Chapter Twenty Eight

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I was becoming accustomed to the dark cell after what seemed like weeks of isolation. There comes a point when you have been alone for so long that those things you would normally think of as repugnant start seeming increasingly ordinary. I spent hours upon hours in that cell telling myself that I would not break the rules again. Not because I feared isolation or death, but because if I did not alter my current heading, I knew I would end up letting down my mother, Liras, and everyone else who was counting on me to restore Panthos, to save my people.

I did the same routine as before to keep my mind busy as I rotted in that dark cell. I would exercise for as long as my body would let me, and when I was too tired to exercise, I would sit and go over all the houses of the empire. I would categorize them by those noblemen that I assumed would be sympathetic to my cause. Once I was done with that I would practice Shadowdancing from one corner of the small cell to the other.

At first I had thought about simply dancing out of the cell and into my room, or to the kitchen, or anywhere else, but I quickly dismissed the idea. I decided that, though my escape would be great for some time, ultimately, it would prove to end me right back in the same cell, or lest I forget the oscura’s warnings, dead. So, there I sat, isolated for breaking the rules; the same rules that I had just told the oscura that I understood and would not break again. No, dissention then would have only proved to worsen my situation. It was all I could do to survive there and try to keep my sanity.

One day, after being isolated for a fortnight or more, I was practicing moves from Morventi and on when I heard footsteps approaching my cell. I did not stop as the door was unlocked and swung open. Holding a candle and clad in a black robe, Master Farsel entered the small cell.

“I see you are using your time wisely,” he said as he shut the door behind him. “I see so many young ones lose their minds in these very cells. It is a shame, really.” I continued with my exercise, wondering why exactly the oscura had sent him. “Tell me, Kareth, why are you here?”

I looked over at him as I negotiated the next move. “Well, I would think it was because I rendered the young Caesos unconscious. How is he, if you don’t mind me asking?”

The master smiled. “He is up and about, though not very happy with you I would imagine, but that is not what I meant. I am asking seriously, why are you here? Why come to the Sieltacor?”

“My cousin can be very convincing. Sometimes, I wonder if he wanted me to come for me or for him. I suppose I may never know.”

“As I know I will not get a straight answer from you, I will put this bluntly. I am not here on anyone’s bidding. I am here to save you from certain death. The oscura holds your potential in high regards. You have a unique bond with the shadows that none of the other students possess. But, none of that will matter if you die in these halls.”

I stopped practicing and leaned up against the wall. “You are asking me to change who I am to please the other acolytes?”

The master shook his head. “No, I am asking you to change who you are to survive. You are aware of the man of a thousand faces. You know what he did to survive for so long while so many wanted him dead. The oscura is willing to give you one more chance. If you take it, do not waste it, for we get but so many in this life.” He turned to the door and asked for the gaoler. Once the door was open he looked to me once more before leaving. “Your Delente is waiting for you in the boneyard. It seems you are far behind schedule.” He left the door open behind him.

I frowned as the Master disappeared into the hallway, and glanced around the small space before exiting. It was going to be difficult to find my way to the boneyard from the cell. I began walking down the dark hallway yet again, wondering if anyone would come to my rescue this time. After aimlessly wandering for some time, I decided to get where I was going as quickly as possible. I knew what unauthorized dancing meant, but I was beyond the point of caring.

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