Excerpt from Work In Progress - The Fountains of Aescalon

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"That was quite a scene," she said.
I stopped dead. She was both petite and pretty, but she wasn't anyone who'd been at the King's Ball. Dressed too richly to be one of the servants, yet none of the notables who'd been invited. Most importantly, though, my sense of perception stopped dead some distance from her and her mind didn't leak like an unfinished roof. She would have been as out of place in that gathering as I'd been.
I'd intended to re-enter the ball within a minute or two. One of the minor abilities of auros is a kind of mental camouflage that makes you blend into the background so that only another adept - which described nobody in that room - will take note of you. Slowly relax it, and it's like you were there all along.
But this took priority. She was obviously beyond the abilities of any of the wizards who'd taken King Edvard up on his invitation. Beyond Kiltig's abilities, as well. She might well be one of that class of potential threats my brother had been referring to when he sent me here.
"I am called Alexan," I introduced myself.
"Petra," she replied, briefly.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Petra," I said, bowing. Meanwhile, I boosted the power on my perception in her direction to see if I could get any more information. She was alive with the energy of Aescalon, but her control would never have passed muster with my teachers. She was built on a human frame, augmented by the power that was evidently renewed by a fresh Scourging every seven days.
"That was sneaky!" she exclaimed, half admiring, half outraged. I wasn't a tall man, even by local standards, but she came up no higher than my mouth. Her skin was a pale shade of brown, but her hair was so dark the highlights appeared bluish. She might have been a little heavier than most local women, but that simply said she was getting plenty to eat. By the standards of where I came from, she was perhaps thinner than average.
"Did you expect an ultsi to not take an easy opportunity for more information?" I asked. Her surface thoughts were accessible, but I decided not to try any deeper probe. One brash, impertinent gesture seemed a prudent limit in dealing with a demi-god. It nonetheless seemed clear she hadn't trained in auros, at least not to the same degree expected in the Empire.
"Not really. You're not the first of your people to find their way here."
Obviously. There were humans all over the place in Migurd, and I presumed elsewhere among the Connected Realms. "We humans seem to infest a lot of places."
"I'm not talking about humans in general."
Ah. So she could sense the similarity between myself and my 'brother'. "And did my brother leave you with any message for those following him?"
"Your brother looks nothing like you then," she replied, "He was nearly double my height. And thinner."
Interesting. There were two common body types we chose. The one I and my brother chose was perhaps a little shorter than average, but well-padded for energy to fuel muscles in a duel. The other type was a full head or more taller, but with less in the way of fuel reserves, designed for speed rather than endurance. It was possible my brother had altered his body pattern, or at least his seeming to be a 'speed' body while he was here, but he'd never been known to do so before. That implied a third visitor, one whom I knew nothing about. "And what impression did this visitor leave you with?"
"Control. I despised him then, being so cool and calculating and careful. Almost impossibly rational, never a hint of anything human about him until he assayed surviving the Scourging. That was enough to reveal the true being beneath, but he didn't linger once he'd assimilated his experience. It's been almost ten thousand years, and I haven't seen him returning."
Interesting. I had no idea of the time differential. Ten thousand years here might be any period in terms of time back in the Empire. And evidently it was possible to survive a Scourging of Aescalon. "How do I compare?"
"Brash and impatient, barely contained. Young, or youthful. But disciplined far beyond your years in terms of skill."
That was a fair description. My soul was young, but I'd inherited my original's skills and abilities, and he'd been over ten thousand. "Have there been any others of my people who found their way to Aescalon or the Connected Realms?"
"My, you ask questions. Why should I answer you?"
"It is in our nature and our conditioning to seek information. If you do not wish to answer, that is your privilege."
"I didn't say that. The answer is none that I know of but I'm merely an Immortal. It is possible many others have come and gone without my knowledge."
"An Immortal?" There had been a bit about that in Kiltig's journal, but it never hurt to have a second source.
She smiled. "The least of the independent powers. We draw from what is and it sustains us. And that is quite enough for now. I'll not give you all of my secrets for the asking!" And with that, she was gone, although the image of her smile seemed to remain for the blink of an eye.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on February 11, 2018 5:30 PM.

Excerpt from The Man From Empire was the previous entry in this blog.

WIP update: Fountains of Aescalon is the next entry in this blog.

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