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Authors: Pemry Janes

The Living Sword

BOOK: The Living Sword
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

The Living Sword

Pemry Janes

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are either the product of the author's imagination, or used in a fictitious matter. Any resemblance to persons, alive or dead, is completely coincidental.

 

Cover Design by humblenations.com

 

Published by Pemry Janes on Amazon

Copyright 2013

Chapter 1

The Island

 

Water bubbled in his ears, drowning out the low rumble of a distant earth tremor. Eurik ignored these familiar sounds in favor of the prey lazily walking across the sea floor. The old crab, one claw dwarfing the other, hadn't spotted him yet and Eurik moved into position. His bare feet touched the rocky bottom not a moment too soon; his lungs had started to burn.

Eurik connected with the Earth
chiri
flowing through the rock, and through it, with the
chiri
in the crab's armor. He closed his fist, and the crab stumbled as its legs no longer obeyed its own commands. A pulse of will locked the creature's shell in place so Eurik could scoop him up.

Drawing strength of Earth up through his feet, as Zasashsi had taught him, Eurik pushed off towards the surface.The
chiri
fled his body the moment his feet lost contact, washed away by the water around him, but it was enough to get him halfway.

His head broke the surface and the spring sun greeted him. Taking several much-needed breaths, Eurik floated for a moment, soaking in the warm light of the sun, before he started to swim back to shore. It wasn't an easy trip, with both hands occupied. Eurik didn't know if he was doing it right since he'd had to make this whole swimming thing up as he went. It was one of several subjects his teachers couldn't help him with, because unlike Eurik they weren't human.

In fact, apart from the occasional scholar that wished to use the library, Eurik was the only human living on the island. Everybody else was a san, and despite being surrounded by it, they never ventured into the sea. They couldn't; their bodies shriveled up in the salt water. It made the fish and other sea life he brought in very valuable to the community.

Stepping out of the water, Eurik glanced at his catch. 'It must be a frightening experience, being trapped in your own body like that,' he thought. “Don't worry, you'll be free soon enough.” He doubted the crab could understand him, and if it had such understanding then it wouldn't be comforted by his words since it would then also know his final destination.

He took another look at the sun. 'I better hurry up. My shift at the library starts soon. I don't even have time to let myself dry off. Not if I want to stop by Hishiho to get my new sandals.' The old straw sandals had started to fray badly and were the reason for today's fishing trip.

The cool air chilled his damp skin. Eurik laid his catch down in the sand and gathered up his clothes. Everybody on the island wore the same dress, only differing in the color scheme. Light green trousers and a sleeveless shirt, tied off with a sash. His sash was brown, showing he was adept at Rise of the Mountain.

Not bothering with his footwear, Eurik walked along the beach. An evergreen wall of
hishaisin
bushes stood between him and the forest that was still waking up from its winter sleep, but there was a path into the trees not far from his fishing spot. By the time Eurik reached Hishiho's home, he was a lot drier, but a bit colder.

The san was not at home, but the new sandals hung from a peg at the front porch. Before he took them, he eased the crab into the pond next to the home. The wooden cage on the bottom would hold him. Eurik released the crab from one prison, into a roomier and wetter one. Only then did he pick up his new footwear, which he put on immediately, before hastening to the library.

The new footwear made walking on the only stone road on the island a lot more pleasant, protecting his feet from its rough, hard surface. He started to warm up again. When Sesoya greeted him, he gave his fellow student a cheerful wave. “How was the water?” he asked Eurik when he stopped in front of him. A san's face was mostly immobile, only the lips could move, and their eyes didn't help either. They were oval orbs, and sort of looked like one of those gems Zasashi had shown him, an amethyst. It made it hard for Eurik to tell their mood before they opened their mouths, even after all these years. Sesoya's voice shook with laughter.

“The water's fine. You should join me tomorrow.” His reply wasn't in San, but Linese. His mouth couldn't make the sounds you needed for the San language, nor could his ear pick up every sound that was used in it.

The blue-eyed san held up his hands in a warding gesture. “That's alright I'll take your word for it. I had to open for Aisaho and Hohosha, don't know how much longer they'll take.”

He nodded in understanding. Standing guard at the sole stone building on the island was a duty bestowed on those students advancing on the Rise of the Mountain. It tested their ability to manipulate Earth, as only those who wielded that element could open the door. But even more challenging was opening it for those who wanted to leave, since it was impossible to see or hear what happened inside from the road. So you had to listen to the Earth, and pay attention.

Eurik had been doing it for three years now. He'd already advanced to the point where another student should have taken over, but none were available at the moment, and Eurik didn't mind.

One of the reasons was now coming towards them, his robes making him stand out as much as his pink skin and long graying hair. “Ah, Eurik my boy, good to see you. Hmmm, you're... Sesoya, right?” the old scholar ventured.

He couldn't help but shake his head a little. Patheos is-Ilad had been on the island for over two years now, and still had trouble distinguishing one san from the other. Eurik honestly couldn't see what the problem was. Sesoya was unperturbed and greeted the human politely in passable Linese.

Patheos, though, seemed very pleased he'd guessed correctly. “Ha, I can finally tell you people apart. And just before I leave.”

“You're leaving?” Eurik asked dismayed. He'd enjoyed his company. The old man had given him a lot of answers he hadn't been able to find in books. For example: what did a bed look like? They were mentioned in stories all the time, but writers never bothered describing the thing. There was a lot that went unmentioned, more than Eurik would have guessed before he'd met Patheos.

