Companion piece to Ferin’s, here. It starts approximately where that stops.
Nobody told me that the drinking contest was also a boasting contest! Good thing that I’d been having Ferin’s example all that time. I’ll never be as good as him, but at least I was better than the king. Made of stronger stuff, too, though that may have been all the Síthi wine I grew up with and all the fatty meat I ate before the match. And everything I told was true– I did outrun a yak and cut its throat with my knife, the king didn’t have to know that it had Makane’s spear in its side at the time, right? And all the gods were with me, I could see them right there. The king is a mage, he should be able to see gods better than me, but perhaps he was already too drunk for that.
I’m glad it didn’t go on any longer, though, because we had work to do afterwards, Ferin had invited Naranbataar to our tent to show him how semsin worked, at least how you could get power from the world without killing people for it. And he understood most of it! But he was bound to the king, and he had mages bound to him in turn, and he explained that every mage (except the king) was bound to someone else and it all went back to the king in the end. That’s why the king was such a strong mage and it was so hard to contradict him! So when Naran heard that we’d undone binding before, he wanted us to do that for him if we could.
Well, that needs two people or you get stuck yourself, and anyway I’m a bit better at it than Ferin for some reason, so drunk or not I had to help. And I wasn’t so drunk that it didn’t work, though it was hard because the king’s bindings were tougher than those of an ordinary bog-standard mage. But we got Naran free, and then we had all the other mages in the camp come to our tent as well to do the same thing for them! And now Naran could help, and that was a good thing because there were dozens of them and Ferin and I could never have done that between us. We promised to show all of them how to get power from the world, but not just now because we were knackered.
Then the king’s mother turned up! And she wanted me to free her of her binding to the king, too. “Can you still do that, Ailin?” Ferin asked, and of course I didn’t want to say no, not for this woman I’d come to respect. And, let’s face it, like. So I called on Anshen, my Anshen, though what I got was the dark side of Achok (nuisance! but there was nothing I could do about it) and I picked all the little sticky bits of binding from the old lady’s mind with that power.
I must have fainted or something, because I found myself floating somewhere and Achok floating there too, like I was dreaming him. And he said “I helped you this time, but don’t try it again soon or you’ll go to Nah! You took too much out of yourself.” Yeah, right, I didn’t need Achok to tell me that, it wasn’t for nothing that I called on a god, I’d known that I didn’t have the strength myself but it was for the old lady. But I said “thank you” and he disappeared, and I don’t know how long I floated after that but I woke up in the tent and Tamsin gave me water and porridge because I didn’t want anything strong or heavy or greasy, and we were all out of herbs for tea.