The Mystic's Message The Mystic's Message
Bacca could not sleep. He tossed and turned, disturbed by the recent events. First a strange trio, then Siran, then the discovery that magic was not nullified in the Peak, as Ku-sam had assured him. He regretted his behavior with the Lady Paladin on her return, as well. he should have seen earlier the concern etched on her face, but his utter surprise at seeing the skeletons emerge from the cave had driven almost all rational thinking away.
And to top it all off, there was the mystery of these two strange women, Jaana and Kaitlin...
Were they friends, or were they actually enemies? He knew they were keeping something from him, but he, gifted only with the use of simple destructive magic, could not reach into the recesses of their minds. The Lady Paladin's psychic powers were not strong enough to probe them, either, as she more a healer than anything else.
He was sure they knew something about the skeleton army.
But now they had faded more into the background. They were doing nothing overly helpful, but neither were they being covertly destructive.
Bacca was tired, both physically and mentally. How was he going to face the next day? He stared up at the roof of his tent. A few minutes later, a strange scent filled his nostrils and seemed to reach into every corner of his brain, numbing it. He began to feel sleepy, although just a moment earlier the tension ran high within his body.
He closed his eyes, and soon he was in a deep, magical sleep.
He was standing in almost total blackness. He looked around him quickly, and he saw so many odd things. The moon was high in the sky, with glittering stars around him. But in a distant horizon, he could just make out a beam of sunlight. How very strange, he thought.
"Not strange at all," came a voice that echoed all around him, "just strange to those who do not understand."
Alarmed, Bacca drew his sword. "Who are you?" he called out. "Show yourself!"
"Do not be startled. I will not hurt you. I have summoned you here merely to help." The female voice was gentle, but it seemed to have a hollow sound to it, and Bacca could not pinpoint its source.
"What kind of help are you offering?" he demanded, still keeping his sword in hand.
"With that which you cannot yet see..."
His eyes narrowed. "I have no time for riddles. Explain yourself clearly and quickly."
"Then I shall do so..."
A purple mist swirled around him. He stepped back, but was unable to escape it. The voice continued. "You are surrounded by things you do not understand. This mist, for example, concerns you because you do not know what it is or what its purpose is. I am here to help you in that which you lack.
"There are Dark Sides to Jaana and Kaitlin. Those forces are threatening to overcome them. They know much, but often do not speak when they should. They are proud, Bacca; they still seek for something that is not quite within their grasp, but they keep it to themselves.
"Isolation is one of the worst punishments, High Lord. And that is how they are punishing themselves: by refusing to acknowledge their feelings to others.
"Sometimes, Bacca, we are so caught up in what we are doing that we neglect those around us. Do not neglect those two. You may not have the same strength of feeling for them as you do for the Lady Paladin, but all women need to feel as though someone cares for them.
"You are an excellent military commander, High Lord. But sometimes tenderness is an important part of military tactics. Perhaps then you can learn more of the women's secrets..."
The voice faded away. The mist dissolved. Bacca was stunned by the message he had just heard. Then he recovered.
"Wait! Who are you...?"
The blackness was dissolving. In its place was a bright white, so bright that Bacca had to put his arms up to his eyes to shield them from the glare. A strange humming sound began, which intensified until he dropped to his knees. The pain in his eyes and the pain in his ears combined to form a strange melody, which lifted him higher and higher and pressed against him harder and harder until...
Bacca sat up with a start. He was breathing heavily, trying to draw in his breath against the pressure he had just felt. He looked around him and saw that he was back in his tent. He breathed a sigh of relief, then lay back down again. But sleep would not come.
He thought about the strange dream message. He shook his head.
Tomorrow he would decide what to do about it.