14 Coloine (continued)
It’s a good thing Cederic had already established himself as the true leader of the mages, because no one argued, and he was right, there wasn’t time for that. I don’t know why our clothes had to be burned, since none of us were bloody, but I’m just as happy not to be reminded of what happened by putting on the wrong trousers one morning.
I changed quickly, washed Vorantor’s blood off my face, and met Terrael at the stairs near the mages’ quarters, and I took him to the empty wing of guest quarters. We didn’t talk much—I think he was in shock, still, so it was mostly me asking what kind of room we needed and him explaining why he’d rejected yet another one.
Though at one point, while I was opening doors that all led to tiny bedrooms, he said, “So. You and Sai Aleynten.”
“I’m surprised Audryn didn’t tell you,” I said, feeling pleased that Audryn had kept my secret even from her own husband.
“Not a word,” he said. “Though it makes sense, in retrospect.”
“Why is that?” I said.
He suddenly couldn’t meet my eyes. “Um…Sai Aleynten became a lot more…relaxed… about two weeks ago, just after he proved the worlds were merging. Not that it was really obvious, but now that I know he was…that you were….”
“Yes,” I said, which wasn’t really an answer, but I thought it might stop Terrael babbling. Audryn doesn’t seem to have any complaints, but it’s sort of funny how embarrassed Terrael gets about sex even now that he’s a married man; it reminds me how young he is. How young a lot of them are.
Terrael chose a room whose original purpose I don’t know. It has a very fancy wooden floor with no rugs, so maybe it was for dancing. I don’t know if Castavirans have dancing rooms the way the King and nobles of Balaen do. It doesn’t matter. We got back to discover that servants had removed Vorantor’s body and Cederic had locked the door to the circle chamber and done something to melt the lock shut, after burning away all the blood and the contaminated clothes.
Then we ate something—I don’t remember what—and everyone went with Terrael and me to the new chamber and began setting up the kathana again. The second tremor—Sovrin’s word, and yes, I know it’s nothing like a tremor, but to me the convergence is like two overladen carts hurtling toward each other, each so heavy it makes the road vibrate, and I don’t have a better word for it—happened right about that time, and I think for a few seconds when it was over, everyone gave up inside.
Cederic doesn’t flinch, fortunately for all of us. He drew me to one side when everyone was working and set me to doing pouvrin in a steady rhythm, all of them including the secret ones. “I don’t want to frighten you,” he said, “but there is a chance you will need to be attuned to the kathana the way the body-scribing mages were, in order to make your pouvra fit into it.”
“You can’t be more specific than that?” I said.
“We lost a lot of work,” Cederic said. “At this point I am making up large sections of this kathana out of whole cloth. I don’t want to tell you anything more until I am certain. But I can assure you that you will be in no more or less danger than any of us.”
“Do you know how long we have?” I said.
“No,” he said, and there didn’t seem to be anything more to say, so he left me there and I did pouvrin until I could barely remember what they were for.
We’ve had dinner, and I’m in my room writing because I need time to myself before I join the others in the new kathana chamber. I don’t know where Cederic is. I wish he were here, because I’m finally able to write what’s really worrying me, which is that stupid Vorantor was so eager to see Cederic dead that he gave away Aselfos’s plan!
How could he let his lust for revenge, or whatever it is he wanted, destroy what might be Castavir’s chance at having a better government, or at any rate a sane ruler? I’m not stupid. I’ve seen civil war—not on a large scale, but still war—and I’ve seen the results of revolutions, and it’s vicious and brutal and only madmen enjoy it. But I’ve also heard something of what the God-Empress sends her soldiers to do, particularly what’s been happening in Viravon, and I’m not sure Aselfos’s plan isn’t better for Castavir in the long run.
In any case, Vorantor’s mania might have ruined everything Aselfos has planned for. Unless that general is able to convince the God-Empress that Vorantor made it all up.
There’s another tremor. If Aselfos is still on schedule—and that’s a big ‘if’—he’ll discover that the convergence has thrown all his plans into confusion. I don’t know if it’s writing all of this that’s calmed me down, or if I’m too overwhelmed to panic because now I’m in danger not only from the convergence and a possible war, but also from whatever insanity the God-Empress might decide to rain down on me. At least I don’t have to worry about anyone finding out about me and Cederic now. I wonder if sex will be less wonderful now that it’s not secret, semi-illicit sex. Probably not.
Tomorrow should see the end of it. It might only be a few hours from now. I won’t write that we can handle whatever that is, because I’m superstitious now. But.
If it is the end—I don’t regret anything. There were days when I would stop in the middle of an empty road stretching from one tiny, xenophobic town to another and wonder why I bothered taking the next step. I had no family, no friends, nothing but the urge to learn more magic, and on those days I couldn’t even picture any more to life than that.
But it was that magic that brought me here to a place where I have friendship and love and the chance to let that magic grow. I had no idea my life could be so full. I never thought I would know what it’s like to love and to be loved. If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, maybe I’ll be embarrassed and tear this page out. But if it does—I know this record won’t survive the disaster any more than I will, but this is how I want it to end, even if no one ever reads it. Here at the end, it was all worth it.