by Zentara Shadowsoul
The next few days and weeks seemed to pass quickly and I felt content. I met with Grunthrin and Isolda virtually every day, either over meals or relaxing in one of the many courtyards and gardens that filled the spaces between halls and corridors. Our conversations drew us all closer and as the days drifted into weeks I began to realise how much I loved them and all the other artists within the Guild Halls. My shyness, and my desire to seek the shadows, disappeared: here, within the Guild, there was no need to hide. Many here had sought sanctuary or come to find themselves within the security and peace of the Guild. I was not alone and was accepted.
My research led me to delve deep within the archives of the library, with the assistance of Kymara, the chief librarian. Between us we unearthed ever dustier tomes and scrolls until finally we discovered information about the Pathways and how they had been used extensively in what many termed the Golden Days long before the Wars had savaged the land. I learned too of the old religions, of times when the Ancient Trees were known to far more than to the shay and those who resided within the forests. But it was within the Hall of the Shay that I learned the secrets of the symbols and confirmed what we had thought: that amongst them was one on Shianti Island, and another beneath Tadhi Hallim. Of the others I learned that one was on the Isles of the Nerian. They were the First People, according to another shay scroll that I found amongst the dusty cupboards. That scroll had been well read, if the marks of dirty fingers and drips of candle wax were any guide. It had been stuffed deep, though, as if to be hidden from prying eyes or a cursory search.
And I knew, upon reading, where the shay had gone. That night, in my bed in Alvin Copse, I dreamed of shay meditating beneath three stone pillars, the wind whipping their hair as one shay spoke of the true born, the pure. He stood tall for a shay: wild pink hair fell about his shoulders, his green eyes bright with a fanaticism that made him appear insane. His voice boomed the madness of his beliefs and stirred the surrounding shay to chant his name. Osmenda. Osmenda. Osmenda.
I awoke and knew it was no ordinary dream. Osmenda, my father, was a fanatic. Insane. And in that moment my decision was made.