all that's best of dark and bright (no_sleep_beauty) wrote in dweiaschildren,
all that's best of dark and bright
no_sleep_beauty
dweiaschildren

New Member & An Offering of Fanfiction

Hi everyone! I just joined the community after being absolutely ecstatic about finding it. I've been in love with Eddings' books for years. All my copies are practically falling apart from constant re-reading.

Luckily they've been spared more often now that I've got the audio books all neatly compacted on my ipod. =)

And I come with an offering of the first two chapters of a Post-Belgariad/Malloreon fanfiction. Hope you enjoy!

Title: The Requium: The World In A Downward Tilt
Chapter(s): Chapter One: The University of Melcena & Chapter Two: At The University
Fandom: David & Leigh Eddings; The Belgariad/The Malloreon
Characters: Multiple; next-generation, canon & original
Word Count: 5273 words
Ratings & Warnings: G. None
Summary: At the University of Melcena, Imperial Princess Sithli of Mallorea discovers an old book and a strange power. Meanwhile, in the West, magic is fading, the orb is failing, monsters are dying, and Ce'Nedra has fallen deathly ill. How are they connected?



 

THE REQIUM: THE WORLD IN A DOWNWARD TILT

PART ONE: THE UNIVERSITY OF MELCENA

 

Chapter One: The University of Melcena

 

 

Her Imperial Highness, Crown Princess Sithli of Mallorea, only child of Emperor Zakath and Empress Cyradis of the Empire of Mallorea, arrived at the gates of the University of Melcena on the same day that winder did. It was late afternoon, just as the gray daylight began to fade into blue twilight. Behind her brougham, hired in Peldane to bear her the last stage of her journey, the even lanes that led back to the town curved downward over the peak of dim green hill that led down to the town. Before the carriage and pair was the high wooden gate of the university, and in it the gatekeepers grille with its little red shutter, tightly latched.

 

As Sithli watched from the carriage window, General Atesca got stiffly down from the box to knock at the red shutter. Atesca was not an old man, not yet, but there was gray brindled in his hair, and the marks of long journeys were plain in his bearing.

 

The offshore wind blew steadily, an edge of frost in it. The coach horses shifted in harness, heads down against the cold. Daylight was failing fast and soon the red shutter would lose its color and fade into the grays of sea, sky, and stone.

 

Atesca grimaced at the chill and knocked again. As he dropped his hand, the shutter snapped open and a face appeared at the grille. It was a round face, chapped with red, its owner grim at the call out into the weather. 

 

“It’s after hours! Who goes there?”

 

“The Imperial Princess of Mallorea and her escort.”

 

The gatekeeper regarded Atesca for a moment, then looked past him at the brougham and its shifting horses. He eyed Daktor, the weary driver, who had remained on the box, and sneered at Sithli, the only passenger. His face folded into satisfaction. “We have no use for titles here,” and closed the shutter.

 

Atesca let out an irritated breath and knocked again. No answer.

 

Sithli opened the carriage door. “Let me.” She got down from the brougham and joined Atesca at the gate before he could protest.

 

After a moment the shutter snapped open. “Well.”

 

“My friends I request entrance.”

 

“Your name and business?”

 

“Too trivial to concern you. I am but a humble acolyte, come to apply for a place at the Melcena University. My imperial father thinks I will prove an apt student.”

 

The gatekeeper regarded her with someone bordering upon amusement for an instant, then clapped the shutter closed. There was a hasty scrape and the wooden gate swung open. Sithli, imperial princess of Mallorea, nodded to Atesca. He looked faintly annoyed as he took her elbow, helped her back into the brougham, and took the seat beside her. Daktor drove the carriage through the university gates.

 

“If it pleases your highness,” Atesca said as the carriage carried them across the expansive lawns of the college. “don’t do that.”

 

“Do what, General?”

 

General Atesca turned and looked very hard at the Mallorean princess. She was a slender girl with honey gold eyes that had a tendency to lighten when she was angry. The majority of the princess hair was dark mink brown but mixed in were hundreds of strands that were snowy white, which gave the overall mass the strangest frosted look that could barely be described. She’d plaited it and the glossy braid, which he knew would hang all the way to her ankles when unbound, was as thick as his wrist and coiled up into a commoner’s knot at the back of her head. She wore a dress of dark blue velvet, belted at the waist, but plain despite its quality make. She looked nothing like an imperial princess and it set Atesca’s teeth on edge.

 

“Grovel.”

 

From the quiet shadows of her side of the brougham the princess smiled at him with barely veiled amusement. “There’s a good chance that my title will be all both worthless while I’m a student here. It’s terribly hard to be a teacher or tutor if you must constantly ‘highness’ and ‘lady’ your pupil. No doubt they dispense with such formality all together. I imagine ‘Imperial Highness’ will have gone rusty by the time I graduate.” Her smile turned a bit more wry. “If I graduate.”

