"Now here is a part of the story where you may know some things I have not been taught," he said.
I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation. "Joseph," I said, "I know what I have been told. I know what my father taught me. I know some things I have sworn not to tell."
"Of course," he said. "I do not expect you to betray your trust or honor. Only tell me what you feel you can tell."
"That's just it," I said. "I don't know why you may have been taught differently that I was taught. Maybe there is a reason. Maybe your training requires you to know, or to not know, certain things. Not knowing that, I hardly know what to say and what to hold in secret."
He considered this for several minutes. "Well," he said finally, "there are things that are troubling me brother. I am on a mission, I will not lie to you, and I need to straighten a few things in my mind before I proceed. This is why, now that I know who you are, I must speak with you. We will trust your training and your instincts to keep hidden what you should not reveal. Is that acceptable to you?"
I exhaled slowly, trying to relax. "Okay," I said. "But I may choose to reveal nothing."
"Then we will trust that you have chosen wisely," he said. I nodded in agreement, and he continued his story. "There, with the tiny bit of light provided by the Sliver, Inuichuk, our Lord and leader of the Remnant, wrought blades according to the manners of the Dark Secret, which you know better than I and I know better than to inquire after."
"Good," I said.
"The Knights all trained as Sword Masters. They trained to rescue the human host, and to repair the Human Rest. When their training was complete, they used the Dread Keystone to open a massive door, the Rift, into the Dread Rest, and, guided by the Map, found the Keystone. The power of the blades, a forbidden and secret power, caught the Dread by surprise, and they were routed and scattered in fear. We captured and brought back the Keystone and the Lightstone through the Rift. Tell me, Brother, how did we move the Lightstone? It is very large, is it not?"
"It is," I said. "My father described a cart made for just the purpose, moved by three hundred Knights."
"Ah," he said. "I have always wondered this."
"That's what I was taught," I said, seeing no harm in the knowledge.
"An so," he continued, "the Knights accomplished two of their three goals. They reclaimed the Keystone and they reclaimed the Lightstone, both ours by right."
"We succeeded because we were right," I said. "That is how it was told to us by Sama. We won because we were right."
"Yes," he said. "But we did not rescue the Human Host. The Map was wrong, or they had been moved. We fought against the rallying Dread until our strength was spent, and many Knights fell exhausted in retreat back through the Rift, but we could not find the Host."
"Yes," I said, a lump rising in my throat. The thought of the Human Host always made me sick to my stomach.
"So, let me ask you, Brother, why did we not return again?"
I wasn't sure how to answer. "What?"
"Why didn't we return to the Dread Rest, after we had regained our strength, again and again and again until we found the Host?"
"Because, we couldn't." I said.
"What were you taught?"
"We could not return because we were forbidden," he answered, "by the Ravens. The cry of the Dread had gone to them, and they had uncovered the truth about the Four Gifts. They demanded the destruction of the Dread Map, the Dread Keystone and the blades of the Knights."
"And we destroyed the blades and the Map," he said.
"That is correct," I replied.
"And we returned the Keystone," he said.
I stared at him for a long time. "You were taught this?" I asked.
"No," he said. "I was taught that the Dread Keystone was carried by one who fell. I was taught that it was lost in the Dread Rest."
"Well," I said, "that is what happened. That is what we told the Ravens."
"Yes," he said. "And they forbade the working of the Dark Secret. No blades."
"You know that they did," I said. I sat back in my chair, wanting to end the discussion.
"But," he said, "you carry the Dark Secret with you now. We did not obey."
I did not answer. He knew the answer.
"And the Host," he said. "Still they have no rest."
"Still," I said, swallowing hard. My teeth clenched, and I drew my hands to my chest. Anger rose in me, as it always did. "Still," I said.
"My god," he said, sinking back into the couch. "The Rift closed in the year 401 A.D. More than 1,600 years since that day they have waited in restless Hell."
I could not answer.
"And still we train," he said. "I am trained to heal those in need of rest. You are trained to wield a forbidden blade."
I glared at him, suspecting where he was going.
"We train so that it might never happen again," he said. "That is why we train. Is that what you were taught, Brother?"
"Yes," I lied. "That is why we train. Never again."
"Some say, you must know," he spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully, "that we will avenge. Some say we wait for the time and the power in numbers to return."
"I've heard it said."
"Some say, my Brother, that you are the Avenger," he looked at me with boldness. "Did you know this?"
"They said the same about my father," I said, "and about his father before him."
"I wonder," he said, standing suddenly. "Would we be right this time? Would we win?"
"We should not talk about this," I said sternly, standing to look down at him.
There was a moment of tension between us as I wrestled to decide what I should do. He had said too much, gone too far. In spite of the danger that stood before him, however, I could sense that he had no fear of me. He looked up at me with all the boldness of clear convictions. Then, just as suddenly as he had stood up to me, he smiled and took a step back. "Well, the Avenger stories cannot be true, of course," he said.
"Of course not," I said, trying to calm my nerves and settle my stomach.
"I mean, how could we even attempt it? There would be no way."
"That's right," I said. "It's a wishful story. The thought of the Host haunts us all."
"Indeed," he said. "But, there can be no return. You have confirmed what I was taught. The Dread Keystone was lost."
I looked at him and smiled, but I said nothing. I felt that enough had been said. Also, I suspected that, were I too agree with him now, he would sense that I was lying.