Crimson chorus from the.., p.4
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       Crimson Chorus, From the Nine Kingdoms (Chapter 2), p.4

          
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  ***

  Ephesto had been trying to win the woman's confidence. However, after he has tried with every possible way, like ask for help to discover the number of tiles that conforms the room, even try to imitate the carmines' sing to make her laugh, he didn’t succeed. Finally, in his resignation, he chose to tell her anecdotes of when he was under the tutoring of the Errant; those days when he did nothing but follow his mentor, helping him in what he could around the corners of Carmine Valley. Those days hadn’t been exciting adventures but, it could be found important information that Ephesto wouldn’t dare to share to anyone because his mentor had forbidden him, because it opened answers to many of the whys of his actions, and anyone who knew the reputation of the Errant, even a king, would offer to exchange it for the finest treasure.

  He had dig out in his golden memories, realizing that during that vital period he had been spinning around in the same place, learning just basic things, and that didn’t bring him satisfying feeling.

  “So you're crimson?” she asked with interest.

  “Yes,” said Ephesto a bit fascinated.

  “Is it true that they are creations of the Errant?”

  “We are and don’t. Actually ... we are creations of the Fallen, but my mentor, the Errant, as many call him, has been looking for the recipe to return us as we were before. That is why the confusion.”

  “And who you were?”

  “I don’t, I do not know ... I do not remember.”

  “So, he hasn’t returned you to what you were before?"

  “No ...” answered Ephesto disappointedly.

  The woman let be seen. Like a mist overlaid and well-detailed, her body began to draw slowly in the air. She wore tattered clothes, the opposite of the emerald dress she wore during her performance. Ephesto was remembering her in the other outfit, and certainly he felt disappointed. She appeared masculinity hiding all his physical attributes; although her suggestive look was betraying her. Both remained silent exchanging glances, she for suspicion and he for insecurity because he did not want to disturb her because he felt that he had already progressed. The woman stood up and looked through the window.

  “You're not like them, right?” she said gently.

  “Them ...?”

  “I mean your race.”

  “How do you know?”

  “I’ve heard that they are instinctive like beasts with the only difference that they cannot be tamed, and their appearance resembles like a hoarier.” The woman approached to him one step, and inspected his face following the hair. “But you ... are young ... and can understand ... The only resemble is the color of the hair ... red ...”

  It heard footsteps down the hall; someone was approaching. It was Luca, who had returned to meet Ephesto, keeping the promise he had made last night, and was accompanied by a military-guard. But neither Ephesto nor the woman noticed it. They stopped at the door, and Luca order the guard to wait in silence.

  “That is how you figured it out ...”

  “Are there more like you?”

  “No. Not yet.”

  “You don’t know?”

  “As I explained you, my mentor has tried ...”

  “Ephesto!” interrupted Luca from the other side of the door. “Are you awake?”

  “Luca?! Yes,” replied Ephesto, approaching the door, “I’m here!”

  “I returned as promised. I'll get you out in a few moments. We must go ... are you alone?”

  The woman remained visible. Ephesto looked her but she remained cold and silent.

  “No. I'm not ...”

  “I see. The guard will open the door, so come closer.”

  “I will come back, I promise,” said Ephesto to the woman.

  The door was opened, and then Ephesto left. Next, the guard closed the door again, locking it. The three left.

  In the corridors were bright less but the walls could be distinguished; the guard had exact knowledge of the return route.

  “Where are we going, Luca?” asked Ephesto while they were walking in the darkness. “Shall I meet with the Judge again?”

  “No,” said Luca discreetly. “Not for a while, until he asks for it. You must understand that he is a very busy being. But, you have an appointment with someone of equal reputation.”

  “Equal reputation? Who?”

  “For the moment you just have to know that he will be the one who will train you, and that's where we'll go.”

  “Then ... will I enter the militia as the judge said?” asked Ephesto, as guessing.

  The guard, who was a militia member and was listening discreetly, looked at both with incredulity in his eyes. It was understandable, since Ephesto didn’t fill the desired profile.

  “Let's hope so. Before you must pass certain tests ...”

  “Tests?”

  “Did you think it would be easy for you? Well, no. You have to pass three accessing tests. The first one is an interview with the General, the highest authority of Sandean Militia. He’ll measure your abilities by asking questions that you must answer.”

  “And how should I respond?”

  “You'll know when you stand before him. But, for that, you need to be presentable. First, you must change your outfit ...”

  “What is the problem with my outfit?”

  “It's not the presentable one, besides ... it's very badly treated. Since when don’t you change it?”

  “I've always used it, since my teacher taught me to make it.”

  “And you haven’t done wrong ... I suppose it is well for a nomad, but for someone who will present as the friend of the judge and Luca the diplomat, aren’t.”

  “If you want I can make another, just tell me where to get materials ...”

  “I doubt you can make an outfit with materials recollected here because they are very different from the ones you used to make yours. It's like mines; are made of iron-rock. Even if I wanted to make of copper, I couldn’t.”

  “I think to understand ...”

  “Also, all clothing has lifetime.”

  “I know that,” said Ephesto, remembering one of his mentor's lessons when he learned to make his. “It perishes over the days. The cloth-skin ...”

  “Correct. And it gives you another look.”

  Ephesto at looked his clothes as if he didn’t want to wear off them; which heartened Luca.

  “I'm not asking you to get rid of them ... we'll keep it in a safe place for the day when you need it again.”

  “I would appreciate. Although, I still think it isn’t necessary to change it ...”

  “Now you don’t think as necessary, and I understand but, when you understand it, you will thank me. I'm sure.”

