10: Feast of Knowledge
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After dinner, where Luca got a stern lecture from Galen about the dangers of talking to strange spirits, they all went to bed. Luca quickly drifted off as soon as his head hit the pillow. Looking at the sleeping face of his little angel never got old for Donovan, but his observations were interrupted by Galen’s stern but quite murmurs.

“We need to keep a better eye on Luca. As smart as he is he’s too curious, and doesn’t seem to have an ounce of caution.  I suppose that's natural for a cub, but I'm worried that he's too easily deceived.”

Donovan's eyes sharpened “I’ll kill them all.”

Galen repressed the urge to roll his eyes. “You can’t spend every waking moment with him.”

Donovan's set jaw showed his determination to do just that.

This time the urge to roll his eyes was too strong. “You can’t defend him from malicious spirits. You don’t have the ability to interact with them. Besides what are you planning to do when you go hunting you can't take him with you.”

Unable to argue with Galen’s logic Donovan's ears wilted as he stared at his sleeping baby. His perfect angel was in danger and he had no way to protect him. A woeful aura seeped into Donovan's surroundings. “He’s so innocent,” Donovan glanced down at the still sleeping Luca. 

Galen thought back to Luca’s little performance in the Library, but decided not to dispel Donovan's notion, there was no harm in Luca having one parent wrapped around his finger.  

“All I’m saying is we need to make sure he understands the dangers and maybe teach him to defend himself if he turns out to have an attack oriented gift.”

Donovan's emerald eyes glowed with determination. His fierce eyes caught Galen's calm ones and he nodded in agreement.

Galen was a little flustered by those enchanting eyes so he didn't quite think through his next words.,  The words rushed out as if he was afraid to be interrupted “What if we took him back to your family.” 

“No,” Donovan's answer was practically instantaneous coming right on top of Galen's.

“They didn’t really disapprove of me, they just thought we couldn’t have childr…”

“No,” It was clear from the firmness of his tone that Donovan wasn’t going to give an inch, not even a millimetre, on this topic.

Galen sighed and let the topic drop for now. Clearly, he’d need better ammunition if he wanted to convince Donovan of the merits of heading home. Secretly, he couldn’t help being a little bit pleased that this proud panther still felt so strongly about their relationship. It was the only reason he was still resisting.

Donovan eye'd the slightly fluttering feathers of his mate and the slight flush that warmed his cheeks.  Tale tell signs that his mate wasn't upset by his refusal.

“Well at least for now Luca’s going to be preoccupied with his new books, that'll make it easier to keep him home for now. No more outings until absolutely necessary just to be safe.” 

Galen tenderly tucked away a stray hair behind Luca’s ear. Donovan grabbed the hand that was playing with Luca’s hair and firmly held Galen’s eye “We’ll keep him safe.” Donovan's gaze wandered over to his baby angel, seeking other stray hairs. After all Galen got to play with some, why couldn’t he.

Galen smirked seeing right through his mates’ intentions. Yet despite Donovan's occasional idiosyncrasies, that warm hand holding his melted his worries and made him feel snug and safe, as if he was wrapped in a blanket and handed a hot chocolate on a cold winter night. Even if this big lug is a little silly sometimes, he always carries through on his promises. No matter how impossible they seem.

Feeling supported and a little more grounded. Galen kissed Donovan goodnight and followed Luca to the land of dreams.

...

Galen was right to assume that Luca would be happily distracted with his new books. He devoured every paragraph, sentence and word cramming as much knowledge about this strange new world into his head as he could. Even when his head felt as fuzzy on the inside as it was on the outside, he still stuffed more in. Like when you’ve just finished the burger but there are still some hot crispy chips left. Luca kept feeding those chips into his overfull head one after the other. 

'On Gods and Spirits’ was a book that compiled the different belief systems of the world. It was extremely well written, carefully wording its compendium.  Giving a detailed outline of each system without a bias towards any one in particular. The author seemed to leave it up to the readers discretion as to what to believe, simply laying out the facts. However, it was slightly heavy going and where most of the meat was coming from.

When his head was finally full to bursting. To stuffed from contemplating whatever knew theological fact he’d read. Luca would switch to the much more engaging ‘Strange tales by the Marvellous Merchant Maurice.’ This seemed to be a collection of journal entries. Relating the many outlandish and often comical circumstances a certain merchant encountered on his travels.

With such a feast of knowledge in front of him, Luca was so distracted that he didn’t even notice Donovan wasn’t home until nearly a week had passed.

The reason Luca failed to notice his father’s absence was due to subconsciously directing all his questions at Galen. For some reason he just didn’t have confidence in Donovan's ability to give a satisfactory answer.

