Ok, so this makes me a bit sad. It's the last chapter ever to be added to Gift. I'm so happy it's finished, but sad at the same time if that makes any sense at all. Anyway, as warned, it is very short, the epilogue itself is just barely four pages, plus a 5 page Index at the end. It may be the end of Gift, but it just the start of the whole series. I've already begun working on The Magician's Apprentice, although it will be a while before any chapters are posted. Bare with me. I want to get to a point where I can start updating on a regular basis (or as much of one as life permits). Anyway, for those of you who have been with Gift since the beginning, I do hope you enjoy the final installment. And for anyone who has just begun reading, I hope you enjoy it too.
Oh, and also, I have gone back through the whole story and revised EVERY chapter. They may not be 100 percent, but they're much better than they were.
And one more bonus: The Healer's Daughter officially has its own webpage. The link is in my Author Profile in The Healer's Daughter section. Please feel free to visit.
Me – thanks for the compliments. Nope didn't fall behind. This has actually been done for a few days but I've been working on some other stuff.
J- so glad you liked it. Glad I could help with the re-living process.
A few days later, Inara got to hear the whole story of what had happened from Evan and Benton. The other boys, just like Inara, were being confined to their beds, so Evan and occasionally Benton would play messenger.
Apparently, when Lord Padraig returned to the page's campsite in the morning to collect Daine's clothing, he found the mage deliriously switching bird forms. By the time she was well enough to explain what had occurred, the pages had been missing for several hours.
Rikash had found out that the bazhir men the pages had seen roaming the desert were looking for easy children to capture. They'd followed the pages from the morning before, and drugged them, never noticing Daine's arrival. The bazhir had then sold the pages to the Odocoileus from food from the north.
As soon as Lord Padraig found out where they'd been taken, he, Master Numair and Mistress Daine had ridden north, leaving Sir Zahir and Rikash to bring the rest of the pages and horses at a much slower pace. They'd arrived four days after the battle.
Just as Lady Keladry had said, a rider group in the royal forest had heard horn calls, as had a young mage on his journey to the capital. They'd reached the pages just as a blinding white light had appeared in the area. The riders and the mage had killed the remaining Odocoileus, and had Benton not said anything about Inara and Sam, no one would have known where they'd gone.
The riders had finally moved all the pages only a few miles from the battle ground and set up camp, while sending for the palace healers. A few of the regular healers from the riders began to handle the pages injuries while they waited. When the mages examined Sam, they found his clothing soaked in blood, but no wounds; just two matching scars: one on his chest, the second on his back. Inara was weak from exhaustion and she had severe burns on her hands. It was the strange mage who had begun the debate about the existence of the Healer's Touch, while Sir Nealan was summoned to the area from the palace.
The whole story seemed almost unbelievable, but her friends continued to reassure that it was true and that Sam really was alive. She had a hard time accepting it as truth until Benton brought her a short note written in Sam's handwriting.
A week later, Inara was getting dressed to leave her tent for the first time. Her father had told her that they'd be moving the seven pages back to the palace, as most were almost fully healed. Footsteps behind her caused Inara to spin around, only to see Sam standing in the doorway.
"Hey," he stated simply. Inara's shoulders fell as she sighed in relief. She had very little emotion left to express just how happy she was to see him standing there. "I wanted to… um… they said you have a gift?"
"Sort of. It's just for healing," she replied softly. He didn't come any closer. "It's not very controllable," she added, looking down at her feet.
"You controlled it back there," Sam whispered. He bit his lip and stepped into the tent towards her and pulled her into a hug. "No one will tell me what happened. All I remember is pain and my vision going cloudy with Nick still blowing the horn in front of me, and then waking up here."
"I…" Inara stuttered.
"Someone has to tell me, Narie. How did I get this?" he pulled his shirt collar down to show a fresh, puffy, pink scar running from his collar bone across his right pectoral muscle and ending just at his side. He was right. He deserved to know. But did she have to be the one to tell him? After all, she didn't understand it completely. Master Numair, or even her new teacher, Gavin Moonstone, would probably do a better job of it. She ran her finger along his scar and looked up at him. His blue-green yes searched her bright green ones for answers.
"I didn't see it happen," she started. "I heard you scream and I thought, if I could get you to safety, you'd be fine." He nodded for her to continue. "I found an opening in the cliff and pulled you in. Once we were safe, I realized those things had put a hole through your back and chest. I shouldn't have been able to do anything."
