Of all the things you want to get into. Why not just ask him? Yes, I know you want my thoughts on the matter, but the only opinion that matters on it is his. But, at the time, I never asked much about what was going on in his personal life. I knew there was some tension going on between him and his father. He complained about it a little to me. So when he decided to do what he did, it wasn’t unexpected. He was a tod. He had a goal, something to prove to himself. He found his way to fly and was grounded again and again. It was obvious what was going to happen. Well, obvious to everyone who wasn’t Oeric.
Mien became an official member of the Dias Brotherhood as a chanter priest when a they returned. A small ceremony was held of him, and he received his tan initiate priest jerkin and a pale-yellow priest cord. He was still under Brother Hickory’s wing and would eventually live in the priest’s hall. Until then, he was staying in his room in the chapel.
Kiao became his senior and would guide him on all things about the priesthood, so his transition would be smooth. He wasn’t Soletus’s responsibility anymore, but the young monk remained close. He figured Mien would like someone to hang out with when he realized how boring their cloth brothers were. Then again, he wondered how much free time he would have with the training he would have to do.
Soletus reported to Ealdred to discuss the details of the experiment. The moment he stood in front of his desk; he knew something was wrong from the weak smile on his face. The man gestured for him to sit down.
“Oeric wants to put it to a vote,” he said.
Soletus sunk down in his chair stunned. His time away had given his father ample time to act behind his back. He should’ve expected it.
He jaw worked before he manage to spit out, “Why?”
“The order hasn’t done anything like this before. He wants certain consideration to be put in place, criteria to follow because of your age.”
“It’s my choice,” cried Soletus.
“I understand that, but you aren’t of age yet,” reasoned Ealdred. “Everything still is at the consent of your father, and he’s brought that fact to the attention of the masters.”
“No, he’s just pushing his weight around.”
Ealdred respond with a stare that shouted, “what do you think?”
Soletus let out a long groan and covered his face. “How long do I have to wait?”
“Until all the masters are here. Three of them are on rotation for patrol right now.”
“So how long?”
“Oeric wants to wait until the beginning of the year.”
Soletus gaped at the master in front of him. “But they’ll be back before then.”
“It’ll be enough time for me to research a few things and you should take that as an oppurtunity to get prepared. Gain some extra mass to burn through. Constantly submitting yourself to that will make you ill and weak. The quicker you recover from it, the better off you will be.”
“That’s all good and well, but then he will find a way to keep putting it off and finding every excuse he can!”
Master Ealdred looked at him sympathetically. “I know his interference is trying, but there is nothing he can do or say when this goes for a vote, and everyone is going to say yes.”
Soletus let out a bitter humorless and shook his head at Ealdred. “He’ll split the vote and then that path is dead to me. Then I’m stuck being a peaceguard.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being one,” said Ealdred.
Soletus leaned forward, gripping the edge of the master’s desk. “I’m not lazy, or unskilled. You need me as a field warden, not helping the elderly carry their provisions from the market.”
Ealdred held up a hand to try and calm him. “Your father is just afraid. Many are when they’ve sons who want to be wardens. It’s a dangerous job, and he’s well aware of all the dangers.”
“Then why not stop me years ago?”
“Because many fathers enjoy the idea of their sons becoming one until their lad gets closer to completing their training. They get cold feet. Oeric’s no exception, but he’s always been protective of you. Being attacked has clearly made it worse. Believe me, others have noticed it.”
Soletus’s eyes narrowed. All that frustration the rested under his surface, boiled up agan. “So, he let me get this far, but since he’s a coward, he’s going to stop me.”
Ealdred expression darkened. “Your father is not a coward. That man has braved many things. But you are his only son. Many sons have been slain and many more will.”
“But it’s not his choice to make,” snapped Soleus. He wanted a sledgehammer to drive that drive that point home.
Ealdred sighed. “You’re getting older, and I know you believe that you can—”
“Just stop,” he interrupted and pushed himself from the chair. It rocked, nearly falling to the floor.
“Soletus,” barked Ealdred.
He waited to see what he had to say.
“I know this frustrates you, and I wish I could do more. But you have to be patient.”
Soletus rolled his eyes and stalked out of the master’s hall. He made his way outside, going towards the collection of boulders on the momentary grounds. He wiped off the damp fallen leaves on one of the rocks and sat down in heavy thought. A chilled breeze cut through the air making him realize just how hot with anger he was. And the part of him that was aware of it and would help him calm down was absent. He just wanted to brood and stew alone. He was so into his own brooding, that he didn’t notice Mien approaching until the boy settled down beside him.
“I thought you were going to talk to Ealdred today. Why are you out here alone,” he asked.
Soletus gave the boy a slanted look, “Thinking.”
“Oh, so I’m interrupting?”
Soletus shook his head and went back inside his head. The young monk tried to think, but all he wanted to tear at something. Hit it and kick it. He should head to the training grounds instead and find something to beat. However, he locked hold of all those visceral urges. He was a monk and was supposed to be in control of himself. He wanted to think, yet all he felt was frustration.
Mien gave him a tentative nudge of his elbow. “What’s wrong?”
Soletus’s voice came out a hard, “Nothing.”
Mien scooted away from him. “You’re angry.”
“It’s not you, if that what you’re thinking.”
“Obviously,” answered the boy. “You look like you're about to hurt someone.”
