It’s been some time since I posted an excerpt, and as I’ve been talking about The Eynan recently I thought I’d start with an excerpt from that story first – from chapter three, when Jhond’s father discovers his son has left.
He left their room and quietly made his way to the floor above to his son’s chambers. He tapped on the door, expecting Jhond hadn’t slept either. It wasn’t unexpected when he received no reply. He tapped again, saying in almost a whisper, “Please, son, we need to talk.” He waited, listening for any slight sound. Nothing. He tried the door and to his surprise it wasn’t locked. He pushed it open and looked inside.
The bed hadn’t been slept in, though it was ruffled and the coverlet was in disarray. Girau looked about the room, a cold fear gripping his heart. The drawers of the desk by the window were partially open; the robing room door was ajar. He rushed over to the robing room. Drawers there were open, too, and so were doors to the robe cupboards. There were coats, jackets, shirts, trousers and tabards strewn about. Under-garments were tossed aside with night-attire. The baggage cupboard was open as well.
Jhond had packed in a hurry…that was obvious. Girau couldn’t tell how much he had taken, but it looked as if only the largest hold-all bag was missing. Also one of the backpacks, he thought. He checked the footwear locker. Boots and shoes were gone, too. He must check the weapons trunk in the back hallway to see if Jhond had taken anything from there.
He had a numbing dread running through his mind, a dread he’d avoided thinking about all last evening. It probably had exacerbated his need to drink too much. He feared that in his distress Jhond would want to leave, and Girau could understand. He only hoped Jhond wouldn’t jump at one of the perhaps more obvious choices for a young man who believes his life is ruined. War.
The war, which had crept across the northern continent because of the growing empire of Illuria, was a draw for quite a few young men from this side of the Straits. Now, if it had been Rhou, such an action would have been almost certain, but Jhond had always been much more of a philosopher than a fighter, but yesterday much had changed. Would Jhond change even more?
He suddenly remembered the disturbed desk. He turned back and hurried over to it. What was gone from there? The first thing he noticed was that the map box was empty. There were also three small books missing from the shelf at the back. Most of the books were downstairs in the library, of course, but many family members kept a few books of particular interest in their chambers. Girau couldn’t for the life of him remember just then what books Jhond had kept there, even though he’d spent many hours in this very room discussing a variety of subjects with his son. Jhond was the thinker of the family, after all. Not for him the all-encompassing interest of the hunt, sports and weapon training, which so engaged his other two sons. If only he could remember which books Jhond had kept there, it might give some clue to where his son had gone.
Girau turned from the desk to pace about the room. He walked toward the bed, heading for the window. All at once, he felt the need for air. However, before he reached the bay window, he noticed the large white envelope lying on the pillow of the bed. It had been partly covered by the thrown coverlet. His hand shook as he picked it up and read his own name there in his son’s neat hand-script.
He was torn by the desire to read his son’s words and the very real fear of what Jhond might have to say. He turned the envelope over and over in his hands.
Oh, Lords of Light, help me, he prayed, as he finally found the courage to tear open the thick paper. Inside was a neatly folded sheet of paper and another smaller envelope. Gallia’s name was printed on the second envelope. He swallowed as he slowly opened the folded paper.
I couldn’t stay to hear your explanation or to have to discuss matters with the rest of the family. I leave it to you to tell my mother and the others whatever story you feel is best. As for my love, I leave her to your care also. After all, she is your daughter. I don’t mean that quite as harshly as it might sound. I mean you care enough to look after her. She will need you, though she will not acknowledge that yet, I am sure. She may lose her family; I know not what she might say. All I know is I can’t stay near her and not love her. Please give her the other letter.
Even though I have no right to judge you for your past—what? Betrayal, or is that too harsh?—indiscretion, I can’t forgive what it has cost me either. I tell you what little I do more for the peace of mind of the others than for your own. I will have no peace and I can’t find it in my heart to think you should either.
I am going away, though where I don’t know for certain, nor would I tell you if I did. I have a plan, vague to be sure, but it’s a beginning.
You, of all people, know of my interest, and I know share some of my belief, in the history of the magi. I have decided to devote myself to try to track down the truth behind some of these legends. If ever we needed to know how much is truth, how much we can still tap into, now is that time. The Illurian Empire is growing in leaps and bounds, and the threat grows nearer year by year. Our people keep dismissing it as far away across the great sea. No real threat. But that isn’t true.
The legends run deep in our family, and I am not one to believe such stories are just that, stories. There is truth to all legends, though how deep a truth I know not. But I seek to find out.
I will not lose complete contact, Father. For if what I learn is of benefit to our people, I will contact you again.
Until such time, goodbye. I will try not to forget the good that once lay between us.
Girau re-read the letter with mixed emotions. Surprise at his son’s plan, with understanding now what books he might have taken. Unmitigated relief that even in his distress Jhond had kept his wits about him. Ever the thinker. On a more personal level, he felt some relief his son hadn’t been more condemning, though on the second reading, he realized just how much of a burden Jhond had left to him.
If you want to know what happens next, you can obtain a copy of The Eynan from: