Chapter 2 – Part 1
By: Kevin Adams & Steve Bolin
AC 1970 – 8th month, 1st day
Merik Ladien stood in the rear courtyard of Forsythia castle. He wore his usual white-leather breeches and a pale-blue silk shirt. His jacket was folded neatly across a nearby bench. The weather was perfect this early morning, not so much as a breeze passed by. Perhaps, as the day progressed, the sun would be gentle in adding warmth.
In front of Merik, a large crowd of men and women gathered together, talking quietly amongst themselves. This group of citizens had come in response to his kingdom-wide job offer of apprenticing healers. The advertising flyers he posted were intentionally vague so as to attract a wide variety of potential candidates.
He looked over the gathering of citizens. The turnout was even better than anticipated. Because of this, his interviewing process would have to be a bit abbreviated. With luck, he should be finished by mid-afternoon at the latest.
Merik intentionally raised his voice to be heard over the crowd’s chatter. “May I have your attention please!” He spoke as one with great authority. His every word seemed an irresistible commandment.
When the crowd silenced, Merik smiled broadly, revealing perfect white teeth. “I want to thank you all for coming this morning. Your presence here says much about your character and your desire to help others. That is good news. Unfortunately, I only have time, room and need for twelve apprentices. Because of this, most of you will leave here disappointed.
“Understand this; my selections should not be construed as a judgment of your personalities but rather your capabilities. Unless there are questions, we can begin the interview process.”
An elderly man in the front of the crowd raised his hand. “Excuse me, Sir Ladien. Could you give us more details on the apprenticeship program? The flyers posted around the kingdom are somewhat ambiguous.”
Merik looked at the bald-headed old man, never losing the smile on his face. “A very good question, Citizen. The apprenticeship I offer is one that will cover many aspects of my profession. While I have a large number of trade secrets I can’t reveal here, I can give you an overall feel of what this apprenticeship is about.”
Merik paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts. “First and foremost, I’ll be teaching skills of the healing arts. I want only those apprentices who value the lives of others over their own. In fact, I only want the most loyal and trustworthy candidates this kingdom has to offer.
“If you aren’t willing to die for this righteous cause set forth by the Divine One Himself, then I humbly suggest you take this opportunity to leave. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting both your time and mine as well. Is there anyone who’d like to withdraw at this time?”
Each person in the crowd stood solid, like a human forest of petrified trees. After hearing his words, Merik knew that no one would dishonor himself or herself by walking away. Indeed, expressions in the crowd were mixed with amazement, patriotism and a longing to be part of something so incredibly beneficial to their kingdom.
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