|Washar never needed the light on the night watch.
He trusted his ears as much as his eyes. At that moment, the longer he listened, the more confident he was that the burglar was in the building with him. Someone was running down the hall.
He snorted softly, cursing the inattention of the other guards and stood up. The intruder suddenly stopped, and then carefully moved forward. He wasn't close yet, but with every step, Washar could sense him more and more.
Bright rays, cast by a small candle, appeared in the corridor. Undoubtedly, this was someone from the Scribe's Association. When an ordinary thief tried to break into the treasury, he was most often rendered harmless by external guards or got lost in the maze of corridors.
The prince took a deep breath and focused on the burglar walking around, who had not yet noticed that he was not alone and probably wondered how to open the last door.
The burglar was so close that Washar could hear his rapid breath. Energy began to accumulate around the prince. All he had to do was send it in the right direction.
He created almost a lethal wave. A pleasant shiver swept over him. He hadn't had the opportunity to use his special ability for a long time.
A loud and undoubtedly female scream pulled him out of deep concentration. He came out of hiding and quickly removed the mask from the face of the terrified Sekanian girl staring at him.
"The Scribe's Association ... you pathetic thieves," he said and snorted softly. "I hope that I will live long enough to witness the times when your activities will be punished by death."
"Knowledge has the right to reach people!" She shouted and wanted to say something else, but failed. A black streak hung over the now limp body and surrounded it. It was over. Washar took a deep breath, letting the energy dissipate back. Only then did he feel how much strength it had cost him.
Prince Washar couldn't remember exactly when he discovered his unusual abilities. Probably he was born with them. His nanny made him promise that he would never use these abilities when she found out. As he grew up, he realized that she did it for his safety.
Washar later found the books from which he learned that after the Great War, the art he was using was strictly forbidden by the Righteous Swearing. After some time, it was completely forgotten. However, even when it was still widespread, only a few people managed to use the energy of death.
Washar took a dagger from his back pocket and stabbed now dead girl in the heart. He had to make sure everything looked as if he had defeated her in a normal fight before he went down the same corridor which she came. A second guard was at his post, sleeping. Hearing the prince, he nudged himself to his feet and bowed crookedly.
"Your Highness, I am begging for forgiveness! It was only a few minutes, everything was under control."
"Oh really?" Washar grabbed the man by the shoulders, pulled forward and kicked as hard as he could. "Does this woke you up?"
"Yes, Your Highness," he groaned, "it won't happen again, I swear."
"We had a burglary. Clean up, this way you will not fall asleep so quickly. My deputy should arrive soon."
"Are you not going to wait for him, Prince?"
"No, I'm not. When you were sleeping, I fought with the thief. I'm exhausted, I can be hurt. Think of it as an act of grace. If by his arrival you manage to take care of everything and not fall asleep, you will miss execution and your approach to duties will be our little secret."
Washar then went outside and took a deep breath. He was very tired. At some point, he staggered and would almost fall, if someone did not support his hand.
"Alissa!" He looked at his wife, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"I couldn't sleep! I had such a bad feeling, I had to come here!" The woman helped him stand. "What's wrong? Did you fight someone?"
"I have to fight someone every day." He turned his head a little too violently, which almost made him fell again. "I'm very tired, but nothing happened to me."
"I don't see any wounds in this light," she said, watching him carefully. Washar shook his head but couldn't help smiling. He was eager to tell her his secret, but at the same time he was afraid that she would end up reluctant towards him and he would not bear it. He loved her because she wasn't reluctant.
"Let's go back home. I need to rest."
"Can I ask you something?" Kalena once again filled Lik with ink. "How did you meet my former lord? He talked about you during our trip to the market. He was very unpleasant."
Galaspiael gently began to lead her hand on the paper.
"I'm not surprised. He owed me money. Not only me to be honest, but he's also known by many merchants and they don't have a good opinion about him. Whenever he appears, he borrows money from someone, so together with a few people, we decided to teach him a lesson. I started to pretend to be the son of a wealthy merchant and he asked me for help in his business. When it was time to pay back and he delayed, I sent my guards after him. From what I've heard, he was terrified. He decided to give you because probably he didn't have anything valuable to pay off the last part of the loan."
"So you didn't get your money back," she said, "because since you gave me my freedom..."
"Money doesn't matter to me. Bend your finger, because you won't get a straight line. Now try it yourself."
When Galaspiael let go of her hand, she slowly began to repeat everything he had just shown her. With each passing moment, she was more and more angry with herself. The more carefully she tried to put signs, the worse it turned out. One line was crooked, the other too far from the first, the third to connect them resembled a curved ridge.
"Man!" She moaned despairingly at the effect of her work. "I give up!"
"Oh for the Great Ancestors, why are you screaming!
"Look how terrible it is!" She leaned her elbows on the table. "How is it that you write so beautifully?"
"Don't compare us, I have been exercising for over ten years and you are on your first day." He brushed a strand of hair away from her face. "Everything is difficult at the beginning. I admire that you managed to learn how to read while being a slave".
"And what about it? I will never write like you!"
"You're right. Over time, you will develop your handwriting, that would be different. Try once again!"
Kalena was amazed at how much time he could spend with her. As a prince, he certainly had to take care of his subjects and deal with important matters, while in the meantime he taught to write a liberated slave for several hours. He acted as if she were someone extremely important and close to him.
When Galaspiael sensed that it was getting harder for her to focus, he offered a break.
"We did a lot for the first day. However, a few more lessons will be useful."
"A few hundred, I think," she replied.
"I meant the lessons with me until you can practice alone." He looked at her with a slight smile. "A few hundred? It would be great. It takes several thousand written pages to shape good, legible writing."
