"Roland's right glove he offers now to God.

Saint Gabriel comes down and takes it from his hand,

His head sinks down to rest upon his arm;

Hands clasped in prayer, Roland met his end.

God sends from heaven the angel Cherubin,

Holy Saint Michael who saves us from the sea,

And with these two the angel Gabriel flies.

Count Roland's soul they bring to Paradise"

Sagen Textor opened his blind eyes toward the children, who were sniffling over the death of their ancient hero. The crowd of Youngers looked at him quietly, respect for him and his skill in their eyes. A little girl, Lavender Tornros, sat gazing at the ground, sad that her champion was dead. I stayed away from them. I was too old to be in that happy circle around Sagen anymore. Instead, I had been reduced to linger by the open tent in hopes of hearing a story without being detected. No matter how hard I tried, however, one child always seemed to notice me. Tiffana Lamnia would notice me standing by the tent flap no matter how well I concealed myself. The fiery little child was a pain in any adult's side, but no matter how bad she was, I could never bring myself to punish her. She never harmed anyone anyhow, it was her simplicity of mind and lack of understanding that made her take food from the kitchen (she was just hungry…), chase the cat (he scratched her…), and leaving her clothes on the floor (she was just so tired and Naan told her to go to bed imm-ed-iate-ly). Little Tiffana worried me slightly. Soon, she would reach her time of musumezakari, and I feared that she would become, as I am, a humble kahi, and not the noble keishuu she deserved to be. My little Lamnia, so swiftly drawn towards weapons, wished that she could be a boy, that she may become an honorable kouhei, a warrior of our people.

Our people have many different ranks, which can be easily explained. A child is born and given to their parents and when they reach a certain age, they are tested so that the elders may see their abilities and how they would best serve our people. Women are separated into kahis, or servants, and keishuu, ladies. Men are separated into kaboku, or servants, kindachi nobles, and the kouhei warriors. My knowledge of the other ranks is limited, but I know much of the kahi. We are the rejects, cripples, blind, or unusual. A kahi is to be swift, silent, and diligent. We are never to look into the eyes of a keishuu or kindachi while we work, and we are to do everything we are told. Kahi and kaboku can mingle and many work together to overcome their disabilities. Such a partnership has been created between Sagen and I. I am his eyes, and he is my hands.

I watched as he hurried the children to their parents' tents as footsteps neared our meeting place. As children scurried out of the tent they hugged me and whispered hastened goodnights. Sagen stood and stretched his arms, yawning widely. He stood with his head cocked to the side, like a bird listening to things I could never hear.

"Kaira," he said with a grin. "Do you like the story of Count Roland?"

"As always Sagen." I stepped forward to his side, ready to guide him if he wished it. "You always have the best stories." He laughed and draped his arm over my shoulders as we stepped out of the tent. I shivered as the cold wind whipped around my tunic and my legs, raising bumps with its icy chill.

"KAHI KAIRA!" The command rang across the grounds as I flinched. Sagen gave me a reassuring hug and left on his way for our tent. I was left alone in the dusk, walking towards my primary master's tent. As I entered, I bowed, my forehead touching the ground in the way ordered. When I timidly glanced up I saw my master, red in the face. I cringed and lowered my head again.

"I know you were out with Sagen, listening to his wives' tales again. I know the Council can't officially punish you, but they can't take away my ability to… ON YOUR FEET KAHI!" I obediently stood and braced myself for the punch or beating that I knew would come. He smacked me across the face and I automatically centered my focus on the slap, making it hurt more than it did. Tears welled in my eyes and one slipped down my cheek. He slapped me again, and I cried more. My reason for focusing on my injuries was to make myself seem weaker, though a life of difficulties and pain had hardened my mind and body to where slaps did not hurt me anymore. However, when he reached for the horsewhip I whimpered out of fear. His fat hand grasped my arm and he spun me around before beginning to lash my back roughly. I cried out as the frayed whip sliced through my thin tunic and lashed my skin mercilessly. Occasionally, the whip would tear at the tender part of my shoulder, or wind around my arm. As my tears grew more numerous, his lashing became harder and more brutal. In the end I fell down, able to bear the pain no longer. He muttered and tossed the whip aside before kicking me in the gut.

"Out you worthless kahi. Out of my sight!" I whimpered, stood and bowed toward him respectfully before leaving the tent as fast as I could. The wounds on my back stung in the cold air and I bit my lip while running to my tent and sitting down on my pallet. Sagen stopped braiding the rope and shook his head, crawling over to me.

