The Threshold Child

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Chapter Twenty-five: Shadows of the Past

Adesina was standing in the Garden again. E’rian sat at the edge of the fountain, trailing her fingers through the crystal water. She glanced up at her daughter, looking sad.

“So, you have come again.”

The young woman nodded. “I did not really have a choice in the matter.”

E’rian got to her feet and hesitantly approached her daughter. Her voice trembled with emotion. “I am sorry to cause you such pain, Ma’eve.”

She shook her head adamantly. “No, it is not your fault.”

Her mother sighed softly. “I wanted you to have the truth.”

“I know,” she said, “and I am grateful for that.”

A questioning glint appeared in E’rian’s eyes. “But?”

Adesina felt tears welling up, but for the first time since becoming a Shi, she didn’t care. “I do not understand. I thought Signe was a good woman. I thought the Shimat…” She trailed off, shaking her head and angrily wiping her eyes.

E’rian embraced her daughter. She considered the choice before her of how to best ease Adesina’s mind. “Ma’eve, I wish I could simply soothe you with kind words, but that will not help you to heal. The only thing that will allow you to overcome this hardship is the truth, even if you do not want it.”

Her daughter nodded immediately. “I do want the truth.”

She looked closely into her eyes. “It will not be easy to accept. It will be a painful experience, but with the truth you can learn to move on.”

Adesina paused, making sure that this was really what she desired. “I want to know everything.”

E’rian took her daughter by the hand. “Come with me.”

She was startled by her mother’s determined tone. “Where are we going?”

“We are going to visit those who can give you the answers you seek.”

They walked from the Garden to a door in the white marble corridor that lay beyond. The wood of the door was ornately carved with vines and flowers. The latch had a silver bird with delicate wings and glittering jewels for eyes. E’rian placed her hand on its finely wrought body and lifted, pushing the door open.

The room beyond was dimly lit, with the fireplace as the only source of light. The walls were covered in weapons arranged in various designs, and the large table in the center of the room was overspread with maps.

Adesina lowered her voice, even though she wasn’t quite sure why. “What are we doing here?”

E’rian held up a finger, urging patience.

A burly man sat in a large velvet armchair, watching their entrance. He had a dark complexion and was dressed in a strange fashion. There were ruffles on the edges of the clothing and quite a bit of gathered fabric. It reminded Adesina of one of the few illustrations found in one of the history books she had read in the Shimat library.

“What do you want?” he asked in a voice that was rough but not unfriendly.

E’rian smiled at his abrupt manner. “We need one of your memories.”

The man nodded in understanding. “Which one?”

“The night you were executed.”

His features darkened in anger. “Ah.”

He stood and set aside the book he had been holding in his lap. Adesina appraised him as he approached. He was much taller than she anticipated, and he held himself like a warrior. He stopped a couple of feet away from Adesina and held out his hand. E’rian gestured her daughter forward with an encouraging expression on her face.

The young woman took his hand, momentarily surprised by his gentle grip. There was a pause before a flash of light enveloped her vision and she felt a strange tingling pass through her body. When the light disappeared again, they were no longer standing in the room to which E’rian had led her. Adesina looked at her surroundings in confusion.

They stood together, still clasping hands, in what appeared to be the attic of a derelict house. E’rian was nowhere to be seen, which caused Adesina some alarm. She glanced towards the windows in an attempt to ascertain where they were, but the windows were boarded shut.

“Where are we?” she demanded of the burly man grasping her hand.

He looked around the room, his face filled with emotion. “We are inside my memory.”

She tried to pull her hand out of his, but he tightened his grip. “Do not break the connection, or you will be pulled out of my memory.”

One large candle flickered in the center of the room, but its light was hardly adequate. It took Adesina’s eyes a moment to separate the flickering shadows around her. To her dismay, she discovered that they were not alone in the room.

