This is a synopsis and sample chapter of my book "First Light"
A story of hope in a grey world.
On the harsh militant world of Sindorus, where even colours are considered sinful, three people living very separate lives are about to have those lives change forever. As deceptions are torn away, and ancient secrets brought to light, they each must struggle to find the missing pieces to the puzzle...answers that will unlock their true destiny.
Idrith, bitter and trapped in a life he never chose, is the first to discover his own fear-filled mystery. Obsessed with finding the truth behind the lies he turns to the one person he has always tried to avoid -- the mysterious pilgrim, Harmion.
Aztar's military promotion comes with an unexpected burden. A serious problem threatens the security of the entire Northerner regime and it seems that their only hope may lie in the hands of someone he was raised to think of as his enemy and inferior. Each day they struggle together to find a solution, but at night Aztar struggles alone as the secret he's kept hidden since childhood returns to torment him.
In a world where most women have no control over their lives Daen was allowed to grow up unrestricted and far better educated than normal. Now her father's health is failing and the running of their family estate lies in her hands...and with it the security of everyone she loves. Knowing that desperate situations call for courageous action, Daen is about to take a step that will change all their lives forever.
Published in 2008
Copyright © Text Michelle Frost
The author asserts the moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
All Rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
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At the first jangle of keys in the distance the novices, heads bowed on their way to lessons, cringed instinctively. The older monks moved quietly back towards the inner wall of the corridor and a lay brother, scrubbing the floors, scrambled
backwards on his knees, dragging himself and his water pail into a recess. No-one wanted to be in the way when the Castellan was in one of his moods. The tall monk who finally
came striding down the shadowed monastery corridor was surprisingly young, barely thirty. As he swept past the novices, his dark robe flapping wildly around his legs, they bobbed their heads in fearful deference.
Idrith Talen might even have been described as handsome if it wasn’t for the deep frown lines and general air of irritability. His features were angular, but interesting and his
fierce deep-set eyes were an incredibly brilliant blue. His hair,worn in the traditional monastic close-shaven fashion, was a most unusual colour - a light grey-brown that was perilously close to fair. The heavy key ring hanging from his belt was the mark of his position as Castellan – the Abbot’s personal
assistant and one of the few positions of power in the monastery.
It was the Castellan’s duty to oversee the daily running of the monastery. He had to manage and maintain everything from the stocking of the larder to the needs of the visiting Pilgrims and the Abbot himself. To hold a position of power at such a young age was unusual, but Idrith Talen had a reputation for unrelenting standards of perfection. He might not show the true meekness of spirit the Abbot would have liked, but his bitter dedication to small details was already legendary. If anyone had commented openly on the fact that the Castellan, though feared, was held in high regard Idrith would have snorted in disgust. He’d always thought of the job as being better described as something between a housekeeper and the Abbot’s personal slave. Idrith had no illusions of his own supposed grandeur. Titles and power could never repay for the loss of simple freedoms.
His life at Amyth was not an uplifting spiritual experience. Religion, as set out by the Laws of the Church of the Sind, was a constant battle against the evils of individuality and personal wilfulness. Salvation through submission to the Great Authority… or, in Idrith’s personal unspoken opinion, salvation through subservience to the Great Abbot. He had never come to terms with that reality. Although he had never wanted to be here he was still constantly disappointed at how empty the entire experience left him feeling. Surely a monastic life should make you realise that there was more to existence than simply existing? Instead it was something he endured with resigned hopelessness, like a terminal disease.
That theme of bleak endurance seemed embedded within the very structure of Amyth monastery. Set on the side of the harshest mountain range in the North of Sindorus, Amyth clung to vertical black-rock cliffs with stoic tenacity. Its thick stone walls had been hacked from the very cliffs it stood upon. On three sides the Ice Mountains surrounded the monastery while the fourth looked South across the great desert plain - a forbidden and forbidding area of heat, sand and death. The only way in or out of the monastery was up a narrow, steep path cut into the cliff side that twisted back and forth till it reached the plateau where the Pilgrims’ guesthouse
stood. An equally narrow bridge, set over a splintered gorge, linked the monastery to the plateau. No one could describe Amyth as inviting but it was an engineering accomplishment to be proud of.
