A/N: This chapter was delayed, and because of that, has not been as meticulously edited. I just wanted to get this up here as soon as possible so it didn't seem like a dead story for much longer.

Chapter 3

With no window to the outside, it was hard for either Emon or Mayelle to gauge just how long they had been in their cell. Mayelle tried to keep a level head and constantly assured her son that even if they were to die, she would not let him be alone. Mayelle wanted to lie and tell him everything would be alright, but she knew that he would see through it. He had reached an age of lucidity, even if he still held fast to ideals.

Finally a man in one of the maroon robes that designated him as someone stationed from the Church of Talesti came. He stared at them with piercing, hawk-like eyes, further intensified by a prominent brow. Mayelle glanced over while petting her son's hair, whom had rested his head in her lap.

"Take the boy," the man said, but his eyes never left Mayelle. She tensed and defensively put her hands on her sons' shoulders.

"Where are you taking him?" Mayelle demanded. The tightness of her hold caused him to stir, and the intensity of her voice erupted anxiety within. Emon swiveled his head to peer at the guard who was sliding open the barred door to the cell, then his eyes wandered over to the bald cleric.

"Mother…?" Emon peeped quietly. He sat up, backing up against her, and she wrapped her arms around him possessively, glaring at the guard.

"Come along now, boy," the guard said gruffly, putting one hand out while resting the other readily upon his sword. Emon shook his head and Mayelle tightened her hold defiantly.

"You are not taking him away from me. Kill us if that is your design, but you are not taking him from me!" Mayelle said in such low tones, she almost sounded masculine. The guard glanced back at the cleric for a moment.

"Take him, and use as much force as necessary. Kill the woman if you must," the cleric instructed impatiently. The guard nodded and drew out his sword. Mayelle felt her son hold his breath as his heart began racing. Or was that her own? Mayelle pulled Emon back as the guard went to seize him.

"Stop resisting woman, or I will slaughter you in this filth hole," the guard said through clenched teeth. However Mayelle caught sight of hesitance. She was unsure whether it was fear or compassion, but cared not. Mayelle shuffled Emon behind her and spread her arms.

"Either take me with you, or kill both of us. Choose," Mayelle said fiercely. She felt her son gripping on the rags she had been given to wear.

"Do not make this more difficult than it needs to be," the guard warned.

"Do it!" Mayelle repeated. The guard shook his head. Given no choice he struck at her with his blade. However, the weakness of his character made it a sloppy blow, and though it sliced Mayelle's flesh and rags from her shoulder to her breast, it was far from lethal. She cringed, letting out a hiss in response to the biting sting. Feeling the disapproving glare from the cleric, he swung again with more conviction, aiming for her exposed throat. This time Mayelle ducked, and the whoosh of rent air could be heard as it barely cleared Emon's head. Emon yelped from fright and darted away from the guard. Mayelle was not fast enough to grab him before the guard held out an arm, catching him. Emon squealed in surprise, and then tried to struggle out of the guard's grasp. Mayelle yelled and incoherent cluster of syllables and charged at the guard. In her blind rage, she did not see another man enter into the cell, and he intercepted her with ease. She struggled and screamed and clawed at his face in desperation as she saw the first guard take Emon out of the cell.

Emon was taken. Mayelle opened her mouth wide, but no more screams were left. Instead she just let out a strange whimper as the cleric spun on his heel, leading the guard and Emon away. She then looked up at the man who held her, his gauntlets bruising her frail skin. She stared at him, the rage boiling in her stomach. Her fingertips lost all sensation except for a vague tingle. Her throat felt scorched, and her eyes felt a terrible pressure behind them, as if her brain were trying to eject them from their sockets. Soon it was hard to see the man who was restraining her as dark spots began to form in her vision. Her chest felt as if it filled with a volatile gas, and Mayelle, for once, was tempted to ignite it.

There was no holding back now. In an instant of indecision, the strong forces channeled their way through Mayelle's body, leaping out in a whirlwind of passionate destruction. Within seconds Mayelle was standing amidst a crumbling cell. The walls had been blown out with large, irregular holes, and the iron bars peeled away from her. As for the guard, the only thing that remained of him was a smear of ash and droppings of molten fragments. Loose debris fell into Mayelle's fiery hair as she calmly stepped into the hallway, the metal bars twisting and separating until there was a gap large enough for her to walk through. An immense shaking began to stir, but Mayelle had reached a numb calm as she walked down the hallway in steady pursuit of her son.

