The Traveller
Chapter 9: Sop'ha of the House of Grork'n

Copyright© 2010 by Wandering Lanes

My name is Sop'ha of the House of Grork'n; I am seventeen cycles of the planet of age. My father is Twine'n and I have ... or I hope I still have a sister, Sar'ha.

I say hope as at this time my sister's body is lying on a bed, being watched by healers, and it's my fault she's there. I was showing off to my father and miscast a spell. I was trying to push her body out of the circle but due to my actions I forced her mind out of her body.

Oh nobody is directly accusing me of anything, but I know I was to blame.

As I said I was showing off, it was during a training session, my father constantly wanted us to know how to attack and defend ourselves against magical and physical attacks, so that every day we would meet in the practise room and try to defeat each other, my sister nearly always won.

I wanted my father to be proud of me and so I used to steal into his study and read what spells may be there, just in case I could use them in my library, I had several sheets of spells in my library, I know that Sar'ha had scrolls, because we would discuss the differences between them. I've never seen my father's library, mainly because he was my father but also because as an Adept of the Art his knowledge was greater than mine, the scripts he had would be too much for me. Anyway I knew that sometimes he would jot down some spells so that he could study them in the ancient tomes that the Wizards Library held.

I had only a glance at one spell, defend and attack at the same time, it would stop a spell being used against you and also push your opponent away giving you time to set up an attack spell, but I was rushed and obviously missed some aspects of the spell as it was the one that almost killed my sister.

My father realised that something was wrong but had no time to stop the spell; I rushed to my sister's side in a vain attempt to stop her from being hurt, while father called for healers to attend.

The man checked my sister's pulse and then looked into her eyes, he spoke a spell of healing but her body did not respond, he turned to my father, "I'm sorry, the body lives but the mind is wandering, it is beyond my skills to help her." He said

They took my sister's body to her bed-chamber and placed it on her bed, I wouldn't let anyone else watch over her because she was my sister and I was responsible for her condition. My father tried to get servants in to watch her overnight but I shooed them out of the room, only accepting food when my father brought it to me.

Every day the healer would come into the room and cast the revitalising spell that would keep her body refreshed and nourished. This was so that her body would always been well fed, I dealt with the cleaning and normal functions of the body, taking lessons from the healer on the spells needed, my library was filling up with sheets of paper, but I couldn't take time to read them.

One day my father came into the bed chamber and told me I had to attend a meeting of the mages – they are a council of Adepts who monitor the training of apprentices. They would examine my library and decide on what punishment I deserved.

I told him that I couldn't leave Sar'ha too long and asked that they judge me later, but father shook his head and told me they were coming to my library.

I had no time to clear up before the five people were present, although they were not physically in the room but in my mind, I concentrated and then I was with them.

The leader, Jo'ha, used my eyes to examine Sar'ha and shook her head. "You know that there is a danger in using spells that you have not practised. Child, where did you learn this spell?" She asked me.

"I was looking in my father's study for a spell that could show him that I was better than my sister." I said honestly, "I don't think I copied it down correctly." I added.

"No indeed, I thank you for your candour Sop'ha, you are not aware that in this library, only the truth can be told." Jo'ha said with a smile.

I shook my head, "No Master Jo'ha, I've never heard that before." I admitted

My father laughed, "Indeed not, it is something that is never revealed to novices. You have to be true to yourself before you can be trained in the Art."

A second man, Art'n, spoke. "You will not tell anyone of this though, it is not allowed. Now Sop'ha, were you aware of what this spell could do?" He asked.

"I thought it would push the body of my attacker away from me, but it seems I was wrong." I said looking at him.

"Wrong indeed, this is the original spell."He said pulling out a Black Scroll from his pack and offering it to me. I was shocked, how could he touch such a thing without harm, I didn't try to take it as it was forbidden. "That answers that question. The blame then lies with Master Twine'n for not securing his study correctly." Art'n said.

"No Master, that is not correct. I was at fault for my actions not my father." I protested.

"But he speaks the truth daughter; if I had secured my study from others correctly you would not have seen that spell. I am at fault." My father said bowing his head.

Master Jo'ha looked to the other Masters before speaking, "Master Twine'n it is the decision of the council that -" She began

"No Master Jo'ha, I object. I was at fault for my pride and jealously towards my sister; if it wasn't for that I wouldn't have been so nosey to invade my father's study. We're not allowed in there and I should have heeded my father's words. I should be punished, not my father." I said standing in front of my father as if shielding him from their wrath.

