Smaragd passed by the main entrance; he didn't want to disturb the class. They entered the house through the backdoor instead. They didn't even knock but Sylvia still had guessed somehow that they were coming; she met them at the door. She looked as pale as she did yesterday, her cheeks still red with the same hectic flush. The puffer sat at the girl's shoulder and was busy grooming his furry coat.
"Dad! Master Kangassk! Brother…" she went from happy to scared in just three seconds.
"We will take him to the guest bedroom, daughter," said Smaragd softly. "Go open the door for us".
The guest room was almost empty. There was a bench under the window, a bed by the wall, and a little bed table with a lamp on it. The only window there had no curtains so nothing stopped the sunlight from making intricate patterns on the floor, repeating and distorting the image from the stained glass. Had Kangassk agreed to stay with the Brians last night, he would have been given that very room. Smaragd took Flavus there now only because he didn’t want to disturb the sleeping boy by carrying him up the steep, narrow stairs that led to the second floor.
Smaragd carefully put Flavus on the guest bed, tucked him in like a little child, and opened the window to let the fresh air into the room. He offered breakfast to Kangask but the Apprentice, who had eaten his fill recently, politely declined the offer and said that he wanted to stay with Flavus instead. So Smaragd left Kangassk in the company of his sleeping friend and his restless thoughts.
The mysterious words about some hidden potential he supposedly had come to his mind again. First, Nemaan said them, then Smaragd. And neither of them had even bothered to explain what they meant! Maybe Flavus would? Kan decided to ask him when he wakes up. Until then, he had to find something to chase the choir of annoying questions away. A book, maybe? In a house that is also a school, it shouldn't be hard to find one, he thought.
Carefully, so the floorboards wouldn't creak under his bare feet, Kangassk tiptoed out of the room and headed to the nearest book cabinet. There were two in the hexagonal library hall the door led to; both so tall that reaching their top shelves would require a ladder. For a while, Kangassk simply stood between two walls of books, dazed by the embarrassment of riches. It’s been a while since he had seen so many new stories at once. His eyes slowly moved from book to book, reading the titles, while he waited for something that would make him stop right there and grab some special book at once.
The Apprentices are chosen at
The Worldholders’ own say
For fifteen thousand years they’ve walked
Along Time’s rolling way.
Each one just took a few short steps
For mortal lives are slight
But those steps held immortal deeds
To us a glorious light.
This book’s last sheets are empty, for
Apprentices yet to be;
These heroes still do shining deeds
Just think: could one be me?
The poem made Kangassk smile; there was something especially sweet about it and sad at the same time. Curious, he checked out the last pages of the book. They indeed were empty, all but one where someone had sketched his own smiling face and wrote, “Kangassk Del-Emer. Born in Aren-Castell, Kuldagan Desert. Smith, warrior, mage.”
It must’ve been Flavus. Kan threw a slightly reproachful look at the sleeping Hunter and got back to the book. There was a question in his mind that troubled him still and that book seemed a proper place to search for the answer…