Right before partaking in the rather rattling paranormal experience in Ebonhawke’s graveyard with the guild, Fiel had been informed that Farrin, his father, had popped up in the Gilded Hollow, unexpectedly, and was now wandering among its golden spires, taking in the sights. After a quick search at the communal areas upon his return, he eventually found him at his place, thumbing through a few books from his collection.
Farrin lifted his eyes from the tome and offered his son the warmest of smiles.
“The prodigal son returns! How was your little sortie with your friends?”
Mer came trotting from behind Fiel and went straight to rub against his father’s legs, back arched and wings fluttering.
“And here is the little rascal! Have you been a good boy?” he asked, bending over to scratch the griffon behind the ear.
The older norn had removed the Vigil armor Fiel had gotten used to see him in, and was instead dressed in his old –yet still quite fancy– navy-blue and daisy-white travel clothes.
“Why are you here? How did you get here??” The necromancer noticed the pack at Farrin’s feet. “Where is Mother?”
“Ah, well….” Farrin closed the book, put it back on the shelf, and picked the following one. “I asked the people here where I might find you, and none of them were actually quite sure. In the end I found this place while exploring a bit, and I knew this ought to be your dwelling. I mean… the griffon statues were a dead giveaway. A bit tacky to my tastes, but…. And really, you could have picked a spot more easily accessible. Think of your aging father, would you? My knees are not what they used to be. Also, don’t you want any visitors? How are they going to get all the way up — Oh.”
Farrin paused as he stared silently at the engraving taking up the totality of a page. Fiel quickly stepped closer and yanked the book off his dad’s hands, promptly closing it and putting it away.
“I conduct… volatile experiments up here, Father. Isolation is safety.”
“‘Experiments’, hm?” He chuckled. “So I see…”
Fiel rubbed his temples. His mind was still miles and miles away, back at an oppressive graveyard filled with ghosts that weren’t ghosts. The Mists were seeping onto their world, and the necromancer did not have the time nor the patience to humor his father right now.
“Where is my Mother? You two are usually inseparable.” A chill crawled up his back. “Is she alright?”
“Of course she’s alright!” The norn laughed, reaching down to pick the cuddling cat-bird up in his arms. “Oof, you got bigger, you… You mother is stronger than you and I combined, you know this.”
“Then why aren’t you by her side??” He was trying very hard not to lose his temper.
Farrin sighed deeply.
“She’s entering the last term of her pregnancy. She gets… feisty, when that happens. ‘Happened before you were born as well. Every single thing I do, every single thing I say infuriates her. I felt it best to… make myself scarce, for a little while.”
Fiel’s shoulders slumped.
“She kicked you out.”
“Temporarily, yes.” Fiel must have made a face, since he added: “Don’t you worry about her… she’s with her sister. They’re back in Hoelbrak. They’re taking good care of her.”
The necromancer let out a long, weary, and now resigned groan.
“I suppose you can stay with me until she becomes amicable again.”
“Spirits bless you, son. Don’t worry, I’ll be as discreet as a mouse.”
“Somehow, I doubt it,” he replied with a smile.
Fiel zoomed from table to bookshelves, gathering his things while his father sat on his chair, playing with his griffon.
“I need to leave for a little while. Field work. Since you’re staying, mind watching over Mer while I’m gone?” The sight of Farrin squishing and stretching the griffon’s fluffy cheeks while making silly faces and sillier noises was answer enough. “Okay. Feel free to use whatever you need. But don’t play with my arcane stuff and don’t touch the flowers. Most are poisonous. Alright… See you later.”
He was making his way towards the Hollow’s waypoint when Farrin’s voice caught his attention.
He turned around. His father was standing, griffon in his arms, but he wasn’t looking at him, or his son. His eyes were lost somewhere beyond the gilded waterfalls of his hideout. Lost somewhere far, far away. The older norn’s face was grave, graver than Fiel could ever remember. And this vision robbed the warmth in the necromancer’s blood.
Farrin’s voice was soft, barely audible.
“Will I ever know what truly happened to my brother and his sons?”
Fiel’s body turned to ice, and there he remained: frozen, eyes wide, a cold dagger in his chest.
In all those years, there had never been a time when Farrin was not in warm, pleasant company. His friends, his family, his wife… The jovial norn was never alone, even in times of great sadness. But now, alone with his son, he could finally ask the question that had been coiling and rolling in his throat like a dangerous snake for decades.
Fiel inhaled, and his breath quivered.
“Someday. Someday I will tell you everything. Not now. I’m not ready.”
Farrin nodded solemnly, his eyes lowering.
“Well… don’t let me keep you. Off you go! I will keep an eye on little Mr. Troublemaker, over here…” and he resumed with the childish petting and stupid voices.
Fiel left without uttering another word.
He would have never thought…
His father was always so happy.
He didn’t know what was perturbing him the most. His father’s sad, distant eyes, or the possibility of various planes of existence collapsing on top of each other.
He didn’t want to think about either.