Jo'ha gave a smile, "Peace child, your father is already aware of our decision and has agreed to them, he will be placing spells on his doors and windows – and the secret passage that you had found – to prevent such things happening again. Now for your punishment..." She paused and looked at the council before returning to me. "Sop'ha, you are charged that you will study the spell that you cast to learn where you went wrong, you are also to watch your sister and assist the healers in her care, a task that I believe you already are involved with. When your sister is better then you will study the healing craft and be apprenticed to Master Qua'ha. Do you agree to this?" She asked me.

"I will do anything that is required, but what can we do about Sar'ha?" I asked surprised that my sentence was so light.

"Child do you know the story of the Traveller?" Art'n asked me.

I frowned as I'd never heard of such a thing and then a grey sheet of paper appeared in my hands, I'd never had this happen before and began reading. 'It will be due to a mistake by a trainee that drives the traveller far away, worry not faithful one the traveller will return and carry with her the knowledge and spirit of the stranger. This scroll will be revealed when the time is close.' I looked up from the page, "What does this mean?" I asked.

Art'n spoke, "There is a legend that a stranger will come to this land, and he would cause change before he could return to his home many steps away, but first he would have some training by an adept from our land, exceed the lessons and learn more to become a Great Master."

Master Poi'n spoke for the first time, "That is one story; the other is that the stranger will cause the end of this world."

Art'n sighed, "There is no evidence about that, the one thing that is certain is that due to the actions taken by Sop'ha, she has made her sister Sar'ha the Traveller."

"But Sar'ha isn't an adept? She's like me an apprentice." I protested.

"She had the potential within her to become an adept; the question is what type of person has she become during this time?" Art'n said looking at the form of Sar'ha that had been conjured into the room.

"She is my daughter and will follow the House of Grork'n line of Mages." My father said imperiously

"Are you so sure about that? She would have been under the influence of this foreign Master; she might have a change of heart." Jo'ha said.

"I am her father and she will do as I tell her." My father said, but I don't think he understood the question.

"Father, what if she decides not to listen to you? Then what will you do?" I asked him softly

"Daughter you overstep yourself, remember your place in this house." My father said looking at me.

"I do remember, you were supposed to protect us against miss-cast spells, but what went wrong?" I asked him, this was something that had puzzled me for some time now, ever since the accident, when he didn't reply I realised that something wasn't right here. "You allowed me to go to your study ... You wanted this to happen!" I accused him.

"You have no right to talk to me like this." My father was now angry with me.

"You failed in your assigned duty to your family father, how else should I react?" I said also angry, angry with him, with me, with this sham of authority. "You purposely wrote down the spell incorrectly, knowing that I would study it and cast it at some time, it wasn't an accident was it?" I said to him knowing this was the truth. I turned to the council. "And you allowed this as well. What if my sister isn't the Traveller? What if I've killed her due to your planning? Is it just because we're only apprentices so we don't matter?" I said to them all but keeping my eyes on Jo'ha.

"We have made our decision, there is nothing more to be said. This Council is dissolved." Jo'ha said and the other members of the Council faded away leaving my father and Jo'ha, who created a window showing the form of my sister.

"Officially this was an accident, caused by your actions for which you have now been punished. Unofficially a need for new powers to be sought out has arisen, the reason for this I cannot tell you, your father was told that Sar'ha was destined to find this source and to bring it here, this was the only way in which this could happen." Jo'ha told me I turned to my father.

"And you couldn't tell me what you were planning?" I said coldly.

My father shook his head, "I was told that everything had to proceed without you realising what was happening, I'm sorry Sop'ha but I couldn't disobey the Council." My father said but I didn't want to listen to him.

"You're sorry! You made me think that I almost killed my own sister, just because the all glorious Council told you to. What did you think about how I was feeling? Did you think about me at all?"

"Of course I did, but I couldn't show that. Everybody has to think that this was an accident. But we needed to start the prophecy. We are facing a threat that requires a person who is not restricted to the Accord; all of us - adepts and apprentices - are bound by the Accord." My father said, but I didn't recognise the word.

"The Accord? What is the Accord?" I asked him but it was Jo'ha who spoke.

"The Accord is the basis for which our powers are created and used, we cannot use the Black Scripts without harming our world, and so we voluntarily chose to only use the White Scripts, and ensure that all Black Scripts are removed from the libraries, except for a chosen few, the Council, the Masters and then there are the others ... The ones that we speak not of." She said making a strange sign, which my father also copied, "These are the ones from whom the threat comes."

