Chapter Two

St. Remdem, Fenns


Saturday the 5th, 8053 A.D.

Brother Paidric waited with the up most patients. For that was what he always did. The young lad did not seek out nor question (unless a question proved too nagging for him to possibly ignore till a better time.) why things were the way they were, why things meant what they did, only to except the fact that they did. Brother Paidric cared little for the workings of the world that lay outside his home and had no reason to feel otherwise.
Then again, his conception and care matched that of all the brothers of St. Remdem. They prided themselves on solitude, while the world around them was bent on shutting them out, a seemingly perfect union.
Deep within the forest of Quegg, which hugged a vast and ominous mountain trail sat the secluded abbey. St. Remdem, cut off from the ravages of the land around it to such an extent that over the last few generations of monks dwelling in the abbey had become very naive. For all they believed, anything father then the provinces of Fenns and Grennen, was ocean. The two countries made up but a small island, with great mountain ranges acting like a fence between neighbor's yards.

While St. Remdem kept itself corked in a glass bottle of its own design. A giant imaginary one, where the air within was clouded and deceiving. The rushing and turbulent affairs of the outside, like ocean waters were plugged out.
This air was safe, protecting, its haze kept the minds of the monks to routine, to prayer, to what they thought to be the better good, this haze stoked by those who believe this "better good" to be the righteous one, the only one.
The monks were ranging in ages from their Mastery-years to Twilight years[1], and lived solely for their routine, a routine that was molded by those who came before them. A life, that in its basis consisted of prayer, worship, chore, and for some, secrecy.

Brother Paidric though, humble, compliant and the youngest of any monk in the abbey knew nothing of any secrets. He had his own, mind you, but then they were his own silly ones. He lived the only life he knew how to live: Wake, chores, breakfast, mid-day prayer, lunch, lessons, followed by dinner and evening prayer, then back to bed to rise the next day. It had been like this all eight and ten[2] years of his life.

But this day, this day things were different. The daily and banal routine was cast out the window, so to speak, all workings in the young monk's life had stopped due to a most puzzling thing, like a cog that had sprung loose.
Past the lunch hour, Brother Paidric would have his lessons. Subjects taught in the mathematical, historical, and the humanities (meaning literature) by his mentor and teacher Brother Isaac. A man most beloved by Brother Paidric, for it was Isaac that raised the lad since he was an infant. Though to the young monk's great dismay, his lessons today were canceled, confirmed by a hastily written note handed to him by a fellow monk only a few hours before. The note stated this:


A dire matter has drawn me away. And so we will not meet at our usual time. Instead, at the fifth hour in the eve, wait for me in the south wing corridor, upper level. All shall be explained my boy, be patient.

Brother Isaac

And this was were the young monk found himself, waiting as instructed, patiently, in St. Remdem's south wing, an area of the abbey that had not been inhabited for close to two centuries.
The walls were grimy; cobwebs cluttered the corners and streamed down onto the furniture covered in white linens. However, by this time those linens were now a frightful yellowing color that made young Brother Paidric wince with distaste. If there was one thing he hated, it was dirt and dust, having cleaned the north and east wings over many a morning before breakfast, to a perfect shine. Now he watched on in displeasure as dust specks floated down through the dwindling sunlight.
Brother Paidric also thought the air tasted stale, like bread gone bad, and the hallway was far too quiet for his liking. The rooms that lined the hall in front of him were filled with storage now for the population of the abbey had well dwindled below the need for all three wings.
He knotted his thin fingers, a nervous habit he had that often then lead to the fussing of his robes. Brother Paidric hadn't meant to be so anxious, the combination of his lessons being canceled to all this talk of dire matters had his stomach in more knots then the string used to weave the tapestry that hung just across from him. Old, battered, and forgotten, the tapestry's picture proved too badly worn away to be recognizable, though the young monk cared little about it at present moment.

Brother Paidric glanced down the hall, craning his neck round what seemed to him like an enormous shrouded cabinet, to see the corridor still empty. Sitting back with an exasperated sigh, he relaxed, disappointed, when all of a sudden to his left a hand fell uopn his shoulder, gripping it lightly.
The young monk nearly leapt from his skin, spinning round where he sat. Flaring his blue eyes wide, expecting to see some apparition, or perhaps, if he used his imagination, which tended to overreact, a long lost monk who had been trapped in the south wing and forgotten. Left to wander till the end of his days, riddled with madness. A fear he often had himself.

"Forgive me my boy, it wasn't my intention to startle you." Came the calm yet affirmative voice belonging to Brother Isaac. "You look as if you've seen St. Orly's ghost."

Brother Paidric slumped down in the tall-backed chair he had been sitting in, relieved to no bounds. Gulping back his surprise, he stood quickly, his height coming a few noticeable inches over his teacher. "No, no master, I only assumed you were coming from that direction." The young monk pointed to where he had been glancing earlier. " I didn't hear you approaching, until.."

"Until I spooked you proper. Dear lad, and here I thought I made enough noise to rouse the dead." Brother Isaac chuckled, taking a hand to the boy's back and leading them both down the hall. "Did your mind wander off down the hall?"
"I guess it did master, I apologize for not greeting you properly." Muttered Brother Paidric, remembering one of the many ideals his teacher had instilled in him, that he should always be polite to those who were older and wiser then him. But also to be so to those who were younger and ignorant, for they knew not the difference yet, or perhaps never would. They still though, were to be heeded with respect.

