Chapter 2

"I must say I was surprised to hear a guard report to me that a dark lad with red eyes approached him at our hidden gates. We've not had unexpected visitors in many centuries, and we especially did not expect to find one of the Yorin still alive. I am the last… and sadly could not carry on my legacy due to sickness which left me… inadequate to say the least…" said an old, withered man with a short trimmed white beard, and milky, pink eyes.

"I do not know that I come from the line of Yorin. Neither of my parents, nor their parents, manifested. They also did not have red eyes like myself. I came here seeking answers as to why I have this… gift…" the red-eyed youth said.

"That is strange indeed. Are you sure that your father is your father, if you do not think me imprudent by asking as much?" the old man inquired. The red-eyed youth shook his head.

"I wondered that many times myself. However, my mother swore over and over that she knew no other than my father," the lad responded in a very flat tone. The old man nodded.

"Now then… why don't you tell me your name, young man."

"I am Jemin Koruk," the lad answered. The old man nodded yet again, stroking his bristled chin thoughtfully.

"If you do not already know, I am Hashel Ollin. With introductions aside… your name surprises me. Koruk sounds like a tribal name from the savage world, is it not?" Hashel inquired. Jemin nodded his head.

"It is," her responded shortly. The old man awaited an explanation, but receiving none he raised his bushy eyebrows at the lad and then slowly leaned forward, placing his elbows upon his knees.

"How do you come by such an exotic name? Your skin is indeed dark, but your features are refined."

"My parents were settlers. After a disease claimed the lives of many of the small colony, I was found and taken in by the Tahat. Although an outsider, they endowed me with the name of their tribe." Jemin briefly recounted in a serious voice.

"I see. So if you are an orphan, how do you know you are not tied to the Yorin?" the man asked, staring at him as if he could see past the deformities old age had cursed upon his eyes.

"I never said I was orphaned. I was abandoned during the plague and my mother told the others I'd died of the disease. I found her when I was older and demanded a history," Jemin clarified, his tone steady, calm. Hashel went silent for a while before clearing his throat.

"How did you come to find this place?" he finally asked. It had been the question that was haunting him more than Jemin's origins.

"An oracle from my village."

Hashel was abashed by this response. He was quiet for a moment before his thin, withered voice spoke up again. "Someone from across the oceans of little culture and primitive means told you where to find us?"

"Yes, through divination. I would not be here were it not important. I have come to learn of what I am. Teach me."

Mayelle did not rest well. When she awoke her body was stiff, her joints sore, and her head was sore. She shivered again, wrapping her arms even tighter around Emon. She hardly felt refreshed. As she opened her eyes and glanced around she could see the green-blue hint of dawn coming from the hills to the east. She grimaced and whimpered as she rolled away from Emon, and shakily got to her feet. If she were feeling this terrible, she could hardly imagine how poor Emon must feel. However, they had to get moving before it was too light out. Without their cloaks to hide their faces, she knew she would have to rely upon the darkness. Mayelle gripped her stomach, which lurched. Without some light she could not orient herself. All she knew is that east was that thin strip of lighter blue.

"M…mmm…" Emon moaned. Mayelle knelt beside him, feeling and hearing a crack in her knee as she did so. She reached over to him. His skin was so cold. They needed to get moving. After a moment of hesitation she shook Emon until he stirred.

"No…" he groaned. Mayelle continued to shake him and call his name. He kept groaning and trying to turn away from her, swatting at her hands. Mayelle finally struck his cheek, which brought him to consciousness very quickly. He sat up suddenly, his hand to his cheek. "Why? Why did you hit me?"

"To get you up. We don't have time to waste. I know you're tired, but we have to keep moving if we want to live," Mayelle said firmly. Emon started to protest, but she put a finger to his lips and hushed him. "No arguing. We have to go."

"I cannot believe master broke his solitude for an outsider," a wiry middle-aged woman said. She glowered with her sliver-like eyes at the dark-haired youth. "Especially a whelp."

"I hear he's older than he looks. But no one has really gotten a good look at him, and no one will tell us what he's doing here. All I know is that he is almost always with Master…" another woman said. While she was far from plump, there was an earthy roundness to her features. "I'm actually quite curious as to who he is."

