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|A shameful act committed on a dark eve saps the strength of the old and gives destiny to three young babes.||
When finally finished, she slumped back into her chair and again gazed out the window. Ughhh...the day was more than half over. She looked back to her tutor who having gathered his things merely looked past her and nodded to the quiet figure in the back corner. Her mentor sat there, had been sitting there, always sat there. Did he never get tired of just sitting? What could drive a man to be as calm, as patient, or as incredibly purposed in his lack of activity as he always seemed to be during her lessons?
The click of the door was heard as the tutor shut it behind him, but still there was no stiring the man in the corner. An awkward silence settled across the room.
Defiantly, the girl stood, stretched, then gazed intently at the man. He was a good bit older than she was...though exactly how old she never knew. The creases in his face and the tired way he moved always seemed to testify to his many years. She new better than to be fooled however. He was certainly not unfit and could move quickly and with purpose when it suited him. His broad chest and trim figure spoke of his physique and the roughness of his hands proved the work he had done, and still does. Many a time he had disciplined her as she'd grown into the figure she was now.
"Well what of it Tamlyn? The day is more than half wasted by that silly nonsence of a test I've just been put through..."
Without regard for her question he looked her up and down. The extent of her life he'd known her...all seventeen years of it. Indeed he'd known and loved her parents when they were still alive. As an infant she had been intrusted to him for the care of her upbringing and year after year he'd seen her grow, physically, mentally, and skillfully. He felt the pride of a father in his being, but also sadness. The one before him was slender and elegant. Her features strong but soft, commanding but feminine. Her hair was grey, not as the silvered ladies expecting the end of their days, but striking, as the polished steel of a newly forged blade. Her eyes were a deep purple and could pull any person in so that they were exposed to the fullness of her emotion. Those eyes were concentrating on him now, expressing their disgust. Yes, he was sad. The day was coming when she would be taken from his care and thrust into the purpose for which he had raised her. She was oblivious to this however and he feared that she would not be ready when the time arrived.
You should speak with more respect to those that know better than you do young Arkei. Even in the midst of those you've know your entire life the show of courtesy is necessary. There are many that may be watching and of whose presence you are unaware. Unlike the goods whose value is uncertain as you've just had to describe, Respect is priceless and will bring more to you than anything else. Nothing will drive it away faster than a discourteous attitude.
Ugh...is that all you will ever do but continue on in your incessant lessons? Economics, History, Psycology, Law, Warfare, Protocol, Courtesy... Is there no end to it? Will I never be allowed to just live as the rest of humanity does?
Tamlyn stood then and strode forward, purposefully ignoring her as he headed for the door. When he reached it he glanced back over his shoulder...she expected an answer. "You are not the rest of humanity... There is an inescapable purpose for your life that lies ahead. The rest of humanity may be able to run from what comes to them. You can not. I intend, as is my purpose in life, that you be ready for it." With that he stepped through the now open door and was gone.
That she had hurt him, she knew, but how exactly she was unsure. He had never spoken of a purpose to all of this seeming nonsence. Always it had just been that it was good for her, or that it was what was expected, but never was it revealed that there an actuall reason... She felt ashamed, and now scared at the same time. What did he mean by inescapable? There was fear in his voice when he'd spoken...of that she was certain. But why? What could rattle that cage of seemingly unending drollness that was her mentor? A knock at the door snapped her back to the present.
Your pardon missy, but master Tamlyn says Im ta direct you ta gather a few things for a short trip. A change o clothes, your sword, a good pair of boots, a stout staff, and perhaps your lyre. He'll a be awaiting you at the north gate in one hour's time.
Having delivered his message, the elderly servant turned to leave. Arkei bounded to the door and caught him quickly.
Kenneth, tell me... Did Tamlyn seem anxious to you? Disturbed?
"Why yes, he did come ta think of it. But I've no time to think on that now or to sit here chittin' away with you. I must see to the provisions he requested for the trip as well. Nope, no time to rattle on like some old codger with nothin better to do. Gots to put one foot in front of the other and take off with purpose..." He moved away down the hall then, rambling on as he went.
