Desmon stared at the miel-colored ale, swirling the contents as his mind spun about the earlier conversation. The revelation his father shared with him had shattered him, like the crackled exterior of the glass in his hand.
How could he be part ‘near-ageless one,’ when his father looked as old as Professor Miga or the others Desmon assumed to be the older man’s age? How could his father remain so calm while his wife, Desmon’s mother, spoke her truths of undesirables? How could he begin with such a strong truth and then make a confession like that?
“There are many times I’ve tired of the separation, the silence, the solitude. Between you and me, I thought about the Unforgivable Decision. Couldn’t do it, though. I remember the illness that came – well before you were born, when…when a Near-Ageless One did that. I couldn’t bear to let you suffer that, son.”
Desmon stared at the emptiness of the glass, a space representing his mother’s absence. To imagine that doubled would…what? Allow for an opportunity for more anger and hatred to pour in, increasing Desmon’s chances of following in Michael Sorpha’s steps? How many barrels of ale could Desmon drown his soul in before that unforgivable detour?
That was the beauty of the miel-ale, its sweetness numbing the bitterness of whatever ailed the soul. He understood why Jalem liked the mild drink, why Allen prepared some meals with it. Miel-ale never went bitter, never grew sweeter. The grains it had been based from remained true to their form, only the additives tainting it.
Was that what he had become? One able to wander from region to region, taking and giving before anyone suspected, then moving on because time dictated it, or maybe Quinton’s direction? With this knowledge of being part of a people who seldom aged, who decided when to die…
Desmon emptied the contents before ordering a refill. If he had the potential to decide when he died, then he could deem himself the first and final fighter before seeing his friends fall. Maybe he could accomplish the impossible, of rebuilding with his own hands parts of the regions that had been destroyed, by their actions or inactions.
Reflecting on the chats over the years with the Yomins, Desmon saw a double-meaning to most of them now. They had known, known that their friend’s son could outlive theirs, had known that they, too, would probably outlive their son, or Jalem or…
He took his time with the drink, allowing the ale to sooth the insecurities of his identity. No, he wasn’t half the man that he thought he was reduced to, nor was he anywhere near whom he thought he should be as his parents’ only son. Staring at the reflection in the glass half-filled with the ale once more, he took to heart what his friends had told him for years –
He was Desmon Noble, a man gifted with setting his own destiny.