"He is Yorin," a third, petit woman supplied. The two older woman rounded on her, bearing down on her with their hawk-like eyes.

"Do not speak such nonsense. Master was the last manifest," sputtered the sharp woman, while the rounded one nodded her large head.

"I've seen him. His eyes are red. He is Yorin. Besides, why is it nonsense? He may very well be our last hope," the younger woman said.

"You romanticize too often, girl," the rounded woman snarled.

"This is not fantasy! We may yet be saved! We may yet retain our powers!" the girl said, her eyes lighting up in defiance of the gloom cast over her and her people.

"What good is another Yorin man? Without a Yorin woman it means nothing! Whenever a Yorin mixes his blood, the child is a born empty!" insisted the sharp-eyed woman, her tone severe. The other woman nodded her head, but grimaced.

"Y…You're right. Half right. It would have been better if we found a Yorin woman. But remember Master's father was no Yorin, and he manifested! So if… if we could just find a female Yorin…"

"Master has searched and searched for many years! He's traced every lineage! There are no more! This man is probably just some fluke! Don't get your hopes up, because the truth will just hurt more!" thundered the first woman. Then, she pivoted on her heel and stormed off. The second woman reproached the third, and then followed the first. The smaller, young woman stared at them, and shook her head. She then glanced behind her, to realize that the scene had attracted Jemin's attention. Her heart nearly leapt out of her chest when he walked over, and she was falling over herself to bow. She remained with her eyes to the ground for a good long while. She then cautiously glanced up, wondering if he had walked right past her. Instead she was met with his red eyes.

"S-sir… as an esteemed guest of our Master, I-I-I am at your service," she said weakly.

"Do not grovel. It is pathetic," came Jemin's short reply. The girl instantly stood up to her lowly height, looking up at him, stunned. "What was that scene over?"

"You sir. They do not believe me when I told them you are Yorin."

"There is no evidence to support that assumption. Do not go speaking before you know the facts, whelp," Jemin said, narrowing his eyes at the girl. She felt a flush of colour to her usually colourless cheeks.

"But your eyes…"

"Are red. Still, it means nothing. I have no Yorin in my heritage. It is impossible for me to be one of the Yorin."

"Have you not manifested any powers?"


Mayelle and Emon had been walking all day. They had no food, no water, and were tired and cold. However, whenever Emon stopped, Mayelle briskly grabbed his arm and pulled him along, reminding him that to move is the only way to survive. He continued to beg for her to let him stop, and each time he whimpered, Mayelle had to exercise every ounce of willpower to keep him going. It hurt her to see him suffer. It pained her that she could not let him rest, wrap him up in a warm comforter, and feed him a warm meal.

When they finally found the closest town, Mayelle's heart fell. There were sentries barring the path. Since it was a smaller town, this was very unusual. She had a sinking feeling that they were instructed by the Church to lie in wait lest she and her son pass by. That was all it took for Mayelle to simply break down, her knees bucking beneath her. She fell to the ground sobbing, not hearing her son's piteous whimpers. Now she only had room for self-pity. It was a dead end.

"Mother… mother… please get up! Please do not cry! Please! I'm the child! I should be the one crying! Please stop crying and stand up! Please! Mother! You can't do this! MOTHER!" Emon babbled hysterically as he places his hands on her shoulders and began shaking her furiously. However, as his mother would not even lift her head to look at her, he began bawling, and threw himself on the dirt road beside her. Both of them eventually were too exhausted to even cry, and Mayelle just lay with her face pressed into the dirt, filth sticking to her tear stained cheek and filling her quagmire nostrils. Emon has his face cradled in his folded arms, which were likewise dirtied from the road. They just lay there, both only concerned with their own suffering and blotting out the world around them. That was until…

"Are the two of you alright?" came a man's voice that broke through the fog they'd both surrounded themselves into. Mayelle warily looked up, not caring if someone saw her eyes. Emon did not even bother to lift his head, knowing that his mother did all of the talking. He did not really want to talk to anyone anyhow.

