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Caelum “Windsong” Solaris (Child name: Kai)

The floor-to-ceiling casement windows lining Mother’s study offered a magnificent view of the lush river valley hundreds of feet below, the landscape dotted with rolling fields and resplendent ponds and cozy farmhouses as far as the eye could see. Caelum wanted to hurl himself out of the stupidly large windows into the stupidly pretty river and die. The longer his economics tutor droned on about the comparative advantage of importing switchgrass-based feedstock from Tulian plainsfolk over relying on Xon’s native agricultural infrastructure to sustain livestock, the more Caelum’s will to live dwindled.

As usual, Mother was away on business, traversing the entirety of Cairn to make new connections and expand the family trade empire further. Her network of distant relatives, elven and genasi alike, was extensive enough already, yet in the last decade she had started conducting outreach into human communities, too. At this point Caelum wasn’t entirely sure what the family business even encompassed, and he had no desire to learn. His insufferable older siblings could take over the company and run it into the ground for all he cared; Caelum would much rather play his lute until his fingers fell off than rest his eyes on the family ledger ever again.

A commotion outside of the study’s double doors brought the tutor’s lecture to a blissful pause. Seeing an opportunity for escape, Caelum dashed away from his desk and flung open the doors, ready to strike up conversation with whomever stood on the other side. To his profound horror, it was Father and Mother, back from her travels a week early, holding hands and being their disgustingly sappy selves. Although their marriage had been one of convenience—Father’s noble elf family had strategically arranged for him to marry the wealthiest genasi heiress on this side of the Mountain Wall—the two loved each other to a ridiculous degree. Dealing with his parents one-on-one was difficult enough, but dealing with both together was one of Caelum’s worst nightmares.

“Sorry to interrupt your lesson, darling!” Mother said, her voice sing-song and far too cheerful for Caelum’s current mood. “Can you believe I traveled nonstop from the Ashor Vale to make it home early? Oh, I can barely believe it myself! But how could I resist your father’s lovely letter about how much he missed me and how splendid the banquet he’s hosting tonight will be?” She broke into airy laughter, ruffling her husband’s golden hair with her blue fingers. Once again, Caelum was met with a strong urge to defenestrate himself and end his own suffering.

“Sweet pea, honeybee, blueberry, you how much I love you,” Father responded tenderly, pulling his wife closer to his side to peck her on the cheek. “Every time you leave, I can’t help but feel lonely without you! And I’m sure our Kai has missed you as well.” Gracefully slinging his free arm over Caelum’s shoulders, he grinned warmly at his son.

Caelum bristled at the usage of his childhood name and shrugged away the unwelcome arm. “Mother, Father—how many times have we been over this? It’s not Kai anymore, it’s Kai-LOOM: spelled C-A-E-L-U-M. I’m 87! Stop using that idiotic baby name and start treating me like an adult!” he insisted, pushing his way out of the study and storming back to his bedroom. The economics tutor discreetly left the study after his student, grateful to cut his lecture about the comparative advantage of importing switchgrass-based feedstock from Tulian plainsfolk short.

“Son, won’t you play your lute at the banquet tonight?” Father called after Caelum, blithely unaware of his ire. “You sounded marvelous at your last recital! My friends and your mother would be delighted to hear your newest compositions. Elytra, dear,” he addressed his wife, “do you remember what I told you in my letters? Our Kai has become a real virtuoso over these past months!” He smiled proudly at Caelum’s back as his son disappeared from view.

The unwanted reminder that he’d soon be meeting Father’s smarmy noble friends, the indignation of being called by his childhood name yet again, and his lingering dissatisfaction from earlier’s mind-numbing economics lesson proved too much for Caelum’s limited patience. “You know what? That’s it,” he hissed, angrily throwing some of his clothing in a backpack. “That’s it,” he reiterated, louder than before, grabbing his lute from its stand. “That’s IT!” he shouted, marching out of his bedroom and making a beeline towards the estate’s main gate. “I’m tired of being smothered by your extravagance, I want nothing to do with your trading company, and I’m leaving! You’re proud of my music? Well, how about I become a wandering bard and never come back to this opulent hellhole again? See if you’ll still be proud of my music then!”

Neither of Caelum’s parents seemed bothered by his rebellious declaration. “Your father and I will always be supportive of your youthful escapades,” Mother said sweetly, a smile still on her face. “Have fun, darling! We’ll send you an allowance, 10 gold a week!”

The ease with which his parents tossed around their wealth only irritated Caelum further. “I don’t want your money! Just leave me alone!” he shouted in reply before slamming the main gate shut with finality.

“Our Kai is so independent,” Father said fondly, wiping a tear from his eye. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders. What a multi-talented son we’ve raised!” He hugged his wife closely, his eyes shining with proud tears as he watched his youngest child leave home.
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