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Morning came far too quickly.
Jove was an early riser by habit. They all were. They lived on a farm and had multiple chores to attend to at the crack of dawn. So even despite the lack of sleep, he found himself up, washed and dressed at the usual hour.
Jove wore simple breeches, that were easy and comfortable to move in. His shirt was loose and white. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he tugged on his leather boots and headed downstairs to for breakfast.
Meals were always eaten in the main hall. It was the largest room of the monastery and a general meeting place. Four round, wooden tables were placed evenly throughout the room. The walls were built of grey stone, like most of the monastery. Tapestries hung from the walls in places. Father Gordon had made most of them over the years but apparently some were even made by his predecessor.
Jove was unsurprised to see most of the monasteries inhabitants already present, tucking into a speedy breakfast before they headed out to begin work. He made his way over to his usual table, where Thad, Emden and Dill already sat talking quietly.
“Morning,” he took a seat next to Dill and eyed Thad carefully. He seemed completely fine, as if last night had never happened. Jove wasn’t sure if he should be glad about that, or even more worried. He decided the former, for the time being, and broke off some bread from the loaf that sat between his friends.
Thad returned his look with a smile that Jove determined to be forced. No doubt he was still ashamed about what had happened to him, and Jove supposed that was fair. It would not be something any of them would really be able to forget. Ever.
“We were just talking about what Thad is going to do now,” Emden told Jove as he filled a mug with milk from the pitcher. Now that Thad was twenty, he was of an age where he could no longer stay in the monastery. That was how things worked. He would be expected to go out into the world and find his own path now.
“I’ve already spoken to Father Gordon about it this morning,” Thad informed them. “He is happy for me to stick around until Dill’s ready to leave too.” Dill smiled with his mouth full, pleased with this news. “He needs all the hands he can get around here anyway. I can’t imagine he is looking forward to losing all four of us.”
“That’s the truth,” Jove agreed as he reached for the milk himself. Besides the four of them, Father Gordon had about seven others who could carry out work around the farmstead. There was Axel, Ren and Marrick, and then the next oldest group of boys were only just turning fifteen, but there were four of them as well and they could all help. Then there were the two thirteen year olds who were just now starting to pitch in with some of the harder labour. Jove often had them shadowing him on his daily work, learning how things were done. Apart from that there was only Father Gordon, who was now in his sixties, and spent most of his time looking after the younger members of the monastery.
Jove didn’t think he’d mind staying on working at the monastery if Father Gordon needed the help. He was happy here, and life outside the monastery was extremely uncertain. The monastery was in a rural part of the nation, and Jove had only ever travelled to the nearby towns. He knew nothing of the world at large.
They lived in the South-east of Kelrock, where the land was fertile and there were many lakes which had formed due to all the rivers that ran down from the mountains to the West. The rivers led to the ocean which was further East, except for the River Elladrin which had been purposefully redirected to run north to the Fortress of Ellahos.
Jove noticed his friends all visibly tense and he turned in his seat to see Axel saunter into the room followed by Ren and Marrick. There was really only one way to describe Axel, and that was cocky. He was short, standing at barely five foot seven inches, and had short, dark hair. He made a point of meeting Thad’s gaze and holding it, an awful, amused smile spreading across his face.
His crate-mates, a term given to those who arrived at the monastery in the same crate, Ren and Marrick both smirked as well.
Thad resumed a relaxed posture in his chair, but he followed them with his piercing, raptor-like gaze as they moved to their own table and sat down.
Jove thought he heard Dill growl beside him and he gave him a slight nudge, shaking his head when Dill looked his way. They couldn’t afford to have a public confrontation over what had happened last night.
Still, it made Jove’s blood boil to see those three sitting across from them so casually, not even remotely sorry for what they had done to Thad.
Thad just continued to stare at them. Jove tried to find something to say to distract him but fortunately he was saved by the arrival of a menace of a different kind.
Little Olly ran into the room and made a bee-line for Thad. Olly was one of the younger boys at the monastery. He was only ataşehir escort bayan four. He had a mop of brown hair and an ever present smile.
Thad broke his gaze from the trio of molesters and pushed his chair out from the table so that he could turn to greet his little admirer. Thad’s entire persona changed in the blink of an eye and suddenly he was his normal self again.
