This story can be read alone, or as the 16th section of the wanderer story.
You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1
or the latest story here: The Wanderer, Part 15
Tas slipped in and out of sleep throughout the entire morning ceremony. He felt like he hadn’t rested at all the night before, almost like he hadn’t even slept. The dream was still lingering in his mind, the dark figures looming over him from the corner of his eye. He looked around constantly, always feeling the shadows and his captors from the night before through them.
Finally he found himself before master Fei, on the balcony overlooking the central ground where they met each morning to invoke the day. As he approached, he saw Yao waiting, something he definitely had not expected. Yao was not supposed to return for 3 weeks and the old man had looked certain of his promise when he had left. But upon looking at his eyes, Tas could tell he was worried. Things had certainly changed since the old man left. He wondered how much Yao knew.
As he approached, Fei grew wary. Tas could see the worry lace his eyes. Tas turned as he felt a hand on his back, Paj was there was well. They all walked into Fei’s apartment, without even a word. They all took their time find a comfortable place to sit on the small floor, pulling cushions and pillows to support their legs and backs as they sat.
It was Yao who spoke first, in a commanding tone, “Paj, I understand that you have been succeeding in teaching Tas dreamwalking. Tell me everything.”
Paj gave a slight chuckle, though his tone was very serious. “Always the blunt one, eh Yao? You’ve never had a breath of patience.” Yao was silent, waiting.
“Well, you see the boy started to do it of his own accord; three nights ago, if my memory is correct. He aligned himself somehow with Jupiter during the full moon and went to see his parents. Hardly something troublesome, especially because I did not tell him about the full moon; he learned and remember it himself. How could one blame a boy for being curious about such things.
“I spent the first week of teaching spending time only on planetary movements. The boy memorized them all in a week.” He gave Tas a quick glance, filled with something that looked like incredulity. “So I began to teach him how to attune with planetary energies, to open his meditations. In the process, we talked about the different ways to use planetary energies and many of the different techniques were discussed.” He said the last part slowly, as if re-realizing Tas was still in the room; he obviously didn’t want Tas to learn more of the ‘techniques’ he had been in the process of learning. Tas and Paj both knew that Tas would continue his studies.
“After Tas had his first unwarranted walk, I decided that I would take him with me while I investigate a rumor. A rumor… that turned out to be true.” He turned to master Fei, “Melkar is embodied again, Fei. He is incarnated with the assistance of Grethatch, a monk who was an old pupil of mine.” Paj sighed, obviously tired himself. “They travel together; a dangerous combination for anyone who crossed their path.” He looked seriously at Yao without reaction. Yao seemed as wily as ever, nonchalantly brushing Paj’s words aside. Paj continued.
“We saw them threatening a villager, removed from the town and in a dark cave, undoubtedly to conceal Melkar’s rabid and unrelenting stench. Considering his age…” Paj trailed off for a second, a look of disgust entering his nose. Tas didn’t remember a smell, but then again, it was a dream so he hardly remembered anything, except the crushing feeling when Grethatch had taken hold of him.
“So we have Grethatch and Melkar who are wandering in the world, who knows where…” Fei said slowly. “What happened when you saw them two nights ago?”
“They were threatening a villager.” Paj said. “There was some kind of shipment, the cave was full of boxes. And they were threatening a villager, Fiden, I think his name was. But I have no idea where they were.” Paj’s eyes glinted as he looked at the others, obviously very happy with himself. “I managed to track him with my own dreams. But it is a technique I think best left unspoken of.” He glanced at Tas then turned back to the group. “The rest of the story, I am unsure of.”
Everyone looked expectantly at Tas, but he was falling in and out of sleep while he listened to Paj. Yao gave him a strong clap on the back and Tas howled in pain, but he wouldn’t fall asleep again.
“I don’t remember what happened, really.” Tas said slowly. “I just remember being lost and not remembering how I got to where I was. It was dark, then the two men came out of the dark, mostly by surprise Tas said coldly. The second man kind of appeared from the shadows. Melkar, you called him. He was terrifying and they both had horns.”
Yao responded now, “How did you escape? Why did they let you leave?” He seemed curious, as if there was a missing puzzle piece somewhere that he was looking for.
“Actually,” Tas said slowly, cautiously. “they fed me a wyrm, though I’m not sure what it is.”
“A wyrm?” Fei said shortly. “what does that mean?”
“Some smaller creature crawled down my throat, it was slimy and there was nothing I could do.” Tas felt his stomach. “I could feel it.” Now it feels gone though. He was still so tired, now that the slap faded he was falling asleep again.
Yao looked at him now, his eyes didn’t leave, but Tas’ did. He fell asleep, his chin falling to his shoulders and the last thing he remembered was barely managing to open to his eyes for a second to seeing Yao holding him and chanting something slowly and dark, grumbly; with a sigh he passed out again, this time into the a darkness that he could not force himself to wake from.