80 The Time for Action*
Aegin had been trained to wait. To wait and watch and listen and weigh the consequences of his actions before acting. To be silent as the air and seek solace only in the shadows. He figured that now that he was free of the Ridge Men, he wouldn't have to stick so strictly to those teachings. He truly had no idea what he'd been in for when he'd sought out Phillip.
He hadn't actually found Phillip though, technically, Phillip had found him. And almost killed him. It had only been Aegin's desperate release of information about Rassa that had caused Phillip to pause.
Rassa's father had been monitoring the underground networks of Fountain Ridge for a year by the time Aegin had encountered him. There were whispers of a secret project that the Kildares were funding, but never an indication of what it was or where it was being carried out. It had frustrated Phillip to no end. He'd contemplated travelling the continent to search every Kildare Family facility he could find, but he couldn't run the risk of leaving for such a journey that could take months if not years, only to miss a key piece of information floating around Fountain Ridge.
But when that piece of information fell into his lap and turned out to be far more detailed than he had imagined, Phillip had hesitated.
Of course he'd wanted to go and retrieve his son straight away after what he learned Rassa had been through. The boy he'd carelessly sent off thinking it was better for him. Phillip never thought he'd been so stupid and naïve in all his life. It was a mistake that he couldn't take back however, and with how heavily guarded Jerrica was, it was realistically impossible to rescue Rassa. Phillip had to wait for a change. What that change would be wasn't clear, but certainly things wouldn't remain the same at Jerrica forever. Cornelius was too impatient for that.
So, much to Aegin's dismay, Phillip had settled down and plugged himself back into the underground networks to await any information regarding the situation at Jerrica. Aegin knew it was a greater risk the longer he stayed in Fountain Ridge, as it was for Phillip. When this was brought up, Phillip had just stared back at the boy.
"Then where do you suggest we wait for information regarding Jerrica and the Kildares? Where would be our better option?" asked Phillip, "Without risk there can be no reward".
"Is that what you told yourself when you let them chain your son?" Aegin snapped.
Phillip glared over at Aegin, and Aegin knew he'd crossed a line. Phillip may not have considered himself a noble anymore, but by the gods did his aura still feel as oppressive as any high noble.
"If Rassa didn't want to be chained, he would not have been," Phillip replied, "I have seen his abilities, and there would be nothing that could stop him had he wanted it".
"Nobody could want what has happened to him," Aegin replied.
Phillip nodded in agreement, "At the time, Rassa insisted that being in a cage, being chained, showing them all that he could be contained...he insisted it was the best way to have them accept him. He was adamant about it. And if I learned anything from my relationship with my father, it was to allow your child to make decisions for themselves. Allow them some form of independence, or they will resent you for keeping them back. As ironic as it was that Rassa's free choice was to be locked away, I couldn't bring myself to speak against it. I didn't want to become my father".
Aegin was silent as he continued to watch Phillip's solemn expression, "I don't regret allowing him to make the decision. What I do regret was letting them take him away. I know it's just excuses but, after watching him slaughter all those knights, and then attack his best friend, it...I didn't know what to think".
Aegin continued the silence for a while before he spoke up, "If it's any consolation, I don't think Rassa knew exactly what to think either. If I learned anything from him, it was that you cannot predict what will come of your actions. Whether your intentions were good or bad. The best you can do is face it with courage".
Phillip barely reacted, but Aegin knew he'd heard.
In the end, the two of them spent the next year together. After Phillip watched Aegin fight one time in an underground gambling ring, Phillip had reprimanded him like a father would. It was a different feeling for Aegin, and he wasn't sure whether to feel offended or grateful. Then, after the reprimanding, Phillip had dragged Aegin out to the forest and began training him. Needless to say that under Phillip's tutelage, Aegin gradually got better in combat. His sloppiness and overconfidence melted away over time as he found a purpose to learn and to fight that had not previously been present. When Aegin entered the rings again after much insistence, Phillip had given a short nod of approval. It wasn't much, but Aegin had learned that it was enough. Enough for him to know that perhaps if given the chance, he wouldn't be as helpless if he were to encounter his father again.
They waited a long time for word regarding Rassa and the state of Jerrica. But when it finally came, it was well into the first month of Autumn in 1710. Five years after Rassa's imprisonment at Jerrica.
And it was not a whisper either. It came in the form of a carriage that held the arrogant and cruel Doctor Sagen Zaroth. Phillip had known who it was straight away as it passed by on the street. And he'd turned to Aegin for confirmation.
There was no cage though. No sign of Rassa.
Perhaps this was an opportunity. The Doctor had left his subject alone. But Phillip was suspicious. If not with the Doctor, was Rassa truly left all alone in those mines?