“Hey there, big guy,” Thad scooped the kid up into his lap with a smile to match the child’s own. Olly’s clothes were a mess and his hands were dark with dirt. “Have you been up to mischief already today?” Thad asked in mock surprise. “I’m sure Father Gordon must be looking for you.”
Olly giggled, giving Thad a hug, but didn’t answer him.
Whilst Dill proceeded to pull funny faces for Olly’s amusement, Jove turned his attention back to Axel and the others. They sat with hunched shoulders, leaning in towards each other so they could talk quietly. Jove narrowed his eyes. What sick deeds were they planning for him?
“Have you given any more thought to what you will do when you leave, Jove?” Emden asked, drawing Jove’s attention away from darker thoughts.
He shrugged, genuinely uncertain. “I still think my best bet is to be a sell-sword. I mean, I have enough practice under my belt, and everyone needs them out there.”
Sell-swords were just that; hired help who acted as protectors to whoever paid for their services. Many men had managed to establish themselves as traders or merchants, and these men were always at risk from thieves and bandits. That’s where sell-swords came in.
Father Gordon made sure all the boys became proficient with a weapon, once they began to mature. Father Gordon didn’t like or condone violence but he was not a fool. The world was dangerous and he needed to teach the boys, or allow the boys to teach themselves, how to be prepared.
“Father Gordon told me that one of the cities near Ellahos has a library,” Emden told him. “I was thinking I might head there.”
“That’s a long way from here, Em.” Then Jove smiled. “Maybe you can hire my services and I’ll protect you on your way?”
Emden looked off into the distance, considering the proposition. “Well, I’ve seen you practice. It might not be worth my coin.”
Jove’s face deadpanned but Dill erupted with laughter.
“You think that’s funny, huh?” Jove smiled at Dill despite himself. “Last time I checked I could whoop your ass in any style of combat.”
Dill shrugged indifferently, knowing it to be true, whilst Emden betrayed a hint of one of his small, rare smiles.
Thad had been quiet, again. A sign that things were still not right with him. “Hey,” he said whilst he absently bounced Olly on his knee. “Last night… how come all three of you came to check on me?” He looked at each of them, suddenly suspicious.
“We… err…” Emden began eloquently.
That was Jove’s cue to leave.
Jove needed to head out and get to work. He’d hoped that he would have time to discuss with Dill and Emden about what they would do about Axel. However, he couldn’t do that with Thad around. So he finished eating and stood to leave. “I’ll see you all later, yeah?” he tried to give Emden a meaningful look, but Emden just nodded and Jove really had no idea if his blond friend had picked up on the underlying meaning.
Em was smart but he could be so dense, too.
As Jove crossed the hall he caught the eye of Ygri and Kavu, who sat waiting patiently for him to leave. No doubt they were wondering if he’d let them tag along today. He beckoned for them with a quick turn of his head and they both smiled and got up to follow him out into the early morning light. They were the two thirteen year olds, and always eager to help. Jove didn’t mind their company, as they were respectful and made chores go much quicker.
He threw himself into his work like never before. He supposed it gave him an outlet for the frustration about what had happened. It didn’t take them long to build up a sweat working outside. The hour was still early, but the heat was a near constant issue. The main goal was to always try and have most of the hardest work done before the extreme heat of the midday made it almost dangerous to continue doing any overly strenuous activities.
As they headed back towards the monastery, Jove spotted Axel heading into the stables.
“I’ll catch you guys up later,” he called to Ygri and Kavu. “Good job today, both of you.” They beamed at the praise and he left them as he veered towards the stables.
Axel was taking a saddle off the wall when Jove strode in, he turned in surprise and dropped the saddle just as Jove reached him and shoved him up against the wall.
“You’ve got some nerve,” Jove growled, feeling all the supressed fury bubble up to the surface. Axel attempted to struggle but he was not match to Jove in strength. “Did you really think we wouldn’t find out what you’d done?”
“Oh, we counted on it,” Axel struggled, but still managed to smirk, which escort kadıköy gave Jove a moments pause.
“What?” Jove was completely caught off guard by the response.
