She always thought her Ser'aah Sci would be named something exotic and handsome like Fenris or Naccari. Reshira also thought he would be unbelievably attractive. From the pimples on his face to his awkwardly cropped hair and stocky form – she believed that the only appealing aspect about the boy was the color of his eyes. They were grey – a tint that reminded her of thunderstorm clouds and the plumage of a Babacar.

He was young and newly introduced to the life of a Ser'aah Sci. Lord Lenorae told her that he was recently captured from a tribe south of Rylah and sold to the Basilica de Maester in Iatel where he was shipped to Serezhan for Crylatil's Keeping. His eyes still bore a hint of rebellion, despite the fresh welts on his back.

When she approached to touch the brand on his forearm, the boy cringed, as if her touch were poison. Just for that, she spared no aggression when she forced the magic to transfer from her palms to the seal on his arm. Nor did she alleviate the flow when the boy started to scream and writhe. At first it was just screaming – then he started to beg, offering anything for her to stop, begging her to show a morsel of compassion. When he realized that his pleas would be met with silence, the boy started swearing. Some words were in his barbarian tribal language, others were in her own. From the fragments that she could pick up – he alternated between cursing her being, her lineage, and her god. At least he used diversity.

Then it was all over. She let go of his arm, leaving him with the sensation of having his soul shackled to her own. At first he vomited – a mixture of blood and the contents of his stomach. Since he was constrained to a chair, his mouth had no choice but to deposit the bile on his lap. The filthy mix saturated his robe, and a lot of the watery substance ended up splashing to the ground. Reshira held her breath.

Then he started to squirm in his seat. He started moaning and shivering. Then he broke down. He cried and between his sobs he begged for "it" to disappear.

Reshira Cleinan Feleis had killed before. She had tortured people with the weapons in her blood as well as with the metal in her hands. She had burned histories and lineages to the ground. She had handed children to Otvi, the Basilican Marketers, while their parents stood two feet away. She had felt fear before. For the love of Maester, she felt fear all the time. Yet, for the first time in seventeen years, on the eve of her coming-of-age, she felt something stir in her chest. Something different. Without thinking, she called out to the boy.

Night Lord Perion saw it coming. Perhaps he spotted weakness in her stance. Or maybe he saw how her gaze softened at the boy's moans. It's possible that his reaction was due to experience. Maybe he felt pity at his first bonding. That's the story Reshira told herself that night to help her sleep.

Regardless, he seized her by the arm before the boy's name even left her lips. He proceeded to utter one of the most prophetic statements of her life.

"Don't ever sympathize with the Ser'aah Sci. It will be the death of you."