The layout of the monastery itself was a different story. Centuries of add-ons had turned it into a totally confusing maze of corridors and courtyards that made simple things like going from the kitchen to the dining room a twenty minute trip. Idrith had often wondered why they didn’t serve cold food and be done with it, but commonsense had never
been a religious virtue. Every meal left the kitchen scalding hot and was finally eaten tepid and congealed. The stupidity of it drove him mad, but then most of monastic life infuriated him and this particular day was no exception. It had been a long day of well-known frustrations and one of his headaches was already building, like a summer storm, in the blood that pounded behind his eyes. By tonight it would be at the peak of its crimson-flaring glory.
He opened the door of a meditation cell at the end of the passage and slammed it behind him, the uncommon noise echoing away down the monastic corridors and walkways. He hoped that a few hours of peace and meditation before sundown might ease the massing pain, but even the cool desert air filtering through the narrow slit of a window felt like sandpaper on his face. He went over to the window and leant his head against the cold stones, staring out at the desert that
stretched away from the high cliffs of Amyth. The sun was beginning to set. As it touched the jagged horizon it’s fiery blood seeped brilliant reds across the sky and onto the desert plains. The pale desert sands caught the colour and transformed it into softer pinks and peachy oranges that seemed to ripple over the surface like the finest silken gauze.
It really was a beautiful view, but the scene did nothing for Idrith. All his eyes saw was the end of another
pointless day in his meaningless existence. He stood by the window, drenched in this shimmering scarlet glow, completely unaware of the beauty before him. The distant sun and far horizon were no more than a bitter reminder of his permanent incarceration within Amyth’s claustrophobic walls. There is nowhere darker, nothing more bleak, than being where you do not belong and being helpless to change that fact.
Joining the monastery had not been from choice, there had simply been no other place open to him; not after the
terrible scandal with his family. Sometimes, when the headaches were at their worst and he no longer cared, he
would allow himself the luxury of self-pity and imagine how his life might have been if his brother had never been caught. Law would have been his first choice, if there had been a choice. Ironic really, since it was the Law that had destroyed his family and his life. He had been just a boy at the time, too young to understand things fully, but not young enough to escape the dreadful memories.
Now, as he stood by the window, he thought about his brother... Kail had been the older by ten years. The few clear memories he had of him were all filled with laughter and surprise visits, wildly funny stories of his travels and gifts from strange far-off places. He could remember sitting on the floor while his mother laughed till she cried at his brother’s ridiculous stories. He had always known that Kail was her
favourite, but it had never bothered him. Kail was everyone’s favourite, so full of warmth and life. He had always forgiven her for loving Kail more, he just couldn’t find a way to forgive her for leaving him.
He’d been playing in the gardens when the news had come that Kail had been arrested for consorting with Rebels. His parents had been shocked, but optimistic. Everyone knew that Kail was friends with everyone he met. It would all prove to be a misunderstanding... but when the Zah-Riel had demanded that Kail hand over a list of names of those Rebels he had refused to comply. It was only years later that Idrith had learnt about the threats and torture and how, near the end, their father had actually gone on his knees before the Zah-Riel and begged for his older son’s life. For Idrith the memories were mostly of his mother’s tears and the suffocating silence as everyone waited.
When the final judgement was announced it had been like the cloud burst after a lifetime of watching the storm clouds grow. Nothing could ever compare in horror to the news
that Kail was to be executed as a traitor to the Za-Har. All of his family, except Idrith who was under age, were expected to witness the event which was held beside the monastery of Amyth. The religious reasoning to having the family present
was that the family could thereby prove their innocence, by standing together in condemnation of the damned. The Za-Har reasoning was more practical. Watching someone die in agony, particularly someone you loved, was the best deterrent to
rebelliousness ever invented.
Their mother had gone quite mad with anger and grief, swearing that not even the Zah-Riel himself could make her stand by as witness to the murder of her own child. Everyone had tried to calm her down and, by the day before they were to leave for Amyth, it had seemed as if she was finally at peace with the inevitable. Only Idrith had felt that something was wrong - she was too calm, almost dreamlike. The night before the journey she sat beside his bed and they’d spoken about Kail.
“Don’t let them make you believe that Kail was evil,” she’d said, gently brushing the tears from his cheeks, “He was the kindest and the best. Even if you never understand why he did what he did, remember that he loved all of us very much and that he loved you the most. He was so happy when you were born. He carried you around telling everyone that you were his new little brother. Promise me you will remember the good things only, don’t ever forget how much we loved you.”
