Chapter 2: A Secret Revealed
Aodan stopped walking and allowed himself a couple of minutes to bask in the sights and smells of the bustling city before him. Everything around him – the myriad of tents and bungalows, the busy crowds, the newly erected stalls, the carts and coaches moving through the thoroughfares - gave him a sense of newness, like he just stepped into another world. He saw a couple of familiar faces among the crowd, but they looked too preoccupied with whatever business they're into to pay him any attention. Besides, he himself has a business of his own to attend to.
He felt a wave of anxiety as soon as he remembered the task he set out for himself. For a few seconds, he wondered if it’d be best if he turned back to his family in Arni and just content himself with tending to horses and cleaning stalls for the rest of his drab existence. He’s been working as a stableboy for as long as he can remember, with his own father serving as stablemaster for a rich cloth merchant who lived in the same town. He didn’t mind the hard toil, really. He just craved new experiences. When he got word of the Council’s call for eligible workers to contribute to the bridge project, he saw it as a big opportunity. Besides, he was excited about the prospect of venturing into the other side of that bridge as soon as it was made. The Vizeyen folk especially interested him. He felt that working on the bridge will provide him the distraction he needed to allay the feeling of ennui that’s been afflicting him for the past couple of years.
Galen, his dad, was emphatic in his refusal to allow Aodan leave to apply for the project. It never made sense to him, given the fact that they could use some of the money to pay for their family’s debts. No clear reason has been offered for the refusal. A few hours after their heated confrontation, he finally knew why: his father wasn’t too fond of the Vizeyen folk. It became apparent on the supper table, when his father berated his little sister Sora for recounting a rumour that recently got around about a few strange occurrences in the town that might have involved magic. With a vehemence rarely seen from Galen, they were implored never to speak of the Vizeyen or even mention the word magic in his presence ever again. We ate in silence for the rest of that supper. Sora cried herself to sleep. Aodan’s frustration for the rest of the evening was so palpable he felt like his head was alway on the verge of exploding.
The next day, some of
his frustration turned to curiosity. Why was his father resentful of any mention of the Vizeyen and magic, or for that matter, any subject that’s even remotely associated with them? He never made a conscious decision to find out, but as fate would have it, the answers, at least some of them, came when he overheard some bits of a whispered exhange between his father and mother at bedtime. Without them knowing, Aodan happened to be sitting in the corner of his room which happened to be adjacent to his parents’ as he scribbled on a parchment some final notes about the horses in the stable.
“We’re all better off not getting involved in the affairs of the Vizeyen, Dolores. Down that road lies madness and ruin. The entire Council are a bunch of fools to even allow these people to set foot on our land. Have they forgotten already?”
He heard her mother whisper for a half minute. As faint as the words were, Aodan was pretty sure he heard his name.
“What about him?” his father remonstrated. “For Glycon’s sake, woman, can’t you imagine the amount of chaos that will entail? He’s better off not knowing about his abilities if you want them to stay latent. He -”
I made a sudden involuntary movement in response to what I just heard, bumping my head ever so slightly on the wall at my back in the process. I cursed at my stupidity, then I heard my father’s light footsteps as he left their bedroom. I hurried towards my own cot and pretended to be asleep. The door creaked ever so slightly. I felt my father’s eyes on me. It was only for a few seconds but it felt like forever. I heard the door close.
The next morning, my father came into my room and found the cot empty.