She heard running up ahead, and shouts. They were words she was sure, but there were so few resources left in her mind that she could not process or comprehend them. She set into a run to catch up with the man who took her son… but where were they? She reached a T-shaped junction, not knowing whether to go left or right. One would lead her closer, and the other further away. She listened, but the echoing of the walls gave her no aid. There was no time to debate. She turned left and raced down the narrow hallway. In the distance she heard the collapse of the sector behind her.

After several wrong turns, Mayelle had finally come full circle. Eerily, there were no guards. Just the confused shouts of the prisoners. Where were the guards? There was no time to think about that. She had to find Emon. Emon. Emon. Where is Emon? Mayelle began to frantically search. Finally, something posed a threat to her. Three guards stood, barring her path, with their swords drawn. Her gut shifted and her bowels grew hot. The beast had been fed, and it was eager for more. With closed eyes, she hid from her responsibilities and let another unfocused force to be released. There was shaking all around her, and her skin felt hot all over. Yet… yet so cold. No longer did it feel as though her feet stood on the ground. She could not even open her eyes. She had let her power loose and there were consequences to be paid. From beneath their fleshy shields, her eyes rolled up as her knees buckled beneath her, and she was greeted by oblivion.

Oblivion.

This was a place she had been, or perhaps, un-been, before. A sense of unmaking and emptiness enveloped her. No, enveloped meant it went around her. This permeated her being, went through her every fiber. It was not a nightmare that she was having. That would be something. This was nothing. Her unconscious mind would became aware of the nothing, and then render it something, banishing it. However, it was only for a time before that mind forgot, and the nothing returned. Mayelle was on the verge of such a battle for her mind to remain consolidated when she finally became aware of something else. A voice. It was distant and blurred at first, but her mind kicked into conscious processing, and sensations splashed over her. Painful sensations.

"-ver there. I ..in.. …ound a …vivor…" fragments of words trickled into her ears as she groaned. There was a heaviness of body, a lightness of head, and dull pulses of pain all over. When her eyes became aware of the light she closed them tight until she saw a kaleidoscope of purples and greens and reds. Then she heard a grinding noise, and a shuffling sound.

"That lad looks to be in bad shape."

"That's no lad."

"Sir?"

"That's a woman."

"Oh… I… I did not get a good look. She's probably a prisoner."

"It doesn't matter. If she's the only one left in tact, we'll need to fix her up well enough to talk."

"I think she's stirring. Hello? Hello? Can you understand me?" This voice was close by, and there was a moment of relief from the invading light. A shadow. Yes, the closeness of the voice and the shadow. Someone must be looming over her, blocking the light. Mayelle's eyes fluttered tentatively, but then squinted closed again, afraid to open.

"Yes…" Mayelle managed to breathe out.

"Alright. I am going to get you some help. Do not try to get up. Your legs are pinned under some heavy debris. We will dig you out, then carry you to safety, where you will be tended. Do you understand?" the voice continued. There was a thin tremble of apprehension in this voice, and it sounded young. Masculine, but young. Mayelle took a moment to respond with the same raspy affirmation. Instantly there was a scraping noise, and a sharp pain exploded through her legs, chased by a rippling of pins and needles. Soon it became a cycle of pain, always followed by tingling as the pressure was slowly relieved from her battered legs. Still, she dared not open her eyes. She was uncertain how long this had gone on before she, again, lost consciousness.

*****

"Today is the day that you leave. To show to us that you will keep your oath of secrecy, you must never return. It would be selfish and only lead us to a dismal fate if I were to keep you here," Hashel said as he walked with grace and dignity despite the protests of his old body. Jemin just inclined his head and continued to look forward with grimness set into his young face. "I suppose a heavy burden has been placed before you, but it is still your choice whether or not to bear it."

Jemin continued to walk through the stark, dimly lit hall of stone. It wasn't the carefully shaped, blocky stone that one might expect in a settlement, but rather jagged and craggy rocks in their natural state that lined their path. Although sound traveled quite a distance, it was usually distorted by the time it reached any length, and Jemin let the hollow white noise run on for a period of time before he spoke in his low yet clear tones. "It is not so heavy as simply unpredictable."