  Before leaving, Luca gave Ephesto new clothes. He wear off his: a brown scarf that had once served to tie up his hair, an orange waistcoat with paper cords that sculpted his chest, a long-sleeved paper shirt, and dark brown trousers with a thin orange band tight to the waist. In its place, he wore the typical sandean skin-cloth: a long vest that reached to his knees and loose trousers, both of paper.

  “His appearance has completely changed. It brings out his peculiar hair”, Luca thought.

  All set, Ephesto with his new clothes, they left the prison.

  “Can you see that entry?” asked Luca, pointing to a near and opposite direction. “From there you’ll enter the militia area. You will carry this with you,” he delivered him a scroll. “It is your pass for the first test, the interview with the general.”

  “So, I just have to approve the interview test ...?”

  “No, that’s the first step. There’re still two more tests that you must also pass, but there we can no longer help you. Now, you understand why it’s important that you pass the first?”

  “I see.”

  “Well. That's all. I'm leaving, but I'll be back in a couple of days to know about your progress. Now I have to return to my land, my king has summoned me.”

  “Have a good trip, Luca, and thank you.”

  “May our deity grant you some luck, Ephesto,” concreted Luca with a smile and he left.

  Ephesto saw Luca leaving and disappearing after cross the exit; he took the opposite direction. He crossed the opposite access arc, thinking that someone would stop him but it wasn’t, and he continued walking through a path that led to a building near the access. In the distance he could see another bigger building, and a bit farther another with same size. He decided to enter the contiguous building, but he was intercepted by a rough-looking military who was wearing a white-cape. But it wasn’t a cape like those carried by city watchers, but was different for the golden shine that radiated by the light reflected.

  “Can I help you?” said the military authoritatively.

  “Where do I ... find the interview place?” said Ephesto then showed him the scroll.

  “Are you looking for the Main Building and you arrived from this way?” asked the military intrigued.

  “I ... I guess I have done something wrong ...”

  “You are not lost at all. The correct building is not this one, but that other one you see at that direction,” he pointed towards a building distinguished at the distance. “Just follows the path. But do not enter through the first door you will find, you could get in trouble. Continue walking until you find the one on the corner. That is the main one. Am I clear?”

  “Aye, I will follow that direction and thank you for the information.”

  Ephesto walked a few steps southward and then turned to his left. He located the first entrance of the building; he returned his gaze and realized that the military was still watching him. He decided to continue walking because almost arrived, could already see the main entrance a few steps away. Arriving at the corner, he entered without further delay.

  The lobby was spacious; there were six militaries stationed in strategic locations: two were patrolling the corridors in synchrony, other two were guarding the corridors connecting to the sides, and two more were guarding a two-leafed door at the end of the main aisle. He approached at large entrance.

  “Good day, my name is Ephesto,” said to one of the militaries at the entrance, “and I've come to interview me with the general.”

  “You bring your presentation?”

  “Presentation? You mean the scroll...? Yes. I had forgotten, here it is ...!”

  “Then you can go in,” said the military without checking the scroll, and opened the door.

  He went in and the door was closed behind making a sound. General Solaris was waiting for him, behind a large desk. Ephesto watched him drowned by his presence.

  “Approach,” said Solaris, whose voice was heard throughout the room.

  As he approached, he was even more attracted by the appearance manifested of the general, but it was not only his appearance, also his creative will that throbbed majestically across the room. A will he had never felt in another being, not even his mentor radiated with such existence.

  “Greetings, respected, I am ...”

  “You are Ephesto, judge Aquilha's acquaintance; and Luca, the diplomat, has taken you out from prison and sent you to me for interview you.”

  “Yes...”

  “I am general Solaris. But you already knew that, as I knew you would come. Even there are things I do not know yet, but I must know. Tell me, why do you want to be trained in the military art?”

  “I-I'm-I mean,” replied Ephesto, showing nervousness, “I have related with the judge and with Luca.” He breathed deeply, and, remembering the calm murmur of Crimson fields, relaxed. “My desire is to help them, but the arts I dominate are not enough, and my aptitudes are weak because of my inexperience ... I have seen militaries and they demonstrate respectful strength that I have not felt in other beings around here. I would like to act like them. I feel that in this place I can learn and grow a lot.”

  He had said looking the general directly to his eyes. The general had felt sincerity and passion in them, which pleased him.

  “Your reasons ... are mean less,” said general Solaris with a smile. “But I have decided that I will train you, considering the judge recommendation. Let me the presentation that you handled.”

  Ephesto gave it to him. Next, general Solaris extended the scroll, and with a feather-pen, which he rinsed with golden ink of a flask that was on his desk, he signed it; putting his name in the bottom left, next to where it was signed by the Judge. He waited until the ink dried off.

  “While you are under my tutelage, you must obey to every order given by your military superiors. You should never question them. Obey is the primordial characteristic of a military, always keep it in mind.” He rolled up the scroll. “Take it back. I have assigned you to Captain Eelago's Division. Go and introduce you to him. From this moment, he will be your superior. You can leave now.”

  Ephesto took the scroll back.

  “General?” he called general's attention, interrupting him. “Where do I find captain Hílago?”

  “Right now he is in the training yard with those who will be your companions. Do you have any other questions?”

  “In-” Ephesto wished to ask again, this time for the place, but he regretted it. “No. No more questions.”

  After leaving the room, the military who had opened the door before asked him to follow him. Both left the building. They stopped at the corner of the main path, and the military gave him a last explanation: “continue walking south, when you arrived at the plaza, you would identify the training yard because you would see a military group gathered”. Ephesto left, thanking him.
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