Chapter 9 Pt.1

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Chapter Nine

In which a great deal of work is carried out...

Soryn awoke to the sound of the birds singing outside his tower window. He had chosen to remain in the tower instead of relocating to his father’s quarters. The blazing fire he made the night before had died down to embers, but the room was still warm. Yawning, he turned over and pulled the covers tighter around him. He knew that Jori would not be far off in bringing breakfast, but he wished he could sleep for hours. The previous day had been intense and he was not sure what he thought about the differences between his old life and the one that was about to begin.

He had almost drifted to sleep again, when he heard a muffled, throat clearing sound. Turning over, he saw the face of his manservant. Jori smiled, eyes twinkling. Soryn wondered if the manservant had suddenly gone mad.

“Jori?” the young noble inquired, “Are you quite alright?”

“Good morning, Lord Maslyn. You must dress quickly. Breakfast is waiting for you in the great hall,” Jori announced.

Lord Maslyn was astounded. “The great hall?”

“Of course; you are master of this castle not only in name, but in truth now. You must come and eat among your people. The steward is waiting for you,” Jori said as he helped Lord Maslyn out of bed to dress.

Soryn followed the manservant down the hallway in a daze. He was really going to see the rest of the castle. That knowledge made him both nervous and excited. As Jori turned the latch, and held the door open for his master to walk through, Soryn felt the surreal knowledge that he would be able to walk freely through the door at the end of it. Lord Maslyn took a deep breath as he gazed through the open door, seeing a curving hallway of stone lit by lanterns set in sconces. Warm air moved through the passage and he wondered if it warmed the entire castle. He was embarrassed that he did not remember the castle’s layout as best as he should, and he honestly had no idea where the great hall was. Heart beating madly, he took his first free steps into the castle in six years.

Jori went ahead of the boy after he had closed the door (without locking it this time) and led his master through the castle hallways. Soryn tried to keep count of all the rooms they passed, but he could not keep track. He was too intrigued by the paintings hanging on the walls. He saw many he did not recognize before they came to more familiar portraits. In one, his mother rested on a chair with her hair plaited down over her shoulder. She wore a pale lilac dress he remembered well. Her silvery white hair shone brightly in the light from an open window. A stabbing sadness welled in his heart while he gazed at her beauty and remembered her tender voice. Her red-brown eyes held mirth and joy as she looked emptily out from the canvas.

His father was the next painting. He stood stoically, also illumined by the window. Dark brown hair, very much like Soryn’s own in shape and texture, framed his handsome face. The artist had captured the kind but serious air that his father was remembered for. The boy hoped that he would be like him when he grew up. He hoped he would be a Maslyn that both his parents would be proud of.

Jori gave the Maslyn plenty of time to look at the images of his parents. Though the manservant passed those portraits every day, he knew that his master had not seen them in six years. He knew it must have been painful for Lord Maslyn. When Soryn finally peeled his eyes away from the images, Jori was ready and continued on. Just as they were nearing the end of the passage, the last portrait caught Soryn’s attention.

An image of three boys in formal attire haunted him. He had been five when the painting was completed, his brothers eleven. The memory was not hard to recall. Fenris had heckled the artist the entire time and Olan had tried to keep his brother from distracting the man. Soryn had said nothing—he never said anything much in front of his brothers. They were vastly different from him and, though he missed them, he had never really known them at all. He looked away from the picture and they moved on.

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