All things considered, I had nearly two decades to find the boy. There was no need in delaying though, the longer I waited the more chance there was the family moved to someplace else. Crossing the Inner Sea alone would take me nearly a month on its own, how many more months until I found him?
The shadows had lengthened substantially by the time Serifé released Samos and Eder from their training. They had gone shirtless one hour into the exercises, the intensity of Absorption bathing the two of them in streams of sweat.
“I will see the two of you tomorrow at dusk,” she instructed before leaving. “Don’t be late.”
Assuring her they would be there, they stalked off towards the bathing rooms. Samos had enjoyed the baths for the first time yesterday, finding amazement at how well the tiredness and fatigue were washed away from the body. One of the men responsible for keeping them clean had told them that, just as everywhere else in Dadendam, seals kept the water at an enjoyable temperature and seeped into people’s bodies.
With every passing hour, there were new things he discovered that were so commonplace here, but would have been a marvel to behold anywhere else in the world. Absently, he wondered if any other taen rocks of this size could be found someplace else and allow them to create a paradise much as this one.
Warm steam blew into his face as he opened the door to the bathing rooms, briefly distorting his breathing. Soon though, he had grown accustomed to the sudden change in humidity and made his way towards the changing rooms. The floor and walls were inlaid with thousands of small pieces of stone in all colours thinkable, composing large canvasses displaying historical feats from all over the realm.
From how secluded Dadendam seemed from the outer world, they seemed extremely well informed about everything going on beyond their borders. Historical feats even he recognized from lessons aboard the Windweaver had been put on display here. The fated duel between Arthus Harwell and Gherald the Traitor, called the Dance of Dreams, was one of them. Another scene depicted was that of a volcano erupting, a city built on its slopes. The fated day Nokoroy was destroyed after the eruption of Mount Raeyner which buried the pirate capital underneath ash and lava.
There were others in the bathing rooms as well, some enjoying massages, others having conversations in the public baths were men could bath together. Samos preferred the private ones though, giving him time to rest and ponder on what the coming days would bring. Once rid of his clothes and deposited to be cleaned, he climbed into the bath reserved for him. The room he found himself in was narrow, providing no more space than needed for one person to enjoy a moment of rest.
From the moment he touched the water, Samos felt the warmth seeping into his body and reinvigorate his strength. Fully submerging, his mind drifted. Only yesterday morning they had arrived in Dadendam and already he felt more at home than any other place he had ever been. It was a strange feeling, but he felt like he belonged here in one way or another.
Was it the fact it was so peaceful here that made him feel comfortable? Or simply that after travelling for so long, it felt good to settle if even only for a while? He let his thoughts fade away and closed his eyes, letting the tension of training slowly leave his body.
Samos didn’t know when he had fallen asleep, but that he was no longer awake was a given. For starters, he realized he was no longer in possession of his body. He had become mere thought, floating around in a void of absolute nothingness. No matter where he looked, there was nothing to meet him.
Feeling a similarity to his first Enhancement exercises, he tried enhancing his body. Nothing happened and instinctively, Samos knew he had no body to enhance in the first place. What was he then?
He enhanced his mind. Something exploded in his mind and from within his field of vision, hundreds of bright lines of power expanded outwards, twisting and turning as they moved away from him.
Some of the lines stopped close to him and ended in a small white orb. Others continued far beyond where he could see, but he felt them end eventually.
Whispers came to him.
It happened in the Eulim earlier today…
They need training if we…
…questions, you’ll meet her in Hadifar where…
…from Nokoroy? Better get to Dadendam as…
He left ME in command! If you…
…don’t know where they are, Rey. We need to…
You see, Terrel…
A hundred voices came to him, a hundred more following immediately after. He took it all in, unable to tear himself away from the barrage that flooded into his mind. Some were only vaguely audible, others as clear as day.
Among the torrent, one voice resounded more brightly than any other.
Ralph, he realized. He’s alive.
Not knowing what he was doing, he reached out for the line that he thought had sent out Ralph’s voice. All other sounds faded.
“…here for too long, Rey. We need information, need to reach others from the Order.”
“They’re looking for us, Ralph. The moment we step into a city, they have their eyes on us. And you need time to heal.”
Rey’s voice, Samos knew. A third voice he didn’t recognize resounded.
“Our scouts from Vorna report growing hostility, Lord Aëron. No doubt the governor spread word that you tried to upset the pact they had with Ethel and sought to disturb the peace.”
“Any word on four of our own making it out? Two men and two women.”
“Nothing. Who are they?”
“I’m not sure. From the moment I met them, I could feel the enormous potential they had, two of them more so than the others. I don’t know what role they are to fulfil, but we need them.”
