Sheena holds the door open for me, and I walk into a huge indoor garden. I’ve never seen anything like it. The scent of flowers invigorates me, the beautiful colors inspire me, and the fresh air fills me with energy. In fact I feel like I’m on a Willow-like mocha high. That sugary-sweet buzz, without the slightly upset stomach, makes me want to go exploring, but I follow the instructions Sheena gave me on our way to the palace. Keep calm, be patient. I never thought it would be so hard to be polite. The sun shines down through what appears to be a glass ceiling.
Sheena followed my gaze around the room, and silently gestured for me to follow her. There were several bodyguards reminding me of those the General had had two days before.
Moments, later, at the center of the garden, with no walls in sight, we found a large sandbox easily a dozen feet across, filled with pure white sand. There were beautiful patterns drawn in it, filling every available inch. My eyes traced the patterns. I found them comforting, peaceful, even.
Looking over the sand was an older gentleman. He was dressed in some of the finest clothes I had ever seen, with beautiful inlay, his sharp eyes traced over me, flickered to Sheena with a welcoming smile, and back to me. Her answering grin was almost infectious. I can tell she is quite happy to be here, in this man’s presence.
He walks around me. He stops and gives Sheena a hug. She nearly sways on her feet. Well, I guess she’s taken. But then again, even I can feel the man’s personality, his aura; I guess she is entitled to be a bit infatuated. He speaks to her quietly, and she replies almost reverently. I can’t make out the words.
He smiles at her, and looks at me.
“Welcome, Xhan.” His voice is smooth, steady. I can tell he is used to his words having weight. He is used to be listened to. “What do you think of my garden?”
A few things fall into place in my mind. I finally understand the first words of the devotional, and why they are used.
“Master Rahl, it is beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“I’m glad. I hear that you’ve caused quite a stir. Something about you not eating?”
It was at this point it occurs to me. There’s no hesitation in his speech. And I understand every word he says. I hear the words in the language I am learning, but understand what they mean perfectly. I feel the meaning behind them, and they make sense. It makes my mind reboot.
“Yes, Sir.” I say with some hesitation, in English. “I don’t think I need to, any more.”
His eyes never leave mine, but his smile clearly shows he understands every word. “Interesting,” he even SOUNDS interested, “Where, may I ask, are you from?”
“As I understand it, I am from another world, possibly a different plane.” There is no confusion, no suspicion, just acceptance.
“Ah, that would explain it, then. I’ve read some, about places other than here. Are you happy, there?”
I answer without hesitation, despite the strangeness “Mostly. I have good friends. I have a purpose. But it is nothing like here.”
“In that case, I welcome you to this world. May you flourish and thrive.” With his blessing, I feel a tangible spark run down my spine, I straighten up a bit. “Interesting. So much about you is interesting. Did you know you have a talent for magic?”
My confusion is evident on my face “No, Sir. I did not, in my world.”
“Well, here, you do. I’m afraid that there are many challenges that go along with that, and many tests. I fear that not all of them are pleasant, but leaving you untrained is, shall we say, unwise. Here, the untrained, who have your gifts are often lead down a dark road. I am afraid that I must encourage you to take care of your gifts, and find a way to begin training. Unfortunately, your gifts prevent you from serving in the Army. We have treaties with our neighbors that we will not use magic, the gifted, if you will, against them. Therefore, I’m afraid I will have to reassign you. Would you consider becoming the apprentice of one of our Wizards? Or would you choose to seek teaching elsewhere?”
I glance at Sheena. The move is not lost on him. “Sir, I don’t know enough to answer the question.”
He turns to Sheena. “Oh, so THAT is the way the river flows.” She blushes and looks down. “It seems, young man, that you have the opportunity to learn from one who can teach you much. Would you like to learn from this Mord Sith?”
The words echoed in my mind “Death Woven” I run the phrase over in my head, trying to understand it. I felt the tingle of the translation spell working in my mind. “Tied to Death, dedicated to serve until then.” And again echoing, “a Mord Sith is one who chooses to serve the house of Rahl swearing to lay down their own life before harm comes to their Master.”
“It would be my honor.” My voice sounds in the silence.
Sheena gasps behind me. “Xahn, you trust me, that much?”
I don’t know what I’m getting myself into, but… “Yes.”
“It is done then! Excellent. Sheena, best of luck! I will see you when he is ready!” Master Rahl’s happy tone makes my apprehension fade.
I look at Sheena, and see a look full of both adoration, and surprise. I think I like that look on her face. We’ll see how soon I can get her to make it again.
Author's notes. Well, there you have it. A day's writing. I hope you enjoy the new chapters. I've been meaning to come back and write, but today, it just felt right. I hope those who are new to the story enjoy!