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 him it if she could, but, like Oscar, Erlea knew her place—subservient to the man waiting behind those heavy rosewood doors.
With cropped hair and a trimmed moustache, Basil York 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 classical artwork excavated from Old World tombs to the stuffed trophies of successful hunts, their vacant faces mounted alongside the knives, spears and longbows that brought their mundane lives to an end.
“Your son, M’lord,” said Erlea, before excusing herself from their presence.
Lord York jabbed his pen into a well of ink. “What is it this time?” His 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 justify the responsibility his father placed upon his shoulders. The first time, he thought Rembrandt Payne’s initial proclamation—that the Aristocracy had lied about the incident with the Donara, six years ago—would be evidence enough of Seelie’s treacherous scheming. Instead, his father had dismissed it as mere words. Oscar needed something more concrete, he said, something the town council could not just sweep aside, that would anger them enough to chase Seelie out of Torsten forever.
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 one before, but Payne had twisted the wording of the council’s sanctions to his advantage.
“Do you honestly think a man like him would hand us his guilt on a platter?” York had said, sneering at his son as if he were a shit-stained rat.
Well, this time he had. 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?” said his father, prodding it with the end of his pen.
“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.”
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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.