Possessed

She is sixteen and impetuous. And this part of the world is so strange that she also wants to stick with what she’s already familiar with. Sort of, at least. (But I have an idea of what to do– thought of it when writing this so I won’t divulge it yet.)

Ferin has told the story about what happened in the world, but I have to tell what happened to me because of course other people haven’t seen that. Some of it was in dreams, some just in my head, and I can’t tell it apart very well.

So we’d killed that mage –I don’t even remember which of us killed him, only that it wasn’t me because I do remember saying that I didn’t want to kill another one– but he kept haunting me in my dreams. Not right away, first I had different dreams, but the first time I didn’t even know I was dreaming. I’d been trying to pray to Anshen –take a bit of fire from the great communal fire in a pot because I wanted to be alone, not sit with all the strangers– just to make sure that he knew I was there, and I knew he was there, but all I got was the Khas Ashok and it confused me more than it helped me. Then in the night I woke up before my watch and I heard such a strange sound, as if water was glugging from a jug. When I went to investigate I could see that there was a kind of stream of light coming from Ferin’s head and flowing to somewhere outside the camp. I’d heard of that kind of thing from the war, but I couldn’t call the princess or the baroness to take care of it and I didn’t know what to do without hurting him. (Or indeed at all.) So I went and called the watch, which was Fikmet and Sepideh, and Fikmet went with me and took the lamp while Sepideh stayed on watch. We saw the strange light run out of the camp and flow into a pool that the moon reflected in, and my face too, and Fikmet’s face. We were very scared and ran back to the camp to try and wake people up, but we couldn’t wake even Ferin. That made me extra afraid that he would die, of course. But it was Ferin, not looking as he was short of any anea, who woke me for my watch, and nobody had noticed anything, not even Fikmet. We went to where the pool was and there was no pool at all, not even the rise that it had been behind.

The next time I don’t really remember –things are so confusing!– but there was the mage we’d killed, sort of floating, and I said “I’m not afraid of you!”. He said “You should be” and disappeared. Or perhaps he didn’t disappear, but just floated there menacingly. It happened another few nights, too. I was more annoyed than scared, couldn’t the bastard leave me alone? But scared as well, I admit, and it made it very hard to sleep because I didn’t have Anshen to call on properly, the only place I could sleep was next to Ferin. He’s not Anshen of course, but he’s big and good and solid and dependable.

And –oh goodness, I’m telling this all out of order– there was one time I had to choose someone to help me, and I had Fikmet with me and asked her and she came. And then suddenly I knew that it wasn’t Fikmet, but Timoine in Fikmet’s form, and at the same time herself. Anshen was there as well, and I thought that because Ferin had had a journeyman’s trial choosing between gods this must be mine, and I did want to choose Anshen (but not over Timoine) but there was only Ashok, and I sure didn’t want to choose Ashok! So when Fikmet said I could only have one to help me I asked her, and told Anshen I’d have him the next time. Then I woke up and Ferin noticed that I was different but I hadn’t taken a trial. (Or perhaps I failed my journeyman’s trial! Does that mean I can do it again next time, or never again?)

Now I can’t talk to Fikmet even waking without seeing her as Timoine a little, especially when she said “Daya isn’t mad at you, I asked!” when I was confused.

But anyway. The mage. We were trying to find out what he’d done to Bayat and tried to do to me so we could guard against it the next time, and it was so slippery that we couldn’t pin it down. So the next time I saw the dead mage in my dream –by now I knew that I was dreaming– I confronted him and asked him outright how he did it. “I can’t tell you,” he said, “but I can show you. Let me into your mind and I’ll show you.” It did sound useful, and I was very careful, telling him exactly what he would and wouldn’t be allowed to do with me, and again asked Timoine to protect me (because for one I hadn’t committed myself to Anshen, and also I didn’t trust Ashok much more than I did the mage) and let the mage into my mind. I could feel him sitting there like a kind of hat, only under my skin, and there was no way at all that I could get anything out of him this way.

I don’t know what to do now. I wish I had someone who really knows about this kind of thing, much more than we do, and not Khas, someone like the baroness or Faran of the Order. There’s the spirit of a dead Khas mage inside my head and I don’t know what to do with it.