"Several thousand pages?" Kalena moaned and clutched her head. "I haven't even finished that one small card!"
"You've done half. You will finish the second half tomorrow. In a few weeks, you will write one page a day, and in a few months long, complicated texts will not be a problem for you." Galaspiael suddenly hit himself in the head. "I totally forgot! I have new clothes for you."
"These are fine." The girl stroked her dress. "You did not have to."
"To be honest this is the ugliest piece of clothing I've ever seen in my entire life. I'll be happy if you let me throw it into the trash"
Kalena insisted that her dress was comfortable and practical until she saw a new one. It was intensely red, made of soft, shiny material and had long sleeves. The girl thought that Galaspiael chose it probably as a symbol of her liberation. Slaves could not wear clothing covering the brand unless they were wearing a collar. And she no longer wore a collar.
For the first time in her life, she put on a dress that reached almost to the ground, so at first, it was difficult to move without getting her foot on the edge of the fabric. Galaspiael also got her trousers, shirt, and black shoes.
"I plan to go on a secret mission tonight," Prince changed the subject and gave her a mysterious smile. "Do you want to come with me?"
"Outside the city walls. We will take the shortest way. Do you want?"
She wanted very much, so when evening came, they both left the house. Galaspiael moved very quickly and after several minutes Kalena got breathless, trying to keep up with him. He led her along a route until they finally left for the lowest circle of the city. There she caught his hand, afraid that they would part in the crowd.
There was no indication in the lower circle that night was approaching. There were as many people walking the lantern-lit streets as during the day. Kalena wanted to stop at least for a moment and see what was the reason why the crowd gathered in that place, but the prince disagreed.
"We'll be back tomorrow," he promised, "everyone is busy preparing for the festival. Come on!"
The road they entered was completely empty. They left the city and suddenly it became very quiet and Kalena felt a familiar twinge of anxiety.
"Hide behind a tree," he pointed to her hideout. "They should come soon." Unless they go somewhere else today ...
"Who?" She asked in a whisper.
"You will see."
After a while, a group of men in dirty and torn robes appeared. They all carried bundles with them, some smaller, some bigger.
"They look weird," Kalena whispered, "who are they?"
"This group was once the seekers, but they did not manage to earn too much money. So they decided to do something different on behalf of the Righteous Conspiracy" he explained.
"What will your mission be about?"
Galaspiael looked her straight in the eye.
"Take a look." When he said that, one of the men grabbed a huge book, from which he began to tear cards.
"I want to save the books they make a bonfire from." he continued "At least some of them. They usually don't wait for the fire to digest everything... Kalena, wait, where are you going? Wait! They have a weapon, don't do it! Come back!"
His words were in vain because the girl ran up to three men and took three books from the pile they were guarding. It was clear that they would notice her, but she didn't care. She ran away as fast as her legs allowed. Suddenly a strong blow to the ribs knocked her to the ground. Patiently, she bore the hits and kicks, pressing the stolen treasure closer.
"Hey!" She heard Galaspiael's voice above her. "Let her go, you savages!"
"The little one is stealing," said one of them in broken Kagolanian. His foreign accent, combined with a speech impediment, caused that one had to listen hard to understand what he was saying. "Why should I stop if the one steals? There will be a lot of money for it."
"I can pay you for it," he offered. Kalena quickly got up and hid behind him. "I'm telling you the truth, I'll bring you so much money that you'll be able to buy a house in town."
Nine men surrounded Galaspiael, and only then did Kalena understand how dangerous this situation was. Surely, the prince also carried a weapon, but at that moment she doubted that he would cope with all of them, way stronger and taller than him.
"There will be no money," said the other, "you lie."
He swung a long sword at him, and the girl crouched behind and clenched her eyelids, uttering a cry of absolute terror. She heard the clang of metal above her and staggered, feeling Galaspiael drag her by his back. He pushed one of the attackers away.
She held her breath and was relieved to find that the boy was able to defend himself and it was great. He gave her a signal to run away. He did not kill anyone, but knocked them all down to the ground and ran to join her. When they were away at a safe distance, he murmured several curses towards the seekers.
"What were you thinking? You're the craziest woman I know!" He said after a while. "I will now be afraid to live with you under one roof."
Hearing this, Kalena stared at the road paved with stones and wiped her cheeks still wet with tears.
"I'm really sorry. I just wanted to help you."
Galaspiael sighed deeply and adjusted his belt case.
"Okay, just be more... controlled the next time. If you just waited, I wouldn't have to fight them. They will never come back here for sure. But the most important thing is that you took something, the effort was not wasted. Don't cry anymore, I'm not mad at you! Hey!" He stopped and took the girl in his arms, seeing that she was still wiping her eyes.
"I'm sorry!" She repeated. "I was stupid. I'm afraid now that something will happen to us."
" And what can they do to us? We are already far away. The guards won't let them into the city. Let's go back home, we deserve dinner."
Before Kalena went to her bedroom, Galaspiael asked her to show the books. He watched them for a long time, also glancing at her once in a while.
"Nice," he finally said. "And quite interesting. I will give you rewrite them as a reward."
"You probably wanted to say 'for punishment'?" Kalena began to imagine how long and arduous this work would be. "It will take forever since today I have been writing these few words with you for so long."
It was you who took them, so they are yours. It is your task now to copy them onto fresh paper. It will be an enriching exercise and you will see how great results it'll give." He arranged the books in an even pile on the table. "One day I will tell you about my more difficult missions. If you could fight, I could take you to the Righteous Alliance headquarters in Madegald. There you can find real treasures, so precious that no one had the courage to destroy them!"