Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The King's Challenge #148 and #149

TKC 148 and 149

In the morning, it is a new day for all of us, not only for Lyra and I. In a manner I had not fathomed the night before, my impulsive actions have clearly led to a spirit of togetherness. Even Horin is more approachable.

I see him now, moving among the horses and chatting to Siri, and he is smiling. Siri bursts out laughing and it gladdens my heart. My sister deserves every moment of joy.

She sees me and comes running, still laughing. “Hey, married brother!” I enfold her into my arms and kiss the top of her head. Still smiling, she looks up. “Horin says the three ghosts made themselves scarce last night as well.”

Blinking, I realise I had not even considered their presence while Lyra and I were engaged in consummating our vows. Laughing, I set Siri aside. “At least they have good sense.”

“I would have thumped their ethereal arses had they stuck around,” Kay laughs, coming at us from the other side. He has a rabbit slung over his shoulder. “Breakfast,” he adds, jiggling it. “Joseph got one also.”

The Messenger is in fact behind him, grinning from ear to ear.

Lyra comes out then, and Hanna instantly releases an ear-piercing whistle. “Girl, you are positively glowing!”

Blushing, Lyra kisses my cheek and goes out to join her. Siri winks, and follows. The women are soon is laughing conversation.

“Suddenly Arc does not seem so bad,” I say.

“It will not last, this calm,” Horin warns. “This is how they lull the sense for danger we all possess.” He smiles then. “This is a haven, though, and it is all right to enjoy these moments.”

Horin seems to have attained a plateau in his growth spurt. He is now my height, although broader of shoulder, and his features are those of a man close to thirty years of age. He is unchanged from yesterday, and wears his sword as if very familiar with it.

“How old were you when you died?” I ask him.

He loses his smile. “Old, Damin. Ilfin age slowly.”

“How old?” Kay insists, his tone revealing his interest.

Horin swirls his tongue behind closed lips, a ploy to give him space to consider his answer. Finally he heaves a sigh, perhaps understanding we will pest him until he does answer. “Three hundred and forty-one.”

We simply stare at him.

He shrugs on a laugh. “Young for an Ilfin, old for a Massinian.”

Joseph grins as he hauls his rabbit from his shoulder. “Could use some of those years, I tell you. Right, let’s get the pot going.” He vanishes into the cottage and, after a moment, Kay follows.

Horin and I lock gazes. “How old can I expect to become if circumstances were normal?” I ask him.

“Have you never wondered why some people live beyond a hundred and fifty, while others pass on at eighty? Age, of course, cannot be a way to determine Ilfin from home-grown, and yet the gene must be present …”

“Answer the question, Horin.”

“At least a century and a half,” Horin states. “Maybe more now that you are aware of yourself. You will age slowly and appear pretty youthful yet after a century has passed for you.”

“And Lyra?”


Well, my wife will match me if those years do find me. This fills me with relief. “And Siri?”

“Probably longer, for she is a healer true.”

“Is this why the Glonu seek to enslave us? Longevity?”

Horin nods. “We possess the kind of life force which gifts them time. They were short-lived eons ago, and then discovered how to extend their years, and it depends wholly on possessing souls.”

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