"No," Mayelle said bitterly. The man was wearing chain mail under a maroon tunic and a metal cap that barely qualified for a helmet. He squinted his eyes down at her for a moment, then looked down at Emon.

"I… see…" he said quietly, his hand suddenly hovering over his hilt. What once appeared as concern on his features quickly became grim as he narrowed his eyes. He then lifted up his chin, looking beyond Mayelle and Emon, waving a hand. Then his eyes snapped back to Mayelle, watching her closely.

Mayelle considered grabbing Emon's arm and running. However, it would do no good. The struggle to her feet would be slow, and her launch shaky. The man, who looked rested and healthy, would have no trouble catching her and her son. She felt an uneasy stir deep in her gut, like a ball of fire forming. She closed her eyes, a familiar crease appearing between her eyebrows. No. No. Do not let it out. She took in a breath to steady herself. Then her eyelids flew open and she looked up at the man again. His hand was gripping his handle and his expression was fierce. By now Emon had lifted his head and turned to stare at the man, his eyes wide with fright. He looked anxiously to his mother, imploring her to do something. His mouth moved, but not words came fourth. However, she knew that shape. He was begging her. He was begging her to release her inferno upon this man. Mayelle shook her head.

"You will come with us. Do not resist, do not try and flee," the man intoned. His voice was carefully devoid of any emotion as another man hurried up to them. Mayelle looked between them. Then she dipped her chin.

"I am done evading. Just take us and get it over with…" Mayelle uttered. The man looked down at her, a flicker of suspicion in his eyes. He then looked at the other guard approaching, giving him a nod, and then looking back down at them. Emon's face became more terrified at his mother's compliance.

"What? We're… we're giving up?" Emon cried out as a man stooped down to seize his arms. He protested with a yelp, but was powerless as the man twisted both of his arms behind his back. Likewise, the other man grabbed Mayelle in a similar fashion, but she made no audible complaint.

"We have exhausted our choices," Mayelle said to her son. The man thrust her forward, forcing her to walk, although she dragged her feet. It was not meant as resistance, but she was simply too tired to pick them up. The man gave her another meaningful shove and told her to keep moving. She felt the fiery turbulence in her gut again and she winced, trying to subdue it.

"But…" Emon peeped.

"Hush, Emon, hush," Mayelle said sternly. After one shattered look at his mother, Emon dropped his head, and walked. Mayelle still felt the power, trying to force its way out and incinerate the men taking them to their dismal fates. She began to break out in a sweat to keep it all contained. Her teeth began to chatter as her sweat quickly chilled and groped her body in its cold embrace. After a while it was too much for her, and she fell forward in a faint. The last sensation was of hands trying to pull her up and a voice saying "Oh no you don't… huh… she's…"

Mayelle awoke in cell with a low ceiling. It had the stench of decay, human waste, and mold. There was also the tang of metal mixed into the repulsive odor. She wrinkled her nose as she became aware of the ache all over her body. She slowly curled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around herself. Again she could not restrain the urge to cry. She lay there, on a cold stone floor, whimpering. Then an important thought clamored into her mind.

"Emon? Emon are you there?" she asked, opening her eyes. She slowly stood up and glanced around anxiously. The cell she was in was small, with a low ceiling. It took her a moment to realize a brownish lump off to the side was her son, curled up under the only blanket in the cell. To one corner was a bucket. There were no windows, and the bars that separated her from the corridor were unevenly spaced, but none of them wide enough for even Emon to wiggle through. She crawled over to her son on her hands and knees, reaching over and shaking him. His strawberry hair was damp and clinging to the contours of his dirty face, and dark circles had formed under his eyes. "Emon…"

He let out a groan before his red eyes peeled open, and he stared beyond her for a moment before his eyes focused. Then his eyes snapped to hers, and she could not choke back a sob. However, through her distress she smiled. She reached forward, wrapping an arm about him and pulled him closer to her. Instinctively, his arms came up in front of his chest, and he leaned into her embrace. His head rested against her collar bone and he closed his eyes again, soothed by the constant hands rubbing up and down his back and the sound of his mother's heartbeat.

