Born Immortal Chapter 4

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Astyr gripped the edge of the wooden dining table in front of her tightly with both hands and raised her eyes to meet the dark blue eyes of her guardian who was seated across the table waiting. Astyr tried to tell herself she was ready for this but the truth was that she was never ready to meet someone's inner self head-on. She hated being forced to endure a person's every moment of life; good times and bad, good people and bad. These encounters would invariably leave her shaking and sick and she always tried her hardest to simply avoid meeting anyone's gaze.

But now there was no way to stop this without being disrespectful to Grima Thorrsen, her new foster mother. Grima only had three house rules and behaving respectfully was one of them. Besides, Astyr always tried to be polite, it made living with strangers easier.

So Astyr told herself she could handle this, that she wouldn't let whatever she saw get in the way of being a good foster daughter to Grima, and she raised her eyes.

Immediately she was flooded with images and sounds and feelings. A young Grima was sitting on a bare dirt floor in what looked like a primitive wooden hut. She was bundled in thick, woolen, old-fashioned clothes with a heavy animal fur wrapped around her shoulders. Her dark hair was tucked up into a white kerchief with only a few stray strands peeking out around her smooth, pale face. She was sitting with her legs crossed and her hands placed in her lap.

Grima was nervous but excited and was focused intently on the woman sitting in front of her. The woman was dressed the same as Grima and was obviously kin to her since they shared a remarkably similar appearance.

There was a small fire burning in a brazier in the middle of the room and there were bundles of furs and blankets stowed against one of the walls. Against another wall was a collection of wood bowls and cups and several tarnished metal pots in different sizes. The wall directly opposite from the room's entrance was stacked with several large wooden shields, each of slightly different size and shape and each having its own unique design of metal tacks hammered into it. Beside the shields were several long wooden spears with vicious metal blades attached to the ends and two very large, very heavy swords.

The woman facing Grima told her to take a deep breath and relax and to try to imagine a solid barrier in her mind. Grima was scared and didn't want to seem weak and incompetent on her first try. She imagined a solid stone wall several feet thick and put herself behind it. She raised her eyes to meet the other woman's blue eyes and right away she could see in her mental picture the woman sitting beside her on her side of the wall.

"You're too concerned with trying to see what I am looking at Grima." The woman said this with a sigh of exasperation. "You cannot leave a hole in your defense to look out of. It leaves a clear path for others to come in. Let's try again."

Grima took a deep breath and gave herself a strong mental shake. She re-imagined her thick stone wall and looked once again into the woman's eyes. This time she studied the older woman's dark blue eyes as a small smile formed around them.

"Much better this time, dear." Grima felt a surge of pride at the soft compliment. "Blocking other people's souls from your gaze is almost the same. You will find with practice that you can filter through them or stop the scenes altogether as you will." The other woman said this to Grima with a matter-of-fact tone.

The scene stopped and Astyr found herself looking into Grima's dark blue eyes and studying the dark lashes ringing them and noticing the fine lines just visible in the pale skin around them.

Astyr was shocked. She had several questions trying to race each other out of her brain but her mouth was unable to form a single word. Astyr just remained perfectly still facing Grima and gripping the table so hard that her knuckles were completely white.

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