Achara enjoyed the tour of the library. Laoren showed her the many gardens about the place: gardens with orchards, small growths of different kinds of grains, vegetable gardens, and the crown jewel, which was the Lifewell itself that was in an enclave with a floor covered in moss and surrounded by evenly spaced willow trees. It had a path leading up to a pool that bubbled constantly and ran over into several channels that flowed down towards the other gardens in aqueducts. Laoren also showed her the stacks. These were massive rooms with vaulting ceilings opening up to the sky above. The rooms were covered with thousands upon thousands of tomes and books of all shapes and sizes. She also saw artifacts from the west and east. They represented cultures that lived there, both past and present. Achara felt like she was in a museum more than a library.
When the tour was finished, she asked, “Who maintains all of this? I have only seen three of you that live here. Are there others?”
“Yes,” Laoren said. “Many of the monks who live here keep to themselves. But all in all, there are ten of us from all over the known world.”
“You sound like you’re from the east,” she said.
“My mother was from the east, but I was raised in the house of a nobleman in the west. He married a wealthy merchant’s daughter from the east, my mother. We made the journey east a few times as a child, crossing the desert under the escort of an army. These were mostly diplomatic missions, but my mother got to visit her family when we did.”
“How did you become a priest?” Achara asked.
“Well, things are different in the west. I succeeded my father after his passing, but all the while, I learned the priestly arts, at least according more to the western traditions. They are similar to the east but without the unifying voice and doctrines of the Church. I was allowed to be both a ruler and a priest. And I served my people until I retired and left everything to my sons before coming here.”
“Why did you come here? It sounds like you had a rather nice life.” She asked.
“I did indeed, but it was best that I leave it to my sons and not interfere,” he said. “Besides, life here isn’t so bad either. It’s quiet and free from the troubles of the world. And there’s plenty enough work to keep us all busy.”
“I see. Thanks for the tour.”
“Feel free to use the library,” he offered. “I think you’ll find more here to read than you could possibly do so in a lifetime.”
“I believe it! There somethings I want to look in to.”
“Be my guest,” he said.
Achara then went to the stacks and started perusing the books. They were arranged broadly by topic, and she found books related to the seeing gift. There were hundreds of volumes on the subject, and she scanned them, trying to understand the organizational structure. Many of the books were encyclopedic, with formulas for all sorts of conjectures and projections. She went passed these and found other books related to understanding premonitions, visions, and dreams. She found a small book tucked into this section that had a simple leather binding, and she opened it. It was a handbook for seers, written by a Gypsy woman named Nezavis, who went by Isara in the East. It was in two languages side by side. She didn’t recognize the one on the left, but she could read the one on the right, which was the native tongue of the Empire, although she found the language to be a bit archaic. She took the book back out of the stacks back up to the willow garden and found a bench next to the Lifewell, where she started reading it.
She finished several sections of the book, the first one was about the life of a seer, the second about the process of becoming a seer, and the third started introducing at a high level the work of a seer. Most of this information she found enlightening, but when she got to the fourth and fifth section, she started to get engrossed. These spoke to the art of walking, and understanding the thoughts of others, things that she had not learned about. Beyond that, she found a section that spoke of the art of speaking to other minds. She recalled her experiences with Jasnovi and Ratana, who had been able to speak to her without using their mouths. She was not sure how Ratana had mastered this, but she guessed that Jasnovi had been trained to do this. But up to this point, she realized that this had been from seer to seer. She had been able to project simple ideas to animals and do animal kinship, but even so, it was another thing to interact with sentient beings. She read the sections through and through, and it offered no limits to who could and could not receive messages.
Seeing the possibility of understanding another’s thoughts and being able to communicate through thought, she thought of Camon in his state. She pictured him in her mind and then projected her presence outward and immediately found him nearby in the infirmary. She then focused on his projections. She didn’t expect him to have any in his catatonic state, but surprisingly she found that he was projecting peace. She reasoned that Yiew’s treatments had eased his pain, and he was now resting well even though he was not conscious.
Following the instructions in the book, she breathed deeply. The air around her was sweet and aromatic. The magic of the Lifewell offered a soothing effect over her, and the entire environment helped her focus. She tried to see nothing but Camon in her mind eliminating all other distractions. She pictured him in a void as she had been with her walk. She then reached out to him, projecting herself into the void. At first, it seemed to have no effect. She removed herself, then in her mind, she projected herself in again. She felt her magic well up from within her, and she quivered at the thought, doing her best to maintain the vision while the magic coursed through her. It was subtle, but the rush was exhilarating. She felt ethereal in the void at first, but then she came into full focus. Camon, who looked asleep, stirred and woke and started looking around.
“Camon,” Achara whispered. The word echoed through the void.
“Who’s there?” she heard him reply.
“It’s me, Achara,” she whispered.
“Achara?” He said, “I can’t see you. Where are you?”
“We are nowhere,” she said. “It’s the void.”
“How is this possible?” he said. “Am I dreaming?”
“No,” she said. The magic began to fluctuate. “I am here with you. Can you see anything?”
“I see a forest, mountains, and hills about me. I’m soaring. But I hear your voice.”
“You are dreaming then. But I’ve injected myself into your dream somehow.” The magic’s fluctuations grew more sporadic. She tried to focus harder, but her projection began to wane. She became ethereal again in the void. “Camon,” she said, but he did not answer. She then faded altogether as the magic faded. She could still see him in her mind, but that was all.
