I am still stunned. I never dared to let myself believe that it would happen – and I certainly never expected it to happen this quickly, or this easily.
I finally have my son!!! I have Dalan!!
Okay, everything isn’t perfect… yet. He still doesn’t know that I am his father. I will tell him that once he has had a chance to get to know me better. For now, he knows me only as a family friend.
When Junia first recommended that I take my story to the council, I was only expecting to get their approval to go after my son, and perhaps some help in case Dalan’s caretaker tried to have me arrested for kidnapping. But it turned out that they treated it as a full on custody hearing.
The hearing itself is still a blur. I barely remember what I said.
The council consisted of three city elders. I don’t even remember their names. Two of them looked at me with a bit of recognition, and even a bit of kindness. They had a truth teller, Canama, who ensured that everybody there spoke the truth. Dalan’s caretaker, Shria was there, along with the owner of the circus and several of the circus Koori.
I told my story first. I told them of Surtak, of his cruelty, of his exile from our homeland … and of his murder of both my family and his own. In my zeal to impress upon them just how much of a monster my brother is, I described in graphic detail the way that he mutilated the bodies of our families – both mine and his own.
As Canama signaled that my words were true, I saw the look of horror, the look of pain upon Shria‘s face. It was clear that she loved my brother, and hearing my words was breaking her heart. I wondered how she could love such a monster. But I also felt sorry for her, and regretted that I had to cause her so much pain. But exposing the truth of Surtak’s evil was necessary to get my son back.
The council asked if I had any proof of my encounters with Surtak in Turmeric Arbustum. I had them bring out my grandfather’s sword. There was an audible gasp from Shria when she saw the sword, and a low growl from several of the circus Koori. They obviously recognized the sword as the one that Surtak had always carried. Shria confirmed for the council that this was Surtak’s sword.
The council asked if I had any witnesses, or anybody to speak for me. Both Junia and Ulgaden spoke on my behalf. They confirmed our encounters with Surtak, and what they had heard him say. Junia confirmed that Surtak was under the effects of her own truth telling spell during his confession.
The council called Shria to speak. She told of an entirely different Surtak than the one that I have known. She told of an honorable man, a kind and protective mate. She even described him as a good father. I was confused – how could she be talking of the same man who had abused and tortured me as a child, the man who had beaten his own mates and children. The man who had brutally murdered helpless women and children? But Canama confirmed that she was telling the truth. Or at least, the truth as she believed it.
I might have believed that my brother had changed, that he had decided to turn his life around… if I didn’t know of the murders that he had committed in Turmeric Arbustum. If I hadn’t heard the cruelty and the joy in his voice as he taunted me about his past deeds, and as he bragged about stealing my son and raising him to hate me. If I hadn’t seen the evil in his eyes as he told me that he would have Dalan killed.
I asked if this meant that I could take my son home with me, but the council thought that it would be too much of a shock to Dalan if I were to rip him away from the only family that he has known. They want me to spend time with Dalan and get to know him before I reveal our true relationship. They ordered Shria to introduce me as a family friend, and to allow me to spend time with him. She wasn’t happy about it, but she agreed.
Starting the next day, I began to spend time at the circus, watching Dalan train, and then training with him. My own martial arts and acrobatics training served me well, and he was impressed at my ability to quickly learn and perform the acrobatic tricks with him. I was impressed by how smart, and how talented my son is. I can’t wait to get to know him better… and to be able to tell him who I really am.