That Answer is Unacceptable, from Fen's Memoirs

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"Don't be absurd, Nalev. I just saw him yesterday," I protested. I had been to Roarke's library and was denied entrance.

"He will not see you now. He doesn't accept my visits when he's like this."

"Are you saying you're running the country?"

"I lend my assistance where ever it's needed. Right now, I must prepare Arbanji to lead."

"You simply dismiss your King?"

"Eltesnia has been through much and we must be strong."

"It tears at him for what he did to Paynor."

"Paynor is in prison where he can do no further harm to anyone."

"In prison?" I asked in disbelief.

"Yes." Nalev's eyes set on me. "What did he tell you, child?"

"Roarke told me that he cut his head off while he slept."

"You can not begin to imagine the agony and isolation of what the king has been through. Whatever stories he has told you are very real to him."

"How long will he stay there?"

"It's difficult to say. Perhaps a few days. Time means nothing to him when he's like this."

"Thank you for seeing me, Nalev."

I held out my hand. Nalev kissed it and said with a nod, "Lady Fenwick."

Day after day I returned to the tower and slid my letters under the door. It was so cold and silent. I hardly ever heard any sound from inside. Soon I started to take a small stool with me and busy myself with needlework while I made idle one-sided chatter with the silent royal guards. It would be nearly three weeks of tenaciously waiting before my luck would change.

This time when I said good morning to my two resolute statues, one responded, "You may enter." I thanked them kindly and walked in to the library.

The entire tower was the library. Books, scrolls, maps and artifacts lined countless shelves and tables. Highly ornate and jewel encrusted swords hung on the walls. There were a few large tapestries suspended in an odd arrangement in one corner of the room. It was from there that I heard Roarke's voice.

"Fenaway, in here." He called.

I stepped inside the make-shift room to find Roarke soaking in a bath, attended to by four servants. There was scarcely room for me but he motioned for me to have a seat on a chair out of the way.

"Your Highness." I greeted him warily.

"I wanted to speak with you, Fenaway." His voice was full of energy. "I had hoped to be done with all this before you got here. It feels just too damn good to be in here. This is the fourth bath they drew for me today."

"Perhaps Your Highness is in need of a vacation by the sea."

"Probably right." He reached for a piece of fruit from a small table beside the tub and tossed it to me before taking one for himself. "But there's something more pressing at the moment and I'm hoping you might be of assistance." He motioned to his servants. "You may leave."

"Of course." I replied humbly.

Roarke quickly ate his fruit. I could tell from the mostly untouched trays of food left outside the library door that he hadn't eaten much in the past weeks. Though I tried not to seem uneasy, I found myself studying the fruit in my hand and slowly ate, enjoying what little distraction I had available.

"Hand me my towel."

I stood and complied with his request. He lost his balance getting out of the tub and I reached out to steady him. He thanked me then gave me a very awkward quick kiss on the lips before taking a bite out of the apple in my hand. Roarke wrapped himself in a robe and walked out of the tapestries.

"Out here, Fen." He poked his head back inside and motioned for me to join him.

Roarke was anxious to tell me all about his vast library and the holy mission he was on to put the world back into balance. His voice was higher than usual as he tried to fit volumes of information and conjecture into one morning. My head reeled trying to keep up with him but his giddiness and enthusiasm were intoxicating and contagious. I marveled at his behavior and wondered if he was ever truly the same person twice.

"The answer is here, Fenaway, I know it. It's just a matter of finding the right connection. Now that you're here I can just about taste success."

"You want me to help you?"

"Yes, oh, yes. I should have sent for you a long time ago. You're the only one that makes sense."

I had to agree with him.

Roarke had some of my things sent up to the tower and tagged along with him on his intellectual and spiritual journey. He read, studied, pontificated and puzzled almost without ceasing. Time began to lose meaning for me and its passage was most noticeable by the growth of the child within me. It had been a while since I had seen Misha, or anyone other than the guards outside the tower door. He had sent me a letter saying that he was going to Gelassi with Nalev to work on the settlement. It was odd that he didn't come to say goodbye in person, but at that time most things were extraordinary, and not always in the good way.

The first time I saw Roarke reading from the forbidden books of the imponderables I felt myself grow pale and weak. He insisted that he was working to achieve a greater good and that he could not be bound by superstitious conventions. He could be tried for heresy and I along with him for being party to his betrayal of the tenants. Adeptly he quoted centuries of scholars and priests to prove his point. Of course, all of them had died a horrible and tragic death as heretics to prove mine.

The imponderables, it seemed, could be controlled or at least manipulated as in the entrapment of the Lane. When Eburgistraten freed the Lane, it was only half of the solution.

"Jaun Sei cites legends from the oral tradition of 'Chasing Seera.' But, you see, it is actually Seera who is doing the chasing." Roarke was quite emphatic.

"Seera is chasing ... the Lane?" I was confused.

"Yes, you do see!" He embraced me for a quick moment then practically jumped backward toward an open scroll. "In his sonnet number 57 he speaks of the Ara not as the innocent of Dzai tradition, but as an ancient. And an ancient prisoner at that. She seduced him and gave birth to a child she called Aloyna. When the Aloyna was a little girl, Ara told Seera that she drowned in the River Iber. But she hadn't died at all but was sent to live with a far away tribe of people. Jaun Sei contends that it is through Aloyna that the sight was born. Seera, it is said, must track Ara through each of his reincarnations to protect us all."

I looked him in disbelief.

"Jaun Sei was one of the few writers of the imponderables not to be put to death."

"Only exiled from Belaurii after starting a civil war." I stated flatly. As the mistress of Neopar, I knew all about both the rift and the prophecy of reunification.

"He was Nalev's grandfather. Life is full of little ironies." Roarke chuckled.

"Wasn't it the stone that allowed the entrapment?"

"Absolutely. A stone unique in all the world. Probably not even from this world."

"And it was returned with Ara Lane."


"Then please tell me what we are looking for."

"The stone, my Fenaway, was split in two in ancient times. When we find the missing stone, we can open the portal between the worlds and send Seera through."



"You know where Seera is?"

"Metaphorically speaking, of couse."

"Does he exist? Yes or no?"


"And you know who he is?"

"Yes." His voice was more somber now. "He is Paynor."

"Paynor? Why would you think it is Paynor?"

"What more do you want from me, Fen?"

"The truth, Roarke. We can face it together." I pleaded.

"One answer and you look upon me with pity, another and it is with horror. How is it possible for me to choose between the two?"

"I have pledged myself to you. It is enough for me that you know the truth."

Roarke turned away from me and said, "I think you should go now."

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