It pained Mayelle to see her son this way. However, as she held him, she realized he was not like other boys his age. This wasn't about his red eyes. This was about his absolute dependence upon her. She knew that most boys by now would be showing defiant independence and trying to put themselves forward as protectors despite not yet even beginning on the journey of manhood, rather than continue to play to their vulnerability. Emotionally, he was still so young. She began to worry if she was doing him more harm than good, having kept him close and guarded. She felt another sob rupture and she shivered as she squeezed her son tight. What a thought to have at a moment. They could soon be tortured or executed, and she was worrying about her administration of motherhood.

"Mother… why won't you fight? Why wont you protect me?" Emon finally asked. These words pierced her, and she froze. He craned his neck to peer up at her, his eyes wide and imploring. There was no accusation in his face, just confusion and hurt. Mayelle gulped back more sobs so she could at least try to answer his question. However, every time she tried to form a word, it just became a cough or sputter as her emotions choked her. "You could have… you could have made them go away! Then we would not be here."

"Emon…" she finally managed to say. She looked up at the dark, stony ceiling. She could not face her boy anymore. She trembled with bloated emotions. Again there was the stirring. It wasn't the sudden fire storms from before. Rather this was a slowly gathering pressure. It was heavy, dense, and made her feel as though her organs were weighed down with blocks of ice. Then came the vibrations, and she felt almost as if she'd lose control of her body, and fall to the floor convulsing. She squeezed her boy tighter and held her breath.

"Mother… mother… you're hurting… can't… breathe…"

"I'm sorry… I am so sorry, Emon," Mayelle whispered as she released him. She drew back away from him. He crawled over to the nearest wall to lean against it, huddled in the blanket. He peered at his mother silently, and Mayelle still could not look at him. She still felt the pressure in her, but it had stopped growing. There was something almost calming about it. Something stable. She stared down at her empty lap and sighed. "Emon… sometimes we do things for a greater purpose. Sometimes we have to suffer for it. Sacrifice, Emon, sacrifice for those who come after. It may seem like we suffer in vain, but I do not believe that."

That was a lie. Mayelle did not see how dying a martyr would help bring understanding between those who were gifted and those who were not. She reflected on how first it was only Nihilacti had aroused prejudice among the Ergon. Mayelle could understand this fear. She herself feared her own powers when she was young and ignorant. However, for them to come to detest all Thaumacti made no sense. She sought to not give those who did not possess such powers any reason to resent her. However, now even she was wondering why she did not just destroy the ignorant men and women who persecuted her. It wasn't just her powers. It was her eyes. Her accursed red eyes. This was something unique to her and her son. Neither of her parents had red eyes. No one she knew did. Not except for…

"There is no doubt in my mind now, boy," Hashel said as he leaned back in a chair constructed of bone. Perhaps chair was an understatement. No, the old man sat upon a throne, with ornate carvings of skulls and other macabre designs. He peered at Jemon who was knelt a few paces away. His head was bowed, and eyes were downcast, and would have had a clear view of the damascus carpet had it not been obstructed by a child, no older than six, who was laid out before him. The boys eyes were closed, and he did not stir. "You may not have the right gifts for Necromancy, but you are bestowed with a most magnificent power."

"Excuse my impertinence, but Necromancy is a misnomer. You may have your traditions and superstitions, but other than how you use your powers, you are no different from the Kinesacti," Jemin said in a droll tone. Hashel narrowed his eyes as he clutched the arms of his throne, leaning forward slightly.

"No Kinesacti can control the bodies as we do. If not for your enigmatic gifts, I would have you cut down for such slander!" Hashel reproached severely. Jemin was unperturbed. "It would do you well to curb your ignorant opinions, young one."

"Are they really so ignorant? I do not know that no one else is incapable, they simply never tried to animate dead bodies as they do mechanisms," Jemin responded calmly. Hashel glowered at him for a moment, but then conceded and leaned back in his throne. The boy on the floor moaned and shifted, but then went still again.

"You are a radical. You will not repeat these opinions to any of my fold, do you understand?"