There were several figures wearing black cloaks with the hoods pulled down to hide their faces. They stood in a semicircle on one side of the room, while the other side held only three shadowed figures.

“Do you know why you are here?” asked the foremost of the three silhouettes. It was a deep, commanding voice, pronouncing each word in clipped tones.

“No, your Majesty,” replied one in the semicircle.

The tension in the room jumped even higher as the figure was given a title. It was as if they didn’t want to acknowledge whose presence they were in.

Adesina frowned in confusion. “Can they not see us?” she asked her guide.

The man shook his head, but said nothing. She looked around, trying to piece together what was going on. There were few monarchies left in the world, and those remaining had practically been reduced to feudal lords. That meant that this memory must have taken place at least a hundred years ago. Her line of thinking was interrupted by the king’s overbearing voice.

“You who are gathered here are the best assassins in the realm. What is more impressive is that you are also the least known. Your skill in being undetected goes beyond your work; so much so that, to the civilized world, none of you exist.”

The figures in the semicircle shifted restlessly. They already knew this.

The king puffed out his chest in self-importance. “For this reason, I propose an alliance.”

A surprised pause followed this declaration. One of the forms across the room sneered. “Why would we want an alliance with you?”

“And more importantly,” inserted another shadow, “why would you want an alliance with us?”

The monarch let those questions linger for dramatic effect. “I offer you permanent amnesty and generous funding in exchange for your exclusive services and pledged loyalty.”

The air was filled with a mixture of emotions: surprise, apprehension, irritation, and cautious excitement. It was a while before the silence was broken.

The sneering silhouette shook his head. “I will not be the king’s dog.”

He twitched aside the corner of his cloak and swept out of the room. Several others followed him, but the remaining six shadows stood in a thoughtful silence.

“Is this to be a written contract?” asked one of the remaining shadows.

Adesina could hear the grim smile in the king’s voice. “I would prefer to have as little documentation in this affair as possible.”

Another voice spoke, this one female. “Who else is to know about this?”

He made a circling gesture. “Only those of us in this room.”

“None of your counselors or military leaders are privy to this endeavor?” she asked curiously.

The king’s tone became a touch sharper. “That is what I said.”

“How long is this arrangement to continue?” asked another shadow.

The ruler’s voice was unflinching. “As long as I and my posterity are living.”

Each of the six remaining shadows considered the offer for several minutes. Then, one by one, they got on their knees and pledged their loyalty to the king. Adesina strained to hear the words they spoke, but the memory had taken on a fuzzy quality.

Her vision was once again engulfed in light, and she found herself standing back in the room with her mother and the burly man.

She looked around, feeling a bit disoriented. “What happened next?”

The man moved away from her and sat down in his velvet chair. “One of the assassins killed me and the other King’s Guard, after insisting that there be no witnesses. I assume that those who refused the king’s offer did not live much longer.”

The young woman frowned. “So you do not know what became of this secret organization?”

He shook his head. “I suppose I could have asked someone who witnessed the growth and final form of the organization began by those assassins, but quite frankly, I do not want to know the details. Such corruption must eventually fall, and that is all I need to know.”

Adesina didn’t know what to say to such a statement. E’rian took her daughter’s hand and gave the man a sad smile. “Thank you for your help.”

He nodded and turned his attention to the maps on the table.

The older woman led the way back through the door and into the Garden. Adesina was still carefully analyzing what she had seen.

“Mother, why did you show me that?”

She glanced up at the sky, as if measuring the time. “Dream again tomorrow and I will show you more. It will all make sense in time.”

Adesina wanted to resist, but she felt the pull of her own world. She yielded and closed her eyes, knowing from experience that it made the crossing easier.

When she opened them again she was lying in the L’avan camp. E’nes saw that she was awake and knelt by her side. “How are you feeling, Adesina?”

She sat up slowly, trying to assess her personal well-being. “Better.”

“Are you still able to travel?”

