In the fourth installment of Zaable’s Destiny, Zaable learns more about life on a planet and the size of the cities there, while gaining knowledge about the mastery and the man who is trying to convince him to join.
Master M’Elv gave him a glance that clearly indicated he was to remain silent, and then turned suddenly toward the kitchen. Moments later there was a shriek and the sound of dishes hitting the floor.
Master M’Elv relaxed and turned back toward Zaable.
“Now, you had asked about Master H’San. Yes, he is an apprentice to the High Councilor, and I believe you could call them friends. And yes, I believe he would want to meet you.”
“First things first though. I would like to confirm your story. Will you consent to a truth weave?”
“I’m not sure what that is. I assume from the name it is some device that will make me tell the truth, or will identify if what I’m saying is the truth as I see it.”
“Use your telepathy to respond, please. A weave is the technique used with the power colors to create a desired result. In this case, it would not allow you to speak an untruth while it is on you. It would be a very short implementation and I would limit my questions to things related to the development and use of mastery techniques. And no, it will not hurt you, nor will it remain active any longer than required to validate what you have already told me about your talents.”
Zaable felt the fear creep into his mind and fought it off. This master was asking permission to put a spell on him that would force him to tell the truth. Clearly this was the day for new experiences.
Zaable started to answer, and then caught himself. When he concentrated, he could feel the difference between the spoken word and telepathy. He should have picked up on the switch earlier.
“Sir, I have never had a spell cast on me before. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it, but I can feel your sincerity as you speak of what you want to do. And I have to admit, you have definitely sparked my curiosity with your discussion of the mastery. So, against my better judgement, I’m going to say yes, I consent to this limited use of a truth weave on me.”
Zaable could feel the approval from Master M’Elv as he responded.
“Okay, watch as I form the weave, this will be your first introduction to the use of the power colors.”
Suddenly, Zaable saw dim flashes of light moving around the master, and they appeared to twist themselves around one another. He could dimly make out several different colors, notably white and yellow. There were places where it seemed that there must be another color of strand involved in the twisting and turning. But Zaable could not make out what it was.
“Did you see the formation of the colors and the manner in which I wove them together?”
“Sir, I saw some strands of color draw together and twist around one another, but I don’t know what you mean by manner of weaving?”
“Fair enough. It is enough that you saw the colors weave themselves together at my will. I am going to place it on you now. And in accordance with honorable practice rules of my master, I have included an element to cause it to give you a tingling feeling for as long as it is active on you. Are you ready?”
Zaable had to fight down the fear once more before he responded.
“Yes, sir. I’m ready.”
He saw the flashes of light move toward him and then touch his chest. As soon as it made contact, it seemed to dissolve into him, and he felt the tingling the master had warned him of.
“Okay, to help you understand what the weave does and validate that it is in place, I would like you to make up an answer that is not true for this first question.
What is your true name?”
Zaable, laughed to himself, he had defeated the truth detectors on the asteroid belt several times after he read how it was done. You simply had to control your breathing, heart rate and nerves and you could defeat the machines.
He had used several false names in chat sessions with students on the belt, he would simply use one of those, perhaps Fred.
“My true name is…….Zaable.”
Zaable was amazed. Try as he might, he could not get himself to provide an untrue answer. He might have been able to not answer, but he could not make himself give an incorrect answer. That was impressive.
“This weave works by using your own knowledge of the truth to validate your answer. If you have been taught that your name is something else, and you have accepted it, then you can provide that name even though it may not be technically true. but you cannot knowingly tell an untruth while this weave is active. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir. That is impressive.”
“Okay, so I am now going to ask you a series of questions in rapid fire sequence and I need you to answer in rapid fire sequence as well. Are you ready?”
“Where were you born?”
“The asteroid belt hospital.”
“Have you ever been outside of the asteroid belt before coming here?”
“Yes, I went with my parents on a shore leave to Signal, where we got very ill tasting exotic foods.”
“Have you been to any other planets?”
“Are you a spy for the witch hunters?”
“Are you in alliance with or working for any agent that is opposed to the High Councilor or his policies?”
“Are you opposed to the mastery or any of its agents or masters?”
“Do you currently have any plans for your future?”
“Would you like to apprentice in the mastery?”
Zaable, paused for a moment as he examined his feelings. He had read about the mastery, and there were a lot of tales of both positive and negative impacts by masters. But what he had read indicated that they always made a difference.
“Yes, I would be honored to have the opportunity to apprentice with the mastery.”
“Do you have any legal, financial, or moral concerns that could negatively impact the reputation of the mastery?”
“Thank you Zaable, I will dissolve the weave now.”
Zaable saw flashes of light move away from him as he felt the tingling sensation cease. The weave had been dissolved.
“Give me a false name when I ask.”
“What is your name?”
“The truth weave has been released and you are no longer under its influence.”
Zaable felt an unreasonable sense of relief. He had no intention of telling this man an untruth, but the fact that he was no longer compelled to tell the truth filled him with relief.
“Thank you sir.”
“Now, I must ask you directly. Do you wish to become my apprentice and study the mastery under my direction?”
“Yes, sir. It would be a great honor to study under your direction.”
“Excellent. We are in need of all the masters we can train. Your quick familiarity with the techniques required to use telepathy are remarkable, and I believe that is an indication of your ability to learn the other skills of the mastery.”
“Are there that many disasters then?”
M’Elv laughed once more.
“There are always plenty of those to go around, but that is not why we are so desperate to build the mastery once more. The reasons for that will be revealed in due course. Suffice it to say, we expect to need more masters than we currently have, very soon.”
Master M’Elv looked around toward the kitchen once more and moments later young Arel came out of the kitchen wearing a different set of clothes and looking very embarrassed. As she approached with a tray containing their food.
