To The Stables

I am not a dog to command, Quellen wanted to say but he swallowed his anger, saying in a voice not entirely his own. “Jessum, the blind seer dedicated to the God Who Sees All, chose me. Jessum is highly regarded for his wisdom and insight. Perhaps you know him?”

Quellen hadn’t intended to the question as a challenge, yet that was how it was received. For the merest second, a look of shock and anger ripped apart the Earth Skyll’s composure, only to vanish. But Quellen had seen it — and Elymas knew he’d seen it, too.

Strout chuckled.

“The answer is yes and no,” Elymas replied, “depending on who you mean by him. We in Casoria seldom use the primitive “God Who Sees All,” preferring instead to use his correct title, Elyon. And yes, I do have some connections with the Deep, having served as Earth Skyll for most of my life.” Elymas spoke dryly, and Strout, who’d never been known to smile, chuckled. “As for Jessum of Larnes? I haven’t had the pleasure.”

Laughter broke out among the boys; a few craned their necks to stare. El Roi, Jessum also called the God Who Sees All , El Roi. How could he have forgotten? Quellen sat hunched and reddened, half listening as Elymas, apparently satisfied with his anger, proceeded to explain his role in the Journey Room, how their spirits would be anchored to his while they were tested in the Deep. And all the while Elymas talked, Quellen kept turning the words, Jessum of Larnes, Jessum of Larnes, over in his head.

But he hadn’t said Larnes, only Jessum.

Elymas knew the blind seer but refused to acknowledge him.

What did that mean?

Over the next few weeks, he found little time to ponder the question. The acolytes were kept busy learning the castle, learning protocol, adjusting to the personalities of those Sacred Servants assigned to them, and doing chores. They were expected to earn their keep.

Mucking stalls

Quellen had been assigned to the stables, where he cleaned the stalls and shoveled muck without relief. The others rotated in their position — messengers, attendants, kitchen boys — but Quellen remained with Thierry, the head groom. He noticed the slight, but refused to comment; he liked being out of doors. The others, distant since the incident in the Throne Room, began to warm up. A few had even teased him about his red hair. They seldom saw Elymas and then only at a distance as he swept through the halls with the energy of one on a mission, the torchlights bringing out the rich hues of his robe.

Days flew by in a pattern of exhaustion and routine. They fell into bed at night, bone weary, only to be awakened at dawn. They broke their fast still shivering from the effects of a cold water sponging, then dispersed to their various jobs. As the incident in the Throne Room faded, Quellen began to believe he’d imagined the Earth Skyll’s dislike. Perhaps his own tone had been presumptuous, or perhaps he had indeed said “Larnes.”

Then came the incident with the rulla dice.