Meanwhile, my eyes were hooked on a small boy, who looked too young to be holding a huge metal instrument, and yet he did his job with speed and precision. I took a few steps to see his face, and when I finally saw the left side of it, I recognized the same screen I’d seen on Gogor’s face. The boy’s eye, though, seemed alive with… something I did not recognize.
“I saw what you did at the Burning. I wonder why your parents even let you attend these rituals.” Gogor’s words, though sounding less and less threatening, made me lose my balance. I felt the fear burning on my face, but I didn’t have time to hide it. “Don’t worry, I haven’t told anybody.”
I could hear the sound of my own heart over the din of metal hitting rock.
“It wouldn’t serve me well, would it?” he said, smiling. I had to blink hard to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I had not seen a member of the Olden circle smile before. Not even once.
“What-“ I choked, still nervous because of what he said. For all those years of hiding what I was, I should have gotten better at covering my blunders and lying about it, but alas, I was only good for tripping and choking on words. Pathetic. My mind swam with visions of being shunned from Osculum, along with my whole family.
“What do you mean serve?” I was on the verge of bursting in tears. It was one thing to expect to end up at the worst possible place, but to be banned from my home along with people whose lives were in constant danger because of me, was even worse. The price of harboring a Medley into one’s home was a lifetime in the depths of the Concaves, no matter what the family’s name or rank was.
“What I mean to say is…” He stopped, then slowly got closer. “Don’t be afraid, I didn’t mean to scare or upset you, Rya. I just had to know if your spirit was pure.”
I frowned at the nonsense that spilled out of his mouth. I had always thought that Hopefuls, at least, had to do better than that. “I don’t understand,” I mumbled, my eyes pinned to the skilful small boy, whose fate I’d soon no doubt be sharing.
“Wisdom’s earned in time,” he said.
I finally looked up at his face to see that he was smiling again, or perhaps he had been smiling all this time. I could see the whole wide world in his eyes and that scared me. People did not have worlds in their eyes, only pain. At least they did where I grew up.
As if reading my mind, Gogor said, “I know you want more from life than this. And I know you try to convince yourself it’s okay. You probably have friends who are headed here as well, and that’s okay, too.”
I opened my mouth to cut him off, but his hand flew up in the air to stop me from speaking.
“I think that you can do much more. I’m going to be honest with you, Rya. I expect more from you. And if you let me, I’ll teach you everything I know.”
I was so choked up that I couldn’t say more than, ‘Bught- I mean, you- You want me to..”
Unlike most people, Gogor didn’t laugh. His eyes, however, grew warmer.
“Yes. I want you to be my Apprentice.”
I could faint right there on the spot.