Question of Kingship – Dragons of Va’Ha’Den

The bath was nice and Jesop was able to breathe the effect of killing a dragon out of his system by the time he emerged.  He dressed in nothing but comfortable worn out brown pants.  He sat at in the kitchen table with his arms across the back of the chair as Treyven brushed his hair out.

He spread his oils and dye kit out on the kitchen table.  He decided on green to streak down from the temples and blue for the ends.  It would make Jesop match Slang quite nicely.

Trey took his time to oil Jesop’s hair with the lotions that were as much potion as anything.  It was used to keep hair soft and smooth and from fraying wildly with the cold and the wind they were subject to. It was also used to soften dragon scales when they were molting. The oils had perfume in them that would last for a long time and Treyven had chosen a soft spicy musk that hinted of cinnamon and other things.  It was a pleasant smell and one that Jesop would not mind smelling like. It was also one of Slang’s favorites.

Trey talked about his classes and about the people he dealt with daily, just jabbering away about everything in his life, from card games to the fact that he had passed a rather hard test and was accused of cheating for it.

He switched topics like the wind but it all just flowed and Jesop listened to what normal sounded like. He would recall it as well as Trey would in a few years. It helped him understand his new young cadets and the brothers were his link to the world in a way nothing else was.

“I must be boring you,” Trey said all of a sudden.

“No.”  Jesop said with his eyes closed.  “Just listening.”

“At how random my mind is?” Trey asked with a little giggle. His laugh was endearing and had won him hugs and kisses as a little boy.  It likely won him the same now but from the young women in his life.

Jesop sighed heavily. “I am dreading the day I have to send you three out.  It is going to break my heart.”

“Don’t think about it that way.  Be proud papa, Jes.”

“Oh I am, Trey.”

“You going to tell me why dad got so mad at you?”  He asked after a few moments of silence that he spent twisting the hair through the towel to rinse out of the last little bit of a dye he had chosen from the ends of Jesop’s hair.

“He found a bottle in my cupboard,” Jesop said after a moment.  Jesop didn’t want to tell Trey but he might as well.    Trey had seen such fights before and had ended up screaming and weeping and hugging one or the other of them and begging them to stop fighting

“I thought so,” Trey said with a slow deep breath.  “Why do you do that?  You could hide it if you have to keep them.  You know it upsets him.”

“If I had no real reason to have them do you think the Wisdoms would just get me more?”

“I don’t question that you have need of them papa, but put them in a different bottle or hide them under you pillow.  Something.”

“I do. He just hasn’t snooped for a few years and I forgot to.”

“So why is he so mad tonight?  He was about to really rip into you.”

“I know.”

“What did you do?”

“I jarred my shoulder and twisted on it at the same time and I was taking one when he walked in.”

“Slang should have warned you.”

“He was upset and too slow.”

“You want me to stay?”


Trey finished Jesop’s hair and brushed it far longer than he had to.  He waited for his father’s return.  He was well aware that he was likely the only person who could prevent a brutal verbal attack on the Lord Marshal.

Teven returned and did not look at either of them but put away a box of food and set to cooking.  Jesop watched him knowing he was going to get lectured and there was no way to avoid it.  The Keeper was simply beyond law and to so much as insult him was forbidden.

Jesop wondered if the young man who was putting little twisted braids in his hair had any idea how much he appreciated the momentary peace.

“Trey, go home,” Teven said half way through preparing the meal.

“Excuse me?”

“You don’t want to be here.”

“You can’t make me leave.”

Teven’s shoulders tightened and he made fists against the counter.

Jesop looked to the young man and shook his head.  It was alright, he could go. Teven was so upset nothing was going to stop him and Teven loved his son enough to ask him to leave because he knew it would upset the young man.

“Dad,” Treyven tried to calm the Keeper down, “he takes them for pain.  And half the scars that bother him you put there.”  His tone was hurt and yet for the first time with a knowing hint of anger.

“Treyven,” Teven warned.  He pointed to the door.

Treyven almost didn’t go but Jesop touched the young mans hand and shook his head.

“Don’t make it worse,” he mouthed.  With clenched teeth Treyven headed out, snatching up the oils.

“And you wonder why Bry never comes to visit.  You make us choose sides,” Treyven said as he slammed the door.

Treven did not turn around as his son went out.  He actually went back to cooking. Jesop got up and put the chair back at the table.  He rolled his shoulder to test it out and moved to step past Teven but was blocked with one step back by the Keeper.  Teven put a hand on Jesop’s chest and pushed him back to the chair he had been in.

Jesop let himself be pushed and sat down with his back to the wall and watched the man return to the task of making a meal.  Jesop resigned himself to the silence and the cold anger of the Keeper.

“What is wrong with you?” Teven finally exploded.  He all but vibrated with anger.  “Is it not enough you have to be so Gods be damned soft spoken, you have to dress like some scout and you don’t even have one affair to your name in the Nest?”  Teven proceeded to bring up every flaw he could think of.  The list was rather long and got meaner as it went. Jesop ceased to hear most of it.  His head hurt and he wanted to rub his temples but if he did Teven would hit his hand away and jar him worse.  He just watched Teven’s mouth move.  “Do you enjoy watching the nest fall apart?”  Teven demanded.  “Don’t you understand that the nest reflect their King?”

