I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mindAlmost the first person Forgileill saw in Saironost was Katamaya. The two of them smiled at each other long before there was any chance of conversation. They seemed to be irresistibly drawn to each other. However it soon became apparent that Katamaya was as changeable as the weather. When they were together, Forgileill really liked her but when there was anyone else there, Katamaya seemed to change. Forgileill eventually came to realise that unless they were alone, that their relationship was distinctly one way. Her days filled with empty yearning.
Of course, normally they were too busy to socialise. Forgiliell found herself rushed through the stages of white and brown and she became journeyman to a Gwaithor named Kaldelwyr. “Everyone else calls me Kal, you will address me as ‘master’.” He did not seem too enthused at the prospect and Forgileill soon managed to find out that he’d been told to take her on by Kcasamenzay. Apparently the reason for this was his own past as thief or spy. He certainly seemed able to find her no matter how hard she tried to evade him.
Lessons were hard. For one or two of her less gifted peers, they were fatal. Certainly there were any number of accidents. For the most part, she an her greyrobed peers were taught specific subjects in small syndicates. It was during early exercises in ensqualmathic telegnosis that she found out that Katamaya was actually apprenticed to Maldekore ‘the demonchilde’. Her heart sank. But maybe this was not a disaster. Perhaps her being a part of the Shindrik Society was not the end of their relationship. Certainly whenever they were alone Katamaya told Forgileill how much she missed her, how much she wanted to be with her.
And yet to Forgileill, she seemed ever more aloof. Sometimes, when they met in a public place, Katamaya would ignore her. At first Forgileill though that this might be because she was with other Shindrik apprentices, she soon discarded that idea.
Gwedhion dropped into see her, as he had returned to Saironost for spot more research. To his surprise, she wasn’t in constant trouble. None of the academic activity was foiling her. But something was not right. By listening and being a friendly face that wasn’t either a classmate or a tutor (or some loose sandestine that had broken free and was trying to kill everyone), he managed to get her to talk about the thing that was actually bothering her, Katamaya.
“I say I don’t want to see her, but she knows I’m lying. And when we touch, my self control just evaporates. And when we kiss, I’m on fire, I light up. I know that just because it makes me feel good, that it doesn’t make it right. She treats me like dirt until she wants me and then I just run along like a good little girl.” It seemed like Gwedhion had found the source of her unhappiness. That’s not all he found. He kept an eye on his cousin and saw something that greatly interested him, a pale skinned black haired brown robe who came too see Forgileill occasionally.
Alexia Ciannor was free of the voices as soon as she had crossed from Cean into Oerick. Kcasamenzay had her assessed by someone whose field of expertise was madness and insanity. What the results of that assessment might be, Forgileill did not know.
Forgileill had not been told to keep an eye out for the immigrant, but she did. For one thing, it was an advantage to know someone who had no stake in either politics or the machinations of the Blackrobes. And besides, Alexia was her friend. She had progressed to the Brown already.
Forgileill knew from eavesdropping that her penchant for Necromancy was not being encouraged. Apparently favours were going to be called in with the Order of Gwann. When she progressed to the Grey, it would one of the other orders or a generalist who chose her as journeyman.
But for the meantime, Forgileill remained Alexia’s only friend. Conscious of the efforts being made to keep Alexia away from the undead, Forgileill had been helping her with her other studies when she could. She was trying to help by encouraging her other talents.
Months on, it seemed as though Alexia had settled into her new life as a student. The friends met every two or three days, whenever they could manage it. Sometimes they would study and other times they would talk, about the Empire, magic, the world, relationships, family, tutors, other students and entities who inhabited Saironost with them.
Only once Alexia caught Forgileill off guard. They were sat on Alexia’s bed, in her cell. Forgileill had let her mind wander. She was remembering her nights out ‘up town’ in Corvis. When she had been Sythyss. When she had been dead.
The girl’s intense awareness was tangible to Forgileill. There was no avoiding it. There was no point in waiting for a verbal question. Still staring into space, Forgileill sank back and struggled to let the words come out.
“I remember when,” She started. What did she remember ? A lot of the time she didn’t remember anything. She had fond memories or Corvis. But a lot of other ones as well. She gagged as a reflex reaction to tapping into what she had felt when she spoke with the Iosian Seer in the Quad. Remembering her time as Sythyss was something she avoided. It made her angry and sad all over again, every time. Very slowly and in a barely audible soft voice, Forgileill began to speak.
“The act of dying unhinges one. I remember when I lost my mind. There was something so pleasant about that place. Nothing mattered any more. Even fading emotions had echoes in that much space.”
“And when I met you I hoped that you were having the time of your life. But all the while I just wanted to say ‘Think twice, that's my only advice’. My family, heroes of the Empire and my heroes as well, if truth be told, mostly had the heart to loose their lives out on a limb. And ever since I can remember, all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them. Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun. So it was no coincidence that what happened came to pass. And if all of that was just to save your homeland, then that’s that.”
She blinked and turned her head. A lone tear rolled down Alexia’s face.
Forgileill had been perched on one of the Gargoyles at the very top of Kaldelwyr’s tower. There she sat in the moon light, often for two or three nights in any given week. She would contemplate the stars, experience the weather, feel the wind, observe the bats and other night flyers. It was time to herself. And the long and dangerous climb up and down went some way to keeping her in shape.
