... now they must watch their abundance of luxuries fall away, making room for the tools of survival, and witness this time of relative peace wither into the same fears that harper's ballads had warned them about for generations.
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 Learning to mature -Rihan

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Learning to mature -Rihan Empty
PostSubject: Learning to mature -Rihan   Learning to mature -Rihan I_icon32Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:37 pm

Nearly seven months had passed since Rihan’s 12th birthday, which meant he’d spent nearly seven months performing the duties of a servant in his parent’s house. Those long months had been spent doing arduous physical labor and filthy, menial tasks which would never have been deemed suitable for a future Holder.

Up until that point in life, Rihan had been treated as a Holder’s son ought and never made to suffer. On his 12th birthday however, it was an abrupt awakening that greeted him with the fear that his parents had somehow forgotten him. Everything that had been his was taken away. He learned to live life in a single, plain uniform, his meals were reduced to one a day, and he began taking orders from the lowest class of citizen. Rihan wasn’t even allowed to sleep in his own room -he slept in a communal sleeping quarters with other drudges. Still young, his easily impressionable and immature mind was unable to fathom the complexity of the reasoning behind his father’s decision to discard him in such a way. Nothing had been explained to him. For all he knew, he’d been thrown to the veritable wolves, left to figure life out on his own.

At that time in his life, Rihan only knew confusion and strife. Life became an emotional battle every day. There were no motherly arms to surround him with love, save seldomly, and only the Hold’s Steward, who was in charge of his training, would give him any real comfort or reassurance. Rihan had been assured that this was a part of his education and that the drudgery would become easier as time went on. Then, one miraculous day, life would treat him kindly again if only he could learn to persevere through this much. That is all the Steward would indulge.

It was all a cruel twist of fate to a boy his age. Anger gripped him and grief threatened to overwhelm his young, feeble heart, yet he worked so hard to maintain composure and brave the hardship with the stoicism expected of him. So it was, the young Rihan worked diligently and without complaint for those seven months. Patience began to wear thin on the boy however, and perseverance proved to be a slippery thing, which he found more and more difficult to latch onto.

It was after breakfast as the the children washed dishes that a couple of the boys began their ritual teasing. Since his being placed amoungst the ranks of the drudges, their attitude with Rihan had gradually become more casual, so he was usually prepared for such discriminating jests. None had been instructed to treat him as the son of a Lord, and by all accounts he was certainly looking more and more like a drudge, so before too long, there became little inhibition on their part -as if they’d forgotten who he really was.
Lord Matoi felt it necessary for his son to learn that he could not be a worthy Lord in the future without first understanding that Blood alone did not create greatness for him, and that to obtain the respect due to a Lord, one must earn it from the ground up. This morning was not a good morning however, to tempt Rihan’s patience for the sake of earning respect. Months of physical and emotional hardship had brought the boy to that brink of his limitations.

“The Holder found out that Rihan isn’t really his son and couldn’t stand the sight of him! I wonder who his father really is? Too bad for him. He’s one of us now.” Being a few inches taller than Rihan and older by a couple of turns, Barton shoved him, laughing snidely as he went to sit down at a table to dry the dishware that was still wet. The other kids all laughed, going along with Barton’s little scheme.

One of the younger children added, “Yeah, one screw up and he’ll be holdless for sure.”

Having tumbled with the shove, Rihan was on the ground. The boys eyes reflected an incredible resentment; not only of the spiteful words they mocked him with, but of the fact that his parents had placed him there at all. And what if the other children were right and his parents were hiding something from him? Doubt and fear, anger and resentment...they all clouded his vision.

Rihan had done everything that a boy his age could do to find any sense of peace in his new life being so far removed from what it used to be. But no more. Rihan felt as though he could no longer contain that which needed some form of release, and even if he had not willed it, he’d met his limitation, so he would find his release.

Getting up from the floor, the usual calm of temperance about him brewed quickly into a rage as he covered the distance between himself and the bratty youth upon whom his hatred had become the focus. Before Barton could react, Rihan had taken a handful of the other boy’s hair and yanked him from the bench he’d been seated on. The boy cried out at first, dropping the utensils in hand; but his surprise was soon funneled into a bestial growl as his hands came up to grab at his attacker.

Rihan dove over the boy as soon as he went down, gripping again at Barton’s disheveled hair in order to beat his head into the stone floor. Barton’s hands threw punches wildly, and as Rihan’s weight shifted with one of the boy’s strikes, able to roll Rihan off of him. Barton straddled Rihan now and took another swing at his face, landing the blow solidly, which nearly put Rihan’s teeth through his lip.

When Rihan’s head snapped back hitting the floor, he was left with a pounding ache in the back of his skull, but that alone wasn’t enough to stop him in such a state. One hand brushed against the knife that had dropped to the floor, taking it in hand and in the blindness of his rage, gave a swipe! The blade gave a deep cut across Barton’s forearm, slicing open a gash that immediately issued a terrible outpouring of blood. Rihan’s bully gave a howl, removing himself in order to retreat and lick his wounds.