"But can't we unite and fight these unknown ones?" I asked not knowing what I was asking.

My father shook his head, "No my daughter, they have studied the Black Scripts and if we were to attack them, then the world itself could be destroyed. We cannot take the risk."

"And this stranger, he's supposed to be able help us in this? What if he chooses not to?" I had to ask the question and then wished I hadn't, for my father and Jo'ha looked at each other and didn't answer. "You don't know? You ... don't ... know?" I repeated the question.

Jo'ha shook her head, "We have to trust in your sister, her honour and power. She should meet a similar person to help her. That person will find the way to return Sar'ha to her own body, and we'll have to convince him to help us." She said.

I was puzzled, "Him? But why should it be a male and not another female? Surely that would be correct – like calling to like?" I asked.

Jo'ha nodded, "I understand, it is true that souls will call to similar souls, but the Grey Script is quite clear, she will bring a male back with her. How this can be is not known. But he will return her home; this is written in the scripts."

"So what do I do? Stay here and pretend that none of this happened? I can't do that, I'd have to tell someone, I have..." I began to say and then my father made a sign and I couldn't speak anymore.

"No daughter, I have prepared you for this time, you cannot speak about this to anyone else, except for Jo'ha or myself. I'm sorry I had to do this but it was expected that you would try this; you will not be able to write anything down or make a script to inform others, until Sar'ha has returned. Now daughter return to the world and look after your sister." My father told me and then I was back in Sar'ha's chambers.

I bathed my sister's forehead with a damp cloth, outwardly I was calm, but inside I was seething, how could my father treat me, us like that?

"Oh sister, please return to us, I'm sorry that I cast that spell. Please come back to us. Please Sar'ha say you've forgiven me?" I cried out in my anguish and I held onto her unresisting hand sending my feelings along my nerves to her.

I can't say why but suddenly I felt better; it was as if she had spoken to me. She was alive out there somewhere and could feel me. "Thank you sister, I feel you too. Please return to us." I said and lay down beside her as if trying to send my spirit to bring her back, but all I did was to fall asleep.

I was dreaming - Sar'ha was there in a field with a stranger. I tried to talk to her but she couldn't see me. Why couldn't she see me? But she seemed happy with him, happier than I've ever seen her before; she was freer in her actions and how she looked.

That was what I had done, I'd set her free from the restrictions of this world, did I have the right to try and drag her from that back to here? "Oh what can I do?" I asked the air.

In my mind I heard one word, 'wait'

Wait? Wait for what? And wait for how long? I wasn't the one for patience, I knew that now it was the reason why my father chose me to cast the spell and not Sar'ha, she would have studied the spell further and seen what it would actually do.

"Sister I failed you." I said but felt a wave of sorrow as if someone was telling me that I hadn't somehow I felt that she was forgiving me, but was that my imagination?

The scene faded and I awoke again next to my sister, my father was watching from the doorway, "Your sister looks better." He said

"She's in a better place than this, she's happy there." I said trying to annoy him.

"She was happy here, she will be happy here again." He said.

"Are you that certain father? She seemed different in the dream realm, she was with a stranger." I said trying to goad him.

"You've seen him? I'll need a drawing of him so that we can prepare." Father said disappearing for a moment before returning with paper and charcoal. He held them out to me. "What did he look like?" He asked

I couldn't stop myself but took the items and began drawing, the face, eyes just so, hair like so, strange clothing that he wore and then I held the picture out to my father who smiled, "Good, now what is his name? We need it to bind him to this world." He said

This time I smiled, "I never heard it father, you'll have to find that out yourself." I said knowing I was rebelling against the head of my house, but he didn't respond, he only left the room carrying the picture with him.

The next day he didn't say anything about my actions and treated me as normal, I looked after Sar'ha and studied with the healer on spells to help her. That afternoon I was practising spells in the training room.

"Sop'ha, this is apprentice Nor'n you will be practising your defensive spells against him until your sister returns." Father said introducing a youth to me I shook my head.

"No father, I'm not interested in such spells now, I have to train to be a healer, not a killer." I said softly.

"There will be no discussion on this, you will obey me." My father said.

I gave a smile, "Do you know what I did Nor'n?" I asked the youth sweetly. He shook his head mutely, "I cast a spell that threw my sister's soul out of her body ... if you want I can show you how I did it." I said raising my hands and starting to mutter.

Nor'n did the most obvious thing he could. He ran from the training circle and, as far as I knew, from the house itself.

"You shouldn't have done that Sop'ha, you have to train to defend yourself." My father said.

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