14 Senessay (maybe)
I’ve managed to keep this book hidden so far. I don’t know where to start or what happened, maybe the new pouvra did something, because it’s too big a coincidence otherwise. Everything hurts, not just my arms but the whole rest of my body, and my stomach feels like I’m going to throw up again, though they haven’t fed me since I did. The door is locked, but when I try to use the new pouvra to pick it, my body just aches more. I can’t focus. I need to start at the beginning.
I think it was nearly dawn when I woke feeling like I needed to take a piss. So I got up, or thought I did, but I felt as if I were stretching like taffy at a carnival, like part of me was still stuck to the ground and the rest of me was being pulled away from it. That made me think I was having a dream, but I’ve never dreamed so real before, and my arms still hurt, which I didn’t think happened in dreams. And I still felt this need, though by this time I could tell it wasn’t my bladder; it was just this pull, and it was starting to hurt. So I stood and let it pull me for a bit, thinking it might hurt less if I didn’t fight it. The air looked thick, like heat waves only sideways to the ground, and when I turned around I saw they surrounded me and even went through me. That was when I panicked. I ran for the door, but it was like wading through the tide, only hot and dry and stronger than any tide off Thalessa ever was. I know I tried swimming and I tried going in other directions, but it didn’t matter, it just kept pulling me away from wherever I tried to go.
That was about when the sun rose, at least that’s what I thought, but the light was more blue than pinkish gold. It was as if the sun were rising backwards out of twilight, is the best I can describe it. Wherever the light touched me, coming through those tiny barn windows, it burned. I think I went a little mad, there, because I remember screaming and not much else, and the burning got worse and the tide got stronger and then it was all gone, and I was here.
Not here as in this room. Some other place in this…I don’t know if it’s a building or a cave, because the place I—might as well say “arrived”—in was hollowed out stone, but this room seems to be constructed. That is, the walls are made of finished stone blocks, but the floor is the same rough stone as in the large chamber…anyway, it doesn’t matter, because either way I’m locked in here. But that comes later.
I couldn’t see anything at first. My eyes were blind the way you get when you stare at a fire too long. I could only tell I was lying on a really cold stone floor that wasn’t very smooth and the air smelled of scented smoke, like incense, sort of woody and sweet, and the tide was roaring in my ears. That faded quickly, and my eyes adjusted, and that’s when I realized I was in a cave, a really enormous cave, and there was no tide anywhere. So I’m not sure where that sound came from. Probably not important. More important was that there were people all around me, standing about twenty feet from me in a rough circle, and none of them looked very friendly.
I panicked again and summoned fire in a circle surrounding me, which made them all step back fairly fast and start talking, words I couldn’t understand over the sound of the fire. I stood up and tried to breathe normally, though the heat of the fire made my mouth and eyes dry out. The people gradually calmed down and were watching me again, like they were waiting to see what else I would do. That made the panic start to rise again. The pressure of maintaining a fire that had no fuel was starting to make my chest ache, but I pushed on because I didn’t know what they would do if it wasn’t defending me.
But eventually I just couldn’t keep it up anymore, not to mention the heat was starting to make me dizzy. The cave was absolutely silent when I let the fire go out. I started turning in a circle, trying hopelessly to keep them all in sight, and I shouted something like “Leave me alone! Why did you bring me here?”
The people—I forgot to say they were all dressed in these knee-length white robes over black trousers, men and women both, and they all wore their hair shoulder length or longer, tied back from their faces. They were almost completely expressionless, and combined with how alike they were, it was damned unsettling, like looking at a ring of dolls. One of them who didn’t look any different from the others took a step forward, holding out his hand like I was some kind of mad dog he was trying to calm, and said something, and it made me panic and bring up the fire again, because I didn’t understand the language he was speaking. Not even enough to know which one it was.
That was when someone grabbed me from behind, and I lost control of the fire and it went out. I fought, but more people took hold of me, until I couldn’t move anything but my head, and that’s when I threw up, all over myself and them, which made some of them start yelling. I know I was screaming at them, but I can’t remember what I said, and they were shouting at me in that unknown language, which made me fight harder, not that it mattered. Then they sort of half-carried, half-dragged me to this room, threw me inside, and locked the door.
I don’t think it’s meant to be a cell. The light comes from a sort of glass basket hanging from the ceiling by a silver chain. The basket has interesting patterns engraved in it, but I can’t take a closer look because staring at the light for too long makes me feel like I’m going blind. There are a couple of chairs that are more like padded cylinders with no backs, and a woven mat that feels sort of gritty on the floor, but more importantly, the walls are painted. As in, pictures directly painted on the walls. The strange thing is they’re made to look like windows, showing blue sky and grassy fields dotted with flowers. They’re very realistic—so realistic I actually tried to open one. That was actually the third thing I did, after trying to open the door and taking off my vomit-stained jacket. I wadded it up and put it in the corner, but the room still smells of vomit. Nothing I can do about that. Then I tried seeing through the door, but it made my head feel as if someone poured molten iron into it, so I gave up on that.
So now I’ve explored every corner of the room, and I’m writing all this down. I’m guessing they’d take this book away from me if they knew about it. I wonder if they can speak my language? Probably not, or they would have done by now, if only to say “stop setting things on fire.” Strange. It’s only just occurred to me to wonder why they didn’t try to kill me when they saw I can work magic. They were upset and surprised, yes, but nothing more than that. That, and the strange language, and the fact that there aren’t any mountains for a thousand miles in any direction from where I spent last night, suggests I’m a long way from where I started. It also suggests it was these people and not the pouvra that brought me here. Maybe they’re not afraid of magic because they work it themselves. But I’ve never read about a pouvra that could move a person between places instantly. If they’ve figured that out…but I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is try to get out of this room and find a real window, or a door, or something that will tell me where I am. I’ve traveled a good many miles in the last ten years and seen a lot of places; maybe I’ll recognize it. I’ll try the mind-moving pouvra again, and then…I guess I’ll figure that out when I come to it.