CHAPTER 7 : Understanding
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As Jessica ran back towards the castle, she did not see the moon had begun to move, it was slowly lowering in the sky. Jessica was oblivious to this, lost in her thoughts trying to make sense as she ran.
She thought, What was that man teaching me? Did he know those things were intelligent? No, not “those things”….the Narfalg. They were able to communicate with me. I killed three of them…no..I killed five, if you count the ones from yesterday. And what about the child? Oh my GOD, I almost killed a child.
Jessica tripped over a root in the ground, poking up over the thin layer of snow. She hit the ground, and quickly brushed off the snow before continuing her run to the castle. When she arrived, Treynor was no where to be seen. She pointed at the first servant she saw and yelled at him.
“Where is he?”, she asked.
“He who?” the servant answered.
“Don’t give me that nonsense”, Jessica said, “Treynor. Where is he?”
The servant pointed down the hall. “Library.”
Jessica still didn’t know the paths of the castle very well. She pushed the shoulder of the servant and said, “Lead me. Move quickly.” The servant dropped the bundle she was carrying, and began to walk at a brisk pace down the hallways. Jessica followed closely, giving the servant a push here and there to spur them on faster.
Soon enough, Jessica burst into the library. She found Treynor sitting at one of the tables, with four large books open before him, cross referencing from one to another as he studied. He did not look up as Jessica approached.
“Treynor! What were you thinking?”, she asked.
“Humm? Thinking of what, girl?”, he said, still poring over the volumes.
“Of sending me to kill those creatures.:”, said Jessica.
“I needed to see how skilled you were in the m’chal.”, said Treynor.
“But they can think! They can talk!”, she replied.
Treynor finally looked up from his books. “Your point is…?”
Jessica threw her hands up in the air. “My point is, is that it’s wrong to go killing creatures that can talk back to you.”
“Why?”, Treynor asked.
“Because…”, she paused for a moment. This was something she just *knew* Something ingrained in her since she was a child. Hadn’t Treynor ever been to church or anything? “Because it’s just wrong, that’s why. You should respect sentient beings.”
Treynor smiled, “I see. So, since a dog can bark at me, or whimper when hurt. He’s sentient, right?”
Jessica shook her head, “No, he can’t speak to me.”
“So then it’s alright for me to kill a family of dogs?”, he replied.
She screamed in frustration. “NO! You can’t go killing anything indiscriminately like that.”
Treynor looked at her, “Then I am now the confused one. If I can’t kill dogs, I guess I couldn’t kill cats, or rabbits, or squirrels, or even ants. If I couldn’t even kill ants, then I shouldn’t swat at flies, or spiders either. Following this, the world would be overrun by all the little pests. Do I have that right?”
Jessica took a deep breath. “Yes…and no. It is alright to kill the little pests that multiply faster than you can kill them, or else the world would truly be run over. But it is not alright to kill anything that can communicate back with you.”
“Hmmm….so what about these creatures then? They fall into both categories. They multiply rapidly, they are an ugly blight upon the countryside, and they do no benefit to any of this area. I kill them with no second thought like I would squish ants under my feet.”
“NO! That’s just it, don’t you get it, Man?” Jessica said, “They can talk. They have names, and families, and children for crying out loud.”
Treynor stood up, and placed both hands in fists on the table, leaning over it to look her straight in the eye. “Don’t you get it, Jessica? This is what I have been training you for. You have the power now to kill, to take what you want and do what you want. I have been teaching you to use the m’chal to the best ability that you can.”
Jessica crossed her arms, and looked at Treynor for a long moment.
“I don’t want this power anymore.”, she finally said.
“Too bad. You have it.”
“How do I get rid of it?”
“What if I refuse to use it?”
“You become a nameless servant, like all the others in my castle.”
“You’re a dick, you know that?”
“I know.” Treynor sat back down at the table and went back to his studying. “Did you kill them all?”
“ARGH!”, she said. “We just went over this. I will not go killing creatures that can say their name.”
“I strongly recommend that you go back outside, and back to that village, and finish the task I gave you. If it is not done by the time I finish my dinner, then I will make good on my threat of earlier.”
Jessica looked at Treynor. She really didn’t want to be made a servant, but she didn’t want to kill those creatures either. Her brain wracked back and forth between her own well being and that of others. She couldn’t think of a way out of this situation.
“Yes, sir.”, she said as she turned and left the library. The serving girl was still out in the hallway, and led Jessica back down the halls and to the main entrance. The girl picked up her bundle and went back to her chores as Jessica paced back and forth.
“What to do?”, she thought, “ok, think, girl. If I go kill those creatures then I’m a murderer. Those first ones, well, damn…I don’t know about those. Am I already a murderer? Should I continue the path I’ve already started? But what choice do I have? If I don’t do it, then Treynor will make me a slave. I don’t want that to happen either. “
Jessica paused in her pacing and punched a tapestry hanging from the wall. “DAMN IT.”, she said. Her thoughts still racing, her eyes looked up, randomly following the tapestry. Something clicked in her brain, as she looked at it.
The tapestry showed a single man, walking down a long pathway through the woods in springtime. The sun was just rising, and Jessica could see bits of gold paint flecks woven into the tapestry to make it glint in the faux sunlight. As Jessica looked deeper at the picture, she realized the man was not walking, but had paused at a break in the trail. The path itself wove into two main branches, one which led to a mountain. Flying around the mountain in a circle was a large blood-red dragon. The second path led to a chasm, and appeared as though the trail ended at the edge of the lip.
“Looks like me,” Jessica said. “Either jump off the cliff, or go on a blood spree.”
As she turned away, Jessica noticed something else woven into the tapestry. A third trail appeared to the right of the walker. It was faint, barely noticeable, but it was there. The man had the choice of walking one of the two obvious paths, but if he wanted to, there was a third option open to him. Dangerous, un-trodden, and leading into the unknown of the dark woods, that third path showed him the way of escape.
Jessica felt a shiver as she looked at the tapestry. “That’s it. I choose neither. I can run away.”
She opened up the front doors to the castle, and walked out into the cold. Yet, it wasn’t quite so cold as it was before. The moon had gone down farther still, and she could see patches of dirt under the snow banks. Jessica walked forward into the night, and away from the castle.
She knew Treynor would be upset, and she wanted to get us much distance between her and the castle as she could before her time limit was up.