The Second Sdhlain: Sdhlai 1

Rocks clattered down, down, down as she skidded to a stop at the edge of the Cliff. Damn, she muttered. If I had a coin, I think it'd make better decisions than me. I'm going to die either way.

She had always wondered how she would face her own death. If in it would she bring honor to her family name, or like so many of her past ancestors, shame. Either way it would be a moot point, after banishment there was no more honor, only death. As she scanned the valley wall in hopes of finding a safe path to the top, as if anything in the dead-lands was safe, she allowed her mind to drift to her childhood.

It was a bright day, she was gathering rocks in the common. A nagging voice in the back of her head insisted these rocks were for her father, but she would not allow it to take root. She would not be a disgrace, even if it cost her very own father. As she was fighting with her emotions, she saw Urcksa. Urcksa was the only female on the council. She tried her best to hide her emotions, lest Urcksa read them on her face and consider them a weakness. To her dismay Urcksa approached her. In an effort to hide her nervousness, she bent down to pick up the largest rock on the ground.

Despite knowing it was coming, she still jumped when Urcksa placed her hand on her shoulder.

"I assume you are gathering rocks for the Morvens. I have a task I need done, as you know I typically choose girls when possible, in an effort to promote equality of a greater nature on the council in future generations. It is my hope that the next woman to hold a position such as this will not hold it by her husband's death alone. For various reasons I have decided you shall be the one to carry out this task. You shall leave at once, and will not be back for a week."

"If you think I can not handle the Morvens of that man you are mistaken."

"That had not influenced my decision, but I wonder. Why do you refuse to acknowledge him as your father?"

"He is a disgrace to my name, and all my children's names. He has been condemned to die as only the vilest traitors are. Can you think of why I should?"

"His crime was a very brave one for a man with nothing to lose. Had he succeded he would have garnered more honor than anyone else here. But enough of this talk, if anyone but a council member had said that it would be considered treason. As far as your name, you show entirely too much potential for his faults to affect you; and as for your children, their names can only be affected after they are born. It is because of your potential, and your hunger for the honor which has eluded your family, that I have chosen you. This is a very difficult task. Some in better positions would refuse it, and others who would take it would fail. Besides, like you, your father showed the most promise we had seen in a long time. Had he been directed like I intend to direct you, he may have brought honor to us all, instead of dishonor to himself."

"Does this mean you plan to sponsor me?"

"Not yet, you must rise in station before I can do that. If you succeed in this task it will be the first step in a long road you must travel. Often alone. Do you accept my task?"

"If by my absence I will not bring further shame on my head, I will follow the will of the council and perform the tasks of its members."

Sweat ran into her eyes, jolting her from her memories, and causing her to focus on the task at hand. If she didn't move soon, her perch would crumble and send her plummeting to a sure death. Besides it wouldn't do to focus her attention on bitter memories.


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Last Updated: 2003.01.15.2355