Prophecy Story Index
And in the Darkness, Light
Wind rattling vigorously at the windows shutters startled 15-year-old Kasi out of a sound sleep with a gasp. She jerked up in bed, eyes darting around her small bedroom. The small covered candle was still lit as always. She inhaled deeply a few times, trying to calm down her wildly racing heart. Nightmare! Must be the wind. I thought they'd finally gone away.
She shivered and pulled her covers around her more tightly against the cold air that was seeping in through the cracks around the doors and windows of the small house. A light tap on her door frame made her look up. She saw her mother standing there, a heavy nightwrap pulled around her body, holding a candle in one hand.
"Are you okay, Kasi? I thought you sounded a bit ... restless."
Kasi pushed back her hair behind an ear. "Yeah, I'm okay. The wind ... woke me, that's all, really." She didn't want to worry her mother or even want to mention the nightmare. It was the same as always, so why go into it? It wouldn't change anything. It never had.
Meg just watched her for a moment, then said quietly, "Okay. Try to get back to sleep if you can. Good night."
Kasi slid back under the warm covers obligingly, even though she doubted she'd be able to fall back asleep any time soon. "Night, Mom."
Her mother left the room, and Kasi watched as the glow from that candle slowly disappeared as her mother went back into room she shared with Patric, Kasi's father. To get her mind off the windstorm outside and the nightmare images still floating around inside her head, she focused on her sword lessons, mentally rehearsing movements and positions. Before she knew it, she'd fallen back to sleep again.
An hour later, Kasi was jerked awake again, this time by a pounding on the outside door. She heard her father already in the front room, calling out, asking who it was. Kasi slipped out of bed, pulling on a nightwrap and pushing her feet into thick wool slippers, curious as well. She grabbed her candle and went to look outside her door.
The house they lived in was rather small, just the front room, off of which the two bedrooms and the kitchen stemmed. So, from her bedroom door, she could easily see the front door as Patric yanked open the door, fighting the wind that would blow the door right out of his hands.
Kasi had just enough time to identify the figure that entered as the village mage/healer Thom before a huge gust of wind blew out every single light in the house, bringing with it total darkness. Kasi stiffened in shock, and she dropped the now unlit candle to the ground, unable to hear it rolling under a nearby chair over the noise of the wind howling and the loud voices of the two men as they pushed the door closed.
It's so dark, so dark. No, no, no. I need light. Where's a light? I can't ... see, can't ... breathe.
A hand descended on her shoulder lightly, making her jump and shriek with sudden fright, not even hearing her mother's voice trying to calm her.
I need light. Oh, please, please, please, let there be light.
Suddenly there was light, a soft diffused sort of light, not really coming from anywhere in particular, just sort of there, but it was light and that was all that mattered to her. Oh, thank you, whoever did that. Now she could hear her mother's voice and turned to her, burying her face in the thick, soft wool of her nightwrap, letting her mother wrap her arms around her, a rare thing for her to allow anymore.
Kasi didn't see the shocked and baffled looks on the faces of the three adults as they looked around the room, trying to figure out where the light was coming from.
Finally Thom spoke up, clearing his throat nervously. "I, uh, had been traveling when this hit and yours was the first house I came to and thought maybe I'd ask for shelter for the night. It's nasty out there."
Patric nodded distractedly, pulling his eyes away from his daughter. "Oh, certainly, Thom, you're more than welcome to stay here for the night. Did you put your horse in the stable already?"
Thom nodded. "Yes, I did. She was petrified, poor thing."
Silence descended for a few moments before Meg said, "I think I'll just go put Kasi back to bed." Meg vanished into Kasi's room, taking her half-asleep daughter with her.
Patric relit the few candles that were normally lit in the front room, plus picked up Kasi's candle, relit it and took it into Kasi's room where Meg was still sitting with their daughter as she drifted back into sleep. Then he went back out to the front room. The glow was still there, but was slowly decreasing, the candles doing most of the lighting now.
Patric motioned Thom to take a seat on the small couch as he himself sat in a chair, rubbing his face. "Well, I guess you'd probably like some answers now."
Thom raised a hand. "Actually, I think you'd better let me start; you'll have less to explain than you think then."
Patric raised a curious and perhaps worried eyebrow at that, but nodded at him to go on.
Thom began. "When you first showed up in Getha two years ago, I wasn't sure what to make of you. Didn't act like typical country folk, more like displaced city folk. And then when Kasi started to learn swordcraft last y ear, well, that really made me suspicious. What 14-year-old girl, especially nowadays, takes up swordcraft when she should be thinking about guys and such? I began to watch a bit more closely, and it was then I realized who you three really were."
