Wordcount: 1,531 words
Summary: Minder has a chat with Baron over what he’s done wrong and why it was so bad.
NOTE: This is the first draft of a story, so it will most likely contain plot holes, retcons, and other inconsistencies. I’ll come back and fix things once the story (or arc) is complete!
Facing the Music
Baron was able to avoid being along with the older foxhawks, at least until they got back to Oak Grove. Once there May was shuffled off to get settled and he was left on his own, where there were no humans to use as interference.
Thankfully it was Minder and not Flame who cornered him and it was easier to cower before someone he respected both personally and professionally. Plus Minder was very much a ‘punishment by I am Disappointed In You’ and less of the beating you upside the head.
This time though Baron was wondering if he was getting another beating instead of just stern talking to. But after a moment of glaring Minder just snapped at the air and said ‘walk with me’
Minder led him out the side gate, past the glares of the guards watching it and out into the forest that surrounded Oak Grove. The underbrush was thickest right around the city and after a moment it lightened and they had room to move easily.
If it was not against the law for them to kill him outside of the councils floors, he’d have been terrified when they headed out into the woods for a walk. But since he was pretty sure Minder was not going to throw away his devotion to the Laws he felt more or less safe.
They walked for a bit further, following what looked to be a deer path or a trail made by more adventurous teenagers. They continued in silence for quite a while until Baron started to get worried again.
“Why?” Minder finally asked, frustrated and sad and slightly hurt. “Why break the Laws? Did I not teach you right? Did I not give the proper songs of memory and show you the heart of the tree?” He looked at Baron in confusion, seemingly wanting to understand what had gone so horribly wrong with his charge. “You cannot do what you have done, it goes against all that we are and all that we swore to be.”
“I could not just let her die!” Baron objected, hurt that his mentor thought that little of him. Yeah, he had messed up, but he’d done it to save her life– why could not anyone see that?
“Yes, you could.” Minder insisted, “They die all the time, we die all the time, it’s the future we are given, not the future we make.”
“But it was not her future!” Baron insisted. “I saw, I followed every branch on her tree–“
“Because you were going to break the laws and claim her as your rider.” Minder broke in. “Even before this you were going to break the laws, this was just an excuse, an opening for you to make a mockery of everything I’ve taught you!”
“I was, but I did not. There was not even the smallest branch where it would have worked, could have worked. That tree was not planted until that golden ripped it away. I watched that tree die– I watched it and I knew I had to put things back, make things right again.”
Minder gave him a measuring look. “Golden foxhawks work as golden foxhawks must. There is a reason behind every action that they make, even if it does not seem so to u. Godhood is less easy to bear than you imagine.”
“Which is why they can defy the laws?”
“The laws were not made to contain them, only us.”
“But they are us!” Baron snapped, “No more than my feathers make me a crow do there’s make them something other than kin.”
“Ah,” Minder sighed, but they do. He paused in the middle of a clearing, far enough away from the buildings that they were well out of sight and hearing. “We don’t teach you of the golden foxhawks, since they are so very rare and so very dangerous.”
“We follow the laws, as they have been given to us, do we not?”
“Of course.” Which was not really true since Baron had not.
“Who gave us the laws?”
“And who gave it to them?”
“Their mother’s mothers.”
“And when, do you suppose, those hundreds of generation back, gave it to the mothers in the first place?”
That stumped Baron. The Laws were the Laws because they were handed down from generation to generation. They just, well, were.
“They were given to us by world tree, who fed us the laws as it fed us our gifts, through the seeds of remembrance.”
The world tree is a myth. Of that Baron was sure. All the lands that could be reached by horse or foot or foxhawk had been mapped out long ago. There was no giant tree that was an entire forest with a tap root that went to the center of the earth.
“Ah, well, if you know that then I am sure this conversation has been pointless.” Minder sniffed. “Teach me to suck eggs, eh?”
“But it’s a myth.” Baron insisted. “It’s not on any map and all the world’s been mapped.”
“Oh it has?” Minder laughed. “And what’s at the edges of those maps small fledgling who already knows everything?”
“The water’s edge. That is the end to everything– unless you’re a fish.”
“Well, imagine for once that I might know something that you don’t and that the map of the world is slightly bigger than you think it’s.”
“So there’s something beyond the water?” Baron could not wrap his mind around that idea. The water went on forever– there were tales of the ships who had sailed out to find the edge of the earth and had come limping back, out of food and water and without coming any closer to the end.
“Yes.” Minder gave him a moment to adjust to this new idea, but he could tell Baron was not quite believing him. “So, if you can accept that there are things beyond the water, is it any less possible that the world tree is out there as well?”
“I guess not, but what does that have to do with the golden foxhawks?”
“We got our gifts and our laws from the world tree, but we kept ourselves, our minds and destinies. Golden foxhawks get everything.”
“Golden foxhawks are not foxhawks, they are empty shells of things. That is why they don’t have trees when they are hatched. Instead, they are driven things, they have destinies set forth by the trees, goals they must accomplish that have no set course or measure. They are born with a job and use whatever methods they can in order to make sure things come to pass as they are meant to.”
Which is why May’s future did not include the golden. That future tree did not exist at all, even in the smallest hint, until the golden made it so.
“And I unmade it.”
“Yes.” Minder gave him a long look. “Something that should not have been possible, even with both your wills behind it. You are a very odd creature Baron, and I think if we’d known the course you have set us on, we might have left you in the egg.”
Normally Minder meant it in jest, Baron had troubles getting out of his shell, something he could have eventually overcome on his own, but Minder had helped him out and liked to tease him on it. Only this time he sounded half-serious and that was rather terrifying.
“The golden will just choose someone else then,” Baron offered, “the rider is only a means to an end, then it does not matter who it picks. Right?”
“We don’t know. We think so, which is the only reason you are still alive and not bleeding out on the Council sands.”
It was said quietly and frankly and Baron was struck cold by how close he’d come to death. He’d know the punishment for the laws, but that should have come later, much later, and to think he’d nearly died now. He gulped for air and Minder looked down at him without pity.
“You are young, but you know the laws. You did what you did with purpose and malice and we don’t keep the insane alive.”
“I am not insane.” He protested feebly. Although now he was rethinking that, sure he’d wanted to save May, wanted even more now that he knew her, but if he died her future went right back into the golden foxhawks paws. He might have thrown his life away for nothing…
“Thankfully there were enough of us who agreed.” Minder said mildly, “But we have no idea what the golden will do now. It might pick another rider, it might not.”
“Wait, it has to, it can’t pick May, she’s mine!” Baron objected, pausing to chase down the future trees for any hint of such a disaster. At the moment there was nothing– but the golden had changed the trees before and Baron was not sure he could put his faith in them anymore
And that was beyond sacrilege, that was flat out madness. His world had come unhinged all in the space of a walk.