A description of the scene between Keron and Kera.
After Kelana's visit to Kera.
Grains of Sand
Joseph had known when he had left home that the Wisards would give him a new name when he came to be one himself. And although ‘Keron’ was not a good name for him, it was a good name for everyone else. And although he still called himself Joseph in his own head, he liked the role he played, the positions he held and the work it took to hold everything together in his two plain hands.
He carried them all; son, brother, student, confidant, commander and lieutenant. But it was like carrying dry sand; your concentration had to be there, always; you could let no one bump you; and you could not use your hands for anything else.
He had not seen anyone arrive, and he knew of no one who wished to leave, but there was a figure leading a horse across the courtyard. Her dark hair looked black against the pale, flagged stones, and when she turned back to look behind her as she passed under the archway he recognised Kelana. It was like being pushed sharply between the shoulder blades.
Once, he would have greeted her. He would have opened the widow, leaned over the casements and called her name. Today he stepped gently into a curtain and waited for her to look at the path she wanted to take through the forest. The gates finally closed behind her and Joseph left his rooms.
The corridors of the Order were always quiet, even in the busiest times, which had long passed. Joseph walked gently, anyway, confident that he would not be stopped and careful not to give anyone an opportunity. He paused only when he finally reached the double doors into the First’s public rooms.
Kera had taught him everything she had known about Wisard lore in the time of his apprenticeship. She had taken him into rooms he had never dreamed of entering before — the War Room of the Binrayan House, the Throne Room of the Altinese court, the library at the Gin — because a prince of the desert was supposed to stay in the desert.
Princes lived and died in the desert, students respected their teachers, and confidants keep their secrets. But Joseph had never been best at doing what he was supposed to do. He usually survived by doing what needed to be done, even if it wasn’t by him. No one entered the First’s rooms without at least being announced, but Joseph pushed the double doors open, ignored the secretary’s protest and walked right through into Kera’s audience room.
Her desk faced him as he entered the room. The windows on his right showed a different view of the courtyard, and he did not doubt that she too had watched Kelana leave. The left wall was covered by book-filled cases, with a gap only for a door deeper into Kera’s privacy. She was reading the titles on spines of books, her neck cricked, when he entered, and did not pause for him.
She pulled two slim volumes off a shelf and walked calmly back to her desk. Her eyes carefully did not see him, all the recognition his presence would be offered. She sat, picked up a pen and opened the first of the books. Inking the pen smoothly she began to make notes from the book onto a piece of paper.
“What did she want?” he asked.
Kera almost laughed out loud. Joseph could see the faint tension around her lips and the flash in her eyes. When she answered, though, her voice was cold and hard.
“She wanted to rewrite history,” she told him.
She looked back down at the book she was reading. Joseph took the moment she gave him to school expression, from surprise to contempt, from shock to disgust, from hope and fear to derision. There was only one event in history Kera spoke of in such a tone of voice. He was not sure if she had ever forgiven him for being by her side as the battle raged and then waned, leaving them washed up.
He did not know whether it would have been worse to have no choice, or to have chosen to leave.
“How?” Joseph asked.
“With a child.”
Joseph felt a thrill in his chest. If a child had been found… then the world was ending once again. The last child had been Kera’s protégée, and not even two decades gone, and the wars sparked by the idea of such an heir to the throne had ripped the world apart. But if Kera had been wrong, and if Kelana were right, this may be the time to see the new Queen.
“Do you have a plan?” he asked. He did not know what he wanted her plan to do, and was not sure she did either. But Kera would have one; she wrote them in her sleep. He began to list contingencies in his head, for a plan of his own.
Kera looked back up him, the faint amusement in her eyes still. Joseph blinked once, surprised. Did she really not consider the possibility that she had been wrong, that Kelana might be right, that maybe this child was the child of the prophecies and that Kera’s war was not the last one they would wage.
“I will need your help,” she told him, and he bowed.
She was his master, the First Wisard of the Order, and a woman he had once though he’d loved. His role in this part of history would be simple — follow orders. He would be expect to know what actions were possible reaction, and began a second list of provisions for a journey back outside the walls of the Order buildings. In the greater picture, one larger than Kera had ever been able to understand, his role was watcher.
What will come, will come, the prophecies said. Let no one move to hinder or deny, let no one act to hurry or predict. In its own time will come what will come.
She cocked her head to look at him and the age between them made itself known again. She had always been able to make him feel like a boy, a skill his own parents lacked, but he remained rigid, this time. There was more at stake than she possibly knew, and he could trust only that she would not want to lose, to be proven wrong. A thin thing, perhaps, to trust on. But Kera’s pride was stone.
“You will do what I require of you?”
Excepting all actions that endanger my life, jeopardise my role as informant to the king, or allow Kelana a moment’s chance to consider her actions, “I will.”
Kera knew the boundaries he could place in such an answer.
“Joseph,” she said, the hint of amusement teasing him for his recalcitrance.
“Lady First,” he said, his voice harder than he had thought it would be.
They had had this conversation before, and probably would have it again, because she had no claim on the whole of him, but he had difficulty remembering which part was which. There was no distinguishing grains of sand on a beach or cupped in a pair of hands, and his metaphor broke down.
“By the power I embody, and the will of the Order, I command you, Keron, Second Wisard of the Order to fulfil the following tasks, out of duty to the Order and belief in our the common cause. Do you swear now to obey?”
Joseph, wearing his Wisard name as a cloak, bowed deeply.
Oh! Very interesting start! I seldom read original fiction (I know, I'm bad) but I'm glad I read this one. I like Joseph - he's an interesting character and even in this brief glimpse we see quite a bit of depth to him. I really love the detail that he's called Keron but still thinks of himself as Joseph...very neat. I do hope you post more!
Thank you, thank you.
I rarely read original fiction, except in its published form. I tried for a while, but fantasy is normally fairly formulaic.
I'm glad this bit made sense on its own. It is part of a whole novel, although I don't think this will ever actually appear in it.
There's one prequally ficlet with him and Kera at the end of the first war.
I like him very much as a character, although he's a bit ruthless. He has several very important scenes, but I'm not sure how much of the story actually has him in it.
I will post more. Eventually.
I've been writing this story for years now, and I've got about (wow) about 25,000 words. Cool.