 

“Your highness?” The two little words were spoken like a question, but meant in caution.

 

“Oh, don’t. Let’s forget I said anything.” She smiled at him winsomely. “Let us pretend I was the enthusiastic song bird. Chirp. Tweet.”

 

 

In short order Sithli arrived at the main building of the university. Just inside the door, lay a long hall that ended in a flight of stone stairs that ascended upwards into a great hall, furnished only with the simplicity of its design and the fine gray stone of its construction, illuminated by burning torches along the walls. Mindful of the tales of the University of Melcena, Sithli did not try to find another door, nor leave the room. Scholarship at the university concerned not only philosophy and social ingenuity, but the workings of sorcery. It didn’t seem wise to meddle beyond the precincts the proctors opened to her willingly.

 

Night had descended fully when the outer door opened and a young woman of about her own age climbed the stairs to join her. Sithli paused in the pacing she’d begun during the second hour of waiting to inspect the newcomer, who returned her scrutiny with interest.

 

“You aren’t the proctor, are you?” asked the newcomer.

 

Even in the dim light, Sithli could see the young woman was barefoot and wore a shabby dress, soaked at the hem with melted snow. She was very thin. Her black hair was pulled back and tied at the nape of her neck and her hands were chapped red from the cold. At her wrists blue veins showed through milk pale skin. Despite her apparent poverty, she bore herself with straight backed grace, head high and gaze direct.

 

“No, I’m Sithli.”

 

“I’m Odile. Are you a student here?”

 

“No. Are you?”

 

“Not yet.” Odile came towards her across the stone flags. She left bare footprints but seemed untouched by the cold. “I hope to be.” She looked around the great room, filled with ruddy orange light. “I was to come this summer but harvest delayed me. I couldn’t leave until the crops were in. I hope the proctors understand that.”

 

“They should. Crops are important. Did you have to travel far?”

 

“From Dal Amba. I walked.”

 

“Oh.” Sithli felt a bolt of inferiority. She had come hundred of miles, by horse, by boat, and carriage. There didn’t seem to be much virtue in that. Odile had come almost as far, on foot. And why not? This girl wanted to attend the university. Sithli did not. The proctors could hardly honor an agreement with her father if she didn’t give them a chance to do so. All se had to do was leave and let Odile have her place at the college. If Atesca insisted she could return the next day when Odile was safely accepted. There was not an unlimited supply of openings for applicants.

 

Sithli eyed the stairs. As she did, the outer door opened again. This time the newcomer climbed the steps, lantern in hand. With a sweep of velvet the color of the sky outside the great windows, a golden-haired girl of their own age joined Faris and Odile. She wore slippers of the same deep velvet and stepped prudishly around the prints left by Odile’s feet. She ignored Sithli and Odile too, and walked straight across the hall to an open door, where firelight shone against the night.

 

Sithli and Odile exchanged looks.

 

“Was that door there a moment ago?” asked Odile.

 

“It’s probably been there all along.” Sithli sighed glumly.

 

They followed the girl in the velvet down into the next room, which was full of warmth and golden light, aged tapestries, and a marquetry table with a chair behind it. In the chair sat a plump woman with mouse-gray hair and tired eyes.

 

“You’re the proctor,” said the girl in the velvet gown. Her voice was melodius but her intonation made the words an accusation. She put out the lantern and placed it on the floor in front of the table. “I’m Menary Cacoelle.”

 

The proctor put her chin in her hand and gestured at Sithli to close the door. “Stand over there, all three of you. That’s better. Winter’s just here and I’m already sick to death of drafts.”

 

Unwillingly Menary fell back to stand between Sithli and Odile. Next to Menary’s elegance, Odile’s provery was manifest, but she did not appear to notice it. She stood with the same proud carriage Menary displayed. Beside them, Sithli stood relaxed but observant. She was well aware that, next to Menary’s determination and Odile’s dedication, her presence was rather…lesser.

 

The proctor sighed. “You know there’s only one opening left, don’t you? Officially, admission closed in the fall.”

 

“My family arranged for me to attend the University of Melcena when I was four years old.” Menary spoke with cool superiority.

 

“Then if I were to ask you to recommend someone for this single opening,” said the proctor, “you would choose yourself?”

 

“Well, of course.” Menary glanced at Odile, then at Sithli, then back to the proctor. Her beautiful gray eyes, the exact shade of her velvet gown, narrowed. “Unless it’s a trick question.”

 

The proctor stifled a sigh and turned her attention to Odile. “And you?”

 

Odile’s eyes fell. She clasped her hands in front of her, twisting her fingers. “I know I’m late. I couldn’t help it. My family needed me.”

