A few days pass. The madness comes and goes, but I’m learning to control it. I heal the wounds outside and in, practice my skills with the Key, take watches along with the other Sourcerors and soldiers on the Stone Gate. The most powerful are rebuilding it, to the best of their abilities.
A thought occurs to me and I frown, before going to find Taurion.
I find him kneeling at the grave of his son, where he has been for the past day or two. I’ve given up on trying to convince him to eat and sleep—most of us have. I sit down beside him, looking at the newly-grown grass.
“He really loved you….” Taurion says, not looking at me.
“And I really loved him.”
“Not in the way that he loved you.”
His eyes lift, looking at me harshly.
I drop my eyes, unable to meet his eyes.
“I am sorry.” I force out, and stand up, and turn to go.
Taurion places a hand on my arm. “You came here with a question, son. Ask it.”
“Who built the Stone Gate in the first place? Why are there so many Sourcerors being trained?”
“The Stone Gate was created when the world was. In all these years, this is the closest it has ever come to being opened. The Sourcerors are being trained for war—it’s a big world out there. We’re being sent out to explore it. Before long, there should be very few Sourcerors left in this country. Only enough of us will remain for defense. You will be sent out on board a ship sometime this year. You’ve been well trained—we can trust you more after what’s happened.”
“Taurion, when Liandros and I came to see you, you told us about the Stone Gate. Why?”
Taurion smiles, and shrugs. “It doesn’t take a madman to see that sometimes the world needs to end.”
I leave him there, by the grave of his son.
Nalika joins me on my walk back.
“So they can trust you outside now?” I ask her, eyeing her casually.
“I’m under constant supervision, Kelree. I can never be trusted. And neither can you,” she replies easily, “And neither of us should be trusted. We are Sourcerors. All of us are mad.”
“It’s the Lady of Slemerria who should be called mad—she’s ordering more of us to be trained every day.”
“Mad or ambitious—both are the same thing. It’s a big world out there—even if it needs to be over, it should at least be explored first. And anywho, sending Sourcerors out to explore it keeps them far away from where we can do any real damage. Keeps us busy, too.”
We walk in silence.
When we reach the doors of the manor, we find a young woman leaning against a wall, eyeing me darkly. She approaches, kissing my hand when I offer it. “My name is Liana. I’m to be your traveling companion when you’re sent out into the world—I’ve been told to keep you relatively sane. But none of us sane ones have our hopes up.”
And the rest, my dearest wife, you know.