He didn’t really have many questions when reading about Maurice. Those stories were like cookies he could just keep eating without pause. He lay on the floor happily waving his feet and tail in the air and bursting into fits of giggles. Galen also enjoyed the change from the constant questions to Luca enthusiastically telling him about some knew interesting titbit he'd just consumed.  

The little interactions with his miracle cub gave Galen a warm bubbly feeling for every laugh, a soft fuzzy feeling for every story and a warm glow whenever he got to teach his cub knew things.

Luca’s delightfully cherubic voice, gleefully retelling one of Maurice’s more ridiculous escapades, was a welcome interruption from the monotony of house chores. The privilege of hearing the voice of his own precious child was not something Galen would ever take for granted.

It was the questions on theology and magic that Galen found somewhat more trying. Especially when it came to the topic of spirits and gods as Luca’s sometimes dis-tractable nature caused him to forget that Galen worshipped the goddess Methorma. While Galen wasn’t the type to force his children to follow his beliefs, that didn’t mean that some of the questions Luca was throwing out weren’t hard for him to answer.

“Dad are gods just really powerful spirits? And if they are, why do people worship them?” Luca frowned at the giant book propped on a pillow in front of him.

Smiling wryly at yet another question that basically undermined his belief system Galen did his best to answer without pressuring Luca to convert to his way of thinking. “No one really has proof one way or another whether the Gods are spirits or not. What we can be certain of is that when we ask for help, they answer. Maybe they are spirits that have enough intelligence and desire to help people who ask. And who knows maybe they gain something from their worshippers that we aren’t aware of. However, isn’t it only right to give back to someone who gives to you? Whoever, or whatever that something might be?”

“Hmm,” as usual Luca seemed to only half hear his dad’s response as he turned back to digesting the information.

It was only by the end of the week that Luca had started to digest the contents of the books. The fuzziness was starting to fade that he finally noticed he wasn’t being subjected to sitting on his father’s knee while eating his meals.

“Where’s father?” Luca directed his perplexed gaze at Galen.

“He’s working sweetie, he’ll be back in a few days.” Galen decided not to tell Donovan it took his angel nearly a week to notice his absence. 

“Working?” Luca had a thought, that thought then stood up and struck him over the head a few times just for good measure. He’d been happily eating, sleeping and letting his parents spend away with no idea of how they made their living. Just because he’d been playing on his parents’ belief that he was a young ignorant child, was no excuse to actually start acting like one.  He of all people, knew how important money was, you never know when something dreadful might happen and the money on hand just isn't enough. How could he be so dense that he'd forgotten something so important!?

Deciding to correct his oversight Luca started asking questions “What does father do for work?”

“He’s a hunter, he collects the meat, hide and other useful parts from monsters. He also sometimes hunts specific problematic monsters to keep their numbers down. Sometimes people will put in a request through the guild for something specific. Those pay slightly better.”

“He sells the parts and gets money for that?” Luca wondered.

“Occasionally, in larger cities that is certainly how it works. But round here we’re more likely to get paid in goods. Like when the butcher gives us processed meat from the game brought in.” Galen started moving food to Luca’s plate.

“Does that mean father doesn’t earn much money?” Luca frowned beginning to be a bit concerned about their recent expense.

“We do alright. Why the sudden interest in money? Or do you just want to know what your father does.” Galen smiled at Luca’s inquisitiveness, eye’s flickering to Luca’s still untouched dinner.

Luca hung his head “I just thought I might be expensive to look after,” he mumbled at the floor.

Galen paused staring at Luca’s dejected ears.  Galen got up and knelt down in front of a distressed Luca.  Gently cupping his cheeks and looking him square in the eyes. “Luca, Donovan and I have always wanted a child.  Yes, raising a child can be expensive, but it’s not something you need to worry about. It's our responsibility, and privilege as parents, to look after the beautiful child we were gifted. Before you came, Donovan earned much more than just the two of us could ever spend.” Galen soothingly stroked Luca’s cheeks. “You are in no way a burden to us.   You are a beautiful and unexpected gift that completed our lives.”

Luca gazed at his dad’s smile.  Felt the warm hands tenderly cupping his face and briefly, compared it to the faces of his previous life’s parents. It wasn’t that they didn’t love me, it was just… The tired faces flashed before his eyes again. This time the comparison comforted him. Galen was clearly delighted to have him here, and he would have to be incredibly oblivious to not realise how much Donovan adored him. Luca was briefly assaulted by the memory of playing tag with his father’s tail. After putting the memory in a choke hold, he continued with his previous train of thought.

Neither of his current parents had shown the slightest hint of anything other than love and delight at his presence.  Well and occasionally worry, but that’s just another form of love. Luca was determined to make sure it stayed that way, this time he wouldn't become a burden. 

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