The Seventh

“It is a story of sorrow that must be forgotten.”

It was one of the first things Brother Leihem had told her when she arrived at the temple, all those years ago. So much from that time was like a blur to her now: all the tragedies and treachery of a world in chaos. The toll of the war, war wrought by the traitorous Tirana, was felt greatly in the temple. She never had a lack of duties to attend to, never a lack of patients to heal, services to attend, families to console. There were hundreds of little details to demand her attention. But those hushed words, she could never forget. Nor could she forget them now, as she gazed over the serene garden, fountains babbling softly, sending soft echoes all throughout the dimly lit library walls. The six statues rose from the end of the garden, for the six disciples of Elara. Six ornately-wrought statues which by now elicited no more than a passing glance from the temple’s longtime inhabitants, so used to their presence were her holy brothers and sisters. Six statues… for seven disciples.

“Yes,” Leihem had admitted. “Elara did have seven disciples. But one of them betrayed her.”

She pressed for more, hungry for knowledge on her first day in the cloister.

His sad smile still haunted her. “It must be forgotten.”

* * * * *

No clouds today, she thought as she wandered up from the castle basement, and into the quiet forest stretching out before her, illuminated softly by the verdant green hues of the moon. Somewhere in the distance, a wolf howled mournfully, and several others quickly followed suit. She glanced up at the sky. It was almost full now already - how quickly the time seemed to pass these days!

With a shiver, she wrapped her robes tighter. Just as the year was swiftly passing, so too were the nights beginning to get colder. But something else was making her feel cold that evening. Only later would she realize that it was the growing feeling that she was being watched.

“My, what’s this! Another lucky find!”

She clutched her ring as a hooded figure emerged from behind a tree. It was only very rarely that she crossed paths with another person in this part of the forest, and certainly never at this time of night. Thankfully, though, the man kept his distance.

“Good evening,” she finally managed to say.

“Good evening indeed, a most auspicious evening, a most – oh, wait. You’re not the Lucky Fairy, are you?”

“I’m afraid not!” She breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Just another daring adventurer caught up in the spirit of the moon.

“Oh, how the tides of fortune turn,” he said, lowering his dark cowl. Even under the cover of night, Emmalisse could still make out the gaunt lines of the man’s pale face, and the eyes which seemed to glow green under the moonlight. His face turned into a grin. “But isn’t it curious how ill fortune is of greater use to man than good?”

“Erm, yes. Very curious.” She stole a glance to her side. The guards might still be in earshot, if she needed to run. Best to play it safe. “But the hour grows late, and I must be off.” She gave the man a warm smile, and nodded her head slightly. “May Elara’s peace be with you, stranger,” she said, and turned to go.

“Elara, yes…” he muttered after her. “And the luck of Dethras with you.”

“What?” She froze. It took her a moment to gather her nerves, and then she turned back around. But only the gentle chirping of the crickets and frogs awaited her.

She didn’t stop looking over her shoulder all the way back home.
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