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Chapter 41: In Which Darkness Blots Out Time

Lord Erethill Yunalen sat in one of the armchairs in the Grand Master's private sitting room. He was passing his thin pale fingers over the embroidery of the silk cushions without appearing to notice what he was doing.

The Grand Master knew that this was a misconception, for Erethill Yunalen, whatever else he may be, never did anything without noticing. A master scryer, he was, as always, scrying. He honed the rare ability to scry things. They said that young Yunalen, by mere touch, could detect the past and future of even inanimate objects. The things that people used were an extension of the people themselves, the histories and futures that the silk covering of the couch cushion had was always and only connected with people.

"The finer the silk, the greater its history," the Grand Master said as he sat across from Yunalen. The young man was short in height and slight in build, his skin almost transparent in a way that indicated that he did not often frequent the outdoors. One could not expect young Yunalen to indulge in such acts as rising to his feet to greet anyone who lived solely in the present.

"Good evening, Grand Magic Master," he said in his usual soft voice. "This silk is like a spider's web of history, though its future is uncertain."

"You wished to speak with me, your lordship?" Marning asked. It had been a day full of excitement, and there were more such days to come. It was not made easier by the fact that the Grand Master was not a young man and the sickness had taken a firm hold on him. It had become a real hindrance, even walking was a bother and for the first time in his life, Marning needed the assistance of a cane. He had known the day would come, but he did not expect it to come so soon.

"Yes, Grand Master, there is a matter I wish to discuss," Yunalen said. "It is just that..." The young lord hesitated. "Your Excellence might find this upsetting."

"More upsetting than the curse of the Wielder's Taboo or the mystery of Harlock Cooper's death?" asked the Grand Master wearily. He could not help but sigh. It was wise to take scryers' words seriously and if Yunalen believed that this issue would be upsetting to the Grand Master, then it certainly ought to be. He settled back into his chair bracing himself for the worst. "Very well, Lord Yunalen, please speak freely."

Yunalen nodded. "I have come to warn you, Grand Master."

Marning felt a chill run up his spine, a warning was the worst thing one could receive from a scryer, he had been hoping that this would be anything but a warning.

"There is something amiss with your young apprentice. The one who goes by the name of Rat."

The Grand Master snorted, surprising even himself with the onslaught of humour. "You've noticed that only now?" he asked, his head dizzy with the fever. "Very well, very well, forgive me Lord Yunalen, what more is unusual about that boy?"

"It is not so much unusual as... as frightening, your Excellence." Yunalen moved uncomfortably in his seat, Marning felt as if he had been drenched in cold water. Scrying was one of the most frightening fields of magic. It dealt with not only the past, the present and the future, but also with the dark and twisted corridors of the human soul. Therefore, a Scryer who said that something was frightening had an eerie ring to it. "That boy has no past."

The Grand Master waited for Yunalen to continue speaking, but it seemed the message had been delivered. "Has no past?" he repeated, trying to evaluate the fear-inducing factor about such a prospect. "In what way does he have no past?"

"He does not have what every creature living or dead has," Yunalen explained. "He was never born, he has never grown, he does not truly exist. At least, he didn't truly exist – until today. Today the world has granted him recognition."

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