Friday, April 20, 2012
Chapter 117 - THE NEXT GENERATION
My father woke me up early one morning and dropped a pack on the foot of my bed. “Come on, son. It’s time I took you to meet the Masters.”
I dressed hurriedly and scooped up the meat pie mother had laid out for me. Father was already putting on his coat. I looked at my two sisters. They watched me with their big blue eyes. I was only twelve, but they were younger. Harvest was over, so I wouldn’t be missed too much during the winter, but what if I ended up being gone much longer? “Father, you need me.”
“We’ll get by,” he said. He had made up his mind and I didn’t push it.
It took us three days to reach the cave of the Masters. Father collected an armload of dry sticks before entering the dark mouth of the cave.
We built a small fire in a ring of stones we found just inside, but we weren’t to have much rest. They appeared at the edge of our firelight almost before it was going good.
Two of them were pretty much what I expected, older men with generous amounts of gray in their hair, but the third one was quite surprising. He was only a few inches taller than I was and really quite delicate by comparison. I’m sure if we were to compare hands, mine would be twice as thick as his. He had to be an off-worlder. Father had told me and my sisters many stories about the family that had lived in the village where he had grown up.
I was just wondering where he could have gotten that surprising shock of red hair when my father stepped up behind me and wrapped his arms around my shoulders.
The red-haired little man stepped through the fire as if it didn’t exist. He had his hand out as if he were going to pull my father’s arms away. I didn’t expect what happened next and I tried to back away, but my father was a solid wall at my back.
A heavy stone knife materialized in the little man’s hand and he slid it into my chest, into my heart. The horrendous burning stab of fire robbed me of breath to cry out and I clung to my father’s arms for support.
The little man stepped aside and looked behind him at an orb that had just lit up as if someone had touched it with a torch. In its fire, I saw that the stone hilt protruding from my chest glowed with the same fire, and then I didn’t know anything else.
I felt myself sag and I felt my father take my weight. Other hands picked me up and I felt them lay me out on cold stone.