Chapter 9 Blood Fire

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Meah meets his gaze with a surprised look, but before she can respond he continues, moving his eyes through the group. “My name is Wynsil. I am the ruler of this city. You are all welcome to stay as long as you need. We have fresh supplies and many warm beds for you to use as you prepare for the rest of your journey. Come, rest and feast.”

Wynsil turns to face the cloaked men and women. He nods his head and they bow, heading into the city. The people of the city who came to see the newcomers open a path for the cloaked ones before meandering away to continue their day’s chores. Those who stay can’t take their eyes from the group.

Ime steps forward before Wynsil has a chance to follow the cloaked ones. “How do you know about our journey? About us?”

Turning back to Ime, Wynsil motions his hand towards the tower at the center of the city. “We will talk inside, Ime. The rest of your group may follow and I will show them where you shall all be staying.” He walks without looking back to see if the group follows.

The remaining crowd bows their heads at Wynsil and leave. The eyes of the group focus on Ime and he looks to Jaxon. Jaxon shrugs his shoulders. Meah takes Ime’s hand in hers, but her wide eyes remained trained on Wynsil. She is curious to know how he knew of her, of the group, and of their journey. She squeezes Ime’s hand.

Ime nods his head in understanding and follows Wynsil. The group follows, hesitant at first, but afraid to be left behind.

They enter the city, passing homes and workshops, feeling the eyes of the people on them as they walk, but these eyes are of curiosity, not the eyes of those who wish to do them harm.

It’s been long since the city has welcomed outsiders and the people want to catch a glimpse. They stand at their windows, doors, or out on the streets to see the group pass. Children, too young to remember ever seeing outsiders, pull at their parents’ clothing to ask questions.

The first level of the city is mainly made of homes and workshops and Wynsil leads the group to a large tunnel with stairs leading up. They climb the stairs and reach the next level of the city.

The second level is also made of homes, but instead of workshops there are outdoor and indoor shops. The houses, however, are the same as the first level homes. Walking through the streets of the second level, other buildings become apparent. Multiple buildings have older children inside reading and writing, others have tables made of stone where people sit to talk or eat meals together, and wells are spread out through the streets. Some have spouts with continuously flowing water falling into grates and people walking by stop to drink.

Wynsil leads them through the second level of the city to another large tunnel with stairs. When they reach the top and enter the third level of the city it is drastically different. There are fewer homes and more open areas with fountains or standing pools of water. Most who walk around wear the grey cloaks and look at the group with blank stares.

The tower fills a majority of the level. As with the city the tower is clearly divided into multiple levels, the lower being the largest. Stairs surround the entirety of the tower, leading up to a balcony like entrance. Doors are spread around the tower, some open while others remain closed.

“You will be staying here in the main building. We have reserved rooms for your group, how you choose to divide up is for you to decide. There are rooms for two or up to four available to you,” Wynsil explains as the group climbs the set of stairs and enters one of the open doors.

“This is quite a large building. What exactly goes on inside?” Jaxon asks.

Wynsil glances at Jaxon and a strange light fills his eyes, but it is gone as quickly as it appears. “Before we talk, I would humbly suggest you all eat, rest, and wash. Our talk can wait until after you have regained your strength. We will provide you with new clothes and bags filled with supplies. Though, we hope you stay a few days more with us. Visitors are rare here.”

Gasps of amazement escape the lips of the group as they enter the main hall of the tower. It is an immense room with a grand staircase leading up to the next floor. Doorways under the staircase lead into a library. The doors are opened wide and men and women are seen reading. The library is multiple stories high and a large window allows sunlight to fill the room.

The floor of the main hall is a mosaic of a large tree with roots reaching towards the many doorways. At the top center of the tree, blue stones create a circle with lighter blue streaks snaking away from it.

Stopping on top of the blue circle at the center of the main hall, Wynsil turns to the group as two cloaked men approach him. “After you have had a chance to rest and are ready to talk, Lyrrel will assist you in finding me.”

