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All is Fair

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Fabian Aramais Seacaster was the type of person who luxuriated in things. As often as those around him had focused on the grandeur of his life, or the massive deeds of his father, Fabian found himself excited for everyday comforts. The wealth of the Seacaster name and all of the inherited riches of his life fulfilled every material need, but he enjoyed, too, spending a morning sweating over the blade. The taste of Cothilda’s freshly-made Green Sunrise protein shake was on his tongue, his mother humming as she sunned herself on a divan nearby - this was a perfect start to a perfect day.

The sound of distant water birds over the river and the calls of some of his father’s crew as they transported their latest haul rang in the distance in time with the sharp clashing of swordplay. Herzon, Fabian’s long-time fencing instructor, did that little maneuver with his wrist again and Fabian’s sabre nearly flew out of his hand. Only a quick pivot saved him, which was far improved from their last practice, and the man smiled savagely, continuing to attack. As Fabian reaffirmed his stance, his mother, Hallariel, called from her casual pose, “Darling, you look wonderful, are you winning the fight?”

Fabian spared a glance back at her, relaxed and striking in a violet silk kimono, and huffed a laugh. “Mama, Herzon is really giving it to me today, but don’t worry, I’ll best him yet.” Herzon huffed behind him, slapping the flat of his blade on Fabian’s rear to regain his attention.

“Herzon, let him win - my sweet boy, sweet boy-” Hallariel pouted, mumbling into her glass as she sipped at what was surely not her first drink of the day. Her light hair fell effortlessly over the back of the divan, revealing her high elven ears and more than a little of her shoulders. Even sloshed in the early morning, Hallariel was flawless.

“Herzon! Don’t you dare take it easy on me, alright, I need to be strong,” Fabian cried, diving back into battle. He had his mother’s good looks, and with his hard work at the sword and years of shenanigans from his father, Fabian was as cut as a teenaged half elf could be. He put lithe muscle to use in a brief struggle, Herzon pushing him into a battle of strength as their sword hilts locked, both leaping back as they disengaged.

“Of course,” Herzon called back, voice smooth, “I would never take it easy on you! You are a champion - you have the gift of your father.”

Speak of the devil and he shall appear. Before they could continue, the brash voice of Fabian’s father, William Seacaster, came from the side of the patio. The man’s typical garb of tailored pirate wear was the least ostentatious thing about him. Towering above most, his eyepatch and wooden leg were comical, yet intimidating. Coupled with the wildest beard a human could possibly grow and a lack of social graces, Bill Seacaster was fearsome and fun and likely insane. In the gold archway that separated the practice area from the front garden, he stopped with a hand on his hip, reseating his tricorn before taking a goblet for himself from the quickly emptying tray near Hallariel.

“My dear darling boy! There he is, the apple of my eye, my pride and joy.” His beard, damp with a little wine, scratched at Fabian’s jaw as the hulking pirate lord kissed his son’s cheeks, waving off Herzon with his goblet. The swordsman took Fabian’s practice sword as Bill swept his son to the side, pushing him down to sit at a table near his mother, dropping himself opposite. His carved wooden leg splayed out in front of him, and as he shook a finger in Fabian’s face, he rubbed at the joint with a free hand. “Now, today is your first day of school, alright. Now I never had much in the way of book learnin’, and never was raised in any school of any kind! So, I’ve asked around, and here’s what you do on your first day,” Bill leaned in closer, voice dropping as if telling a secret, “You find the biggest, meanest man there, and you go up to him, and you drive your fist hard and strong right into his stomach and send him to his knees!” By the end, Bill was shouting, excited by the mere talk violence. His wooden leg knocked into Fabian’s chair with a hollow thunk.

Fabian matched his energy, instantly imagining the scene - himself, heroic and fearsome, standing at the top of the steps before Aguefort as students around him cried out his name. Behind the two of them, Hallariel rolled her eyes at Herzon as he took his leave.

“That’s what I’ll do! Just like you would have done if you ever went to school!”

Bill grinned toothily, gold flashing in between his remaining natural teeth. “That’s right, my sweet boy. Now, I have a little present for ye’ if you’re so inclined.” He slung a bag onto the table, only just missing knocking a glass jug of cucumber water onto the tile.

“Oh papa,” Fabian cried excitedly, and from a canvas Aguefort Adventuring Academy duffle, a letterman’s jacket was produced. The red and white of the Aguefort colors were crisp and fresh, the leather sleeves of the jacket un-creased. “Ohhh! Papa!” Fabian yelled, hands vibrating with excitement as he took the jacket and inspected it from every angle. With another affectionate repetition of ‘sweet boy’, Bill paused his excitement with a hand on Fabian’s knee.