Thom stopped here, watching Patric for reaction, but didn't get any. He sighed and continued. "If I must say it, then I will. I know that you are Stefan, Raven, and Linet. I know that the rest of the royal family is gone, that you are all that is left. I know that Norseth is looking for you. Please be assured that your secret is safe with me and that I am the only one that knows."
Patric was still for several long moments, then he sighed. "Yes, we are who you say we are."
Thom fidgeted for a second, looking around the room as the glow finally departed. Meg rejoined them, sitting on the couch next to Thom, who said slowly, "Your daughter has mage talent, you know."
Meg and Patric looked at each other, then Meg looked back at Thom, as she said, "We know. Or at least, we have suspected for several years."
Thom's forehead furrowed as he looked back and forth between the two of them. "If you knew, why is she not trained? Or shielded?"
Patric replied quietly, "Who would we ask? Who would we trust? If it became known to the wrong people who we are, we would be in grave danger. We couldn't risk that. And she has only shown her talent once before this ... during the invasion. This is the first time since then that it has shown up."
Thom nodded. "Ah, well, then, now that her abilities are active, we have a problem. Untrained, she is a danger to herself and others. I am not a very strong mage, but what she just did, well, I know that it takes a lot of energy and a lot of power to do that. Most times, mages will light one item, preferably something metal. She lit the whole room with a diffused light. It is easier to focus on one thing and make it glow than it is to evenly disperse light around an area. In addition, because she has no shielding, other mages will be able to find her and track her."
That last comment caused Meg to gasp and Patric to stiffen. Thom hurried on. "If you would allow me, I would like to invite another mage I know to come and train Kasi. His name is Hinarme. He is a teacher by trade. Very loyal to the crown. And probably the most powerful mage I know."
Patric and Meg nodded simultaneously, Patric voicing their consent. "Please, invite him as soon as you can."
Two days later, an older man rode into town in mid-afternoon. He went straight to Patric and Meg's small house on the edge of town. Patric was out front, chopping some firewood. Clanging of swords and muted voices could be heard drifting from just up the hill.
Patric looked up as the man approached him. "Yes, may I help you?"
The man dismounted, holding out his hand. "My name is Hinarme. Are you Patric, father of Kasi?"
Patric shook his hand, smiling. "Yes, I am. We have been expecting you. Kasi is practicing with her swordmaster at the moment. She should be done shortly."
Hinarme nodded. "Good, good. We must get started as soon as possible."
Patric heard concern and tension in Hinarme's voice and he asked, "What is it? I know that Thom mentioned that Kasi's mage talent could be tracked. Is there something more?"
Hinarme continued bluntly. "Unshielded and untrained, Kasi is like a bright light in the darkness, so strong is the power within her. I caught the brief flare of Kasi's talent two nights ago and could nearly pinpoint its location. I believe that Seth has his black mages on the look-out for those with mage talents when they first are revealed. He has the ability to absorb the untapped potential in an untrained mage and become stronger because of that power. His black mages have picked up on her mage ability and are already on their way; I can feel them coming. We must work quickly. If luck is with us, I can get her shielded, and perhaps they will lose her trace."
Patric nodded silently, quickly understanding the implications of what Hinarme had just said. "I will collect Kasi and bring her right down." And I will hope and pray that whatever you do will work. And if not, well, then Light help us.
When Hinarme first saw Kasi, she was definitely not what he had been expecting. The power he had felt reverberate even from several towns away had been so strong that he had expected a person of greater physical presence. But standing before him outside of the small home was a 15-year-old girl, long blonde hair pulled back into a braid, height maybe only a few inches over five feet, fair skin, frame a little on the thin side. Not at all what I was expecting. And you, who should know better by now. Hmph!
He smiled, meeting those suspicious blue eyes calmly. "Greetings, Kasi, my name is Hinarme. I am here to help you."
She glanced from him to her father and back. "Help me how? Are you another swordcraft teacher?"
Patric touched her shoulder. "Why don't you put your sword away and get cleaned up? Then join us inside for lunch. Okay?"
She nodded, and after another look at Hinarme, disappeared around the corner of the house to the small stable to put away her practice sword and leather things she wore when practicing.
Hinarme turned and raised an eyebrow, looking at Patric. "Does she not realize what she did?"
Patric shook his head. "I don't believe so. She was half-asleep and scared to death. Kasi is terrified of complete darkness, has been so for the last five years, since the ... well, since Seth invaded."
Hinarme was silent for a moment, then said quietly, "I know who you are, if that is what you are concerned about. And, no, Thom didn't tell me. I had been to Brightstar a few times before these dark days began. We never met, but I saw you and your family from a distance. And I saw then that there was the possibility that your children would have mage talent."
