Fu sent my note back, unopened.
SoYa mused about it momentarily before sticking the parchment into his front vest pocket. It was probably better that way as his hopeful appeals had fallen upon deaf ears earlier that day. Though the Masters heard his case, they chose to dismiss his pleas, especially with Zemus passively arguing against him.
They’re all so intent on mind mage training. It sounds like an excuse to me. But an excuse to cover up what?
The road home was long and lonely. Though SoYa had not seen his bed in days, he wasn’t looking forward to bringing worse news upon bad to AsaHi. No doubt, she would believe it was in his power to undo what had happened.
It’s so hard to explain to them exactly what the Manor is… what it’s capable of.
The pale yellow glow of the window cast a stream of light across the lawn. The house seemed diminished somehow, as if part of the heart of home had been torn out and stolen away. SoYa found himself pausing at the gate before working up his courage to walk towards the porch.
AsaHi was there the moment the sound of his boot touched the wood. Her soft green eyes were accented with a hint of red. A sign of the sorrow that she would only show to an empty room. Her gaze darted around SoYa. Behind him. Looking for any sign of her son. When she found nothing, she turned back to SoYa.
“AsaHi…” he spread his hands, almost a pleading motion. “I tried. They overruled me.”
“Overruled?” her voice cracked, incredulous.
“Zemus was arguing and…”
Her mouth pinched tight, a sign of displeasure, “Then you go right back there and argue again.”
“They’ve already ruled once,” he protested. “I can’t just…”
“Are you that afraid? Do I have to go and…” AsaHi made to walk past him, as if proving she would march all the way up to the Manor.
SoYa caught her by the shoulders, “I’m not afraid. I just know that if we’re not careful, this can fall back on Fu. I don’t want them taking out my mistakes on him.”
Her eyes flashed up at him, words cutting sharply, “They already are.”
Is that what she really thinks?
Stung, SoYa dropped his hands to his sides and looked the other way.
That I’m a failure… and I’ve let this happen?
Silence hung in the air around them for a moment. He felt a soft touch on his arm.
“That… didn’t come out the way I meant, SoYa,” she finally said. The touch became a pull, turning him to face her. Then she hugged him, pulling him close to her. “I know you’re trying. I’m sorry… I’m just upset.”
He breathed through his nose deeply, wrapping his arms around her in return. For a while they remained like that, clinging to each other for comfort and support.
Ever the one to take action, AsaHi was the first to speak, “What are we going to do now?”
“I don’t know yet. I’m thinking,” SoYa answered. “That was just my first attempt at… something.”
“Do you believe there’s any chance they’ll let him come back home?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe. The worst case scenario is that he stays there for the initial apprenticeship. They’re strict about leaving the city during that time,” he replied. “Over time, though, that loosens up. He’ll be able to choose as he advances.”
“And how long will that be?”
“It depends on… how fast Fu can learn,” SoYa bit back the real answer.
AsaHi knew, though. He could see it in her eyes.
“It’s… it’s not as if he’s in danger,” he tried to reason. “He’ll be cared for… clothed… fed… given the best education…”
She pulled away from him, shaking her head, “If that’s the case, why did they do it like this? The men who came made it sound as if we really had no other options.”
“To be completely honest, I don’t know,” SoYa answered. It was not what she wanted to hear, but it was the truth.
AsaHi stood in silence for a while before finally brushing her hair back out of her face, pulling her composure together. She took a few measured breaths and wiped her hands on the front of her dress before looking at him again.
“You look tired,” she stated. The nice way of telling him how awful he probably looked after days of stress and little sleep.
“I am,” SoYa admitted.
She side-stepped, giving him access to the door, “Come on. I’ll get you something to eat. We’ll think about it again once you’ve had time to rest and get some sleep.”
SoYa nodded and followed her inside, knowing the wisdom of her words.
There has to be something. I’m not giving in on this yet…