I’m no longer faking illness. Cederic took one look at me when I came to breakfast and ordered me back to my room. Then he brought me food himself. This was to give him an excuse to speak to me privately, to make sure there wasn’t anything more wrong with me than (as we determined) motion sickness. He offered to send Vorantor to me, as he knows some healing magic, but I declined, and he didn’t push. I know Terrael and Audryn said they were still friends, but from what I overheard between them, it’s a friendship on the brink of falling apart.
Right. I haven’t reached that point yet. Vorantor didn’t say anything more to me, and Cederic said a few things that sounded like hospitality ritual, and then Vorantor said something like “don’t let us keep you from your work” and everyone broke into their groups and went back to their research.
What really happened was that everyone broke into groups and pretended to work, because Vorantor’s people spread out and started “helping” by making corrections to their th’an or offering suggestions about which book to refer to. I followed Cederic to our table, since I had nothing else to do, and Vorantor came with us. More accurately, he went a few steps ahead of us, as if he were leading the way, and that annoyed me. I know he was Wrelan here before Cederic, but he has no right to act as if he’s still in charge. Cederic didn’t seem to mind. When we got to the circle, Cederic showed Vorantor the books we’ve been translating, starting with the Eddon book, and they had a technical discussion I probably could have followed, since it was about everything Cederic and I have been working on with regard to pouvrin and th’an, but I was too busy worrying about why Vorantor was even here. I was certain it was all due to me, even though he was putting on a good show of being interested in our research, and I was right, which makes me furious as I’m writing this. Vorantor wanted me for his own purposes, and it makes me even angrier to remember how they were talking as if they were collaborators instead of Vorantor waiting for the right moment to reveal the truth. I despise him because he thinks of me as a prize, as a thing, and I swore no one would ever use me like that. But there isn’t much I can do about it now. Maybe when we reach Colosse, Cederic will think of something, or the God-Empress will change everyone’s plans.
They talked for several minutes, and I ended up flipping the pages of a book I couldn’t read, looking at the pictures. I’m probably just as happy I can’t read that one, because based on the illustrations, it’s a sex manual, and what it’s doing with the rest of these books is a mystery. Then Vorantor said, “Thalessi,” and that brought my attention away from the picture of three people tangled together. “I would love to see your magic, if you don’t mind,” he said.
“Of course,” I said, and did the fire-summoning pouvra almost in his face. I regretted it before the fire died away, and cursed myself for letting my annoyance override my good sense. I’m sure making myself seem dangerous was a wonderful choice that made Vorantor decide I had nothing to offer him and leave me alone. Fortunately, Vorantor didn’t seem angry or frightened, and he didn’t flinch. He might smile more, but he seems every bit as self-controlled as Cederic.
“Fascinating,” he said. “Will you show me the others?”
I looked just past him at Cederic, hoping he could give me guidance, but his face was completely expressionless, as always. And then I saw his hand was open, his fingers spread, and he flexed his fingers a few times. Five. But I know seven pouvrin, counting the walk-through-walls one I don’t use—and then I realized what he was telling me, as clearly as if there were a mind-speaking pouvra we both had access to. I said, “Yes, but I won’t be able to show you how I can see in the dark,” and I summoned water, then caught it and turned it into a sphere and flew it around for a bit (even in my nervousness, it was hard not to make it hit the back of Terrael’s head, just for fun) and I had him go behind one of the bookshelves and hold up so many fingers, and I looked through it to tell him how many. Cederic, standing with his back to Vorantor during this test, gave me another meaningful look, this one of thanks. He may trust Vorantor more than I do, but I saw he thought we might need the advantage of him not knowing about the walk-through-walls and concealment pouvrin, and he was right. I didn’t realize he could be as paranoid as I am. It’s funny how we have far more in common than I believed back at the beginning.
Vorantor was impressed, and not in a child-doing-tricks way. He asked a lot of questions about pouvrin, how to learn them and what it feels like to use them, and were there any similarities between pouvrin and th’an. I told him what we’d learned, and I didn’t hold anything back, just in case Cederic had already told him things. I think it may be another advantage for him to believe I’m cooperating, so I hope he couldn’t tell I was furious about being forced to go to Colosse, and in that way. And I have to admit Vorantor is easily as intelligent as Cederic, because he grasped the implications of our work immediately. On the other hand, he said nothing about the Codex Tiurindi, nothing about the worlds coming together, and at the time I assumed it was just because they both knew what needed to be done and talking about it was irrelevant. I was wrong.
Eventually, their discussion wound down, and Vorantor said, “I would like to speak with you privately, Cederic. We have so much to catch up on.”
Cederic nodded, turned to me, and said, “Thank you for your help, Sesskia.” Then he and Vorantor walked away toward the corridor, leaving me gaping for a moment at the abruptness of his farewell. It took me less than a second to decide that I had to hear whatever they were about to say to each other. Yes, I know I’d told Cederic I wouldn’t use the pouvra like a thief, and I felt slightly guilty about using it on him, but I was tired of everyone but me knowing what his relationship with Vorantor really was. And he had told me to keep them a secret from Vorantor, which is close to giving me permission to eavesdrop.
I used to be better at justifications.
And I got what eavesdroppers are proverbially supposed to get, which is, nothing good. I don’t really regret it. Cederic would have told me the details later, but hearing Vorantor’s words from his own mouth—I’m glad I know what kind of man he actually is. I
Dinnertime. I’m a little surprised Cederic is always the one who comes for me. I think he knows I’m writing and is trying to keep anyone from finding out about this book. I think writing while the loenerel is moving is making me queasier, but there’s no way I’m going to delay any longer. It’s supposed to take fewer than three days to reach Colosse, and I’m determined to have caught up before then, because who knows what might happen?