Axel’s eyes flickered down only briefly, but Jove saw the intent in his eyes. Jove whipped one hand down and quickly caught his captive’s knee, right before it almost connected with his balls. Jove retaliated with a swift punch to Axel’s stomach.
Axel let out a moan and slid down the wall. Jove grabbed him by his shirt and pulled him back up onto his feet. Axel was a good head shorter than he was, which forced Axel to look up to meet his gaze.
“You are sick; you know that?” Jove said through gritted teeth. “I should pummel you until you are nothing.”
“We were just having a bit of fun,” Axel tried to sound light hearted but he was struggling due to having had the wind just knocked out of him.
Jove couldn’t believe what a sorry excuse that was. “Fun is when you stole Dill’s clothes whilst he went to bathe, forcing him to run through the monastery starkers back to his room. Fun is when you threw a bee hive through our bedroom window and we were covered in red bee stings for days. Fun is when you choose to disobey anyone who ever gives you a command. But what you did to Thad, that was…” Jove was at a loss for words. “You violated him, Axel!”
“He loved it,” Axel grimaced in pain, but still managed to offer Jove a wink.
“No,” Jove shook his head. “He didn’t.”
“Yes, he did,” Axel replied, with conviction. “But if he won’t admit that to you, then why argue about it?”
“Just because you made him…” Jove felt suddenly awkward discussing the subject, but he couldn’t just back off because he was embarrassed. He was committed now. “Just because you made him cum, it doesn’t mean he enjoyed it. That’s not how it works.”
Axel shrugged, unwilling to comment further.
“You can’t just do that to people,” Jove tried to reason with him. “You’ve known him for your whole life. He’s family. Even if we don’t like each other that much, we would never do something like that to you. Any of you.”
Axel’s grin returned. “That’s why you’re never going to make it out there,” Axel gestured with his head towards the door. “It’s a man eat man world out there Jovey and if you don’t play by the rules then you’ll be dead within a week.”
Jove glared back at the younger guy, hating him, but knowing the truth to what he said.
“We were just giving Thad a taster of what he had to look forward to,” Axel went on. “What you all have to look forward to.” His smile darkened.
“Sick fuck,” Jove could think of nothing else to say. The guy couldn’t be reasoned with. Were all the men out there going to be like Axel?
“You think I’m sick?” Axel laughed. “Father Gordon literally told us not to be like you four. He knows you won’t make it out there and he wanted to make sure we didn’t follow in your footsteps. There is nothing wrong with us. It’s your group that is sick, if you think you can get by on morality and…” he smiled, “modesty.”
“Isn’t it your twentieth birthday next, Jove?” Axel asked despite no doubt already knowing the answer. “I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are.”
Jove slammed his fist into Axel’s face.
Axel dropped like a sack of spuds and cried out. Jove bent down to take another shot. Over his dead body was he going to let this bastard violate –
The quiet, yet authoritative command stopped Jove dead. He stood up and turned away from the cowering Axel and faced Father Gordon.
Father Gordon had been a tall man once, but now stooped with age. He was in his late sixties and had a bald patch on the top of his head, with messy grey hair around the sides. Jove met his eyes, and for a brief moment Father Gordon’s hard gaze softened, if only for an instant. “Come with me, boy,” he said as he turned to walk back out of the stables.
Jove watched the old man go and turned a hateful glare on Axel. He thought Axel may have a smug smile ready to show off but he was still holding the right side of his face tenderly.
Letting out a deep breath, Jove collected himself, then turned and followed after Father Gordon. It didn’t take long for him to catch up to the old man. He was not as swift as he used to be. Jove often wondered how he even managed to look after the children anymore. But he did.
They walked in silence. Jove knew that Father Gordon was taking him back to his office, where he would be punished. They entered the monastery through the main archway, the tall wooden doors stood open to let in the fresh air.
Jove had done this walk of shame with Father Gordon many a time. Out of his group, he was easily the one who got into the most trouble. Because I never think before I act Jove chastised himself, although he felt no remorse over what he’d done to Axel. It hadn’t been nearly enough. Still, he tried to push rebellious thoughts aside and appear as sombre as maltepe escort possible for his guardian.
Father Gordon usually had an air of annoyance, or outright anger, when he had to take someone to be disciplined but today he seemed lost in his own thoughts, almost an air of sadness and reluctance to his gait.
