“Master, I have a question,” said Initiate Aden.

“If it’s how to trill your R’s for the incantations, or how to knit together broken bones without turning a man’s blood to ivory, I don’t want to hear it,” groused Elder Coym. “I’ve been teaching you kids the basics all day, and my voice is tired from shouting.”

“It is a question for you as my great-uncle, rather than as Master of the healing arts,” said Aden. “I know you do not like for me to speak of our relation, that you’re afraid of giving me special treatment, but…”

“Oh, for the Light’s sake, come in and close to door, boy,” said Coym. He set down his quill after a few final, brisk strokes to remind him of where he left off and then gestured to a seat. “If I didn’t know he was still alive in his dotage, I’d say you were my brother reincarnated. He was always slinking about like a chastened dog too, even when–especially when–he’d done nothing wrong.”

Aden took the seat, pushing his white healer’s robes to either side and letting his legs dangle. He favored his mother’s side in terms of looks, but in that serious temperament couples with astonishing naivete, Coym very much saw his younger brother Kias. “Uncle,” he said, pronouncing the term with the same deadly seriousness as ‘Master,’ “the other initiates today were comparing their favorite stories of war and heroism, and I noticed something.”

“Hmph, you finally wondered who cleans up the messes in all those stories, eh?” said Coym. “Good for you, I was twice your age and mopping up after the Battle of Brigantine Pass when I came into that bit of wisdom.”

“No, Uncle, I began to wonder – why are none of the heroes in the stories and songs healers, like us? There are warriors, powerful wizards, even wily sneak-thieves…but never healers and pacifists such as ourselves. Why is that?”

Coym froze, looking into his grandnephew’s earnest eyes. A bitter, cutting remark was on his tongue, about the sorry lot of those who help and heal in a world where histories were written by the bloodsoaked. But it died unsaid, and Coym cleared his throat. “Well,” he said. “That’s because the best such stories are held secret by master healers like myself, and then misinterpreted by oafs centuries later. I know of one such–a healer and pacifist, wide-eyed and wonderful–who not only did great things but shook the world to its foundations.”

“Oh!” Aden said, leaning joyfully forward in the seat, his young legs tapping anxiously on the wood. “What was their name?”

“Ah,” Coym said. As a child, even as a young man, he’d been famous for his bold lies and ripping yarns. After a moment, the cobwebs fluttered and his old skills came rushing back, little rusted for decades of relative disuse. “His name was, ah, Initiate Sanah, and it was through him, without the lad raiding a hand in anger, that the mighty and terrible reign of the Bloody Prince was brought to an end.”

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