Traders had secured their wares for the night to begin trading again in the morning.
There was so much to do before his coming of age... the young man’s thought process
was interrupted as his attention was caught by an approaching figure. Aliedori was sure that the thought about coming of age was to hide the original thought process. He tried
to hide it, but the pleasure that the germ of a thought had started remained with the young man. The thought filled him with a secret sense of well being as he watched the figure. Aliedori smiled as she recognised so well the approaching man. Her grin spread as she recalled the times when she and Maldar were small and their mother had often told them stories about this figure. One such story that her mother often told was of sneaking out at night to do the rounds with one of the local dousers. The douser approached the young man, his job momentarily forgotten. He inclined his head, palms together as a sign of greeting. The young man brought his palms together and inclined his head also, a deeper bow as a sign of respect to his elder. The douser had been doing the job for a very long time; he knew the young man and his family of drac breeders.
“The hour is late Sorin, even you should be weary of being found out after lights are extinguished.” The young man smiled up at the douser and leant back resting his elbows on the stone steps behind, throwing his head back to look at the night sky. He appeared relaxed, but his casual stance hit an expectant tension. He brought his head forward and caught the eyes of the douser. The hood of the grey cape the douser wore was hiding his face so the only things visible were lines and shadows. But Sorin fancied that he had caught the douser’s eyes and smiled in a lazy manner.
“I fancy a moonlight walk and who better to do that with but my good friend the douser,” Sorin mused.
The douser said nothing for a while, as if he was thinking over the offer, and when he spoke, his voice was full of unexpected merriment.
“Walk with me, then we shall tackle the hunter’s moon together and we will hunt after dark.”
Sorin sighed and treated himself to the glorious view of the silver moon as he stood up reluctantly. He didn’t really want company but once the lights were extinguished only fools and thieves chose to walk the streets alone.
“If you have another of those, our moonlight stroll will merely be seen as work and no one will know differently.”
He winked at the douser and chuckled at his own small joke, accepting the douser he was offered by the master of illumination. The lights of the six lamps in the square were quickly put out rendering almost total darkness. Sorin waits for his eyes to adjust to the darkness the lights at the other end of the market place suddenly seemed very far away.
There were many bandits in the settlements and they had been known to cut a man’s throat the instant the lights were extinguished. Sorin swallowed because, despite his bravado, he was a little afraid.
Aliedori felt Sorin’s fear, palpable, unknown, faceless and nameless but nevertheless very real fear. Sorin was experiencing a mixture of joy and fear, deep bright colours and dull grey hues tumbled through his emotions in equal measure, Aliedori had no trouble recognising these emotions; it felt as if Sorin had discovered something new and tantalizing. The discovery brought joy and fear in equal measure, both emotions vying to be the dominant one. Suddenly Sorin stopped. He had been looking at the moon and smiling to himself, thinking that it appeared to be so close. He could almost reach out and touch it and he was about to stretch out his hand when he froze. Sorin didn’t move until douser grabbed him and pulled him forward, almost off his feet. The douser had removed his hood, and Sorin was looking into the calm face of an olive-skinned man. Soft brown eyes showed slight concern for the young man. Sorin moved quickly, he was a fool to have stayed out so late, but he had become lost in his own thoughts of the upcoming ceremony, and he had not noticed the dark creeping in. What kind of man would he make if he were frightened of the dark?
He had been born close to the settlement by the wall and had spent almost his entire life there. Everything he knew about the Realms he had learnt whilst there, and yet... and yet. Aliedori wanted to find out more, but the young man’s thoughts were now unclear, jumbled and full of imagined and unimaginable fears. Aliedori caught small glimpses of features but somehow she felt that this was more about what Sorin had imagined rather than what he had seen. Aliedori wondered if she should probe Sorin’s mind to find out more, but she knew that she had no right to any of his thoughts. They were his thoughts and fears, and she had no right to any of them, not without his permission anyway. She could not find a justifiable reason to search his mind, so she concentrated on what she was there for. She had simply wanted to use his eyes to gather information on the city outside the wall.
When she had cast her mind out she hadn’t expected to find settlers, nor did she expect to enter his mind so easily and freely; it was strange, but she would have to think about that one later as well. The douser and Sorin had reached the last lamps on the Square and before he put them out douser drew out a torch, held it against a lamp, and lit it. With the lamps out, the entire square was plunged into total darkness. The market was for day traders and there were no residents about. Once trading for the day was over there was no need for illumination and the small market was plunged into darkness.
Sorin was out with an old man whose only experience of the world was to bring illumination to others. The younger man turned and looked behind him, he was sure he had heard something out there in the darkness, something large and unfathomable. He felt something touch him and almost cried out until he realised that it was douser’s hand on his arm.
“I find it is always best to look forward, sire, head up, shoulders back... best way, sire,” he said. “We will walk to your dwelling.”
“And you?” Sorin enquired.
“Don’t you worry about me young sire, I have been walking these paths before you were born. Besides I am not a wealthy man, I have nothing of worth. Bandits want gold coins, and I have none, I am simply not worth the effort.”
The douser was lost in thought for a moment, perhaps thinking of his coinless life, or perhaps the welcoming sign of a tavern. Sorin handed the dousing implement back so that he could draw his sword. He did not believe that his sword would be of any use, or that he would get the chance to use it if something was there in the darkness. He was a good a swordsman and liked to think he was getting better, but he was always a disappointment to his trainer, the master swordsman. It was a comfort to feel the weight of the sword in his hand, though, and what a triumph it would be to single-handedly take down some of the settlement’s bandits. Sorin and the douser moved forward together as one, and Sorin noticed that the douser also had a large club in his hand. Perhaps not single-handedly then... the thought began.
Then there was nothing, Aliedori could no longer sense him, Sorin was gone. He had disappeared into the darkness, the connection was severed so suddenly that when Aliedori found herself staring at the distant moon she did not realise for some time that it was through the window of the hut. She pulled herself up from her comfortable position and tried again to re-establish a link. But nothing. Sorin was gone. Aliedori continued to search for Sorin but was unable to find him again. Now she knew where to look she would continue with her search...