Smiling at the elderly servant she turned to head to her own room. The smile faded though as she again thought on the past five minutes. Too much info had been given, and yet none at all. Everyone had a purpose, what would make her's any different from anyone else's? Ugh...she would have to ponder this little matter again later. Her room was a mess and if she was to be ready within the hour for this little "trip" then she'd have to hurry. With a quick sigh she had to ask herself, "Why can't I just have a normal life?". Oh well, at least she was going to be outdoors for a bit. That was somehing to look forward to anyway...
When she arrived at the north gate just over an hour later, Tamlyn merely glanced her over then swung atop his chestnut steed and began to trot away. Angered at the lack of concern he seemed to show for her, she chased after him. He was going to get a piece of her mind that he'd not soon forget. But that was stupid of her...there was no way she'd be able to keep up on a trip with him atop his horse and she walking it out. With a resolute mind she ran back and into the stables where her trusty apaloosa stood waiting, ready to go. Kenneth was there too, with the reigns in his hand.
You naer be a mindin' him missy... He's a good man an' he cares for you more than you'll be thinkin' right now. But he also knows that yer gettin' ta be all grown up and ya has to be lookin out fer yerself. Here now, I've took the liberty of saddlin' ole Barney for ya. He's gettin ta be a little on the aged side himself like me, but he loves ya none the less for it...
A tear formed in her eyes then as she gazed at the aged servent before her. With the news just earlier and her mentor's change in demeanor, she knew for certain now that things had changed. In one afternoon, just over an hour even, her life was different. To what extent she was yet to find out, but none the less, she knew it would never again be as it was. She stepped up to Kenneth then and kissed him sweetly on the forehead. He blushed, then thrust the reigns into her hands.
Go on now an' be off with ya. I cannae be standin here all afternoon when theres chores ta be done...
She skillfully mounted old Barney then and turned to face the figure of Kenneth now heading back to the main building.
Thank you Kenneth...for everything...
Aye missy... now you be runnin along and make us proud.
She turned Barney again and made to catch up with Tamlyn, already a good bit down the road. When she caught up she just pulled alongside and met his pace. They travelled that way, in silence, for almost two hours. The day was warm as the sun shown brightly on her alabaster skin. A gentle breeze across the still damp plains would occasionaly come up to meet her and would send a ticklish chill down her spine. She was loving this immensly. The silence eventually got to be too much for her though and she had to pierce it somehow...
Looking over at Tamlyn, she let the word just barely ease out... "Truce?"
The stout man burst forth in a bellowing laugh that startled every bird for nigh on two miles around. It settled to a chuckle then as a smile returned to his face. The gloomy man that had been around all morning was gone and the mentor she loved was back.
Aye Arkei, a truce. I'm sorry for the mood I've been in this morning but with the completion of your schooling and what lies ahead... Well, its enough to get an old man down.
Aww... you're not that old Tamlyn. You still put me through the paces everytime we step into the... Did you just say that my schooling was completed?
He nodded. Yes, I'm afraid its true. The girl I was to raise has grown and everything I can teach her has been taught. And learned quite well I might add... Still, there more thats ahead and I'm afraid that its well beyond my abilities though you can be sure that I'll be there to see you through.
The scene from a bit earlier in the stable came rushing back to her. "I'm not coming back here am I Tamlyn?"
Oh you may find yourself wandering back sometime down the road, but it will be quite a time before that day arrives I think. There's much to do that lies ahead and I'm sure that it won't be over quickly.
She began looking around feverishly then as if each moment brought a missed opportunity to capture a memory of the countyside she'd always known. But that was silly. She was not likely to forget any of it no matter how long she'd be away.
Tamlyn, just where ARE we going?
The man frowned just a moment then before speaking. "Lets not worry about that for now. The truth will be upon us soon enough. Too soon."
But How long will it take us to get there?
I'm not certain on that Arkei. It could be two days or two months...
But don't you know how to get there?
Aye, in a round about sort of way I guess I do...
She sat there, staring at the man. If he'd had the courage to look at her just then he'd have seen the questioning concern in her eyes. But he didn't need to look at her to know what must be going through her head. It was the same thought that went through his the first time he'd been taken there.
You see, I know how to get to the area we need to be, but you don't exactly find our destination. Rather, it finds you...
|Troika - Prologue|