Cursed. There could be no greater punishment than to be Shoal cursed. The Shoals were an enigma even after centuries of use by the Wielders. Books were written and burned, corrected and ink-blotted. Some claimed the Shoals could not be properly studied or analyzed due to their volatility. None, not even the most elder and strongest of Wielders in history dared spend more than a few minutes in their Shoal for fear of madness, death, or worse.
Therefore, the practice of Shoalways and cuts–the smallest openings necessary to wield the harbored power–were all that was allowed. Not even the maddest of Wielders would dare risk oblivion to the world by creating a rift in the fabric between realms. Shoals themselves were volatile and treacherous yet somehow, for some reason, the Hallowed allowed such interference. Was there an answer to why?
Oran sat in the alleyway with his back pressed into the jagged stone wall, alone in the early morning, quarreling with himself over this matter. His mind was a stall of angry bulls kicking and gorging wherever they could to come out the victor. His clothes were little more than tatters after weeks of running and hiding from enemies. His stink was enough to make the dogs sniff and leave him alone. Food had to be stolen unless he risk returning to his home.
The streets of Breshtk carried no truths to the whereabouts and condition of Queen Erise. Rumors dripped with uncertainty and dubious details. She was seen alive in the village of Bolle or dead, executed by a mob of angry farmers on the Trader’s Road. One rumor even claimed she returned to the palace accompanied by a small cadre of Wielders, killing everyone due to Shoal madness. Oran deciphered no truth from any of the stories.
He had to find her. The Wielder, Delya Glasene, could not be trusted. He convinced himself of that now. His duty called him beyond this impasse. Destiny demanded his action. He stood, looking out into the busy square. None so much as glanced his way. To their uncaring eyes, he was another beggar. Not the Breshtk Battle Lord, Oran Ki’Tanil.
The rumors needed to be sifted through. He needed viable information to move beyond the uncertainty. He flexed his hands, stretched his arms, legs, and back before considering his lone belongings. Bundled in scraps of firewood, his named swords lay in wait despite his fear of touching them. Shoal-cursed things should not be handled carelessly.