“Well, Laddy … And where do you think you were last night?” Hiral turned abruptly to face a startled Nomis. “There was considerable excitement around the Sanatorium and our quarters last night … and you were very conspicuous by your absence, young sir! What have you to say for yourself?” Without giving Nomis time to reply, he continued: “We were all extremely worried and thought you had come to some harm, because it was two hours past midnight when the black-cloaked intruder was discovered lurking in the passageway going up towards your chamber. When he was challenged by young Brother Taliesin he sprang past, knocking him over as he escaped.”
So, that was the real reason for Hiral’s short temper this morning, Nomis thought. “I’m sorry I gave you cause for concern, Master, but I couldn’t sleep and decided to stretch my legs in the fresh air. I’m afraid I must have fallen asleep whilst watching the moon … I’m sorry, sir,” Nomis apologised. “It won’t happen again, Master Hiral, sir.” This was the first thing that Nomis had said to his tutor since the day had begun. Hiral’s face softened slightly, the tension easing.
“You just make sure that it doesn’t … I would hate anything to happen to you,” Hiral admitted with a gruff, quieter note in his voice. Nomis was startled to discover that his tutor actually seemed to have a genuine liking for him. Most Elfins were afraid of the crusty old physician especially since he appeared to have the power over life and death in the Sanatorium. Nomis just stared at him, open-mouthed.
“Come … we had best begin our work for the day,” Hiral responded in his usual brusque manner. Nomis sighed with relief as they continued on their way. He had just been let off some very awkward questioning.
After the sentry had checked them through the eastern entrance with the new day’s password, they made their way to the right, then down through the undergrowth at the base of the tower. As they passed the crack in which Nomis had been asleep last night, he couldn’t help wondering if he really had met his father … Was Pelydryn real? … Was there really a way for Pelydryn to help him develop his powers of Gallael, if he existed at all? … Did he really want to anyway? Having been brought up to believe in sound, solid, practical things alone, he