44 The City of Toulle*
After six days on the road West, Arita and her charge finally arrived at Toulle in the late afternoon. It was quite picturesque from a distance. It was built up on one of the larger hills, surrounded by a stone wall that was certainly more for display than for practicality. Jane could not quite see it so far out, but Rassa could see every detail. Each panel of the wall was carved with images of the farmers who had made the city famous. Cattle, Wheat, Corn, Orchards, Sheep, and that was just what Rassa could see facing the East. Each thick column which was topped with a guard house on top of the wall, was carved with large descriptors of the founding of the city. Rassa had to admit, if he were to say anything of Toulle, it was that they were quite a proud and patriotic people.
"Go to the Northern Entrance," Arita instructed the driver.
Seeing as the path to the Northern Entrance no doubt led to the Northern Districts of the Empire, it was safe to say it would be the least busy. There were few villages North of Toulle, as at the opposite end of valley Toulle stood at the southern end of was the beginnings of the Endless Lake. This Lake was so big that one could not see the northern end from the south, nor the western edge from the east, unless they came to the Mountain range that was at the Northern end. This Mountain Range, the unimaginatively named the Northern Mountain Range, split the Empire from the Desolate Northern Land that had been uninhabited for quite some time. The Mountains themselves were the home of the Dwarves. The Range travelled all the way across the continent, from the shores of the Wide Ocean in the East, to that of the Jade Sea in the West. It was said that no one that had crossed the mountain range to the Desolate Lands had ever returned.
The city of Toulle seemed to be set up in rings. Farms and outer villages made up the outer rings, and the inner rings were those that sat beyond the carved wall. Markets and higher end stores of various descriptions, as well as the homes of the noble class. In the centre of the city stood four buildings; the Knight Barracks, the Magician's Guild Hall, the Church and the City Administration. The four, despite being the centre of the city, were entirely separate buildings, designated by their unique structures and signage. The City Administration looked mostly like a converted townhouse, though much larger. The Barracks were just like they sounded, housing for the Knights, a few offices for those of higher ranks, a training field, and stables for the horses. The Guild Hall was perhaps the most rustic looking. In true Magician style, it seemed much more nature oriented, and was far harder to determine in some parts of the structure if it were man made, or simply occured naturally. Finally, the Church was the complete opposite of the Guild Hall, a huge man-made gaudy monstrosity that everyone could see from beyond the city wall. Of course, Rassa was not privy to all of this detail through his small gap in the cloth. He only heard about it from Arita's gushing after Jane had asked.
The Carriage was taken through the southern gate without much resistence. The Knights who were on duty simply glanced at Arita's crest and waved them through. They gave strange glances at the cage in the back, but didn't ask about it. Having no experience with Magicians himself, Rassa couldn't help but wonder if not asking was an ettiquette of respect, or just common sense. If someone drove into his home with a covered cage, he'd want to know what they were bringing in. In this case however, he supposed he should be grateful for their negligence.
Being late afternoon, the streets were relatively busy, but Rassa could see little details. From all the glances the cage was getting, he was doing his best to stay out of sight. The last thing he wanted was to draw attention to himself in this state. Chained with his unique black life lines on display.
After a few turns and long roads, Rassa finally got his first glance at the Toulle Guild Hall. Just like Arita's description, it was hard to tell what parts were entirely manmade, and what had been naturally formed. Towers of the Hall seemed to be carved from massive trees, and another section was shaped so delicately from the earth that it looked like it had always stood there. Rassa knew that such formations could not possibly be naturally occurring, but that didn't take away from the aesthetic. It was beautiful to say the least. After showing Arita's Guild Crest, the Carriage passed through the side gates and into a section at the rear of the building that was seperated from all outside interference.
Arita then turned to Jane, "Come with me, I need to give my report".
"What about Rassa?" Jane asked.
"He'll be fine here".
Rassa didn't bother arguing, he would rather stay in the cage than be paraded around. At least behind the cloth he could keep some semblance of dignity.
Rassa watched as they retreated out of sight, the driver leaving too. He sighed, alone with his thoughts at last. Just as he was relaxing, he sensed it, that part of his soul that Red Eyes had inhabited. It stirred, and yawned to life once more. Rassa sensed he was angry, but not in a violent way. No, it was more like disappointment. He could sense Red Eyes ascertaining the situation, but the dark spirit remained silent. After a moment, Rassa could take it no longer.
'What do you want?'
'It doesn't matter what I want. I can't get out of these chains. Just the act of leaving the protection of your inner soul is taking its toll'.
Rassa felt somewhat relieved at that, though to his surprise it also disturbed him. He had nothing to fall back on now if something went wrong. He truly was only relying on himself.
'Not exactly,' Red Eyes admitted, 'I may not be able to get what I desire now, but that does not mean I won't in future'.
'Neither of us can break out of these chains, and it would take a miracle for someone to let us out'.
'I can't break out because I'm only a spirit. You can't break out because you are still sealed'.
Rassa frowned, 'When do I become unsealed?'
'Taking into account your growth and maturity...I would say around your eighteenth birthday'.
Just over 5 years. 5 years in chains. It didn't sound so appealing now. He'd just wanted to use the chains as an insurance policy in case he lost control. Not as a permanent state.
'Now you understand your stupidity,' Red Eyes scolded, 'Such a long time...we shall have to take advantage of this'.
'Take advantage?' asked Rassa, 'What do you mean? Practicing control? It's hardly practice if it's not me that's choosing when to feed'.
'That can be a part of it, but I was actually thinking of training you,' Red Eyes stated, 'Properly'.
Rassa didn't want to ask what that training entailed, but he knew he would find out anyway.
'It's actually quite simple, and something you will be able to do as well in the distant future should you have the desire. Alas, being chained as you are this is the most I can do. One lesson a week should be the most I can manage though. These chains drain me too quickly,' Red Eyes admitted.
Seeing nothing better to do, and knowing this would help him to understand what he was more quickly, Rassa conceded.
'What do I have to do?'