Chapter 13 Part 9 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
Temmin scrambled back from the book, knocking his chair over in his drive to get away. He knotted his fingers in his hair and pulled to keep himself from screaming, but a choking sob broke through. "How--how dare you--!"
"I told you, when I chose this story I did not know what would happen to your mother," said Teacher, arms folded behind.
"Uncaring, unfeeling whoreson!" Temmin shouted. "Pagg damn you, you bastard, you block of stone! You don't even remember your own mother! Get out of my sight!" Teacher didn't move. Temmin charged, and hit the wall of air he'd unconsciously expected. He staggered back. "Coward! Drop your shield! Fight me like a man, damn you!"
"You have hurt yourself, sir," said Teacher, unruffled.
Temmin blinked away blood; he must have opened up the wound at his temple. His pain mingled with Tennoc's still-lingering horror into a mounting hysteria. "Do you think I care? What of it! What do I care? My mother's in the Hill--he killed her! No, she--Ibbit--" He threw back his head and screamed.
Jenks threw the door open, knife drawn and two Guards at his heels. "What in Amma's name--" he said at Teacher's quelling gesture. "What have you done to him? Your Highness--Temmin, you're bleeding!" Jenks waved the Guards away and shut the door after them. Temmin dropped to his knees, still screaming through tears. Jenks kneeled down next to him, folded a handkerchief and held the improvised compress to his unresisting charge's forehead; Temmin's sobs diminished into disconsolate, ragged breaths as the big man stayed near, the only contact between them the handkerchief and a steadying hand on one shoulder. "What did you do to him?" said Jenks again.
"A difficult part of our current lesson. I want us to finish this story, Your Highness," Teacher added to Temmin. "It is hard for you to hear, but I strongly believe that hearing Tennoc's story may help you grieve. You are not alone in this trouble. I must return to the Keep now. Your father needs me. Amma's Day is tomorrow. I will return the day after, on Paggday."
"You'll do nothing of the kind," growled Jenks.
"I will return on Paggday," Teacher repeated and walked to the mirror in the bedchamber, leaving Temmin and his old friend crouching on the rug.
"Come now, come, sir," said Jenks, leading him to the sofa. "Hold this handkerchief while I get you a sticking plaster or two. It's just a cut above the eye, they bleed like anything, but they're not serious."
"I'm not such an idiot I don't know that," sniffed Temmin.
Jenks returned from the bathroom with the plasters. "As you say, sir. Ah, Temmin, you've opened your stitches, too, and damn it, you've ruined your shirtfront!"
Jenks laughed. "You're learning."
"I pay attention," Temmin sniffed again, this time with a faint smile.
"Now tell me, what did the old crow say to upset you so?"
Temmin hesitated, but Jenks had seen Teacher do impossible things; in the end, Temmin told all. "When you feel everything the person in the story feels…" Tears filled his eyes again, but he kept his composure even as they fell. "His mother was murdered, and so was mine. When he opened the chest, it was like finding Mama's head--and yours, or maybe Alvo's."
"Nothing prepares you for the death of someone you love, sir, not even war. Some of our friends fell when your uncle and I were in Inchar, and it hurt when they died, I don't deny it. And when Pat died…" The big man trailed off and cleared his throat. "They say when someone you love dies, a piece of you goes to the Hill with them. There is a great bleeding chunk of me in the Hill with your Uncle Pat, and another with your mother."
"Teacher said you never get over it, you just get used to it."
Jenks grimaced. "I will give the old crow his due: He's right. He's often right. I don't like it, but it's so."