Part VIII: The Alchemist
Elmeida could see the slight confusion on Yor’s face before it contorted into a look of shock.
He shook his head and said, “No, you’re deceiving me, ain’t you?” His velvety voice turned husky with a note of alarm blending in.
She shook her head in negative. “No, sir, I ain’t. They really were.”
Elmeida sighed at the recollection of the events of the previous week filled her mind.
“It all happened a week ago,” she began, “the day before I arrived here, in the Kingdom of Aloris. Life was just as beautiful as it had ever been, save for my grandparents, who are perhaps even now looking down upon us from the Heavens. My parents, Jarvis, and I were preparing to leave for here, to be with Aunt Alia and Uncle John for the spring festival. This has been our tradition since long before I took life in this world.
“Then, as we were ready to leave, the Royal Army of Jermis descended upon us from nowhere and attacked our village. My parents tried to shield us by hurrying us down into the basement of our house. But, after they killed our parents, they eventually found us. My brother, Jarvis, being the brave lad he’d always been, that young boy, wanted to protect me. I tried talking him out of it, but he simply wouldn’t listen.” Tears streamed out of her eyes as the memory of the tragic day replayed in her mind. For once, she did not care that she was showing her vulnerability to a stranger. She went on with her story: “You see, Jarvis is a master sword-fighter and had his prized sword always on hand. He had it on him that day, as well.
“I admit Jarvis put up a good fight. In fact, that was the best thing he ever done in his short life and I’m proud of him. But, in the end, they managed to kill him as well. I panicked but found a secret way out, and escaped to the only refuge I knew would accept me for who I am—my Aunt Alia.”
Even before she realised it, she had begun to shake with fear. Yor quite mechanically leaned forward to comfort her. She gladly accepted his strong arms.
They remained like that for a bit, till she ceased to cry. He dried her fragile face with gentle fingers. She was extremely grateful for his compassion to a lady he barely knew.
When her nerves calmed down, Elmeida carefully extracted herself from his body. “Thank you,” she sniffed. “That really helped.” She wiped her eyes on the sleeves of her plain brown dress before turning to face him once again. She truly felt as if she could say anything in his presence; somehow, she knew he would understand her.
“Are you okay, though?” The concern in Yor’s voice was soothing and Elmeida soon found herself smiling brightly. Nonetheless, she decided to keep the prophecy to herself, for the moment, since there was no use worrying him about it now.
“Yes, I am. Thank you very much.” She cleared her throat once more. “I say, what’s your story?”
Yor’s expression of concern changed to a happy grin when he replied, “Ah! Well enough to hear my story, I see!”
“Of course!” The Darkness around them faded away and they were back in the Hudson’s little cottage. “Now, please, tell me. I’ve told you mine. You owe me yours!”
“Indeed. But, before that, I want to ask you something.”
Elmeida nodded in assent.
“You never mentioned your sister. Where is she?”
“Oh,” she breathed, her tone sad once more. “Well, I honestly don’t know where she is. She left us soon after Jarvis was born and I never saw her again.”
Yor felt a little guilty about broaching the matter now. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said in a quiet tone of voice. “Well, I suppose you want to hear my story now.”
She looked up at him with a small smile. “All right.”
“I am from the Kingdom of Grant,” he began, “Homeland of Merlin and the Seafarers, and the Land of Magic. I am an Alchemist, trained under the all-powerful Magician, Merlin himself.”
At this point, Elmeida’s heart nearly ceased beating. She gaped at him, transfixed, wondering if she had heard him right. “Trained under who?” she asked him, quietly.
An understanding smile crossed his face. “Yes, I’m aware that this sort of information is hard to take in, but it’s true. I was an Apprentice under Merlin himself!”
“Intriguing,” she breathed. “How was it like?”
He laughed, probably finding her pensive expression fascinating. “Well, unlike your imagination, Merlin was actually as much humane as you and me. Except, obviously, for his immense Magical power. He was no doubt envied and awed by many Magicians all over Sahara.”
“And, among all of them, he chose you?!”
Yor shook his head. “Oh no, that’s not how it happens, my lady. As a matter of fact, he had had many a renowned Magicians as his Apprentices—the Earthshaker of Grant, Alda, the Nemesis of Cordelia, Jenna, and the Singer of Cramarick, Onda!”
“Indeed,” admitted Elmeida, chortling at her own obliviousness. “That’s true. Well then, you were one of the great Merlin’s Apprentices?” Her delicate brows then creased as a she realised that there was a piece missing in what she was hearing. “But, wasn’t Merlin supposed to have died a long time ago? Or, are you very, very old?”