11 The Bond between Father and Son*
*The Eldovian Era, Year 1702*
"So, the elves have marks like mine?" asked Rassa.
"They're called life lines, they're the manifestation of the power a soul is capable of wielding," Phillip replied, "Every mark is unique, it tells the history of that individual, and traces their acheivements and downfalls. The Elves and the Dwarves both possess them from birth. Magicians gain them when they develop an attunment to a certain magic. But, to be honest with you my son, I've never seen a mark like yours. First of all, its black".
Rassa looked away.
"Rassa, please. I promise I will be there for you no matter what it is," Phillip stated.
Rassa felt tears well in his eyes, "I didn't awaken to a power, I am no magician".
Phillip frowned, "What do you mean?"
Rassa turned to his father, "I was trapped in there, so they, it, gave me a choice. Enter into a pact, or be trapped there for eternity. I didn't want to be trapped, father!"
Rassa burst into tears and Phillip pulled his son into his arms, "It's okay, Rassa, it's okay. No one would. Can you tell me who they are?"
Rassa shook his head, "They only said they were from the time of Chaos".
Phillip frowned. He had never heard of such a thing, and he had been given access to the best educators in the Empire.
"Alright Rassa, it's okay," Phillip comforted, patting his son's back softly.
Regardless of what entity Rassa had encountered, Phillip was certainly furious that they had forced his son into such a position.
Phillip spent the rest of the day comforting his son. Anna returned only a few times, choosing to leave them be, she knew that Rassa needed this, needed somebody to lean on. It pained her to know it was not her, but from the look in Phillip's eyes, it was a good thing it had not been. She dropped off some food to them around dinner time, then said she had some errands to run.
Phillip roused Rassa, who had cried himself to sleep, then offered him some food. Rassa shook his head, pushing the bowl back.
"You need to eat, Rassa," Phillip stated.
Rassa sighed, "It does nothing. That's why I feel worse today. Nothing I eat makes me feel full".
Phillip paused, surprised, then remember the look on his son's face after finishing three bowls of soup the night before. He'd been confused by that look, but now he understood. His son was smart, likely he'd wanted to keep eating to see if the hunger could be satisfied, but decided it would scare his parents to keep doing so.
"Well what do you want to eat?" asked Phillip.
Rassa looked to his dad. Phillip knew from that look that Rassa knew the answer, but was terrified of it.
"Just tell me Rassa, remember, new is scary, but what do you need to do to face it?" asked Phillip.
Rassa looked at his father for a long time, he was so still that Phillip had to question whether his son had heard him, then Rassa spoke in a quiet voice.
"Okay...I'll have courage," Rassa replied, then he turned away and stared at the curtain, the light fading behind it. He said nothing more, and Phillip knew that it was unlikely that he'd coax another answer from his son.
Phillip turned to the side and spotted one of the books on the shelves. It was a medical book, but any book at this stage would do. Phillip stood and reached for it, then walked back and handed it to his son.
"Come and read to me, I want to hear how you've improved from last time," Phillip said. Rassa seemed surprised, but after a moment he opened the book and began to read.
"The Anthology of Medicinal Plants in the Western Region," Rassa read the title, "Their properties and uses".
Phillip listened as his son listed the plants and their uses, effectively distracting the both of them. Just like the sponge he'd always known, Phillip watched as his son eagerly soaked in the knowledge. When the Doctor came to check on him not long after Anna returned, Rassa even began to ask questions.
"Do you use all of these plants, Doctor? They cure so many things".
"Some of them are hard to come by, but I do the best I can. If you are really interested in medicinal plants, you should endeavour to meet an elf one day, using the forest wisely is their core culture".
"Can the elves cure anything then?"
"Some think so, but the elves are a myterious bunch, they only let you in on what they want you to know," the Doctor smiled. It was rare he came across such an inquisitive child. They talked for some time, Anna and Phillip watching on in amusement. For those few hour as the sun surrendered the sky to the moon and stars, they looked to all the world like a family without worries.
Eventually though, the doctor left, the book was put down, and they all turned to sleep.
Yet again, Rassa waited until he knew his parents were asleep before he stood and put on his boots and jacket. He struggled at times, his limbs aching worse than the day before. When Rassa finally managed to leave the Doctor's house, he looked towards the forest in fear.
He took a deep breath, then shook his head before looking up with determination.
"New is scary, but we must have the courage to learn".
Rassa stepped forward, and didn't look back.
From the shadows of the house, Phillip watched his son march towards the woods, a feeling of foreboding coming over him. Just what had happened to his only child?