"Why did you take me?" Maeve angrily demanded, dripping on the floor of this alternate dimension.
"Would you like a towel?" Dim-Dim kindly asked.
"I want answers!" Maeve said, trying to calm down after the shock of being wrenched overboard, fighting for her life in the water and then hauled off into an alternate dimension.
"Do you know what makes a magician black or white?" Dim-Dim asked, instead of giving an answer.
"Black equals bad and white equals good," Maeve huffed, annoyed that her master wouldn't come out and say what he wanted to say. She wrung out her hair.
"Hmmm, but how do you know a mage is good or bad?" Dim-Dim asked, grabbing a towel and wrapping it around his apprentice's shoulders.
"Good mages do good things, bad mages bad things," Maeve said, grabbing the towel a little tighter around herself for warmth.
"They are two extremes, aren't they, two polar opposites. Wouldn't that mean there are a lot of grey magicians around?" Dim-Dim asked, filling the kettle from a barrel by the door and placing it above the hearth.
"I don't know I never met one!" Maeve said, sitting on a three-legged stool by the hearth to try and get a little warmer.
"You are one my dear, as am I, as is my beloved wife as are Rumina and Turok. We all sit somewhere along the spectrum between dark and light. Look at Turok, he loves his daughters and Rumina loves her father and does selfless deeds in aid of him. They are not wholly black, just a very dark shade of grey. And me well… a long time ago I took up magic because I wanted to be better at something than my brothers- I was ruled by pride," Dim-Dim explained. "When we talk about white and dark mages we speak of intent; White mages try their hardest to do good, black mages serve themselves."
Maeve dropped her head in her hands. "So I'm probably somewhere in the middle of the spectrum right? That's why you brought me here, to dust me off."
Dim-Dim lay a soothing hand on the top of her head. "No my dear, you are the whitest of all of us."
Maeve's head shot up. "But I get angry, jealous and I'm generally suspicious of new people I meet… I've killed men, Dim-Dim."
"Yes, in the heat of battle you killed men intent on killing you, when you could you merely incapacitated them. But what I am talking about is that although you had your chances, you never actually killed Rumina," Dim-Dim said.
"That's called failure, not heroism!" Maeve said, the fire back in her eyes.
"You could have stabbed her in the back and you didn't because it wouldn't be right…" Dim-Dim mildly countered. "Even though you've made it your life's goal to free your brother; you did not cross the line trying to achieve that goal."
Maeve shook her head, not feeling the compliment of being called a good person at all, but feeling chastised that she hadn't done everything she could for Dermott instead. "Why have you brought me here?" Maeve asked eventually.
"Because now that I have seen your true spirit, now that you have been tested my child, your real education can begin," Dim-Dim said. He took the kettle off the fire and added some herbs.
"What about Dermott?" Maeve asked. "I've never been this far away from him before."
"He is in the hands of the only person who can free him," Dim-Dim said.
"Rumina?" Maeve jumped up, the stool skittered across the floor.
"Turok's other daughter, saved from his evil clutches by her mother before his influence could taint her," Dim-Dim said, trying to reassure her.
"And will she? Free him I mean," Maeve asked.
"When she figures out how- it will take time my child," he righted the stool behind her and lay a heavy hand on her shoulder, obediently she sat down.
"I only ever wanted to learn magic so I could free Dermott," Maeve said, looking confused, somehow sad that she was no longer the barer of Dermott's fate. It had been the driving force in her life for so long, she didn't quite know who she was without it.
"Are you disinclined to further your studies now that Dermott is no longer an issue?" Dim-Dim asked.
"I just want to go home," Maeve admitted.
"And where is that my child?" Dim-Dim asked.
Maeve thought about the house she'd grown up in but couldn't fit the image of herself she had now into the picture of her childhood home. She thought about her time with Dim-Dim, spending every moment she could studying like a woman possessed, the only motivation she needed to keep going a single glance at her little brother wearing feathers; she recoiled from that time of deep unhappiness. Then she thought of the ship where she had found family once more. "The Nomad holds my family, that is home now," she eventually said.
"As you were tested, so Sinbad must be too. It is his time for darkness to wash over him, at the end of a year we will see where he stands along the spectrum," Dim-Dim explained.
"Then I should go to him, help him through it!" Maeve argued.
"This, he must do alone. I'm sorry my child, you cannot go home just yet. Why don't you stay here, study if you will, or don't if you will not," Dim-Dim said, pressing a warm cup of tea into her cold hands.
"It feels wrong master," Maeve admitted.
"Trust me, my child," he said.
Reluctantly Maeve nodded, sealing her fate.