Adesina nodded and got to her feet, ready to help break down the camp. She didn’t say much to her companions, nor did they say much to her. Her brother continued with his lessons on the L’avan language, in which she was growing quite proficient, but Adesina seemed more anxious to stop for the night.

As soon as the evening meal was over, she wrapped herself in her blanket and reached out to connect to her vyala. More than willing to obey her command, the power sent her speeding back into the world of Dreams.

E’rian was waiting for her next to the shimmering fountain. She stood when she saw her daughter approaching.

“Do you wish to continue?” she asked in a gentle voice.

Adesina nodded without hesitation. “Yes.”

Her mother took her hand and led her back to the wooden door. She stared at it in confusion. “Are we visiting the guard again?”

E’rian smiled and shook her head. She opened the door to reveal a large open field bathed in the sunlight of early summer.

Adesina was bewildered. “Where is the room?”

Her mother smiled mysteriously. “The room is where is has always been and where it always will be.”

She began walking through the tall green grass, holding out her hands to let the blades brush her fingertips. Her daughter hurried to follow.

“What do you mean?”

She didn’t slow her pace as she explained. “The door leads to many places, Ma’eve. It is a way to connect the world of the spirits. Just as the Garden is my place of rest, this field is the resting place of another. The door is a way to visit parts of the spirit world other than one’s own.”

Adesina looked back, expecting to see the building from which they had just come. Instead she saw the wooden door standing on its own, with nothing to connect it to any structure. The sight was slightly unnerving. She hurried to catch up with her mother while processing this strange new information about spirit worlds.

The Shimat were not religious in any sense of the word. They relied heavily on science and did not believe in anything that could not be proven. They believed that superstitions were evidence of a weak and uninformed mind. However, Adesina found herself thrown into a world where one was continually met with something unexplained by the rationality of science: talking animals, spirits of the dead, life force turned into some kind of “magic.” For all of her extensive training, she felt completely lost, which was a feeling she greatly disliked.

If E’rian noticed Adesina’s souring mood, she said nothing about it. She kept walking at her businesslike pace, not looking back to see if her daughter was following.

There was a large oak tree not far in the distance that was clearly their destination. Resting in the wide branches of the tree sat a young man singing softly to himself. He was probably Adesina’s age, with fair features and clothing that looked like it came from another period of time.

Unlike the man from the night before, who had been formally dressed, this boy looked more like a well-groomed peasant.

He looked up when he heard them, giving them a puzzled smile. “Hello.”

The Dream woman raised her hand in greeting. “I was wondering if you would be willing to show my daughter one of your memories.”

The young man hopped down from the tree. “Which one?”

“When you were a servant as a boy.”

His youthful face stiffened. “The assassins.”

She nodded. “The founding of the fortress.”

He was clearly reluctant to relive such memories, and felt the need to explain himself. “I was young when they asked me to serve them. My family had nothing to offer me and serving was an honorable profession. I had no idea what kind of people my masters were.”

E’rian nodded in sympathy. “You do not need to justify yourself to us. We do not judge you.”

Still, he looked as if he wanted to say more. “I am not like them. I did not wish to take part in their ambitions.”

He looked at the mother and daughter for a few heavy moments. Finally, he held out his hand to Adesina.

The flash of light took them to the familiar courtyard of the Shimat fortress. Adesina looked around in amazement. She had been away for a long time, but she was surprised to find that she still remembered the smallest details of her former home.

Closer inspection showed her that it was different from how she remembered it. It looked run-down and abandoned—weeds and moss grew in between the stones, the wood of the gate was rotted and broken, the roofs were in desperate need of repair, and so forth.

Six figures walked around slowly, as if inspecting it, while the seventh stood off to the side with his arms folded. Adesina spotted the form of a young serving boy waiting at the edge of the scene. The figures all wore heavy black cloaks with the cowls up around their faces, and they walked with a feline grace that spoke of danger.