"Uncertainty can be the heaviest weight," Hashel responded wistfully. Again Jemin went silent in response to his remarks. Jemin resorted to long silences before speaking frequent enough that it was not unreasonable to assume that Hashel had grown accustomed to it. Hashel paused, his lips just slightly parted so that a glisten of his wet teeth could be caught in the dim torchlight. He hovered there for a moment as if uncertain whether to elaborate on his point or not. Finally his lips met again in silence, and the two continued on saying no more.

That is, until they reached the concealed and jealously guarded entrance to the coven's dwelling. Jemin finally turned to Hashel. "I thank you for the knowledge which you imparted. I do not know how I shall find her again. I may have to return overseas to counsel with my oracle."

Hashel dropped his chin and held it there for a while before lifting it again. "If that same oracle revealed this place, I am both in awe and somewhat alarmed. However, I'm confident if he could direct you to us, he shall find this other red-eyed woman… assuming she is still alive."

"Yes. Assuming she is still alive."

*****

Consciousness swirled back to Mayelle in a smoggy haze. Although she'd been partially conscious for a while, and had eaten and said a few words, her recollection of these events were vague at best, if present at all. Her first true moment of lucidity came about when she became acutely aware of the pain in her leg, which had only been a dull echo previously. The instinct to scream was there, but what came out was an airy, ghost of a scream that quickly subdued into a moan.

"Oh, she's awake again. Elace, go fetch some water and chokeroot salve," said a voice in a calm yet commanding tone. Mayelle's eyes swam, seeing only blurs of white and brown and other neutral colours. The dizziness caused an unwelcome lurching in her stomach, and her hand quickly went to it. However, her hand ached and felt swollen and clumsy. As her vision began to sharpen, she held it up in front of her, inspecting what appeared to just be a wad of bandages. Her fingers were tightly bound together underneath. "It's alright, your hand will heal. It was scraped and burnt, but it will heal."

"Where…?" leapt the word from Mayelle's mouth. Her mouth continued to work, but her voice never connected with the syllables. Finally she looked over at the man standing beside her. He had vague features, rounded and slurred into one another. From his flat bridged nose, to his saggy cheeks and drooping jowls, to his formless lips, or to his round, spread out eyes. It all seemed sloppily put together, and she realized the man had a severe lack of symmetry in his face. His hair was such a shade of blonde that his eyebrows were nearly impossible to see against his skin, and his hairline indiscernible.

"You've asked me that several times. But memory loss is not unusual considering your circumstances. You are in the village of Wolark," the man responded patiently. He then took her bandaged hand, glancing at her as if asking for permission to proceed. She just gave a subtle nudge of her head and he began unwrapping the bandages. "Do you know where we found you?"

Mayelle paused. She had to stop and think. However, upon this action, her anxiety rose to a startling peak and she jerked her hand away from the man. Her eyes were not covered and she was vulnerable. But more importantly, her son had been taken. She could not find him. In torturous nightmares, she could not find him. "Emon!" she squealed. However, the man patiently stared at her, unperturbed by her outburst. "Emon, where is Emon? I have to find him!"

"You will do no such thing. You could hardly walk on that broken leg of yours," the man said sternly as she discovered the truth for herself. She tried to spring up out of bed, but the moment her leg was moved in her attempt to swing it around, a sharp pain radiated up to her hip and she sucked in air in a wet hiss. She then let out a whimper as tears filled her eyes. "Now with that nonsense out of the way, who is Emon? You have been calling that name over and over."

Mayelle glanced alertly over at the man. Her breaths were shallow and rapid, and a part of her wanted to strike out at him in defiance of his repose. It seemed an affront that he should be so composed while her son was missing! However, her better judgement quickly broke through the barrier of raw emotion once her emotion realized there was nothing her body could not follow its call for action. She took a moment to sort her position out and finally looked at the man's dark eyes with a level gaze. "Who are you?"

"Answer my question, and then I'll answer yours. We can take turns and play by civil rules. Who is Emon?"

"My son," Mayelle said very quickly, as if slurring the words would make it hurt less. The man's eyes seemed to light up, but his expression was otherwise unchanged.

