Though we were weary and relieved of duty, we returned to my chambers to discuss the events. We were beyond dreams. We had the remains of the battle sense within us. Such a condition gave little desire for rest. Iolaine departed briefly to fetch the rest of our household. It was safe for them to join us. The danger had been vanquished.
"Know we who was the most harmed?" I asked as we waited for the others.
"For but a moment I had thought you were, though it appears as if you are well." Salenia commented. "I had only small wounds."
"As did I." Tominent agreed. "Perhaps we can count the marks?"
"Nothen. I shall buy the first round. I have no marks upon me." In truth, I did not. I had been well and truly healed.
"We are relieved of duty until the burial of the Jilhsaed. What shall we do until then?" Sal asked.
"Eat, rest, have speech with our companions, rest, bathe and perhaps journey into the city for a round of well earned ale." I suggested.
"I believe it is a good plan." Tominent laughed as he leaned back into the chair's embrace. "It is the best plan I have heard for a moon."
"If not more than a moon." Sal agreed. "If this had been a lesson, Kayla and Chelstea would discuss our errors."
"Aight. I would be forced to hear a long lecture on why I should not meet heavy stone chairs with my head."
"I believe I would be instructed on ways to avoid the sharp part of a dagger." Tominent rubbed his sword arm.
"Chelstea would be speaking in a loud voice on the dangers of making oneself a target." Sal added.
"Already I can hear echoes of their voices. There are many lessons they would discover in this."
"Torienne." Sal lowered her voice and mocked Kayla's tone. "It is unwise for a warrior to leap head on into a stone chair while attempting to intercept a spear aimed at one a distance from you."
"Aight. You are correct, shehala." I attempted to carry Chelstea's higher tones. "It is often said that intelligence may be found in the head. It is unwise to crack an egg with a sword. You would do well to recall that when you feel the urge to test the thickness of your skull."
"As always, keytheda, you show your wondrous wisdom and insight. Regardless, Salenia, you should recall the ways of the fifth concept of the eighth stance on a kirgeur's charge to avoid hostage situations." Sal's comments feed my mirth. Though there were many concepts and stances we had learned in our schooling, the one she enumerated did not exist. "You would do well to recall as well that a kirgeur is not fit for a stop of arrows, needles, or other sharp, pointed objects."
"Very well recited, Kayla. In truth, you are the wisest of all warriors, though you failed to recall one last tenet our intrepid students have yet to master. It is not wise to mock the mighty tirgeaur that dreams in your bedchamber and yearns to discover methods to mix the sun and the air."
"Have you both gone mad?" Tominent seemed as if he was torn between laughter and concern for our minds.
"Nothen. Perhaps if you wish to accompany us to our homeland, you shall encounter Kayla and Chelstea. Though they are admirable warriors and worthy instructors, we learned to mock them during our schooling. It eased the pain of our lessons." In truth, there was more. Holding mock conversations with our instructors eased our anxiety and released our mirth. The battle sense lost hold, leaving us as we had been: two young women who had recently completed a duty we were not ready for because we had skill with steel. The mirth allowed us to regain our humanity.
"Understandable. I had a similar instructor as I was training as a queriane. He was old and lacked hair. Often we would amuse one another with attempts at parodying his speech."
"Torienne, you are well." Sevianth's boyish voice announced his presence before I felt his slight weight enter my arms.
"Aight. We are all well."
"In truth?" He would not accept the sights before his eyes until he had garnered my reassurance.
"In truth. Look you and know it is true. Salenia and Tominent are both well."
"Salenia, you are well?" The weight left my arms as he hastened into Sal's.
"Aight." She laughed at his enthusiastic concern. "How fare you?"
"I am well. May we return and dream here now?" He looked to us both.
"Aight. All is well, though the Jilhsaed's soul has departed from his body. We shall attend the burial the next evening." It seemed wise to inform them all, for in truth, the others stood in the entrance.
"We shall attend the old man's as well." Lyliane informed us as she entered the room completely. "He took his life in his private chambers. One of the queriane discovered his remains."
"Know we why?" It did not seem logical. We had defeated the prophecy. I still lived, Soliumant lived and I had not journeyed near to death. Though I had speech with Solisiric, it was not a visitation resulting from great wounds. As I understood it, she had requested my presence and utilized my state of dreaming.
"He had scribed his last wishes and confessions, sister." Tre seemed upset. She had grown fond of the old man in her time reading scrolls in the library. He had been filled with knowledge and eager to share it with her.
"What were his confessions?" Tominent seemed interested. Salenia did as well.
"We know not what the scroll contains. The queriane who discovered it carried it to Soliumant. We were not given permission to view it." Lyliane informed us.
"It is a small matter. We have lost many good and able men and women this day. Though the loss of the old man saddens me, I cannot yet grieve for one who denied his own life's proper ending." In our homeland, those who end their lives before the predestined time were not mourned. They had committed the ultimate offense before the gods. Though we were given leave to take life in battle and as a punishment for those who disregard laws, we were not given leave to end our own lives.
"In truth, the Jilhsaed was a good and just leader." Sal commented.
"He was a good father as well. He had great affection for his sons and daughters." I agreed.
"He will be greatly missed." Tominent seemed near to tears.
"Aight. We shall raise the first round in his memory." I pledged. "Though we are in the midst of chaos, perhaps Lyliane and Tre are able to fetch a meal for us."
"You are hungered?" Tre laughed. "Perhaps the tales of battle Iolaine related are truth."
"Wars may not make one great in skill, they do make one greatly hungered." Sal jested. It was from a phrase from our history: Warriors are made great only in battle.