The seventh figure also stood apart in the way he was extravagantly dressed. Even though he wore a modest cloak to cover the gaudy material, it was now thrown back to exhibit his obvious wealth. The man had an arrogant look on his face, which marred the youth of his features.

“There should be adequate space for you and your subordinates. It can serve as a training ground as well as a fortress.”

Adesina recognized the voice of the king.

He received no response, so he continued with his recommendations of the abandoned castle. “It is also ideally located—isolated from the rest of the kingdom.”

“Will it be kept that way?” asked one of the inspectors.

The king was irritated by the question. “Of course. I have gone to great lengths to ensure secrecy.”

A reedy woman turned her sharp eyes to the king. “Will we have autonomy?”

“Yes.”

The woman wasn’t satisfied. “I want an official document stating it to be so.”

He hesitated before answering in a sarcastic voice. “What would you have it say? ‘I, King Rasim, promise not to interfere with the running of the secret organization that I created.’ How would I explain such a document to my counselors?”

She shrugged. “Sign a document saying that this land is under your protection, but not subject to your rule. We will take care of the rest.”

The monarch gritted his teeth in anger. He did not want to sign his name in connection with these proceedings, and he did not want to lose the freedom of altering his agreement with the assassins whenever he chose.

“Well?” prompted the woman.

He set his jaw stubbornly. “Very well. But remember, your loyalty is still sworn to me.”

The woman turned, so only Adesina could see her grim smile. “Of course, your Majesty.”

A robust middle-aged man nodded. “Yes, this will do very well.”

Another woman, more burly than the first, shook her head. “I still do not agree with this endeavor.”

They all turned to look at her, but only the king voiced his question. “Why not?”

“You said you wanted an army of assassins—the best assassins in the world. This will not be possible.”

The king’s face hardened. “What is your reasoning?”

She shrugged. “We are too few. We, alone, cannot teach great numbers to be as skilled as ourselves. It would take many years.”

The robust man gestured carelessly. “It will take many years regardless. Especially to build the organization to the scope that His Majesty requests.”

The king mulled this over for a while. He paced the stone floors that Adesina had often paced herself. When he came to a decision, it was with a degree of uncertainty. He tried to make his voice seem unconcerned, but no one was fooled. “I will search out other skilled assassins to aid you in this undertaking.”

“They must be subject to our approval, of course,” insisted a tall man.

The ruler assented reluctantly. All six assassins nodded in satisfaction, but the king had a sneaking suspicion that the situation was far too precarious. It would be too easy for things to get out of hand.

In spite of this fear, he agreed to press forward. His visions of power and glory were too great to pass up.

“We shall begin immediately,” said the reedy woman.

Once again, the scene grew hazy as Adesina was pulled out of the memory. It was a bit jarring, and she didn’t like it. She looked at the young man, who seemed preoccupied by the grass at his feet.

She couldn’t help asking, “How long did they allow you to live, knowing such secrets?”

He kept his eyes on the ground as he answered. “I lived only as long as I served a purpose.”


There was much on Adesina’s mind as she followed her mother to the wooden door the next night. She thought of the lives taken by this secret organization, simply because they ceased to be a benefit. She silently shuddered at such cold-hearted practices, and felt a growing dread at the understanding that was forming in her mind.

This time the wooden door took them to a beautiful marble hall filled with light. Unlike the other “resting places,” which had seemed rather solitary, this hall was filled with people. They lounged on large pillows, discussing a variety of topics in lively voices. The expanding sound of music echoed through the hall, but it was difficult to see where it came from.

E’rian stood in place for several moments, swaying to the music with her eyes closed. Finally, she looked at her daughter with a smile. “I love music.”

Adesina smiled in return. “Me, too.”

In all honesty, music had never really been a part of her life until she had met Ravi. Since then, it had become a powerful influence over her. Her guardian seemed to take music with him wherever he went, and Adesina began to associate music with all the qualities that personified Ravi. He was a source of strength, her comfort in hard times, calming, encouraging, a voice of reason, and so much more. In its own way, music had become those things to her as well.