Patric gestured him inside the house as he said, "Please, come inside, we can talk there. My wife is at the market." He paused, then went on. "Children. You mean both of them?"
Hinarme nodded. "Yes, both of them. Kasi, however, had a stronger possibility about her. It is difficult to describe how I knew. It simply something mages learn to recognize. Something indistinct most times. But you were saying that Kasi cannot abide total darkness and that it has been that way for five years, since the invasion. I sense you wanted to say something else."
Patric hesitated, then explained as they sit down. "When Seth invaded, he brought nearly his entire army. He rolled over most of Rillanda and the royal troops as if they were nothing more than small obstacles. Oh, there were small battles that we would win, but he always came back harder and stronger, with less mercy every time. We knew it was inevitable that he would attack Brightstar and would take the palace. The king began to make plans for getting myself and my family out safely. I protested this, wanting to remain at his side, but he made it an official royal order. I could not disobey him.
"On the day Seth attacked, we were attempting to leave the palace via a series of hidden passageways. We had almost made it. Then one of Seth's soldiers appeared and shot at us. My son stepped in front of the crossbow bolt meant for Kasi, Linet. My children were very close to each other. I believe she took his death as her own and retaliated in the only way she could. She somehow killed that soldier, or at least I assume he was dead, without even touching him. He collapsed on the ground, grasping at his chest, and then was still.
"Terel died only a few moments after that. Linet just closed up. We left Terel's body there. We had no choice. We escaped safely, the three of us. Linet didn't speak to anyone for a week, just stared off into space, rocking, humming tunelessly. We could barely get her to eat or drink. We couldn't leave her alone, and she would scream in terror if it got very dark. So we got in the habit of keeping a lit candle or two in all the rooms at night, especially in her room.
"When she finally came out of ... whatever state she was in, she wasn't Linet anymore. She told us that Linet had died with Terel. She was only 10, and had just lost half her family. We had already changed our names to Patric and Meg. We changed hers to Kasi, a name of a friend of hers, hoping it would be familiar enough to her for her to remember to use it. She adopted it immediately and never answered to Linet again or even said her brother's name."
Hinarme was silent a long time, nodding to himself. Then he said, "From what you've told me, I would say that the other night, when the lights went out in the windstorm, as Thom has described to me, she panicked and reached instinctively for something, anything, to bring back light, any light. She reached and found her mage talent. But she doesn't remember doing it."
Patric answered. "As I said, she wasn't really awake. Meg put her back to bed fairly soon after that. I doubt Kasi even really remembers that night very well."
Hinarme shrugged. "That may be. But I will have to make her remember if I am to help her. If she does not know what she has done or acknowledge her gift, then there is little I can do. She must make the effort."
Patric nodded. "I understand. Please do what you must."
After lunch, Hinarme took Kasi up to the hill where she had been practicing with her swordcraft teacher. They sat down across from each other in the shade of some trees.
Kasi eyed him, waiting for him to speak. Just what does this old guy want anyway?
After a few moments, Hinarme began. "I am sure you are wondering what this old man is doing here and what I can do to help you."
To her chagrin, she flushed and looked away in embarrassment. "I, uh, well..."
He chuckled softly, raising a hand. "No, it's okay. I understand. But it is important that I help you and that you let me."
She looked back at him, curious now. "Just what are you talking about?'
He leaned forward. "Do you remember what happened the other night, during the windstorm, when the lights went out?"
Her body tensed and her eyes turned inward. "A little. The wind was very loud. I could hear the stable doors banging outside. Then I heard someone knocking on our door, and my father go out to see who it was; I got up to see as well. Sometimes travelers get lost around here during the storms; I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help. When he opened the door, the wind blew in. I saw Thom come in. Then, all the lights went out. I couldn't see. It was so dark..."
Her voice trailed off and Hinarme prompted gently. "And then what?"
She startled back into awareness and looked at him, shrugging. "Then? Well, someone lit a candle, so I could see again. I was tired and went back to bed."
Hinarme asked, "Are you sure it was a candle?"
She frowned. "Well, it had to be a candle, didn't it? We don't have any other kind of lights in the house."
He persisted. "What kind of light was it?"
She paused, then replied slowly, "I don't know, sort of this glow. I could see the whole room--" She stumbled to a stop and her eyes opened wide, as she realized what she'd said. She swallowed. "One candle can't do that. I didn't have one. I know my father and Thom didn't have one. My mother was behind me, but she had one hand on my shoulder before the light came... Oh."
Seeing the shock on Kasi's face, Hinarme changed the topic slightly. "My dear, you know what a mage is, correct?"
She nodded, eyes still wide. "Yes, like Thom."
