From the Book of Bequestments
Year 18, Day 304
Bleak was the day he came to us. Beyond the Circle and Within the circle winter had taken hold of fair Dalsia and it’s choking grasp threatened to strangle many of us. From the Edge came a man, staggering against the wind and the snow. He was taken in by one of the Watchers on the Edge, but saw though the deception of the Dals and requested further entry. The man was being looked after by one of the Researchers whose skills in the arts of pharmacy were of considerable pride of that guild. The efforts of that man were in vain, for the traveller was fading fast.
On his dying day he requested an audience with the Bequestment Guild, and his gift was what seemed to be a stone, no bigger than any the Researchers have brought from there foray’s to the sea’s borders. His last words were instructions to guard it well, for it contains the secrets of new worlds. Research into the stone has been inconclusive, cleaning revealed the stone to be a Sapphire, slightly flawed in the centre. The flaw appears, from a certain angle, to be a closed door. The “Portal Stone” as it has been christened by those who researched it, “Door” being too unambiguous one supposes, has no inherent Magical property the guilds of either Researchers nor Bequestments are aware of, but under the charter it will remain here until claimed.
Chapter 1, The Training of Thought
Instantly disappointment registered, not from himself, but from the minds of his instructors.
Why do you blink? The thought came unbidden to his mind.
It was not a deliberate reaction he formed and sent in reply
Yet it was still done. Your external control is merely satisfactory.
The question that formed in his mind of why he was being given this instruction while his colleagues were not, was quickly shielded like a candle in a strong breeze. Shielding of thoughts was most certainly not standard teaching but was a trick he had learnt over the years. The ability to shield his thoughts from the Dalmind was not encouraged, in fact strongly discouraged, which was only an incentive to get better at it, in the hope that his instructors wouldn’t notice.
Your internal control, however, is excellent.
How could you tell?
The blankness of mind tells almost as much as it hides.
This was a problem, he knew. Shielding his mind seemed to produce a total blackout, a fact which was only noticeable in a One on One scan, but it meant his mind would go unnoticed if someone was, for example, scanning a class for who hadn’t read the book of the sky. As he had tried to do on many of these occasions, he attempted to “broadcast” one thing, whilst thinking another, and in doing so failed to notice the large plank of wood that stopped an inch from his nose.
Your external control is improving, you didn’t even blink. There was a hint of approval in the thought, you may yet be ready. Report to the Master after Reading.
Jascain snapped out of his reverie ready for what? He sent, but the presence was gone. Slowly he retuned his thoughts into the Dalmind, The hive mind of the Dalisan nation that only a few people outside it knew of. He suddenly knew that a Dal somewhere had died, there was a mental gap in his picture of the world, and a faint echo told him that someone was passing though the rite that would link them to the Dalmind whole.
Chapter 2, Superior Minds
The Master was not alone in his study.
He was sitting at his desk, the ancient Oak table that he spent his days reading at. The room was light and airy, courtesy of it’s glass ceiling – a direct result of the opening of trade between the Dals and the rest of the world – and it was, all in all, a nice place to study both books and sky. It took Jascain a couple of minutes to work out what it was that seemed out of place. The Master, who he never knew the name of, always looked calm and assured, a racial trait, except now when the twinges of worry were beginning to cross his ageless face. The cause of this was a young man dressed in blue, who was leaning against one wooden panelled wall. Jascain studied the man and trawled through the mind for a possibility of this person’s identity. He was fairly tall, with a baring remenisant of King Belgarion, who Jascain had seen at his ease when on his, Belgarion’s, last state visit. Jascain had been asked to deliver a message. Jascain looked into the eyes of the young man, and immediately felt both trustworthy and trusting, that everything in the world was going to be wonderful, and that nothing could stop it from being so, and it was this above all that identified the young man beyond all shadow of doubt.
Jascain bowed deeply.
“My God” he swore
“Not yet” said the young man with a smile
“My lord Erriond, I am truly your most humble servant” Obsequiated Jascain.
“Very good young Jascain” said the master, “But why did you speak at all? Why not the mental method?”
Jascain stood, and said, matter-of-factly:
“One of the developments of the Dalmind was that it was hidden from Torak, and by association from the other gods as well”
“Vinane, Now is not the time for lessons. We have more important problems.”
“Quite” said the master, “Don’t worry too much, more will be explained when the last member of this little get-together arrives”
He doesn’t know Jascain thought in the privacy of his head Because if he knew, then it would be in the Dalmind somewhere, and it isn’t, so he doesn’t. What have I been dumped into?
