Banner of the Hawk 48

That was a clean and honest lie, the kind of lie any boy would tell his father.

In fact, Tidac found the Comanyi fascinating. Doorways to other worlds, dziais in fierce contention, drawing on the powers of the menhirs, vast battles, heroic and cowardly actions, clever strategies, cruel revenge. And then the apocalyptic tales of the Comanyi’s final years, when the Changer rose up against them and the Three-Who-Were-One wrestled peace from devastation by becoming the Flower of the Waning Day.

Not at all the practical things his father had brought Weikata in to teach him.

# # #

Once the sun was down, Tidac went to the room that his mother and father had shared. Now Weikata lived there with his books of scripture. He looked up as Tidac entered and said, “Greetings, Lordson.” He reached out his hand and they touched wrists in freeman’s greeting. As teacher, Weikata deserved Tidac’s obeisance. As his Lord’s son, Tidac deserved Weikata’s obeisance. This balanced out the honors.

Weikata reached out a pale and bony hand to retrieve the Sacrifice of the Timeless, one of the Comanyi scriptures. He laid it out on the table and gestured to Tidac to join him on the bench. They read, alternating verses, of Palacek’s dream of death on the eve of battle, and of it’s fulfillment.

Tidac looked sideways out of his eyes. He did not like being this close to Weikata. He did not like his cadaverous features or his cold, dead complexion. He chided himself for the feelings — there was nothing unnatural in Weikata’s looks. Thousands of his like were found throughout the Inner Kingdom, rapechildren from Dzikakai raids.

Still, there was more in Weikata than his heritage. Tidac could feel the turmoil within him as clearly as he saw Baralia.

There are men who are drawn to boys. Tidac knew this. Clevis had warned him of them, but this was not such a man. Tidac would have known. What drove Weikata was a different hunger, and an altogether unnatural one.

Tidac might have told this to Clevis, or Branbourn, or even to his father, but he was too accustomed to keeping silent.

“I chose this for our reading,” Weikata said, “because you said that you have had strange dreams of late.”

“Yes,” Tidac said, and did not elaborate. Tidac told Weikata things he did not tell others because it was the priest’s job to mold and train his ai. It was necessary, but the boy did not like it.

“Tell me about them.”

“They aren’t like other dreams,” Tidac said. “They are simple images. Nothing happens. I see faces, usually when I am just falling to sleep, or when I just begin to wake.”

“Are they always the same.”

“I’m not sure yet. Since you asked me to consider them, I have tried to remember. There are three women. One ancient, one of middling age, and one younger.”

“Kind, concerned, angry, threatening?”

“The younger one seems kind, the middle one is dangerous. The old one — I couldn’t tell what she was. She just looks on.”

Weikata asked, “Could it be that the Gods are looking down on you?”

“I hope not!”

“Why not?”

“I don’t like people looking at me. Even regular people.”

“Why?”

Tidac did not answer. Marquart had brought in this priest to teach him. It was his duty to cooperate, even though he disliked and faintly feared him. But there were things he would not say.

Every day, he could feel the distrust of those around him. His compact and massive body, his strength and his intelligence, far beyond his years, and his Marquart-like silences made everyone draw back. He could feel the fear they radiated when he was near them. more Monday

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