“Is that him?”
Oboe stopped in front of that awful statue. The king had erected the tacky, overblown bronze figure of Theodore’s father right in the center of Park Square. The Hero Champion was thrusting a sword to the heavens with a pompous scowl, standing atop a marble fountain. When Theodore still worked in the city, he made a point to take the long way to the Bureaucracy Dome to avoid looking at it.
“He looks a lot like you,” Oboe said. “Well, if you had muscles and were made out of metal.”
Theodore sighed. The pointy nose was probably what gave it away. “Yes. That is Lance Grayweather. Hero Champion of all Laien, and beloved murderer. He’s the man we’re investigating.”
“But he’s your dad too, right?” Oboe said. “He looks nice.”
There was no accounting for taste. “It doesn’t matter what he looks like. He was rotten on the inside.” Theodore folded his arms. “No one can shut up about how amazing he was. I wish they all knew the truth.”
Oboe’s ears flicked wild, her eyes tense. “Theo, he’s your father. He’s family. I know you hate him. Why do you have to make everyone else hate him too?”
“Why?” Theodore wanted to laugh. “Do you understand what he did to that nymph? The man was a monster!”
“…Maybe he had a good reason,” Oboe said.
“No!” Theodore said. “You can’t justify cruelty like that! I always knew he was a killer, but this… I can’t believe he wanted to make me like him.”
Oboe sat on the edge of the fountain. “He tried to make you a knight. You make a good one. Is that so bad?”
“Yes! I…” Theodore stopped. He was getting too heated. He tried his best to calm down. There was no reason to shout at his friend. He exhaled. “…You don’t understand. When I was a child, my father never left me alone. Every day he forced me to learn how to fight and to kill. He tried to make me into something I wasn’t. I hated it.”
She clutched the sword a bit tighter. “Well, at least he spent time with you! You should be happy. He must’ve cared a lot.”
Theodore scoffed. “The only thing Lance cared about was his legacy. That’s the only reason I mattered to him. He was awful! Before I could read, he was dragging me off to dangerous places! He killed creatures right in front of me! I’m sick of everyone celebrating him!” He thrust a finger at the statue. “People should remember the truth, not this farce!”
Oboe hopped onto her hooves with new energy. “Even if he did bad things, he’s still your family! If he spent time with you and trained you, I think that means he loved you. He saw something special in you. Having someone like that sounds wonderful. Why do you want people to hate him? It sounds like you’re the one who’s being awful.”
“This isn’t about me!” He said. “If Lance was a criminal, there needs to be consequences.”
Her lips tightened. “But it’s okay that we tried to help Percy?”
Theodore felt like he’d had the wind knocked out of him. Oboe watched him, waiting for a response he struggled to find.
“This is different,” he said. “Doesn’t it bother you that he was killing creatures? What if he had gone after a member of your family? How would that make you feel?”
Oboe slouched and Theodore gained some ground. He went on. “The Fairy Circle has been a loyal ally to the kingdom. If my father had a reason for what he did, I don’t see it. If my family wronged your people, I owe it to you to find out and set things right.”
“I didn’t ask you to fix this!” Oboe said. “It doesn’t matter anymore! Your boss told you to stop! But you won’t!! You’re not even trying to think about why your dad did it! Making everyone hate your dad isn’t going to make anything better. You just want to be mad!”
Her anger startled him. He lowered his eyes, searching his feelings. “I just…” He didn’t know how to finish that sentence. He fell back into a park bench, and buried his face in his palms. A shudder rolled through him and he wet his palms with tears. “…Maybe you’re right.” He looked up. “I don’t know. Oboe, I feel like my father crossed a line. Maybe I’m being stupid, but I feel like what he did goes beyond my problems with him. A betrayal of basic decency.” He took a deep breath. “Oboe, you’re outside my head. Am I really in the wrong here? I need you to help me look at this right.”
Oboe hesitated. Something was changing in her expression. Her scowl softened into something uncertain. She tightened her grip on the sword bag. Her eyes hardened.
“This is more about you than him. You need to stop. Let it go.”
“But…” No. She was right. Once again Oboe was thinking clearly while he was letting his emotions cloud his judgement. He needed to trust her. He exhaled. “Okay.”
She stepped back, glancing off. “I’m going to get rid of this,” she fixed her grip on the sword. “It’s making you upset.”
He wanted to argue, to get back up and shout about his father’s crimes. He pushed those thoughts aside. It was misplaced anger and it was time to get over it. “Alright.”
Like that, the argument was over. Oboe gave him a nod and walked away with the sword, leaving Theodore with a painful knot of feelings to untangle.