Today’s blog is the continuation of, Welcome to the Valleys. If you would like to catch up with the tale, the first section can be found at this link
Tollen led the two healers through the Great Hall of Healing on the way to his office. The hall itself was a tall, open, space encircled by rows of chairs. In the center of the room was a raised platform, from which those who addressed the congress of healers presented their findings. A second tier of seating hung over the lower level somewhat, granting those so seated a wider field of view.
As they made their way though the aisles in the hall Talum’s eyes widened and the healer stopped in place and pulled off his pack. Throwing open its cover he kneeled down, rummaging through it’s contents. “I suddenly remembered I need to submit my findings on the Guardians near Satchwin Crevasse. I knew there was something pressing that had slipped my mind.”
Ama turned and made her way back toward the kneeling healer, chased by a grunt from their unexpected host.
“Talum, I’m sure there will be time to submit your findings later. Right now we have more pressing matters.”
Talum didn’t seem to hear Ama’s gentle reminder. He rummaged all the more vigorously as items from his pack were tossed on to the seats, or scattered on the floor, of the Great Hall. Finally, he pulled out a roll of parchment and held it up in celebration.
“Ah, there it is! I knew Dosum had packed it for me when we left Meadowrun.” The healer stood, shouldered his pack and turned to head back toward the hall’s entrance. Lofting his prize over his head he called back, “I’ll just go submit this for the Congress. I shouldn’t be more than an hour or so.”
Ama inventoried the items Talum had absentmindedly left scattered around the hall, and sighed as he began to set off. “Talum!” she finally called out, more sternly than her earlier nudge. This gave her fellow healer a small jolt as he turned at the sound of his name. Once Ama was certain she had Talum’s attention she spread her arms out, indicating the flotsam from his pack. “Don’t you think you ought to repack your things before you run off? I doubt the congress has need of your undergarments.”
Talum took notice of his discarded possessions and smiled. “I suppose you’re right, Ama. I may need them later.” He returned to the scene of his mess and knelt down once more. He opened his pack and went to return his captured parchment to its depths when Ama reached out and took it from his hand.
“Why don’t you allow me to hold this for you, Talum? You don’t want it buried again.”
“Hm?” He said as he turned his head to the field of debris. “Oh, yes, quite right. Thank you, Ama.” Talum then turned back and began gathering his possessions, crawling on all fours as he tracked each item down.
“You know, Meddle, if the public saw what you healers can get up to folks might lose all faith in the orders.”
Ama shrugged, “Or perhaps they’d just be pleased to know we are human.”
“Meddle, if you think the average person wants their healer to be human you really aren’t paying attention.”
“We shall disagree on this point, Tollen.” Pointed toward figure crawling on the floor she added, “Sorry about this. You know Talum, once his mind finds a track it’s difficult to nudge him off of it.”
“Don’t worry, Ama. In fact, I’m glad our absent-minded friend found his report. It’s partly what the Quorum wants to address with him.”
Ama’s eyebrows arced in query, “You know about his work?”
Tollen grinned crookedly. “Meddle, I’m in charge of a secret, barely tolerated, religious order which exists in order to look into our long-forgotten past. Besides that, I used to be a guard. Of course I know about his work. I don’t know the extent of it, though, and that’s what we want to interview him about.”
“Well then, Tollen, I’d say you’re in for a bit of a treat. Tollen’s work, from the little I know, is quite impressive.”
“Is it now?”
“He’s made contact with the Shadows.”
Tollen powered this statement for a moment, then whistled in appreciation. “What? Outside a Meet?”
“Oh yes, in fact he’s created a means to commune with them freely.”
“It’s a crystal. Part of an evertorch, I believe. When someone who is sensitive to the presence of these beings wears one, they are able to establish direct communication with one. I believe this is how he’s made his most important discovery.”
“The shadows are not monsters. In fact, they see themselves as our protectors.” At Ama’s words Tollen’s face widened into a bright grin, which the healer found odd. The few people who’d been made aware of Talum’s work up to this point had views his claims with skepticism or near hostility. Smiling had not been a popular response. Her eyes narrowed shrewdly.
“You knew this already, didn’t you?”
Tollen nodded. “Most Seekers don’t have the sensitivity to the Guardians the way you healers do, but the hints of this truth are out there, if you know where to look.”
“And where have you looked, Tollen?”
Tollen crossed his arms and cocked his head. “That, Meddle, is information for only those who are part of the order of Seekers.”
“Hmm,” buzzed Ama in annoyance. “Keep your secrets, then, if you wish. I’m sure I have enough to worry about.”
“Alright, I’m all packed up!” Ama turned to see Talum facing her, pack strapped to his back once more. He grinned at Ama contentedly as he added, “What were we doing again?”
Ama winced in wearied frustration as Tollen stepped froward and removed the parchment from her hand. “Healer Talum, the Quorum of Seekers wishes to hear your findings on the Guardians near Satchwin Crevasse.”
“Oh, really?” Talum nearly bounced with excitement. “Well, it is a fascinating study and I do suppose it would be of interest to Seekers.” His face then fell to a frown of disappointment. “I’d written a report on my findings, but I can’t remember where I put it.”
Ama rubbed her temples in frustration, as Tollen triumphantly held up Talum’s parchment. “As it so happens, Healer Talum, I have your report right here.”
Talum clapped his hands in celebration. “You do? Marvelous!” He strode forward and snatched back his parchment. Undoing the straps which bound it, the healer rolled it opened partially, checking it’s content. Satisfied, he rolled it back up and said, “Yes, this is my latest report. Dosum must have sent it, he is a wonderful apprentice.” Smiling, Talum motioned impatiently toward their host.
“Well, we mustn’t dawdle, Tollen, let’s get going!”
Ama met Tollen’s eyes, and the latter shrugged in amusement. Turning once more he spoke over his shoulder, “Absolutely, Healer Talum, follow me.”
Talum hurried after their host, barely avoiding Ama as he past. “Hurry along, Ama, I don’t see why we bothered stopping her to chat when people are waiting to hear my report!”
Smiling, Ama followed after her friend and called ahead, “Of course, Talum. What could I possibly have been thinking?” She chuckled to herself quietly as she walked, but her amusement ended as she passed one of the glowing evertorches which dotted the hall. While it’s brilliance was undiminished, inside its glow she could make out the form of a spinning shadow. The Guardians were watching.