The ‘we’ had puzzled him but he hadn’t questioned her meaning. It was enough to just have her there by his bed as he went to sleep, keeping the nightmares away…
It was one of the servants who found her the next morning. She’d hung herself from a beam in the storeroom in the stables. In a daze of disbelief his father had arranged a simple burial before travelling alone to the execution. When he returned he told his staff and Idrith that he had decided to sell the property and join the monastery himself. Returning to the routines of everyday life with so much wrenched from him was more then he could bear and the monastery offered him an escape. He would see out his last years in hiding from himself while Idrith was to be sent to stay with his father’s sister and
The years with his relatives weren’t as bad as Idrith had feared. His uncle was a hard cold man, but his aunt was kind in her own vague way. Better still their only son, Aztar, was a bright cheerful boy about his age. They quickly became inseparable. They had even wanted to go to the military academy together, but that had been out of the question. Not even the lowliest of colleges was willing to take the younger brother of a convicted traitor. In the end the only place willing to offer to take Idrith in was the monastery. His father had spent the last years of his life there. The Monastery Brotherhood had so loved this man, with his gentle ways and spiritual dedication, that they were more than happy to welcome in his son. Idrith had gone to Amyth and his uncle
could once again invite dignitaries home without having to feel embarrassed. Aztar had been the only one to be upset by the news. He’d promised Idrith that he would write regularly and he had kept that promise faithfully for the past ten years. At least two letters came every month, full of news and jokes
about the outside world that Idrith would never see again.
At first life at the monastery had been a challenge that Idrith was willing to make the best of. He had worked hard and been chosen for the responsible role of Castellan at the
ridiculously young age of twenty-five, but then the old Abbot
had died. The old Abbot had been a good man with a good heart. His fatherly influence was deeply missed when Abbot Fein took his place. Where the old Abbot had come slightly close to worshipping beer as a lesser god the new Abbot worshipped only status and power. Abbot Fein was a man who had nothing but contempt for the base emotions of kindness and compassion and in Idrith he saw everything worthy of contempt – the younger son of a tainted family line. Although he could not take Idrith’s position of Castellan from him he could, and did, take away most of his privileges and little freedoms. No matter how hard Idrith tried nothing was to be right or easy ever again… and since being Abbot was a lifetime position the chances were that he had many years of
persecution to look forward to.
As Idrith stood by the window in the small cell he thought about that fact and wondered if his mother had been so
wrong after all. Was life really worth fighting for? Surely there should be more to living than simply being alive? He banged his fist against the wall in frustration and anger - it made a hollow sound like a drum. That was a surprise; monastery
walls were not built to boom like empty barrels. He stared at the wood panelling... that was a surprise also, how come he’d never noticed that this room was panelled before? None of the other cells were. He ran his hands up and down the smoothly polished surface in wonder at his own lack of observation. The wood was darkened by age and polished smooth as water under his hands. The panels, set higher than his head, had a
border of carving along the top. It looked like flowers or stars.
Fascinated, he pulled over a small stool to climb up for a closer view. He never even noticed, as he studied the panel carvings portion by portion, that his headache had
completely disappeared. In the top right corner he found one flower that was different from the others. Instead of having five petals this one had seven and the centre looked wrong somehow. He ran his fingers over it, trying to feel what his eyes couldn’t make out in the fading light. The centre dented in under his enquiring touch and the whole centre panel slid back, with a soft wheezy sigh, to reveal a flight of very dusty steps leading down into darkness.
Idrith had heard of secret rooms and escape routes in some of the older mansions, but he had never heard any
mention of such a thing in the monastery. As Castellan he was well acquainted with the maps of the many rooms and convoluted corridors. He had never seen anything about a hidden door. He went back to the table, to light the lamp, before entering the stairway. The panel had a handle on the inside and he closed it behind himself. No one was likely to come looking for him but he didn’t want to take any risks. This secret, he wanted to keep all to himself - something the Abbot couldn’t spoil.
Once the door was shut the air soon became hot and hard to breath as his footsteps kicked up ancient dust. The
steps went straight down at first, then he came to a flat passage that went on for as far as he could see in the gloom. At the end it turned sharply to turn twice again before ending with a door so full of cobwebs that at first Idrith didn’t realize it was there. He wiped them off with the hem of his robe as best he could. It opened after a few hard pushes.
