Lord Sloweswift shuts the door of a poky side room turning to Tret and gesturing to one of the two uncomfortable old dining chair before sitting down himself. The only light in the room is the oil lamp on the side table between them and the fading light of dusk filtering through the small window. The window also lets in the grunts and exertions of Lord Sloweswift’s special fighting skaa. Lord Sloweswift is dust streaked, reeks of sweat and looks tired, both physically and mentally. Tret, as usual when he is in close proximity with a noble, is nervous. Lord Sloweswift does not help Tret’s nerves with his silence, he nudges his cane from hand to hand with a soft thump each time as he stares down into the bright middle distance between for what feels like a few minutes before speaking.
“I’m sorry Tret.” He states finally.
Tret isn’t comforted by these words, he says what he always says in uncertain situations. “Yes Sir.”
Lord Sloweswift glances up at him his eyes full of frustration, Tret is familiar with the look but he was always discomforted by Lord Sloweswift’s disapproval, he was only acting as a Skaa should after all. Once again there is a long awkward pause before Sloweswift gathers himself to speak. “You didn’t ask for any of this, and I’m sorry in my role in forcing you to come here, away from your family. You didn’t ask to be part of the resistance either, but now you are-”
“I’m not done. You see, things are moving fast, soon this whole resistance thing is going to be out in the open and either we’ll be on the winning side or we’ll be dead.”
Lord Sloweswift pauses, Tret knows this pause, Lord Sloweswift was expecting him to say something, after a while he does. “Yes Sir?”
Lord Sloweswift sighs. "My point is, you’ve had a lot of decisions made for you up to now, and they’ve led you here. I’ll be honest it doesn’t look too hopeful for any of us. But now you’ve got a chance to make your own decisions, about what you want to do now the rebellion is coming.”
Tret doesn’t like the sound of that. Lord Sloweswift is always leaning on him to choose between things. “What would you like me to choose sir?”
Lord Sloweswift rubs the bridge of his nose, Tret allows himself a little smile while he isn’t looking, quickly assuming a neutral expression when Lord Sloweswift looks up and speaks, “Look, I’ll try to lay out all the choices for you. First we can find a way to get you back to another noble house, and you can wait for it all to blow over-”
Tret is already shaking his head. “I don’t want that sir.” As much of the hope of safety is appealing, he knows it’s a false one.
Lord Sloweswift continues “Or you could take up arms with us, you’ve got a special talent, it would make you a real asset, you’d play a big part in whether we succeeded or failed.”
Tret says nothing, his lips tight, he can’t kill anyone for anything, not even a noble.
“Or you could work alongside the resistance, but keep out of the fighting, there’s plenty of things that need to be done that don’t require violence.”
Tret, briefly considers whether Lord Sloweswift has noticed his reaction and is giving him this option as a way out, he says nothing.
Lord Sloweswift plows on “I was thinking, for example.” He paused “You didn’t choose this, a lot of Skaa who are going to get caught up in this won’t get the choice either. You could-“
Tret lifts a finger and Lord Sloweswift stops, looking at him expectantly. Tret takes to a few moments to compose himself, this is still too strange. Finally, looking at the ground between them Tret says. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I can be that, not a leader, not showing other people how to be. You see what’s happening here. I just can’t Lord Sloweswift.”
Lord Sloweswift smiled wanly and nodded, “Just think about what you want to do, I understand they’re all hard choices.” He stands up suddenly and Tret scrambles to his feet to match him. To Tret’s complete surprise Lord Sloweswift steps forward and hugs him. Tret is frozen in the embrace, not daring to move. Lord Sloweswift stinks of sweat and ash and soap. Eventually, after what seems like forever Lord Sloweswift backs off “Whatever you decided to do, I’m sure it’ll be the right choice. And if you do need to talk about it, I’ll always make time for that.” With that he gives Tret a companionable pat on the shoulder and leaves the room.
After the door has shut behind Lord Sloweswift, Tret stumbles back into his chair and murmurs “Yes Sir.” Outside Lord Sloweswift shouts a greeting to his special fighting Skaa and starts up a general melee before the mists roll in. Inside, Tret sits and thinks of the future.