Ventus – Day 23 of 135


Calandria poured some wine and handed Jordan the cup. He accepted it gratefully, and hunched further under the blanket next to the fire Axel had lit in the fireplace. Axel now paced angrily at the doorway to their tower room. He had barred the door. Several times people had knocked, but he’d shouted that things were under control, Jordan was fine.

It seemed he’d disgraced them at the banquet. Jordan could still taste vomit faintly; he gulped at the wine to mask it. His hands shook, and he stared at them dumbly.

“What’s wrong with him?” Axel demanded.

“He seems to be becoming more attuned to the implant. He was only able to receive when he was asleep before. Jordan, can you hear me?”

He drew himself closer to the fire. Reluctantly, he said, “Yeah.”

Her fingers alighted on his shoulder. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah.” He drained the wine, facing into the fire.

“This is too much for him,” Axel said. “We should stop.”

“We don’t know where he is yet!” she retorted. “The avatar is a threat until we find him and neutralize him. You know how the gods are. We have no way of knowing whether 3340 hid a resurrection seed in Armiger. If it did, and the seed sprouts… then, everything we’ve done is threatened.”

“There are other ways to find him.”

“No!” They both turned their heads. Jordan glared at them. At that moment the two of them reminded him of his parents, ineffectually mouthing words instead of acting. “We have to do something now! He’s hurting people.”

Calandria came to sit next to him. “What do you mean?”

“We have to find out where he is right now,” Jordan insisted. “You promised you would take the visions away when I’d told you where Armiger is. Well, let’s do it. I thought after the manse that things would get easier, since you said you knew what was happening and I thought you could do something about it. But you didn’t expect what happened tonight, and it’s getting worse!” He hunkered himself down, trying to pin her with the reproach of his gaze.

Calandria and Axel exchanged looks. Axel shrugged, appearing almost amused. “There are three of us in on this venture now, Cal. He’s got a point.”

“Where’s the wisdom you were going to trade me for telling you where Armiger is?” Jordan pointed out. “I haven’t got anything out of this. You kidnapped me, and put visions in my head till I’m almost crazy!” He was mildly astonished at his own outburst. Of course, he’d had a few cups of wine tonight, but really enough was enough. An echo of the force that had driven him into the night after Emmy drove him to speak now.

“You seem like the Winds sometimes,” he said, “but you haven’t done anything for me. You said you would.”

Calandria stood. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I promise to make it up to you. And I realize I made a mistake in bringing you to the banquet. I didn’t think you would find it so stressful.”

“Wait a second,” said Axel. “So he was under extreme stress tonight. And started having visions. Is stress the trigger?”

She nodded, and sighed. “Sorry, Axel. I wasn’t sure of it before, so I didn’t mention it. But the banquet proves it. There’s a correlation between stress and his receptivity.”

“Maybe if he can control his stress reactions, he can control the visions,” said Axel. Jordan looked up again at this.

Calandria looked pained. “Yes, but we don’t want to eliminate them entirely. On the other hand, he won’t be able to learn to control himself fast enough to prevent us learning what we need to know.”

“We can at least teach him how to avoid the sort of thing that just happened.” Axel nodded, his arms crossed and his eyes on Jordan. “Teach him some of your tricks. Relaxation games. Mind control. We owe him that much, and you’d said we’d pay him in wisdom. So let’s start paying.”

Calandria looked from Axel to Jordan, and nodded wearily. “All right.” She sat down again. “Jordan, we will start your education right now, if you want.”

“Yes!” He turned to face her. Finally.

“This will take time, and a lot of practise. It might not even work for the first while, but with practise you’ll start to get it. Okay? Good. The first thing you must learn is that you cannot do anything if you cannot control your own mind–your emotions and your reactions. So, that is the first thing you will learn. Beginning with how to relax.”

Jordan forgot the heat at his back and the wine in his cup, and listened.


Two anxious days passed. Armiger wasn’t moving, so Jordan had nothing new to report to Calandria. He knew she was frustrated by the delay; they went over his previous visions time and again, but he could provide nothing new for her. He often saw her meditating with her eyes closed, and often after these sessions she had new questions for him about the landscapes he had glimpsed: “was there a tall rounded hill in the distance? Did the forest extend in three tongues near the horizon?” He had no answers.

On the third day, on one of his infrequent breaks, Jordan went to the roof to stretch. The Boros estate sprawled out below. People went to and fro about duties that were all familiar to him. He could tell what was happening by watching the servants, though the purposes of the Boros’ themselves were impossible to read.

Though politics as such was beyond him, Jordan could read the story of the Boros family home from its very stones–could tell what was added when, and in what style. If you went by the boasts of the visiting family members, the clan had always been prominent. But this tower was ancient, and the manor house new, and in between were traces of buildings and walls in styles from various periods. Jordan could imagine each in turn, and he saw large gaps between the apparent razing of one set of buildings and the growth of the manor. If this were the Boros’ ancestral home, it had lain unoccupied for up to a century at a time.

This exercise was a good way to take his mind off things. And, he had to admit, he was starting to relax despite himself. Over the past days he had constantly practiced the skills Calandria May had taught him. He’d never known he should breathe from the belly, not the chest–or that his body carried tension in tight muscles even when his mind was relaxed. He scanned his body every minute or two, and every time he did, he found some part of it had tightened up, usually his shoulders. He would concentrate for a second, relax them, and go back to what he was doing. The feeling of being pursued that had plagued him was receding.

Best of all, the visitations by Armiger were no longer arbitrary and uncontrollable. He still dreamed about the demigod, but in daylight he could tell when a vision fit was creeping up on him. Using the relaxation exercises Calandria had taught him, he could usually stop it dead. Calandria encouraged him to think of the visions as a talent he could master, and not as some alien intrusion.

He knew this worked to her ends, but was prepared to go along because, at last, her ends paralleled his own. He was able to think about the visions with some objectivity, and report what he saw and heard in detail to her.

Most importantly, what he saw and heard had changed. Armiger lay in bed in a cabin somewhere to the south. He was being nursed by a solitary woman, a widow who lived alone in the woods. In his convalescence Armiger seemed like an ordinary man. His terrible wounds were healing, and the small snatches of dialogue between him and his benefactor that Jordan caught were mundane, awkward, almost shy. Armiger had not eaten her, nor did he order her about. He accepted her help, and thanked her graciously for it. His voice was no longer a choked rasp, but a mellow tenor.

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