This is the fifth book based on the journal of a young Teir’Dal soldier during the War of Fay.
The journals of this young Teir’Dal soldier chronicle the crossing Faydwer on a mission to Felwithe during the War of Fay with the Cantor, an illusionist.
Our journey takes many days for we are careful to travel as far from the actual fighting as possible.
There is the danger of being killed by other Teir’Dal who are taken in by the illusion created by the Cantor that she and I are Koada’Dal.
There is also the danger her illusion will fail and the Koada’Dal and Feir’Dal will recognize us and slay us before our tasks are done.
We entered Felwithe with no problems, just as in my dream.
The Cantor leads me down various by-ways until we reach an inn. We take a room overlooking the street.
I stand beside the shuttered window, peering through the thick wooden slats. The Cantor paces, nervous in a way that I have never seen,
Across the room I see our reflections in the brass mirror and realize our illusions are gone.
“Stop this,” I say angrily, “You are jeopardizing our mission. I know not why you are here, but I know my task and if you are here to help me you will stop filling the air with the dust of your shoes.”
She stops pacing, perching instead on the edge of the bed.
“Let me tell you why I am here,” she says suddenly. “I saw the deaths of all the others on our ship and that is why I chose you; you will outlive us all.”
Holding her hand to stop me from speaking, she continues: “You look out the window to see if any of the signals are in place; you will not find them. They all perished.
“Of twenty who set forth, you alone are left. You ask constantly why I am here. It is for this: to ensure that you live, though you would not have needed my help. I saw your death; you will outlive us all.”
The room fills with silence. I do not know what to say.
After a moment, the Cantor speaks again: “Long ago, I was cursed with the ability to see others’ deaths.”
“At first, I only saw them when I wished it. Since coming on this mission, I cannot stop it. Everyone we pass, I have but to glance at them to know how and when they will die.”
“Yet I look into the mirror willing it – willing it with all my might! – and I know not when death will come for me. Yet you saw it; you know and will not tell me.”
I remain silent. What I saw that day in Faydark was a dream, nothing more. It troubled me, but it was only a dream.
Still, knowing how the one dream upset me I could understand how seeing such things every day could bring anxiety, even madness.
I sit beside her then and take her hands into mine.
“Tell me,” I say softly, “what is your real name?”
The Cantor hesitated, glancing away then back again shaking her head.
“I am called Death and that is how you will remember me. When you are in your old age and relive the glories of this war, you will remember that Death walked beside you into Felwithe. And you lived.”
She was calmer now and recast the illusions over us both, then sat and held my hand.
“We will wait here, together.”
“Wait for what?” I say, but I know the answer.
Since her illusions have covered me, I find my foresight is strengthened. We are waiting for the Teir’Dal to besiege Felwithe.
Though the others in my unit do not live, we each were trained with one goal in mind.
If it came to this and only one of us lived, the mission would not fail.
As though reading my thoughts, the Cantor says, “No one else has been able to use my gifts as you have. Is this because you have one short leg? Perhaps it makes you more sensitive in some way?”
I shrug, “Perhaps.”
I know that I no longer wish for legs of equal length, for I can run and climb much better than the others.
I know my balance and can keep it no matter what happens.
We sit in silence, our fair-skinned fingers interlaced.
I try to remember the dream – would I recognize again the wall against which the Cantor fell? Could I keep her away from such a place, from her own death?
In the space of a few short weeks, she has gone from nuisance to the most important creature in my world.
The time for my task has not yet come. And so we sit in the growing stillness and wait.