Family is What You Make It
‘Oh, gods! I can’t do this! What if he makes us start over? What if they don’t work? What if he doesn't have the money we need?’
“Are you alright mister?” a kind voice inquires, cutting through Ambrosio’s terrified thoughts.
“Huh? Umm, yes. Thank you. Uh, is he here yet? Can you see him on the horizon?” Despite Ambrosio's vague description, the young girl knew exactly what he was asking. Had Eternal arrived?
“Yes sir, the flag of Salina bumbles through the bushes. Sittin’ atop his carriage I presume.” The young girl answers. Ambrosio stood and left to the private chambers. He looks in the mirror that hangs upon his wall for a moment. He looks nothing like his father, and only a bit like his mother, brown rowdy hair, unremarkable brown eyes. Imperfect freckles dot his face. He looks like he belongs in Byria. He splashes some water on his face, hoping to calm himself down. It doesn’t work, he is always nervous when Eternal visits. Years of thrown out golems leading to hungry people have scarred him. Ambrosio runs Byria, these people have no other source of food and shelter but him. The weight of their lives rests on the young man's shoulders.
A horn rings out across the town signifying Eternal’s arrival. Ambrosio runs out of his house, down the cobblestone paths, to meet the Vasilias as he crosses the bridge into town. All the townsfolk are waiting eagerly in their homes, waiting for all the fuss to finish so they can enjoy their day off. The other three nobles aiding Ambrosio in running Byria are already at the end of the bridge. The carriage stops and an imposing figure steps out. He wears his signature billowing purple robes, lined with gold trimmings. A vulgar display of his wealth. The Vassilias has no one with him but a carriage driver, who waits in the local pub. Ambrosio bows, as do the other nobles, as Eternal crosses the bridge. He stops in front of Ambrosio and nods his head, indicating that they should begin their descent into the workshop.
‘All that fuss,’ Ambrosio thinks to himself, ‘for the man to not even say a word to him.’ They walk down into town square, and past the statues of the gods, and across a small bridge over a pond into the golem factory. Three golems are already set up at the top of the floor, ready to be awoken. Ambrosio shuts the large panel doors, enclosing the workshop from any peering eyes. Before Ambrosio has a chance to light the lanterns, a purple flame arises from Eternal’s hands. He illuminates the room with his magic flames bouncing from lantern to lantern. Eternal walks up to one of the benches where his supplies have been laid out. Three perfectly cut stips of fine parchment, with ink and a quill lying next to them. Eternal will entrust Ambrosio to carve runes but never to write the parchment papers. Ambrosio had no idea as to the inner workings of the golems but he has seen Eternal do it tens of times. Ambrosio walked to his regular spot back against the wall. He was to observe, moving only if Eternal needs any assistance. Eternal sits and slowly begins writing inscriptions on the parchment.
Ambrosio begins reflecting. See, the man working in front of him was not only his leader, but he was also his father. Ambrosio was raised in Ioannina but his father didn't treat him like a son. He had always treated him as a king treats a servant. He supposed it was better than what most got, most got the treatment of how a god might treat an ant. Ambrosio would work himself into panics, breathing heavily, shaking, and even crying fits, but his father would never care about him. The first memory Ambrosio had of his father when he was nine years old. Eternal would disappear for long periods of time doing gods know what, then he would return. It was one such occasion where he was available, and Ambrosio had never truly met his father, so he was excited! People had told him to fear the Vasilias, but he would never hurt his son, Ambrosio had thought. When Eternal walked through the doors, he passed through the people bowing without a second glance, then walked past the smiling Ambrosio and went to his chambers. Ambrosio's mother was a quiet and reserved woman, and was also quite distant. So he made the servants around the castle his true family. Ambrosio eventually got a job and began working hard with the common people.
Shaken out of his reverie, Ambrosio notices Eternal stand up and begin the process of waking the first golem. This one was a particularly easy make, the Byrians had just been on a religious holiday and people came back happy! The golem was done within two and a half weeks, the record for the town. Eternal carefully inserts the parchment into the mouth of the golem. Once again lost in his thoughts, Ambrosio remembers his first time watching the process. He was so fascinated and excited. He had been making the golems for years but never allowed to see the final steps. He wasn't allowed to carve the runes until just a few years ago. Eternal is very particular with his golems. As they walked down the steps that fine autumn day Ambrosio could barely contain his excitement. But Eternal gave him a warning;
“Do not take this lightly boy. You will be the only soul I have ever let observe the process and it is only so that you can assist with the golems once they have awoken. If you mention a word of what goes on I will burn your flesh and sacrifice you to the gods myself.” He said it so calmly, yet it was terrifying. Ambrosio was not deterred by this though. His father trusted him and him alone with this secret.
