“I don’t like him,” Vithian was saying as the coach moved through the streets toward their townhouse.
“Hmmm?” Jaonos looked back to his brother. He had been watching the people walking the sidewalk outside the window. He enjoyed watching people.
Vithian had a sneer on his face and a dark shadow over his eyes. “That Lianthorn. He was looking down his nose at us. And why did he have-”
“Vithian,” Flinar began, wearily. His voice had taken on the soft but low timber that he had always used to scold them when they were children. “Such thoughts are unbecoming of a priest.”
Vithian clamped his mouth shut, but the way he turned toward the window on his side and picked at the buttons on his gray soutane told Jaonos all he needed to know about how much his brother wanted to have it out with their father.
Jaonos was not one to leave things alone. He was lazy, even he could admit that, but he didn’t like to see Vithian silenced, so he spoke instead.
“But why did he have the dybla?” Jaonos asked. He turned to his father, whose head was slightly bowed so that Jaonos could not see his eyes. He could see the gray pallor returning to his father’s cheeks. He must have grown more tired at court than Jaonos had suspected. He knew he shouldn’t push, and he wasn’t certain what about the situation irritated Vithian so. But he felt that tickle in his stomach that he always felt when he saw his father’s eyebrow twitch in irritation.
“Lianthorn and Myracine must have made an alliance of some kind,” Flinar said. His eyebrow was not twitching as he looked Jaonos in the face.
Jaonos rolled his eyes and looked out his window. “He was a stuck up little prick,” Jaonos muttered. “Did you see how he smirked? Like he knew something we didn’t.”
“He did smirk, didn’t he?” Vithian quickly agreed. “What a pompous, arrogant little-”
“Enough,” Flinar said. He had never raised his voice, he had never shouted. He had bowed his head down again so that neither Vithian nor Jaonos could fully read his expression, but both fell silent anyway.
The coach rumbled to a stop in front of their townhouse as they sat in silence. “Vithian,” Flinar said before he could get out of the cab, “I suggest you take yourself back to the sequester and see your elder priest. You’ve forgotten yourself in our short time together.”
Vithian began to open his mouth to object, but Flinar shot him a withering frown that shut him up again. Vithian pressed his lips together, then cast his gaze toward Jaonos who, now, found he was unable to object in Flinar’s icy mood. Vithian got out of the coach, leaving the door behind him. When the servant girl opened the door to let him through, he said nothing and instead hurried upstairs.
Jaonos watched him climb the first few steps through the open front door. He could see the girl’s face. Ulesse was her name, and she was a sweet young woman. She didn’t have the high cheek bones and long, narrow brow elves favored in their beauties, but she had large, bright eyes that were always earnest and round cheeks that made her look young and childish. He could read alarm and confusion on her face as she turned back toward the coach.
“Jaonos,” Flinar began with the same icy tone, and Jaonos felt the skin on the back of his neck tighten. “I had thought this morning’s discussion would have improved your behavior.”
Jaonos turned back to his father and glowered. “And what do you find wrong with my behavior now, Father?” There was venom in his voice and he spat it back out at his father.
“You gossip like schoolchildren. You look down at your elders – I could see how you felt of Lady Erro on your face, and so could she. Do you not care? Do you expect Vithian to take your spot in court as he has ever held you up? You’re selfish, Jaonos.”
Flinar moved to the door, but paused. “Vithian must apply himself as a postulant, but you must apply yourself as the Lord Blackwell. And find yourself a wife. Or would you have Ynaselle serve as your Lady of the Chamber?”
Flinar slammed the door of the coach shut behind him, but when he entered the house, he was gentle with Ulesse. Jaonos saw Ynaselle enter the hallway to greet Flinar. And Jaonos watched as Flinar put a kindly arm around his daughter’s shoulders and beam a smile at her, and Jaonos’s blood boiled.
His father had never shouted and he had never hit. He never withheld dinner, dessert, or toys. No, Flinar withheld approval, and made his scorned child instead watch him heap that approval on the others.
“To hell with all this,” Jaonos grumbled. He ordered the driver to take him to the Valstan Club, where he and Dr. Prognes had long been members.
© Ainsel Greenwood and AinselGreenwood.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ainsel Greenwood and AinselGreenwood.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.