I still remember the morning my brother Beirgin got into the biggest fight any of my siblings ever had with my father. My father of course kept most of his cool, although his face turned red and his scathing wit bit ever deeper with each retort. Beirgin, not possessed of either Father’s intellect or his discipline, resorted to yelling and screaming, and at the apex of his outburst called him an idiotic, senile old horndog who wouldn’t know public policy if Anasterian himself shoved it up his ass.
Father turned Beirgin into a rabbit. Then he picked his son up by the scruff and told him what was what, knowing that Beirgin had no choice but to listen.
Kuvasei is not me. Her situation is not mine. I have to stop equating them.
The times I regret abandoning my arcane training are few. But when my daughter called me deluded and accused me of trying to deceive her, my fingers would not find the patterns to enact the discipline upon her that my father levied upon my brother. I had sufficient control to refrain from doing her any actual harm. But my father never struck me. My mother did – and though it succeeded in capturing my attention in the moment the act, like so much else she did, ultimately lessened my respect for her.
I cannot even attempt to fathom the level of willful ignorance in which Kuvasei is wallowing without becoming enraged. Westel is a Ranger-Captain of the Farstriders. I am one of the pre-eminent warlocks in Quel’thalas – in the Horde – and possibly the most powerful of my generation. Taken together, Westel and I have two hundred years’ more experience in the world than she does. So why does she continue to insist that neither of us know what the fuck we are talking about in our areas of expertise? That we are making things up to scare her, or that we are manipulating facts to serve our own ends!
The fact is that she should be scared. She should be cautious, she should be wary. She assumes that the demoness taunting her is simple, or easily outwitted. Good gods. Creatures do not rise to the rank in the Legion that this one has by being stupid. You don’t overcome these creatures by finding loopholes. But when I try to tell her this, she tells me I am paranoid. She doesn’t listen.
All I want is for her to listen to me – listen, understand, and believe. To trust me, and trust my experience. The one thing I need her to do, she won’t. And I can’t make her. I cannot make her listen.
Westel is not my father. Hell, he’s not even properly Kuvasei’s. But every time he rejects her for her choices, it sparks that old, deep-seated fear of what Kieran Duskflame would have to say about mine.
I know he loved my mother, despite their differences, their ‘arrangements’, and the decades of volatile history between them. I know she loved him, though she loved others as well; she still knew his name long after she had forgotten mine. Would he blame me for what happened to her?
Would he find fault with me for not doing more to keep Cearalaith safe? Or would he chide me for trying to discourage her from her chosen path? I don’t even dare to wonder what he would have thought of more recent events – I know I have done her wrong. But the years I spent trying to do what was best for her… did I succeed? Or in my ignorance, did I harm her then as well?
Would he agree that I have made the best choices, given my options, under the circumstances? Or would he turn his back on me?
I do know that, angry though he might have been, my father never abandoned any of his children. At times, I even let myself think that Father might be proud of me. But I cannot see him accepting what I have done. What I have become.
With everything I’ve done, everything I’ve accomplished – with all the times I’ve told myself that it was for the greater good. If he were to appear, and to look at me the way Westel does at Kuvasei, I might just break.
Father would have approved of my taking Kuvasei under my wing. He told me one day I would understand his motives in taking in Stavier Luminiar, and he was right. But he never adopted Stavier, never called him son. I and my siblings were never asked to accept him as a brother. Even this situation was different: Stavier was more self-aware, and he had a mother and father and sister of his own, unlike Kuvasei, and thus had no need to fill these gaps.
Parents would die to protect their children. Would my father have died for Stavier?
I think he would understand my conviction, and respect my decisions to follow through with the commitment I’ve made. What kind of a mother abandons her child, at any age, or under any circumstances?
Yet still I doubt myself. When those traces of fear appear… are they real, or calculated? The announcement she made last night seemed less like a declaration of her true feelings than a clumsy maneuver meant to buy her more time. When she leapt to bargain with me to keep me from leaving, it only confirmed my suspicions. But when I looked at her, and saw her eyes filled with fear… I became torn again.
I tell her she should be afraid; at the time I made my choices I did not have the luxury of fear. I did not have a mother to comfort me, protect me, and fight for me. She does, and yet she takes this as a license to continue on her path of self-destruction. She doesn’t care that it hurts herself, much less that it hurts me – not enough to stop, at least. And while she swears that she will not let harm come to her sisters, she refuses to acknowledge that even now she is hurting them.
And if doing right by Kuvasei means harming Laurelia and Anais – if it means possibly leaving them motherless… is that any less of an abandonment? And of children so small, who certainly need a mother’s care more. It breaks my heart when Laurelia asks for her Koobee… but she asks less and less, these days, and one day she may stop asking at all.
It hurts. But is it right?
I know Westel’s answer. He loves Kuvasei. But he sees that she is nearly a woman grown, and has arrived where she is entirely through her own choices.
You can love someone, and still be unable to forgive them.