He stretched his long, sore body, before he realized he wasn’t alone. At this point, he should be used to not waking up alone from time to time, but Seymore could never really figure out if it was all a dream, or if it really happened. But as soon as he woke up, he would hear the familiar sound of the young man’s snoring by his side, making it all too clear that it was, indeed, not a dream.
Maybe it wouldn’t have confused him so much, if it wasn’t for the fact that his young Master would rarely mention it during the day. As Seymore did his chores, cleaning and cooking, he would cross paths with the sorcerer every now and again, but he would never insinuate what had happened during the night.
Although Seymore had been aware for a while, that his memories of the pale, naked skin of the young man couldn’t possibly be all in his imagination, it still baffled him and surprised him every time he awoke with the short human by his side. He would never stay long, afraid what he would do or say if the young man woke up and Seymore was still there, even if it was his own bed.
In some ways, he was afraid that he would wake up, and realize what Seymore was; a troll. An old, ugly, worn-out troll, deformed and broken, in body and soul. When he was younger, before he ever arrived at the castle, he might have thought of himself otherwise. That he wasn’t too ugly, and that his abnormalities didn’t bother him too much. But now, compared with the human by his side, so young and curious and skilled, with powers far beyond his years, he couldn’t help but to feel misplaced in this scenario.
His Master wasn’t actually beautiful, by any means. Seymore knew that, even if he didn’t have that much experience with humans. In the West, there wasn’t many humans, and even if he had lived around the Center Isles as a young man, he hadn’t been involved with many humans back then, either. He had seen some humans at the Center Isles, and was very well aware what features was well-desired, but the sorcerer didn’t have them.
His mother, on the other hand, did. She was tall, slender and held herself gracefully. Her features were cut, and her hair was long, black and silky smooth. Always well dressed, always with an authority in her steps.
But her son didn’t look like her. He was short, a little too thin, and had shaved his head a long time ago when his fragile, black hair wouldn’t grow at the pace he wanted. His nose was too big for his face, his teeth were crooked, one of them missing a shard, and his eyes was so deep-set that it made him looked tired all the time.
Despite all that, Seymore couldn’t help but to feel grateful when the human would touch him, in a way so gentle and soft the troll would have never guessed he was capable off. When the pale, slender fingers stroked him, curling around him tightly, he didn’t really pay attention to his crooked teeth or how bony his body looked. It was selfish, Seymore knew that, but he was but a lonely troll, he told himself, and if it amused the sorcerer to experiment with him, who would he be, to ever deny his tiny Master that?
He stretched his limbs again, before he stood up from the mattress. Seymore’s room was anything but comfortable, but as time had passed, he had grown used to it. His bed was made of a mattress on the floor, a blanket and a pile of his old uniforms he used as a pillow. He could probably have asked for a pillow, but he had never dared to. Beside his mattress was a small chair with a candelabra on it. The candle had burned-out before they went to bed. He had to change the candle later, he reminded himself.
Once he had lived in another part of the castle. In the main part of the castle where rooms for the maids and servants, a living space only for them. The rooms weren’t big, and they were much smaller than this room, although this wasn’t spacious either. He could fit his mattress in his old room, but not much else. In this room, he also had room for a shelf, which held his sparse belongings; a couple of books and his spare clothes.
His biggest hurdle with the room was that it was barely tall enough for him to stand up right in. Although he was short by troll standards, he was still well over 6 feet tall, and the room wasn’t much taller than that. It was a basement chamber, probably used for food storage at some point, but now it housed him; the only servant left on the Greenlight castle.
He silently climbed the stairs, leaving his warm room and the snoring, young man in his bed, before he went through with his chores. He had a couple of hours before the young man would wake up, plenty of time to clean the castle, alone, with his own thoughts, rethinking everything that had been going on up until this point.
Why would he, a troll servant, think it was wise to sleep with his young Master while the Madam of the castle was away? While it hadn’t exactly been his idea, he couldn’t deny that he was to blame.
The past months had gone by so fast that he could hardly remember when he had first looked at the human and wanted to touch him. He couldn’t recall he had ever wanted that, before that the young man had begged, no demanded the troll touched him. He shouldn’t have wanted it, but suddenly his weird, eccentric, young Master had him on his knees, submissively obeying his every order, and familiar feelings, he had tried to hide away for decades almost, had crept back into his soul.
He sat down in the small kitchen, remembering the faithful day, when the Madam had left the castle for her travels. As he waited for the kettle to boil, he closed his eyes. He could still feel how sore his hand had been that day; he had burned himself earlier. And he could still remember the smell of ink on paper, as he had read the letter in his hands…
… ,,Seymore, did you hear me?’’ The troll was startled for a moment as he looked up at his Madam, her gaze stern, but concerned. He hadn’t even heard her coming. For how long had she tried to get a hold of him? ,,What is with you? Silly troll,’’ she scolded playfully.
,,I’m sorry, Ma’am! I was… lost in thoughts…’’ he said slowly, lowering the papers in his hand. His other hand was red and blistered, and he knew she noticed. He also knew she wouldn’t ask about it.
,,You seem like you need a vacation,’’ she joked, but her smile soon faded and her eyes almost seemed sad for a moment. ,,But I’m afraid that’s not why I’m here. You know I have been traveling a lot more lately?’’ she asked, checking in if he listened to her. He nodded and hid the letter in his back pocket.
