November 29, 2014

In Which Dalston Is Addressed

April 4, 1188

It still wasn't quite real to Dalston.

His mother spent her days sobbing, the new baby no doubt wondering what horrible world she'd left the womb for. Celina stood on the other side of their father's bed in tears, Lyssa doing her best to comfort her. Even Wolf stood beside Dalston, fidgeting, struggling not to do the same. But, for now, all Dalston could do was look on, unsure how all of this could truly be happening. For his siblings, their father was drifting out of reach.

For him, his father had never been in reach.

He didn't think his father had neglected him on purpose. He got the sense that his father felt bad about their distance, and surely it wasn't right to dwell on such thoughts when a man was on his death bed. In some ways, he didn't blame his father. His father had been a man of the world, fond of good food and strong drink, tournaments and buxom women. Men like his father wanted sons like Wolf, who ran in the corridors and spent hours hitting things with wooden swords and could belch the alphabet backwards. They didn't know what to do with shy, indoors-y bookworms like Dalston.

"You kids take care of your mama, all right? And your baby sister."

"Can't you get better, Papa?" Wolf squirmed; Dalston looked across the room to share a hopeless glance with Lyssa. "You can beat it."

His father chuckled, at least as best he could with his raspy breath and dry throat. But he chose not to acknowledge Wolf's urging. "Marry a girl like your mama, Wolf. You're going to need her good sense."

The thought of Wolf marrying anyone did nothing for Celina's tears. "D-don't go, Papa!"

"There, there," Lyssa muttered for lack of anything better.

"It's all right, sweetheart. I'll still be watching over you. I won't go far--promise."

That did it. Celina wailed and made a dive for Lyssa's shoulder. Their older sister patted her back and stroked her hair, but turned her head back to their father. "We love you, Father."

"I love you too, baby. I love all of you."

Why did it feel like that last bit had been directed at him?

"Dalston." His father turned over beneath the covers. "I'm sorry."



Van said...


Anonymous said...

:(, indeed.
And especially sad because Dalston probably feels bad about Feeling a bit resentful. Or at least it seemed like it to me, maybe because he just kept on thinking "I don't blame him", "he prefers sons more like Wolf" etc.
Though I'm not so sure if all men that like the same things as Jadin want only outgoing sons. Some might actually prefer sons like Dalston, especially if they can achieve something they couldn't.

Winter said...

I much prefer when the villains die. :(

I have to think Jadin and Dalston would have had a better chance of connecting when they were both older. Jadin was barely into his thirties, still quite a young man himself. Like his grandfather, he might have come into some more wisdom, patience, and understanding with age. I'm sure Jadin will be proud of him from the afterlife anyway.

Van said...

Mimus: Dalston does feel bad about what he's feeling. He does love his father, and he will miss him, but they just weren't as close as his other siblings. Jadin's apparent preference for Wolf never escaped Dalston's notice.

It's true that everyone is a little different in what they prefer. Old Lonriad was a lot like Jadin, and he seemed to prefer Severin because he was more balanced. Given time, Jadin might have come to appreciate Dalston.

Winter: Yeah, Felron's death had a nicer feel. :(

Jadin was still very young, and he could have gained a lot of wisdom had he lived longer. He and Dalston could have forged a connection given more time. But yes--I'm sure Jadin will keep on watching him, grow more proud of him.

Penelope said...

I agree with Winter, but am in a way surprised. Xeta was always bookish, and I used to get the impression that that quality endeared her to him. Maybe bookishness is one thing in a sweetheart, another thing in a little boy. Then there's the fact that sometimes, when one has that many children, it's just not possible to be as close to all of them as one would want. :S I expect that any parent would have a hard time admitting to that, even on his deathbed.

Van said...

It's a bit difficult to guess at some of the complexities of Jadin's relationships with his kids. He loved doting over his daughters, and I guess he felt he had a lot in common with Wolf. Dalston, while he has a lot of qualities that I'd assume Jadin admires in other people... well, I guess Jadin was somewhat perplexed by him, since he was his oldest son and they should have had a stronger connection but it never happened, if that makes any sense.

Very true. When you have a certain number of kids, there's no way you can know all of them as well as you'd like.