My father was brought back to life by a surprise turn of fate. It was nothing I could have foreseen or known was coming. The benefactor being a mage with more power than sense, or at least that’s how it felt.
Of course I wanted to be rid of the shadow that haunted me day and night. Even as I was rid of the curse of Vampirism, the curse of his presence permiated my waking moments as much as my resting ones. Of course, I was never truly at rest, waiting on his beck and call.
But the truth was that I feared him. Feared what he was, feared what he might become. Never had I been granted transparency about who, or what, my father was. My mother feared him, and thus, I inherited that fear, perhaps in greater amounts because I knew I had no control over him. His power had been enough to attract the kinds of friends I could scarcely understand.
But on one fateful day, one day of destiny, one mage decided enough was enough, and he freed me from hosting my father’s soul inside my mind. He’d done it as a courtesy, a favor, a boon for me and my family.
But could he have known what he was setting free? Perhaps I had kept him in a prison that suited his past misdeeds, against not only myself, but also victims I could never know or understand. I knew my knowledge was incomplete, limited to whatever dribs and drabs my mother had succumbed to indulge in her moments of weakness. Probably brought on by the devil’s influence. She was a bit of a lush at the worst of times.
But I felt even she didn’t know everything about father. What she’d been told was probably accurate enough, but I suspected what she hadn’t been told totalled at least a novel. A novella, at least.
How could someone like Kali Shyãmã know of his exploits? A foreigner like Trelaine be familiar with his titles and kingdom?
And how was it, after uncountable years on the throne, that he’d managed to marry but one Earthly woman, beget but one Earthly son? None of it seemed to add up, none of it made any sense.
But where was I to go to find out more? To those that had originally piqued my interest? I dared not, for that would show weakness.
No, in fact now my mother and father were both alive, infesting my ancestral home. And I have been once again demoted to favored son.
This was something I should have prepared for, but never did.
I thought back to the early days, when Father took me and Cedric under his wing to teach us the ways about the dark gift. But to this day I never knew how he had come to be cursed. It was beyond uncouth to ask, and sometimes I felt more my father’s fledgling than his mortal son. Despite, of course, in the grand scheme, I was more mortal now than I’d been then.
It was a quiet evening when I found myself in his periphery. He was in his study, flipping through tomes. It was he who spoke first, answering a question I’d not yet asked.
IT FEELS GOOD, TO HAVE A BOOK IN MY HAND AGAIN.
He spoke without looking at me. I think we both found the pressure of eye contact to be overwhelming, almost painful.
I DIDN’T MEAN FOR THAT TO HAPPEN.
I NEVER MEANT ANY OF THAT TO HAPPEN.
It was an apology.
I KNOW YOU DIDN’T, DAD.
IT WAS BETTER…
IT WAS BETTER THAN LOSING YOU ENTIRELY.
WAS IT THOUGH?
I FEAR IT WAS TOO MUCH FOR YOU.
I ALWAYS LAMENTED THE PRESSURE I PUT YOU UNDER…
WHAT I TOOK FROM YOU.
IT WASN’T YOU THAT HURT THE MOST.
IT WAS THE DOUBTERS, THE SKEPTICS, MORE THAN ANYTHING.
BUT I DON’T BLAME THEM FOR WHAT THEY COULDN’T KNOW.
I spoke of Mother.
YOU’RE A WISER MAN THAN I.
I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT.
I’M GLAD FOR WAHT STRAUD WAS ABLE TO DO FOR YOU.
IT’S…IT’S BEEN FUN.
IT WAS DIFFICULT AT FIRST, WITH ALL THE CHANGES COMING SO RAPIDLY.
BUT I LOVE WORKING MAGIC.
THERE’S NO GREATER FEELING IN THE WORLD.
I’M GLAD YOU CAN KNOW THAT.
Was he jealous, I wondered?
IT’S WHAT YOU WANTED, RIGHT?
WHY YOU HELPED MOM ESTABLISH THE SCHOOL?
IT WAS ALWAYS MY HOPE.
AND IN A WAY, WEREN’T YOU WORKING TO UNDO YOUR OWN KIND?
SINCE MAGIC-USERS CAN’T BE TURNED.
The conversation turns awkward for a moment.
I WOULDN’T SAY THAT.
I WANT TO GIVE BACK.
HELP OTHERS LEARN THEIR TRUE CALLINGS.
I HAVE FAITH THAT YOU WILL.
WE COULD REOPEN THE SCHOOL, MAKE IT LIKE IT WAS BEFORE.
ONLY I’LL BE THERE TO HELP THIS TIME.
I DON’T KNOW IF YOUR MOTHER AND I DESERVE TO SEE OUR SCHOOL RESURRECTED.
IF THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE AFRAID OF THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULD SEE IT AS YOUR PENANCE.
He laughed at that. A small, quick laugh that was over far too soon.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO TEACH THEM YET?
I’M STILL JUST LEARNING MY TALENT.
OVERCOMING THE PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS.
YOU ARE LEARNING FAR FASTER THAN YOU GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT FOR.
AND YOU ARE A FAR BETTER TEACHER THAN YOU GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT FOR.
THINK OF YOURSELF AS A GARDENER, FATHER.
YOU NEED NOT BE ABLE TO INFLUENCE DIRECTLY A PLANT’S GROWTH TO GIVE IT RICH SOIL, NUTRIENTS, A SUNNY PLACE TO THRIVE…
YOU HONOR ME.
BUT YOUR MOTHER AND I SHOULDN’T HAVE KEPT YOU AWAY FROM THE OTHER CHILDREN.
PERHAPS NOT, BUT I’VE HAD MORE THAN ENOUGH SOCIALIZATION TO MAKE UP FOR IT.
WE WERE FORTUNATE YOU DIDN’T DECIDE TO JOIN TRELAINE.
I BELIEVED IN YOU THEN AND I BELIEVE IN YOU NOW.
IT IS MY CHANCE TO BELIEVE IN YOU, SON.
YOU ARE CAPABLE OF SAVING THIS WORLD INSTEAD OF PREDATING UPON IT.
STRIVE AND OVERCOME.
I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO DESERVE THE MERCY OF THE MAGIC-USERS.
YOU SAVED ME.
YOU CONTINUE TO SUPPORT STRAUD’S CAUSE.
YES, I SUPPOSE THAT IS THE CASE.
I LOVE THIS PLANET.
I DO TOO.
I had developed a theory. After meeting Kali. My father was ruler over a foreign plane but had been demoted and imprisoned in his current form. But I had no way of knowing, nor did I intend to ask.
YOU REALLY HAD NO IDEA WHAT WOULD HAPPEN UPON SUFFERING FATAL DAMAGE?
DID I HAVE ANY WAY OF KNOWING I’D HAVE BECOME IMPRISONED IN YOUR MIND?
I THOUGHT I’D HAVE SUFFERED TRUE DEATH.
He hesitates a moment.
BUT THEN, PERHAPS TRUE DEATH IS NOT SUFFERING AT ALL.
PERHAPS YOU WERE THE ONLY ONE LEFT WHO BELIEVED IN ME.
I WAS ANGRY, THEN, TRYING TO FIND VENGEANCE FOR WHAT TRELAINE HAD DONE TO YOU.
BUT I WAS WRONG.
I’D MADE THE WAR ABOUT MYSELF INSTEAD OF ABOUT YOU.
PERHAPS THAT WAS THE LESSON, MAKING ME WATCH YOU SUFFER BECAUSE OF MY INFLUENCE.
I had nothing to say.