That young Forge would be studying for his upcoming House Placement Exams when his father came up to his room was to be expected. Just who was there helping him to prepare was not. 'Morel!' Gauntlet fumed, unspoken displeasure evident in his eyes and bearing as he crossed the threshold. 'Sent in by his mother, no doubt! Probably dismissed the tutor I hand-picked, without leave!'
He'd never wanted the spineless nanny around. One of the very few arguments the proud soldier had ever lost to Windlass was the one over who would be his childrenís caretaker. He had wanted, and argued rightly, for someone from Tactics And Armsí lower tier to take the job. His House held fine candidates in its embrace, all trained in instilling the skills future members of that very House would need. His own rank within it granted access to their services. And yet, to Gauntletís continuing chagrin, his wifeís fellow Tinker had moved into their home when the mump furniture did.
"Leave us," he ordered. The weak-kneed female quickly piled together her collection of notes and drill-cards and left, skittering through the doorway behind him. She said not a word, but let out a collection of mewling squeaks.
"Please, come right on in," Forge's posture was tense, but not surprised. "Is there something you'd like to discuss?"
The aggrieved elder troll slapped a thrice-folded parchment down on the table. It was stamped with Quickturn's seal, which had been broken. "Did you really think I wouldn't find out about this, boy?"
Still, no look of shock. "Just the one? There are others." Forge reached under his desk, producing three similar documents. "But I already know what that says. I made a point of inquiring with Quickturn personally, yesterday. I got to his office just as the mail was going out. He offered to make me his apprentice. And he's not the only one. Mother says ó "
"Your mother has no place in this discussion!" Gauntlet spit the words out with such force that he had to wipe lines of it off his beard before going on. "We agreed that you would live up to your heritage in Tactics And Arms."
"You decided that. I never agreed to it," the boy retorted. His voice was cool but firm, the one trace of military discipline that he'd ever shown. "I'm going to be a Tinker. And not because I'm following Mother, or Morel, or anyone else. It's what I want."
Gauntlet took in a deep, indignant breath and let it out in a furious reprimand. "How dare you talk that way to me! And how dare you abandon the trail blazed by those who came before you! Me, your Grandfather, Bludgeon ó "
" ó and Truncheon and Cudgel and half a dozen other trolls named after dull, heavy objects!" Forge's ire raised, he rose to face his father; shoulders firm, chest out, legs rooted. Gauntlet might have been impressed, if the words coming out of his son's mouth werenít so utterly wrong-headed. "I've heard the stories. I know the names. I honor what they died for, and lived to protect. My Freedom. That includes the freedom to step out from the shadows of my ancestors and find my own path! I donít have to wait for you or anyone else to extend me that right! They already won it for me! And so did you!"
Gauntlet was a troll used to shouting down any obstacle before him. But for one moment, that final retort left him speechless. His voice, when he recovered it, was softer than he liked, less certain. "This isnít over. Not if I have anything to say about it."
"I disagree." Forge thumped a fist to his heart in mock salute. "You're dismissed, Officer."