“I’m not the king,” Jesop muttered.  Teven hit the table and turned away so angry Jesop thought Teven might well overturn the table. Teven stormed out of the kitchen and paced in the living room as the food cooked.  It began to smell rather good despite the Keeper’s mood.

Teven stalked back in for the foods sake and checked it.

He set the table and served a meal that was all perfectly time to be brought out at once.  He served them both and sat down so angry he didn’t even look up.

Jesop ate what he was given and let Teven, hopefully, calm down.  There was no point in not enjoying the meal.  This was all too normal sadly. Jesop wished desperately for the king to be named.  Teven needed someone else to torment.

Teven snarled at something Tohke had apparently told him and swatted at the air as if batting a fly away in anger. Jesop’s head was not getting better and he felt as if there was a distant growling rumble in the back of his mind and a buzzing in his ears.  He was just wanted to curl up in a quite corner and pull the blankets over his head.  His eyes were dry and felt hard and hot in his head, his spine prickled with needles and his skin ached.  Tension was creeping down his spine and he felt rather ill.

He pushed his plate away.  He held his head in his hands and tried to hide it.

“Jesop,” Teven said firmly.

Jesop winced. It felt as if Teven had hit him in the forehead with a hammer.  He was already in trouble, he didn’t care.  He got up and left the kitchen for his side table and took out the last pills of in the little pouch.

“Jesop,” Teven warned.  Jesop put them in his hand and was tackled, but not before he got them in his mouth.  He made a fist for Teven to try and pry open as he swallowed what he had.  Teven wasn’t above hurting him but once swallowed Jesop surrendered and opened his hand.

The little fight was too much his head exploded with pain.  He caught the edge of the table and held gripped his forehead in the other hand.  He stood trying to catch his breath waiting for the next blow but Teven didn’t make one.

“Those things will kill you,” Teven snarled.

Jesop wanted to snarl and spit back at him several bitter remarks but he hurt too much.

“You are a selfish ungrateful little whelp,” Teven whispered.  “You choke those down and you hide in your lair and you roll whatever weed you want.  You don’t deserve your White at all, let alone the gold buckles.  So you’re right, you’re not a king.  If not for Slang you would be nothing but a cave rat.”

Jesop didn’t feel the sob fast enough to catch it.  He sank side ways to the couch and still held his head, he half laid over and just wished Teven would leave.  Teven didn’t.  He stood there.

Jesop curled up on the couch and just held his head. The pain was enough he might have felt better if he had been hit in the head with a boulder.  Slang rumbled in an attempt to comfort.  The pill’s effect began to sink in and Jesop slowly caught his breath. His muscles about his neck and shoulders relaxed enough he dared to slowly push himself up.

Getting to his feet carefully he lifted his gaze to Teven.  One thing he had always done, even as an eight year old, was to get up and face Teven.  His face was possibly tear streaked and he knew his eyes were blood shot and pain creased his forehead but he didn’t care.

“There anything else you wanted to say?”  He asked the Keeper.

Teven’s jaw twitched. “How can you be such a pathetic weak worm and then leap like you do and kill a dragon with your bare hands?  Why can’t you just be so weak I have the right to just kill you or be strong enough to be king?”

Jesop didn’t say anything, as normal.  He kept his remark that the fact was Teven had been who was responsible for the injury that was blamed for the headaches that Jesop suffered.  What could he say?

“Done yet?”

“I haven’t even touched on the empathy topic yet.”

“Yah, well I hurt and I am tired, go home and come back tomorrow.  You can yell at me then as well as now.  I am sure it’ll help make your day feel complete.”

“How about I just pound on you a little?”

“Here,” he caught a pillow off the couch.  “Why don’t you use this and just smother me and we can both be spared more of this.”  He shoved it at Teven.  Teven grabbed it and swung it hard enough it nearly knocked Jesop over as it hit his guard arm.

“I should witness this sort of thing you know. Save this all for the chance there is another generation who asks ‘what the hell went wrong’.  Oh well, Jesop was made Lord Marshal and didn’t get killed in battle.  Hells the luck.  Won the war to drug himself to a slow death.  Great.”

“Can you not see that I am in pain?”  Jesop asked.  It sort of just popped out and maybe even startled Teven.  Jesop never talked back to him but just took the abuse.

Once said he might as well use it.  He was angry, upset, and in so much pain he just sort of spit out words faster than he could take them back.  “I want you to know I am in so much pain right now I can barely keep my balance and it’s been that way since I was about ten.  Before you go and shout at me about why I am not king why don’t you ask why your not!”  He knew that was mean, knew it was harsh and knew he’d pay for it but it was out but the yelling only intensified the pain.

Even knowing that Teven was most certainly going to punch him he didn’t see it coming. It’d been a long time, but insult Teven about being unworthy of his name or heritage and he would strike. He had killed men for it before. But that was it, just one good blow to the face and Teven left.  Jesop dropped to the couch and lay there until he passed out.  Maybe that was the trick.  The black eye was worth it to get the Keeper to leave.


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