Feeling victorious at first, Rihan was still a little dazed and adrenaline filled his veins; but he had little time to enjoy his victory before their activities were found out. As soon as the noise escalated enough to be overheard in the main kitchen, some of the adult staff began appearing through the door. The Headwoman’s assistant showed up, calming things down and soon after, the Steward came to take Rihan away.

Rihan felt like a prisoner. He was too busy struggling with his own anger and anticipating the wrath of his father to notice where he was being taken, so when the Steward brought him to a small but empty and open room near the entrance to the Hold, he was unable to hide his surprise. With a handful of Rihan’s shirt collar, the Steward hauled him to the middle of the room and then dropped him to face the door. Clamoring to stay on his feet, 12 year old Rihan would have remained standing but for the fact that the Steward knocked his knees from under him, taking hold of his shoulder to force him to the ground. Fighting to get up for a moment, he quickly learned that there was no use in struggling; and just as he realized it, a shadow cast itself over him. Looking up toward its source, he found his father before him, barring the door.

Rihan found himself not only angry now, but afraid. He knew his actions had most likely angered and disappointed his father -the father from whom all he desired was approval and love! Indeed, when Rihan’s eyes searched the Lord Holder’s expression, disappointment was evident there. But more than that, sorrow became a prominent feature worn there. Witnessing such an expression on his father’s face caused Rihan to feel something akin to sickness in his gut. It was cold and hard and it made him feel miserable. Much of the boy’s defiance seemed to melt away at that.

Lord Matoi’s expression hardened a bit as he nodded to the Steward who responded by stepping back from Rihan.

The boy remained there, his eyes fixated upon his father in that moment, deciding to accept whatever punishment his father had in mind for him. He was angry and wanted to admit no remorse for the fight that had taken place, but he would still take responsibility for his actions. Barton only got what he had coming to him.

The Holder didn’t wait to begin admonishing him. “Rihan, I am beyond furious with you! If I had it in me, I would beat you senseless for what you have done.” It was obvious that Matoi was choosing not to speak all of the words crossing his mind at that moment, because he stopped abruptly and with a kind of disagreeable huff, seemed to swallow the rest of those thoughts.
“One of my servants is injured because of you. What could have possessed you to go at him with a knife?”

Rihan wiped the blood from his swollen lip with the back of his hand, having finally looked down, no longer able to meet the eyes of the one he’d disappointed. Knowing there was no excuse for his actions that his father would accept, he chose not to answer. Quietly, he considered his situation.
Though he knew he had done wrong, he felt as though he could justify it. Slowly he stood, meeting his father’s eyes again, wanting to be able to explain himself man to man. He’d always known his father to be a fair man, so he had to hear his own son out. Once his father had heard his side of the story, surely he would be more understanding.

Lord Matoi’s backhand however, jarred Rihan before he’d even risen completely. The boy found himself back on his hands and knees as his father reprimanded, “You have no right to stand before me. You have disgraced yourself and as my son, have likewise disgraced me! In my own Hold! But.. this will be good for you. Sit back on your heels properly. If you’re going to ask forgiveness you will do so formally. Sekujo is your punishment.”

Rihan’s eyes revealed surprise, though he had no true understanding yet of the anguish that awaited him. Still a child, he’d never been made to sit in Sekujo for longer than a few minutes -that was his ‘time out’- but he had heard stories about the truth of the punishment. If maintained for any real length of time, it could be considered torture. Only a handful of times in his life had he ever heard of anyone made to suffer it for longer than half a day. Then something dawned on him; that’s right, Sekujo is what this room was designated for. Groaning inwardly to himself, he dreaded being left here of all places.

Still on his hands and knees, Rihan felt a bit of a resurgence of the defiant spirit within him. He needed his father to hear him out, “I was protecting myself! I’ve done everything you or anyone else asked me to, and I’ve followed every order given without complaining, and still, all the other kids do is torture me! I work as hard as anyone else! Harder, even! Is that not enough... to make you happy, dad?” Why couldn't his father be happy with him!? What would it take?!

Matoi’s reply came sharply, “Any canine can follow a command! Any drudge can do what he’s told. Is that all that my son amounts to?! Is my own son no more than a canine?” Lord Holder Matoi seemed more furious than he’d ever been in Rihan’s memory. Such scathing words brought the shimmer of tears to the boy’s eyes while his jaw set in tight constriction, binding the emotion-filled words stored behind them.

Rihan was better than that. Why couldn’t his father see it in him?! Rihan continued to feel utterly cast off by his own family. He wanted to lash out at them for treating him so poorly when he’d done nothing to deserve it. In that moment, he wasn’t sure he had the resolve to ‘persevere’ anymore.