The L’avan seemed to share the deep love of music that Adesina assumed was part of Rashad nature. It was not uncommon for her companions to suddenly break into song and have everyone join in. They had begun teaching some of the songs to her, but she preferred to listen rather than add in her voice.

E’rian walked over to the group of music connoisseurs and managed to detach one of them, leading him over to where her daughter was waiting. He was a short, balding man with snub features and a fussy air. “So, you want a memory, do you?”

She immediately took a dislike to his tone of voice, but her mother acted as if nothing were wrong. “Yes, that is correct.”

The man sighed as if it were a great imposition. “Will it be just the one?”

She rolled her eyes while E’rian smiled patiently. “Yes.”

He reached out his hand, which Adesina gripped harder than what was strictly necessary. The man flinched, but did not pull away. The blanket of light whisked them into the warren of his memories.

She opened her eyes to find them standing in a well-lit study. The wall hangings were blood red in color and the large window was covered by a gilded screen. The king from the previous memories sat at a large desk filled with books and documents. It was clear that several years had passed, as evidenced by his greying hair and the weary expression on his face.

The door opened to admit a young page. “Your Majesty, there is a messenger here for you.”

He waved a hand disinterestedly. “Send them in.”

The woman that entered was the thin assassin from the fortress. Her dark hair was also streaked with grey and pulled tightly back, giving her an even more severe look than before. She was dressed like a servant, but anyone who looked her in the eye could see that she served no one but herself.

She locked the door behind herself and turned to face the king. “Greetings, your Majesty. And congratulations on the birth of your son.”

He was surprised to see her. “Why are you here? Are there any problems with the assignments I have given you?”

She smiled briefly. “No, no problems.”

The monarch frowned. “Well?”

The assassin seated herself without asking permission. “I come with a request from the fortress.”

Adesina frowned at the woman’s manner of speaking. It was seemingly passive, but behind the calm tones it was clear that she was the one in control rather than the king.

His expression was immediately wary. “What do you want?”

“Children.”

He couldn’t have looked more bewildered. “What?”

The woman was entirely at ease, as if her request was completely ordinary. “Children, your Majesty. All the orphan children in the realm.”

The ruler was speechless, so the woman continued with her address.

“We want a system put in place so they can be transported to the fortress undetected, as well as all future orphans. We also want a rumor spread that impoverished families can turn their children over to the traveling workers for excellent care and a respectable future.”

“Who are these traveling workers?”

She waved a bony hand. “Artisans who go from village to village looking for work.”

“Where will we find artisans willing to acquire children for you?” he asked in confusion.

A patronizing smile appeared on her face. “We already have Shimat in place to act in that capacity.”

The king looked agitated and uncomfortable. “I wish you would stop calling yourselves that. The shimat are myths. Demons from old wives’ tales…”

The woman’s eyes gleamed with a manic light. “Oh, but we are shadow demons. Your shadow demons, for you created us.”

He shuffled the papers on his desk, avoiding eye contact. “For what purpose do you want these children?”

“To be raised and trained as Shimat.”

The idea caught the monarch’s attention, and an amazed smile appeared on his face. “Of course! An entire generation of assassins at my command.”

The assassin said nothing, keeping her expression neutral. The feelings of apprehension that the king had been feeling moments ago were replaced by a greed for power. This lasted for several minutes before the he became cautious again.

“I will allow it on one condition: the children must be raised completely loyal to me.”

She smiled slyly. “Of course, your Majesty.”

He still looked distrustful, but nodded. “I will begin gathering them immediately. What ages would you prefer?”

She leaned back in her chair, interlacing her fingers. “For now we will take all the children who range from infancy to fifteen years of age. In the future, when this program is more established, we will lower that cutoff age.”

