Chapter Thirty

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The following months passed in the dark halls of the Sieltacor without much in the sense of drama. I ate lunch with Red almost every day, but the rest of my time was spent training in one facet or another, and attending classes given by the Masters whenever they taught—which, surprisingly, was not that often. Exim had stuck to his promise of being simply a tutor, and had brought me up to his level of knowledge and beyond. Every day he would set up a new maze with dummies placed in certain areas, some with less shadows than other, and I would have to negotiate through it without being seen. The complexities of the tests were matched only by the ease with which I navigated them.

I was gaining notice throughout the order, and not just from the acolytes and Masters. One day, while negotiating one of Exim’s mazes, I was visited by an odd man that went by the name Gail. He was curious to see my talents, or so he said. Alris and another black robe that I did not recognize were with him, and they insisted that I go through the maze as if they were not there. I did as they asked. I crushed Exim’s maze faster than any of them thought I would. At that point, I could completely recover from a dance in less than a blink of an eye. I wanted to be better though. I wanted to be faster.

I kept at it, and before I knew it more than half a year had passed since I had joined the Sieltacor. It was then that the oscura himself came through the narrows to see me. Exim no longer trained me at that point; he simply came into the boneyard, set up a maze, watched me dismantle it in less than a few minutes, and left without another word. The oscura walked up just as I was finishing a new maze. Exim called me over and without thinking I danced from the far end of the room to just in front of them in a small patch of shadows. At first I thought that the oscura would be furious, but he seemed indifferent to the rule I had just broken.

Exim shook his head and nodded to the oscura. “my lord, Teros Kareth,” he said motioning to me as I walked up.

I bowed slightly and stopped a few feet in front of the old man. He looked me over before he spoke. “You have excelled since I last saw you, Teros Kareth. As you have probably ascertained, we are not an order built on ceremonies or processions.” I nodded in reply and he continued on. “Exim has told me that he has nothing left to teach you. Now, this usually takes well over a year to happen for most of our Teros, but your aptitude and knowledge of the shadows has led the council to enact your promotion to Delente, effective immediately.”

My surprise must have shown like a star. I looked at both Exim and the oscura, and bowed my head in respect.

“Rise, boy, and gather your new robe.” He nodded to one of the black robes standing behind him, who came forward and produced the grey of Delente. “Normally, when one dons the grey robe they are required to take on a Teros for at least a year, but the council has decided to forego your tutoring cycle until you have received your Reduct training. You will take a Teros upon the new year. Until then, we expect to see some obvious improvements.”

I nodded once more and took the grey robe from the oscura. “I understand, my dark lord.”

“Alris will give you the details.” He returned my nod and moved out of the boneyard without another word.

Alris stepped forward. “Your Reduct trainer will be Olsin. As of now Teros acolytes are off limits. Do you have any questions?” I shook my head. “Good,” he said and disappeared out of the large room.

Exim and I stood there in silence before I finally spoke. “Thank you for pledging me.”

He only thickened his scowl. “I didn’t pledge you, prince. I simply told them the truth. I require no thanks for my actions.” Without another word he turned and walked out of the room, leaving me alone with the patched darkness.

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