Chapter 16

Chapter 16



I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights lately. I’ll probably have some more, but they won’t be here at the temple. Today is the last day for me. I’ve got a few people left to say goodbye to, but most of my affairs are in order. I’ve got an apartment all set up, utilities and all that stuff. I want to bolt out of the door. I’ve had everything set up since I got my sentence. I’ve had most of my belonging sent to the apartment already. Surprisingly Elser helped with that. He arranged for a few of the people on leave or taking jobs in the city to drop things off for me. He must be over himself with joy knowing I’ll be out of his hair forever in a few days. I could have left already but I’m stalling. Dalia still hasn’t spoken to me. I’ve been trying to say goodbye to her for a while now. There always seems to be something in the way.

A knock comes at the door, I think I’ve had six visitors the entire time I’ve been here. Hopefully it’s Dalia finally come to say goodbye. Instead I open the door to see Elser, maybe. He’s dressed in casual clothes and has his hair tied back. As far as I’m concerned this is a first for either of those. I knew he was an elf or at least half. This is the first time I’ve seen his ears, they aren’t completely pointed but there’s a point to them. He’s half elf for sure. But why is he here?

“Um, hello,” I greet him hesitantly.

“Good morning, would you care to join me on a run Jason,” he asks jumping to the point and throwing me off by calling me Jason.

“Sure, let me grab some running shoes.”

I didn’t even know Elser worked out, I had never saw him training. I thought he was purely magic. He isn’t fast, but the man has endurance. We’ve run further than I usually would and we just keep going until we reach the graveyard near the end of the temple grounds.

“Lets take a break,” Elser suggests winded.

“Didn’t know you did so much endurance training,” I say leaning on a tree.

“I didn’t always do it.”

“What changed?”

“You.”

“Oh wow, casual clothes, tied up hair and jokes. You must be happy to see me go,” I’d have laughed harder if I had more air in my lungs.

“No, I’m serious. You’ve been saying we were stuck in the past for a long time. So I borrowed some techniques from you. Despite what you think. I don’t hate you,” he says looking into my eyes.

“Then why are you such a dick,” language doesn’t matter now. I’ve already been kicked out.

“Because I want you to be better. You have a lot of natural talent, you know your stuff and you work hard. That’s three fourths the equation. The fourth part is strategy and you have no concept of that whatsoever,” he throws his hands in the air confused.

“Then why did you never just say that.”

“Because I respect you as an independent person. Sure, I’ve seen a lot of talented pupils. You are hardly the most talented. But, you are not nearly as dependent on receiving direction as the others. I respect that. If you ever learned how to slow down and not rush in shooting off your guns you could overcome anything, perhaps even death,” he says looking away from me now.

“If it makes you feel better, I don’t hate you either. I really respect you. You’re one of the few elders that actually goes out in the field with us. Even when shit goes South, you make sure everyone comes home alive. So yeah, it’s mutual respect.”

“Jason, you can’t come back here for a while. You may never want to come back here. But, I want you to know, you can always ask me for help when you need it. I hope that one day you’ll call me and I’ll be able give you a hand.”

“Thank you, hopefully, I won’t need your help. But if I do, I’ll know it’s always there.”

“Good luck,” he extends his hand.

I shake his hand and heads back down the path we came. It was good to clear the air with him. But, he’s still manipulative. Not in his words or actions this time. But, the destination he chose. This graveyard is where my parents are buried. I’ve come here twice. Once as a baby, when they were buried. Once when Dalia brought me here at sixteen. Neither time I felt any real connection for the people. It’s not like I ever really knew them, or they cared for me. Still, they are my parents. 

I’ve made it to their grave before I realized that I fell for one last Elser trick. Are people supposed to speak when they visit graves? I don’t really know what to say. I suppose I should say something. There’s a very low chance that I ever come back here again. Everything I’ve thought about since I was younger can be summed up in a few words.

“Hey, I don’t really know anything about either of you. I know I was named after my grandfather on my mother’s side. I know dad wanted me to have a name from this century so my middle name is Jason. Thanks for that one I guess because I was tired of being Isaac, Isran, Isiah, and everything else. Dalia always says that you would be proud of me. She said I look just like you dad, but I act like mom. I guess that’s it. I don’t really have any questions about do you love me or not. That’s what always happens in these books. Now I’m supposed to find some great clarity and activate my latent super powers. Well, thanks for giving birth to me. I guess I’ll catch you next lifetime.”

I’ve got a little time left, so I rush over to Dalia’s living quarters. I bang on the door, but she doesn’t answer. I know she’s there. She’s been ignoring me for the longest but I really need to say goodbye to her before I leave. It’ll kill me on the inside if I don’t. I can hear her behind the door, watching TV and laughing. Only a few minutes left and she’s still ignoring me.

“Look, I know you don’t want to see me now, but I have to tell you this,” I start yelling loud enough to draw some looks from people passing by. Fuck em. “I just want to say thank you. You spent a lot of time raising a fuck up like me. Foul mouth and all but you know I got it from you. I was a pain in the ass for sure. But, you always did your best to keep me in line. Thank you, for that even if you don’t want to see me. I won’t forget everything you’ve done for me. I know you probably don’t want to see me and that’s fine. I just had to tell you thanks.”

“I should have known it was you causing a scene. Mr. Zadok it’s time to go. Please gather any remaining possessions,” Eineke appears like a specter. 

The door flies open and Dalia pushes pass Eineke. She wraps me in her arms and buries her face in my shoulder. I hug her back. I remember when I used to have to look up to speak to her. Now It’s like I tower over her. I had never noticed how old she had gotten. She aged gracefully, but I didn’t help. I wonder how old she is now.

“Hey, don’t worry about me anymore. Please,” I ask her.

“Shutup you dumbass,” she says.

I’ve been waiting for this hug for a while now. I’m just glad I could finally see her one last time before I head out into the world. I needed to hear her calling me a dumb ass one last time. Just as a reminder, before I dive into the deep end of the world.

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