"They said I should have died," Sam agreed, his voice slightly hollow. Inara didn't blame him for being scared. She was scared herself, and she wasn't the one who had nearly met the black god.
"Master Gavin said my want to heal you is what called on my power. The jade my brothers gave me helped to channel it. But I couldn't control how it was used, so I guess that's why you have the scars."
"And your hands?"
"Too much power," Inara replied, gazing down at her hands. They were still partially bandaged.
"Are you going to be able to control it?"
"Master Gavin thinks so," she mumbled. Sam just nodded understanding and hugged her again.
"I'll see you for the ride," he told her as he started walking toward the exit. Inara nodded and watched him go before turning to finish getting ready. "Inara?"
"Thanks," he called from the exit. Inara just gave him a small smile in return before he disappeared. He didn't need to say any more to her.
When she finally made it to the makeshift stables the riders had set up, she found Hikari waiting for her. As soon as Sir Zahir had left the other pages at the palace, he'd brought the seven injured pages' mounts. Inara went to her mare and leaned against her side, muttering compliments to her. She'd missed the horse, and she wasn't sure Hikari understood why she'd been gone.
"You act like she can understand you," a voice called from behind her. Inara turned to see Gavin standing there. He came to see her at least once a day, if not more, although the visits were usually short and seemed more for his benefit than for hers. Inara was pretty sure he was trying to gage what type of girl she was.
"It comes from having a wild mage around," Inara answered. Had she known more about him, she might have been more respectful in how she addressed him, but he seemed so casual, and he was only in his early twenties. Not much older than her own brothers.
"I see," he told her, stepping up beside her. "Might I?"
"Sure. She doesn't mind strangers," Inara replied. She stepped back to let the man stroke her horse, and watched him. Gavin wasn't the only one who needed to find out what he was dealing with.
"I spoke to your parents about your training," Gavin said, not turning around. When Inara didn't interrupt, he looked at her. "They agree with me that we need to start as soon as possible. See what we can do immediately."
"Alright," she replied.
"You're going to stay in your family's town house in Corus for the summer. We'll have lessons at my rooms in the palace every day," he continued. Inara just nodded. "You don't seem too excited. Haven't you always wanted to be like your family?"
"I have. But I'm not, am I?" she asked, not really looking at him. She sighed. "I just wish I knew for sure if this was something I could control," she added.
"It's not going to be easy, but I think you'll reach control someday."
"But will someday be too late? Master Gavin," she began.
"Just Gavin, Inara."
"Gavin… I'm a page. It means I want to be a knight. I can't be a knight if I'm healing everything all the time. It would eventually get me killed. I can't even be a squire… no real knight is going to want a squire who heals their enemies by accident." He could hear the frustration in her voice. "There's no guarantee this will work, is there?"
"There's never a guarantee," he replied. "But trying is better than not trying, isn't it?"
"I suppose. But it's going to be hard not to get my hopes up," Inara replied. "I'm going to need to see results," she whispered more to herself than to the mage. Gavin had moved to a separate stall and began saddling his own horse so she could start saddling Hikari.
"Well then we'd best get started, shouldn't we?"
"First lesson starts now, apprentice," he told her.
"Well, if I'm your teacher, then yeah… that makes you my apprentice. A magician's apprentice, really."
"Wonderful," she sighed, "we're starting now?" Gavin nodded in response as she swung herself into the now fully prepared Hikari's saddle. She could see the company that was leaving camp lining up in the distance. Her friends were already there, along with her father. She glanced over her shoulder to see what Gavin was doing.
The mage was sitting straight up on a blue roan mare, eyeing her. "We start now. It's a long ride. I'm sure we'll learn plenty; so long as your friends don't interfere," he said pointedly. Inara frowned and looked where he was staring. Evan rested on his mount at the entrance to the stables, glaring at Gavin. She smiled at the worried looking mage and back at her sponsor. Things were certainly about to get very, very interesting.
Cast of Characters
Alanna of Pirates Swoop and Olau, Sir
Formerly Alanna of Trebond; first female knight in over a century; disguised herself as a boy for eight years. Known as the Lioness
Alexander of Tirragen, Sir
Knight who assisted Duke Roger of Conte in an attempt to steal the throne. Died at the hand of the Lioness.
