Time passed slowly in the cell. The two of them didn’t talk much. There was nothing to say, nothing to do. All that was left was waiting, or sleeping, in Varra’s case. She clearly hadn’t gotten enough of that lately, which was a problem Maelys couldn’t really sympathize with. Sleep was practically all he had done since he drank the vial of Red Teeth… how long ago was that? Two days? More? His condition had thrown off all sense of time, and being in a dungeon certainly didn’t help with that. There was absolutely nothing to do but wait. Wait for Eathe or Xan to return. Or wait for the guards to take him away, never to be seen or heard from again. Whichever came first.
Maelys knew, of course, that this line of thought would lead nowhere. Receiving death threats tended to lead one’s mind astray, so in order to curb the panic, he tried his hand at a thought technique Rozire had taught him so many months ago. It was one of his first lessons, actually: mind projection.
The first step was to sit in silence, back straight, with your thought wholly concentrated on your breath. It was basic meditation, really. In, then out. In, then out. Don’t worry about the past or the future, or even the present. Think only about breath. It had taken Maelys a week of practice just to get that part down.
But now there was so little to focus on. Apart from the looming terror of an imminent execution, he really had nothing going on. So with the help of previous experience and a peaceful environment, Maelys brought the focus of his entire being into his breath. In, then out. In, then out.
Time lost meaning after a while. Mind projection required a practiced, trance-like rhythm. Gathering enough focus seemed to take longer than it usually did. He was so out of practice, but his determination didn’t waver, and he kept his thoughts on his breath.
Then, he let his imagination roam.
As always, he imagined a small cloud, pulsating with his breathing. Expanding as he exhaled, compressing as he inhaled. Inside this cloud was a small eye, and Maelys used this imaginary eye to see the real world. Well, not the real world, of course. This technique was purely inventive, all playing out in one’s head. But as Rozire had taught him, imaginary exploration of the real world could teach you useful things about one’s surroundings and state of mind.
He sent his mind cloud out of the cell, passing through the bars and into the dark hallway. On one side—the side that Eathe and later the drunk guards had come from, had a warm light coming from around a corner nearby. He remembered seeing this light with his real eyes, but now it was brighter. He pressed forward as his cloud pulsated, moving towards that light. In, then out. In, then out.
When he rounded the corner, he saw the torch that hung neatly on the far wall. It made no sound, for Maelys had never grown adept enough with this technique to add auditory senses to his cloud. Apparently, Rozire could apply every sense to his mind projection except olfactory. He had promised that it was more due to experience than skill.
Some distance down this hall was a doorway. There were no openings, but it didn’t matter. The mind cloud wasn’t real, after all. He passed through it and came to a long, steep stairway.
He wondered what where this might lead. Into a barracks? Outside? Only one way to find out.