Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day Four-Hundred-Nine: Don't tell her

I invited Libby to have a sit-down in a crowded place, namely, the pub during dinner. It seemed the wisest course of action if I wanted to avoid talking about personal stuff.

Going up to her was INCREDIBLY awkward. She was hard at work, barking orders at her assistants as they heaved several nicely-shaped rocks into place on the mill. Now that we have a mason, the mill is expected to be up and running properly by tomorrow, with a millwright expected to show up any day to operate it.

Don't ask how that works. Supply finds demand. Even if supply is people. Crazy world.

As soon as she saw me, Libby went bright red. She ordered a work break - much consolation to a bunch of guys lifting heavy rocks - and stormed over to talk to me.

"What," was all she said, though she didn't look as mad as I might have anticipated.

"Uh." I flushed. "Meeting. Dinner. Pub. Usual time. Wanna talk. Vote. Thing. You know."


"Don't bring Grayson," I added quickly, dashing away before she could respond.

She brought Grayson.

"I was hungry, dad," were the first words out of his peppy little yap. "You aren't big on feeding me properly these days, are you?"

I retaliated by shoving my meal in front of him. It was almost completely untouched.

"Ew, dad, I don't want your leftovers."

Five minutes later he had a bowl of steamed clams (they're migrating through Pubton's forests right now), I was annoyed, and Libby looked ready to talk about personal matters. We jumped right into the Hypermole issue, and I think that relieved both of us.

Libby's position hadn't changed. The Hypermole is the path to the future of Pubton. With it we can drastically cut down on development time by unearthing and selling rare ores to neighbouring kingdoms. We can also use it to hire a bunch of new workers and expand the town by employing them in the proposed quarry (the mountainside) and in metallurgy shops. Within a year, maybe two, Pubton could be Pubcity. Or Pubdom. Or maybe even a name not based off a single building in its borders.

I found it a bit easier to volley questions at Libby. She answered all the mundane ones with a level head, got a bit pissed at the tougher queries, and then stopped just short of plain-pissed when I asked the main thing that'd been nagging me:

"There's a werewolf livin' in those mountains. 'n… a sloth, I guess. How ya gonna get people to dig there if they're under threat? Hell, how ya gonna get 'em to dig there at ALL? I mean… a sloth…"

She sneered and sat back, staring at Grayson. "Sloth. Peh. YOU'RE the one always sayin' there wasn't a sloth in the first place, 'n I haven't heard anybody complain 'bout it in weeks."

Grayson mumbled something under his breath. I don't know EXACTLY what he said, but I'm pretty sure it included "that stupid witch".

"What'd you say, sweetie?" Libby asked, smiling.

"Nothing, mom." He smiled up at her, a stringy bit of clam flesh hanging from his mouth.

"Atta boy." She cleaned his face and turned back to me. "If there's a werewolf, we'll deal with it. Did it before, 'n we can do it now."

The last time we 'dealt' with a werewolf, the castle nearly got overrun by the ravenous bastards. And Libby was one of them. Given that Antonia STILL seems wary about biting people, though, I changed the subject. "Are you really sure this is a good idea? I mean… that mountain… sure, it could be great, but… remember what happened back home…"

"Completely different. Jeffrey was an idiot, 'n ya had a traitorous bastard runnin' things. We all trust each other, here."

My eyes flickered to Grayson. "But… well, when we were there last time, we found -"

Suddenly a foot NAILED my own beneath the table. I yelped, almost biting my tongue, and glared at the only person there who could have done it.

Grayson smiled. "Sorry, dad, didn't mean to. Um, though, mom? I agree with dad. I don't think you should go digging."

We both looked at our son, surprised. Libby particularly so. "Are you sure, Gray? You never said anything while I was workin' on the schematics…"

"Oh, I was too busy with Aunt June. She's a lot of fun." Big smile. "But I am a little worried. There were strange things under your old castle, right? You've told me about them before?"

"Yep. 'n you were there with me, I think, little man." She ruffled his hair.

"Heh. Yeah, I guess… what if you dig more up here, mom? I mean, it would totally be an accident, but… it could happen, you don't know…"

"I don't think it will. We aren't bad guys, Gray. We aren't lookin' for things like that."

"Mm. I guess so." He took a small bite of clam. "Though didn't you say dad got duped by the bad guys? They seem to come looking for him an awful lot. Maybe he calls them here…?"

This visibly shook Libby. There was a lot - A LOT - of doubt in her eyes. "G… Grayson, don't say stuff like that 'bout your dad. He… he wouldn't do that."

"No. I guess not." He grinned broadly. "It's not like he likes my sister over me, after all. She was a bad guy, right, mom?"

Libby turned slowly to look at me. A thousand little moments of me defending Eve sparked and burned in her expression. "Yes, I guess she was."

I bit my lip. Defending myself, and Eve, was the worst thing I could have done in that moment. And I knew it.

"I'm… gonna go use the can," Libby said slowly. "I'll be back. Stay here, Gray."


Libby left, watching me over her shoulder. She didn't go to the bathroom. I have no idea where she went. Maybe she needed some air.

I didn't have time to think about it. Grayson demanded attention as soon as she was out of earshot. "Don't tell her."


"About the mountain. Don't tell her. I'll find another way of stopping the dig. One that won't drive her to crazy conclusions."

'Another way.' I shuddered. "You made that sloth, didn't you?"

Grayson's eyes narrowed, turning his happy grin into childish malevolence. "I don't know what you're talking about. All I know is that you'd do well to stay away from my mother."

I stood. "Are you threatening me? My own son's threatenin' me?"

"You know I can." Grayson remained calm, his hands folded, a smear of clam juice still staining his chin. It did nothing to diminish his menace. "And if I were you, I'd stop calling me your 'son'. It disgusts me… and so do you. Tainted one."

I clenched my fists. The punch I hadn't thrown the other day was on the verge of exploding in Grayson's face, even if it would have meant murder at his mother's hands. And he seemed to yearn for that, to desire it above all else, his face so open and charming and wanting and needing to be hit, as if it would open a gate I couldn't close again afterward.

I held my breath, turning to walk away.

"You have remarkable restraint," he commented to my back. "But restraint isn't what we need. I guess you're worthless after all. And worthless things… only unbalance the world."

I left. There was nothing else to say, nothing else I could think to say. More cryptic bullshit, more freaky talk from Grayson, from a boy whom I'm now thinking may not even be my son. I don't think I'll call him that anymore, because it implies a connection we don't have. I'm not his father.

Gods. I need my daughter back.


Dragomir the Mayor


  1. I bit my lip. Defending myself, and Eve, was he worst thing I could have done in that moment. And I knew it.

    (Ya said 'He' instead of 'The')

    Now on my comment of the day: ...F**K that kid...his Douche levels are exceeding 9000!