Arancon Firewind raised his bow and drew back the string. He took aim at the target.
“Keep your elbow up,” a familiar voice called out from behind him.
Arancon paused and raised his elbow a little higher following Sunashe’s instruction before focusing on his aim once more. He let loose the arrow sending it to the target with a thud. His aim wasn’t perfect yet, but it had gotten better. The arrow had hit within the third inner circle, better than he was when he had first started with the rangers. Back then he was completely missing the target altogether.
“Good. Keep practicing,” Sunashe said. As Arancon drew another arrow out of his quiver, Sunashe spoke again, “Or not. It looks like you have company. I should probably go find Lin anyway.”
Arancon turned in time to see Sunashe nod to the visitor approaching. His son was here. He hadn’t seen him for a few weeks. He wondered what he had come to yell at him for this time. He walked over to the bench near the practice area and put his bow on the rack next to it before taking a seat. His son joined him, taking a seat on the other end of the bench.
“Hello, Aeramin. It’s been a couple of weeks. How is everything?”
Aeramin shrugged. “Okay, I guess.”
Arancon frowned. He could tell right away that his son was in one of his moods. He decided to take the bait, bracing himself to be yelled at for something that happened years in the past. “You guess? What’s wrong?”
Instead of yelling, his son was quiet. Arancon turned towards him and raised a brow while waiting for an answer.
After a moment of staring at the ground in silence, Aeramin replied quietly, “You were right.”
Arancon blinked. Those were definitely not the words he expected to hear. “I- I was?”
His son continued looking at the ground as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. After another silent pause, he answered, “I should have kept Lyorri. I can’t take her now because I know how much Kes and Ordinicus love her. They’re good parents, and I can’t take her away from them. But I also realize now that I should have never given her away in the first place. It was more than just me being worried that I didn’t have a good example to go on when it comes to being a father. I was worried about losing Imralion too. I’m sorry I blamed you.”
An apology? Arancon blinked again, unsure he was hearing him correctly. “It’s fine. You don’t have to be sorry. I know I wasn’t very good to you.”
Aeramin sighed, “My biggest reason for getting her out of my home as fast as possible had nothing to do with you. You were secondary. Maybe not even that. I think the shock of it all was secondary, but my point is, my first reason was Im. I didn’t want him to leave. I think he’d already be gone if I had kept her there.”
“You know, it’s okay. I’ve already forgiven you for blaming me.” Arancon paused as he thought about the rest of his son’s words. “You said he’d already be gone. Are you afraid he may leave still? Is that what this is about?”
Aeramin shrugged, but didn’t answer. Arancon figured that meant he was at least getting close.
“Has something else happened to give any indication that he might still leave?”
Aeramin shrugged again, but spoke this time, remaining calm as he did. “He’s looking for a girlfriend. He wants to have his own kid. He thinks his future girlfriend and I should get along and everything will be great. I thought I would be fine with him having a girlfriend, but that was before I knew he wanted to have kids. I brought it up one night because I was thinking and I used to believe I’d adopt one some day, but now with Lyorri existing, I don’t think I can. It wouldn’t be fair to her, and I don’t think it would be fair to me either. It would feel wrong to give your own away and raise another. But that was when he mentioned having one with his future girlfriend. So I’m supposed to happily help him raise his kid- no, their kid, all the while he won’t even see mine? I just don’t see it working out. It’s not fair to me for him to ask me to do that, and it’s not fair to him for me to ask him not to do that. Either way, one of us winds up being unhappy. I want to be fair to her too. I didn’t ask for her, but she’s here now and she’s my responsibility. I have to do what’s good for her.”
Arancon frowned in thought for a moment. His son continued to look at the ground, scuffing his shoes in the loose rocks under the bench. Arancon broke the silence, “You have to do what is good for you, too.”
Aeramin’s ear twitched, “Like you did?”
“I didn’t, and that’s my point. I did what I thought was right for you and Maena, and it wound up being wrong for all of us. When we moved to Silvermoon, I knew I wouldn’t be able to find work there. I’m not skilled for any kind of city work.”
“You mean except the jobs you quit?”
Arancon twitched his ear this time. “I was fired. I didn’t quit.”
“What about the first one; the one you first had after we moved?”
“Yes, I was fired from that one too. I lied to your mother about that. I told her the job just wasn’t working out, which, in a way, it wasn’t. It was while I was there that alcohol started being a problem. I wasn’t happy trying to get by in the city, and I was hiding my drinking at the time. I was still able to then, but I was caught with it at work and they let me go. I didn’t want your mother to know. After that, things just got worse. I’m not trying to make excuses for what happened, but if I were able to do things over, I’d do things differently.”
Aeramin raised a brow, “Oh, so you would have kept us in Eversong and let the trolls eat me like they ate Tannethus? Great.”
“No,” Arancon frowned, “I would have moved you and Maena to the city while I stayed in Eversong. I could have visited on weekends and brought money so you could have lived there comfortably. We would have never wound up on Murder Row. I would have had a job that I liked, and there would have been enough gold to keep the house in Eversong and pay rent on something decent in the city.”
“Was that an option?”
“Why didn’t you do that?”
“I was worried.”
“About?” Aeramin questioned, raising a brow.
“About you. About Maena. I was worried Maena would be upset if I suggested that she go with you to the city without me. You, I worried you would think I abandoned you, and that you would think I didn’t care. Which wound up happening anyway even though I went with you, just worse. I thought you wouldn’t like me, but now you hate me.”
They both stared at the ground in silence for a moment before Aeramin spoke. “I don’t hate you.” He paused as he resumed kicking the rocks under the bench. “I’m angry about a lot of things that happened, but I don’t hate you. If I hated you, I wouldn’t have checked in on you after moving out. I wouldn’t have made sure you had food. I definitely wouldn’t have helped you move away from Murder Row. I’m just upset about things. I don’t hate you, but I do worry that Lyorri will hate me.”
“I’m sorry I was upset with you when I first learned that you had given her to your friends. I’ve had some time to think about it, and I realize you were just doing what I should have done. I should have done what was right for me first. Instead, I gave everything up. I started resenting it, which in turn made me feel guilty, and from there it just spiraled downward. I started drinking to feel better, and I regret that. I don’t want you to have to go through anything similar. Do what’s right for you, and find a way to make it right for Lyorri.”
He was met with another long pause. At last, Aeramin said, “I don’t know what’s right for me.”
“You have time. You can figure it out. Kestrae and Ordinicus both adore her. She’ll be just fine with them. If, after all I did, you don’t hate me, then I think there’s a good chance she won’t hate you. I won’t say there’s no possibility at all. Plenty of good parents have children who hate them, and there’s always certain ages they reach where anything an adult says is wrong. I think as long as you do what’s right for you, while keeping what’s right for her in mind as well, you’ll find a way to work through the difficulties.”
His son paused again before nodding, “I’ll keep that in mind.” He shifted his shoulders back as he looked up from the ground and towards the ranger building. “Im wanted to come to talk to someone. He’s probably about ready to go now. I told him I was coming out to warn you that there would be large amounts of alcohol at the party we’re planning for Hethurin and Terellion before their wedding. I don’t know if you’re tempted or not, so I thought you should know ahead of time so you could avoid it if needed.”
Arancon nodded, “I figured there would be. I’ll probably ask Sunashe if I can crash on his couch for the night.”
“It might be for the best.” Aeramin said as he stood. “Anyway, I should go.”
Aeramin was already crossing the lawn to the building, but he stopped to look back. “Goodnight.” He turned back around and made his way to the ranger building as Arancon watched him go.