Hidden in the Years of Seven, the Farstones were the epitome of craftsmanship, made by Kveraan under the mastership of Neriim. Taking five crystals of light, he changed them into five balls of crystal light, showing the past that was and the world that is, and in them was reflected all the good that was in the world, undimmed by the Breaking under Tshain, and unmarred by the darkness that has overtaken it these days.
Let us be warned.
For all who have tried to find it have fallen beyond the tomes of history and into a darkness more complete than any other. Many have they been, and many have been their names, and many have been their feats, written in the pages of their life with their own life blood.
Let us be warned.
Tammary lay where she had fallen, blood rushing red against her tanned skin as her legs sprawled out beneath her. The first aid team hurried in, and moments later she was opening her eyes from the stretcher as it was wheeled into the infirmary.
"She cheated," Tammary whispered hoarsely, but the white and blue robed attendants beside her scarcely stopped a moment. There was a ripple of talk as a man entered. He picked up the sheets of paper filed under her name and studied them briefly, then sat down beside her.
"Here we are," he said cheerfully as he carefully moved his fingers around the skin near the wound. There was a sharp intake of breath, and beneath the tan Tammary's skin went white as he reached in and drew out a piece of glass. Looking up at him from a haze of silver, she forced a smile.
"She cheated," the girl whispered again, her voice fierce.
"Yes," the doctor said softly, "But that is a matter for the Coru Sensei. Perhaps Sei Jamu will hear about this tomorrow. Right now, you are going to rest. D'ya hear? You lost a lot of blood, even though we came in as fast as we could. Get some sleep, now, and don't let me hear you talk about cheating, sword-play, or your apprenticeship. Got it?"
Tammary grinned back at him, her small mouth quirking as she lay back against the soft bed they had moved her too.
"Yeah, sure," she said, and then blanched for a moment as he started cleaning the wound. "I guess." The doctor finished dressing the sound and tapped her gently on the head.
"Sleep now, nein seira," he said, and then turned and strode out of the room. Tammary's eyes closed as she listened to his footsteps recede. Not yet, she thought, and then her piercing grey eyes slid open. She watched the room carefully, listening to the noises in the corridor outside. Picking a moment when no steps could be heard, she jumped out of bed, steadying herself for a moment against the sudden rush of blood, and then hurried out into the hallway.
There would only be one chance to get that traitorous child of a morshai, she knew that. Turning the corner, she walked straight into the doctor, who was returning as quickly as possible. Meekly, she looked up at him.
"What are you doing out of bed?" he said sternly, his brow deeply compressed.
"I'm thirsty," she said quietly, "And there was nobody near me. And then I stepped out in the hallway to see if I could motion anyone here, but nobody was there. So I started walking." Her eyes were sparkling brilliantly. "And see! I found you," she said proudly, her hand clutching his arm. For a moment, she swayed, and then the doctor picked her up before she could fall.
"She's only 11," he muttered to himself as he carried the fainting Tammary through the hallway back to her bed. A nurse was walking by, and he called her in. "Make sure she stays in this bed. Put a bell on the table so that she can call you whenever she needs to."
Lecale looked up at his mother's face and laughed as her long black hair rustled down her shoulders. This was their time together, before Lecale had to go out to the fields to work and his mother had to hurry up and work all around the house with his sisters Riana and Kie. He never could understand why they liked sitting down, but his mother had once explained it all away by saying that they were girls and he was a boy, and that they were a lot different.
"What field are you working in today?" she asked light-heartedly, her long finger swinging his hand back and forth.
"The far north one," Lecale said.
"I'll send Kie out with some food later," his mother said, then pushed him out the door with a laugh. "Go! Your father is waiting for you." Lecale smiled at her and then disappeared out the door, his dark brown hair tousled by the early morning wind already. She watched him go with a smile, and then walked out to the kitchen. So much to be done…
Already Lecale and his father were on their way to the far north field. It was full of stones, and while 11-year-old Lecale couldn't lift the larger ones, he could pick up some of the smaller ones and toss them into the wagon.
Never had Lecale thought there were as many stones in the world as he had picked up and seen by the time Kie came walking down the field, a lunch-basket held demurely in her hand. Her hair was tucked into a small net, a veil attached that shaded her face some from the intense sun.
"Kie!" Lecale called, dashing towards her. She placed the basket down on a rock and then retreated some while he and his father started eating the sandwiches that mother had put in. They were thick sandwiches, filled up with meat and lettuce and tomato, and Lecale and his father ate heartily, taking sips of the special drink mother had sent with it in-between their bites.
They called it plower, and she made it by putting sugar-cane juice and tier in it, as well as a small handful of oatmeal. Somehow it made you feel not nearly as thirst. Soon they had finished lunch, and Kie grabbed the bag and started back towards the house.
Lecale picked up the still-heavy jug of plower and put it in a cool, shaded spot so that they could come and drink some of it often. But not too often, he reminded himself, or he'd get a belly-ache.
So now it was back to the interminable lifting of rocks.
Khaivan limped towards the water-bucket line and waited his turn. The children ahead of him and behind him drew away, glancing with horror and disgust at his crippled foot. His mouth tightened in a straight line, and then he quickly drank some water and limped back towards 'his' bench.
Reaching down, he brought up a small knife and a piece of wood that was beginning to take the shape of an elf. The flowing robes and kindly expression on its face were almost perfect. There was only a little bit of adjusting left to do on this carving, and then he could place it on the shelf with its family. He judged its age at 350, though he could never be sure with elves.
This one was based on an Eil Elven member of the Coru Guard who had come through Æsara recently. She was young, relatively, and quite beautiful. He bent his head, concentrating on the last few details. The braid that swung on her right cheek was the last detail to go in. The bell rang moments after he had watched the last shavings go drifting down.
Standing up, he shoved the carving into a small pouch at his side and the knife into his sheath, also at his side, before hobbling to stand in line to return to his classes. He was good at them, decently, but not good enough to warrant going to the High School, the place the best scholars went. Not that he wanted to, he thought bitterly, thinking of the rich children who almost always went there. It would just be more pity, and he couldn't stand pity.
Shrugging off his thoughts, he started filing in with the others, his twisted left foot making it harder for him to stay in step. Geography class was next, he remember, and his stomach sank. He could never remember where each continent was, and why it was so important to know what country did what where. All that would ever be important to him was Æsara. Where else could he go? What else could he do?
Eleven-year-old Khaivan had a future in front of him about as interesting as a dead nail. Not, he thought gloomily, that nails could die.
With a sigh, he forced his attention in front of him.
"Attention, class. We will be studying our neighbor today, the continent Kiera. All eyes on the board, please. Khaivan! All eyes on the board…"