Father’s magic has always fascinated him. He's the only creature in all of Aolia who possesses this gift. Ambrosio also wonders why his father could never share, not even with his own son. Though Eternal does put a great deal of trust into him. Golems are his real children, Ambrosio understands this and understands the trust his father has in him. It's almost like love for the desperate son.
Eternal places his hands on the golem and his magic flows through the beast. It's alive, It stands up straight and sits ready for orders.
“Go over and stand by him.” Eternal says gesturing at Ambrosio. The golem obeys. Eternal grabs another piece of parchment from the table and begins the process again.
Eternal had been gone for nearly three years. Ambrosio had begun working in Salina, doing odd jobs like fixing bed frames, lifting boxes for merchants and even sailing to out on the occasional fishing boat. Eternal returned to find his son helping out in a battle against a rouge guard golem. It had turned a few days earlier than expected, likely deprived of food and water by its owner. Ambrosio saw his father's carriage arrive in town and decided to try and gain some attention from his father. He pulled out his sword and tackled the golem, stabbing it through the face. As he was being congratulated by the townsfolk he saw the gates of Ioannina close as his father's cloak billowed behind him.
But this show of strength was not all for naught. Eternal called for Ambrosio to meet with him the next day. Ambrosio was terrified, what if he was angry he had killed the golem, put himself at risk like that? A thousand possibilities ran through his mind as he approached his father's throne. “Ambrosio,” he said in his velvety voice. “You have proven yourself to be very, resourceful. I would like to give you a reward.” This surprised Ambrosio and everyone else in the room.
“Thank you-” Ambrosio started but his father raised his hand in a movement for him to stop.
“I believe you could take on a great responsibility for me. And on the condition, you accept this offer I will truly be a proud father.” Eternal knew his son would do anything for his approval. Ambriosio would do anything not to fail in this task. Just as the father had predicted, his son was ready to accept before his father even spoke those words.
“There is a small hamlet just outside the view of Salina. A useless little stain, until now. I have chosen to place my golem factory within this town. And I would be very happy if I could have my own flesh and blood lead the settlement to this glory. What say, you Ambrosio?”
“Yes!” Ambrosio blurted out a bit too enthusiastically. “Yes. I uh,” taking a deep breath, “I would be honored to be given this tremendous responsibility.”
The second golem awoke and clamored to Ambrosio's side as had the last one. Eternal turned to repeat the process again.
The next day Eternal took Ambrosio to his new home. The son was ecstatic. The town was beautiful and though small he could see it becoming as great as Salina one day. And there in the center was a door leading to a very small factory. Back then it took them nearly a year to make a single golem. And the people of the town, they were stubborn and hardworking, grateful for the pay raise the factory offered. They had been pumpkin farmers just a few years ago. Ambrosio built this town into what it is today and he couldn't be happier with the outcome. A few years ago Eternal even offered Ambrosio two of his own golems. Builders made of metal. They made the town grow up much quicker in the next few years.
Eternal works his magic on the last golem. He nods at the door and Ambrosio lifts it for him. He takes his fire with him, plunging the factory back into darkness, and instructs the golems to follow him. He heads back up the steps and leaves Byria with the golems waddling behind him on his way to Salina. Though the process takes several hours they had finished early today. Ambrosio heads up to his home and changes into a more casual attire, and heads back to the town square. He stands upon a rock and announces that the golems were a success. The town cheers and Byria holds a small feast that night to celebrate. Pumpkin pie from the freshly harvested pumpkins that could no longer be used in a golem and chicken from Salina is served with the other more common local food. They dance and sing, and Ambrosio belts the folk songs louder than anyone, and even dances with the sweet girl who tends to his hearth. Byria is a fine town to be in charge of, not just because it’s his father’s gift anymore. Byria is more than just an appointment, a job to be completed. It’s become his home.