His Madam had been traveling a lot when he had firstly arrived at the castle. That was why she had had so many servants and maids, and why the castle had always been spotless and lively, even when his Madam wasn’t there. When her son, the young Master of the castle, had been born, her travels had stopped. As time passed, the maids and servants disappeared one after another, due to the endless crying from the baby, or his numerous tantrums when he got older.
But Seymore stayed. He had nowhere else to go, and he had promised his Madam a long time ago he wouldn’t leave her for as long as she needed him. He took care of the castle to the best of his abilities, but as time passed, the dust and dirt settled around in the less used rooms around the big place.
She never scolded him for that, but she also had her hands full of the baby that seemingly came out of nowhere. Seymore had never seen his Madam take men home, but it was possible she had become pregnant on one of her journeys, he thought. He didn’t know much about humans’ anatomy, but she had looked slender and like her usual self almost up to the date when she gave birth. It had surprised him at first, but as the baby looked completely human, he didn’t question it further. He just guessed that humans didn’t get big, pregnant bellies, or that she herself had made it easier to carry the baby with her magic.
Her son caused a lot of trouble. Mostly for herself, but also her maids, especially. With time, no one was allowed to take care of him, beside herself. The baby’s magic was powerful, even at birth, and things would fly around, crash and burn, wherever he went.
He was just a baby, of course he didn’t mean this to happen. But as time went on, the small child seemed amused by causing havoc around him.
And thus, the maids and servant left the castle, little by little. All but Seymore, who at this point had grown used to the daily mayhem, despite not being able to leave the castle. Where would he go? He couldn’t go home to his village, and no place, that he knew of, would hire a troll. So what, if the nights where disrupted by shouting and crying? Or if he needed to clean and repair more stuff now than ever before? In return, he would have food and a roof over his head, and that was all he wanted.
His Madam stopped traveling, for a while. He didn’t know what her travels usually had required, but it wasn’t possible with an unruly toddler. As he grew older, she would take off for a couple of days, maybe a week. He could take care of himself, mostly, and all Seymore did was to provide him his meals every day. Besides that, he didn’t have much contact with the young Master, and rarely saw him, actually.
,,I’m going on another trip, not too far from now. But… it will be a little longer,’’ she continued, as she strolled down the corridors. Seymore picket up his bucket and mop and followed to the best of his abilities.
,,That’s fine, Ma’am. I’ll keep everything in check,’’ he smiled. They walked for a little while, before they reached the corridor that lead down to a run-down part of the castle. The part where her son lived.
At some point, after he turned 13, his mother had given him an old section of the castle that no one ever used anymore. Once, it had held a lot of his Madam’s books, both about magic and her litterateur in general, and many of those books where still present there. It had been possible to both make a tiny kitchen and a bathroom, besides the one who was connected to the bedroom. The young man spent all his time there, alone for the most part, besides the few times he ate dinner with his mother, when she tutored him in magic, or when Seymore saw him when he brought down meals to him.
That had been over 2 years now, soon to be 3. Seymore rarely went into this part of the castle to clean, and only when his Madam tutored her son in her own study chambers would he dare to dust off the hallways.
,,I need another favor to ask you, Seymore,’’ she said, almost with a heavy heart as she looked down the hallway that lead to her son’s living space.
,,Anything, Ma’am,’’ he said as he sat down the bucket and mop.
,,… I’ve never asked you to take care of… him,’’ she hesitated, gesturing down the hallway. ,,And he doesn’t need to be taken care of, like that, but I’m afraid I’ve hit a dead end with him. He’ll turn 16 just next year. Then he’s a man, and could leave the castle, if he so desired, but…’’ Seymore’s long, pointy ears flickered as she spoke.
,,Yes he can,’’ he boldly corrected her words. She sighed, but still didn’t look at him.
,,It’s very hard to explain. But no, he can’t,’’ she said sternly. ,,And he’s very upset about that. I think.’’ Her brows furrowed, and her big, mahogany eyes had a shed of doubt in them. ,,But I know… that he doesn’t feel well, right now. Not that he’s sick, and I might… I might worry too much, Seymore. But he could use someone to talk to, I’m sure. Someone who isn’t me,’’ she said.
Seymore looked down the dark hallway, suddenly a little unsure if he could keep his word.
,,If the young Master isn’t feeling well, Ma’am, maybe you could delay your trip?’’ he asked avoidantly.
,,I can’t do that,’’ she said hastily. ,,And that might just be part of the problem.’’ She rubbed her temples with her long fingers, sighing again. ,,I know I ask too much of you. But I don’t know what to do with him. I could have never known… that it would be like this…’’ she began, closing her eyes. Seymore wasn’t even sure she noticed him, anymore. ,,I know my son isn’t exactly pleasant. But you’re the only one I trust with this. I need him to stay at the castle, even when he turns 16.’’
His browbone furrowed. It was mid-August now. When she said, she would travel soon, he expected her to leave in a couple of days, at most. But she spoke as if she wouldn’t be back before the young man’s birthday, which was the end of January. Not only would this be her longest travel yet, since her son had been born, but if she wasn’t home for his birthday, he understood why the young man would be upset.
He had no desire to learn more about the young Master, but on the other hand, he had never attempted to, anyway. The few times he had handled him as a kid, hadn’t exactly been pleasant. He had scars to prove that. But as he grew older, he saw less and less to the young man. Maybe it would be easier to have a conversation with him now?
