‘I, Bruathimo, a Myldoran of Myldora and a Senior Scholar in The Guild of The Turning have a request to make of you, Poelimo, Junior Master in the Guild of the Mind Library of the Shathureon – sixth House of the second Nation of the Myldorangi: ‘Are you willing to Receive my memories, to hold them sacred, and to pass them whole to the Lore Master of the Shathureon, that they may never be lost, and that our people may be wiser and richer as the Changes pass for holding and knowing them?’
‘I am willing.’
The two young men, heartfriends since childhood, sat in silence for several minutes, gripped by the importance of the moment, and their knowledge that reliving and Receiving Bruathimo’s memories would be difficult, and often painful. Before he began, Bruathimo, understanding that they might never again be together just like this, studied Poelimo for the first time in his life, as if he were a stranger newly met.
Sitting opposite him in his room he saw a dark skinned young man of twenty-five. He was of average height for a Myldoran, being a little under six feet, slim, even delicate in build for he had never had any interest in physical games, and his free-time activities were not such as would build up muscles, although Bruathimo knew he had considerable wiry strength. His long hair, tending to a slight wave, hung gleaming down his back. It was black, the most common colour on Myldora these days, but since his family originally came from the far North, in certain lights it had a gleam of brown.
His face was broader than most Myldorangi’s, and his nose had been the butt of many friendly jokes over the Changes, for to a true Shathureon with a long and aquiline nose it was considered snub. Bruathimo remembered how, as a Three, Poeli used to be upset about it, and how when he was a Five he’d demanded that the Master Healer should be asked to change it. However he’d begged him to keep it. ‘I like it, please don’t change it!’ and reluctantly he had accepted the nose he’d been born with.
His eyes were dark brown with signs of laughter around them, and an upward twist to the right eyebrow which gave him a comical look. This was reinforced by his ears which were a little larger than most, and to his distress had refused to be hidden by his hair no matter how his mother had arranged it. His hands, lying open on his knees as he sat ready to Receive Bruathimo’s memories, were small and slender but well formed, like his bare feet which were firmly planted on the floor.
But it was his hidden gift, quite unrecognised by Poelimo himself, for which he was loved by so many. Despite a sensible and down-to-earth attitude to life, he also had a delicacy of understanding and insight precious to all with whom he had dealings. He took it for granted that everyone understood their friends as he did, but they could have told him they didn’t, and that they were blessed by his individual approach to their troubles and problems. Little did he know how much their hearts were lifted and eased when in his quiet way he said, ‘Tell me,’ and his friends could unburden themselves to his compassion, and receive a timely word of wisdom and comfort.
Bruathimo wondered what Poelimo saw as he looked at him – the friend he’d known since as Tinies they’d lain on a blanket together, only two Rounds different in age.
He was somewhat taller than Poelimo and his skin and eyes were unusually dark, a blue-black rather than deep brown. He looked physically stronger, his nose was aquiline, and to Poelimo’s envy his ears lay neatly beneath his long, straight, silver hair – a colour now extremely rare among their people, and not known before in any of his family. And yet, despite being considered handsome, he had no pride in his looks, since for most of his life they had set him apart from other Myldorangi, and had provoked so much discrimination and prejudice it was almost as if he were a feared off-worlder; a fact which, as a Youngling, had undermined his confidence in who and what he was, and contributed to his belief that he was a burden to those whom he loved most.
They both let out a long breath and laughed nervously. Then with a smile Poelimo nodded, indicating that Bruathimo should begin his Telling, but just as he opened his mouth the door opened and his Childling brother Tearimoling came in.
‘Hello, Temoly,’ Bruathimo said. ‘Are you looking for something?’
‘I was looking for you, Bru. Can you come and play with me?’
‘I’m sorry, Temoly, I’m busy just now with Poeli.’
‘Well then, can I watch?’
‘Not today, this is very important private busy-ness – it’s for the Masters.’
‘The Masters let us watch them.’
‘Yes, I know they do, but not all the time. They’ve got private busy-nesses too.’
‘Well, what are you doing? I want to watch!’
‘If I tell you, and promise to play with you later, or tomorrow, will you go and find one of your friends to play with?’
‘I suppose so,’ he answered reluctantly.
‘Now I’m ready to take my Great Test, I have to give the most important of my memories to the Mind Library. You know Poeli’s my heartfriend who’s played all the Games with me, and learned, worked, and quarrelled with me;’ he grinned at Poelimo. ‘He’s a Junior Master of the Mind Library now, and that means I can Tell him my memories. But to do that we need to be alone with no one else listening.’
‘But if you’re going to tell him stories I want to hear them – I’ll be ever so quiet!’
‘Well, there will be stories – stories the Masters will be telling you soon, so you’ll know about Myldora and who you really are. Everyone repeats them with their memories, then if something really bad happens they won’t be lost. But if you hear them now they’ll be spoiled for you, and Temoly, as well as stories there’ll be other very private things, and some of them aren’t at all happy or nice.
‘Now, you promised you’d go and play with someone else; and I’ve promised to play with you tomorrow, because just now I can’t.’
Temoly looked up at his brother, eyes narrowed, thinking it over. ‘Right then, I’ll go and find Kimoly,’ he declared, and marched out of the room again.
Poelimo laughed quietly, ‘Sharu was just like that at Four.’
‘I remember, but Temoly’s even more determined than he was.’
Bruathimo got up and closed the door, making sure that this time it was locked. ‘I hope he’s not listening outside. Now, are we ready?’ he said, settling himself, and preparing to leave the present and allow his mind to relive the key moments of his life. At the same time he summoned up his inner controls, hoping they would enable him to recount his story calmly and objectively. With them in place, he nodded to Poelimo and as the memories took over, he began: