“Malconemershghan Saidonatgarlyn. Born in Firaska, South. Poet, philosopher, theologian,”was written in capital letters under a portrait of a brown-eyed old man with a lanky figure. He had a kind face of someone who is still a child at heart or is in love.
Kangassk couldn’t explain why, but seeing that man made his heart race.
“...was an apprentice of Sereg the Grey Inquisitor for 30 years. Elected by unanimous voice to rule Erhaben. Died in 12000 during the Great Fire that consumed the city. Was well-known and well-loved for the changes he made during his rule. Some historians say that his influence would have changed the very foundation of the Northern life if it wasn’t for the catastrophe.”
That was all the book said, sadly. Kangassk had hoped to learn more. Well, at least now he knew the connection between Malconemershghan and Sereg. No wonder the gloomy worldholder was still so touchy about everything that reminded him of his former apprentice; indeed, imagining a bigger failure would be difficult.
The other important piece of knowledge the book provided was the official position toward Erhaben’s destruction. Not a single word about the reason of the Great Fire, of who started it and why. Kangassk was smart enough to understand he shouldn’t speak of what he knew with anyone but his masters unless he wanted to get in trouble.
Sereg had obviously done a lot to erase the dark truth about Erhaben from the official history and succeeded but mortal memory is a tricky thing, even for a worldholder. On modern maps, Erhaben was marked as City of Tricksters. A weak reminder, a faint echo of the truth, just like - maybe - the legend of Le’Rok is...
Kangassk recalled the crazy rhymes he chanted during his ravings. What was so special about them? Sereg might give him the answer but would he?
Kan closed the book, yawned, and put in on the bed table. That was when he noticed that Flavus was already awake.
“Oh, hi, Flavus!” Kangassk brightened up. “I haven’t noticed you woke up already.”
“Hi,” whispered Flavus in an apathetic tone. He must have felt as empty as Kangassk had after waking up. “I was thinking…” he fell silent.
“About how I met the vitryanik in the forest… I was looking for puffer nests, thought I was safe so close to the perimeter… Suddenly, everything fell silent and then the demonic wind rose. Not a single blade of grass stirred under it. I knew at once that I was a dead man…”
Flavus closed his eyes and even raised his hands to cover his face but stopped and made a deep breath to calm down instead.
“I remember the wind touch my face,” he said, finally, “then rush away without harming me. Why? If I were someone special, like my parents, like Sylvia, then I could explain, but I’m not…”
“I spoke with your father,” Kangassk remembered. “He said that you had lost something but it was your conscious choice and that I lost the same thing without even knowing it. He refused to explain what he meant…”
“You!” Flavus nearly jumped out of his bed, terrified. “You volunteered as a donor as well?”
“Yes, I did,” said Kan firmly. “To help you.”
Their eyes met. For a while, both young mages were silent.
“It’s a pity…” Flavus lowered his eyes. “My mother was so fascinated by your potential… I’m really, really sorry… Damn, I will never forgive myself…”
“Okay, now I’m pissed off,” said Kan in a cold voice barely hiding his anger. “Why doesn’t anyone explain…”
“I will,” Flavus interrupted him softly. “I will explain everything to you, I promise.”