,,So, in short, you want me to keep the young Master company while you’re away?’’ he asked doubtfully. She nodded slowly and eyed him. ,,I don’t think… I can make him stay, Ma’am… I would simply not be strong enough, if he really wanted to leave…’’ he tried, knowing all too well how powerful the young sorcerer’s magic was.
,,Keep him busy, and he’ll probably forget about leaving,’’ she said. ,,But if it come to that, Seymore… Don’t waste your life or energy… While it is important that he stays, it’s not worth risking your life for. I’ll find him and bring him back, if he does so.’’
He was about to ask how she would find him, and why it was so important for the young man to stay at the castle, but he hesitated a second too much, before she continued into the hallway, leading down to his quarters. Seymore frightfully followed his Madam, as she stopped before the basement chamber at the end of the hallway, and the beginning of the young Master’s quarters.
,,It’ll be better if you… move up here, for a while. The room is bigger, and there’s no need for you to stay in the main part of the castle. You’re most important job, will be here,’’ she said.
Looking down into the basement chamber didn’t exactly fill him with joy, but as far as he could tell, the room was a little bigger, although not as neat. He nodded and sighed, as he waited for his Madam to continue.
,,With all due respect,’’ he said, most likely interrupting her thoughts, ,,why is it so utmost important that I guard him? Why now? And why me? Surely, if you can’t handle him, then how in heavens should I? I know your travels are important, Ma’am, but now… really doesn’t seem like good timing…’’ he dared. She was silent for a moment, refusing to look at him.
,,Are you afraid of him, Seymore?’’ she asked bluntly, avoiding any of his questions. He hesitated, before he looked around. The thought of her son suddenly popping up behind him, scared him.
,,No,’’ he said. ,,I’m not afraid of him. I’m afraid of magic. That’s pretty common amongst trolls,’’ he said dryly. ,,I know… I know what he can do.’’
The few times Seymore had handled the sorcerer as a child hadn’t been pleasant. He was always bruised and burned afterwards, but at some point, the child had had a tantrum so bad, that Seymore still had scars after it. He had no way to protect himself, thus he lost his tusks, with only half of the left one remaining and the other one completely gone. His tusks weren’t as big as normal trolls were, but he was small in general. Tusks was a symbol of pride and strength, and now the little he had, were gone.
His whole face was scarred now. The deep, moss green skin was plastered with light scars everywhere; at his mouth, his forehead, on his big, broken nose, and over his left eye, which had been mildly hanging ever since.
But Seymore didn’t fear him, per se. He didn’t have any desire to take another leap of fate, but had the young man been stripped of his magic abilities, then he might not even have thought of it as a problem. On the other hand, the human had never apologized or seemed remorseful in any kind of way, but he was unsure if he even remembered the episode, or if his mother had ever told him.
,,Don’t misunderstand me, Ma’am. As said, you can count on me. I will take care of the castle, and I’ll take care of the young Master, to the best of my abilities…’’ he corrected himself. She nodded approvingly.
,,Thank you.’’ She smiled. He rarely saw her smile, not anymore, at least. ,,You can set up your room now, or when I leave. I’ll be off by tomorrow,’’ she informed him. He had guessed as much.
The faint footsteps behind him alerted him again. He didn’t have to turn around to know that the young man was behind him; it was all painted in his Madam’s big, mahogany eyes.
,,Good afternoon, my son,’’ she said politely, but he didn’t stop to greet her and just walked past the troll.
,,Mother. Troll,’’ he said, not lifting his gaze from the book he was reading. His mother looked after him.
,,I want you to join me for dinner tonight,’’ she said calmly. He stopped, but didn’t turn around.
,,I don’t think I’m done by then,’’ he said after a short pause. ,,I’m busy. Don’t wait for me.’’ He finally turned around, his big, deep-set eyes wandering from his mother to Seymore. ,,What happened to your hand?’’ he asked with a hint of disgust, as he eyed the troll.
,,I, uh… I burned myself…’’ Seymore said perplexed.
,,That doesn’t sound very smart, now, does it?’’ he said. Seymore smiled apologetic, but didn’t answer.
,,In any case, dear, you will be joining me for dinner. I can wait. It’s my last night on the castle, for a while, so I expect you to be there,’’ she said sternly. He slammed the book shut, not breaking their eye contact.
,,Well, what does it matter? It’s not like you’re going to miss me, dear mother,’’ he sneered. ,,Fine, I’ll join you for dinner, so you can play pretend just another night.’’ He looked back at Seymore again, who suddenly realized that he was staring at the young man. ,,What are you looking at, troll?’’
,,Nothing, sir,’’ he said as he looked down.
,,What are you doing here, anyway?’’ he sneered.
,,Seymore is moving in, in my absence,’’ she said without hesitation. It looked like the young man didn’t understand what she said for a moment, before his face changed back to his harsh grimace.
,,No,’’ was all he could muster. ,,I want my space for myself. I know what you’re trying to do, but I don’t need a babysitter!’’ he said harshly. He walked past the troll again, to the direction he just came from, bumping into Seymore on the way. At first the troll thought it was on purpose, but when the young man looked back at him, almost flustered, he became unsure. He simply walked away, muttering curses underneath his breath.
His Madam sighed, before her tired gaze returned to the troll.