The small room beyond the door was as dusty as the passageway had been, but the air was surprisingly cool and
clear. When he held the lamp up for a better view he realized that the wall directly opposite was a window, so dirty that the only light showing was one star framed in a hole of broken glass near the centre. Seeing the star brought him back to reality with a jolt. Evening Chants would have finished by now and there was no way that the Abbot would not have noticed
his absence. Exploring the room would have to wait for a better time.
That better time proved to be almost three weeks later. The Abbot made him pay for missing Evening Chants by
setting him to time-consuming tasks so menial that they were usually only given to novices in disgrace. Idrith bore his humiliation in grim but determined silence. He knew that any protests would only make things worse than they already were and he was hoping to have a chance to see the secret room soon. If he angered the Abbot further he wouldn’t have free time until he died of old age or exhaustion. The only consolation to scrubbing floors and washing dishes was that he was able to remove soap and a bucket without anyone noticing. The room and its window were going to need a lot of cleaning.
The Abbot finally found someone else to be angered by and Idrith was able to arrange a whole morning’s solitude,
with the help of some of the more sympathetic monks. Taking his cleaning supplies and water through the monastery had worried him at first, but he managed to accomplish it by moving most of the stuff an hour before the bells for Rising.
Once back in the secret room he decided to concentrate on cleaning the room only; the passage and steps were more of a job then he had the time for. By daylight he could see enough to realise that the huge window dominating this small secret room had something more wrong with it than merely age and dirt. Up close he could see that it wasn’t a single pane or even small squares, but was divided up into irregular bits by an
outline of some soft metal.
He had never seen anything like it in his life. The pieces let the light through differently too, as if some of them were of smoked or textured glass. The only windows at the monastery that were smoked were the ones in the chapel. Smoked and textured glass was very popular amongst the wealthy city-dwellers. In a society where colours were
considered decadent, sinful and even evil, people had learnt to treasure textures and patterns. The stores in Ocren, the capital city, boasted clothing in twenty different shades of grey and window glass in frosted, shaded, marbled and smoked variations. Smoked was the most expensive and therefore the most highly prized.
Idrith wondered why a window of expensive glass had been tucked away in this obscure place. Could it be
because this window was broken? The hole that he’d noticed on the first night looked a lot worse by daylight, but Idrith knew the monks might still have thought it worth storing.
Monastery life was pared down and prudent – the monks never threw away anything that could be restored or used again. The only way to find out more was to clean the glass to see how bad the damage actually was as well as what the glass really looked like. Idrith smiled at that thought, cleaning was something he was becoming very experienced at. He pulled over a stool that had been standing in a corner and, after checking that it was still solid, climbed up onto it so that he could start cleaning the window from the top down.
The first piece he washed almost made him fall off the stool. It wasn’t smoked glass at all. It was blue. He had to sit down quickly as his legs felt rubbery.
He wiped the sweat from his face with a hand that trembled slightly. Perhaps it would be better if he just left the window and room alone and never came back here again. An interesting puzzle was one thing, but this? This was more danger and excitement then he cared to think about. This could get you killed. Part of him wanted to run, but another stronger part held him trapped - the part tormented by the need to know. How had the window come to be here? Who was responsible? Was it all blue? Were there, gods forbid, more colours than blue on it’s terrible surface? He turned around to face it, hands on his knees. Why were the pieces such irregular shapes?
Idrith pulled a face at himself, shaking his head. He couldn’t fool himself. He knew he would die of curiosity if he left now and never returned. He considered the facts - no one had known about this window in a very long time, so the chance of anyone finding it now was unlikely. He could clean it, look at it, and then leave for good. No one need ever know.
He climbed back up onto the stool and began washing with mechanical precision, not allowing his mind to wander onto what it was he was doing, what it was he was uncovering from ages of grime. Regular and methodical his hands moved,independent of any thought... wash-wipe-rinse, over and over. The central hole must have happened a long time ago because the edges of broken glass were dull and heavily caked with dust and desert sand. It looked like something large had been thrown through it, or rammed into it from this side; the pieces
of glass and twisted metal strips were pushed outwards. He deliberately kept himself from looking up while he worked his way down. Even when he was finished he kept his back turned to the window while he cleaned the rest of the room. He knew he was putting off the inevitable, but fear kept him unable to turn around… even though he knew that something dreadfully
beautiful lay behind him, covering the floor with dapples of incredible coloured light. At last he took a deep breath, sat down on the stool with his back against the door, and gazed up at the window.
