His mind raced all night. The beautiful disaster laying next to him slept soundly but he hadn’t been able to settle himself. Finally he slipped his arm from under her, listening to her half-asleep protests as he rose from bed. A bath didn’t settle his mind, so he slipped down to the kitchen.
“My lord,” the gravelly, rasping voice broke his thoughts, making his heart skip a beat. He cursed to himself as the undead knight seemed to appear from nowhere next to him.
He gathered himself as he took in the knight’s leathery scent. “Sir Garradh, I did not expect you to arrive so soon.”
The knight bowed, the still-black hair on his head tumbling down to expose his dried, curled-over ears. Sheigh often didn’t think of the corpse-man as an elf, but he was one, a famous knight who had been alive for centuries before he fell in battle against the Scourge. “I came as quickly as possible, my lord. I have read the letter. It offers great portents.”
Sheigh led Garradh down to the dining room, poured each of them a glass of wine, and then sat at the head of the table. Garradh sat next to him. He ignored the undead knight for a long while before finally swallowing deep of his wine and turning to look at him.
“Sir Garradh Sideath, I am aware that you are a bit of a legend. No, more than a legend, especially within my house.” He took another sip of wine, finding the words hard to put together for what he had to say. “You have served the Llyrandor family since time immemorial. You were wise and ancient before my grandfather was born, sustained to your long life because of both the Sunwell and because of the prowess of your blade.”
Garradh nodded, not drinking his wine. “I live but to serve my prince, my prince.”
Sheigh was caught at Garradh’s use of his family’s ancient title. He looked away from the Forsaken knight again before continuing. “Sir Garradh, through my . . . misunderstanding of your state as a . . . Forsaken, and through my youthful callousness and pride, I have ignored you. No sir, I have abused your trust, wasted your talents on fool’s errands, and squandered your love for my ancestors.”
The ancient knight bowed his head. “Please, my prince, you are too hard upon yourself. I-”
“No, no I am not.” Sheigh took a thick drink of wine. “I am not too hard on myself. I have wronged you, sir knight, and it took me many years to see the wrongness of my actions. I did not see you as a man, I did not see you as a knight or as a commander or as one possessing wisdom of the ages to counter the inexperience of youth.” His throat tightened as he regretted what he would have to say next, knowing it would hurt the old warrior. “I saw you as a creature, as a loathsome undead creature, as little more than a Scourge of my own to order away from me at all turns, to ignore at all turns, keeping you around only as a testament to the love my father and grandfather bore you. For this, I am profoundly, and truly sorry, dear knight. Please know I see you now as so much more.”
Garradh said nothing, staring at the table. Sheigh’s heart ached, terrified to know what the old man was thinking and realizing the blackness and callousness of his own soul. The undead knight sipped his wine softly before speaking. “My prince, I would ask your permission to speak freely.”
“I owe you that much.”
The knight nodded, taking another sip of his wine before setting the glass away from him. He squared his shoulders and straightened his back, struggling with his undead form to rise to his full height. His spine protested and his leathery skin tightened, but in his yellowed, dully glowing eyes Sheigh could see the honor in the knight that once was so alive, so proud, and so faithful. The undead knight licked his lips to whet them before speaking.
“I remember having a conversation like this with your grandfather,” he spoke slowly. “I remember having a conversation like this with your great grandfather, and his great grandfather, and his father before him. Twelve Princes of House Llyrandor have I served, from a man who rivalled the Sunstrider family in honor and glory, to men who were not fit to lick their boots. My sons served House Llyrandor. They died for your forefathers. When my boys died, I swore only service to my Prince, and his son, and his son.
“You are proud men. All of you have been, from the greatest to the least. You are not the first of your line to suffer from the folly of youth, and you are not the first of your line to apologize to me when you realize the value of my experience. But I made an oath to you, as I did to your forefathers, for twelve generations. I will serve you, I will fight for you, and I will die for you. I have fought for you, my Prince, and I have served your every request to the best of my ability.”
Sheigh nodded, feeling tears begin to well up in his eyes. “You have, Sir Garradh.”
“I do not do these things simply for the sake of obedient service, my Prince. I do these things because a great man asks me to.”
Sheigh felt the first tear break free, whetting his cheek with his hot shame. Garradh continued.
“I have seen the way men follow you. I have seen how you work for the greater good of all races, not just for the Sin’dorei. I have see you act with terrible purpose, yet hold your hand back in mercy even when justice cried for death. I have seen your drive, your will to accomplish all you set out to do. You are one of the greatest of your line, my Prince, and that is why I cannot act but to forgive you.”
Sheigh stood, stepping over to the old knight and catching him as he rose from his seat. He pulled the dead knight to him, embracing him as tears rained from his eyes. The scents of fish oil and leather rose from the corpse-man, but Sheigh did not notice, holding him tightly. “Thank you, dear servant! Thank you, thank you so much for being here for me! You are the one reminder I have of my grandfather, one tangible bit of everything I must strive to be. I’m sorry, and I thank you for your forgiveness!”
“Please my Prince, we have much to discuss. I know you ask because you need me, and in this hour I feel you might need my advice more than ever.”
Sheigh nodded as he released the man, struggling to regain his composure. “Indeed, Sir Garradh, indeed I do need your experience and your wisdom. Often you attended court at the Convocation of Silvermoon. I must appear before the Council of Nobles, and I need your advice on how to act, what to say.” He pointed at the letter. “This appointment, it could mean anything. I must be ready for anything. I must not make the mistakes I made at my trial, my dear friend. I need your counsel.”
Sir Garradh nodded heavily. “I believe I can help, my lord Prince. We have much to discuss, and only a short time to discuss it. Shall we begin?”
*Auth: I really don’t like this story, after I re-read it. Expect an edit on this chapter some time in the future, to explain just how Sheigh has marginalized his most loyal follower for years, and to get rid of Weepy Sheigh. Sheigh isn’t weepy over people he genuinely doesn’t like. Sheigh sets them on fire.*