,,As you see, Seymore… this is why I can’t take care of him right now. He doesn’t need me right now… But everyone needs someone,’’ she said, as to reassure herself. ,,I don’t know what it’s like being a teenage boy… But, you do.’’
,,But I don’t know anything about magic,’’ he quacked. ,,That’s all I’ve ever heard him talk about.’’
,,Then let him teach you, I don’t know!’’ she sighed. ,,I’m sorry to ask you this…’’
,,Don’t apologize, Ma’am,’’ he tried, as calm as he could. ,,I’ll… do my best?’’ he suggested.
,,Thank you,’’ she said, suddenly taking his sore hand in hers. ,,You burned yourself?’’ she said, as she without warning started to heal the blistered skin. He nodded and looked away. ,,I can’t believe you dislike magic, to the point that I can barely heal you,’’ she emphasized.
,,Trolls don’t grow up with magic, Ma’am,’’ he said, looking away as if he was a child.
,,You wouldn’t let me heal your face, back then, either,’’ she silently scolded. ,,You must have seen magic in the Center Isles? There’re so many magic creatures there, many different species in general,’’ she conversed.
,,I did…’’ he said, faintly remembering ice blue eyes. ,,But their magic where different.’’
,,Not all magic is the same, that’s true,’’ she nodded as she let go of his hand. ,,But healing magic will not hurt you,’’ she said kindly. He nodded and looked down at his recovered hand.
,,Thank you, Ma’am. I will… go gather my stuff, if that’s alright. And then I’ll prepare dinner, for you and the young Master,’’ he said slowly. She bid him farewell and left him, as he still stood in front of the basement.
The young man hadn’t used the room for anything, it seemed. It surprised him a bit at first, but he guessed the sorcerer spend most of his time in his study chamber, reading and practicing for himself. He guessed he would find out soon enough, if they were actually going to socialize, for once. Most days he spent with very little contact with either of the castles residents, all alone with his thoughts and memories.
He was about to go down into the room, when he heard the door creek and saw the young Master peaking his head out. He seemed both flustered and disgusted that Seymore was still there, debating with himself if he should retreat or go out and do whatever he had intended before his conversation with his mother.
,,I, ahm… Can I do anything for you, sir?’’ Seymore asked awkwardly, trying to straightening his sore back. He considered it for a moment, shaking his head, before he decided to come out of the room.
,,No, I just… didn’t know you were still here,’’ he said slowly, walking past the troll again. ,,I guess I need to get ready for dinner, don’t I?’’ he said softly, seemingly not to the troll. Seymore guessed he was more used to talking to himself, to the point where he didn’t notice he was still doing it in front of the troll. Then the realization hit him, and he looked regretfully back at the older man.
,,Apparently I’ll… live here, for a while,’’ he tried, gesturing to the room beside him, ignoring that the young man had talked to himself. ,,You just have to say so, and I’ll be at your service,’’ he said.
,,What would I need your help for?’’ he said doubtingly.
,,Well, for one, sir, I cook all your meals, wash your clothes and I clean the majority of the castle myself. Granted, not as much down here. Maybe I could focus a little more on that, now…’’ he said slowly. The sorcerer turned bright red and glared dangerously at him.
,,How dare you talk back to me like that?!’’ he shouted, his grip around his book so tight it turned his knuckles white. Seymore quickly defused the situation, bowing down so he couldn’t see the scared look in his amber eyes, afraid the young man could hear his heartbeat from where he stood.
,,My apologize, sir. I’m afraid I’m only used to talking with your mother, really. I need to learn my limits with you, young Master,’’ he said with a nervous chuckle, as calmly as he could.
He looked up again when the human, surprisingly gentle, lifted the troll’s face. He looked like he was surprised that Seymore didn’t scold him or fear him. But in some way, it actually looked like it pleased him. All traces of his building anger were gone in an instant. His fingers were cold and he quickly removed them again, like if he didn’t even notice that he had touched the troll at all.
,,… Okay…’’ he finally said. Then he turned around and was on his way again, leaving the troll in the hallway. ,,Come and get me when dinner is ready, troll,’’ he yelled over his shoulder before vanishing into his bedroom.
Seymore wanted to collapse onto the floor, but instead he shakenly took the bucket and left the hallway. He didn’t think about how he would organize his stuff, and he even forgot to go down into his new room, he just needed air. He suddenly felt suffocated in the dark hallways.
Had he reacted in any other way, he was sure the sorcerer wouldn’t have hesitated to give him a display of his magic. That didn’t really surprise him, but his body’s reaction, had. The sheer look in the young man’s eyes had been enough to scare him. But he felt utterly dizzy over how suddenly it had faded, and how calm and curious he had seemed just a moment afterwards.
All the troll wanted was to peacefully cook for a while, before he had to face anyone again. As he chopped away, he wondered why his peaceful, isolated life suddenly had to turn around like this. If he even remembered how to make small talk and make friends.
Although he didn’t exactly expect the young man and him to be friends, he at least hoped that they, at some point, could have more pleasant conversations. His Madam had never used her magic a lot around the castle, and it worried him that he would.
But all that had to wait. As the pots were boiling, he finally found time to read the letter in his back-pocket again. It was hard to collect his thoughts with everything else going on, but in the mess of his sister’s handwriting, one sentence stood out; Dad died, but don’t come home. Everything else seemed blurred.