“Sir, I am sorry. I never meant to offend. Please enjoy your meal, on the house. I hope you will not hold my lack of manners against the restaurant.”
“Misuse of one’s God given talents is never right, and you must learn to control yourself if you are to have any hope of apprenticing to the mastery.
But with that said, I believe you have a lesson to remember, and as far as I’m concerned the matter is settled. I will accept the generous offer to pay for our meal, however. Please reassure your father that this will not reflect on the establishment in any way.”
“Thank you sir. Thank you!”
She set the meals on the table and bowed repeatedly as she backed away and rushed back into the kitchen.
Zaable looked down at his meal and focused on eating. Clearly Arel had broken some rule or done something that was not acceptable to Master M’Elv and had felt his ire. Zaable felt the tension in the air as she came to the table and it did not reduce until she was well out of site.
Perhaps this idea of apprenticing was not a good thing after all. Zaable had no idea what rule Arel might have broken, and he knew nothing of the rules around apprenticeship. Everything he had read said that people disappeared into a school and reappeared 1-3 years later as masters.
There was very little information on what happened in the school. A couple of failed apprentices (there were many of those apparently) had given hints at the hard work involved in the training. One had described his typical day in the apprenticeship as he would rise before lunar rise and work in the cafeteria getting breakfast ready, then clean up after breakfast eating quickly in the brief break between serving and cleaning up. Then off to classroom studies, followed by martial arts training, talents training and power colors training before returning to the cafeteria to prepare the evening meal.
It sounded like hard work, but not as hard as apprenticing in the mines on an asteroid belt. And there was no indication that anyone died in the training like happened in the mines. The disconcerting thing was that there was so little information about the process available. Even the person who described his day in that post was not willing to talk about it when Zaable reached out to him.
In fact none of the failed apprentices appeared to be willing to talk details which really made a person wonder what was being hidden.
Now this instant response to some unknown offense the master took with a serving girl. Zaable felt suddenly very uneasy.
“You are wondering what just happened. If you become my apprentice you will need to know this anyway, so I will tell you.
The young woman attempted to listen to my thoughts. This should never be done without the express permission of the person whose thoughts are to be listened to. The only time we allow any exception to this is in cases of injury where it is not possible to get prior permission and the person in question is in extreme danger, or in time of war, it is allowed for interrogation of prisoners, but only during the interrogation.
When someone attempts such on a master without permission, they risk severe consequences as we often have information that is highly sensitive and not to be known by those not involved with the situations in question. I made sure she would remember the lesson by giving her a severe headache and telling her how she had gone wrong. The pain caused her to fall to the floor and spill a tray she was carrying at the time. Since she clearly knew better, I allowed the pain to persist for a short period of time to make the point.
She received no permanent damage although it would have been within my rights to separate her from her talent.
The rule to remember with the power colors and the talents is if it would give you an advantage over someone without those talents, you may not use them to gain that advantage without the other person’s express permission except to defend yourself.
Do you understand?”
“The mastery is strict in its rules because we teach you how to do things that could be as bad in the wrong hands as they are good in the right hands.
I can feel your uncertainty and concern. You need time to think about the offer, unfortunately, I have very little time to give you. I need to get checked into my lodging and do the business I was sent here to accomplish. Then I will be leaving the planet again tomorrow.
I can give you until tomorrow morning early if you are willing to accept a room in the lodging facility I am staying at. I can cover the lodging for this evening in return for you keeping watch over my room while I’m gone.
Would you be willing to do that?”
Zaable was confused and uncertain. This man was stern as a mining foreman one moment and then offering to pay for his lodging so he could have time to consider the offer the next. But something inside him told him that he must say yes to the offer and give the new information some time to settle in.
“Thank you sir for allowing me the time to consider my options. I would be honored to watch your room for you in repayment for that time.”
“Excellent. It is a big decision and if you choose the mastery, your life path will be changed forever. It is appropriate that you take time to consider the offer.
But now we must go, I have commitments and you have much to think on.”
They got up from the table and made their way back to the front of the restaurant where Arel’s father met them once more.
“It was a pleasure to serve you Nar Master. Please remember us when you return this way.”
“Thank you, the meal was excellent.”
The man bowed to Master M’Elv in much the same manner as his daughter had bowed earlier, and Master M’Elv nodded his head in response.
Zaable decided that given the easy manner in which Master M’Elv accepted the courtesy it must be the appropriate manner to show respect. But apparently it was not required of everyone because the man had not bowed when they entered, and no one else was bowing. He needed to study this more thoroughly. But it was probably better to err on the side of caution as long as the possibility existed that he might become an apprentice to this man.
They walked out of the restaurant and Master M’Elv again assumed his ground eating pace leaving Zaable to dodge people and push himself to keep up carrying both their bags.
A few minutes later they rounded a corner and Zaable missed a step as he saw the huge building they were heading for. This building clearly could have housed all the miners on the asteroid belt. It was positioned across two city blocks with the transport road they were walking along dead ending into the front of the building. When Zaable looked up he could not see the top of the building as it disappeared into the thick cloud cover that had accumulated while they were in the restaurant.
“Are you still with me Zaable?”
“Uh.. Yes sir.”
“Good, I am in a bit of a hurry, so we will check in and then I will leave for my appointment. I need you to get our bags to our rooms and then keep an eye on my room. There are rumors that a group opposed to the High Councilor’s plans is in the area, and caution is essential. No one should enter my room except you until I return.
Do you understand?”
“Yes sir, I understand.
Sir, is that building full of people?”
The rumble of laughter came once more.
“Not always. It is temporary lodging for visitors. But at this time of the year, it is likely to be nearly full.”