“Now, technically, you’re not on the team - yet. Bloodrush will have some tryouts today, mostly for people who have played an earlier season. Now, you’re a freshman, but I’ve had a little bit of a conversation with Coach Daybreak,” he said slyly, voice lowering again, “who is the coach of the Owlbears over there, and I understand he’ll be accommodating you in terms of a tryout today.”

“Thank you papa! I mean, the tryout is just a simple formality, I mean, we both know that I have the skills to be a champion.” Fabian’s words were quick, unsure, and his father was eager to comfort him.

“Of course! Are you crazy? Yer my son, yer a direct reflection of me. You and your glory is the same as me and mine. That’s how it goes!” Bill leaned back, slurping from his goblet again. “Now, in addition to your skill and your talent and your raw power as a MASTER OF COMBAT,” he suddenly roared, flinging flecks of wine onto the table linens, “I’ve also paid a handsome sum of money to Coach Daybreak - a bribe.” Bill twisted his fingers, miming coins being dropped on the table.

“Well of course,” Fabian returned, smiling ear to ear, “I would do the exact same.”

“An illegal bribe,” Bill returned.

“I would have done it if you hadn’t!” Fabian called, rising to take a damp towel from Cothilda as the halfling maid came in with refreshment for everyone.

“What do we say is the relationship between luck and talent?”

“500 gold pieces,” called Fabian, wiping his torso free of sweat while Bill cackled. There was a quiet moment as Fabian finished pulling on his new letterman’s jacket over a clean black athletic top.

“My sweet boy, I love ya’,” Bill crooned, prompting both men to embrace in what was truly a sickeningly sweet display of paternal affection. As father and son clutched each other, Herzon returned with Fabian’s day sword, freshly serviced, placing the sheathed weapon near Hallariel. The two made eyes at each other, Hallariel giving a winking wave to the finely cut trainer.

His wife’s waving caught Bill's attention and Herzon took his leave again, the fencing master not keen to hang around and tempt Bill to test himself against a challenge to his wife.

“My darling wife!” Bill bleated, “I’ll be dead in the grave and she’ll still be alive!”

That line of conversation was an old one, and was one that Seacaster never seemed to tire of resurrecting to his son. Fabian wasn’t quite sure if it was supposed to be a comfort, or a warning, or both, but his father regularly ruined the mood at important events to notify everyone of his own mortality. There was a sense of guilt about it as his father mooned over his immortal wife, who looked decades younger than Bill’s scarred, graying countenance while, in actuality, already far older than her human husband.

“You know I’ll be dead before you, long before,” Bill murmured to his son, intense eye contact holding Fabian hostage in the moment.

“Yeah,” he mumbled, much changed from the minute before.

“It’s the elven blood in you-.”

“You tell me every day!”

“Time ticks away, grain of sand by grain of sand,” Bill almost chanted, eyes wide. Fabian stammered his agreement, trying to end the conversation, but as usual his father was deaf to his discomfort. “We cannot live forever. So what must we do to live forever? Write our name on the face of the world with our heroic deeds!”

Cothilda coughed from behind Fabian, and his father seemed to realize he was going a bit strong.

“Now get yourself to school!” Bill cried, and the mood immediately lifted, Fabian’s giddiness returning quick as lightning.

“Thanks papa!” He called back, and went over to his mother, kissing her on both cheeks as she roused herself to give him her own little speech.

“Now sweet darling, don’t go wasting your time with those teachers if they aren’t better than what we have here,” she drawled, and picked at some imaginary lint on his jacket. “We can always add hours to your schedule with Herzon - or even other tutors if you aren’t being challenged.” With that she seemed to exhaust her mothering quota and, with a kiss to his forehead, sank back down to drop her sunglasses in place.

Feeling like a conqueror, muscles warm from the morning’s spar, Fabian grabbed his sword and followed Cothilda to the car idling in the drive. She gave him his backpack, supplied, though he pushed the gold-lined lunch box back into her hands.

“But what will you eat, Master Fabian?” she tittered, fixing his coiffed white hair as he looked at her from the car seat. She was barely an inch taller than his sitting height.

“I’ll eat at the cafeteria. Where else will I find a willing crew? And the box is not much my style. I’m curious what sort of cuisine a cafeteria serves…”

“Understood,” Cothilda grinned, hefting the gaudy gold thing under an arm. It was solid metal and at least as heavy as it looked. “Will you ride the bus home or take a car?”

“I’m letting the day play out; I’ll call for a car on my crystal if I need it.” With one last check of his things, patting the crystal in his jacket pocket, Fabian shut the door, waving a hand out the window at Cothilda as she stood alone on the walk. Seacaster manner, the giant dry-docked frigate that had been his father’s career vessel, quickly disappeared behind him. Fingers tracing the soft leather of his jacket, Fabian smiled to himself as he stared at the passing estates, imagining the crew he was sure to build. Aguefort was his for the taking.