Continued from 14/366 – Master Scaine
“Follow me,” Master Scaine said. He walked past Morn, placing a hand on his shoulder on the way by.
Morn turned to follow, “I don’t want the mayor to dictate my future.”
“I should think not.” Master Scaine rubbed his hand down the snout of the creature outside his door as he rounded the corner. “There are very few scenarios in this world in which our fate should be left in another’s hands. No matter who they are.”
“But you said that the mayor will decide what’s best for me now. I’m almost certain that will be a bad plan for me,” Morn said, keeping his distance from the shifting stone eyes of the statue.
“You could come here,” Master Scaine said.
“I don’t know about that either,” Morn replied.
“Then what do you want?” Master Scaine asked, turning to face him.
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t figured that out,” Morn admitted.
“Wise words for one as young as you,” Master Scaine said. “Do you know how old I am?”
Morn shook his head.
“I’ll tell you a story from my youth then. Maybe you’ll figure it out from that,” Master Scaine said. “Would you care for a story while I take you deeper into the monastery?”
“I’m curious, but I’m not sure it’s relevant to what I’m going through right now,” Morn said.
“It’s actually very relevant,” Master Scaine said as he turned another corner that led to a lift at the end of the hall. “This will take a little while anyway. I may as well entertain you along the way. So what do you say?”
Morn looked at the lift, shrugged, and stepped in. “You are the Master here.”
“Exactly.” Master Scaine replied with a smile as he pushed the lever forward, and the lift began descending slowly. “I was born far away from here. In a small kingdom ruled by a tyrannical family known as the D’Shar. They didn’t pay much mind to my tiny village, but the noble that rules over the lands very much paid attention.
“The noble spent his time traveling to the various households collecting taxes out of the tax season when people had nothing really to give. He would use this as an excuse to punish them. Often the punishments were public flogging or something else just as cruel.
“One day, this Noble arrived at my family’s home and demanded immediate payment of a full year’s taxes only two months after they had paid for the year. When my father told him he didn’t have it, the noble smiled a wicked smile and commanded his guards to pull my father from the house for punishment.
“My elder brother rushed forward in his naivety to stop the guards, and, in the ensuing struggle, was killed by the noble himself. My family was distraught from the whole ordeal. He still received seventeen lashes in the center of town.
When the townsfolk found out about what had occurred at our home, they began to visit us while my father was healing. Many talked of killing the noble and overthrowing the king that appointed such monsters over the people. My father refused every suggestion. He simply wanted to get back to his normal life and hope things got better over time. Most of all, he didn’t want to kill anyone.
“I’m sure you can imagine that in my youth, I found this all absolutely infuriating. No matter how my father tried to quell my anger, it would only fan the flames. In my arrogance, I ignored my father’s command to leave things be and went to visit some of the neighbors.
“We arranged a coup to kill the noble. Never again would he hurt another person in the village. I was sure of that. Can you guess what happened?”
Morn thought for a second, “He found out?”
“He found out.” Master Scaine nodded. “He found out from one of my father’s closest friends no less. The night before the coup, the noble arrived at my home with two dozen guards.
“My father was furious with me and handed me over to the Noble. I was shackled and led to a post for the horses out front where I was attached. Even having no power or choice in the matter, when the Noble approached me, I was shaking with fury. I threatened to kill him. To avenge my brother’s wrongful death.
“Once again, I saw the malice-filled grin spread across the Noble’s face. He turned to his captain and ordered his men to kill everyone in my home and burn it to the ground. I can remember screaming and trying to break my bonds as the guards kicked in the door with their weapons drawn.
“I had to listen to my entire family be slaughtered because of my overconfidence and lack of planning. I had sworn that the Noble would never hurt another person in the village, and yet, because of me, he killed my entire family and left me there to watch my home burn.”
“I’m sorry,” Morn said, tears welling in his eyes, “I didn’t know.”
“It was a long time ago,” Master Scaine said, waving off the condolences. “Do you know what I did?”
“What could you do?” Morn asked, feeling his heartbreak again for the Master’s family.
“I eventually pulled the shackles from the post after hours of struggling with them. I broke my wrists freeing myself from them and ran into the forest to hide from the Noble’s men.
“Over the following few weeks, while my wrists healed, I foraged berries and slept in dens of all sorts of creatures, terrified that they would return while I slumbered. Somehow, by the grace of the gods, I suppose, I survived long enough to heal.
“I returned to my defiled home, dug graves for the remains of my family that no one in the village dared to touch, and found my father’s sword. I hid in the forest until the sun went down and crept to my father’s friend’s home. Once I was sure his family was sleeping, I crept through the back door and killed him in the common room. I left his family alive, but only because I wouldn’t be like the Noble.
“From there, I made my way across the farms, well outside the village, to the Noble’s keep. Using the shadows of the early morning, I evaded the guards and made it all the way up to the Noble’s bedchamber. I drove my father’s sword through his wife’s chest, killed their sleeping baby, and slit his throat before throwing him over the balcony into the barracks below.”
Morn opened his mouth to speak, but Master Scaine’s hand raised to silence him.
“I was wrong,” he said, “I went too far. I ran from the keep, the territory, and the kingdom seeking somewhere that I could make amends for the terrible acts I had committed. I traveled across an ocean and eventually landed in a city not far from here where I met an interesting monk by the name Holondran.
“Seeing my broken spirit, and need for redemption, he took me into his tutelage. A short time later, both Master Holondran and I began searching for a place to build a home. That is when we stumbled across this unique structure in the middle of the forest, surrounded by a gargoyle guarded wall.”
“Wait,” Morn said, “You founded monastery?”
“I was a small part of it, yes,” Master Scaine said.
“But that was centuries ago,” Morn said. “You’re telling me that you’re hundreds of years old?”
Master Scaine nodded. “And in that time, you are the first person I’ve met that reminds me of myself. Curious, a little stupid, and just crazy enough to try to change things for the better.” The lift came to a halt. “This is as deep as this goes. There is something I need to show you, once you see it, you can decide for yourself what you are going to do.”
Continued 16/366 – Master Scaine (Cont.)