Unknown

Being an Unknown is tough. It's a hard life, even if it wouldn't seem that way. There are strict rules to follow, unimaginable consequences for the slightest violations once you've become a full member and the constant travelling isn't nice either. And then there's that little fact that no one outside the Brotherhood can ever be allowed to remember meeting you.

Sølv-vinder af konkurrencen "Fantasy".

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2. We do not kill

 I was first alerted about their presence by a rustle of leaves. A few seconds later, a twig snapped. Asha had not yet noticed them, or perhaps she just didn't want them to know that she had, as she continued to cook the hare she'd caught earlier into a stew.

I prepared myself for the worst as I turned around to face them the moment they entered the clearing where we'd made camp.

“Greetings,” I said. “What brings you gentlemen here?”

It would seem that I'd surprised them, for they halted in their steps long enough for me to get a good, long look at both of them.

They didn't have the look of professional robbers. In truth, they looked more like hungry farmers than someone who knew how to use the weapons in their hands. The bigger of the two carried an axe, which he could doubtlessly chop would with effortlessly, but I doubted that he'd ever swung it at another man. The other one carried a scythe, but somehow looked more determined than the big one. I made mental note of that fact.

“Give us your food and valuables,” the big one grunted.

I raised an eyebrow.

“You shall be welcome to share our food and warmth.” I said. “You have the look of someone far from home and the night is dark and full of terrors. There is safety in numbers.”

The girl had long since noticed the presence of the two would-be robbers. I'd been able to feel her fear since we started talking.

The men started to advance towards me, but I didn't move from my spot.

“Hand it over and we might yet spare your life.” The small one said.

“I've told you-”

“Yes, yes. “We're welcome to share your food and fire”, but where. Is. Your. Gold?!”

Almost there, I thought as they continued their advance. Just a couple more steps.

If you don't hand it over, “he continued. “We might decide to have bit of... fun, with you friend over-”

As he was saying that, they took the step that finally placed them inside my range. I suddenly and without warning placed two fingers on each of their foreheads.

****

What are we going to do about those two?” Asha asked while gesturing at the two unconscious men. Her voice was still quivering a bit and I could see her body shaking.

Nothing.” I replied.

Nothing?!” She cried at me. “They were going to take all your gold and KILL you, and ra-... ra-...” Her voice broke and the tears she'd been holding back finally burst through the barriers as she sobbed.

It's alright.” I said. “When they wake up, they won't remember doing or saying any of that. As a matter of fact, they'll never even think about doing anything like that, ever again. I'm sure they're quite amiable fellows when they're not trying to kill and rape you.”

She looked up from her sobbing to glare at me. “You could have killed them then... I felt the power you held back when you knocked them out. You could have killed them a thousand times over...”

I looked hard at her.

Asha,” I said. “There is one thing you need to know above all when it comes to the Brotherhood: We do not kill. Killing corrupts the soul of the killer and there are many other ways, more merciful ways, to stop people from hurting you. When you are fully trained you will know many, if not all, of these ways. Be merciful Asha. We, the Brotherhood, exist to protect, not to harm.”

The smaller of the two men stirred in his sleep, drawing my attention.

Now, girl, our guests appear to be waking up. Bring them two bowls of that stew you made, and two spoons as well. And do not speak of the incident to them. They're not to be blamed. They are poor and were hungry and hoping to scare me into giving them gold and food.”

****

The next morning Asha and I packed up and left before the break of dawn. I left a bit of food and a few golden Wolves for them, enough for them to be able to buy food until they could get their harvest in house.

We rode in silence for some time before, around midday, she asked meekly: “When will I begin to learn magic?”

I looked curiously at her. She'd asked this once before, at the very beginning of our journey. There didn't seem to be anything wrong on a first glance, I concluded before I noticed that she was slumping a bit, were looking down and was actually looking nervous.

She's afraid, I realized. Afraid that something like what almost happened last night might happen again without me to protect her. Letting the two of them stay the whole night probably hadn't helped either, but I couldn't really have done anything else.

We'll begin tonight. I'll teach you a handy little trick that all Brothers must learn.”

Sit down cross-legged.” I said and watched her do it. “Yeah, like that. Now, close your eyes. Focus on my voice and my voice only. My voice is the only thing that exists right now.”

I began to layer a bit of power into my voice, the way my master before me, and his master before him, had done it.

There is nothing to see, so you see nothing. There is nothing to taste, so you taste nothing. There is nothing to smell, so you smell nothing. There is nothing to feel, so you feel nothing. There is only my voice to hear, so you hear only my voice.

Look deep within yourself, deeper even than your core. Can you see a light?”

When she slowly nodded, I continued, “Now call that light to you. You cannot grab it, it will slip through your fingers. It must be come to you.”

She frowned in concentration and I could see her body tensing.

When it comes to you,” I told her, “will it to your index and middle fingers of your right hand. Touch my forehead with them while concentrating on knocking me out.”

Slowly, very slowly, her fingers began to glow softly and she lifted it even slower to my forehead, sweating with the effort.

The attack hit my mental shield with the force and finesse of a battering ram. They didn't break, that would have been embarrassing, but the headache probably wouldn't go away until the morrow.

Enough for tonight.” I groaned as she regained her senses. “You'll have plenty og time to train this at the Inverted Citadel. For now, practice gathering your power faster and holding it longer.”

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