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    by Published on 06-10-2013 12:27 PM
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    Somewhere Under Taroc: The Hidden Fortress of Alain LeCavalier


    Prince Eri, Protector to the Heir of Rekōdo and his guards, Ganard of House Fallandor and Merelin of House Diorna


    The Prince frowned at hearing Verona's words. His face was sternly set as it was, with the small telltale presence of a frown at the corners of his mouth. Stern, but reflective, thoughtful. The Book. Eri glances up at Alain sharply.

    "Darmon knew about the Book."

    His voice is soft spoken and firm, but his stern, brown eyes lock with Alain's. Unless the Guild Master furthers the subject, he will say no more. His point of concern was clear: How did Darmon know of the Book of Memories in the Dragon's cave when none of them did? In the memory of Nalia alíVatar- his mind was unfortunately keen on remembering things- the Dragonesses has said Darmon stole something precious of theirs. Nalia's memory had revealed that Darmon searched for the Book of Memories nearly a decade ago. It must be something terribly sacred that was stolen for the Dragonfolk to have come and take the Book from the heart of Rekōdo. Eri had seen very little of Darmon or any of the Guild Masters since he was a small boy. Only ever at select banquets or galas under the shadow of his ever-aging father and King. He could not remember anything terribly distinct of the man and that irritated him. There were too many things in this world that held magikal potential, and so many more that they knew so little about. The thing Darmon had taken from the Dragons could be anything. With grimness he thought it would be beneficial if Nalia of Enchantry was here. She might know the thing that the Dragons had spoken of. Ganard had come across the room now, to stand once again beside his prince and charge. His hand is on his sword as he exchanges a silent look with the Prince. The Prince then looks farther across the room toward Merelin.

    But Merelin was otherwise occupied, so much so that she did not notice Doraen watching her. Her fingertips moved lightly, like the limbs of a spider or a pianist as they practiced their craft through finger-play. It was as if she were composing a great symphony over Arion's wounds, something the Second might have taken great curiosity in were he awake. Undoubtedly, there was a Song to her practice, if the craft itself was not reflected within her Soul's Song. But the young Second of Taroc was all but lifeless upon the table. His arms, what parts of them were not broken, hung loosely and at odd angles. His tall frame extended off the ledges of the pallet. His red hair spilled over like a crimson waterfall. It was hard to tell where blood stopped and locks began.

    Merelin listens to what information Doraen offered on Arion. Her fingers move over the severely damaged areas and drew out contaminants, fragments, things that simply should not be within his system. Fibers of bones were stitched together slowly, slowly, as to be done with great care. Like anyone with a true, well-endowed source of healing magik, it was not squandered. Every heal was taken seriously and done delicately as lace embroidery by fancy noblewomen over tea and gossip.

    "Sohil? So he is of Shamaa?"

    There were disputes about whether the Wilderland Clans, if they remained, were of Shamaa or Taroc heritage. There was certainly a healthy blend of both in what little is known of their ways and culture. There was evidence to suggest the Wilderlands and southern Shamaa were a part of the loose Taroc-Shamaa border before Rekōdo was founded. But that was long ago and the people of Rekōdo had a short memory, possibly because everything was recorded for them. Technically, she knew, anyone of the southern clans who lived, if they still lived, within the Wilderlands did not affiliate themselves with any of the Provinces. What made her hands pause was the mention of his music and the magikal potency it had. Her brown eyes glanced at Doraen from beneath illumined lashes. A hint of their true, brown color could be seen beneath the glowing white light, but that gaze is turned back on the unconscious Second. Merelin seemed to disappear deeper beneath the pureness of the white light that radiated so softly from her fingertips.

    "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking."
    *

    Merelin's voice was light and airy as she healed Arion. Her voice, but a whisper to the room, would ring purely for Arion and Doraen to hear. The stitching of bones and sinews by her own hand seemed to grow faster and more efficient. The bleeding was staunched and the shallow breathing of the lanky Second seemed to calm. Her voice continued to sing, of a woman waiting on the shores of Taroc for her love to come home from the sea, where he forever wandered. The sailors were trying to find their way back home again, across the ocean and a woman waited on the windy, cliff-shores of northwestern Taroc, of Caios by the Sea. Her voice was light and lilting, very soft and tender as her hands moved over Arion. Doraen's runes began to alter in color and seriousness and when words ran out, Merelin continued to hum, breaking the old ballad to speak quietly to Doraen as she worked.

    "Comfort, not just magik, is needed to heal. Compassion. The man of the South likes music, so it is music that shall help him to heal. That song will stay with him now and be a tune for his mind to grasp if all others fail him."

    Arion's face was still pale when Merelin finished, but the deathly shade had left his features. She had promised Eri she would not overextend herself, in her oaths to him as his personal guard. It was with great gentleness that Merelin allowed the light to leave her eyes and hands and it was with a sigh that she stood back from the red-haired Second. Merelin gave the doctor a small, slightly drained smile.

    "I hope I was of use to you, doctor. May the rest of your endeavors be not in vain."

    Merelin rose slowly and smoothly before returning to the Prince. He watched her as she drew nearer to him, but said nothing to reveal how much of herself she had given to the Second of Taroc. But his eyes were inquiring and Merelin whispered an exchange with the Prince quietly. There was a look of small relief on Eri's face before the sternness took hold again. Ganard's look was more questioning as he showed a small, deliberate window of disapproval toward Merelin.


    *John Masefield's 'Salt-Water Ballads.' (1902, London). This one is called 'Sea-Fever.' A (male-sung) version of it is here. For the sake of her gentleness, Merelin would sing it much, much slower and very softly.
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