As Samos formed the words to give Ralph answer, a loud thumping snapped him back to the bathing rooms, the lines and void evaporating in an instant. The thumping sounded again. Someone was just outside the room, knocking on the door.
“What is it?” he asked, feeling frustration at the interruption of Ralph’s conversation.
A voice he didn’t recognize answered. “The Conclave wishes your presence,” he said. “There is to be a meeting atop the Great Spire.”
“I’ll be out in a minute,” Samos grunted, splashing his face with water.
What had just happened?
In some explicable manner, he had overheard a conversation between Ralph, Rey and a third man who were probably several hundreds of miles away from Dadendam. There had been other voices as well, voices he couldn’t place all with different accents and intonations, but all understandable. Was this his Wiser Talent at work?
He doubted it. Everything he knew about Wiser told him that it often took days if not weeks to find a certain moment or place in time. This had been nearly instant.
He splashed his face a final time before exiting the bath, drying himself and putting on freshly-washed clothes. He could worry about the voices later. For now, he was only curious as to why the Conclave had organized another meeting.
The elivet came to a rattling halt and Samos, accompanied by Eder, stepped out onto the floor of the meeting room. They were the last to arrive, the ten members of the Conclave already waiting atop their cushions, Yara and Faye in front of them.
Faye seemed happier and more excited than usual while Yara sat contemplating, her expression solemn. Most of the Conclave seemed to share Yara’s emotions, seemingly wondering why they had been called at this hour. Only a woman who sat next to Serifé seemed to show any enthusiasm for the meeting, her dirt-stained hands tapping impatiently on the low table before her.
Aram took the word. “Now that all those who you requested are here, Ehli, could you share with us the reason for this meeting?”
The tapping stopped and the woman who had been responsible for it gave a quick nod to Aram.
“My apologies for summoning you all here at this hour,” she began, a sense of excitement dripping through her voice, “but something happened today that is too important not to share.”
That earned her expecting looks from the others present in the room. Samos looked towards Yara, who returned his gaze and give a short shrug.
“Earlier today, I was performing experiments with Soannins Yara and Faye in the Eulim. After performing a, if I may say so, perfect Healing on broken ceramic, Soannin Yara underwent Enhancement Manifestation.” She finished her sentence with a grin.
Silence ruled the room for a moment. Some seemed to not understand what Ehli was saying, others seemed utterly stunned. For some reason, Samos seemed not a surprised as he should be. Yara had grown stronger every day since leaving Ters, he progress being nothing short of amazing. It seemed logical to him she would eventually transcend the others.
She was Son’Sha.
But so was he.
She looked at him and with a start, Samos realized Yara was afraid. She did her best to hide it, a faint smile forming on her seemingly confident face, but her eyes told a different story. An innkeeper’s daughter, in search of adventure and ending up at the other end of the world, suddenly discovering she holds a power only a select few have held over a period of more than three-thousand years.
It was a most rationale fear.
Each one trying to overpower the other’s words, the members of the Conclave barraged her with questions. She took it all in stride, masking her distress with confidence, and answered them patiently one by one.
When she told of the touching of the makran roots, Serifé jerked upright and stared directly into his eyes. He could see the calculations in her eyes, checking to see if the moments overlapped.
But Samos needed no confirmation. He knew it was his power he had let the tree absorb that had found its way towards Yara. Had he forced Enhancement upon Yara? Or had she always had the potential of manifesting the Talent?
Whichever it had been, he would make sure she would learn how to use and control it.
Aram held up his hands and the noise quieted down. “These are strange times indeed. One Sooarom brings chaos, while another finds a third. As I said before, I do not believe in destiny. But one should not ignore certain things only for the sake of maintaining one’s worldview. Destiny or not, we are being handed the means to confront Ethel on a golden platter.
“It is at this crossroads that I ask of you four, what will you do? We cannot force you, but it would be best for us, best for you, if you were to stay here for a while. Train with us, learn from us. Destiny aside, you cannot ignore that one day you will come face to face with Ethel in one way or another.”
“I’ll stay and become stronger,” Eder almost immediately answered, followed shortly after by Faye who also expressed her wish to train in Dadendam.
Samos gave a look at Yara and nodded. “I’m staying as well. At least until we are needed elsewhere.” Ralph would need him one day, that much he knew.
Finally, Yara agreed as well and Ehli’s face brightened at the prospect of continuing her experiments with a Son’Sha.
“So be it then,” Aram concluded the meeting. “Let us rest, tomorrow we will make the discovery of a new Sooarom public.”
Yara grimaced at that, clearly unsettled by the fact her name would be all over the city. For Samos, it was another reason not to tell anyone of his Wiser Talent. He could do without all the extra attention.
Maybe I’ll tell Yara, he considered. Maybe it would relieve her of some anxiety when she knew she wasn’t the only one with three Talents.