"Then we shall fetch a tray for our hungered warriors." Lyliane rose and gently touched Iolaine's shoulder. "Come, Tre and Rul. I shall require your assistance."
"Then we shall be gladdened to accompany you." Rul seemed in good temper. Though she spoke little, there was a sense of ease around her. I wondered at it.
We waited for their return. The chamber was filled with discussion of small matters. We had no wish for Sevianth to learn of the brutalities of battle until he seemed ready. He would be trained as all those in their youth are trained and he would be given a choice between the sword and the earth. Only those wishing for steel were granted it. It was the way of our people. It kept the unfit from early burials.
Lyliane and the other two returned in haste. They carried enough to feed us all with more for our horses. We ate our fill, discovering we were in truth greatly hungered. Little remained when the last plate had been cleared. It was a small reminder of how those who were not warriors continued to attend their duties. Though the coup had changed the face of the court, it had not touched the servants and those without rank.
"We have eaten. What else had you planned?" Sal asked.
"Rest, though perhaps bathing should be done as well."
"It would be appreciated." Lyliane held her hand to her nose. "We shall attend to duties and allow you both privacy as you bathe."
"My gratitude, sister, though your actions are not necessary. I am wearied." Sal stood. "Regardless, I shall enjoy a bath."
"As shall I." I stood as well. "Tominent, perhaps after the Jilhsaed's burial I shall purchase that round of ale."
"I shall await it eagerly. For now, I believe I shall seek my brother and offer my assistance. If he declines, I shall immerse myself in a pool. May the gods guard your dreaming, my friends."
"May they guide and guard yours as well." I returned the evening greeting. "What mischief shall the rest of you encounter as we bathe?"
"I wish to return to the library and continue Sevianth and Rul's lessoning, sister." Tre seemed eager. The library would have been her chamber of dreaming had we allowed it.
"It is well. Return here when you are weary. There is no longer need for our household to be separated. Lyliane? Iolaine?"
"We shall carry tidings of the occurrences to the hidden ones, Torienne. If we have your permission?" Iolaine asked. I knew it for an excuse. They wished for time alone to court.
"It is granted. Guard yourselves well. Though the coup has been defeated, there are other dangers in Marlkina." I reminded them. In truth, thieves and worse covered the orb.
"Gods of my tribe. We smell of sweat and death, I cannot seem to raise my sword arm, and my head aches." Salenia voiced her complaints only after our companions had departed.
"Aight. Though the spear did not pierce my flesh, my side is bruised. I think perhaps I stretched some small muscle near to my ankle. It pains me but little, though it seems necessary to favor it."
"Perhaps the pool for resting shall ease our aches. It is the first I have felt as I would imagine an elder feels."
"Agreed." I discovered other sore muscles as I removed my attire. "Shehala, perhaps if the pool for resting eases not all our aches." The sight before me stilled my voice.
"Aight?" She looked into my eyes and favored me with a smile others had not viewed. "Perhaps. Though first you require cleansing."
"If you desire it so." I hastened my descent into the pool.
There is an element of battle that causes a warrior to be gladdened when it
is completed. The warrior is gladdened for another chance to live each day with
companions and friends. Those feelings are intense in their natures and often
cause the warrior to lose herself to passionate outpourings. Moments of such
passion reaffirm the warrior's sense of self and contentment. It was so with
us. We made it not to the pool for resting, though we cleansed one another of
soil, sweat and blood. It was well. There is much benefit to such sharing of
"Aight?" Sal's soft voice pulled my dream self from the paths I had just begun to tread.
"Know you when we shall return to our homeland?"
"Perhaps we should return after the Jilhsaed's burial." I had not thought on it. "Though I think it would be well to return within a fortnight. We have need of supplies for the journey."
"Aight. I am anxious to return, though I had thought you would wish to view the joining."
"I have not thought on it." I admitted. "If you wish to remain for it, we shall. It shall take many horses and supplies to see our journey completed. I know not how long it shall take before we are ready to depart."
"We shall know when it is time to depart. I merely allowed my mind to think on it before I sought my dreams." She answered. "Wish you to now relate the cause of your mirth?"
"It is a strange tale, shehala." I rose on my arms and looked down at her. "Wish you to hear of it now?"
"I wish it so, if you can speak of it."
"I can speak of it. Recall you this is full of truth." I warned her. In truth, it seemed a tale full of invention. Had I not lived it, I know not if I would have believed it.
I lay down again on the mattress and prepared the words in my mind. It embraced me as I began the tale. She turned on her side and allowed me to watch her expressions change as I related it. She appeared at times full of awe and wonder. At other times she appeared full of doubt, though she did not voice it.
"You kissed Solisiric?"
"Aight. Though she kissed me, I believe."
"You kissed the goddess of the moon and the kirgeurs?" The blow she aimed at my arm stung.
"Salenia, as she kissed me, and she kissed me, she healed me of my wounds." I knew it would have been wise to avoid mentioning that. "Tell me you are not jealous of a goddess."
"Nothen. In truth, I am not. I was surprised at the act, though I doubt you not." She looked at her pillow. "Was it enjoyable?"
"I cannot recall." It was the one untruth I had been able to tell her. If she doubted me, she did not speak of it. She never has. "Goddess or no, you are my shehala, my keytheda. You are all I wish for in this life."
"I know, shehala. I merely was not aware the gods engaged in such human behaviors. Regardless, we are bound. None can break it."
"Aight. Come. It is time we sought our dreams." I pulled her until she came to rest upon my shoulder. "I am weary." I was. The day had been long and filled with battles both physical and emotional. "Peace be to your dreaming, Salenia."
"And yours, Torienne." It was the last we conversed until dawn.
Continue to part 26
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