Chapter 2 Part 2 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One
He closed his eyes and held his breath, struggling against the tenacious grip on his ankle in panic; he would drown. His stomach turned inside out.
When it stopped, he opened his mouth and gulped in spite of himself. To his surprise, he took in air, not water; he patted himself in confused agitation and found his clothes were dry. Temmin opened his eyes and found himself in an unfamiliar room--round, as if in a tower. The face in the mirror stood before him; it belonged to a slight figure dressed in black robes over a severe black suit and Tremontine red cravat, sharp against the white of the shirt; a pair of gold pinch-nose glasses dangled from a matching red ribbon. If this were the Black Man, he was a more meticulous dresser than Temmin would have suspected.
"The first time through can be difficult. Next time, do not hold your breath. Do you need to vomit?" said the stranger.
"No," said Temmin, hands on knees. "Well, maybe...no, I'll be all right. Harla's Hill, what just happened?" He looked around. A large mirror hung on the curving wall, a long library table stooped under heaped-up books and scrolls, heaps that spilled onto the only stool in the room, and a lectern stood in one corner, holding an aged red leather-bound book.
"You saw me," said the stranger. A restrained excitement threaded through the silvery voice. "You may deny you have seen my face in reflections today, but I know better. I thought it best to sort things out on our own, you and I."
"Yes, well, you and I don't know each other," said Temmin, standing up to his full height--half a head taller than his captor, if he were held captive-- "Who are you, where am I, and how did I get here?"
"I am your father's counselor. I go by the name of Teacher. You are in my library. And I pulled you through a reflection."
Temmin found his voice and said, "You pulled me through a reflection. I have no idea what that means."
"Shall I do it again?" said Teacher, plunging an arm up to the elbow into the mirror.
"No, no!" said Temmin, holding up his hands. "Not again! Don't do it again! I don't know if this is real, but my stomach thinks it is!"
"It is quite real. If there is a reflection near what or who I wish to see, I can go anywhere or see anything in the Kingdom unobserved."
"I'm just going to pretend this makes sense, shall I?" said Temmin. "You've been popping up in reflections all day. If no one can see you, why can I see you?"
"Apparently, you are 'no one,'" said Teacher in a paper-thin voice.
Temmin wiped his face with his handkerchief. "Why now? Why did this start today? Did you just start watching me?"
"You have come of age," said Teacher, "When the men in your family had this power themselves, it fully revealed itself at eighteen. But no Tremont has shown signs of it in more than three centuries."
"Hang on, we could do this? You said your name is Teacher--you're my new tutor?"
"And you were my father's tutor." Temmin examined the smooth face for signs of advanced age. "You don't even look as old as my father. I mean, you're old, but not that old. How old are you--twenty-five? Thirty-five?"
"Many times that," said Teacher.
"So is traveling through reflections. I suggest you go eat your luncheon and ready yourself to meet with the King. He will explain my importance to the royal family, most likely in different terms than I would use."
"Are you going to tell him I can see you?" said Temmin.
"Do you want me to?" asked Teacher.
"I'm not sure--no," said Temmin. "Don't. Everyone thinks I'm stupid as it is. Adding crazy doesn't help, and I'm sure in the end this will all turn out to be some sort of...something."
"As you wish. Would you like me to take you to your rooms?" Teacher murmured at the mirror; it wavered, settling into a view of Temmin's study, where Jenks was setting the little table by the window for lunch.
"No!" said Temmin. "No. I'll walk. Thank you."
Teacher bowed, and showed Temmin the door. "Happy birthday, Your Highness."
Temmin half-bowed in acknowledgement as the door closed. He looked around; he didn't know where he was. He thought of knocking on the door and asking, but the less he saw of Teacher, the better. He was inside a tower--an ancient one, judging by the stonework. He took to the stairs, a near-endless flight; when he made it to the bottom, he realized it had to be the Keep's central tower--part of the original fortress, built on the highest point of the rock overlooking the City. He found his way back to his rooms only after taking several wrong turns and amusing innumerable footmen as he asked for directions.