Arwin of Stonegate
page; one year below Inara
Asten of Hollyrose
Second/Third year page.
Baird of Queenscove
Inara's oldest brother. A mage student at the City of the Gods.
Baird of Queenscove, Duke
Inara's grandfather. Chief of the palace healers.
Baldin of Welner Creek
fourth year page/squire
Benton of Naxen
Page; Inara's year mate
Burirum of Goldenlake
Former commander of the Queen's Riders. Married to Raoul of Goldenlake.
Corin of Masbolle
Second/Third year page; Middle son; Inara's cousin
Corram of Trebond
Lord of fief Trebond
Cythera of Naxen
Wife of Duke Gareth; Benton's grandmother.
Desmond of Kennen
Evan's sponsor when he was a first year. Killed by bandits a month after being made a squire.
Dominic of Masbolle
Youngest son of Domitan and Keladry of Masbolle.
Domitan of Masbolle
Former Sergeant in the King's own; Cousin of Nealan of Queenscove; Married to Keladry of Masbolle
Donalin of Queenscove
Inara's second oldest brother; Studying law at the Royal University
The Wildcat of the order of the Shang
Edmond of Disart
page; one year below Inara
Esmond of Nicoline, Sir
Knight of the Realm of Tortall; Yancy's knight master
Emry of Queenscove
Older of Inara's older twin brothers. Studying to be a healer at the City of the Gods
Evan of Jesslaw
Third/Fourth year page; Inara's sponsor
Faleron of King's Reach, Sir
Knight of the realm of Tortall; Nicholas's father
Fianola of Heath
Older sister of Norina of Heath. Quit training to be a knight to become one of the Queen's Ladies.
Gareth of Naxen, Duke
Called Gary by his friends; Knight of Tortall and chief advisor to King Jonathan; Benton's grandfather
Gareth of Naxen, Late Duke
Benton's great grandfather who recently passed away in his sleep; The Lioness's training master.
Strange Mage; background currently unknown. Strong proponent of the existence of strange magic. Inara's new teacher.
George of Pirate's Swoop, Baron
Husband of the lioness.
Gilyith of Marti's Hill
Third/Fourth year page; Doesn't like females being allowed to undergo page training. Constant tormentor of Inara.
Hakim ibn Ahbar
Bazhir page; Inara's year mate
The Horse of the order of the Shang
Inara's horse – dune colored mare
Inara of Queenscove
Fifth female knight candidate in Tortall; half Yamani; determined to continue the line of Queenscove knights.
Mithran Priest; teaches mathematics to the pages.
Jasson of Conte, Prince (older)
Son of Jonathan of Conte; youngest of the three royal brothers
Jasson of Conte, Prince
Grandson of Jonathan of Conte; Son of Prince Roald; Fourth year page/squire.
Mithran Priest; teaches reading and writing to the pages
Jonathan of Conte, King
Co-ruler of Tortall. Knight. Holds the Dominion Jewel.
Joren of Stone Mountain
Noble man who tormented Keladry of Masbolle during her years as a page and squire. Killed by the Chamber of the Ordeal.
Keladry of Masbolle, Sir
Formerly Keladry of Mindelan; first known female knight in over a century. Known as The Protector of the Small
Kennith of Queenscove
Younger of Inara's older twin brothers. Studying to be a healer at the City of the Gods.
Mysterious stranger Inara met during her examinations her second year.
Liam of Conte, Prince
Middle son of Jonathan of Conte; Knight of the realm of Tortall.
Maid assigned to Inara of Queenscove.
Lorrence of Runnerspring
Third/fourth year page; One of Gilyith's cronies.
Martin of Tameran
Second/Third year page
Merric of Hollyrose, Sir
Knight of the realm of Tortall; Asten's father.
Myles of Olau, Sir
Lady Alanna's adopted father; teaches the pages history
Nealan of Queenscove, Sir
Knight of Tortall; Inara's father. Healer.
Nicholas of King's Reach
Page, one year below Inara.
Norina of Heath, Sir
Second known Lady knight.
Master mage; one of the people who teaches pages about magic and immortals. Married to Daine
Owen of Jesslaw, Sir
Knight of the Realm of Tortall.
Padraig haMinch, Lord
Training master of the pages. Knight of the realm of Tortall.
Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak, Lord Sir
Knight Commander of the King's Own; Prince Jasson's knight master.
Mage/Shape shifter. Second child of Numair and Daine Salmalin.
