The Coming

Prologue

7 Etissa 2787
The rest of the students were taking their meal in the common area. The dull murmur of their chatter filtered into Rahim’s quarters where his most accomplished students had gathered. For a time there was little talk as everyone focused on their meal. It was customary for Rahim to begin speaking first; until then, everyone would eat in silence. A feeling of tension had been spreading throughout the day. By meal time, it was almost palpable. Utensils clicked and there was the occasional scrape of a goblet against the wood of the small table where they ate but there were no other sounds. The students concentrated on their plates and kept their eyes down as if it would be unseemly to share a glance given the mood of the room.

It took the students a few moments to realize Rahim had pushed his plate aside and was watching them. One by one forks dropped and eyes were raised, first to Rahim and then to one another as each sought to understand their master’s continued silence. When he at last spoke, he sounded more tired than anything else, though the feeling of tension increased nonetheless.

“Word has reached me…” He paused and shook his head as if trying to clear his thoughts. The students looked to each other questioningly at this faltering introduction. "Well, there are always rumors, of course, but I think I shall need some help in a few days time, should these rumors actually come to something.

As you surely know by now, I have contacts outside Thridein. I aid them in various ways and they in turn provide me with information and some of the things we cannot make for ourselves here in our sheltered enclave. I am due to meet one of these contacts soon, but I believe it would be better for the rest of the students if I remained here for a time. I therefore will need to send you in my place. The journey is not long and it will be a true chance to put into practice all that you have learned here."

Rahim did not need to ask if there was interest in assuming this new duty. These students were as ready as they were ever going to be. He knew it and more importantly, they knew it as well. It was time. Seeing their confidence and resolve bolstered his spirit and almost drove away the nagging fears that had plagued him recently. He forced a smile then and tried not to make it seem grim. He almost succeeded.

“Well then, we have a number of things to discuss. Fetch my map from the cupboard and I will tell you of Bent Saw and Tyvek and what you must do…”

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