Episode 19: Time to Rest (Intermission)

      Sionis Sepher’s eyes looked almost watery as he leaned back in his chair. He looked burdened by the weight of the memories he had just allowed himself to recall. His simple chair creaked as he shifted position, and the noise broke the trance Vestria had been locked in this entire time.

      Vestria looked outside and saw that the sun had set long ago. Whatever errands she might have planned to run would have to wait now. It was clear that this latest session had stretched on longer than either of them had originally intended.

      “Did you ever see Kaellax again?” she asked.

      “Hmm?” Sionis asked, slowly pulling himself together. “What was that?”

      “Did you ever see her again? The Shadowspeaker?”

      “Kaellax? Yes. We still crossed paths a few times, but it was under different circumstances. You must realize the time frame we’re approaching?”

      Vestria gave a solemn nod. She had traveled all over this world in her efforts to collect the truth about Azirin. She knew all too well the calamity that awaited in Sionis’ tale. The civilized historians called it the Third Invasion. Many who lived in Azirin called it the end of the world. After all, for so many, that’s exactly what it was. Sionis Sepher was no different. As a student of the Udirian Academy of Magic Users, living in Udiria… it was inevitable. Over time, Vestria had learned to approach this topic with great care. There was a lot to learn about this event, but many people had to go slow. Old memories still hurt, and Sionis looked like he was hurting.

      “I’ve overstayed my welcome,” she said, starting to stand. “I’ll go.”

      “You’ll need your rest,” Sionis said. “You’ve got another work day ahead of you. I want to make a list of items for you before you go. You can pick them up at the Twinhill market for me.”

      “Sionis…” Vestria said. “If the story… if it’s too hard…”

      “Nonsense,” Sionis said, smiling at her. “I will want to be rested if I am going to walk you through those dark days, there’s a lot to be mindful of there, both then and later again, if you understand my meaning.”

      “I’m not sure that I do,” she said honestly.

      “Ah, well, in time you will.”

      Sionis snapped a finger and a few pieces of paper flapped over to him, while a quill whipped up and started writing out items in an orderly list. He checked it over as it wrote and then handed them over to Vestria, the ink still drying on the parchment.

      “Pick this stuff up when you wake up, and when you get here, expect a long day. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll want to do it all in one go, at least through the… loss.”

      “Of course,” Vestria said. “I understand.”

      “Good on you,” Sepher said. “Now, head on out.”


      When Vestria finally settled into her cozy bed at the Twinhill tavern later that night, she began to pull out a series of scrolls, all filled with the dictation of Sionis Sepher from that day. She let out an exhausted sigh as she checked some of the notes and thought about the man’s tale so far. The story of his life. She wasn’t actually all that interested in the full story, at least that was to say that it wasn’t the reason she was here. Despite the interest, she had come seeking the answer to one major question. How did Azirin manage to repel the Yunai? Was it magic? Was it something more primal?

      Sionis’ youthful life was dramatic, but she was no closer to learning the secrets of this world’s victory than she had been when she first arrived. She shoved the scrolls aside and looked out at the scenic hills in the distance, lit up surprisingly well by the moonlight that poured over the valley.

      She contemplated this place, wondering if anyone knew the deeper secret of this world, or if they had missed it despite all the truth that surrounded them. Soon enough she would know. She would learn the truth about the Yunai, about Sionis, and with that knowledge she would finally be able to defeat her own foes.

      Still, she was in no hurry at this point, and Sionis’ story was intriguing. She grabbed one of the scrolls again and started looking over the notes. She fell asleep that night and dreams of Shadowspeakers and unfair judicial systems…


      The morning market was busier than usual, and Vestria felt so out of place here. The native Patnashan were quite kind, but the other travelers in the area pushed their way through the market or caused a ruckus with the local guards. It was difficult to navigate the scene, and Vestria had never been around so few people that could speak her own language. Still, she got the ingredients on the list, even the difficult ones, and she reported to Sionis Sepher’s hut as the sun was peeking over the horizon.

      She found the Flamecaller already working in the field.

      “When do you wake up?” she asked as she approached with the bags of goods.

      “When I’m not sleepy anymore,” Sionis replied with a smile. “Thank you, Vestria.”

      “You’re quite welcome,” she replied, smiling.

      “Did any of the travelers give you any problems?”

      “No, it was fine.”

      “We get some rowdy folks out this way,” Sionis explained. “The Patnashan have always encouraged a neutrality, which means governments don’t have much oversight here. If you can get to Patnash, you can avoid most legal issues you might have back home.”

      “Is that why you’re here?” Vestria asked. “Are you hiding?”

      Sionis chuckled. “Ah, that would be exciting, right?”

      “I don’t know,” she answered.

      “Alas, I’m just retired,” Sionis assured her. “You got all the items?”

      “I did.”

      “Good. I have always found cooking puts me in a happy mood, and I suspect I will need to be in a happy mood to combat the darkness that I must recall for you today. Come inside, we’ll talk and I will cook.”

      “Sure.”

      The pair went inside the hut and Sionis started fetching pots and pans while the Loremaster got his scrolls ready. The room was noisy as they shuffled about, but soon enough things quieted down and Sionis put some water on to boil.

      “Okay,” he said. “Now, where exactly did we leave it off last night?”

      “The attempted murder trial.”

      “Right. I was judged innocent, but Uncle Maron thought it best to send me back to Udiria. Off and away I went. He said it was for my own safety. If only he had known what he was sending me into, I imagine he would have done it differently.”

      “So it was back to Udiria, then?” Vestria asked, tapping her mechanical quill.

      “Udiria,” Sionis replied. “And, ultimately, utter destruction…”


TO BE CONTINUED…

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