49 The Order of things*
True to her word, Arita had brought in a small goat for Rassa to feed from after he'd completed his bath. The clothes he'd been given were simple, just some trousers and a cotton shirt, but at least they smelled clean. At least he smelled clean. The clean smell, the soft bed and the meal was admittedly enough to turn his mood somewhat lighter, but that was soured by the reality that he was still in chains. He was growing unbearably bored. He tried to sleep for a few hours, but as the midnight hour came he had no desire to do so. The high windows gave Rassa the perfect view of the moonlight, and he basked in it as best he could. He sat there for hours, just thinking. Mostly about his choices up until now. What could he have done differently to ensure he didn't end up in this position. Evidently many things. But all of those paths, aggressive or passive, still would have brought him back here. It was simple, he was something different. And if those history books his father made him read were any indication, difference was something to be feared if not eradicated.
Arita returned in the early hours of the morning just as the sun was beginning to rise. Rassa turned to face her, and noticed she was accompanied by two old men and Jane. Jane grinned when she saw him, and ran over to him. Unlike everyone else that came near him, Jane didn't hesitate to hug him.
"How are you? Did you sleep well? You've been treated well right?" The questions tumbled from Jane's lips as she backed up to check over him. Rassa looked over Jane's shoulder at Arita.
"I'm fine," he replied.
The old man with far more facial hair snorted, "Quite the statement from someone chained to a wall".
Rassa's gaze narrowed, "I doubt you'd live if I wasn't fine".
Silence engulfed the laboratory before Arita cleared her throat.
"Rassa, this is the Guild Master of Toulle City Guild, Lothwick Dannefor, and this is the High Scholar Erik Loch," she said, "They're here to...well to speak with you".
Rassa looked between them, "I'll admit it, that's a new approach".
"Would you prefer us to starve you?" asked the man who had yet to speak, the Scholar, "I heard that didn't go as planned for the Knights".
After all Rassa had been through in the last few weeks, he couldn't help but crack a smile, "No, it didn't".
Jane looked somewhat ill at ease from this display, but didn't move from her spot beside Rassa on the bed.
"So, we also heard that you called yourself a Vampire. Care to explain what that is?" asked the Scholar, taking charge of the situation.
"I'm not entirely sure yet, haven't had the chance to fully comprehend it," Rassa replied.
"How long exactly would you need?" asked the Scholar.
"With these chains keeping me confined? At least another 5 years, probably more," Rassa stated.
"And without?" asked the Scholar.
Rassa scoffed, "You're not going to let me out".
No one denied it.
The Guild Master spoke up, "So what can you tell us? From what we've seen of your life lines they're unreadable. They make no sense, they're-"
"Chaotic?" Rassa finished, "I suppose they are".
"What did you just say?" asked the Scholar.
Rassa turned to the Scholar, "Ring a bell did it? That's good. I've been wanting to know what the Chaos is, what it means".
The Scholar frowned, "That's a myth".
"I assure you, those dead knights would say otherwise," said Rassa, then he glanced at Arita, "As would the Mist, wouldn't it?"
Arita seemed surprised but again, didn't argue with him.
"What are you thinking, Erik?" asked the Guild Master.
"It's a very old story. So old that most believe it's just a story. Designed to terrify more than anything else," Erik relented, "The story of creation".
"What the whole, 'Order decreed there be land and so there was land to balance the depths of the ocean' speil?"
"That's not exactly how this story tells it," Erik stated.
"Before the world began, there was not one entity, but two. They had no names to speak of but over time they became known as Order and Chaos," the Scholar begun, "Order represented all things good in the world. That which was light and even and justified. Chaos was the opposite, he was dark and selfish and unreasonable. As you would imagine, they fought, and their war with one another created many worlds and many existences. There were many races that were created, some who walked the path of Chaos, and others the path of Order. But only one race walked between the two. Humans were a blank slate, one that could be manipulated to either order or chaos. One that had the ability to choose, at least to some degree, which side of the line their fates would fall on. Both factions thrived in their own way, but they were always destined to fight. When the fighting reached an apex, Order took the opportunity to eradicate every being of Chaos that existed, and so the world was rid of such races. At least, that was how the story goes. But Chaos and Order are two sides of the same coin, you cannot have one without the other, certainly not indefinitely. It seems, in this young boy, Chaos is making a reappearance".
The room was silent as they took in the story, and then Rassa nodded. It sounded about right from what he'd heard so far, "The story fits with what I know".
"What do you know?" asked the Scholar.
Rassa grabbed the chain around his neck, hissing as it irritated his hand immediately, "I've already given up my greatest weakness, let me keep a few secrets for a while would you?"
The Guild Master guffawed, "May you at least tell us your feeding habits so we don't have a repeat?"
"Well at the moment it's hard to tell because the chains ensure I'm always hungry, but from what I learned before, once I was full I need the equivalent of a large glass of blood every day to keep it at bay. I figure if you keep giving me goats I'll be fine, though I'd rotate them so they don't die from blood loss," Rassa replied.
"Does it matter what kind of blood you have?" asked the Scholar.
"I'll equate it in terms you understand. You know how certain foods taste better than others, but for the most part they have the same or similar nutritional value? It's the same thing with blood," Rassa stated, "Human blood tastes the best, but I'll make do with animal blood".
The room was silent as they took it in, then the Guild Master spoke, "Well, I suppose we won't disturb you for much more this morning, your friend here needs to make her trip to the Academy in Barday so we'll let you say your goodbyes".
"Can I get a book or two? I don't care what," Rassa said.
"A book?" the Guild Master asked at the same time the scholar said, "You can read?"
Rassa knew he'd say something like that because Rassa was born a commoner and therefore it was unlikely for him to be able to read, but he still found it annoying.
"Yes," he replied, "Quite well actually. I'm rather bored with nothing to do so a book or two could help to pass the time".
They had no complaints as they left him and Jane alone.
Rassa turned to face Jane as they left, and she remained still for a moment.
Jane looked at Rassa, then away again, "You don't sound like Rassa".
Rassa sighed, "You hardly expected me to be happy-go-lucky whilst chained to a wall did you? That's rather a stretch".
"No, your...you sound more cynical...rude," Jane said.
Rassa's eyes widened as he tilted his head in consideration. He supposed he did, though he didn't feel like that was a bad thing in this situation. He sighed, deciding it was best not to argue that point.
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Jane," Rassa said, "I'm also sorry I attacked you. That was uncalled for".
"That wasn't you," Jane said.
"Yeah," Rassa cut in, "It was".
Jane froze, turning to look at Rassa, "No, it wasn't".
Rassa sighed, "Look, Jane, I really do appreciate your friendship, and I wish we could continue like this. But for the foreseeable future, I'm going to be chained to a wall, and you'll be learning how to be a Magician half an empire away. So please, just drop it. And don't assume that our experiences are going to keep us as the same people. Mine certainly won't".
Jane watched Rassa for a long time, and finally, deciding he was being serious, she slapped him. Without his strenghth to aid him, Rassa's head whipped to the side, but he didn't look angery or shocked, instead he turned back to face her slowly.
"You'll do great Jane. I know you will. You've never needed me to be great," Rassa admitted.
Jane glared at him, "Idiot".
She turned and stormed out.
That was the last time the two saw each other as children.