Sunday, November 8, 2015


I was sitting in a tavern in the city of Allus, a short walk from the Green Tower. Dragoneyes was next to me. Cassinder was next to him. I looked at Bashra's meal, expecting it to be his typical mutton. It was not. His third day in a row eating soup. "You don't eat meat," I realized. This was a new development.
"I don't want to see the tragic death of an animal every time I stare at my food."
"Truly, those eyes are a terrible curse," I joked.
"This soup isn't that bad."
A woman entered the room. Gracefully, beautifully. I didn't recognize her, but she looked familiar. "You should talk to her," Dragoneyes suggested.
"The woman you are eyeing like she's made out of history books. Don't deny it, I can see the true nature of things."
"Is she-"
"You and she would make a wonderful match," he said.
"You shouldn't tell him that," Cassinder said.
"I wasn't telling him the future. For all he knows, she'll be hit by a cart tomorrow morning. In fact, for all I know, she'll be hit by a cart tomorrow morning. All I'm telling him is her personality."
"Bad things power to those who know to much."
"No, knowledge is power. Power is good to have."
Their bickering faded out as I approached the woman. What should I say? I had never done this before. I could introduce myself. Or I could say that someone who could see into my soul recommended I talk to her. Perhaps I could mention my merits as Lord of the White Tower. I opted for none of these. "Heee. Uuuuuuh. Uuuuuh. Uh, hi." Frankly, still better than I expected.
"Are you okay."
"Umm. Uuuh. Yes. I'm, my name is Amniel."
"Arelin," she said, extending her hand. I shook it. A greeting used mostly in the Commonwealth, but a distinctly Irinian name.
"Wwwhat... are you a student here?"
"I am, although I've lived here all my life."
"The daughter of a Master."
"Yes. Taerin.?
"Taerin! Taerin of the Valley is your father?"
"He is."
"Huh. A friend of mine ran into Taerin's son recently. Your brother, I guess."
"Othin or Baelin?"
"Othin, I think."
"I see." There was a pause. "Did you have a purpose in coming up to me?"
"Umm, no. No. Goodbye."
I retreated. "That did not seem to go well," I speculated.
"Wow," Dragoneyes said. "A lover and a scholar. Any other brilliant insights."
"Why did you send me to talk to her?"
"Frankly, I thought it would work out better than it did. I see the true nature of things. The long arcs of people's lives, and the critical moments that change them forever. That doesn't mean I get to see your stammering before it actually happens.
"So now what?"
"I don't know. The winds of time blow people far and wide. You'll see her again. Perhaps you will do better next time."

I did see her again, of course. The winds of time blew us together. Also, I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to track her down.
I must have asked a dozen people before I found someone who knew where she would live. I hesitated before knocking on her door. This whole thing was a sort of invasion of her privacy. First Dragoneyes invaded her privacy by seeing into her soul, and now I was invading her privacy by chasing her across the Green Tower. But, if she was what Dragoneyes implied she was...
I rapped the door three times. She opened it.
"What brings you here," she said. I could tell that this was simply the politest possible pronunciation of 'get out of here'.
"A friend of mine, a person with an exceptional ability to gauge personalities, said that we would make excellent friends." That wasn't what he said. I believe the exact words were 'wonderful match.' But that seemed rather forward.
"Was your friend a mage with eyes like burning embers that give him power over all things?"
"Yes. One of those mages."
"Well, that is very interesting." She moved to close the door.
"Wait-" we should talk.
She sighed. I could tell this was not going well. "What do you wish to talk about?"
A question I had not seen coming. "Ummm..... What do you usually talk about?"
"My most recent conversation was about whether or not the University should be doing more to aid Etoran sorcerers."
"Interesting question. So, our current policy is that we will provide refuge to anyone who comes here and ask for it. Are you saying we should be more active."
"The Inquisition claims they killed six hundred sorcerers last year."
"What would you have us do? Try to find the sorcerers before the Inquisition does? Admittedly, we have a certain expertise in the subject that they don't, but the sheer manpower they have at their disposal..."
"Perhaps. Or we could simply topple the Emperor."
"Are you crazy? This is the University! We're not a political entity, much less a conquering nation."
"Who else can do it? Who else can stand up for sorcerers not powerful enough to stand up for themselves. Who else can ensure that every man and woman has the right to study and learn."
She made a compelling argument. But I was not compelled. "The Green Tower was a political entity long before it was a University. You know how that went. Some of the fields are still smoldering. If we tried to conquer the most powerful Empire in the world... even if we did succeed, the casualties on both sides would be tremendous."
"In the short term. But in the long term, we would bring the benefits of magic back to a third of world's people."
"That is a decent point."
"I do make them occasionally. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other matters to attend to."
"You don't want to talk more?"
"I do not."
"You may have heard that a fellow named Koteph is going to try to exterminate every living being. I was thinking I might do my job trying to stop him."
"That's... a good thing to do."
Arelin closed the door.
Not the best conversation. But compared to my other attempts to introduce myself to strangers, I called it a moderate success.

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