By the way, I have a new wife, and someone’s trying to kill me.”
Johnson’s instantaneous grin turned to horror. “Who? Why? And congratulations.”
Lince shook his head. “I don’t know. And thank you.” When morning came, he felt refreshed. Johnson came into the office, and Lince told him his tale. Johnson looked worried. “What are you going to do?”
Lockseye folded his arms. “Nothing. When the murderer shows himself again, and he will, I’ll be ready for him. Meanwhile, I’ll watch out for falling rocks. Now, to estate business.” They discussed crops, finances and the like all morning. After lunch, Lince asked “So where’s Rejinal? I haven’t seen him yet. You’d think he’d be curious about what’s happened.”
Johnson sighed. “I was afraid you’d ask that.”
Lince looked at him sharply. “What do you mean? Is he still skipping tutorials?”
“I’m sorry, Lord. I spoke to him several times, but it didn’t do any good.”
Lince shook his head, balling a fist. “It’s not your fault, Jerrold. How many did he skip?”
“All of them, I’m afraid, since the day after you left.” Lince stood up, his chair falling over behind him. “What? All of them? Even fencing?” He picked up the chair. “Blast it, he’s doing it to spite me. Get some strong men to find him and bring him to me, if they have to haul him here in chains.” Still seething, he sat back down.
“Yes, lord,” Johnson said, leaving.
While Lince waited he tried to concentrate on work, but anger kept him from him. This anger was worse somehow, than the kind he felt for his would-be assassin. Finally, there was a knock on the door, and Tom popped his head in. “They found him with his panther, lord.”
“His panther?” Lince asked. Then he waved a hand. “Never mind, send him in.” Tom opened the door.
Three men stood behind Rejinal, but there were no chains. “Wait outside,” he said to the men. He gave his son a scathing look.
Rejinal had the decency to look anxious as he stepped into the office. “Hello, Father. I hear you were successful.”
“In one respect. It seems I had none where you are concerned.” His face was stony. “Have you an explanation?”
Rejinal nodded sombrely. “I do. I started out following your orders, but realized there were more useful ways to spend my time. By myself I can learn about the world and how to deal with it. I’ve accomplished quite a lot that I couldn’t have had I followed your plan. Let me show you what I’ve learned, and done.”
Lince shook his head. “That’s not acceptable. You deliberately went against me!”
Rejinal tossed his bangs back a little nervously. “Only to accomplish more than you would expect, father.”
“I would expect you to do as you’re told!” Lince thundered.
The statement triggered Rejinal, making his polite manner evaporate. “Don’t you think that with me being me, I know myself better than you do? I know how I can learn, and what I can do!”
Lince scraped back his chair and stood up. “I know how you can learn, too!” He leaned forward on his desk, eyes narrowing. “Rejinal Lockseye,” he said softly, “No one on my estate gets away with directly disobeying my commands. Not even my son. Or especially my son.”
Looking at his father’s eyes, a cold feeling went through Rejinal. He thought for sure his father would pull off his belt like he’d done on rare occasions before. Instead, his father rang for the door to be opened.
To the three men, Lince said “take Master Lockseye and give him a flogging. A good one.”
Rejinal’s mouth dropped open, and he stared at his father. He expected him to rescind the order any second. He wouldn’t have him flogged like a common thief. When he realized his father was serious, he snapped his mouth shut, clenching his jaw. When the men took hold of him, he spun on them. “Take your hands off me!” The angry blue eyes and commanding voice made them drop their hands right away.
“I’ll give you no trouble,” Rejinal said. With a last glare at his father, he strode out of the room.
Lince called one man back to have a word with him. “I don’t want any scars. Is that clear?”
The man nodded. “Yes, lord. We’ll use our widest strap and go easy.”
They took him to a small gym and asked him to strip. He did so without a word, and they tied his hands and feet to rings on the wall. After tying protection around his groin, a man paused beside him. “You understand, sir, we’re just following orders.” Rejinal nodded. “I’ll not blame you for this. Get on with it.”
The man put a leather strap in Rejinal’s mouth for him to bite on, and got out of the way. Rejinal bit the strap hard, furious, and prepared to not scream.
He did scream as the first lash hissed onto him. His lack of control made him even angrier, and with each lash that followed, he hated his father more.
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