Seymore had never wanted to go back to the Oatoak Clan, the village he was born in, but he had never expected that he wouldn’t be welcome at his own parent’s funerals. He knew his sister didn’t mean it in a harsh way, and that it was most likely his mother’s wishes, not her own, but it still stung him.
He only really was in contact with his sister. She would write him from time to time, when she had another child or if anything big happened in the family. He rarely wrote back to her, and he probably wouldn’t reply to this either. What would he reply? ’I’m sorry for your loss, but thank heavens he’s gone!’? He couldn’t do that.
Seymore had a birth defect, that hindered his growing. Trolls were big creatures, especially the ones in the West, but Seymore was an abnormally small baby. When he didn’t grow as fast as he should, the local doctor told his parents that he could do nothing about it. Maybe the doctors in the Center Isles could, but he became aware that his parents would never have taken him there anyway.
That was only the start of his troubles. Because he didn’t grow as big or as fast as the other troll kids, he was often left behind. Not always out of spite, but he simple couldn’t catch up to them, and trolls had no time to slow down.
Then he began reading. A lot more than any of his age normally would. He mostly kept to himself and would isolate himself in his room with his books and thoughts. Even back then, his parents and siblings thought he was a bit off, but at that time his parents had yet to disown him.
When he was a young man, before he came to the castle, after he had moved to the Center Isles, he had had a lover he wanted to introduce to his family. Although he knew it wouldn’t be celebrated by his parents, he had no idea how badly it would end. Their relationship was strained when he moved away from the West, but when he came back to visit with his loved one, the stars fell down.
Seymore’s former lover, and longest relationship in general, was with a pixie. A pixie with fair skin and ice blue eyes, long, blonde hair and a tiny frame. But had it only been that, maybe his parents could have let him pass with his weird interest in the fair, fragile creature.
But Seymore’s lover was a man.
Maybe other troll clans weren’t as opposed to same sex couples, but the Oatoak clan was not one of those. He had been thrown out, warned to never return, and so he hadn’t. He hadn’t heard from his parents in almost two decades. He hadn’t dared to try and contact them himself, either.
As far as he understood, his parents hadn’t told his siblings about the incident. His sister had never mentioned it, and although he rarely spoke with his brothers either, it didn’t seem like they meant him no harm. They simply didn’t have anything to talk about.
All his parents saw was a small, sensitive guy, coming home with his boyfriend. Seymore couldn’t explain to them that he wasn’t gay. In hindsight, they probably didn’t know what a bisexual was, anyway. In the end, it didn’t matter. He had been freaking out when they threw him out, embarrassed that his loved one had to see that, but the pixie had known the risk and warned the poor troll about it, even before they went to visit.
As he looked down at the papers again, he wasn’t even sure he felt sad. Maybe? It was his dad, after all. Maybe it was less about his dad’s death, and more about the fact that he wasn’t welcome at the funeral. When he didn’t want to dwell on these thoughts anymore, he put the papers in his back pocket again and continued cooking dinner.
The rest of his afternoon was rather uneventful. The food was ready, and so was his Madam. When the young Master didn’t arrive, he went to get him, as he had promised. He felt oddly nervous when he knocked on the young man’s door, not even sure if he was in there anymore.
,,Master? Dinner is ready. Your Mother is waiting for you,’’ he said softly. It surprised him that the door flew open in an instant, but he simply stepped away to let the young man get through. He didn’t say anything, he just led the way, with Seymore following after him.
The sorcerer was usually dressed in oversized clothes, but tonight it seemed like he had dressed up. His usual sweater was replaced with a lavender shirt, and he wore firmly pressed, black pants to complete his simple look. It was rarely Seymore really looked at the young man, but he hadn’t been aware how thin the human actually was. It was harder to spot beneath the baggy clothes, but now his clothes hugged every curve of him and made it very clear.
,,Did you move your stuff yet?’’ The sudden break of silence surprised the troll, and it took him a minute to figure out it was him that he spoke to.
,,Ah, no, sir. I will do it tomorrow,’’ he said calmly. The young man looked back at him and nodded, before he went into the dining hall where his mother sat and waited for him.
,,Fine. It’s not like I look forward to share my space,’’ he mumbled underneath his breath, not loud enough for his mother to hear. Seymore pulled the chair out for the young man, and was suddenly afraid that he would take offense to that, but he just rolled his eyes as he sat down.
,,I promise, I will make myself as unnoticeable as possible,’’ he whispered to the sorcerer before he began serving the food.
The dinner was uneventful. His Madam tried to talk about her upcoming travel with her son. She tried to talk about magic, about rules while she was away, but he didn’t really engage in the conversation. The meal was almost done, and Seymore began to clear the table of leftovers, when his Madam suddenly stood up.
,,What’s the matter with you? You want space? Now you have the whole castle! What is it you want from me, W-,’’ but she was cut off when he stood up so suddenly that both the chair fell down and the table moved.
,,Don’t you dare use that name! My name is Nite!’’ he shouted through gritted teeth. ,,You want to have this conversation? Fine! What’s wrong with me, you ask? What’s wrong with you?!’’ he sneered. ,,You barely tolerate my existence, then beg me to stay, just to, what? Abandon me with your house slave?’’ he grimaced.
His Madam was perplexed for a moment, trying to figure out what to do and what to say. She looked slightly flustered over at Seymore, who tried to stay out of their discussion, mostly because of the magic static surrounding the young man, but he felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time: pity. He felt pity towards the sorcerer, who spoke with such frustration that he faintly recognized as his own.
