11: For a Father’s Approval
“Then I had better not keep him waiting,” he said. Erlea stepped aside with a bow. She knew what he wanted from her, and he knew she would gladly give it him if she could, but Erlea knew her place, the same as Oscar’s — subservient to the man waiting behind those heavy rosewood doors.
Lord Basil York looked up as his son entered the study. With neatly cropped hair and a trimmed moustache, he was everything the wild and immature Rembrandt Payne was not. And, unlike Seelie’s puppet, who cluttered his office with technological temptations and childish trinkets, Lord York surrounded himself with only the finest of treasures, from paintings that dated back centuries to the head of a dead beast, hanging above the longbow he used to slay it not six months previous.
“What is it this time?” he asked, dipping his pen in a well of ink and returning his attention to his work. He words were like the crack of a whip, always sharp, always impatient, always ready for the next strike. “I have a busy schedule, so make it quick.”
Oscar swallowed hard. This was the third time today he had faced that cold stare, the third time today he approached that desk to try to justify the responsibility his father placed on his shoulders. The first time he had brought news of Rembrandt Payne’s insinuation that the Aristocracy had lied about the incident with the Donara, six years ago. His father had brushed that aside as Seelie lies and told his son he would need something more conclusive, something scandalous that would cause the town council — not all of them in full agreement with their Aristocracy sponsors — to rise up against the war-mongering charlatans.
Oscar thought he had just the thing when he discovered forbidden technology in the Theatre’s basement, but his father found fault with that, too. Apparently, the Aristocracy’s lawyers had tried to pull Seelie up on that before, but they had managed to twist the wording of the council’s sanctions to their advantage.
This time, however, things were different. This time, Rembrandt Payne was instructing his students to subvert Aristocracy authority and infiltrate a restricted area. It was just what the Aristocracy needed to validate their long-held suspicions that Seelie created the Scar. After fourteen years, the people of Torsten would finally know who to blame for all the lives lost to that hideous monument.
And it was Oscar York who held the truth. The Seelie cellular almost slipped from his sweaty fingers as he placed it on his father’s desk.
“What have I told you about bringing that disgusting thing into my office?” he said, sneering at the device as one would a rat snivelling in a doorway.
“W-we received another assignment,” said Oscar, his fingers trembling as he sought to play the incriminating message. “Rembrandt Payne wishes us to—” he gulped “—to enter the Scar.”
Lord York’s attention snapped from his work to the hexagonal screen, brow furrowing with rage as Rembrandt Payne made his controversial announcement. Before the virtual memory even had chance to finish, Oscar’s father was on his feet and stuffing the cellular into his jacket pocket.
“I shall inform the Director at once,” he said. “Today, I bring Seelie to its knees.”
Because my brain wired itself to hear Matt Berry when Oscar talks, I now hear his father as Chris Morris. I hope I haven’t ruined things for you.