They began discussing the details, but Adesina felt herself being pulled out of the memory. She shuddered as she pulled her hand away from the man standing in the marble hall.

“How did you witness this without notice?” she asked him.

He sighed with a melodramatic expression on his face. “I was one of the King’s Counselors, and I wished gain prestige and riches. I was spying on the king with the hope of learning something valuable.”

“You tried to blackmail him?”

He looked offended. “I merely wanted to warn him of his lack of discretion. He had me executed…”

Adesina wasn’t surprised in the least. The fussy man turned away from them and went back to his friends in the marble hall. The two L’avan made their way back to the Garden, where they could discuss what she had seen.

This had been the hardest memory for Adesina to watch. She felt ill when she thought of all the children who had been manipulated through the years. More than that, she was angry when she thought about how she herself had been manipulated.

She thought about her Shi friend, Lanil, who was so sweet and caring that it was hard to believe that she was also a warrior in training. If her parents had lived, she probably would have been a lot like Deasa. Doubtless, Lanil would have married young and been happy to raise her family. Unfortunately, her parents had died when she was an infant, and she had become a Shar Child—raised in the Shimat fortress with no option but to be trained as one.

Adesina began pacing back and forth, and E’rian seated herself on the edge of the fountain, watching her daughter’s agitated movements.

“Why has nothing been done before now? Why are the Shimat not stopped?”

The older woman clasped her hands together and leaned forward. “Ma’eve, the Shimat order thrives on secrecy and subtle manipulation. To most of the world they are nothing but a dark story to get one’s children to behave. It was not until they approached us about an alliance that the L’avan knew of their reality.”

Adesina stopped in her tracks. “The Shimat offered an alliance with the L’avan?”

Her mother nodded. “The L’avan king of that time had the gift of reading intentions, and he could see that the Shimat only wanted to manipulate us and have use of our powers. They thought vyala was something that could be transferred, and they wanted it for their own.”

Her daughter moved to sit next to her. “What happened?”

“The king told them he would not accept their treaty, and then the persecution began.”

The young woman frowned. “The Shimat began persecuting the L’avan?”

E’rian smiled sadly. “No, they are much too subtle for that. They used all of their influences to create fear and distrust of the L’avan among other people. After that, they just had to sit back and watch.”

Her daughter shook her head, not understanding. “Why would they go to so much trouble?”

She tilted her head to one side. “For revenge, Ma’eve. We dared to defy them, and they hate us for it. Also, they did it for protection. We knew they existed, so they had to destroy any possibility that anyone would believe us if we exposed their secrets.”

Adesina was speechless. She knew her mother had warned her against what she would be shown in these memories, but she had still been completely unprepared for what she had seen. Each memory seemed worse than the last, and she was afraid of what she would learn next about this order of assassins to which she had sworn loyalty.

The next night the wooden door took them to a cozy cottage. It was a place that looked as if many generations had lived there, leaving behind traces of love and experience. An old man was sitting next to a fire with his arm around a kindly old woman when they entered.

“G’morrow to ye, lasses. How ken I hep ye?”

E’rian walked over and pressed each of their hands warmly. “Good morrow to you as well. We are in need of your memories.”

The old man shook his head adamantly. “No, no, ye kennot come to no good wit dem. Warm fire, good talk, det is all I ken offer ye.”

To Adesina’s surprise, her mother didn’t argue. She seated herself across from the old couple and indicated that she should do the same. The old woman looked them over carefully.

“Ye seems ta be da norther’ sort.”

E’rian inclined her head. “Yes, we hail from the north. And you?”

She knew that her mother already knew their answer, and couldn’t figure out why she was wasting time with small talk.

“Weeell,” said the old man, “We cummot form de sout’.”

The L’avan woman looked delighted by this news. “Oh, the south is a lovely place. Such beautiful farms.”

The old man straightened proudly. “Yes, yes, I dunno’ deny it. I had a farm of such.”

