Portrait Of A Young Man – Prologue of Draakoa in Danger

Told by Senior Mistress Delure of the Guild of Creative Arts.

I first painted Bruathimo, son of Tearimo, of the House of the Shathureon, when he was a Senior Scholar in the Guild of The Turning and preparing for his Great Test. I’d offered to do it because I knew our Master Portrait Painters would be uncomfortable working with a Sensitive. Not that they were prejudiced against them, but a good portrait requires a sense of ease and understanding between the subject and the Master, and few of them knew him at all well; whereas I’d been Training him in my branch of the Creative Arts for fifteen Changes and had known him as a founding member of the Constellation for ten.

In the event I found these different understandings of him rather confusing, and when I was preparing the studio I had to remind myself that what his family wanted was a portrait of their son and brother, not the Star-Crowned child of the Grace who often spoke with authority in our Constellation’s Clusters. However he solved the difficulty for me, because when he arrived he was wearing his everyday working clothes and had brought a number of items with him, each of which had an intimate connection with a family member or a friend. A carved panel of a Chilling Black tree was hung on the wall just behind his shoulder, and the other objects were arranged on an embroidered cloth which covered a small table. Lastly he found a tall stool to rest against comfortably, and settled himself at an angle, looking off into the distance, one foot down as if he were just going to walk away.

   ‘That’s good,’ I said, ‘It’s well balanced, there’s plenty of interest in it, and a sense of movement.’

He settled peacefully to his pose and I began to sketch and then to paint. A hundred times and more I’ve wondered how you can know and work with someone for many Changes, but when you come to paint them find yourself face to face with a stranger you’ve never seen before.

He was wearing plain brown trousers with a splash of blue paint on the lower part of the left leg and a thigh-length tunic in a weave of forest greens and browns. The close fitting, stand-up collar of a dark green shirt could be seen at the neck of the unlaced tunic, and their sleeves had been turned up together twice, leaving his forearms bare. On his left wrist was a copper band stamped with the eagle feather of the Shathureon, and on the first finger of his right hand he wore a ring with a deep red stone.

I liked the look of his long, elegant, bare feet, the right on the bar of the stool, the left planted on the floor. They were shapely like his hands. Of course he was tall like his father, four inches above the average for a Myldoran, but well proportioned. I’ve known tall Myldorangi who were all legs, and others whose shoulders and chest were too broad, but Bruathimo was well balanced, and his shoulders and upper arms though strong retained the classical Myldoran slenderness, while the muscles in his bare forearms showed he was not averse to hard work.

By the end of the first day I’d finished his hands: the heel of the right pushing down on his knee as if he was just about to lift himself off the stool, and the left lying quite relaxed on his thigh, and I began work on his head and face the next morning.

His neck was long, and his head a well-shaped oval with neat ears lying flat to the skull and half-hidden by his long, straight, silver hair, the side locks of which were caught in a loose plait down the centre of his back, the rest flowing loose beneath it. His high forehead led to a slender, straight nose and a wide strong mouth, although his lips hinted at the Sensitivity which was so much a part of him. His eyebrows had the slightest upward slant toward the outside and his eyes were almond shaped and as dark as any I had seen. His skin was also a beautiful blue-black. In other words he had all the characteristics of one of the silver-haired Star-Crowned, those born under the influence of the Grace, and often Gifted with the extremely rare Sensitivity, or possibly one of the other Great Gifts. Bru was one of those who had two Gifts, Sensitivity and The Turning.

Thinking about his looks I declared.  ‘If you weren’t a Sensitive, Bru, I’d have you sitting for some of my Scholars so they could learn how a true Myldoran ought to look. Silver hair used to be a far more common colour in the days when everyone was a believer.’

   ‘Perhaps things will change,’ he remarked and smiled. ‘They’re beginning to already, Del. All we need is trust and hope, together with a large portion of patience.’

I took a full Round of days to complete the portrait, and it was one of the best I’ve ever done. He told me his family and friends were delighted with it. But it wasn’t the last I made of him. This young Star-Crowned, who, for widely differing reasons, had long been of interest to many people, was going to become notable throughout Myldora in a completely new way before too many Changes had passed.

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