The Truthseeker Chronicles: Seed Prologue

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     The truthseeker sat back from her writing desk and sighed, still staring at the paper before her. After a moment more, she tossed the pen onto the desk next to the lantern and shook out her aching hand. Delving into the experiences of a messenger was always so intense. Especially one like him… She took a sip of water from her cup and then rubbed her aching hand. Before she could take up her pen again a squire entered.

     “Archivist? The King wishes to know when the record will be complete.”

     She rolled her eyes. Those without Dag’s gift always assumed mindsensing could be done in an instant. “Tomorrow’s session should be the last, unless… no, just inform his Majesty that we should be finished tomorrow.”

    “Yes, Mistress.”

     Despite the certainty she indicated, there was always the chance something hidden would be revealed. Then it could take some time to heal the soul – sometimes of the sensed and sometimes of the gifted. She grimaced. Before she came to the attention of the court and the Chancellor, her gift had been employed to balance the scales of justice, interrogating those accused of crimes to determine the truth of the case. That last suspect – no mere robber, he. The gruesome crimes revealed to her through her connection to him could still make her physically ill. Her stomach churned just remembering the grotesque pleasure he had experienced watching his victims suffer. She took a deep breath and sent a quick prayer of thanks to Gardag that her mind was no longer likely to be soiled by one such as that, now that she worked here.

    As she massaged her sore writing hand, her gaze drifted out the door, drawn to the trophy mounted in the center of the anteroom floor. A shaft of sunlight fell from the oculus in the overhead dome to illuminate the ridge of scales crowning its fearsome head. Why had that dreadful creature, a known denizen of the far western highlands, been found near the foothills of the southeast on the far side of the kingdom? Were the creatures expanding their range? Was their population growing? How great a threat did these creatures pose to Escilur? Should the country expect more forays into settlements?

     She looked down once again at the papers on the table before her. If she could add the answers to those questions to the accounts she already had, it would not only help weave the stories of the participants together, it might provide warning of future danger. She rose and stretched, slowly crossing the inlaid tile floor. Surely all the essentials of the story had been collected, and yet…

     If it were alive it would be no more effort than exploring the sensations of any beast. Of course, if it were alive it would probably eat her before she could calm it. Was it possible to learn anything from a dead mind? Surely not. Although… there was that time she had stretched her sensing, extending her gift deep to receive testimony from the deceased witness, a watchdog killed a few hours before. Such seeking was rarely rewarded. Should she try? This beast died more than two months ago.

     Attempt it, she told herself. No point putting it off. If Dag willed, then her gift would pierce the veil and she could fill in important parts of the tale. Perhaps the sight would be granted. If not, there would just be emptiness.

     The truthseeker circled the creature, admiring the expertise with which its injuries had been disguised by the taxidermists, mounted as it was in a twisting, natural pose. The mortal blow behind the left foreleg was barely noticeable. She walked around the long, sinuous tail and positioned herself directly in front of the spiky head, its glass eyes glaring realistically at her. The mouth was opened in a fearsome grimace; a long, forked tongue whittled out of wood and painted bright red, extended between its sharp teeth as if the fearsome beast were hissing.

     She closed her eyes and began her meditation, arms extended to the side, palms up. She opened herself to Gardag while offering her obedience to the judgment of Dag and Ardag. When she completed the centering process, she opened her eyelids. Although only the whites of her eyes showed, she reached unerringly for the correct position near the temples of the mounted creature, her hands above the scaly jaws.

    She took a deep breath and closed her eyes again. “Ardag, grant your servant true seeing into the mind and spirit of your creature.”

    She sought deep within the remains of the beast, delving into the cells, pursuing whether any of the beast’s physical essence remained. Ah, there – the twisted threads forming his primal nature – no, not his – this creature was female! As her hands touched the surface of the trophy her thoughts sought metaphysical contact with these few, fragile threads, all that remained of the essence of this awesome creature. The truthseeker wove them together, spinning the slightly twisted threads and building them into a braid which identified the elements of the once living creature, finally taking this skein and casting it out as a lure, reaching for that mystical plane where she might find the spirit once connected to these threads.

    “Gardag fill me with the truth.” Whether she murmured the words or said them only in her mind, it made no difference. She induced a thrumming in the weave to call out an invocation to the spiritual plane. Was there one which still retained ties to these flimsy twists?

     Abruptly the truthseeker stiffened, her back arching in pain. Such intense pain – so many wounds… Back. Earlier. The taste of blood in her mouth and the lust for more. Earlier still. Her muscles relaxed. She moaned involuntarily in ecstasy…

     I dug the circular nest in the margin of the bubbling acid pool a little deeper and positioned my oviduct just below the surface of the pool. With a rush of intense pleasure I filled the nest with my fertilized ova. This hot pool was my favorite. I had used it dozens of times to incubate my spawn.

By Joanne Powers

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