She then opened her eyes and realized that her fists were clenched and was breathing heavily with sweat on her brow. She looked around the garden, and she was the only one there. The trickle of the well was all she heard. She breathed in the aroma of the willows and sweetness of the water. She then got up and tucked the book away and left the garden and went back down to the infirmary.
Camon was there alone, and she sat down next to him and put her hand on his. She wanted so badly to try and reach him again, but she decided against it. His head was warm, and his pulse was slow, so she guessed he was still resting, having the same projection of peace that he had had before. She went across the room and got the candle and placed it on the table next to the chair where she sat, and she got the book out and started reading it again. The next few chapters were about understanding visions and dreams and helping others to understand the same. She felt that this would be important later, but she then went back and reread the chapters on communicating with visions and projections. She had successfully been able to speak to Camon. She was glad to have heard his voice, but she wondered if he actually understood anything at all or if he just merely thought of it as part of his dream. In any case, she didn’t know what to think about it.
Just then, Laoren and Yiew came, and she put the book on the table. Laoren noticed the book. “Ah, yes,” he said. “The Gypsies have the finest seers I’ve ever encountered. I may be a seer, but I don’t claim to have the proficiencies that they do.”
Achara stood up and allowed Yiew to check Camon. “I had an incident with one on our voyage here,” she said. “She wanted to ‘walk’ with me. But in the midst of it all, somehow, my magic overwhelmed her. It was as if what was happening in the vision was happening in real life.”
“Your gifting is incredibly strong,” Laoren said. “Untamed, it could be dangerous, but tamed it could serve many.”
“Camon warned me about that,” she said.
“Yes. His state right now is the result of untamed magic. But I understand why he did it.”
“He was the one who put the girl I mentioned before in her state,” she said.
“Was he now? Another act of desperation?” Laoren asked.
“I think so. It’s what brought us here in the first place. We tracked a demon out of the east to the north. It attacked a woman there who we later found out was pregnant and who was also a seer. The demon somehow clawed her, which caused corruption to spread through her. Camon tried to use the priest’s table to remove the corruption, but it wasn’t strong enough by the time he got to her, so he used his passion stone, which amplified the effect. It saved her from the corruption, but put her into a similar state as he is now, I think. We took her to the Healers in Rahtneua, and they were able to wake her up.”
“Camon slew the demon too?” Laoren enquired.
“Yes, with his sword,” she replied. “Which drew the attention of the Inquisitors.”
“How did that bring you here, though?” Laoren asked.
“Camon wanted to understand the relationship between the pregnant seer and the demon. Camon sought out a loremaster in Rahtclang, but he was assassinated. Because of that, Camon figured this would be the only place in all the world where he could find the answers he was looking for. But the man in Rahtclaang told him it had something to do with prophecy.”
“Was the man’s name Satda?” Laoren asked.
“Yes, I think so. Did you know him?”
“Yes, I did,” Laoren said. “He lived here for a time researching histories and trying to understand the past. I found his obsession with it intriguing and odd at the same time. He was no priest or magic user, which are the ones who typically end up coming here. He was just a crazy man who wanted to know the past.”
“How many people know about this place?” Achara asked.
“Hard to say,” he said. “But it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the whole world. And our location also prevents many from coming here anyways. Venturing into the Pustos Waste or upon to the mesa is considered suicide by many.”
“That’s what Jorn said. And after what we’ve been through, I’m beginning to think that’s true.”
Yiew looked up, “He’s recovering well, but since the last time I examined him, he seems to be a little uneasy. I hope that’s a good sign that his mind is recovering.”
Achara looked at Camon, lying on the bed. “He’s dreaming,” she said.
“Dreaming?” Yiew asked. “How would you know that?”
“He told me,” she admitted.
“How,” said Laoren. “He’s no seer, so projecting from within his state wouldn’t be possible if he’s indeed suffering the effects of magic.”
“Then that means he’s just in a coma,” Yiew said. “And he could come out of that at any time.”
“But that doesn’t explain how you know,” Laoren said.
“I was able to reach out to him,” Achara said. “It was only for a few seconds, but he told me he was dreaming. Soaring in fact over forest, hills, and mountains.”
Laoren’s face went flush, “You read the book to learn how to reach him, didn’t you?”
“I did,” she admitted.
“Dear child, do you realize the gravity of what you did? A person’s mind is nothing to experiment with,” he rebuked. “You have a powerful gift, and apparently the ability to learn magic fast, which makes it easy for you. But you have to be more careful. If you had miss stepped, you could have caused permanent damage to his mind from which he might not recover.”
“I just want him back, that’s all.”
“I understand. But you must be patient. You’re meddling at least let us know that his mind is still intact and that he’s merely suffering from the trauma of his affairs and not magic. Trust Yiew on this one. He’s one of the best Healers in the known world. Camon will come around in time. In the meantime, if you want to practice with seeing, come find me. I can help you with it. You’re not alone here, and you don’t have to be.”
“I’ve just felt alone most of my life,” she said. “Camon is about the closest thing I’ve had to a father ever since my father disappeared.”
“Dear child, I’m truly sorry,” Laoren said. “I wish there was something I could do to make things go faster, but again patience is a virtue that can only be learned through experience. In the meantime, focus on your studies. I can help with that.”
“Thank you,” she said.
“Why don’t we go get something to eat and talk about a learning plan?” he asked.
“That would be good,” she muttered.
“Good,” Laoren said as he put his arm around her shoulder. “Let’s go then.”