Din inhaled slowly through her nose and then exhaled through her mouth, over and over, focusing on each and every breath and the energy flowing through her body.
Quite a few days had passed since that fateful night when she had picked up the Book of Taishôgeki that had fallen out of her shelf. Since then there had been a slow but steady change in her approach to her situation and many things she had been taught before. And as she walked the corridors of the Tower of Five to go to her different teachers, or to the great hall to eat, or to meet up with the cursed Sameth to ‘convene the council’, she couldn’t help but notice a subtle change in the quality of the world around her. She almost felt as if she could hear an ominous, metallic creaking every now and then, coming from just outside her field of vision and stopping the instant she turned around to identify its source. The sound seemed familiar and strange at the same time, calming and exiting, ancient and brand new, and she chased after it with her mind.
It knocked at the door.
“Come in.” She didn’t open her eyes, but the sound of the steps was all to revealing and so was the deep voice of Sameth who had entered:
“Din, there… what are you doing?” he asked surprised.
She opened her eyes and replied: “Thinking. Sitting helps me focus.”
“Oh? What were you thinking about?” he asked with polite interest.
She just shrugged her shoulders. “This and that. You had business with me?”
In the first days after the horrific revelation of Sameth’s true nature she hadn’t been able to sleep, much less think about anything but her impending doom, but now she felt strangely content with the fact that she knew her enemy. There was a strange solace she took in the fact that the things around her had their place, all well within her sight. Now she was watching, waiting, looking to either discover the reason why she had not been attacked by the sickness or to find a window of opportunity to escape.
Sameth cleared his throat. “Yes, of course. There is a council meeting, I need you to follow me and attend right away.”
She stood up but didn’t make any motion suggesting that she was going to leave the room. “If it is that important, you should tell me right away. There are still just the two of us.”
His brows furled in disapproval. “Now, mind your manners, you are still a Keeper of the Elements, this is not just a simple matter of etiquette. Every meeting we hold is recorded by a scribe and the transcripts are delivered to the governments of the Five Cities. It is imperative that we show a strong and ordered front, or the Middle Lands will descent into chaos. Furthermore, you are mistaken: the Wind Guardians have returned. They have the legal obligation to represent the Lord of Wind if he cannot attend.”
This time, Din was actually surprised but agreed to follow Sameth. The ten Guardians had been gone for a while now, and the Tower had seemed very empty since. But then again, she also remembered that at least several of them had suffered the sickness, maybe even all of them; she could not be certain. There was no one left to trust. No one left to help her. It was time to help herself.