"I see. My name is Geffor Tade, and I am a doctor," he responded coolly. Mayelle stared hard at him. "What is your name, miss?"

Mayelle looked at him impatiently. How long was he going to dance around the small questions? Mayelle's memories were foggy at best. Which turned her attention to the pattern of when one's memory is vague at best, something with a large impact occurred. And in such occurrences, there were bound to be curious onlookers. Mayelle was certain that she was not lying in this bed, bandaged up, out of the kindness of Geffor's heart. After a pause of sour silence, Mayelle finally said "Mayelle Alart." He raised his thick, nondescript eyebrows and patiently waited for her next question. After a moment of chewing her lower lip her squinted her eyes. "I know the question is coming. I know you are going to ask me how I managed to…" she just swept her arm over her aching and battered body, "..do this. I will tell you now that I do not remember much."

The unruffled man beside her continued to stare at her with his mellow, passive expression. "Oh I do not expect a full account ripe with detail. Perhaps you would like to know what I know first. Then maybe our stories can fit together to form a whole picture. What do you say, Mrs Alart?"

Mayelle groaned inward at the presumptuous 'missus'. She took a long time to exhale the anxious air in her ever tightening lungs. Then she sucked in another breath, savoring it. Finally she tried to control her breathing lest she lose herself to a panic, or anger. The reason for this is the only reason he would assume her to being married would be because she asked about her son. Thinking about her son, and his absence, was bringing an ache to her heart more pointed than the break in her leg. However, she felt no need to correct the man. "That… would be fine."

"Good," the man responded shortly. Just as he leaned back in his chair beside her, a woman came in carrying a tray. There were dark reddish brown stains on her white apron, and she looked grimy and overworked. The few strands of mousy brown hair that managed to loose themselves from her head scarf clung to her sweaty cheeks. Without saying a word she set the tray down on a small stand beside the doctor, cave a small curtsy, and left with the dismissing nod from Geffor. "How much pain are you in?"

"Nothing I can not handle," Mayelle responded impatiently. "Tell me what you know," Mayelle demanded. Geffor raised his eyebrows at her, tilting his head to the side slightly, as if examining her from just a slightly different angle would reveal her bluff. It did. He grunted and reached over to the tray, washing his hands in a shallow basin. He then took some of the supplies thereupon.

"Do not worry, I can work and talk at the same time. Now, let me finish unraveling the bandages on your hands. Then we'll see about your leg," Geffor said. Mayelle conceded with a sigh and a nod. Geffor's face did not change much, but there seemed to be a loss of tension around his eyes and a twitch at the corners of his lips that almost gave a look of approval. He took her hand as he continued to speak. "There was some sort of explosion in the Chalon prison, I suppose. I was visiting the city with my apprentice when I heard a ruckus. By the time we arrived, there was a large crater, with debris of the dungeon inside. Myself and a few others put forward our efforts to recover any survivors," Geffor said, his tone steady and calm as her recalled the destruction. Mayelle hadn't realized that she had began to hold her breath until his eyes slide from tending her hand to looking at her face. "Did that hurt?"

"N-no, just get it over with," Mayelle stuttered, quickly settling back into breathing. Although, she felt an apprehensive tickle in her stomach, and a small part of her didn't want to hear anymore. But, Mayelle had to know.

"Alright. Here, this salve should numb the superficial pains," he said, as he opened a jar and slathered on a cold, slimy paste that smelled sour. "We didn't find any survivors. We'd almost given up searching when my apprentice found you among the wreckage. Your leg was crushed under some of the debris, and you had burns all over your body. The strange thing is… there weren't any fire or even any smoke in the wreckage. And yet, most of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition or just… ah but I suppose you don't need the gruesome details. You are alive, and that is what matters."

Mayelle was crestfallen. How could she be the only survivor? What about… "What about my-"

"Your son? Do not worry, we found no children among the wreckage."

"But you said that bodies were beyond recognition! You don't know that-"

"I think, Mrs. Alart, that it's best if you simply not go there. It is a tremendous amount of torment to believe someone is dead rather than just know it. Furthermore, if you are his mother and truly love him, I think you would feel it in your heart whether he survived," the Doctor said calmly as he re-bandaged her hand.

