This is another part of a journal written by a young Teir’Dal soldier during the War of Fay.
During the War of Fay, many things changed or were forgotten. This book provides one person’s perspective, all the more interesting as this person was part of a secretive Teir’Dal unit during the War of Fay.
Travel by dark, rest during the day. The pattern repeats.
The Cantor and I hear the skirmishes around us but do not become involved; our mission is different.
At least mine is. Or was. The team leader pushed the Cantor to group with me and said it had always been the plan.
If that is so, then no one had bothered to tell me. I resent it.
The Cantor sense my anger. She does not speak with me, communicating only by gestures and glances.
And yet, though we do not speak, we move as one through the Faydark.
Long before we saw Kelethin, we smelled the fires and heard the battle. We woke to find ourselves in a blanket of haze.
She said, “We will need to travel by day past this place; I will change out forms.”
I glance at her. “Change out forms? What, into birds so that we may fly directly to Felwithe?”
With a smile, she replies, “No. I cannot change an actual shape, but I can create an illusion. Look at yourself; I have already done so with you.”
Using the blade of my dagger as a mirror, I realize my skin is now pale cream and my hair is yellow.
I look like a Koada’Dal.
The Cantor gestures into the air, drawing the edge of her palm across her face.
Now she too has yellow hair and sickly pale skin. She laughs at my bemusement saying, “Did you really think all I could do is sing?”
Then she grows more serious and adds, “I know you do not want my company on this journey and that you wonder why I am here. Now you know. I am an illusionist, among other things.”
“What other things?” I ask, but she shakes her head.
“We must rest,” she says softly, “for the journey from here to Felwithe will be even more perilous. Should my illusion fail, all who see us will know we are Teir’Dal. My name may be Death, but I do not wish to die. Not until my task is complete.”
What the task is, she does not say.
The Cantor lies down and immediately falls asleep.
My mind is restless; I constantly pull out my dagger and tilt it this way and that to look at myself.
I am Teir’Dal. I have always had skin the color of the night sky and silver hair. Yet I see pale skin and yellow hair, see this fair being mimic me and yet be me. It is fascinating.
I wonder: would it feel so strange is she had created the illusion that both my legs are the same length? Would that be so difficult to believe?
“You are not resting.” She says, her eyes open, the corners of her lips lifting in a faint smile.
“I cannot get used to this,” I stammer, putting away my dagger, ashamed to be caught in this peculiar vanity.
She pats the nest of pine needles beside her. “Come and rest; you will look this way for many days but right now, you must sleep.”
My eyelids are suddenly heavy and I know I am dreaming before I even curl up beside her.
We walk through Greater Faydark and come to the walls of Felwithe.
The guards step aside to let us enter the city. Despite years of training, I feel unprepared. My hand goes cold and damp.
The Cantor kisses my forehead, then slowly releases my hand and slips into a graceful sitting position against the wall.
I see her staring straight ahead and realize she is dead. The warmth of her lips is still on my skin. I cannot move.
“Wake up, wake up,” she is shaking me, a look of concern in her eyes.
“What did you see?” she demands and there is a note in her voice I have never heard before – fear.
“What did you see, you must tell me!” The Cantor shakes my shoulder again, then sits back on her heels, swallowing hard.
“You must know,” she says in a bitter tone, “I am called Death for I can see death; but I cannot see my own.”
I shake my head, saying, “It was but a dream; you make too much of it.”
As we hide the traces of our makeshift camp, I sense a change in the Cantor. She glances at me now and then, her eyes thoughtful and pensive.
I am not sure if that is what she truly feels or if it is the illusion created by her fair skin and golden hair.