"With that understood, I will indoctrinate you with what I know about the Yorin, and share what fragments of the Prophecies that were left in my care," Hashel intoned. Jemin nodded and then glanced down at the boy. "Do not concern yourself further with him. You've done your part. I'll have someone remove him…"

"There is something I have yet to tell you, Master Ollin," Jemin interceded. Hashel raised one of his perpetually arched eyebrows, imploring Jemin to go on. "There is another; a woman. She has red eyes, and immeasurable destructive power. Her name is…"

"…Mayelle. My name is Mayelle," Mayelle said in a cold calm. She sat, with her wrists tightly bound together, and a heavy chain and weight attached to one of her ankles. Beside her sat Emon, bound in a similar fashion, with a cloth bag over his head. Mayelle would have been disturbed by this if she didn't feel it benefited him. The way from their cell to this tiny room showed glimpses of emaciated prisoners and torture devices. This room itself had a long bench, with a long unfolded satchel containing small instruments of interrogation. They were all meticulously clean and sat in tidy rows. Across from her sat a man donning a maroon robe with a pointed hood. Off to the side was another hooded man who sat at a small writing desk. The man at the desk requested Mayelle to spell her name, and she complied.

"And the boy's name?" asked the man from across her.

"Emon. E M O N," Mayelle responded. She heard the brief sound of quill scribbling away on parchment and there was a drawn out silence. She waited patiently.

"Is Emon your son?" the man asked in a droning voice.

"Yes," Mayelle responded shortly. Emon turned his head towards her, even though he could not see her through his bag, and then faced forward again, letting his chin droop.

"Is this true, boy? Is this woman your mother?"

"Yes," came Emon's muffled reply, his voice shaky and uncertain.

"Ah. State the name of your husband," the interviewer continued.

"I do not have a husband," Mayelle responded coolly. There was a pause as the hooded man inched forward, seemingly surprised by this response.

"You do not have a husband? Are you then a widow?" the man inquired. Mayelle shook her head. "Please note that the woman in question shook her head 'no' to being a widow," the man said to his scribe. He then steepled his fingers and leaned forward. "Are you saying that this boy is illegitimate?" Mayelle noticed Emon shudder.

"Yes," Mayelle responded in a steely tone. The man leaned back again.

"Ah," came his light reply. His fingers remained in a steeple as he regarded her for a good long while. "Is this true, boy? Are you a bastard?"

"Y-yes…" squeaked Emon.

"Ah. I imagined as much. No man of any good standing would marry such a creature," the hooded man responded. Mayelle clenched her fists, her knuckles turning white, but she did not make a rebuttal. "Now, then, what is his father's name?"

"I did not care to get his name." The hooded man paused for a moment. For a while, silence permeated the air. Even the scribe seemed halted for a moment. Then the robed man brought his fingers together in a steeple.

"You are a base wretch," the man said, but instead of sounding disgusted he sounded almost pleased… perhaps even smug. "Who are your parents?"

"I was raised by a hermit named Pevor. My parents abandoned me," Mayelle answered.

"Where did this hermit live?"

"A small cottage in Odyan Forest."

"That is very far from here. What are you doing here?"

"To be honest, I was fleeing for the Eastern Continent. Your Church and the Empire's edict left me with no choice, and few places to hide," Mayelle said, coldness coming into her voice. "Might I ask why you are interviewing me? I do not imagine there is any doubt that I am a vile abomination."

"For the sake of keeping records. That is all I have to ask you and your son for now. You will be escorted back to your cell until I get authorization from on high to proceed with your extermination," the hooded man said coldly. He walked over to the door, opening it and signaling for the escorts. Sure enough, armed man came in, took a hold of Mayelle and Emon, and took them back to their cells. Mayelle and Emon were both quiet the entire way, until the last slam of their cell door rang in their ears.

With the sack removed from his head, Emon turned to his mother. "One of these days you will have to tell the truth, Mother."

"I will when I have a truth to tell."

Author's Comments: The last scene in this chapter nearly served as a roadblock for me. I rewrote the scene so many times, changing Mayelle's answers and thus causing all sorts of dialogues. Nothing was working until I had Emon just weakly say 'Yes..." to being asked if he were a bastard. All the other headache passages resulted in him denying it. However, I just let it be and didn't have these long lengthy dialogues that served as an info dump for Mayelle's past. It's too soon for that.