They neared his office, which was next to the nursery. The sound of a crying child drifted down the hallway. “You wait in there,” Father Gordon gestured to his office door. He shuffled on towards the nursery to check on whichever child needed his comfort.
Jove did as he was told. Father Gordon was a good man. He had raised Jove. Jove loved him like a father. Yet Axel’s words kept spinning inside his head. Did Father Gordon really regret how Jove and his brothers had turned out? Were they too weak for this world?
He paced inside the office until the sounds of crying died down, then he stood and waited patiently until the old men came into the room and closed the door. He seemed more tired than usual.
Father Gordon raised a hand and Jove stilled his tongue.
“My boy, I am so sorry. For everything.” The man looked almost on the verge of tears and despite his confusion, Jove went to him.
“Father, come and sit down,” he helped guide Father Gordon over to the desk and sat him in his chair. Father Gordon’s old pale eyes seemed so watery now. When the Hell did he get so old? Jove wondered to himself, incredulous that he had not noticed anything until now. Jove didn’t know any old people. So he had very little to compare Father Gordon’s state to.
The only person Jove had known who had died of old age was Father Gordon’s predecessor, Father Thomland. He’d been eight when he had died and Jove remember very little about it.
“Do you need anything?” Jove asked him worriedly as he knelt beside the chair. He held one of Father Gordon’s frail hands.
Father Gordon just shook his head, closing his eyes to blink away any tears and then looked to Jove. “Sit down,” he told him and gestured to the seat across from him. Jove moved around the desk and lowered himself into the chair, watching Father Gordon closely.
“I overheard what Axel said to you,” Father Gordon explained. “The boy was not lying. I did tell him that I didn’t want them to be like you. I’m sorry if that news upset you.”
“But why? Why did you say that?” Jove felt a heaviness in his heart at hearing Father Gordon confirm Axel’s words.
“I should have raised you to have a better understanding of the hardness of this world. Father Thomland always did with the boys he raised. But I thought I knew better. I thought living out here, in the middle of nowhere, things could be different.” He sighed heavily and he clasped his hands together in his lap to stop them from shaking. “You’re a good lad, Jove. You all are; you, Thad, Emden and Dill. You have a goodness in you that few men do and I…” he searched for the words. “It will be a serious weakness out there for you.”
Jove paused to collect his thoughts. It wasn’t easy to hear from the man who raised you that he believed he had gone about it the wrong way. “I’m glad you raised me to be who I am, Father. I might not be as wise in the ways of the world but that doesn’t mean I need to be heartless or down-right evil.” Jove thought about Axel, who was basically using what Father Gordon had told him, to justify sexually violating Thad. Then have the nerve to claim he was teaching Thad how he ought to behave. It was just wrong.
“It’s your morals I’m worried about,” Father Gordon explained. “I know what goes on around here and I know that even when others play dirty tricks, you and your brothers always stick to a higher moral code. You don’t let your morals slide to get the upper hand, and out there, that can cost you your life. Morals will prevent you from doing what needs to be done, when the times comes. Thad has always had such a strong moral compass and he’s kept you all on track which I was always so proud of him for. Yet my pride in you isn’t going to keep you alive out there.”
Jove understood what Father Gordon was saying, but why the sudden epiphany? “Why now? What made you suddenly realise that you had raised us wrong?” he asked, trying to seek clarity.
Father Gordon reached over to one of the drawers at his desk and took out some sheets of parchment. “These are letters from Ellahos,” he explained holding the up. “We correspond fairly regularly in order to plan out each shipment that we deliver to them, or that they fetch from us.” He handed Jove one of the letters. “That was the last letter I got from them almost a month ago.”
Jove took the letter. Every monastery had to send a portion of what it produced into the capital. That was just how things worked. Usually they took everything by cart down to Dilverton, which was a nearby town situated on the banks of the river Elladrin. They shipped everything down to the capital from there.
Jove quickly started reading, something he’d not done in a while. The letter advised Father Gordon that all shipments to them should cease indefinitely, until they contact him again. It was a fairly short letter, devoid of any pleasantries. Purely business. Jove finished it and looked at Father Gordon. “What does this mean?”
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