The cloaked figure to his right lowers his hood. His violet eyes take in the group with an odd clarity for such a young face. His sandy brown hair falls over his brow messily, being shifted by the movement of the hood. An odd, circular scar sits above his right eyebrow. He bows his head at Meah and Ime.

“Until then, please follow Lyrrel and the other Seers to your lodgings,” Wynsil says, quickly making his way into the library.

Jaxon’s breath catches in his throat. “Seers?”

Lyrrel and two other cloaked men move forward. “If you will follow us, we have quite a few floors to ascend before we reach your rooms,” Lyrrel says, his voice soothing to the ear.

The group follows, but Meah notices Jaxon staring after Wynsil with suspicion in his eyes. She nudges his arm with her elbow and he quickly looks at her.

“Are you all right?”

“Fine. Eager to speak with Wynsil.”

“I’m eager to get some warm food in my stomach,” Kylii says. He, Daniil, and Tanith walk past Meah and Jaxon to follow the cloaked men.

“I’m eager for Kylii to wash up. He stinks,” Daniil fake whispers to Meah.

Kylii grabs his brother’s head with his arm and smiles angrily. “Shut your mouth. You smell just as badly as me.”

“You both smell horrible,” Ime interrupts. “Now come on, we’re falling behind.”

Meah, Jaxon, and the brothers follow Ime after the group. The stairs clear for the group as cloaked men and women move to the side or wait before descending or ascending the white stone steps.

At the top, hallways branch off in three different directions, but Lyrrel leads the group to a set of stairs hidden around the corner of the left hallway, pressed close to the wall. They climb many levels of stairs, passing floor after floor of multiple hallways and rooms.

After climbing for several stories, Lyrrel and the other cloaked men finally lead the group down a hallway. A pair of double doors stands open and the smell of warm food drifts down the hall. The group whispers excitedly and pick up their pace.

The room is bright and filled with tables of food. Before the group can run for the delicious spread, Lyrrel blocks them.

“For your comfort this entire floor has been prepared for you. Bedrooms are located down the hall. Feel free to pick for yourself. Baths are located through those doors. If you have any questions, we are here to help.” He moves out of the path of the group and they run for the food.

“When we are ready to speak with Wynsil are we to find you?” Jaxon asks.

Nodding his head, Lyrrel stares from Jaxon to Meah then to Ime. “I will be seeing to your group’s needs, but when you are ready, rested, and fed we will go to Wynsil. Until then enjoy the warm meal.” With that Lyrrel heads away from the three to speak with the cloaked men.

After filling their stomachs with food, the group splits into those who want to bathe first and those who want to pick their rooms. Ime, Meah, Jaxon, Kylii, and Daniil are among those who choose to bathe first.

Once clean they dress and choose rooms. Ime and Meah choose a room with a small balcony overlooking the southern half of the city. Kylii and Daniil, Tanith following wherever the brothers go, choose a room two doors down. Jaxon meets with Fleance and Bruer, asking them to keep an eye on things while they meet with Wynsil.

Ime, Meah, Kylii, Daniil, and Jaxon meet in the hallway outside the door of the banquet hall. They have all changed into fresh clothes, light colors, however Jaxon stays in black clothes, but his armor is safely stashed away in his room.

“Where’s Tanith?” Meah asks.

“I thought it would be best if she stayed in the room for now. Don’t really know how they’re reacting to her yet,” Daniil explains.

“They didn’t seem bothered by her as we walked through the city,” Ime says.

“She also wanted some alone time.”

“Are you ready to meet with Wynsil?” Lyrrel’s soft-spoken voice interrupts the group, surprising them. None of them had seen or heard him approach.

Jaxon recovers from the surprise quickly and crosses his arms. “Yes. We have many questions for him.”

Lyrrel bows his head. “Then follow me.”

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