,,I will explain this, at some point,’’ she tried, but he just shook his head violently. ,,Just calm down, I want to listen, Nite.’’
,,No you don’t!’’ he shouted. Seymore rarely saw him this angry, and hadn’t seen anything like this since Nite was a child. He ducked under the table, trying to calm his nerves. Nite sounded so defeated. Like he had hurt for a long time. Maybe Seymore hadn’t been aware before now? He knew that his Madam had her troubles with her son, but had never noticed if she was downright cruel towards him. But it was hard to focus on a hurting, young soul, when the troll’s skin tingled and his heart raced. ,,I want to leave this awful place!’’ he shouted, falling to his knees as something resembling lightning flew from his hands. It hit the ceiling, and unfortunately the chandelier, that fell to the floor with a shattering shriek, crystals spewing everywhere on the floor.
When the young sorcerer opened his eyes again, he franticly tried to put the crystals back together, but with no success. In a state of sheer panic, he stood up and ran out of the messy dining hall, leaving the troll and his mother in the mess he had made.
Seymore carefully got up and dusted himself of. His Madam sat down in a chair that hadn’t fallen down in the commotion. The room was dim and the sunlight from outside was fleeting. He tiredly looked around, ready to fetch his broom and bucket, when she stopped him.
,,It’s alright, Seymore. I’ll handle this one…’’ she said tiredly. He nodded and was about to leave, when a sudden spark of bravery hit him. He faced her again, not taking his eyes of her.
,,I never really understood where Nite came from. I mean, I never saw anyone around here, who wasn’t staff. And… there weren’t any humans in the staff,’’ he started, startling the woman in front of him. ,,Granted, it’s none of my business. The young Master has never been anything but loud and up for trouble, but… I don’t really think I can blame him for that, anymore. He is hurting.’’
It took her a moment to take in his words, before her face twisted in disgust. He had never seen her angry like this, but he didn’t step down.
,,How… dare you, after all-,’’ she tried, but he cut her off.
,,Willa, I am very grateful for everything you have done for me, but as the outcast son of troll parents, who had a child with a birth defect, it’s obvious this isn’t normal. Your relationship with him isn’t normal, Nite isn’t normal, and I don’t think it’s fair to blame him for acting out when you find something more important than his 16-year-old birthday, a very important day for most creatures all around Aenamo,’’ he said, getting more and more worked up about the ordeal. ,,I mean no disrespect, Ma’am. But you asked me to take care of him. And I think I’ll go do that,’’ he said, about to turn around.
He suddenly felt a powerful force around him, tugging him back and turning him to face the sorceress again. She had never used force against him before. He hadn’t even considered the possibility of her doing so. She looked absolutely furious down at him, as she brought him to his knees.
,,You have no idea what you’re talking about, troll,’’ she said warningly. ,,You haven’t raised him. Go try that. I promise you, he has no shed of remorse or empathy, no grasp about right or wrong. It’s not like I haven’t taught him, he just doesn’t care. The only thing he really cares about is that God forsaken magic I unfortunately birthed him with!’’ His big, amber eyes shook as she spoke. The terror was painted so clearly in his face, that even she could see it through her rage.
Suddenly her gaze softening, as if she awoke. Her eyes flickered and her grasp around him faded before she let him go. She looked concerned down at him, looking at her hands as if she was afraid of herself.
,,I need to get rid of it…’’ she whispered, but Seymore still tried to catch his breath, with no interest in knowing what she talked about. ,,I’m so sorry, Seymore,’’ she tried. He could feel that she meant it, but it didn’t really change his view on things. ,,Please, please don’t leave. I don’t know what came over me…’’
,,I won’t,’’ he said, dusted himself clean again and looked at her, with his big, sad eyes. ,,Maybe you were right. Maybe he does need someone like me. If you will excuse me, Ma’am, I would like to move my stuff now.’’
She nodded, but didn’t respond further. He left as fast as he could without running, but as soon as he was down in his chamber, he exhaled as if he hadn’t breathed in years, falling to the floor. His body shook and he felt dirty and broken. Even after all these years, his fear of magic, taught to him in childhood, was as strong as ever.
He didn’t even notice when the tears started to pour out. He rarely cried; it had been a long time since he had last done so. Everything flooded back to him, everything he had tried to suppress, every bad memory and choice who had brought him here.
He didn’t hate it here, he told himself, although it wasn’t as pleasant now as it had been when he started. He had liked being social. He wasn’t any good at it, but he liked it, craved it, as the air he desperately gasped for now, drowning himself in tears and sorrow. But as the maids and servants left, he had been left behind here, adapting to his own social celibacy, in a far-away castle only few people knew even existed.
Had he feared pixie magic as much? No, it had been different, he told himself. His lover’s magic had been light, sparkly and fun. Not powerful or controlling or consuming. Trolls feared magic, as they rarely had any flair for it, and it was almost destined to crashing and burning. The ice blue eyes haunted him, making him close his own eyes, shaking his head to get the image out again.
Seymore rarely thought about the fact that the Madam was a sorceress. Now he desperately wished to forget that again. He had never feared Willa before, but now he simply didn’t feel safe around her.
He fished the papers out of his back pocket again, tearing them apart while he read sentences here and there. ‘I got another son.’ … ‘It’s getting colder. It’s not that long until winter.’ … ‘Are you having fun on your adventures? Write back once in a while, will you?’ … ‘Do you remember that day? We laughed so much!’
