She’s called me to attend on her tomorrow. I came back here to change my shirt, since Jaemis managed to spill soup on me at lunch. Small comfort that I drenched him in retaliation, but we both ended up laughing, and I was still laughing when I reached my room and found the note pinned to my locked door.
I panicked, and that’s how Audryn found me about an hour later, sitting on my bed clutching the note in my hands, once again seeing the dead collenna master’s face and unable to convince myself that it wasn’t going to happen to me or, true God forbid, someone I love. Cederic’s assurance that mages are not easy to kill was no comfort, because I still haven’t seen a mage perform a single martial th’an or kathana, except for Cederic’s experimental shield that he’s only taught to the God-Empress’s battle mages.
She—Audryn—tried to talk to me, and I don’t remember what I said, but she left about twenty minutes ago and I had to write something or go mad with fear. I shouldn’t be this frightened. I can defend myself against the God-Empress’s soldiers, and she never has those battle mages with her, who knows why, but I’m stronger than this, I know I am.
It’s been a while since I wrote the last, and I feel better, probably because Audryn came back with Cederic, and he knelt in front of me and drew me into his arms, completely disregarding Audryn’s presence, and whispered comforting things to me until I could unclench my hands from the note and put my arms around his neck.
I could tell from how tense his muscles were that he was not nearly so calm about this as he wanted me to think, but that, strangely, made me feel better—that he doesn’t want his worry to overwhelm me, to suggest that this is something I can’t endure. And I can. I’ve faced things beside which the God-Empress is nothing. All she can do is kill me; she can’t destroy who I am.
Finally, when I was rational again, Cederic kissed me, stood up, and told me to rest for half an hour before returning to the circle chamber, and that Audryn would come for me when that time was up. Then he left without glancing at Audryn, whose very expressive face as she watched him leave was utterly stunned, but she went away without saying a word. I’m sure she’ll have plenty of words for me when she comes back.
And now I’m going to lie down, and practice breathing quietly in between working the concealment pouvra and improving the speed with which I can do it. I doubt that’s what Cederic had in mind when he told me to rest, but it will calm me more than napping would, because it makes me feel as if I’m learning to defend myself. He was right when he said once I could become a ghost if I had to, and I’m not going to be afraid of the God-Empress anymore. My friends can defend themselves, and I can too.