In a pleasant and placid field, miles away from any city, sat a small complex of buildings. It was too small to be a town, but too large to be a family’s home. Well, a traditional family.
Dunell Hall housed about 110 children of varying ages and a much smaller number of adults. Still, the hall was kept in good condition. Anyone old enough did their part, and there was a positive pulse of camaraderie that hung in the air. Of course, those who worked hard also played hard, and many of the youth found themselves out and about, romping within the agreeable weather that washed over the complex.
While the children played Macarus Sympos took the opportunity to seek out his nephew who had stayed with him for the past several months. A breeze tickled through his near-silver hair as he turned his head to look over the grounds. When he spotted the boy from a distance, Macarus grinned and walked over.
Eryximachus for his part was taking the time to doze in the sun, his bare back lying against the soft spring grass. He yawned lightly, bordering on sleep, his mind swilling with pleasant plans for the evening. He stirred only when he heard that very familiar voice,
“Beloved nephew!” Macarus boomed with a chuckle, “I know you may be going for that saucy island look to go along with your dark hair – but I have bad news. Your scales won’t tan.”
Eryximachus let a momentary grin come to his lips before replying, eyes still closed, “How would any of us know? It’s not like I can be outside without a shirt in Estin. Let’s give it more time.”
Macarus crossed his arms, smiling down at the teenager. His voice slanted with a joke-mock tone, “So you are trying to look good for the girls then.” Eryximachus only snorted. Macarus shook his head, taking a seat in the grass next to his nephew. “Now would be the time – you’ve got this whole…dark and brooding look about you that teenage girls are crazy about.” Without delay Eryximachus grinned and replied with, “Oh, so you know what teenage girls like?”
Macarus laughed and threw uprooted grass into the youth’s face. “You awful smart-ass. This is why your Dad kicked you out of the house.” Eryximachus laughed, finally opening his eyes to look up to his Uncle, “Oh yes, because that how I wound up here. Yes, my Father was the one who instigated this.”
Macarus shrugged, “Your Father is the reason you’re here Eryximachus. It may not have been his idea originally, but he agreed to it because he really thought this would…” Macarus paused, trying to find a way to articulate such a sensitive point, “act as a nice do-over so to say.”
Eryximachus shrugged, lying his head back down. “He can believe whatever he wants. I’m relaxed here, but I know when I go back to Estin all my troubles will come back again.” Macrus frowned slightly, “Why?”
Eryximachus thought a moment, but then spoke with a soft voice. “There’s nothing good there. People are only nice to you when they want something from you. You’d be dumb not to see it. I’m just…always ready for something to go wrong at school or to trust the wrong person. I just don’t understand how anything works. I just get nervous…and then Father treats it like it’s my fault…and the only time I feel like I can catch my breath or relax is when I’m alone – but he clearly resents me wanting to be alone a lot.” He paused, knitting his eyebrows, and embittering his voice “I’m on-edge and unhappy all of the time in Estin and he doesn’t give a damn!”
“If the city is in pain in an abstract sense, my Dad jumps to help. Even put himself in danger! But when his own son is in actual pain, the most he’ll do is deliver half-baked advice or a lecture. I just…” The youth sighed, covering his face with his hands in frustration, failing to put together the rest of his thoughts.
Macarus relaxed, patting Eryximachus’ arm. “I think I understand. Oh nephew, I really wish you would tell your Dad these things instead of me.” There was a long pause between the two. They listened to the breeze rattle leaves, and the children playing in the distance. Eventually, Macarus attempted to reconnect with his young nephew.
“You know, things were much easier for your Father when he was growing up. Our Dad taught us about Heironious and his lessons, and your Father just took to it all like a fish to water. From when he was younger than you, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Make his hometown better than what it was. It was a very simple idea that mixed well with Anytus’ gift for vision.”
Eryximachus opened his eyes and stared off into the sky, listening with as much patience as he could muster. “When your Father found out he was having a family of his own, well, I think he got ideas in his head about that too. Of course he did. What parent doesn’t want to imagine the things their children can accomplish? He was so proud of you, even before you were born. And he was so quick to give you a strong and unique name as soon as he found out you were a boy.”
Macarus, smiled at the memories of his older brother preparing for fatherhood. His voice leaked with affectionate warmth and nostalgia before turning into a more thoughtful tone. “But you know… I think he assumed things would work the same way for you that they did for him. That you would love Heironious as much as he did, and that you would find great purpose for yourself in Estin…I think he hoped you would want the same things he did.”
Macarus paused and softened further, running a hand through Eryximachus short, black hair. “And you don’t. You’re just…changing Eryximachus, and I think he’s having trouble changing with you.” He paused again, nudging Eryximachus. The boy looked up to him, his eyes unsure and somewhat pained. Macarus smiled back, “But I promise, your Dad loves you very much.”