‘Dad died, but don’t come home.’
The shame he felt, about everything regarding his parents flooded out. How he felt he betrayed his parents by choosing love, from a man that couldn’t love him in the end. He remembered his dad’s face, the last time he saw him; twisted in rage, with no remorse of kicking him out. Now he would never see him again.
One by one the pieces of paper fell down to the floor. The tears dried and his breath steadied. When he finally was done ripping up the letter, he laid down on the floor, paper pieces everywhere. He felt so tired and alone.
And Nite did the same, he thought. Maybe Seymore felt alone and broken and wrong. Maybe it was too late for the troll to change that…
But it wasn’t too late for Nite.
He stood up, collected all the pieces of paper and threw it in the trash, before he began to collect his belongings. It didn’t take him long, and soon he wandered off with his clothes and books under one arm, and his mattress under the other. He would have liked to spend another night in his lonesome chamber, mentally preparing himself for the months to come, but there was no reason to delay it further.
He tossed the mattress down in his new basement chamber and was pleased to see how much space still was left. Maybe he could find unused furniture around the castle, in rooms long forgotten, or maybe he could make a trip to the local market at some point. After all, he did still get payed for his services at the castle, saving up for an unknown future, although he had never thought to use it on furniture while still working at the castle.
He tossed his clothes and books down onto the mattress, with no intention of making it neat right now. He looked around instead. The hallways were dark. This part of the castle didn’t have as many windows, making it seem darker than the rest of the castle. Although the West wasn’t known for its bright, sunny days, this island was particular grey and rainy, if not dimmer and dry in the summer.
,,I thought you said you would move your stuff tomorrow,’’ a voice said behind him. He looked back at Nite, who seemingly had been in his chamber. The young man looked nervous, like if Seymore was here to scold him, but he still seemed cranky and hesitant about the troll’s presence. ,,Did my mother send you?’’ he sighed, but Seymore shook his head.
,,No, I’m here on my own, sir. I just thought it would be better to move it tonight,’’ he smiled. Nite nodded slowly, his eyes flickering shortly. His mother had said he felt no remorse, but he seemed so flustered about his outburst. ,,Are you… alright…? Sir?’’ he asked slowly, making the mahogany eyes fall on him again.
,,Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I?’’ he sneered as he walked past the troll, on his way to his study chamber. Seymore smiled sadly after him, as he said, just so loud that Nite could hear it:
,,I just wanted to check! I remember all too well how alone I felt, when my parents shouted at me.’’ It made the sorcerer stop for a moment as he looked back at the smiling troll. ,,I will head down into my room, sir. But feel free to speak up, if there’s anything you need,’’ he said, before sliding his tall body down the basement’s ladders.
He couldn’t remember the last time he felt like this. So drained and defeated. Like he didn’t want to wake up in the morning. But he knew he would. As soon as the sun would rise, his inner clock would get back to working and he would wake, whether he liked it or not. But right now, that felt like a life time away, as he looked around in the dark room.
He threw the books and clothes aside as he fell down on the mattress. He should have grabbed a candle, he thought to himself, before he went down here. As he heard his stomach growl, he remembered he hadn’t eaten after the commotion, but there was no way he wanted to get up right now. He could eat tomorrow. Everything could wait until tomorrow.
The room was silent and cold. Not too cold, but colder than his other room, he thought. Maybe it was just him, feeling cold, after running and crying and freaking out? Maybe he was too tired.
,,Actually…’’ It startled him when he heard Nite’s voice, coming from upstairs the chamber. As there were no door, it was easy for him to just look down in the dark room, although he doubted the young man could even see him. Seymore’s body jerked forward, and he sat up as his heart skipped a beat, complaining to never get a break. Although Seymore sat in the dark, Nite’s face was barely visible from the entrance. He looked nervous again. ,,… I didn’t mean to break the chandelier. And I didn’t mean to ruin the dinner.’’
Seymore sat baffled for a moment, just looking dumbfounded up at the young man. Nite just stood there, waiting for some sort of response, before the troll finally calmed down.
,,That’s great,’’ Seymore mumbled, stood up and moved to the entrance to face his young Master better. ,,It was an accident.’’ Nite nodded slowly.
,,… The meal was nice. A little salty. I didn’t like my vegetables… But that doesn’t mean I wanted to waste the food, like that…’’ he said slowly.
,,That’s okay, Sir,’’ he smiled. He didn’t expect Nite to be here to talk about his distaste for asparagus and celery, yet, here he was. ,,Can I tell you a secret?’’ he said daringly. Nite looked a little hesitant, but nodded. ,,I think I angered your mother, too.’’
,,You? How come?’’ he asked doubtingly, but weirdly excited at the same time.
,,Well, I kind of said to her it was a dick move, to go on a ‘business trip’ when she wouldn’t be back home for your birthday,’’ he said slowly. Nite’s face went through an array of emotions in just a second, from his doubt, to worry, to what he mostly assumed was joy. He rarely saw Nite smile, and it seemed more like a grimace than anything, but his big, mahogany eyes were happy.
,,Really?! I can’t imagine that she took that well,’’ he chuckled. He chuckled. A weird sound, coming from him. It baffled the troll, how Nite would go from being reserved, educated and most resembling an adult, to be this blue-eyed kid, who chuckled by the thought of his mother being told of.
