"What an utter shambles of a performance you stupid boy!"
Roache blinked rapidly in what now might be called utter confusion. He had felt the 'gone-ness' of his Master. And he wasn't that stupid.
"I'm still here boy. As much in fact, as I have for the past 9 years or so, more or less.."
The voice was utterly disembodied. It was coming directly into the elf's minds ear, and it threw him off so much that when he tried to get to his feet, he fell awkwardly backwards again, happily ending up with his back against his pack, and not too uncomfortable at all actually.
"Where have you gone old man..?" The question was not without it's quality of pathos.
"Stop it. This is for real here now, and you'll need remember what I'm telling you for quite some time. Unless of course you screw up and end up getting yourself killed.." This last was in vocce sotto, but was enough to pull the young elf together quite remarkably.
Roache shook his head, and completed what he about to say when this all began.
"Right then, shall I set up camp, or is that something else I don't need to do anymore?"
"Don't be bloody daft boy. You can set up camp as it pleases you, but myself I'd not prefer to sleep in the open. Were I you, of course."
Silently Roache went about the business of making a camp for himself, a ritual he had performed every night since they had left their tower, and their caravan, far behind in the North. This time though, he only had his own gear to set out.
About the time it was getting chilly enough for some regret to seep in for the lack of a campfire Roache, for the first time, realised that he was expected to continue with the nightly ritual into the ether, and the thought of going there alone was on the verge of giving him St. Vitus Dance. He sat beside a circle of blackened stones ion the middle of the dell nonetheless, and was about to push himself into the out when the old man's voice burst into his thoughts.
"All right.. Now's the time I suppose" the voice grumbled. "You've got to take the next step, so I'd better show you.."
"All right then " came the plaintive cry from the elf. "But where are you? I'm not happy with this when you're here dammit, let alone where you're somewhere else inside my bloody head!"
"Now look Sandoz," said the old man's voice, "You're too old now for this snivelling nonsense. Do what you know must be done, and come to me here!"
"Right." snivelled Roache.
And without too much difficulty, the young elf sent himself beyond his body, to the place he knew his master was waiting. The Old Man smiled.
"There." There was a sense of resignation in this. "Always knew you would come to this point. Now the work begins."
The young elf settled himself, or his mind, or whatever it was he sat on when he was in this State, as his Master began.
I must begin my telling you that much of that which you've learned, is unknown to most. There simply aren't enough of us to go around these days. I have raised you way the buggery out here, so I could let the Art become a part of your life, something natural. And for you, and myself, and a few others here and there, it is natural, a part of ourselves as much as our livers."
This analogy even gave the Old Man pause, and in the moments silence Roache framed a question in his mind, but before he could open his mouth, his Master continued.
"But now, I am sending you off on your own."