Chapter Twenty Five

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Time all but stands still in the crypts. Even a fortnight felt much and more like a year. I thought that time crept by languorously while I was trapped in the cells, but the truth was, no one could induce a coma like feeling of monotony like Delente Exim. When I learned that Exim would be my tutor I was, to say the least, disappointed. He was certainly not who I would have picked. Then again, I am not quite sure who I would have chosen. It is not as if I knew my surroundings well enough to choose the best tutor possible, and choosing Alyssa, a seemingly extraordinary choice, would have proven to carry consequences that not even I was ready for.

Red did not say much after we found out, and we had barely seen each other since. Exim liked to schedule training through first meal and then not show up, and the rest of the day was simply too busy for most Teros to spare even a minute. I really had no other friends save Red, and it seemed that Alyssa was simply a figment of my imagination. When I asked about her I was met with blank stares or curious looks. I had not seen her since the day that I danced for the first time.

Perhaps a fortnight had passed since the start of my tutoring, and Exim had yet to say more than a few sentences to me. The first day I waited in the boneyard for what must have been three hours before he finally showed. He walked up nonchalantly, dressed in the drab grey robe of a Delente, and stopped just in front of me. He looked me over, his permanent scowl seeming slightly more choleric than usual.

"How many times have you danced on your own?" He looked at me indifferently.

I did not need to think about the answer. "Twice," I said, confident that it was a decent amount for a Teros.

Exim only sighed and began walking away. "Find me when you have danced at least fifty times," he said over his shoulder just before he disappeared into the hallway.

At first I was not sure what to do. I stood there for a long while wondering what he actually meant by that particular statement. I remembered what Red told me about dancing and how it was forbidden for Teros without the approval of a Master or at the very least, my own Delente. Was this statement a directive that would allow me to dance without fear of breaking the rules? I thought that maybe I should ask someone, but it dawned on me that there was no one to ask, at least no one that I could trust. Though I was surrounded by acolytes, I might as well have been back in that cell with naught but the darkness to accompany me.

Unless a class was meeting, which rarely happened, the boneyard remained relatively empty of students and Masters alike. The rarity of seeing another soul was more due to the vastness of the room than the lack of visitors, however. Red explained to me the etymology behind the name given to the large, seemingly ceiling-less room. The name boneyard could be traced back to the First Wars, when the men from the western reaches across the sea came and battled the southern-bred, a nameless nation that existed long before Panthos.

"The bushes aren't bushes at all," Red stated matter-of-factly. "It is the same sort of mold that grows on the ground. After the wars, the oscura had the majority of the bones moved from the various places in the crypt to this large room. The actual formation of the moss that resembles bushes is a mystery though. Anyways, you are surrounded by bones, lots and lots of bones. Though I suppose the entire crypt is full of bones, maybe the bonecrypt would be a more appropriate name." He shrugged innocently then and started telling me some new fact or story that I had been previously unaware of. I hoped that soon I would have more time to spend with the little Son of Pyre touched by fire.

I must have sat there for another hour after Exim walked away, but I still was not sure if I could chance a quiet dance with the shadows. I began wandering aimlessly around the large room. It turned out to be much larger than I had previously assumed. There were passageways laid in between the various formations of the bushes that were actually moss, and I quickly found myself utterly and hopelessly lost. Now, when you think of being lost in a maze, try to remember the fact that there is no light in the crypt, or at least very little in very few places. So, it is easy to imagine the slight problem I faced. I doubted very much that anyone would form a search party and go looking for me, even if I had been blessed with popularity little more than just simple legend.

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