18/366 – A Mother’s Love (Cont.)

Continued from 17/366 – A Mother’s Love

Morn awoke to the sound of knocking on the front door. He opened his eyes when he heard Celeste’s voice, “He’s sleeping, I’m sure it won’t be much longer.”

“I’m up,” Morn croaked from the couch. “I’m awake.”

“Master Scaine needs you at the monastery,” a voice called from beyond the doorway.

Morn threw his legs over the side of the couch and stood, walking to the door to find the same initiate he had encountered the day before standing there.

“I’m coming,” Morn said, looking around the room. His stomach growled angrily at him as he moved to walk out the door.

“Wait,” Celeste said, grabbing his shoulder. “He’ll be along as soon as he eats something.”

“I’ll inform the Master,” the initiate bowed and was on her way.

“But my mother,” Morn protested.

“Would want you to eat something. If she is down there, she’ll be furious that you aren’t taking care of yourself,” Celeste said.

Morn huffed and followed her to the kitchen.

“These are rotting,” Celeste said as she pulled the bowl of fruit off the table. “The bread’s moldy. You don’t really have much to eat here.”

“There’s some dried stuff in there,” Morn said, pointing to a small chest next to the table. “Dad always made sure that he had some to take with him.”

Celeste opened the lid, pulling a few strips of meat and some dried fruit out.

“Here,” she said as she thrust them into Morn’s hands. “Do you want me to come with you?”

Morn took a bite of the meat and nodded. “I’m not sure Master Scaine will let you in the monastery, though.”

“I’ll at least walk there with you. Maybe we’ll run into Jaque on the way. He stopped by last night and hung around for a bit. He said he’d be back in the morning,” Celeste said as she walked toward the front door with Morn in close behind.

“Sorry I passed out so quickly,” Morn said, stepping outside.

“You were tired. It’s been a rough tenday, to say the least,” Celeste said.

Morn let their conversation fall into silence while he devoured his dried meal. For the first time in days, he didn’t feel sick to his stomach and his body wasn’t sore. He felt better physically than he had since before he had snuck over the wall.

Ahead of them, the gate to the graveyard grew closer, and the good feeling Morn had been having went away to be replaced by a stone in the pit of his stomach.

“Why are there so many guards at the gate?” Celeste asked as five guards stepped into view.

“We’ll find out,” Morn said as they approached the gate. “Excuse me, Master Scaine sent for me.”

“Stop,” a guard said, holding his hand up to Celeste. “Master Scaine said nothing about a girl.”

“She’s necessary,” Morn argued, grabbing her hand, “for emotional support.”

The other four guards had their hands on their hilts as though they expected a problem. While they weren’t looking directly at them, they weren’t talking either.

“I’m sorry, but Master Scaine has locked down the grounds for now. Only authorized individuals may enter,” the guard replied.

“But-” Morn started.

“It’ll be fine,” Celeste said, releasing Morn’s hand. “Go talk to Master Scaine. See if you can get us in. I’ll go get Jaque.”

“Alright,” Morn said, letting her hand go and turning to the guard. “I guess I’m going in alone then.”

The guard stepped to the side to allow Morn to pass. He stepped into the graveyard as Master Scaine emerged from the monastery, looking as though he hadn’t slept. His eyes had bags under them, and his movements seemed sluggish.

“Morn!” He called when he noticed him and waved him over.

Morn jogged to meet him, “What’s happened?”

“I want to show you your mother’s headstone first. It’s changed,” Master Scaine said, walking him in that direction.

Morn looked at his mother’s stone to see that it had cracked on the diagonal. Not enough to split it in two, but enough that the name and date of death were near illegible. If he hadn’t known what the stone said, he wouldn’t be able to read it at all.

“So she is back,” Morn said.

“Yes and no,” Master Scaine said. “Something is preventing her full return, and I’m not sure what. I was able to talk with her briefly after you left. I’m positive it’s her now, or her spirit at least.”

“What did she say?” Morn asked.

“She asked about you mostly, and then your father. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about him. I figured that would be a conversation that would be better between mother and son,” he said. “When I asked her how she came back, she told me she wasn’t sure. She was in Rashem’s domain and felt a great pull on her. Suddenly she found herself in the Gallery.”

“Where is she now?” Morn asked.

“She’s still down there. She can’t leave the Gallery, or she starts to fade,” Master Scaine said. “She was trying to figure it out most of the night so she could go to you.”

“Can Jaque and Celeste come down with us?” Morn asked. “I think they might be able to help. Jaque is one of the smartest people I know, and-”

“Yes, yes, that’s fine. Just hurry and come back. I’ll let the guards know to expect the three of you. I’m going to collect a few more things from the library. I’ll meet you back here soon. Please, don’t try to go down without me. I’m still not certain what magic this is, or if it’s some kind of cruel trap designed to harm you.”

“I’ll meet you back here,” Morn said as he turned and began running for the gate.

She’s really back, he thought as he flew through the gate and turned toward Jaque’s house.

He reached Jaque’s house in record time. His breath was coming in great heaves as he knocked furiously on the door.

“What is so important that you can’t knock like a-” Jaque’s mother said as she opened the door. “Oh, I see. It’s you.”

“Are Celeste and Jaque here? Master Scaine needs us at the monastery,” Morn said.

“Listen here, young man, I know what you did. I know it was you that caused all those problems and got all those people killed. I’m not sure I want-” she began.

“Mom, stop it,” Jaque said as he pushed past his mother’s shoulder with Celeste close behind. “If Master Scaine needs us, then we have to go. I’m sorry for speaking that way to you. You can punish me later for it.”

Morn, Celeste, and Jaque walked briskly toward the monastery. When Morn finally caught his breath, he told his friends about everything that had happened.

“Well, this changes my theories,” Jaque said. “The monks didn’t build it, and your mother is waiting somewhere between life and death deep in the belly in a Gallery?”

“That about sums it up,” Morn said as they arrived at the gate once more.

The same guard stepped forward as though he was going to stop them, but stepped to the side, opening the gate instead.

“Thank you,” Celeste said as she walked past.

“Master Scaine should be back any minute,” the guard said. “He said an initiate will take you down to the lift to await him there.”

“Thank you,” Morn said as they proceeded across the graveyard to the iron gate.

“Let’s go see Morn’s mom,” Celeste said, her face beaming with excitement.

continued 19/366 – A Mother’s Love (Cont.)

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