Roald of Conte, Prince
Heir to the Tortallan throne. Knight of the Realm of Tortall.
Roger of Conte, Duke
Mage who attempted to steal king Jonathan's throne, twice. Killed by the Lioness, twice.
Head of the servants in the pages wing.
University Student/Shape shifter. First child of Numair and Daine Salmalin
Samuel of Tirragen
Page; Inara's year mate. Great nephew of Alexander of Tirragen.
Seaver of Tasride, Sir
Knight of Tortall; Seth's knight master
Seth of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak
Fourth year page/squire
Shinkokami of Conte, Princess
Married to Roald of Conte; mother of Prince Jasson.
Also known as Kitten. Young dragon in the care of Daine.
Thayet of Conte, Queen
Co-ruler of Tortall; creator of The Queen's Riders
Commander of the Royal Army
Thorville of Linden
Third/fourth year page; one of Gilyith's cronies.
Basilisk who is one of the pages' instructors in magic and immortals.
Called Tobe. Palace hostler. Former servant of Keladry of Masbolle.
Tobeis of Masbolle, Sir
Oldest son of Domitan and Keladry of Masbolle. Third/fourth year Squire to Sir Owen of Jesslaw. Knight of the Realm of Tortall
Palace Master of Ceremonies
Known as Daine. Wildmage. One of the people who teaches the pages about magic and immortals.
Wyldon of Cavall, Sir
Evan's grandfather; Lady Keladry of Masbolle's training master.
Yancy of Nond
Third/fourth year page.
Yukimi of Queenscove
Yamani wife of Nealan of Queenscove. Inara's mother.
Zahir ibn Alhaz, Sir
Knight of Tortall; trains Pages in the use of weapons and archery
Basilisk: an immortal that resembles a seven-to-eight-foot-tall lizard, with slit-pupiled eyes that face forward and silver talons. It walks upright on its hind feet. Its hobby is travel; it loves gossip and learns languages easily. It possesses some magical skills, including a kind of screech that turns people to stone. Its colors are various shades of gray or white.
Bazhir: the collective name for the nomadic tribes of Tortall's Great Southern Desert
Carthak: the slaveholding empire that includes all of the Southern Lands, ancient and powerful, a storehouse of learning, sophistication, and culture. Its university was at one time without a rival for teaching. Its people reflect the many lands that have been consumed by the empire, their colors ranging from white to brown to black. Its former emperor Ozorne Tasikhe was forced to abdicate when he was turned into a Stormwing (and later killed). He was succeeded by his nephew Kaddar Iliniat.
Code of Ten: set of laws that form the basis of government for most of the Eastern Lands
Corus: the capital city of Tortall, located on the northern and southern banks of the Olorun River. Corus is the home of the new royal university as well as the royal palace.
Dragon: large, winged lizard-like immortal capable of crossing from the Divine Realms to the mortal ones and back. Dragons are intelligent, possess their own magic, and are rarely seen by humans.
Eastern Lands: name used to refer to those lands north of the Inland Sea and East of the Emerald Ocean: Scanra, Torall, Tyra, Tusaine, Galla, Maren, Sarain.
Gift, the: human, academic magic, the use of which must be taught.
Glaive: a pole arm including a four- or five-foot stag capped with a long metal blade.
Great Mother Goddess: the chief goddess in Tortallan pantheon, protector of women; her symbol is the moon.
Immortals War: a short, vicious war fought in the spring and summer of the thirteenth year of Jonathan's and Thayet's reign, named that for the number of immortal creatures that fought, but also waged by Carthakis (rebels against the new Emperor Kaddar), Copper Islanders, and Scanran raiders. These forces were defeated by the residents of the Eastern Lands, particularly Tortall.
Kimono: Yamani robe dress that wraps around the body and is secured in front by a stiff sash called an obi. The sleeves are long and rectangular and can serve as pockets. Usually Yamanis wear at least two or three kimonos, the bottom one of a very light cloth.
Kings Own: a cavalry/police group answering to the king, whose members serve as royal bodyguards and as protective troops throughout the realm. Their knight commander is Lord Sir Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak. The ranks are filled by younger sons of noble houses, Bazhir, and the sons of wealthy merchants.
Midwinter Festival: a seven-day holiday centering around the longest night of the year and the sun's rebirth afterward. Gifts are exchanged and feasts are held.