He wouldn’t do that. But he couldn’t deny that his accumulated frustrations had built up to a mighty peak and could tumble down in a landslide. He expected Mien to say something else instead, he laid a hand between his shoulder blades and patted. Soletus would’ve ignored the gesture if not for the one doing it. When Soletus looked at him, Mien retracted his hand. “Sorry.”
“No, give me a moment,” he said.
He relaxed his shoulders and focused on breathing. He had no reason for his temper to have flared as hot as it did. He just needed to let it flow out of him, and so he did. After he calmed enough, he explained himself.
“My father is standing in my way again. I told you about the drass beast test and what they want to do. Well, Papa doesn’t want me to do it so much he blocked me while I was gone. At this point, the only thing he’ll let me do is a priest.”
“You’re no priest,” Mien stated. “You don’t sound like one.”
Soletus arched his brow at the boy. “I don’t sound like one?”
“You don’t sound like Brother Hickory. There’s too much…” Mien searched for a word and then shrugged. “I don’t know. You just sound more like a monk. Just take my word for it. I don’t understand why he doesn’t want you to do anything.”
“Because I’m Papa’s little boy,” he moaned. “He’s scared that I’ll skin my knee.”
“So, what can you do?”
Soletus tossed a small rock as far as he could. “Wait six years until I’m at age.”
Mien watched the rock soar in an arc and land. “Well, aren’t their boys here who are far away from their parents?”
“Yeah, they wouldn’t blink an eye if it was one of them.”
“So, it’s just your father is being a father and using his position to stop you?”
“That’s sums it up perfectly,” said Soletus, tossing another rock.
Mien watched it and asked, “Doesn’t the Brotherhood have rule or something against that?”
Soletus was about to say no, but there was something. “Hy’ruh-ha,” he muttered. His grandfather had given him the solution months ago. And he dismissed the entire notion of him fighting his father because he didn’t want to do it. It didn’t seem right. He was trying to be the dutiful son. However, being good, obedient, and accepting had failed him. Soletus slid off his rock and started towards the indoor training hall.
“Where are you going,” Mien asked, following him.
“What I should’ve done in the first place,” said Soletus. He wasted a lot of time.
Soletus walked to the steps of the training hall. He took a deep breath, and walked in. On entering, he saw several groups training, including the new clutch that was given to his father. Oeric was off to the side instructing them, when the door swung open he looking in his son’s direction.
“Soletus, what are you doing here,” he asked.
The young tod squared his shoulders and marched down the center of the room. Mien remained by the door. Everyone in front of him stopped their training and parted out of his way when they saw him coming. They watched mystified as he sauntered past them towards the back wall decorated with golden tipped quarter staves.
Soletus searched for his father’s name on the plaques resting below it. It was at the very end. He picked it up in his hand and held it. It was heavy. One day, he knew he would have his own up there. To assure that, he walked over to his father, who watched him bewildered.
“I challenge you to hy’ruh-ha,” declared Soletus loudly, holding out his staff in front of him.
The confusion didn’t lift from Oeric’s face. “What?”
Soletus gladly repeated. “I challenge you to hy’ruh-ha.”
His father blinked and shook his head. “No, you can’t do that.”
“Actually, he can,” spoke Master Marth from where he stood. The older master made his way towards them. All the while, Oeric gave him a dirty look. “The rules state you accept it or grant what he wants instead of the challenge.”
The young monk took that as a prompt to lay out his. “I want to become a field warden without you hindering my every step. That means leaving the option to do Master Ealdred experiment my choice. That also means that I get to make the choice of when I will take the trials. And when I become a warden, I get to choose what duty I will perform. Those are my terms,” said Soletus.
His father’s face reddened. “You can’t be serious. In front of all these people,” he hissed.
“I’m standing here, aren’t I?”
Oeric pushed his son’s arm down. “Why should I follow some archaic ritual that has no place in this order now?”
“Because this order still allows it because the Arch Monk says so,” said Soletus and then added. “If I lose, I’ll do what you want without question and without complaint. I’ll become a priest if you ask it of me.”
His father’s brow face washed of all expression and he stared blankly at him before saying at length. “You realize you can’t win against me.”
Soletus knew his chances were slim, but he had a point to be made and he was going to be his own sledgehammer to prove it.
“I’ll win,” he said confidently, and raised the staff back up.
Oeric stared at the staff. Soletus expected him to snatch and deny the challenged again. However, his father rested his hand on top of it. “You know this is foolishness, right?”
“You pushed me to do this,” said Soletus.
His father struggled to say something and then gave up on speaking. He hesitated and glanced at Master Marth.
“Don’t look at me. You’re the one who drove him to this path,” said Marth. “I warned you.”
His father’s pale gaze went back to Soletus. “You don’t realize what you’re doing. Hang the staff back up.”
“No,” held Soletus firmly.
“I’ll fight you right here if I could,” he said, not sure if he was correct or not.
“Dias help me,” his father muttered and grasped the staff. “I accept. A week from today, we meet in the arena. You fight me and prove to me you're above my direction. I’ll give you the time later.”
Soletus gave his father a smirk. “Good, I’ll be there.” He spun on his heels and marched back towards Mien.
The boy was owl-eyed. “Was that a smart thing to do?”
“No, it was dumb, stupid, and reckless,” said Soletus, feeling giddy. “It was perfect.”
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