Chapter 3, A Meeting of Minds.
The final member of the gathering appeared to be female, She was dressed in a flowing cape that stopped inches of dragging on the floor behind her. When she turned to face him her face was perfectly calm and serene, but her eyes seemed to look directly into his soul. There was a kind of age-less quality, she seemed young but her age was not determinable, Jascain put all this together and then looked confused. He didn’t bother to hide his thoughts.
Correct, returned Valaine, she is a seer. And also correct, she isn’t blindfold. He continued, He didn’t explain, that information was enough on it’s own for Jascain to trawl through the Dalmind. She was a “special” like him, one of the Dal with abilities beyond those required by her station. Before he could pursue this any further, however, Erriond spoke:
“It may be time for some introductions, You both know who I am, And you know Valaine the Master of the Novices, Krydis? This is Jascain De’Blue of the Researcher Novices, and Jascain, this is Krydis of the Novice Seers”
Instantly both of them went into the mind, searching for the other.
Jascain discovered that Krydis was the same age as him, and also an orphan. It was now he started to get some suspicions. They were both specials and she was in training more than her peers, but there was nothing about her lack of blindfold. This either meant that someone was blocking information, and he was fairly sure nobody could block anything from him, or that nobody knew. Nobody. Not even Valaine could block from the Dalmind.
He looked at her eyes.
Y You know, dont you? The thought had a light and musical voice, tainted with confusion. It had no echoes, it was a One to One chat, nobody else could hear.
What is it? He asked
I’ll explain later. And the contact was broken.
“When you two have quite finished?” Asked Valaine.
“They have” said Erriond, and Jascain shot a glance in the young gods direction, and was returned with a knowing smile.
“Now the introductions are over, let me explain. Valaine? Now, I think, is the time for what I was talking about.”
Standing stiffly, and obviously not happy about this, Valaine stood up and left the office, muttering to himself.
“Do you know what the hardest part of this is? Your Dalmind. Valaine cannot do what either of you two can, he cannot shield his thoughts from the world, nor can he impose his thoughts on others” Erriond continued, and Krydis and Jascain glanced at each other. “So we have to limit what he knows.”
“Way back in the mists of time” began Erriond, Dramatically, “There was a man, and this man had managed to find a stone that allowed him to travel between worlds at will. An accident of fate stranded him on this world just as the stone ran out of power. It took 100 years of almost constant use for its power to drain, but it did. His dying act was to leave the stone here, at the guild of bequestments.
The gods have known about the existence of this stone, but decided that if nobody knew of it’s existence it couldn’t do anything, and besides it took several thousand years to recharge. By the time it had recharged, the gods had been forced to abandon the planet, and Torak couldn’t get at it because of the shield.”
“It’s charged then” Said Krydis
“That’s why you are telling us this, It’s charged”
“It’s not just charged. It’s been stolen”
“By who? And why are you telling us?”
“Answer one is that I don’t know. Answer two is linked to answer 1. You two are special, you can do things other Dals cannot. More importantly, other Dals cannot read your thoughts.”
Jascain did some more calculations. The fact that his training had been stopped early, the death he had felt when he stopped
“You think a Dal did it” he accused the man in blue
“I think so. So does everyone who knows about the theft.”
And that was everyone in Dalsia by now, He hadn’t had time to look at the details before, but he realised it must be an inside job. But it couldn’t be, because
“I don’t know who it is” he said aloud
“If we knew who it was, the Dals would have caught him by now” Replied Erriond
“No, if he could guard his thoughts he would be in my position, or be my tutor.”
“Not if he was able to hide his ability”
“It’s impossible.” Jascain decided.
“Nevertheless, it has happened. Your job, both of you, is to find it. Whoever has the stone knows how to use it, so you will need some extra tuition. Go down to the Training Room, there is someone I would like you to meet” And with that, Erriond left the room.
Chapter 4, Mind reading
So why are you not blindfolded? Asked Jascain as they made their way down the hill to the Training Room.
I can make people think things. I just have a general thing all the time where people think I’m blindfolded. It takes a lot of effort not to make people suspect, but I get to see what people do when they think I cannot see them. The mental idea of a grin floated across the ether. He was about to continue the conversation when they reached the Training room. In front was a short man in a black robe, tied at the waist with a dark blue cord.
“Good Afternoon” said the short man, “My name is Pug, Or Milamber, most people call me Pug, so you can too. And I have some things to teach you