. Your whole situation is like a pile of hot manure. It reeks.”
Mien peered up, making eye contact again.
“However, that didn’t give me an excuse to insult your mother. Look, I’m a dumb monk. We beat things with a stick and have muscles for brains. That’s what all the priests say,” Soletus said and saw the boy’s eyes light up a little in amusement. “It’s much easier if you just explain things to me and don’t hit me or I’m going to hit you back, okay?”
Mien bobbed his head.
“Now, what do you mean by feel?”
“Not normal feel. Like magically feel.”
“I don’t know what magically feel is. I swing a stick, remember? I know nothing of magic. Explain.”
The boy became stricken.
“It can’t be that bad.”
“You’re going to think it’s weird.”
“Well, I already think you are, so what’s one more thing,” Soletus said amicably.
A shaky grin spread across Mien’s face. “I know when I can trust people because of the sound of their voice. It has a nice ring to it. And sometimes I can tell when people tell me a lie. I feel a cold sensation between my shoulder blades. It’s unpredictable though. That’s just some of it. I get other sensations as well, especially from music. It can make me do things I can’t control.”
“And the music made you use the phrase of silence?”
Mien looked down, ashamed. “Their voices overwhelmed me and then they had to sing a song in Melodic. The chapel is warded and reacted to their voices. Normally, it’s just a soft hum, comforting really. When the sung, it made it louder and it was giving me chills. I felt pressured into singing, I didn’t want to. When I was little, I could’ve sat through that.”
“Wait. When you were little?” How long has he been an active chanter?
Mien nodded. “I’ve always been able to feel people’s voices.”
“When did you learn the phrase of silence?”
“After my father died,” he said. “Then the world got loud. I started hearing things normal elves can’t hear, like heartbeats from someone standing beside me or walking in a square and hearing and feeling all the warded stones. Then crowds, I hate crowds becomes if my hearing becomes acute when I’m in one. I can even feel what Brother Hickory told me was timbres from other chanters. I barely handle it. It doesn’t happen often, though. Something has to trigger it.”
Soletus let that all sink in before announcing. “You’re going to have to tell Brother Hickory this. All of it.”
Mien’s head rose with his eyes enlarging in alarm. “No!”
“Because he’ll yell at me again.”
“Mientheoderic, people will shout, yell, and curse at you.”
Mien hugged his knees. “No. He was angry with me. I could feel his voice in my chest and my head. He’s like standing under a lightning storm.”
Soletus reached out and laid a hand on his forearm. “You can’t read people well. He was angry at your actions. You lied to him about something you shouldn’t and scared Lyndon and Kiao.”
“But nothing,” exclaimed Soletus. He then tightened his hold and told him steadily and putting meaning behind each word. “You can trust Brother Hickory. He only wants to help.” Soletus felt the jolt go through Mien. The boy tried to squirm out of the young monk’s grip. “You know I’m telling the truth.” Soletus then released him slowly backing away. He didn’t really know how that affected the boy. He hoped in the way he intended, but it was hard to tell. The young boy was rubbing the area where he had touched him. “Mientheodric, talk to him.”
“Okay,” he mouthed.
Soletus gathered himself, but had to pause. His chest felt funny again. It was warm. He ignored it and stood to his feet, holding his hand for Mien to take. “Come on.”
Mien studied his hand for a long second before he reached and took hold of his wrist. Soletus pulled him to his feet. He then said quietly, “I want you to stay around even if he tells you to leave.”
“Sure thing,” he said.
They went back down and found Brother Hickory sitting at his table waiting. The boy took the seat in front of the seat and Soletus stood behind him. The aged priest listened, though Mien was hardly as articulate as he was with Soletus. He was talking like a mouse and would get a little manic at some points. Whenever he would skip something, Soletus encourage him to talk. By the end, Mien was hugging himself, shuddering again, but there probably wouldn’t be any more misunderstanding.
Brother Hickory leaned forward on the table and said, “It wasn’t that bad telling me this was it.”
“Fair enough,” he conceded, leaning back and looked at the boy with sympathy. “You have to be the most sensitive timbre male chanter I’ve met. No wonder you’re so quiet.”
“I guess this means more cleaning,” guessed the boy.
“No,” answered the priest. “This isn’t something one could easily tell or show another,” he gave Soletus a meaningful glance when he said that. “The only way is through testing. And I would have, if I wasn’t so focused on getting you settled first.”
“So…” the boy trailed off.
“I want you to go rest somewhere either in your room or out back. Take as long as you want and then come find me. I’ll teach you how to block what you sense.”
Mien rose from his seat and chose to go outside. Brother Hickory waited until he closed the door. He then smiled at Soletus with amazement. “Lad, you should have been priest.”
Soletus gave him a flat stare. “No.”
“You really did help today. I would’ve eventually come to the conclusion he’s timbre, but my focus is off with him,” he admitted. He rubbed his eyes. “He’s a much stronger chanter than I realized. Too much for his own good, really. And timbre sensitive on top of it. His growing abilities mixed in with his father’s death, and uncle’s abuse, was a good recipe for something bad to happen.”
Soletus bobbed head as that made sense. Though he wasn’t certain what all timbre sensitivity entailed. “Speaking of his uncle, that man is a piece of work.”
The priest’s exhaustion became heavier. “There not much I can do on that end. Most would claim the boy as being too thin-skinned and his stepfather too strict. No crime committed there.”
“Soletus, there are no laws provided by The Seat that states his uncle did anything wrong. Mien has no rights because he’s a child in the eyes of the law.”
Soletus looked frustrated. “Then why have you been trying to condemn his uncle?”
“It was an attempt to help his mother, too. It’s too complicated to get into details. The quick version is I wanted to show his family how unfit he is to being the head of his house. He’s not on good standings with House Jay. Anything would’ve been enough to get him removed. Now, my only move at this point is focus on Mien and plead for mercy and that doesn’t happen often,” said Brother Hickory. He then dug into the inner pocket of his vest and held it out. “You’ve done enough here today. You need to give that to Master Tyr, explaining that I’ve talked to you.”
Soletus didn’t take the note.
The priest became understanding. “I know what he told you today probably disturbed you. No one in their right mind would hurt another like that. However, you assume his uncle has the same moral values as men here. He doesn’t. The world doesn’t follow our morals or codes.”
Hickory wiggled the note for him to take it. Soletus took it and left. What happened earlier that day felt far away. He hoped that Master Tyr would feel the same and not do anything to him for it.
He found Master Tyr alone at his desk in the back of the master’s hall. Luckily, there was no one else there to witness him handing the note.
The master monk kept writing the statement in front him and took it after he completed the sentence he was working on and placed it on the edge of his desk. He didn’t even read it and told him, “I was told by Oeric to send you home.”
Soletus saluted and when he turned his back, he grimaced. Might as well become a grave digger instead. After all this practice, I should be good at it.