Swevre cleared his throat as he entered the Nereth Lyrond. Pulling himself up to his full height, he raised his voice and made his announcement. “Katamaya; Member of the Assembly of Arch Magi of Blackmoor.” He bowed his head and stood aside.
In walked Katamaya, slowly. Her blonde hair and blue eyes were hidden by a veil. Her black dress was not the full multi layered gown of a gwen of the Flanaess, with its figure hiding layers. It was the lighter more flattering gown of the sort more common in Alcant. She moved gracefully from the door to the centre isle, with only the suggestion of hip swing. She turned and walked up the isle to the appropriate place and sank to her knees, bowing low to Forgileill, who acknowledged her bow and waved her to the guest seat between Klogoh and Havorn.
Katamaya did not move straight away. Slowly she lifted her veil. Her pale face was as beautiful as ever, her blue eyes sparkled. She wore a polite half smile and her long tresses were caught behind her. She silently mouthed thank you to Forgileill and turned to sit in the appointed place. Their eyes met and Forgileill held her gaze for a long moment before turning to Invaswen and accepting the first of the days papers.
Whoever had been schooling Katamaya in gweneth had done a good job. She was now able to travel within the empire without hindrance. And this gave her access to the ilin classes. In some ways Forgileill was pleased. Her (ex)girlfriend had shown taste (something she occasionally lacked) and had certainly made good. That she had acquired her Blackrobe did her much credit as well. It was somehow vindication of what Forgileill had seen in Katamaya in the first place.
She stamped the account with her seal and Tûd Ap Brennin made his formal report of the days patrol and practice. There were no supplicants from the Wilya. There were no religious holidays or ceremonies to be observed. Forgileill did not trouble her Greys for any business as they were all craning their necks to get a better look at the servants clothes and yichduroh waiting patiently at the back of the Lyrond.
Following form, the Lyio then asked her guests if they had any formal business. None of them did. Forgileill announced that there would be banquet that evening, to honour all of her guests.
And that she would take a walk in the courtyard with her guests. The formal business of court ended and she stood up, the scales of her yichduroh hissing as they rubbed. She handed her taiken and bow to Invaswen, who accepted them with a bow.
Forgileill and Katamaya walked, their arms almost touching. Klogoh and Havorn walked at a discrete distance behind them. Forgileill was aware that the two men were watching them walking.
They walked in the garden, with the others out of earshot. Without looking at Katamaya or pausing in her slow walk around the small raised beds of herbs, Forgileill asked, “So why have you really come here?"
Katamaya, hands hidden up her sleeves, “I had learned that you had been kidnapped by something thought not to exist.”
“I was taken against my will. Apparently as part of someone else’s plot. I suspect that they thought to gain a nostir princess, and got me.” Katamaya picked up the unspoken subtext.
“And so you escaped?” Forgileill did not answer the rhetorical question.
“I chanced the gate in Kelkess’ manse.” Said Katamaya, Forgileill caught her breath, but remained composed. “What I found there was certainly novel. I followed Kelkess’ trail backwards someway and it led me to the isle of Cyrx.” This peaked Forgileill’s slenderly pointed ears. Cyrx, the land of the Dragon Father, was not something she’s had much to do with. But she was certainly eager for news of the Iron Kingdoms, even if it still gave chills and the occasional nightmare.
“Did you actually go there?” enquired Forgileill.
“It was not so much the things that were done to me, it was that whilst they were being done, I didn’t want them to stop.”
Forgileill hesitated. “I had a similar instance during my experience.”
“And sometimes now, you think of what happened and the memory of it, whilst unpleasant and perhaps disgusting, nonetheless holds some measure of excitement?"
She stopped walking and said nothing for a moment. “No.” She said with the back of her hand to her mouth.
Katamaya bowed formally, as if she had been gwen all her life. And that was the end of their conversation. They all dispersed to their own business.
The banquet was a success. Katamaya sang, danced and played, transfixing everyone with her charm and eloquence. Forgileill allowed herself to be taken in as well, the honoured guest restrained herself somewhat and performed tunes that she knew were Forgileill’s favourites. When Katamaya had finished, she took a seat of honour next to Forgileill, whereupon she noted that Klogoh and Invaswen were certainly in love, so intently were they both pretending the other did not exist. And that Havorn was certainly keen to catch Forgileill’s eye. “Actually, I think he’s more interested in you.” She said. “Oh, really?" Said Katamaya with a sly smile.
The assassin crept across the roof of the Lyio’s wing and onto the roof of the guest’s wing. Careful not to disturb anything, the assassin’s route was long committed to memory. Preparation is everything.
In her room, tired and just a little tipsy, Katamaya extinguished all but one of the candles. The remaining candle was wax she noted. Typically ilin to spend money on showing off to their guests, there was enough light given off by the small hearth anyway. She began to untie the bodice of her dress.
“You can come in, if you like. Or hang there like a bat, if that is your wish.”
Forgileill chuckled. “Wonder itself of course. You were exotic and exciting. My first real mission as a nightblade. My first glimpse into the real world that my tutors and family were preparing me for but never showed me.” There was a moment’s silence.
Katamaya began to brush her hair. “I missed you.” She stopped brushing. “After we had that argument and you threw me out, I realised that I had been trying too hard to please too many people. I left Saironost altogether and spent ages in Immorean. When I came back, I tried to be more like you, which is why I’m now qualified.”
Forgileill beckoned her over, taking her brush from her hand and gently turning her around, resumed the brushing of her hair, it’s familiar scent stirring memories of byrn fynn. “Going there hurt me. In many ways. Despite the good times, and there were some, on the whole, it was the worst experience I ever had.”
Katamaya replied “Well, you were killed. And lost free will, I understand that. I wasn’t, but I ended up committing unmentionable crimes for an enemy of life itself. Sometimes I remembered who I was and what I was doing, and it made me wish for death. And sometimes I found myself enjoying it, which just made it worse when I realised.”
Forgileill kept brushing. When they were greyrobes together they had spent hours brushing and arranging each others hair. “But you did manage to retain a portion of yourself, as demonstrated and eventually escaped.”
Forgileill stopped brushing. “When the lich tried to take over me at first, I was able to resist him because I was in love with you. You nearly saved me.” She laid a hand on Katamaya’s shoulder, moving her hair away with the other, she planted a gentle lingering kiss on the back of Katamaya’s neck.
By the time Katamaya turned around, the window was empty and the assassin gone into the night. She picked up the hairbrush and held it close for a long moment before closing the shutters.