"Oh, nonsense Paidric. Formalities matter little now and I have much to discuss with you, and a short time to do so, we must hurry on."
The young monk smiled, pleased that his actions had not offended him. However, that smile soon faded when he then noticed the grave and pensive look on his teacher's face.
"Is something wrong?" He asked meekly, feeling those knots in his stomach begin to tighten, like a vice was turned round his middle choking him. Sometimes, if this happened too strongly, too fast, the boy would feel his breath constrict and his vision would cloud over with black speckles, which made him dizzy and weak enough to faint.
Brother Isaac at first did not respond, he merely guided them both down the corridor, round various cloth-covered obstacles, then under a web- cast archway before entering an open catwalk.
"Something has happened my boy." The older monk began slowly, keeping his tone calm and dour. " Something most significant."
Brother Paidric could only watch the face of his master intently, latching onto every one of the man's words, the conversation engrossing his attentions that he tripped slightly.
Brother Isaac drew them down the catwalk, warm amber light cast upon their fleeting forms as the sun sank behind the mountains to sleep, welcoming the moon in his wake.
"Late last night Brother Jerip returned from his travels to Buttleby. He returned home with more then just game hen and trout, mind you." The old monk pointed out, as if Brother Paidric had not already guessed it from the obvious way the subject was heading, but respected his master's seeming wish for secrecy, though he didn't understand why it had to be that way. Leaving the catwalk they entered yet another enclose corridor, this one even more congested with storage.
Quickening his steps to match that of his master, the lad asked the only question his mind could muster. "Well, what else did he bring back?"
Brother Isaac seemed to ignore him as he stopped them both at the end of the corridor where they were met by a closed door, which Brother Paidric could only surmise was once an old living chamber. "We cleared out the room, made it as comfortable and suitable as we could in such short notice." Brother Isaac mumbled with his back to the boy, motioning to the massed furniture around them in the hall.

Turning to his student, Brother Isaac looked the boy dead in the eyes, speaking in a hushed tone, his seriousness disquieting Brother Paidric greatly.
"Now, he's still standing at Death's door, so, mind yourself. Stay quiet and above all, stay clear of him!" He hissed firmly, as if reprimanding the young monk for some past incident.
"Of who?" Whispered Brother Paidric, perplexed as to what his master was speaking of. Over all of that, he was worried. Never had he seen his teacher so severe, paranoid even, he went so far as to take a long glance over Brother Paidric's shoulder. Was he making sure the hall was clear? The young monk thought these actions most troubling, why was his master so afraid, and beside that, who would have possibly been so afraid of?
After a long and tense moment, Brother Isaac relaxed momentary, looking back to Brother Paidric. "Why a man, a man from Grennen." He spoke even lower then before, just above a whisper, smiling slightly, his dark aged eyes shining in the reverie of his own words. It wasn't only fear that plagued Brother Isaac, it was exhilaration as well.

"Grennen?" The lad exclaimed louder then he had meant himself to.
"Hush now! Hold your tongue less you disturb him." The elder monk tensed up, knowing he was only getting the boy riled up with all this mystery. Taking him by the arm, he gave the boy a reassuring squeeze. "Right my boy, are you ready?"
Brother Paidric sobered himself and nodded quickly, falling behind Brother Isaac who took a hand to the door, turning the rusted handle and pushing the heavy wooden door forward. They slowly entered, most tediously, so much so that the young monk's skin began to crawl all over with sweat, hairs tingling on end.

Brother Paidric had heard of the men that lived in Grennen, the only other province that made up the small island. Grennen was far larger then its cousin Fenns and was made up of plains and meadows rather then thick forests. Plains men they were called; farmers, hunters, craftsmen living under the rule of the current king, who's name Brother Paidric could not recall at the time.
All this he knew and had yet never seen a plains man, a Grennen man in the flesh, only depicted, even crudely sometimes within his history books. Those of which mostly remarked of the past of Fenns, only briefly summarizing the goings on next door, over the mountains.

He followed Brother Isaac closely, trying not to step over him in his own excitement, something he was not commonly accustomed to. Why did this make him feel so? Brother Paidric could only find small answers, which he made up for they sounded truthful, at least to him. Perhaps because it broke the normality of what he came to know, the shattering of a routine he had only now begun to think of as a routine. In all his years there, they had never had a visitor.
For once the young monk was open, no, tasting, the strange and foreign world that lay outside his door. Of the possibilities and ideas unknown and tempting to him. This sudden thirst for knowledge and answers to newly formed questions flooded his mind, alarming him.
As Brother Paidric took his first glimpse of a plain's man, he gasped aloud, the very sight of the man's ravaged condition sending a sharp spiking chill up his spine, as if he had jumped feet first into a cold lake.
As this happened..a cracked formed..

A crack in the imaginary glass bottle that housed the abbey formed, beginning to splinter this way and that, like ice starting to give way. Ever so slightly did the water of the outside world trickle in, and ever so noticeably did the haze cloud, that protective blanket, slip out.
But some did take notice, to the weakening barrier they so unwearyingly built. Those who would stop at nothing to keep the glass from shattering down around them. They watched with a heavy, suspicious eye, towards the door that lead to the south wing.
They waited, in silence, to seal this sudden crack, permanently.

- [1] Based on the terms used most often in the plains and mountains providences to describe age: Infant - Bare child or Yearling - Older-youth - Mastery-years - Twilight years, which marked the end of one's life. This life range used in mortal means that is. [2] When speaking of one's age, it is considered like this: a 27 year old man would be seven and twenty years while a 73 year old would be three and seventy years old. In this case, Paidric is eight and ten years meaning he is 18 years of age.