He had never seen anything like it, could never have imagined that something like it was possible. The colours were breathtaking, so clear and pure that they seemed to glow with a life of their own. The window was a complete scene. At the top the sky was deepest blues and indigos scattered with tiny frosted glass stars that circled a larger seven-pointed star near the top centre of the sky. As the sky moved down towards the horizon it lightened into daytime blues as bright as his eyes. A
rainbow of curved glass strips spanned the horizon from side to side: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. He said the forbidden names in his head, too scared to say them out loud.
Below the rainbow there seemed to have been a city, hard to see as it was here that the worst damage had been done. All that remained were a few milky turrets and the odd fragment of white wall showing between lush green trees and sparkling turquoise fountains. Below the city an unfurled scroll was held open by an assortment of brightly coloured birds. It had writing on it, but it too was badly damaged. Deeply
gouged scratches made most of the writing illegible. Here and there a word remained but only the first two lines were complete and defiantly clear:
BLESSED IS THE RAINBOW THAT SHOWS US OUR UNIQUENESS,
SYMBOL OF SHIS PRESENCE IN THE WORLD,
He tried to make sense of the rest of it, but too few words remained. BLESSED and LIGHT, REJOICE, STAR and
PRAISES and something that looked like COLOURS near the bottom of the scroll. There was something about the rhythm of the first two lines that reminded him of the monks’ “Prayer of
Direction”, said three times a day at Chants. He counted the total amount of lines and realized that it was exactly the same length as the Prayer too, but this was a blasphemous parody of the original, just the idea of comparing them made his skin crawl.
At Evening Chants, when the monks gathered for their final prayers before their evening meal, he couldn’t say the words of the Prayer of Direction out loud - other horrifying words kept trying to come out of his mouth instead. He leant
back as far as possible and hoped that the shadows would obscure the panic on his face. In the darkening chapel, while the monks chanted the Codes of Law and Rules for Penance in the dull-voiced unison of centuries of repetition, he found himself staring up at the chapel windows. It took him a while to realise that there was something very familiar about them. The central one directly behind the altar was the same size and shape as the one in the secret room.
He had no idea how long he had been staring at it, but it was long enough to have aroused the curiosity of those near him. With a sinking sensation Idrith realized that the Abbot’s puffy white face was turned his way as well. When the chants were finally over he tried to slip out undetected, but the Abbot was ready waiting by the door.
“Brother Castellan; a word before you go.” Idrith turned back reluctantly, bowing his head more to avoid the Abbot’s stare than to show respect, "Castellan... do you find the salvation of your soul such a tedious thing?”
“Then why did you spend most of the time glancing about you? Wandering eyes are the sign of a wandering mind,
Castellan, and a soul that wanders from the Path is damned for all time.”
Idrith tried to keep his voice as meek as possible, “I’m sorry Father, it won’t happen again.”
“It should never have happened at all! Perhaps a twenty-page appraisal of Abbot Kord’s works on the Five Thousand Paths to Damnation might help to fill this empty mind of yours?”
Idrith stifled a groan. Abbot Kord’s works were the most long-winded, depressing tomes ever written. He wouldn’t be able to return to the room for a week at least. Abbot Fein
dismissed him with a flutter of pale fingers. Idrith knew he should go quietly but there was something he had to ask, “Father, how old are the chapel windows?”
He braced himself for another reprimand on idle minds but it didn’t come. The Abbot had been caught off guard by the sudden question.
“The windows?” the Abbot turned to stare at them, “How should I know? As old as the chapel, of course. It was built seven centuries ago, the library records probably have the
exact date.” He turned back to Idrith, “Why do you want to know the age of the windows?”
Idrith’s mind raced for a plausible answer, “Because I’ve heard that glass becomes brittle with age. I was wondering if it could be dangerous in the strong winds in Winter.”
“Is that why you spent so much time staring at them?” asked the Abbot, clearly irritated by such nonsense, “Well, since they are of such deep concern to you – you can clean
them and check for ‘brittleness’ tomorrow while the rest of us have breakfast.”
