Sesskia’s Diary, part 5

15 Senessay (I think)

I’m calling it tomorrow because the light went out at some point, and I finally fell asleep on that horrible gritty mat, and when I woke I felt better. Rested, at least. Two of them came in before that and grabbed my arms, and marched me down the hall to one of the interminable doors, which turned out to be some kind of commode. There was a porcelain basin like the ones I’ve seen in some of the big manors, only this one didn’t have water sitting in the bowl, it had water flowing through it so it was constantly cleaning itself. I was glad to see it, because I was starting to have a pressing need to piss and there wasn’t anywhere in my cell I could relieve myself. So someone is thinking of my needs, at least on that level.

They also brought me food before I slept, a couple of slices of a kind of dark bread I’d never tasted before and a bowl of thick, spicy red soup with beans and some grain that looked like wild rice, only white and bland. It was filling and strange, and if I didn’t know I was in some other country before I’d be sure of it now. Food is one of the things that varies most between places. I’m trying not to be worried that I don’t recognize it, because that means I am definitely far from home, and I don’t know how I’ll get back.

Though—I wrote that, and then I wondered why it would matter. It’s not as if I have ties to any of the places I’ve visited since I left Thalessa ten years ago. Not that I’d want to stay here, prisoner or no, but who knows what kind of pouvrin I might find in this far-off place? And that’s really all I care about, giving this magic inside me space to grow. Who knows? If When I get out of here, I might find a country in this area where magic isn’t illegal. That would be a place I could settle in.

I may have done something stupid, though. After I woke this morning, I decided to make another try to escape—not really escape so much as see what kind of weaknesses I could exploit. So I used the mind-moving pouvra to unlock the door, and pushed it open a crack—and there were two women standing right outside the door, like guards. They looked really surprised to see me poking my head out, and one of them started talking at me, very agitated. I shut the door as quickly as possible. About two seconds later I heard the door lock again, and more talking, muffled by the door. They were definitely having an argument. Then I heard some bumping, and a scrape, and I’m pretty sure at least one of them is leaning against the door right now. So they know I have a way to open locks. They’re almost certainly going to keep a closer eye on me now. Damn it.

I wonder what they make of me. I wonder why they brought me here. It almost feels as if I took them by surprise, which is strange considering that they must have put some effort into summoning me, or whatever it was they did. Maybe it was an experiment they didn’t expect to succeed. Or maybe they were expecting something or someone else. But if that’s so, why didn’t they just turn around and send me back? Because they’re certainly doing their best to keep me from leaving.

I don’t

That was close. I was in the middle of writing that sentence when the door started to open, and I barely got this book hidden in my shirt when one of the white-robes came in, very cautiously, like he was afraid I might set him on fire. Which is a reasonable fear. I was sitting on the floor—those cushioned cylinders aren’t very comfortable—and he just looked down at me and didn’t say anything. He was several inches taller than me and had a pleasant face, round blue eyes, and brown hair in a tail that fell to his waist, and despite his caution, he didn’t seem afraid of me, just a little worried. He said something and held out his hand to me. I could see his sleeves were as smudged as the ones on the robe I’d stolen, but I don’t know what that means yet; it’s just strange that they’d wear white if whatever they do all day makes them so dirty. I crossed my arms over my chest and glared at him, and he let his arm drop and said something else. Then he came all the way into the room and shut the door behind him, which I thought was brave of him, and that made me a little less angry, I’m not sure why. He said something that sounded like a question, and made a motion like “get up” with his hands, then repeated it. It was such a polite gesture that I stood and brushed off my ass from where the floor grit had clung to me. I probably look awful. Not that I care what these people think of me.

He smiled when I stood, which made him look almost handsome—I think “pleasant” is the best he can hope for—pointed at his chest, and said a word. It took me a second to realize he was telling me his name. (I hope that’s what he was telling me. It might have been a title, or their word for “chest,” but it makes more sense that it was his name.) So I repeated it back to him, “Terrael” (I don’t know how to spell it, so I’m just going to write it the way it sounds in my language) and he made a really big smile and nodded vigorously and said it back to me. Then he pointed at me, so I said “Thalessi Scales” and pointed at myself, even though I think he gave me his praenoma rather than a surname or placename. I’ve adapted to many foreign customs over the years, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to share my praenoma as casually as most people in other countries do. So I wasn’t about to tell him my name was Sesskia.

Then he started babbling. I’d thought he was pretty smart until then. I don’t know why he believed our knowing each other’s names would make me spontaneously able to speak his language. I listened for a few seconds, then said, very slowly and clearly, “I have no idea what you’re saying.” Not that I believed speaking slowly would make him understand me, but I hoped he’d take the message from my tone that his cunning plan wasn’t working.

He cut off mid-sentence and looked sort of sheepish. Then he chewed his lower lip in a thinking kind of way, and made a “stay put” gesture accompanied by some words I guessed meant the same thing, and left the room. No one locked it after he left, which I thought was odd, but I suppose if those women are still standing outside the door, I can’t really go anywhere. So I’m writing all this down quickly, in case he comes back soon. Or at all.