The Appointment and the Soothsayer

The youth was exhausted after climbing the many stairs to the top of the tower. The tight, twisting spiral had seemed to go on forever, like a stairway into the sky. By contrast, Jorzen had sprung up the steps, bouncing up like some demented rabbit who'd been at the mead. A small hallway contained only a desk and a chair, at which was sat a young, nervous looking scholar. A large doorway dominated the far side, inlaid with a fresco of the chroniclers at work.

'Ah! Sir Rhyffawr! Master Garth is waiting for you! Go straight in!' cried the young man.

Once inside, they were met by a heavy set, muscular man who lept up from behind a simple wooden desk laden with scrolls. The walls were covered in shelves, whiched positively sagged under the weight of countles heavy tomes.

'Rhyffawr, you young rip! You're still alive! All that gallivanting about can't be good for your health, what with all the rain we've been having recently.'

'I'm still breathing, Master Garth, still breathing, and still capable of dueling you to a standstill any time!'

Jorzen turned to the youth. 'This is Master Garth, who used to be Commander of the King's guard until I came along. Then he saw what was coming and retired before he got replaced. Now he satisfies his thirst for knowledge.'

'So is this the manyou wanted to speak to me about?' said Garth. 'Well let's start off simply. What is your name?'

He shook his head. 'I don't know if I have any name, or any parents. I have no memories before the age of five.'

'How old are you then?'

'I'm not sure. Maybe about 17?'

'You're older than you look then,' said Garth. He went to the shelves and took down several volumes, through which he quickly leafed. A short time later he looked up. 'He can't be noble. None of the noble families are recorded as having a son at that time, nor have any of them been up to the edge of the Northern Wastes.'

'Then how come he has the Kinsblood?' asked Jorzen.

'I'm not convinced he has, but I'll check,' said Garth, opening a drawer and taking out a small stone cube, which he held near the boy. Glowing lines spread across the surface, weaving and interweaving until the whole cube glowed pale blue. Garth's face paled. 'This can't be. It's unbeleivable. This is impossible.'

Jorzen was about to ask what, when suddenly in burst an old man dressed an tawdry rags, who flapped his arms like a bird and screeched 'He is come! he is come!'

Garth's face went from pale to blazing red. 'Rhod! Get that idiot out of here! Now!'

The young apprentice came running in. 'Yes, master, at once, master.' He seized the man's arm and dragged him out, the man yowling and screeching, spittle flying from his toothless mouth.

Jorzen shook his head sadly. 'Poor Matthias. He's been bonkers ever since he made that prophecy.'

Garth's face darkened. 'Maybe not this time.'

'You really think...?'

'Yes. You saw the cube. There's no doubt. May the gods save us.'

'What's happening?' asked the bemused youth.

'You're too young to know now. I'll tell you when you're of age,' said Jorzen, suddenly serious. 'Meanwhile, none of the families will take you, so I'll look after you. How does Luke sound to you for a name?'

'I like it,' said Luke, 'but who was that man? What did he mean?'

'That was Mad Matthias. He never talks any sense. Don't read too much into it.'

The End

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