Mayelle went quiet. She was torn between gratitude for his kind words, and hurling her more cynical nature at him. How could a learned man be so naïve? To believe that matters of the heart could know such things? Mayelle felt those who just 'knew' missing loved ones were alive were just delusional. Although, such delusions seemed a nice holiday from the likely truth. Mayelle curled in her lips. What was she doing here? No parent should live longer than their children.

"There now… I hope I am not being too personal… but you seem to have a very unusual pigmentation of your eyes," Geffor said, breaking Mayelle's thoughts. Instantly her red eyes snapped to his, only to look down swiftly thereafter. "Could you tell me about it? It's quite fascinating."

Fascinating. The word echoed in her mind. She'd seen fear, horror, disgust, and hatred. However, the amounts of times anyone found this to be fascinating she could count on her one hand. "I do not know what there is to tell. I was born this way."

"Mmmm I would have imagined so. You have nothing to say about your eyes?" Geffor pursued. Mayelle shook her head, feeling the stiffness of her neck as she did so.

"There is nothing to say other than what you can already gather," Mayelle responded.

Geffor grunted as he rose to his feet once more. As he did so he half turned towards the door, only to pause and glance back at her. His expression was one of consideration. "Mmm I see," he muttered. He then went to the door and closed it tight. Mayelle heard a clicking noise; a lock. She tried to take a hold of the bed linens to pull them closer to herself, but her hands failed to grip the fabric just so. Instead she just stared at him apprehensively, her mind swimming with all the reasons for him to seal them both in a small room. "Now now…" he said calmly as he stared at her, "do not alarm yourself."

"Locked doors have always led to wretched situations in my past," Mayelle responded coldly through her fear. Geffor put his hands out, his palms facing her.

"I just wanted a little secrecy for you. I doubt you know nothing. Perhaps now we can talk openly," Geffor responded, sitting back down beside her. She kept her eyes on him the entire time, shifting from his face to his hands constantly.

"You think I am more likely to trust you now?"

"Hmm… well… perhaps. But I also have placed myself in quite a precarious position. I know nothing about you. You were found in the ruins of a prison, wearing prisoner rags. I have every reason to believe you are a lowlife who should not be trusted, or even worth saving. Aaaah but I shall render myself vulnerable as a token of trust, by revealing my own little secret…" the man said. Mayelle continued to study him carefully. She didn't have time for these dialogues and head games. She wanted to go search for Emon. If only her leg did not hurt so… "You may come out now." Mayelle's eyebrows rose in surprise and she quickly looked around to see who he could have been talking to in this cramped room. There was a shuffling sound, and out from a large crate that was in the corner came a young girl. She was certainly younger than Emon. Mayelle just stared at the petit child and her messy golden hair.

"Y-yes sir. Do you… do you want me to…" she trailed off and looked over at Mayelle with her large brown eyes. "…help the lady? She won't… hurt me?" With a simple nod from the bulbous man, the small girl skittered over to Mayelle. She avoided making eye contact and hesitantly put her hands out, then stopped shy of touching Mayelle. The little girls bit her lower lip and risked a cautious glance at Mayelle before snapping her eyes back to her own tiny hands. Her own tiny hands which, Mayelle noticed, had bands of raw, red skin on each wrist. Mayelle knew those marks well. The girl had spent a lot of her time with her hands brutally bound.

"It is alright, I will not bring you harm," Mayelle said as soothingly as she could. However her eyes lingered on the red streaks on the girl's wrists. Who would bind a child so young? Then Mayelle felt warm. It was warm and uncomfortable. She did not feel pain, though, just the strange sensation of things working and moving beneath her skin. Mayelle tentatively moved her broken leg, and it moved without pain. The pieces were slowly coming together.

"I… I am done," the girl said, withdrawing her hands, hiding them under her long sleeves. She turned quickly to Geffor, and he responded with a nod of approval. Nothing more needed to be said. Immediately the girl shuffled back to her crate. Mayelle idly wondered if there wasn't a hidden passageway behind the crate. Otherwise, why would she be kept…

"She's a slave, isn't she?" Mayelle asked in a steady, cold tone. Geffor raised his eyebrows, making his spaced-apart eyes appear more bulgy.

