Raisse’s last entry in this series. She is staying on for another arc, so we won’t have to miss her; Athal is back to NPC, and off to Aumen Síth about a year from now.
That evening treaties needed to be worked out. There was the tax thing with the merchants’ guild. The title and land for Koll Konandé. Supplies for the city, supplies for the army, our joint stance in international politics, the war on the Khas. I still felt we were giving away too much and I remedied that where I could. We kept going until the first light told us how late it actually was. Dushtan had sent Athal to bed hours before and that was for the best, for soon it would be time to deal with Mernath. I got to bed, but I had hardly closed my eyes when it was time to go. This was too important, though.
When we arrived the Order house was in full readiness. Athal sealed the perimeter and then tried to seal the temple itself, but that looked shoddy. So he prayed and we tried again, but this time he didn’t need my help. So we were there. Maile looked frightened and worried, but Mernath was just empty. Athal tried to talk to him and I tried to support Maile, but she was completely focussed on him.
When we investigated he looked wounded and hollow inside and after a while I could see a thin silvery cord through which he was being sucked dry. Athal tried to break it, but that only brought screams of anguish from Mernath. The cord seemed to disappear after about ten feet, but logically it should lead somewhere and if we were to give Mernath a chance more of his anie needed to return to him. We tried pushing and anything we could do to reverse the flow’s direction, but it wasn’t working. I left my body behind and in that pure form it was easier to follow the thin thread to where it intersected with the seal. The seal was blocking the flow though the thread, but that didn’t stop Mernath being sucked dry. We talked it over and Athal made a small hole in the seal and I was able to follow the glob of anea travelling though the silver cord easily. I didn’t know where I was going, though. It led me to a small room with a man, very hurt in spirit, who was connected to the other end of the line. On him was a ball of anie that could only be Mernath’s other end of the line. I tried to push it back, but again it did not work. I had no idea where I was, so I looked for the nearest opening and put a seal on it, hoping to be able to find that again.
That worked and we found the man, who must have been Orian, the missing grand master of the Red party. We brought him back and he just moaned a little when we put him in the temple. Athal was really upset by it all. Earlier he had thought about killing Mernath and now he stated that he must kill Orian. I didn’t feel that was the right thing to do. You don’t kill defenceless people inside the temple, so I asked him why and he said that it was because he was Mernath’s master. But that just meant he had to try and save Mernath. It was far too late for revenge. Then Maile asked if she could give him his life back and Athal agreed. She just tore away the part of Orian that was around Mernath’s anie and picked it up. Athal quickly broke the connection to Orian and the ribbon and she put the glob on top of him and it slowly sank back into him where it belonged. Crude but effective.
She went to pray right after and he joined her a while later just before I was about to. I guess it was for the best. They were both masters with Anshen now, though it looks like Mernath’s anie was too traumatized for him to use it the way he used to. We were tired, disgusted, but we saved them so we went to get some food. And after a while they joined us together. Tonight I should take him/them when I go read to the children.
At Sea and Sarabal
And then, suddenly, it was time to go back. We were brought to the ship and it set sail for home. It was an uneventful journey. Athal and Rikhi were miserable as expected. And it wasn’t long, about six weeks, before we saw the Essle dirt in the water and six days later I was contacted by Orian of Turenay who was in Sarabal. I confirmed that we were almost there and he sped off to spread the word. When we arrived in Sarabal we met with Senthi who was an old friend of dad. Really old, but she looked to be doing really well. And down in the village square they had put up a tent with what turned out to be her bed for Athal and me, so that he could spent his first night on solid ground again. There was a relatively large Síthi community there and that seemed to please both Senthi and Athal. I missed out on what happened though because when our luggage was unloaded several crates of books turned up. I can’t believe I was sitting on books all the way back and didn’t read them! Â So I packed one with what I had discovered and the rest will arrive when the Rycha allows.
From Sarabal we went to Veray with all the horses that Sarabal had available. We sent them back when we arrived. Â The town welcomed us with cheer before we were received at the castle.
It felt good to be squarely in Valdyas again. There we received a whole bunch of letters. With only one very disturbing bit of news. Raith had left. The people of the plains were still fighting the Khas. Moryn, whom we had sent to clean up the rebellion in Lenyas, seriously overdid it, losing all sense of perspective. Chopping down a whole forest to keep the rebels from hiding in it and hanging rebels and others left and right. Dad had called him back, but much damage has been done.
That night we found ourselves with nothing much to do so we went into town catching a ride from a cart coming down from the castle. The driver recognized us and offered some advice on where to go. We ate some pheasant at a local place and got lots of stares, but it was fun anyway. And then we walked around and Athal wanted to pick out some jewelry for me. We decided on a beautiful necklace which I got. The store owner contacted me on the sly, letting me know he had something special if I wanted to surprise my husband. It was fun because he had not recognized us and I discovered I did want to surprise Athal. The next day we were off to Turenay and I told Athal I wanted to quickly visit the store, so he held a speech of Iss-Peranian proportions boring the people while I returned to the store with Halla and bought a sort of hip-chain with many dangles from the embarrassed proprietor who recognized who I was this time. I’m saving it for a special moment.
We stopped for the night and a pavilion tent that Athal’s mother had used appeared for us. And the next day we arrived in Turenay for another host of people come to greet us. There were a lot of people there I wanted to see and Athal asked if I wanted to stay here for the delivery. But time is precious. And time at home in Valdis especially. Since Athal will have to go away again so soon. So we will travel on soon.
First was Vurian. I wanted to see him most of all, to find out what he thought of me, of us, and what had happened and apologize for waiting so long to send news. He seemed happy to see me and a little more mellow than I remember. Â Though he did boast riding here in just nine and a half days. This is the same old dad.
Next was Khora. Or Khora and Aidan, since they seem inseparable already. Firmly in love.
She was very anxious. She hooked up with the one person I told her not too. She had played her tricks on the Mighty Servant in Essle to cheat Koll Konandé out of a considerable amount of money and probably left him pining, and when passion arose between her and Aidan it spread to the whole town, so now they have to limit themselves to when they have the protection of one of Raisse’s seals. Khora couldn’t help it, though: she didn’t know who Aidan was when they fell in love. If it’s meant to be, who am I to interfere further, especially since I was instrumental in bringing them together.
Raisse was another person I wanted to see, since I sent Khora right to her and she had to deal with her and her vastly different culture and mindset. She found it exasperating, but I suspect she’s up to the challenge. I gave the school some books, not really in compensation but because I had them to give and this was my old school.
Khora wanted to show me hospital where she worked after school. Some day she will make a very good midwife or doctor, specializing in children, I think. We visited one of the patients she had treated and I promised to return and read to some of the children there tonight if I had the time. When I returned Athal was teaching some of the students about seals, even though he was reluctant at first. I watched him a while before we left together.