Outside

You can read the story from the beginning here – Back at the White Hart

“The thing is,” Lord Cerdig said as he paced in front of the illusory fire. “The thing is, she’s never given me a chance.”

Umbran watched him impassively. “I fail to see what I can do,” he said. “She’s elfen, old, powerful, unpredictable and skilled. She also has a devoted husband and loyal allies.”

“That White Hart thing has brought so much power and influence to York,” Lord Cerdig grumbled. “Ragnar was weak and ready to fall, but now…” He looked around him. “I need you to help me.”

“And what can you offer me in return?” Umbran asked.

“Dammit, I don’t like talking about this sort of thing,” Lord Cerdig said. “But when it all comes down…” He paced around Umbran’s study. “You’ve stayed buried under Warrington for over a century. You stay in your three rooms and worry. I know that you get all the books and papers, and I know that you have the internet. But it’s not much of a life.” Lord Cerdig poked an angry finger at him. “I’m supposed to be your prince, the one who looks after his people. The loyalty is supposed to go both ways. I’m supposed to look after you.”

“I’m happy here,” Umbran said.

“No you’re not,” Lord Cerdig contradicted. “You feel safe, away from all the scary things that you imagine up there.” He frowned. “Don’t make me talk like this. It isn’t natural. Just go and speak to Lady Freydis. It won’t kill you.”

Umbran looked up at the dim ceiling. He wasn’t an elfen, not exactly, but he had more than enough power to carve out this tiny domain, safe away from the worry of what the normals would do next. “I may not be happy, but I am not unhappy.”

“Don’t tell anyone that I’m this sentimental, but try and imagine being happy instead,” Lord Cerdig snapped. “As your prince, I’m ordering you to go and speak to Lady Freydis. And yes, I know that I can’t force you but I’m saying it anyway.” He grimaced. “And this planner is supposed to help with anxiety. Try using it.” He pulled a flowery notebook from his pocket and slapped it into Umbran’s unresisting hand. “I swear I’m going soft. But dammit, just go outside.” He spun on his heel and left Umbran to his imagination.

This chapter is inspired by Writing Prompt Number 16

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