20.1.10

"Everything will be different now" from Fen's Memoirs


The days seemed long at Gelassi, not to mention hot and dusty. In our attempts to reunite an extended family of fighters and clergy left with no one to serve and no other place to go it seemed that only the most opinionated and undiplomatic people of the three realms were sent there to establish a new order. Tironik was placed in command by Queen Naeri from the time the holy war's end. My position was to assist him in any way possible which usually meant breaking up the verbal rampages between Misha and Vay who were the primary voices of the two factions.

Nalev and D'Hir provided as much support as they could but the people, by and large, were slow to change their opinion of the Houseborne and were more than willing to let them be the problem of someone else. Since Gelassi was expanding westward through the legal purchase of farm land and even hunting grounds, the problem became my father's.


It had been weeks since Roarke left on his quest to bring order to the universe. Eyre Nalev had pulled through nicely after his near death experience and was ever sharing his years of wisdom with young Prince D'Hir. As for myself, even though I tried to avoid it, I was the third wheel to Misha and Tironik. It was really Tironik's doing. He feared the repercussions of their relationship since it didn't fit at all into the social structure of Kanabulan politics and was flew in the face of his overly stated position of love, adoration and undying devotion to his mistress the Queen.

A messenger found me while I was assisting Tironik with the delivery of Gelassi's first born child. As if I were not already feeling overly emotional, it was news from Roarke. At Tironik's insistence I waited for Misha who was finalizing the purchase of a large chunk of farmland. I quickly gathered my traveling clothes and all the money I had in my possession and sat and patiently waited for Misha's return that evening.

It was late when we arrived at the Inn of the Teapot. We went upstairs and judging by the commotion inside, it was not difficult to tell where they were staying. There was no answer when I knocked on the door, but we entered anyway. Eburgistraten, who I had not seen in many, many years failed to recognize me in his inebriated state. He was quite disheveled and cavorting with a good number of women, all of whom were expecting a sizable portion of the money I carried. Although the room was small it was so densely packed with flesh that it took me a few moments to realize Roarke was not present.


I turned back into the hallway just as he was returning.
"Fen," he said awkwardly holding out his hands for me. "I was waiting for your downstairs, but you didn't notice me."

"Roarke." I placed the money in his hands. While I was relieved to see him well, it had been almost four months since he left with Paynor.


"I told the cook to send up something for you. It should be here soon." He paused.

"Hello, Misha."


"Your Highness," Misha responded politely.


Suddenly the room grew more quiet and one by one the women exited. Burgi had passed out with his head and upper torso hanging off the bed. At least we had some privacy to talk. Roarke sat on Burgi's bed and I removed my cloak and sat on the other bed.


"I'll go downstairs and see to the food," Misha excused himself.


"It's good to see you, Fen." He said warmly.


"I trust your mission went well."


"It did."


"What happened?"


"There's not much to tell really," he said as he scratched one side of his beard. "We went through the portal and immediately entered this all-encompassing white barrier. It was warm and bright and filled me with such peacefulness that it lulled me to sleep. When I awoke, unaware of how much time had passed, Ebugistraten had found me and Paynor was gone."


"An epic journey across time and space, and you spend it in slumber?"


"Asleep or awake, the outcome speaks for itself." Roarke's tone lightened, "Quite relieved that it's over with."

"He must remember something more."

"Perhaps. He's been preoccupied with making up for lost time.
Tell me, how is Nalev?"

"Recovering nicely from his fall and is ever at D'Hir's side."

"Are they getting along well?"


I laughed. "Not according to the letters Misha receives from Nalev."


"I've missed your smile, Fen."


"I was afraid I'd never see you again. Considering how we left things--" I started defensively.


"I'm sorry, Fen, for everything. D'Hir confided in me about Dophe's involvement in Paynor's rise to power. As long as there was a chance that you and Neopar were co-conspirators, I had my doubts about you."


"What changed your mind? Was it Paynor?"


"I asked your mother to acquire the ring from Dophe and hide it with the things we brought from your quarters in Belaurii."


"Yes..."


"When you wrote to me, I felt that you were manipulating me by telling me what I wanted to hear. Then you showed up pregnant and I never asked... "


"It was Neopar's.
"

"And he didn't want you to end up like Delcine." Roarke paused. "But what changed my mind was when your mother told me about how you kept my letters and shirt all tucked away in a locked drawer. You couldn't have intended for me to know that. That was something private, yet so telling. I swear to you, Fen, I won't doubt you again. Everything will be different now."


"Of course it will be different now," Eburgistraten said as he stirred in his bed. "Where is everybody? Is that you, Fenaway?"

His voice was more hushed and he had a broad as he pulled on some clothing before walking over to me.


"How's my plump little potato?"

He gave me a hug so hard that I feared my ribs would break.
"It's good to see you, too, Burgi." I took a deep breath after he let me go. "I was sure you'd be out until morning."

"Nonsense, Fenaway. Just needed to catch a few winks. Let me look at you. What a beautiful young woman you've become. Tell me I haven't missed the wedding? We've all waited so long for you and D'Hir to become married."


I looked at Roarke. "Hasn't Roarke told you--"

"Well, there's obviously so much for us to discuss," Roarke hesitated awkwardly and was much relieved at the return of Misha with the food.


We washed some dust from our hands and face from the ride before being seated. Burgi talked for hours telling us about the horrors that unfolded before the king-making.
Finally, weariness won out and we began negotiating sleeping arrangements. Thanks to Roarke, my guardian still had the misplaced belief that D'Hir and I were betrothed. He further complicated the situation by his flat out refusal to share a bed with a page. As usual, I wound up with Misha.



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