When I woke up I was laying in the back of a wagon that rocked back and forth like a drunkard as a black giantess gently ran a wet cloth across my brow. "Ah," she said with a voice that reminded me of honey, "it seems that you're not going to die after all."
Where am I, I managed to force out even though my tongue felt like it was three size too big for my mouth.
"You're relatively safe," she said as she tended to some wound on my side. "Where did you learn to cast that spell?"
I stared at her and tried to remember why she made my stomach churn. My ears were ringing and I could hear voices outside the cart that were talking in a strange, guttural language. I couldn't understand most of it but there were words here and there that I could almost make out. I tried to focus on the winds of magic so I could force them to help me understand what was being said but my head hurt too badly to concentrate.
"Not going to answer," she said as she pressed her lips together. "Okay then, let's try this another way. You're going to tell me where you learned how to cast a spell like that or I'm going to let that angry dwarf Malcolm come in here and work on you."
What's a dwarf?
Her eyes grew large as she stared at me and then she put her head in her hands. "Just great," she muttered, "we lose the entire caravan we were hired to protect and I run into a wizard that just dropped the biggest spell I've ever seen on us and he's got amnesia."
As I watched and listened to her rambling on about the troubles she'd had with the caravan since they had left out of Perrenland. Giants, trolls, goblins, and finally a bunch of savages from Ket had attacked them and now she was having to take a Kettish wizard with amnesia back to the king in the hopes that somehow that might get their fat out of the fryer.
What is Ket?
She looked at me and shook her head, "Boy you really are scrambled up. Ket is where you're from."
No, I said as my vision started to tunnel.
"Oh," she said with a smile, "then where are you from?"
I wanted to tell her that I was from the Valley of Seven Daggers in the Sevenfold Lands. I wanted to tell her that I was a member of the Warriors of the Path before she and her friends killed all of us. Mostly though, I wanted to laugh at all her foolish questions and drag her down to me where I could press my lips against hers, but darkness took me and I fell back into a dreamless sleep.
When I woke she was gone and the drunken cart had sobered. I laid there for a few minutes looking about the cart as tried to figure out where I was but the flat lands we were driving through weren't mine. The high grass of the Sevenfold Lands was gone and so were the hills I had stalked throughout my life. The air here was too moist and thick for my liking.
I was about to leap out of the cart when I heard voices speaking nearby. The language they used was wrong. Too many consonants and harsh pauses that caused my breath to catch in my throat as I imagined them discussing my fate. I shook my head and raised my hands up so that I could begin to cast a spell.
"Are you having trouble understanding them," she said from behind me.
I stared at her as I lowered my hands and began to twirl my fingers. I understand you fine.
She had a musical laugh that escaped her lips as she shook her head. "You Kets are so strange."
Where are we?
"Right to the point then?" She said with a sigh. "Very well then, you're in Perrenland."
Ah, so I'm in the lands of the One True Faith?
"No," she smiled, "those fools come from beyond Perrenland."
I nodded as she told me that lie and expected me to believe it. Where are you from?
"Oh no, I answered your question first. Now it's my turn to ask and yours to answer."
I looked out the back of the cart and said, Ask then.
"You said that you weren't from Ket, where are you from?"
The Valley of Seven Daggers in the Sevenfold Lands. Now you. I could feel her staring at the back of my head while I began to trace the patterns within the winds to pull me from this cart and back towards my homelands.
After a long pause she finally said, "I'm from Nyrond, the village of Trigol. How did you cast that spell you used on us?"
I tied off the spell I had been working on and tucked it in my pocket as I turned to her. Her eyes were searching me for some secret that I might be hiding away from her so I smiled. I imagine that it's the same way you cast them.
"No," she said with an emphatic shake of her head. "What you did was something I've never seen before. I want to know how you did it."
Show me how you cast and I will show you how I do the same.
She pursed her lips and weighed the possibilities, her head slightly tilted to reveal the most beautiful golden earrings I had ever seen. "Okay, then I'll show you how I can speak your language."
She open a small trunk near me and began to mix odd ends and bits into a glass jar that she then boiled while she checked its temperature. Ten minutes passed as she worried the mixture and then she began to speak in that same guttural language that her companions used. With each word I could see the winds strain against her as they were pulled down into the jar and bound within. "This," she said as she held the jar up, "allows me to speak any language I want and for me to understand the speaker."
Ah, I said with mild amusement in my voice, but wouldn't it be easier if you tamed the winds of magic to your will?
"What do you mean?"
I raised my hands and began to gently coax the winds to me, binding them to my ears and tongue so that I could hear and speak the languages of those I met. It was a variation on her own naive gropings. I closed my eyes as the spell worked its way through my mouth and listened to her companions talking about me. It seems I had been here a long time.
I have shown you my way. Now for a question.
"Hold on," she said with a raised hand, "I didn't see you do anything other than twist your fingers about."
I focused on her companions and called out to them, How long have I been your prisoner?
A squat face with a mouthful of broken teeth and wildly unkempt beard leaned into the wagon. "Four months, seven days, and twelve hours."
I reeled from the answer as she stared at the vile creature who had spoken to me. How could I have been out for so long?
"You were really badly hurt," she said as she laid a hand on mine. "It happens to sorcerers a lot."
I looked down at her hand and smiled. Of course it does. Where are we going?
"We're on our way to the court Karenin," she said it like I should know what that meant so I nodded as she added, "he'll want to see you."
As will I wish to see him.