The Unspeller and the Book of Days HTML version
Aesa could smell earth and stone…the musty scent of being underground. His stomach lurched and
he clamped his teeth down on a sour, sick taste that rose up in his mouth.
He felt as if he had been ill for a long time, light-headed and weak. He remembered a long dream
where he walked through a labyrinth of tunnels underground, a never-ending maze that wound deeper into
the earth. He journeyed for a long time, though he never tired. There was no fatigue, no desire to stop, no
wish for anything more than to travel in the dark.
But now the dream had ended and he was lying on hard stone, his body deeply cold and sluggish. He
opened his eyes and found a familiar sharp face in the darkness. The Arkenian who had found him by the
waterfall waited in silence.
“Where am I?” Aesa asked, barely getting the words out.
The Arkenian said nothing.
“Where am I?” he asked again, but the Arkenian remained mute. Like the girl, he did not speak. Aesa
pulled himself up and stood to face the haughty Arkenian.
A picture of the forest came to him, so real he could almost feel the shadowed air around him and
then the sensation of going deep underground. He blinked the vivid thoughts away. Was he still dreaming?
"I know you understand me," he said, enunciating his words as if he were speaking to a child.
"Where am I?"
The Arkenian snarled and grabbed Aesa's face, his hands icy on Aesa's skin, long nails digging in.
A rush of images blinded him--of being underground in wide, generous tunnels that wound and
twisted through a world that was secret, forbidden and vast. It honeycombed all through Tuatha from one
forest to another, the world above only a thin crust of dirt and hills and trees to hide the vastness of their
kingdom. In an instant he realized that the Arkenian had answered his question, only not with words. The
Arkenian's knowledge transferred to his mind in a instant, the images clear and unmistakable.
His eyes must have told the Arkenian that he understood, because the Arkenian released him.
A rune sparked in the Arkenian's hand, causing Aesa to step back, alarmed. The Arkenian did not
seem to notice Aesa's fear. Instead he turned his palm down to the ground. Strings of light jumped from his
palm and spread out like a spider web to the floor, crawling up the walls of the cavern, lines of luminescence
that cracked the darkness.
The light revealed that the cavern was made of great stone arches of silver-veined obsidian that
opened up to chasms and tunnels.
A breeze touched Aesa's face and he turned to see a shadow melting away from one of the arches,
moving with a fluid grace. It was a moment before he realized he was looking at the girl who had found
Her wings were opened, her dark eyes watching him as she stepped closer. He was drawn into her
gaze, swallowed into her fierce intelligence and curiosity. Her name filled his mouth and he couldn't help
letting it tumble from his lips. "Sata."
She smiled, but it wasn't at him, he realized. It was for the Arkenian boy. She was pleased, as if she
had performed some kind of trick.
The boy grinned back at her. Before Aesa could stop himself, he choked out the name "Mathion."
He grit his teeth together. They were playing with him, though he didn't know how.