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CHAPTER 6B: Drunk History Lessons

“William wait,” shouted Isabelle as she came running after William from the inn. She stopped at his front as he turned towards her. “You forgot this.” She handed him the dagger Elise gave.

     His eyes lit up. “Thank you. I thought I’ve lost this.”

     “It’s not a big deal. You left it the first time you were with us,” she said. “Where you of to?”

     “Home. Your brother says I have to ask my father what I truly am,” he answered grimly.

     “I’ll walk with you then. I need to buy some things in the market.” She started forward.

     He looked at her quizzically and then followed suit. “May I ask a question?”

     “What is it?” She regarded him with interest.

     He looked down, strangely finding it hard to look at her directly. Maybe because of her confident presence or her exotic beauty. “What’s it like?”

     “Like what?”

     “Being a settler? What’s it like?”

     She let her gaze waver afar and then shrugged. “Not anymore different from being a mortal or a protestant. You have responsibilities, familial obligations. You’re chased after by the church because they think you are a demon. You cannot leave homeland, because you would be breaking the treaty of the church. They think we eat humans as the damonens do.”

     He cast a dark face and tried not to let her see his reaction.

     “What’s wrong?”

     “Nothing,” he smiled grimly. “Its…just…I grew up thinking that my father was a magician. And that maybe someday I would be like him. Powerful. Magical. And, now that I know what he really might be—what I might be—I didn’t think it to be real.“

     “It doesn’t feel like all your dreams have come true?” guessed Isabelle.

     “Something like that,” he mumbled. “I thought of it as that, as dreams, and dreams never come true. At least for people like me—errand boys. And I don’t know if I really…”

     She said in a more jovial tone, “I didn’t mean to slander the essence and pride of being a settler. I do quite enjoy being one than being a mortal. Both have pros and cons. But I’ve come to enjoy what I am and disregard the bad parts that come with it. I simply accepted them and moved on. The Catholic Church would still hate anyone who breaks their holy laws and principles despite who broke them. And being a settler doesn’t change that fact.”

     He was different, he began letting himself think that. But what now? “So what does being a settler change?”

     “I imagine nothing,” she answered sincerely. “You would still be like anyone else, having the same problems, the same solutions and the same answers. And like everyone else, things will only change if you want them to. If being a settler makes you feel that you are special, then be special. But if not being a settler made you feel less of yourself…doesn’t it make you wonder how much of yourself you thought was good even before you knew?”

     He considered her words and then said, “I’m not saying I don’t think of myself as good or less—“

     “Really? Because you sound like someone who always thought of others first and himself last.”

     He didn’t let himself think about what she said because the truth had stung. “Am I to simply accept what comes from my father’s mouth? Whether I am a mystic, a miseryiel…” he recited from what he had heard from Paolo and Mikael.

     “Minstrael,” she corrected.

     “That or a mortal?” he said.

     “Yes,” she answered with a slight purse of her full lips, which drew more attention than it begged to for William. “We are, who we are. We can spend our whole life denying or not liking who we are, but the fact remains we are who we are. And if I am a minstrael, then I am. And I will be proud of it no matter what.”

     He tried to not to focus on her lips when she talked, but glancing at her eyes made him feel queasy in the stomach. “I think that makes sense…”

     “It does.” She touched her arm which William felt burn slightly. “You said it so yourself, you wished for this. You wanted this to come true. So be strong and accept the truth of who you really might be.”

     He nodded, looking down, feeling her touch on him.

     She stopped at a crossroads. “I think I already know what kind you are.”

     He lit up with an inquisitive look.

     “I’m not going to spoil the surprise,” she chuckled.

     “Why not? It would save me the trouble of asking.” And a sound lashing if things didn’t go his way.

     “No. Sorry. You would have to ask him yourself. I’ll see you around.” She smiled brightly and then curved a path.

     “Ah Isabelle,” he called out.

     “Yes?” She stopped and gave him an inquisitive look.

     “That wasn’t the first time I’ve seen damonens.” His eyes were to the ground.

     “Come again?”

     “I wasn’t robbed,” he confessed. “My friend was captured by two and I was almost killed trying to free him.”

     “Damonens don’t take prisoners, they feed,” she said knowingly.

     He shrugged. “One tried to eat me. But the other one stopped him. I don’t know why. They were fighting, arguing.”

     “Where did this happen?” A rigid tone escaped her voice.

     “At an abandoned house to the north out of town,” he recounted. “Not quite sure. Anyway, I have to leave now. My father is really waiting for me. Thank you again. And sorry if I lied to you.” He smiled and hurried on his way.

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