"Kaira? Are you okay?" He accidentally touched one of the cuts on my back and I gasped. "Ouch Kaira…you are going to have to take this off so I can mend your back and tunic." I nodded and slipped my tunic over my head carefully, flinching when the rough material touched my back. I pulled a blanket in front of me and groaned when I noticed my newly sewn undershirt was now in tatters. 'Great,' I thought. 'Just what I needed.' Sagen hummed a tune as he cut strips of an old blanket into bandages for my back. When I gathered the courage to touch one of the welts, my hand became sticky with blood.

"Your tunic is stained, but the right herb should take that out… it's torn almost to pieces in the back. He must have beaten you something horrid." There was bitterness and pain in his voice and his clouded eyes were narrowed. "I should be able to fix it though… hopefully before tomorrow." I nodded my gratitude and took my tunic from him.

"I should mend it before it's treated though. I can wear it bloody, but they would have my head if it was torn." A grim smile tugged at my lips half-heartedly as I picked up a needle and Sagen turned up the lamp, feeling through his bag for the right bottle of herbs. He pulled the herbs out and dipped his fingers in each one, rubbing it between his fingertips for the texture and smelling it softly for the scent. He finally found the right one and placed it in a small bowl I had found on the ground outside of camp. I started sewing in small, precise stitches on the longest tear, one that reached from the waistline to the neckline. I touched my bandaged back gingerly and found the cut that had been beneath it. My skin seared with pain when I touched it and I quickly returned to my sewing. I was very grateful to Sagen for staying up with me to clean up; especially since it was not the first time he had done so. However, he had told me when I thanked him previously that he did not want me to anymore, and I respected his wishes.

It was early in the morning when I finished mending the last cut and Sagen had mixed the herbs, waiting for me to spread it on the stains. I added some water to it and opened the tent flap, spreading my tunic on the ground and pouring the mixture over it generously. I picked up the tunic and placed it on a rock so that it would hopefully dry by the morning. Yawning widely, I slipped back into the tent and under the covers, pulling the thin material over me. Sagen gave me a careful hug and turned over, falling asleep within minutes. It took longer, however, for sleep to claim my weary eyes.

Little hands and a loud, sleepy moan awakened me. I shut my eyes tighter and clung to the last of my short sleep. I rolled onto my back and grimaced, having forgotten about my injuries. Tiffana cocked her head to the side inquisitively and asked what was wrong.

"Oh… my back just hurts." Tiffana's face fell, understanding what I didn't say, and hugged me, being cautious of the bandages on my back.

"He hurt you again… are you okay? Do you need anything?" I smiled softly at the child's kindness and asked her if she could grab my tunic out on the rock. She smiled and nodded, fetching my tunic in the blink of an eye. I slid it over my shoulders and stood, having to stoop some in the small tent.

"Sagen, get up sleepyhead." He moaned again and rolled over, burying his head in the folds of the pallet. "Come on!" I dragged at his arm and Tiffana tickled him deviously.

"Get up silly!" She giggled and continued poking him in the ribs. He laughed and sat up, throwing his free hand into the air.

"Fine! I give up. Run along Tiffana, your mother will be worried." She nodded and scurried off to have breakfast with her parents. Sagen stood and slipped out of the tent, stretching contentedly before placing his arm over my shoulders. I guided him as we walked toward our master's tent, following the hurried footsteps of Tiffana. We ducked inside the large tent and bowed respectfully, though Sagen's neck stiffened angrily, sensing the presence of the leader. Tiffana's mother stood and told us what was to be expected in the morning's work and that we needed to go to the meeting place at noon. I nodded carefully and we bowed again before leaving the tent.

The noon bell chimed across the small village and Sagen and I straightened slowly and he placed his arm over my shoulder. We hurried to the meeting place, surprised at the amount of Elders present. Sagen stumbled and all of his weight fell forward, causing me to stagger and try to lift him to his feet. I looked at his pale white face and shivered, pulling him aside for a moment. Sagen sat on the ground and his hand passed before his eyes, laying his fingers on them as if to cool them from an internal heat. I did nothing, but sat beside him, my light hand resting upon his shoulder in silent comfort.

Soon, he slipped his arm around my shoulders and I helped him to stand. He was trembling and his face was still white, though it was slowly regaining color.

"What have you Seen, Sagen?" My voice did not go higher than a whisper, for speaking of these things was against the Laws and punishable by death. He bit his lip and stopped walking, his body trembling.

"Great danger awaits both of us because of this meeting, but it will be a hidden kind. Be my eyes Kaira, for we will need as much help as we can get."