“I finished my manuscript and the only ship on the island leaves in a week. I wouldn't mind spending another six months here; my patron, however, does. He wants to read my work before I croak.”

“Oh, oh right.” He'd forgotten Patheos was human. A san as wrinkled as the scholar could still count on living for several decades, if not a century. 'But he and me aren't so lucky. For us, a single century is more than we can hope for.'

It was a truth he'd only become aware of five summers back when he'd started to rapidly outgrow his playmates. They would remain children for years to come. Eurik, on the other hand, would soon be a man.

The Linesan laughed. “Cheer up! Not like I expect to keel over tomorrow!”

Smiling, Eurik nodded in agreement, but Patheos wasn't finished and his face grew serious. “I came to say goodbye, and to thank you. You helped me fit in, as much as someone like me can, anyway, and I won't be forgetting that. If you ever come to Linese, look me up and I'll do the same for you.”

“Ah, thank you, but I have no intention of leaving the island. I've only begun learning Dance of the Whirlwind and I'm still mastering Rise of the Mountain. And that's just two Ways. It'll probably take the rest of my life to learn it all.”

“To be young again. So sure you know what the future holds. You're what, 18?”

“I... I've been on the island for 17 summers now.”

Patheos didn't press; Eurik had already told him the story of how he'd come to live on the island. “Whatever your age is, you're young, and have no idea what the future brings.”

“Ah... I still see no reason why I'd ever leave my home.”

“Is-Ilad, did you come here for Eurik, or did you wish to make use of the library?” Sesoya inquired.

“Hmm? Oh, yes. I found a scroll by Aborev on the creation of the Blood Lords during my research. Not very relevant for a book on the Nesans' arrival to these shores, but now that it is finished my curiosity will no longer be denied.”

“Then I should do my duty,” Eurik concluded. Turning around, he took a moment to extend his senses. This task wasn't about drawing
chiri
in; it was about molding the element outside his body. The door was a part of the building right now, a structure that had been raised from the bedrock by some of the first san to settle on the island. They'd been far more powerful than Eurik was, but he didn't have to undo their work.

He found it helpful to imagine what he wanted to happen. 'Slide it out of the way and into the ground.' Taking a firm hold of the
chiri
in the door with his outstretched hands, he lowered them and pulled the door along with it. The rumbling noise of rock sliding against rock filled the air as the slab sank into the ground, until a large entrance appeared.

“That never stops being impressive,” Patheos opined. “Take care, Eurik. And don't forget, if you ever visit Linese, look me up!”

Chuckling and shaking his head, he waited for the scholar to vanish into the building before he raised his hands, pulling the door back up. Saying his goodbyes to Sesoya, Eurik lowered his gaze and cast his awareness out through his feet. Waiting for the telltale signs of a person walking towards the entrance. 'It's nice of him to offer, but this is where I belong.'

 

***

 

Eurik knew better than to disturb Zasashi in his meditation, so he left his sandals outside and took care to slowly slide the screen out of the way. The setting sun had already vanished behind the fog banks surrounding the island, but the evening air hadn't lost much of its heat, because its source wasn't above the island; it was underneath it. The heat from the inner parts of the planet had formed the island, and allowed life to flourish on it.

The knowledge didn't bother Eurik. It had been this way all his life. And besides, it would never threaten them. The masters, those who had learned all the Ways, kept that fire contained, as they had since they found the island. He couldn't imagine them failing in that task. They were too powerful to fail.

Zasashi gave no sign he'd heard the door. But when Eurik stepped inside, the san turned his head and fastened his amber eyes on him. “Good evening, how was library duty?” His voice was pleasant, and only then did he realize he had not disturbed Zasashi–he'd been waiting for him.

“Mostly uneventful,
sesin
,” he told him as he slid the screen shut behind. When Eurik had been younger he'd tried to call him father, but Zasashi had corrected him every time. Eurik knew his reasoning, but didn't share it. He had no memory of his parents. Zasashi was the only one he'd ever known. But he had been firm, and so Eurik settled for valued teacher; a san word he could pronounce. “I did talk to is-Ilad and he told me he would be leaving on the next trade voyage. He offered to show me around Linese, if I ever visited that city.”

“Why does that offer amuse you?”

“It wasn't the offer,” he blurted out. “I mean, I'm not amused.” When Zasashi didn't comment, Eurik forged on, picking his words carefully. “When I told is-Ilad that my home was here and that I couldn't imagine ever leaving it, he told me I could not know what my future would be. I don't believe him. I can't see any reason for me to leave.”

“I can,” his
sesin
said softly.

For a moment, Eurik was sure he hadn't heard him right. “What—what are you saying?”

“This has been your home for 17 summers now and it is all you know. For a san, this is normal. We rarely leave the island because there isn't much for us out there. But you are not san.”

Eurik reared back as if struck. Zasashi, however, wasn't done. “The world is vast, and much of it is filled with humans. How can you decide that your own kind has nothing to offer you, if you have never lived among them? How can you decide your future, when you know almost nothing of where you came from?”

“I came from a boat, sitting between my dead parents. That's what you told me.”

Zasashi inclined his head, seemingly unaffected by Eurik's harsh words. “Yes, that is where I found you. But that is not the beginning ... Or the entire story.”

He'd been so sure that he didn't care. He had no memory of his parents, didn't even know their names, so what was there to care about? Now, though, he found himself strangely eager to hear what his
sesin
had kept from him. Eager, and scared. “What haven't you told me?”

BOOK: The Living Sword
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