We stepped away from each other and both started to fumble for words.
“Well um… do you not rem…”
“You see Skrybe… you sort of… att…”
Pailadyn and I glanced at each other nervously. She shrugged and nodded to me, making me responsible for a good explanation. In the meantime, Skrybe was looking back and forth between us and the ropes, with a very puzzled look on his face.
“What was the last thing you remember Skybe?” I asked.
“You walked in the door. We started to chat for a little bit. You asked me a question… and then it’s a bit fuzzy, and then I can remember feeling as though I woke up and realizing that we hadn’t started yet. What happened?”
“Well… I came in, and you began to ask me a few questions and then… you… dozed off.”
“Yes. Pailadyn stopped by and we wanted to… go for a walk, so we tied you to the chair to make sure you didn’t fall while we were out. We returned a few minutes before you woke up and decided to wait for you.”
“Oh… I apologize. That doesn’t usually happen.”
“It’s no problem!” I assured him. “No… harm done.” My smile was a bit on the uneasy side, but it was convincing enough for Skrybe.
“Wonderful! If you wouldn’t mind untying me, we can begin! No no! untie me please.” He said as Pailadyn took a step forward and created a blade. “This is some of the finest quality rope in all of Cyst. I’d hate to tell Weevure that it was damaged.”
The sword melted back into Pailadyn’s sleeve as she began to deftly untie the knots binding Skrybe to his chair.
“Excellent! You have my thanks. Now Juewuhl, you still have no recollection of how you came to be here correct?”
I nodded. “No, there’s nothing.”
“I see. I have thought long on this, and decided that the only way, so far as we know, for someone to travel from Earth to Cyst is through death. Try looking at it from that angle. Did you die on Earth?”
I thought hard my schedule, and my the last day that I could remember on Earth. It had been a Monday. I had class from nine until two, then an hour break, and the rest of my classes from three untl five. Then I walked back to my dorm and spent the rest of the night there. I remembered that much, why couldn’t I remember the next morning?
Unless of course, there wasn’t a next morning.
“Based on what I remember” I explained, “It’s completely possible that I did die, but if I did I have no recollection of how or when. I remember going to sleep, but I don’t remember waking up. Maybe I died in my sleep?”
Nodding, Skrybe said, “That seems a logical deduction. If anything comes to mind then let me know as soon as you can.”
That’d be up to my judgment. Something definitely wasn’t right with Skrybe, and if it persisted there was no way I was sharing anything with him.
“Ok, next. How have your relations with the other trainees been?”
Not the greatest. Not even close to being great. My outbreak on the first day had made them think I was weak. I couldn’t really blame them. Then as my training progressed and I developed my Shroud, I began attracting another kind of attention.
Different, but still unwelcome.
They began to see me as a threat. They were constantly evaluating me, watching me, avoiding me. The practice fights seemed to be more than practice for them. When they were with their friends they were relaxed, and they experimented with new things. It was much like a game. When they fought me it was suddenly a life or death situation. If I hadn’t been constantly on my guard I would have taken some pretty serious injuries.
“Not the best, but not completely bad. I have one fr…friend.”
Pailadyn gave me a look as I stumbled over friend. Skrybe noticed it too but chose not to make a big deal out of it.
“That’s good. It is wise not to have too many friends. Keep in mind that you will be fighting many of these people in the arena very soon. DO you know when your first battle is?”
Srybe looked at Pailadyn, “Do you?”
“My first battle eight days from today. Juewuhl’s will be happening then as well, give or take a few days.”
“Are you ready Juewuhl?”
I started to nod, but stopped myself.
“I know enough to handle myself against an opponent. I can control my Shroud, but I can control my will. Unless I’m angry or afraid, my Shroud has no substance to it.”
Skrybe smiled, “You don’t call that control?”
“I… well no. Not really. I can’t control when I feel emotions.”
“You can’t? or you don’t think you can?”
“I’ve never really tried it.”
“Controlling your will is much like controlling your emotions. In fact your will is dependent on your emotions, as you seem to have discovered.”
“But Traynur said that my will was how much I wanted to win.”
“Do you not feel a greater need to win if an opponent upsets you?”
That was true. Which meant if I controlled my emotions, I controlled my will.
“But learning to control your emotions is different from creating them.”
“Traynur would disapprove of me giving you anymore help I think.” Said Skrybe with a smile. “But you are on the right track.”
I stood and bowed, “Alright. Thank you Skrybe.”
“Of course. And remember, if you can unlock any memories, come to me as soon as you can.”
I bowed once more instead of nodding, then I opened the door for Pailadyn and followed her out. We didn’t speak at first. It was through some tacit understanding that we decided to wait until we were out of earshot. After a few minutes of walking, Pailadyn deemed it safe and began the discussion.
“You didn’t tell him.”
“Of course I didn’t! What if he had remembered and attacked us? And if it was no fault of his, the last thing we need is to get him suspicious. Because then he’ll start looking for answers and possibly alert whoever was behind it.”
“I suppose that’s true, although he is skilled at looking for answers.”
“If we need his help I’ll ask, but not until then.”
This was the part I had been dreading.
“Well… I mean… that is if you want to help. I assumed you wanted to based on… that back there at Skrybe’s house.”
“You could look at it that way.” She said with a slight smile.
“Why did you do that?”
The smile disappeared and she looked down at feet while she walked.
“You don’t know?”
“What am I supposed to know?”
She was silent for a long moment, after which she simply said,
I didn’t have any experience with girls, but even I knew that when a girl said nothing, it rarely meant nothing.
“Pailadyn, what’s wrong? If I’m missing something I apologize, but I’m not good with this stuff… you can’t expect me to know the problem if you don’t tell me what it is.”
We had made it back to the barracks at this point and Pailadyn stepped in front of me before I could get through the door.
“I don’t have to tell you Juewuhl. You said it yourself.”
Then she turned at strode down the hallway.