Growing quiet, Matoi gaged his son’s response, knowing full well that this was an extremely difficult thing for the boy that he was being made to suffer through -but the Lord Holder had his own methods and would have it no other way than to set Rihan on the right track to being the best Holder they’d had yet. Even if Rihan couldn’t understand that yet. Witnessing the simmer of fighting spirit within the boy’s eyes turn over into a mixture of sorrow and confusion, anger and silent pleading, Matoi spoke more kindly, “Rihan, I have always been proud of you. Don’t ever doubt that. And you will always be my son, but no son of mine will remain an heir to this Hold unless he can do better than become a mere canine. The people of Telgar deserve better than that.

“Listen to me well! You may complete your tasks, but you do them without the full conviction of your heart. You may try to exist harmoniously amoungst others, but you do so without learning from them or cherishing them. As long as you go about your life mindlessly, keeping only your own good in mind, you will never depart from this downward spiraling path. However,” the Lord Holder let a passing sigh between his lips as he went to kneel beside his son to set a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “If amounting to no more than a canine is all you were meant to do in life, then you may choose it. Or,...if you were born to achieve great things, then you may choose to put all of the energy of your heart and mind into whatever you do, being mindful of what you must learn from it all. Do not underestimate the reasons why I have allowed you to serve others for once in your life.

"If being Telgar’s next Lord Holder is what you truly aspire to be, then remember this: in order to be a great ruler, one must first be ruled -remember what it feels like- and any man given the power of a Lord Holder must be able to control his heart. First and foremost, that is most important. You must possess more control than any of them. When you can do all of those things, I will allow you to progress in your preparations to become the next Lord Holder.” Rihan’s father stood again, making his way back to the door as Rihan sat back on his heels, finding some consolation in the words the words his father shared.

Rihan’s anger began to subside as he felt the merciful reassurances of his father’s love for him. He had not been abandoned by his father after all. Though he wanted little more than to rebel against such cruel methodology, there was something logical... something of deeper meaning he could perceive within the manner of education his father had chosen for him; so, Rihan decided to respect his father’s wishes once more, and this time, he would wear the Promise of his father as his armour in order to help him find the strength within himself to make it through the challenges presented him.

Young Rihan made a promise to himself that day as well; he would never be a mere canine -not in his father’s eyes, nor anyone’s!

From the threshold, Lord Matoi watched as the anger in Rihan’s eyes slowly transfigured into a renewed and fierce determination. With that, he knew the boy would make something of himself. That made Matoi very glad -he even smiled- but Rihan was still in trouble for now.

The Holder let several moments go by in silence before he addressed his son again. The volume of his voice was not raised, but firmness remained present, “If you are not already sorry for your actions, you will learn to be apologetic for them by remaining in Sekujo. If your heart is as pure as I know it is and you are already apologetic, you will express the depth of your remorse by remaining in Sekujo. I will let you know when forgiveness is granted. If you desire my forgiveness, do not move from the kneel until then.”

In a manner of thoughtful soliloquy as he turned to walk from the room, Matoi breathed, “My son, I expect much from you...but is it too much I wonder?” With that, Rihan was left with the dreadful sense that he’d unfairly betrayed his father and must now make amends; for the sake of his father and the sake of his own future.

Rihan remained seated back on his heels in a manner that might seem in repose. Far from being restful however, he would be situated in the position for several hours where legs were painfully tucked under him. It was a formal way to show his subservience and express his deepest apologies, and after a while, well, he wasn’t sure he could feel his legs anymore. The boy also hadn’t eaten anything all day, nor been able to get up to relieve himself.

The sun had traversed overhead from morning until it passed beyond the horizon, leaving the stars to become most prominent in the sky. It was after this much time had passed that his father returned to him, and it seemed as though he might cry to see his son in such a state. Rihan was much too dreary to have noticed it however. There was hunger and there was pain. The boy's posture was a bit slumped, but he dare not lean onto his hands for support or move his legs to allow blood to flow back into them. He was exhausted from sitting so formally for so many hours on end.. and he hadn't been able to hold his urine for as long as had been demanded.
With eyes struggling to remain open, young Rihan thought to himself, "So this...this is what it's like?" No matter what, he dared not get up. The pride he found in pleasing his father and overcoming the challenges presented to him overcame any possible shame he could have felt over messing himself.

Lord Matoi motioned for his steward to take Rihan from the floor where he sat and carry him to his own bed for the night after being bathed and seen to by a healer. Unable to move by himself, Rihan had difficulty not shedding tears again. Not because of his excruciating discomfort, but because he knew that he had overcome one of the first big challenges in line to his father's accepting him as the future Lord Holder of Telgar. That, and his father would finally be happy with him again. Holding that knowledge alone, made the entire experience worth experiencing.

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