We were wakened the next morning by the mountain ringing. It wasn’t a particularly loud sound; it was just that the entire chunk of granite we slept in seemed to reverberate with a deep gonging sound that had no discernible source. When we went to investigate, I saw Tsan and Larak in the outer chamber waiting for us.
Tsan motioned us to line up in front of him while Larak leaned against the table. “This is your first morning. Today you will learn the rules. The sound you just heard is your wake-up call. You’re all early risers by habit anyway, but you will soon find the need for that sound to tell you that it’s time to start another day. You can expect to be taxed beyond your best limit every day.
“Your days will start with a breakfast that you, Liam, will create, and then you will dress quickly and be ready by the time we arrive. At midday you will be given an hour to rest, during which time you, Liam, will make more food for you and your companions. For a while yet, the day will end when you, Liam, collapse, so supper will be provided for you.
“Brom, Lagge and Carm, you will work alongside Liam and learn the sword, bow and staff, but the lessons will not be anywhere as taxing on you as they will be on Liam. Your job, outside of those lessons, will be to take care of your friend. You will learn how to help him when he is down and protect him when he is weak. You will learn his limits and his strengths, and it will be up to you to learn how to help him through it all. Until he can do it himself, you will be responsible to see that he gets enough to eat in the evenings and makes it into bed.
“When you use magic, Liam, you will find that other things lose importance in favor of the use of more magic; your friends must learn to help you avoid this.”
That last statement was a direct reference to what I had told them about what happened on the ship; I was sure of it.
“Another small thing,” he continued, “you will all be expected to stay clean and presentable. You will be expected to bathe every day, and your clothes will always be clean and mended.” He turned to Larak. “Do you have anything to add?”
Larak just shook his head and stood up - then he was gone. I was stunned. It was as if someone had turned off the light that was Larak, which left his light not there any more. I was so surprised by that little thing that I almost didn’t hear what Tsan was saying.
“Eat now, and then dress. We’ll be back soon.” Then he too just vanished and I know I didn’t blink that time.