Seamist stood over the two of us, looking down with the light of the fire behind her.

“I’m casting magic.” My voice sounded small and distant.

“Good,” her voice had an edge of ice to it. I saw a stick in her hand, its end glowing with embers from the fire. “I was going to give my apprentice a lesson. It’s time he learns a second rune.”

I glanced over at Mhorik, his eyes telling me not to get involved. But, I couldn’t ignore the malice in her voice.

“Which one?” I asked, trying to steady my voice. “I know a lot.”

She looked at me with hard eyes. “Pick whatever one you like.”

She held the stick out to me, and I took it. I took a breath and held it, thinking quickly and coming up with a plan. I looked into the apprentice’s eyes, and try to show as much sympathy as I could. I took his arm carefully exposed his arm.

I touched the burning end to his flesh, but he didn’t move or jerk at all. “This is the rune of healing. It stops bleeding and eases pain. It is associated with the numbing herbs, and the star sign of the twins.” I traced the rune, focusing on my own rune to help ease the pain. After I was done, I looked and found the scar rune to be nearly perfect.

Seamist watched, a leer on her face. “I guess you have learned well, my sister.” She turned back to the fire and joined Mhorik, continuing some conversation.

“Did it hurt much?” I said in low tones.

He shook his head, and kept looking at the scar.

“Do you understand the rune?”

He nodded. “You used it to deaden the pain. I saw it.” He looked at me, his eyes damp with tears that dared not fall.

I leaned closer to him, my lips next to his ear. “I am Dorua,” I whispered carefully.

“You have a name already?” came the barely voiced rely.

“Since I was born.” A sharp inhale of breath.

“I… I… I’m Calvis.”

I put my arm around him and hugged him tight. I could feel his body quake in the embrace. After a moment, I went to lay down on my sleeping furs and fell quickly to sleep.

Waking up the next morning, we continued as we had before. We spent the next several days climbing up the pass. Mhorik and Seamist were usually up front, and Calvis and I followed behind. I taught him more about magic, and he was an eager student. I told him about my friends back in the village, and he told me about his village. We became good friends.

One day we were walking all together when Seamist asked Mhorik, “Have you heard stories about the rock men in this area, Starwise?”

“The Korodan, yes,” Mhorik responded. “I have heard the stories, but never seen them.”

“I wonder if they are just idle stories. Something other wizards make up to scare apprentices.”

Mhorik shrugged. “Perhaps. Some said the same thing about the Lelra, but I have seen them.”

The wizards fell silent as we climbed up a particularly steep part of the trail. Calvis scrambled up ahead of me, and over an edge. His arm came down, and I grabbed it to help myself up. When I stood up, the sight took my breath away.

This was the top of the pass. In the clear weather I could see forever down the other side. Ahead of us we saw the great groves of trees stretch out in and endless sea of green. Yet, the sea of water I had always known was nowhere to be seen.

Mhorik was doubled over, near the side, is breathing ragged.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Enjoy the view, don’t worry about me.”

I stood there, letting the power of the surroundings wash over me. But, all too soon we were on our way climbing down the far side of the pass. Mhorik straightened up, having caught his breath, and went down the far side of the pass. As I prepared to descend, a hand grasped my arm and yanked me back.

“I know what you’re doing,” that dreaded voice hissed in my ear. “Oh, you’ll get what’s coming to you.”

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