This particular night, she swung back through the window into her own room and found Katamaya sprawled on her bed. The sultry blonde haired girl beckoned Forgileill to join her. Forgileill just stood with her head tilted to one side. As much as she wanted to, as much as Katamaya stirred her emotions, her desires, this was just not happening. Not after the way she’d been treated.
Not being allowed to wear black, the Aerdy girl wore an immodest red silk gown that appeared to have been mostly stolen or eaten by moths; it was designed to afford tantalising glances. It looked very impressive. Katamaya was the doyen of the Grey Robes in her classes, Forgileill knew. Katamaya’s pout turned to a scowl when Forgileill didn’t acquiesce. Obviously one of them would have to say something.
Forgileill seized the initiative, cutting the other girl off. “I like you the way you are, the way you used to be. When we are alone and you talk to me one on one; but you've become somebody else round other people. You're trying to fit in but you’re trying too hard and a lot of the time you just look like a fool.”
Katamaya did not get up. She twirled her hair around her fingers. She obviously wasn’t going to go without a fight. Katamaya lounged back and looked up at Forgileill from under her long dark eye lashes. She smouldered sensuously. “You have no idea how hard it is for an Aerdy girl in this place. I’m beholden to the Shindrik Society, I’m not even supposed to talk to you, let alone want you as a lover. My days are filled with the threat of sudden death. The summoning of demons is hard, Forgileill. It’s taxing and painful. I must conform to the Society’s rules or not only are all my years of training for nothing but my life is forfeit. And not just that, probably my soul as well.”
Katamaya looked hurt. It was probably an act, but Katamaya certainly knew how to yank her chain. She crossed over and sat on the bed. Katamaya moved up and draped herself around Forgielill and laid her head on Forgileill’s chest. Forgileill could not help but put her arms around the girl. “Tell me why you have to go and make things so complicated? When you’re acting like you're somebody else it vexes me.” Katamaya didn’t answer with words, she wormed her way closer, planting small kisses and nuzzling Forgileill’s neck.
Possibly thinking about duplicity, that used her for evil had once slain her, Forgileill absently stroked Katamaya’s hair and stared out into nothing. “In life one falls. Quite often one has to crawl to recover. Occasionally one is completely broken. But you take your experience and you turn it into honesty. to yourself, if not to other people. ” Forgileill considered for a moment. Yep. That was about the sum of all her life’s experience thus far.
“I only very rarely get away from my hateful masters. It chagrins me to think that my precious time might ever be wasted. Each day might be my last. I have so much to live for, so much to give and most of the time, no freedom of expression.” Katamaya reached up and put one hand behind Forgileill’s head and pulled her face down until their lips met. The kiss was supposed to last forever. It was the kiss that Katamaya knew that the Sindali? princess could not resist. Forgileill pulled back at the last minute.
“You come over unannounced, dressed up like I don’t know what, you blank me in public and strike ridiculous poses, real and intellectual. And you could be so much better.” Forgileill was becoming more cross the longer this conversation went on. She jumped up off the bed. “Take off the ridiculous dress ! You know you're not fooling anyone with this little act. It’s not like I’m the only one you sneak out to see !” Katamaya had at least four other lovers that Forgileill knew of. Quite likely there were others.
“Maybe not, but you couldn’t wait to be in my arms again ! As soon as the crowds dispersed you’d stalk me through the corridors seeking a kiss and a fumble in some darkened doorway ! And nothing I’ve ever said or done could ever have led you to believe that you were the only one, but you never mentioned your little black haired friend did you ?” She snapped her fingers in Forgileill’s face. “Ha !”
Katamaya stormed towards the door but brought herself up short. “Take off this ridiculous dress ?” she narrowed her eyes at Forgileill and then pouted. She slipped it off of one shoulder and gave a wriggle. “I never hid my other lovers from you the way you hid her from me.” She shrugged off the other shoulder and the silk shimmer as if fell down to her waist. She’d done this for Forgileill often enough before. Indeed, she’d given Forgileill her first lessons in such things. Before long Katamaya was writhing sensuously against a writing desk, the red dress on the floor.
But it didn’t have quite the effect that Katamaya hoped. Forgileill stood, her hands on her narrow hips and her head slightly on one side.
Forgileill slowly stalked out of her own room, walking past Katamaya, who froze in mid-writhe as she finally realised that she’d lost her audience. “Whether you get dressed again or not (and I’m not sure it’s worth it), let yourself out and shut the door behind you. I’m off to see the little black haired girl.”
Gwedhion appeared with a bottle of red. He appeared a little out of sorts so Forgileill put aside her grimoire and made a little time for him. It transpired that he’d found out all there was to know about Alexia Ciannor and then had managed to blag his way into her cell. Forgileill felt a sudden stab of betrayal. But Gwedhion had come away defeated. The legendry (his own description) seducer had been repulsed.
According to him, it seemed that everything Alexia did was designed to allow her to be closer to Forgileill. They could not be together, but (and Gwedhion was swift to poo-poo any suggestion that it could be coincidence), it appeared that Alexia had worked out which lessons she could take that would be closest to the ones that Forgileill had chosen.