He smiled. "Like Thom and like myself. And like you."
Kasi just stared at him for several long moments before she blinked, protesting. "Me? But I can't do anything like Thom can."
Hinarme lifted a hand. "That's only because you are untrained. You have the potential to be a very powerful mage. You called that light to you that night. That took tremendous energy, which is why you were so tired afterwards. Magery is tiring work, especially for the untrained. But, in any case, it was too dark for you. You wanted light. And so it appeared."
She said quietly, "I remember wanting light very badly. Any light. I don't like the dark very much." She flushed and looked down at her hands, "Probably a stupid thing to be afraid of, especially when you're 15."
He reached over and touched her arm lightly. "It's okay to be afraid of something. I'm past 60 and I still won't go into a large body of water."
She looked up at him. "Why?"
He replied quietly. "When I was very young, my older sister who was 8 drowned. It was very traumatic for me. Something I've never been able to get over. So, it's okay. I understand how you feel."
Kasi narrowed her eyes at him suddenly, suspicious and tense again. "Just what do you know?"
He removed his hand. "I know who you were and who you are now. I know who your parents really are still. I am a loyal Rillandan. Trust me, Kasi, I only want to help you."
She stared at him a moment longer, searching his eyes before she finally relaxed. "Okay. I'll trust you. What do we do now?"
Hinarme straightened. "First, we have to show you how to build shields so that you can hide your mage ability and then we'll work on controlling it."
She frowned, hesitating. " Shields? I've heard of those. Why do I need them? There aren't many mages around."
His face was grim. "Norseth has black mages on the look-out for such new mages as yourself. We have to protect you and keep them from finding you." He decided not to tell her just yet that the black mages had already sensed her and were on their way. No need to send her into a panic.
"First, close your eyes and breathe..."
A few hours later, Hinarme and Kasi came down from the hill and went into the house. Both were ravenous and ate the small meal that Meg had prepared for them as per Hinarme's request to Patric. After the meal, Kasi went back outside to practice with her sword. Patric was away, helping a neighbor repair some damage left by the windstorm.
Hinarme relaxed on the small couch, sipping at the tea Meg had given him, listening to Meg bustle around in the kitchen. It had been a very long day, starting out before sunrise. As he looked around the small house, Hinarme's eyes find Patric's cloak on a peg on the wall near the kitchen, a cloak pin attached to it. He frowned and stood, walking over to look at the cloak.
Meg looked over at him from the small sink. "What is it?"
Hinarme took off the pin. "This cloak pin. Where did you get it?'
Meg replied, walking over to him, drying her hands on a towel. "It belonged to my mother. It has been passed down in her family to the oldest daughter for generations. It is tradition for the woman to give it to her betrothed."
Hinarme fingered the pin, saying softly, "It was given to your ancestress by the Light Sisters, was it not?"
She nodded, still curious about Hinarme's reaction. "Yes, that is what the story says, at least. What is it?"
Hinarme looked at her, reciting. "And behold, the day shall come when this gift of love shall be worn by a giver, when the darkness descends from the north upon the land of Rill, when that giver is gifted with power to overcome."
She blinked, then looked down at the pin in his hands. "That was what the story says the being of light told my ancestress when she received the pin. That and that it had a duty to perform." She paused, then went on as she looked back up at him. "Patric told me of your conversation with him earlier today. You think that Kasi is to wear that pin, don't you?"
Hinarme nodded. "Yes, I do. It has the feeling of power in it. And I believe it was always meant for her. It has been waiting for her these many years."
That evening, Meg gave the pin to Kasi, explaining to her that it was now hers to wear. She told her of the story of the pin, where it had come from, and the words spoken by the being of light. Kasi accepted it somewhat uneasily, but felt a vague something settling into place when she attached to pin on her cloak the next day, as if something had been missing and was now found again.
Four days later, at night, Seth's troops attacked Getha, setting fire to many of the buildings and acting as if they were searching for something that they knew must be there, but weren't sure exactly where. Hinarme had felt them coming and had warned the villagers, who were ready with a defense, weak though it was compared to Seth's brutal troops. The distraction of fighting the townspeople gave Patric, Meg, Hinarme, and Kasi enough time to gather their things, already packed, and escape into the low hills, into the night, surrounded by Hinarme's, and Kasi's, mage protection.
The next morning, the people of Getha found Patric and Meg's house burned to the ground and no sign of they that still lived anywhere. Only Thom, injured mortally during the attack, knew that they had escaped and were safely away.
He died the next morning, a small smile on his face and a whisper of prophecy hanging in the air.
"And in the midst of darkness shall light be found, and it shall prevail over evil."
- The End -
Prophecy Story Index