"Slave? No. She's a convict, like you I imagine. A gifted child… and how do they reward her gifts? They cart her up to be sent to those Telesti hounds to be processed and condemned. So, you see, I have extended a measure of trust to you by revealing myself as harboring a Thaumacti. I hope you will do the same for me," Geffor said. Although he kept his face fairly neutral, there was a certain edge in his voice. Mayelle felt there was something hidden between the lines, but was unsure of just what it was. She slowly sat up. Mayelle did not believe him at face value. She curled in her lips trying not to tell him what she thought, which ran along the lines of calling him a fraud. It made sense to her that a man would take a gifted Kailacti to secretly heal people and then reap the credit. Of course the child would believe the illusion of safety and humanitarianism since he was saving her from a worse fate. Nonetheless, Mayelle was too afraid to truly express these thoughts. What if he somehow enslaved her as well? What if he turned her in for calling him out? She did not want anymore trouble. After all, she cared more about her son than this girl.

"Thank you… but I really must go searching for my son," Mayelle said quietly. The man leaned forward, tilting his head to the side as if he didn't quite hear her.

"Did I hear you right? You wish to go?"

"Of course I do! I need to find my son," Mayelle responded as she swung her legs over the edge of the bed. The man leaned back in his seat once again and with only a subtle shift in his face, he appeared vexed.

"There is still more I'd like to discuss with you. Furthermore your injuries may have been healed, but your body still is strained and needs rest. You will just make yourself unwell, and then what good would you be to your son?" Geffor said very sternly. Mayelle stared at him, trying to appear as hardened and determined as she could. She remained with that quiet glare, but he did not concede to her silent will. Finally her face broke into the exhaustion and despair that was breeding beneath the surface. Not the tiredness from her injuries, but a more deep-seated exhaustion of her soul. She wasn't that old, and yet she felt ancient.

"Fine…" Mayelle said very quietly. "Fine, what do you want to know?"

"Are you a Thaumacti?" Geffor finally asked. Mayelle caught a glimpse of eagerness that impressed his greed upon her. She stared at him for a moment or two before nodding her head.

"Thaumacti, Nihilacti class," Mayelle responded. Suddenly, the brightness in his countenance dropped. Bewilderment barely formed on his face before it was replaced with disappointment, then he quickly snuffed it under his usual mask of calmness.

"Nihilacti? That isn't common in women," he said quietly.

"No, it isn't."

It was then that Geffor's face went pale. Something dawned on him and he was stricken with a sudden fear that he did not even try to hide. His back stiffened and he looked as though he would teeter on his seat. "You…" he choked out, "…you did that?"

"Yes," Mayelle responded calmly, assuming 'that' referred to the destruction of the prison. How did Geffor describe it? A crater? That adequately summed up her raw power when taunted into release. She shivered deep in her bones. She could feel it now, the leviathan roiling beneath the surface of her consciousness, ready to release its might. There was something gratifying as she saw spots of sweat form on the man's brow, but it was immediately stifled by guilt. She oughtn't entertain notions of using her power, even just the suggestion of it, against others. Especially knowing the damage she had done. Mayelle winced. Amidst that structure which she collapsed was her son. Geffor may have claimed there to be no bodies of young boys, but the sickening thoughts had her now. It was very possible that she killed her own son. Mayelle felt pinned against her own anxiety, fear, and remorse. She barely noticed Geffor slowly rise to his feet and back away to the door. However, the moment his hand was on the knob, rattling it as he tried to unlock it quietly, her eyes snapped to him. Could she actually trust him? Mayelle doubted it.

*****

"I'm sorry, but there aren't any boats sailing to the New World by orders of the Clerics of Telesti," a tired looking man explained.

"I was assured a ship full of settlers was due to depart from here soon," Jemin responded with an edge in his tone. Unperturbed the old man shrugged.

"There was. Then the Telesti commandeered the ship that was going to take them. That's why there's so little room at the inns. All of the settlers who traveled here have nowhere else to go." Jemin was silent for a moment. The old man leaned forward, looking the lad up and down, eyeing the staff Jemin leaned upon, and then the blindfold over his face. "What future would a blind lad as yourself have in the New World anyhow?"

"That is yet to be known."

"By the way, did you hear about the prison in Chalon getting destroyed?"