20 Chapter 20 The Dad Talk
"Come in Joseph." His father was sitting at his desk in the carriage, grinning at him, an exhausted look in his eyes.
"You wanted to see me? Have you slept yet?" His dad had probably been up all night, running interference after the poisoning attempt last night.
"Don't worry about that," he said, waving at him. "You're a hero! I never thought your magic would prove useful so soon. None of the slaves had been harmed by that poison because you discovered it. The taste-testers and cooks were treated quickly enough, the healers were able to save them all. All of the slaves that have reported to me over the past twelve hours have had nothing but praise for you. I could have lost over a hundred of my best slaves! I can't even imagine if any of the babies or children had gotten some."
Joseph rubbed his head in embarrassment and pride.
"Joseph, they were intending to kill me. Thank you!" He stood and did a full bow.
"You're welcome, father," he said with a slight grin, as his father sat back down. He was really happy that his first spell had wrought so much good. What a coincidence that they got that food at the same time that he had his spell ready to cast! He definitely needed to keep working hard!
"Have you heard about Phenic?" His father's voice faltered slightly. "He was a good man. I never imagined someone would target him to get to me. They probably took him out to make the witnesses fewer."
"Did you keep the baby girl, or turn her over to family?"
"They haven't shown up yet. Because I can't prove any of them were not involved, I would rather keep her safe. It's the least I can do for him."
"Who do you think did it?"
"I'm relatively certain it was a rival slave merchant. They were trying to take me out in such a roundabout way, though, the kings' men have gotten involved. It won't be long before the perpetrator is found. I have reports from this morning that Phenic had sold that flour to all the surrounding villages, too."
"Do you know how long we'll stay?"
"Probably a couple more days. I've offered to take in any babes affected by this, and my healers, while not strong enough to completely remove the poison, can still heal people so that they don't die. If it were only one or two, that would be different, but we're looking at possibly hundreds of people affected by this."
"I was thinking the same things," admitted Joseph. He hesitated a moment, wondering if he could change the topic without seeming rude. "I have a question?"
"Ask it," he said, folding his hands in front of him.
"I've lowered my sleep to 3 hours a night. I can't go any further without departing humanity."
"You want to be very careful about doing that! Once you stop being a human, it's far too easy to keep going."
Joseph gazed at his dad, wondering if he had already experienced that slippery slope.
"Well, I don't even know how to do that, so it's a moot point. I'll keep that in mind if I do get the option. I was also thinking that I need more exercise. Is there any way I could start learning how to sword fight? Or do you have a staff trainer? That seems a bit more mage-like."
"You want to be a mage king, right? Definitely go for the sword. That's a no brainer."
(DO YOU WISH TO CHANGE YOUR GOAL TO KING OF MAGES?)
"Eh? No. I'm good."
That was really weird, the system had never been that proactive before.
"I have several excellent sword instructors," his dad continued, unaware of the system's interruption. "You can start tonight."
"What about Stella?" asked Joseph, thinking about how she sat all day, with him, not doing much more than practice her letters.
"Well, it would be good for her if she learned something as well, however, women wearing swords is extremely odd. We can have her start training with daggers. It's amazing how many daggers some of the women can hide in those ruffled skirts. Too bad she's not wearing those."
Joseph rolled his eyes. His dad loved those ruffled skirts. Even mom would wear one when she knew he was going to be home. There was a slight pang of pain, as he thought about her. Could that be a sign she still loved dad, even when she was scared and afraid?
"Okay, dad." Joseph said, turning to leave, then pausing. "Oh, um, if I did something that may have embarrassed her, what should I do to make up for it?"
"What did you do?" asked his dad, not looking up from the document he had pulled out of the pile in front of him.
"I'd rather not say." Joseph turned back to face him, turning a little pink.
"Is it serious?" he asked, glancing up from the paper.
"I think so…"
His dad studied his face, noting the pink, and seemed to grin, but hid it with a quick cough.
"Give her a few days to get over being upset. Then talk to her about it. She may get over it or she may not, but normally, trying to talk about it too soon, can be just as upsetting. Trying to talk about it the next day can be the worst thing to do, because it gives her just enough time to get the most upset about it. A couple of days to calm down should help. You should be able to tell when you can talk to her about it."
As he returned to the document, Joseph nodded his head. He had noticed the grin, but this was serious. He was glad his dad still gave him good advice instead of teasing him.
"I was afraid you'd say something like that," he said with a sigh. Too bad it wasn't the advice he was wanting. It would have been nice to have a quick fix. Time to be patient.