In those days,
the souls of many will be corrupted
by Gideon’s touch.
Blood will be turned to bile
and that which was lovely and true
will no longer be able to be seen in the Land.
Yet, out of great darkness glory will rise.
— From the writings of the Prophet Silmar, in the year S.C. 1320
“Is he any better?” (1)
Grace poked her head through the curtained doorway, her eyes questioning and hopeful. (2)
Revel smiled at her, but shook his head. “He is unchanged.” (3)
She scrunched her face in consternation. “Maybe you should take that cover off the Teacher,” she said. “Maybe the Waymaker can’t hear him clearly all bundled up like that.” (4)
Revel smiled again. “Come here, Grace,” he waved her in. As she came close, he wrapped his arm around her and kissed her on the head. “You are a lovely and true-hearted young lady, you know,” he said. “And wise beyond your years.” She positively beamed. “If you say I should remove the covering from the Teacher, then I will, in just a little while.” He smiled and squeezed her gently. (5)
“The Speaker says we need not worry. He says the Teacher knows what he is doing. I believe he is right.” (6)
Revel released her with a pat on the back, then let out a heavy sigh. “If that is so, then I hope the Teacher allows the Waymaker to return to us soon. We cannot remain here.” (7)
Grace frowned at this, but said nothing. Just then, a soft breeze wafted through the tree, causing the room to gently sway. She looked out the window. “I’m going to go now,” she said. (8)
“Very good, then, Grace,” said Revel, smiling. “Thank you for visiting me.” (9)
She nodded shyly, then quickly skittered out. (10)
Revel turned his gaze back to the sojourner. Gideon was laid out before him on a wooden cot, his face a vision of sorrow like nothing Revel had seen before. Tears streamed from his closed eyes, and on occasion he would sob uncontrollably, though he remained unresponsive to any attempt to wake him. He shivered continually, no matter how many blankets they piled upon him. In his white-knuckled hands he gripped his staff, the Pearl of Life now miraculously cemented to its crown. No one had been able to touch the staff, much less pry it from the sojourner’s hands. Even with the blanket covering it, the glory of the Pearl seeped into the room, pressing on Revel in a manner that was at once comforting and terrifying. None of the Remnant nor the priests of Trevail had yet been able to endure its uncovered presence without falling to the ground. Yet Grace and the rest of the People had no such trouble with the Pearl unveiled. He wondered what that said about them, and about him. (11)
Gideon let out a moan full of sorrow and shifted fitfully onto his side, the staff cuddled in his arms. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” he whispered. Then he wept some more. Revel placed a hand on his shoulder, but didn’t try to speak or wake him. He knew it would do no good. (12)
It was three days now since the sojourner had entered the tent with the Pearl. He had somehow saved them from Stevron that day, but no one in the company or among the People really knew what had happened. Stevron was there one moment, then with a whispered Word from within the tent, he was hurtled away. But how far he had been thrown, or how long he would stay gone, none but Gideon might know. Or the Pearl. (13)
The People burned what was left of Balaam’s body in a ceremony that Grace said was reserved for only the most honored among them. Since then, Revel, with help from the People, had taken charge of the sojourner’s care. Kyrintha helped as well, as she could, but the presence of the Pearl disturbed her, so she spent the bulk of her time meeting with the Speaker, Darind Reach, learning the history of the People and the Pearl among them, which he was more than delighted to share, and in the process doing what she could to strengthen the alliance between the People and the Waymaker’s company. (14)
Aybel’s reaction to recent events had been surprising, however, and even a little troubling. Her devotion to the Pearl was unmatched by any in Wordhaven. Yet here the Pearl appears, and it seemed she couldn’t get far enough away from it. She rarely visited the sojourner, despite her history of love for him. She rarely spoke even to Revel or any of the People either, but chose to make her home with the three Trevail Priests. She had set up regular patrols with them, and spent hours training with them, learning new Words, even asking them to tattoo her body with Dei’lo as theirs were. But this they refused, explaining that such a thing could not be done without the guidance of the Cal’eeb Nissim, and certainly not within the Deathland Barrens. Her behavior struck Revel as very strange, but he had not yet spoken with her about it. (15)
Nothing, though, seemed so strange as the Pearl. Its presence was palpable, like a wind or heat, and immense like the sun. It was easy to feel as if the weight of its light would crush you, and there was a part of you that wanted nothing more. But the main thing, the most disturbing thing of all, was that it was so clearly and vibrantly alive, more fully alive than anything Revel had ever experienced before. And in its aliveness lived an intelligence and an awareness that was as beautiful as it was terrifying. Even now, the Pearl was observing him, and though it had said nothing to him thus far, Revel knew that it knew absolutely everything about him, every second of his history, every dark or loving act he had ever committed, even the things he had no awareness of himself. (16)
He had not spoken to it yet. It seemed the proper thing to remain silent until it spoke first, if it did at all. The tapestries of Wordhaven indicated that the Pearl spoke only in Dei’lo. Revel wondered what that would be like, to hear the Language of Power spoken as a native Tongue, and worried he might not be fluent enough to understand. (17)
"...a work of extreme depth and breadth of vision."
-Christian Fiction Review
Michael D. Warden has been working professionally as a writer and editor since 1989. After several years as Managing Editor for a large publishing house in Colorado, he stepped into the adventure of writing full time. In addition to his fantasy trilogy The Pearlsong Refounding, he has written several non-fiction books, and contributed to more than 150 other books and magazines.