Mithros: chief god in Tortallan pantheon, god of war and the law; his symbol is the sun.
Obi: a wide, stiff sash or band that secures a kimono around the waist. Yamanis wear ornaments on obis and tuck items such as fans into them.
Odocoileus: immortals that resemble mortal deer walking upright on their hind legs. Their fore limbs are capped with three silver claw topped digits. Their eyes glow bright red when alive. They are carnivorous, and while they can eat game species, they prefer the taste of human flesh when they can get it, specifically that of young humans. They often attack the very young and very old and have only just recently begun appearing in Tortall, especially along the coast.
Olorun River: its main sources are Lake Naxen and Lake Tirragen in the eastern part of Tortall; it flows through the capital, Corus, and into the Emerald Ocean at Port Caynn.
Queen's Riders: a Cavalry/police group charge with protecting Tortallans who live in hard to reach parts of the country. They enforce the law and teach local residents to defend themselves. They accept both women and men in their ranks, unlike the army, the navy, or the King's Own. Their headquarters is between the palace and the Royal Forest. Evan Larse is in command.
Quintain: a dummy with a shield mounted on a post. One outstretched "arm" is weighted with a sandbag, while the other is covered by the shield. The object in tilting at a quintain is to strike the shield precisely, causing the dummy to pivot 180 degrees. The jouster can then ride by safely. Striking the dummy anywhere but the target circle on the shield causes the dummy to swing 360 degrees, so the sandbag wallops the passing rider.
Scanra: country to the north of Tortall, wild, rocky, and cold, with very little land that can be farmed. The Scanrans are masters of the sea and are feared anywhere there is a coastline. They also frequently raid over land.
Scanran War: War that began in the year, when Keladry of Masbolle achieved her shield. The year ran on for eight years, but the peace treaty wasn't signed for another four. Tortallans are still picking up the pieces and trying to get back to a life without fear of invasion.
Shang: an order of Yamani warriors, mostly commoners, whose principal school is in northern Maren. They specialize in hand-to-hand combat.
Shukusen: Yamani "lady fan," silk on steel ribs that are often engraved or pierced with a design. The outer ends of the ribs are very sharp, acting as a thrusting weapon when the fan is closed and as a slashing weapon when it is opened. Traditionally carried by Yamani ladies when they don't wish to be seen with a weapon.
Southern Lands: another name for the Carthaki Empire, which has conquered all of the independent nations that once were part of the continent south of the Inland Sea.
Spidren: an immortal whose body is that of a furred spider four to five feet in height; its head is that of a human with sharp, silvery teeth. Spidrens can use weapons. They also use their webs as weapons and ropes. Spidren web is gray-green in color and it glows after dark. Their blood is black and burns like acid. Their favorite food is human blood.
Stormwing: an immortal with a human head and chest and bird legs and wings, with steel feathers and claws. Stormwings have sharp teeth, but use them only to add to the terror of their presence by tearing apart bodies. They live on human fear and have their own magic; their special province is the desecration of battlefield dead.
Tauros: seven-foot-tall immortal, male only, that has a bull-like head with large teeth and eyes that point forward (the mark of a predator). It is reddish brown, human-like from the neck down, with a bull's splayed hooves and tail. It preys on women and girls.
Tortall: The chief kingdom in the Easter lands, between the Inland Sea and Scanra.
Warhorse: a larger horse or great horse, trained for combat – the mount of an armored knight.
Wildmage: a mage who deals in wild magic, the kind of magic that is part of nature. Daine Sarrasri is often called the Wildmage, for her ability to communicate with animals, heal them, and shape shift.
Wild magic: the magic that is part of the natural world. Unlike the human Gift, it cannot be drained or done away with; it is always present.
Yama: chief goddess of the Yamani pantheon, goddess of fire, who created the Yamanis and their islands.
Yamani Islands: Island nation to the north and west of Tortall and the West of Scanra, ruled by an ancient line of emperors, whose claim to their throne comes from the goddess Yama. The country is beautiful and mountainous. Its vulnerability to pirate raids means that most Yamanis get some training in combat arts, including the women. Inara of Queenscove's mother was born there and taught her children about their heritage.
Ok, so that is officially the end of Gift. I hope you enjoyed. Please leave lots of warm fuzzy reviews. The more I get, the more I'll be inclined to start posting The Magician's Apprentice. Until then, keep reading