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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Purifying Fire - Chapter 11

Our heroes and the wise woman. Will they get the answers they seek?

The Purifying Fire - Chapter 11

Four riders appear surrounded by a fog that follows wherever they go. There's clearly a second person on the lead horse, a captive, and Chandra thinks she can hear a wail as the riders ride past their hiding place. Jurl tells them that the fog riders are bad. When someone runs away, the fog riders are the ones sent to retrieve them. There's a moment of silence as Chandra knows that both Gideon and herself are thinking about the captive, but they can't do much about it, so they just continue on to the village and the wise woman.

The village is quite empty as they enter, but slowly windows are opened and the villagers start gathering about, staring at Chandra and her red hair. A young girl walks up to them and touches Chandra's hair and tells her how beautiful she is. It isn't until after several attempts at Jurl saying the words "wise woman" that Jurl isn't trying to tell the girl they want to talk to the wise woman, but that he's telling Chandra that the girl before her is the wise woman.


The menarch introduces herself as Falia, and invites them into her hut. Jurl demands to be freed, but Gideon tells him that he promised to not kill him, but not that he's let him go. Jurl throws a fit, but calms down a bit when he hears that they're all going to be fed.

Falia has a haunting look, but is pretty in her own way, and Chandra can't help but notice the looks the girl gives Gideon, and she wonders if perhaps she is actually older than than she pegged her to be. Falia offers them some grub soup and Gideon is grateful for anything they have to offer. When a boy arrives with the soup, Falia says that the silly boy forgot to bring water and that she'll go get it herself.

(Innocently forgot?.. or intentionally forgot!)

Chandra doesn't feel quite as hungry as she thought she was, but Gideon insists she eat up. They'll need the strength. She at least is able to see Gideon himself hesitate before taking his first spoonful.

When Falia gets back, she answers all their questions, while almost never taking her eyes off of Gideon. She explains that the duty of wise woman is passed from mother to child, and that she has the wisdom of her ancestors in her. When he asks her to tell them what she knows about Prince Velrav, she tells them his story.

When her grandmother was a child, there used to be night and day. Prince Velrav was the youngest son of King Gelidor, but he was a wild youth. His scandalous ways got him banished from the kingdom. The prince was furious at the banishment and studied black magic and made a pact with the blood demons and when he returned, he pretended to be a penitent son. But as soon as the opportunity was presented he killed his siblings and their children, he cut off his mother's head and then fed on his father. His father wasn't killed though. Gideon asks why.

"To curse him," said Falia. "The king lives in the darkest, deepest dungeon of the castle. He is fed only blood. He is left alone, in terrible solitude. No one speaks to him or sees him, except for Velrav, who visits him once in a great while and tells him about all the torment and suffering he is inflicting on the king's realm."

Chandra's confused about this whole thing, but Gideon makes the right connections. He explains to Chandra that some blood drinkers are burned by daylight and are quite vulnerable to fire. That explains the perpetual night and the elimination of red mana. He suspects that the elimination of all mana except for black is a side affect of wanting to get rid of just the red.

Falia confirms Gideon's further suspicions that magic of that scale can't be performed by one person alone. She tells him that he works in concert with the demons, and they need to feed on fresh blood to maintain their strength. She explains that they can feed on any blood, but they prefer human blood most of all.

Gideon studied her. "Do people with power thrill them in particular?"

Falia nodded. 

"People with power," Chandra said, "such as a menarch?"

She lowered her eyes. "Yes."

"You’re in danger?" Gideon asked quietly. 

"Always," Falia said.

* * *

Falia... too innocent?

I was expecting something more dastardly to happen from someone who appears to be too innocent, not to mention her power comes from blood magic. But maybe the departure to go get some water really was just to allow Chandra to have the opportunity to express her distaste for the soup so her and Gideon could have a moment (while Falia goes and freshens up as best she can). Maybe Falia does just wants to be freed from perpetual threats.

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