,,She didn’t,’’ he admitted. ,,But that’s alright. I… I may not agree with the way you handled the situation, sir, but when all is said and done, she’s still the adult.’’ Nite scoffed, but the smile still twinkled in his eyes.
,,I’m an adult, too,’’ he said warningly. Then he sat down on the floor, his legs dangling into the basement chamber, as to not bend his back while he talked to the troll, as well to be more on level with Seymore again. ,,She just makes me so mad,’’ he confessed. ,,She looks at me as if I’m… a disgrace,’’ he said.
,,I know that feeling all too well,’’ Seymore admitted. Nite grew silent anew, and the troll wondered how he could make him cool of a little more. ,,What made you change your mind?’’ he asked.
,,About what?’’ he asked confused.
,,About talking with me. I didn’t expect you to come back,’’ he said. The young man shrugged and looked away.
,,I don’t… really talk, with anyone, ever…’’ he said slowly. ,,Besides my mother, I guess… I feel… stuck. Like I’m going to be in this God forsaken castle my whole life,’’ he said as he looked at the ceiling. ,,You never… You never talk to me, normally. Because you’re afraid, right? I know it’s my mother’s idea to move you down here, but I didn’t… I guess I didn’t expect you to actually wanting to talk to me… Like, I didn’t expect that you would actually… care,’’ he admitted.
Seymore made a gesture to make Nite move a little, before he pulled himself out of the chamber again. They sat beside each other, both of their legs dangling into the room. The troll leaned forward, trying to find the right words.
He wanted to comfort the young man, and at the same time, he feared Nite would explode if he pushed him too far. Building trust with the young sorcerer had never been a priority for him, and the Madam had mostly wanted him to stay away from her son. Not because she thought Seymore would bring harm to him, more likely the other way around.
,,I’m not afraid of you, sir,’’ he said, for the second time this evening. ,,I’m afraid of…-’’
,,… magic, right?’’ he said, cutting off the troll. ,,I know. Trolls normally don’t like magic, do they?’’ Seymore shook his head silently. ,,… You don’t look like most trolls. What’s wrong with you?’’ His tone wasn’t harsh, and for once, the words didn’t hurt so much to hear. This wasn’t the first time anyone had asked him that, and it would likely not be the last one, either.
,,I’ve heard that a lot,’’ he chuckled, his voice deep and gruff. It seemed to startle Nite, just as much as it had startled Seymore when he himself had chuckled just a minute ago. ,,I don’t know. I’m just born like this. But you’re right. I’m not like most trolls,’’ he smiled.
,,I didn’t mean it like… It wasn’t my intention…’’ he tried, but Seymore brushed it off.
,,I know, I know.’’ They sat silently for a while, the shadows growing longer as time passed. Seymore wanted to sleep, but he didn’t want to break things up if Nite had anything else on his mind.
,,Your hand is okay again. That’s good. I guess not all magic is awful?’’ he said slowly. Seymore nodded and looked down at his healed hand. ,,Do you think… I’m the same…?’’ he said slowly. Seymore looked confused, his mind had wandered and it was hard for him to understand the question. Nite took a deep breath, before he spoke again, this time looking directly at the troll: ,,Do you think I have a birth defect?’’
Seymore wanted to assure him, but he couldn’t. Although Nite undoubtedly looked human, it wouldn’t surprise him if the Madam kept secrets about her son. But he couldn’t tell him that either.
,,I don’t know, sir. But in the end, it shouldn’t matter. Should it?’’ Nite thought about it for a moment, before he shook his head. He smiled again.
,,I guess not. Huh.’’
Seymore placed one of his heavy hands on the small man’s shoulder. At first, Nite seemed startled. Then almost disgusted, which made Seymore remove his hand in an instant. But then he seemed flustered and embarrassed, and Seymore didn’t know why.
,,I’m sorry,’’ the troll said, unsure what went through his young Master’s head.
,,No, I… uhm…’’ he said, standing up and stepping away from the older man. ,,I have to go, now,’’ he mumbled, hasting to his room, away from the confused troll. Seymore heard the heavy door close behind the young man, before he finally decided to slide back down into his chamber.
He didn’t want to think more about Nite for now. He could figure out tomorrow why he literally ran away, after everything that had happened. He didn’t want to think about the Madam or his parents or anything right now.
As he closed his eyes, the haunting, ice blue eyes met him. Always now, before he had to sleep, in his dark room with all his lonesome thoughts. Eyes, that once graced him with passion, now only a faint memory.
He sighed, remembering why he wanted to spend a last night in his old chamber, before he moved so much closer to his young Master’s bedroom. The lack of a door to his room concerned him a little. Although his room was dark, he was unsure if Nite would be able to see him, if he decided to peek down into the room at night.
Seymore had lived by himself ever since the last maids and servants had left the castle, well over ten years ago. That gave him a lot of privacy that he desperately craved right now. As he didn’t know if Nite would get out of his room again, or how thin the walls were in this part of the castle, he didn’t dare to indulge in his nighttime ritual. He had thought he would barely have the energy to do so, anyway, but old habits die hard, and his body suddenly awoke anew.
He grumbled irritated as he turned around on the mattress, trying to make himself comfortable. He needed his blanket, but he could get that tomorrow. Finally, he let himself relax and fall into unpeaceful sleep.
When he awoke, Willa was already gone.