She reached over to lay a hand on Adesina’s arm. “My daughter was raised in the south.”

The aged woman leaned forward with a concerned expression on her face. “Did ye not raise her yesef?”

Her mother shook her head sadly. “I passed away before I even had the opportunity to hold her in my arms.”

The woman turned to her husband. “Ach, sech a sad tale!”

He nodded in agreement. “Yes, yes, I dunno’ deny it.”

E’rian fixed her powerful gaze on the old couple. “You see, my daughter was raised by my enemies, the Shimat.”

Both of them were horrified at this revelation. “Ye dunno’ say!”

She went on in a low voice. “I have been showing her the truth of the order she formerly served. I want her to know that what the Shimat truly are.”

The old man could see where she was going with this and started to shake his head. “Ye be a sly one, lass. Ye know I canno’ deny ye now.”

She didn’t reply, but waited for the man to think things through. Finally, he held out his hands to Adesina and her mother. “Ye’ll haf ta guide me a bit’o. I dunno’ know what ye wan’te see.”

E’rian took one hand and gestured that her daughter should take the other. This time, when the flash of light faded, she stood with them inside the memory.

Adesina was about to question her mother why she had come along this time, but mayhem broke out around them. They were standing in the middle of the main street of a village when a man on a horse came riding into the middle of the crowd, shouting to the villagers.

“King Rasim has been murdered.”

Shouts erupted everywhere.

“How could this have happened?”

“He was heavily guarded both day and night.”

“What of the queen?”

The man on the horse answered this last question. “She is also dead.”

“What will become of the monarchy?”

“What of the young prince?”

The man shook his head. “Dead! They are all dead!”

He spurred his horse onward to spread the news to the next village. The pandemonium continued long after he was gone: shouting, wailing, people running in all directions.

Off to the side of the street Adesina spotted the woman Shimat who had stood in the king’s study. She was barely visible, hiding in the shadows. There was a slight smile on her face as she watched the chaos around her.

The enveloping light took them away from the scene and placed them in another. E’rian guided Adesina through a myriad of memories all belonging to the old man. Some of them were short, others took several minutes to view. All of them showed how the old farmer’s entire life had been affected by the invisible influences of the Shimat.

Whispers of murder, neighbors blackmailed, children gone missing, rumors of shadows come to life.

The Shimat were still called old wives’ tales, but the underlying fear plagued every southern home. Even though the old farmer had not recognized all the signs of their presence in his life, Adesina did. She saw their hidden power shape the world around them for their personal gain.

The final memory shown to Adesina was of the old farmer’s death.

He and his aged wife were taken from their home to a dark, unknown room. Three Shimat began questioning them about a visitor they had had in their home.

The old man of the memory shook his head in genuine confusion. “I dunno’ know what ye mean. We be takin’ no visitors.”

The first Shimat smiled unpleasantly. “Do not make this harder on yourselves. Tell us what we need to know, and you will be spared.”

Adesina knew from his tone of voice that the old couple would not live no matter what information they gave him.

Still, they tried to convince him that they didn’t know what he was talking about. The Shimat looked at each other in a twisted sort of anticipation and began torturing their prisoners.

Adesina couldn’t bring herself to watch the horror before her. She jerked her hand free in order to stop her ears.

The flash of light returned her to the cottage, where the old woman was patiently waiting. The abrupt return left the young woman feeling disoriented, but not enough to drive from her mind what she had seen. She gripped the armrests of the chair she occupied, feeling nauseated.

She felt her mother’s arms pull her in. “Ma’eve? Are you all right, love?”

Adesina had noticed that while Dreaming she was much more emotional. It probably had to do with the connection with her vyala. She didn’t know how to handle the overwhelming feelings washing over her in waves. She struggled to breath, trying to tame the grief and despair crushing her chest.

She used her vyala to send her back to her own world, jerking her out of the Dream. Adesina laid on her back, staring at the night sky, sobbing quietly.
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