In the hour before dawn and Morning Chants Idrith found himself once again up to his elbows in cold soapy water. At least these windows were easier to clean. They didn’t have centuries of dirt stuck to their surfaces, but as he washed and wiped he noticed that they did have something else rather peculiar about them - the stones around the windows were damaged. In some places they were chipped so badly that new stones had been used to replace them. During the following days he was irresistibly drawn to check every window he passed, feeling their edges in the shadows, looking for nicks in
the light. By the time he had checked virtually all the windows in the monastery it had become perfectly clear that no other windows were damaged except the chapel ones. He also started searching through the libraries for information about
the construction of the monastery’s chapel. He found nothing. There wasn’t a single record about the building of the chapel or the monastery itself, no date and no original building plans.
He went back to the secret room when he had the time and measured the window carefully. His instinctive guess had been correct - it was the same size as the central chapel window. So this window mimicked the chapel one just as its verse mimicked their Prayer? Who could have done such a sinful thing and how had they brought this terrible window to the secret room in the first place? Trying to imagine how anyone had managed it boggled his mind. Even more awful was the dread-filled theory slowly forming within him about the two windows... a theory that grew more horrifying with every fact he found himself forced to add to the growing list in his head.
The only way he’d ever be able to rest easy was by proving his suspicions wrong and he chose Harmion as the person to ask. Harmion knew the oddest things. He was a regular pilgrim to Amyth and spent more time in the library than many of the monks did. He never involved himself in
monastery gossip and he had made his contempt for the Abbot clear to them all. The Abbot only tolerated him because, as a Pilgrim and a layman, he had no power to do otherwise. No one knew what Harmion did for a living or where he actually came from, but he was obviously a Lakelander, or part Lakelander anyway. Idrith found that thought fascinating. The Lakelanders were a little known race that kept very much to themselves in the heavily wooded Southern region between the Nauran and Darlan seas. They were smaller than the Northerners and their skins were darker shades of warm browns; very much the colour of the trees they lived amongst. Their hair was strangely coarse and fair, and their eyes were equally strange, light and clear in colour. Idrith suspected Harmion had some Northern blood as his skin was more golden than brown. His hair was a golden brown too, but his eyes were pure Lakelander - pale as water, one silvery blue and the other pastel gold.
Idrith found this sphinx-eyed scholar in the library as usual. He started their conversation carefully by bringing up his problems with finding information about the monastery’s age and wandered on from there onto buildings in general. It wasn’t easy, Harmion never stopped staring at him in his unnerving way and he kept smiling at things Idrith said that weren’t in the least bit funny. He seemed to find Idrith’s interest in windows especially droll and Idrith was about to give up and change the subject to a safer topic when Harmion interrupted him, “What is it you want to ask me, Castellan? All this camouflaging conversation is absorbing but irrelevant, isn’t it?”
Idrith denied this with as much sincerity as he could fake, “ I do have a question, but it’s about what we’ve been taking about. I noticed recently, during my inspection of the monastery… which is a natural part of my duties as Castellan that some of the windows are damaged.” Harmion raised his eyebrows but said nothing. “I wondered if you knew anyone who fixed windows… if they could tell what caused the damage?”
“My uncle is a builder; I used to help him as a boy. If you show me the windows I may be able to tell you myself.”
Idrith almost panicked then, “That isn’t possible, they’re in the inner courtyards and only monks can enter there.”
“I see... well then, perhaps you can describe the damage?” Idrith told him all he had noticed. “Is that all? The answer is perfectly simple, Castellan,
those windows have been replaced at some time.”
“But we’ve had broken glass replaced before in the kitchen and that window edge wasn’t damaged.”
Harmion smiled wider than ever, “I didn’t say that the glass had been replaced, I said that the window had been replaced. Someone removed the entire window, frame and all. That is the only thing that could cause harm to the surrounding stones. They must have wanted to move it.”
Idrith felt sick, his suspicion was beginning to look more and more probable. He excused himself and left. If Harmion was right it turned everything he knew about the
monastery and religion, upside-down. He went to the chapel and began a slow inch-by-inch examination of the stones surrounding the windows. He felt the grooves and hollows carefully, hoping to find something new; anything that would prove his misgivings wrong. In a deep thin crack at the bottom of the main window he finally felt something. Excited, he prized it out of its hiding place with one of his keys. It was small and smooth in his hand, he held it up to the light for a better look and the light streamed through it and bloodied his hand. It was a fragment of red glass.