9 The Wisdom of the Father*
Rassa had decided he hated the daytime. It was obnoxiously loud, and bright. So bright. It peirced through his vision and made his head ache so bad that he had to ask his mother to cover the windows. After that the Doctor spent a lot of time looking at his eyes with concern. That was also irritating.
The hunger had also not gone away. In fact, he felt worse than yesterday, and unfortunately his parents were beginning to notice. Whereas last night he had been active and hungry enough to eat three bowls of soup, during the day he refused any food in large amounts. He usually took a mouthful or two, and then turned away in disappointment.
"You should eat more, Rassa, you won't get better like this," Anna insisted.
Only under his mother's worried gaze did Rassa force himself to finish a bowl of food. After she left, Rassa turned to look at his father, the only other individual in the room with him. Rassa had always been close with his father, he had always known that his father was more than the farmer everyone saw. He was pretty sure everyone knew one way or another, but no one had ever spoken about it. Now, seeing the look in his father's eyes, Rassa couldn't help but feel conflicted. His father knew something, something that Rassa wasn't sure would help him or not.
"I'm okay, really," Rassa insisted.
Phillip sighed, "No you're not Rassa. You're a smart kid, trying to hide your pain so that no one will worry for you. But I hate to break it to you, it's only making your mother and I worry more".
Rassa turned away, hugging his knees to his chest as he looked at the blanket that covered the window. Just because his parents knew, didn't mean he could tell them, or that they could help if he did.
"Are you going to tell me what's wrong?" asked his father.
Phillip had always been good at sensing when something was wrong with Rassa. The boy wore his emotions plainly, and even if he could hide them from his mother at times, he couldn't hide from Phillip. Phillip knew his son was a spitting image of him, eager for knowledge and always willing to do hard work. Phillip had even managed to teach Rassa how to read like had had once taught Anna. Rassa had soaked in the knowledge like a sponge, but Phillip had instructed him not to brag to the other kids, as he knew that there were very few adults in the village who were literate, let along children. And now, despite his best wishes, he could see his son turning away from him. Rassa knew something, and he was keeping it hidden.
"Rassa," Phillip sighed, "I can't help if you don't tell me. You know exactly what happened to you, don't you? You know but you're not saying. Why is that?"
Rassa looked up at his father, his eyes pleading him to stop. To not ask questions. Phillip had never seen that look in his eyes before. And underneath all of that pleading, Phillip could see the fear. He saw the terror, and he hated the fact that his son had to experience that.
Phillip stood and approached his son, pulling him into a hug, "This is not something you have to go through alone, Rassa. Please, all you need to do, is ask".
Rassa buried his head in his fathers chest, trying his best to ignore the amazing scent and rhythmic beating that lay just beneath his father's skin. Phillip was completely unaware of his son's dilemma, and was instead concentrating on comforting Rassa, something he had rarely had to do.
"The mark on my back," Rassa spoke softly, and he felt his father tense, "What is it?"
Phillip sighed, "I hoped you wouldn't notice until you felt better".
Rassa frowned. He remembered every line as it burned into his skin and soul, as if he would forget it was there, he just hadn't known what form it had taken until last night when Diggory pointed it out.
Phillip pulled back, "Does it scare you?"
Rassa hesitated and then nodded, "But...I know it won't go away. I can feel it-" Rassa pointed to his chest, "In here".
Phillip sighed, knowing his son meant his soul. The mark was there to stay, "It's okay to be scared Rassa, new things are scary. But I know there is something more inside you, something capable of pushing past that, do you know what that is?"
Rassa looked up at his father, then shook his head.
"You have to be brave, Rassa," Phillip insisted, "Have the courage to push past the fear and learn from your mistakes. That is all your mother and I would ever ask of you".
"So...I should just accept what I'm feeling?" asked Rassa.
Phillip sighed, knowing from the look in his eyes that Rassa wasn't going to elaborate.
"Some things are hard to accept, and if it is hard for you, test the boundaries," Phillip replied, touching his son's chest, "Ask yourself if what your soul is asking you to do is right, and if its not, is there another way?"
Rassa looked down at his hands, then back up at his father, "So the mark...what is it?"
Phillip smiled at his son, still ever eager for knowledge, at least that hadn't changed.
"Well, in order to tell you that I think I should tell you a story," Phillip replied, "The story of how I came to marry your mother".
"What do you mean?" asked Rassa.
"Well, I wasn't born here, Rassa, I was born far away, in a place very different from our little village of Cordon," Phillip replied.
"How come you haven't spoke about it before?" asked Rassa.
"Because it was a life I wished to leave behind, for you and your mother," Phillip replied, "The truth was, I was born Phillip Wilhelm Kildare, the third son of Duke Cornelius Kildare, the paternal cousin of the Emperor, Quatar Kildare of Eldovia".
Rassa had looked at enough books with maps to know that the Eldovian Empire was the largest on their continent. Consisting of the three human countries, Eldren, Lovolon and Arkia. It was the most profitable place on the continent, and Cordon, their little village, lay on the western border of Arkia, bordering the immense Greenvale Forest that was home to the Elven races. Despite being so close though, Rassa had never seen an elf before, they travelled more frequently to Eldovia through the route that was further south. After a moment, Rassa looked up at his father, "You mean, the Emperor is your...second cousin?"
Phillip smiled and shook his head, "Close, the current Emperor, Midas Kildare, is my third cousin, your fourth cousin. Your great grandfather, and the Emperor's grandfather, were brothers".
"If that's the case, why are you here?"
Phillip turned away, "Well...it started when I decided to become a Knight..."