 

The proctor inclined her head graciously. “One opening. How would you have us fill it?”

 

Odile’s gaze flew up and hold the proctor’s. “Choose me.” Her voice was soft but ardent. “Oh, please. Choose me.”

 

Sithli altered her stance so that the toe of her left shoe was visible beneath the hem of her dress. She studied it for a long moment, until the quality of silence in the room told her the proctor had finished staring at Odile and hat started staring at her.

 

“And you, Sithli of Mallorea?” The proctor sounded very tired. “What have you to say?”

 

“Good afternoon. I didn’t get your name.”

 

The proctor sniffed. “We have one opening. How would you have us fill it?”

 

Sithli sighed softly. “Choose Menary Cacoelle. Let Odile stay on and scrub floors or something until Menary loses interest and goes home to marry someone better dressed than she it. Then let Odile take the vacancy.”

 

“And what will you do, Sithli?”

 

“I will go home.” Sithli had begun to inspect the toe of her shoe again. “And study from the imperial libraries.”

 

The proctor looked interested. “You’d give your position at the university up, but you profess that your intention is scholastic?”

 

Sithli smiled some. “My intention…my <I>preference</I> is independent study. I have nothing against academics, I simply dislike rigid structure assigned to my education. What I can do here doesn’t seem to be much more than I can do in Mallorea—become jaded.”

 

The proctor made no effort to conceal her amusement. “Menary shall have the opening. What do you say to that?”

 

Sithli’s eyes widened as her thoughts raced. If her father could be persuaded to believe in her failure without consulting the proctor himself, she could leave in the morning. She could be home before the turn of the year. She looked from the proctor to Menary, who was triumphant, then to Odile.

 

“Will you take my advice about Odile?”

 

“What do you say to her advice, Odile?” asked the proctor.

 

Odile unclasped her hands and took a step closer to the marquetry table. “A fine idea. But what matters is what you say. Is Sithli accepted?”

 

The proctor looked more amused. “Despite her best efforts, she is.”

 

“Wait—” Sithli looked from Odile to the proctor and back. “I’m accepted? What about you?”

 

“What about me?” Menary gave Sithli a look of dislike.

 

“Oh fear not,” said the proctor. “You’re both accepted. Along with the students who came on time. Allow me to introduce you to Odile Braneis. She is in her second year here.”

 

“I’m glad that’s settled.” Menary remarked.

 

Sithli slanted Odile a cool stare and spaced her words out deliberately. “Oh, please. Choose me.”

 

“Contemptable, isn’t it.” Odile replied affably. “I did walk here though, a year ago.”

 

“Did they make you scrub the floors?”

 

“They made me wear shoes.” She pulled the ribbon from her hair, shook her head, and let her black hair go free around her shoulders. “I humored them. Don’t worry, you’ll learn to humor them too.”

 

“Do they make you relive your dramatic past for every applicant?”

 

Odile shook her head. “I volunteered. Your father’s efforts to assure your admission made you sound fairly odious. Your arrival, however, disproved the impression—your imperial highness.”

 

“I knew that would rankle.”

 

Menary looked bored.

 

Sithli sighed deeply. “My father is going to be very pleased about this.”

 

“He should be,” said the proctor. “He was extremely resilient on the matter of your attendance. Perhaps he fondly remembers his time here.”

 

“Perhaps.” Sithli turned to the proctor. “I’d like to send words to my traveling companions. I don’t have much baggage but I need to collect it from them before they return to Mallorea.”

 

“Your bodyguards will be notified.” Said the proctor. “Perhaps they can also convey your father’s letter of credit back to Mallorea.”

 

“Oh the bribe—” Sithli shook her head. “Don’t do that.”

 

The proctor’s brow lifted. “Aren’t they trustworthy?”

 

“General Atesca and Goodman Daktor are some of my father’s most trusted men. All the same, you should really keep the money.”

 

“Hardly,” exclaimed the proctor. “The University of Melcena would be perceived as having taken a bribe.”

 

Sithli smiled gently. “The damage is done. You’ve accepted me. No one will think for an instant I got in on merit alone. This way, if my father is ever late paying school fees, the university needn’t be inconvenienced.”

 

“We could hold it in escrow, I suppose.” The proctor looked amused. “Merely a formality, of course.”

 

“Of course.” It was a small thing, probably something her father wouldn’t even notice, but it made her feel a bit better.

 

__________________________________________________
 

THE REQUIEM: THE WORLD IN A DOWNWARD TILT

PART ONE: THE UNIVERSITY OF MELCENA

 

Chapter Two: At The University

 

With Odile’s help, Sithli made her way into the pattern of life at the University of Melcena. She followed the steep staircases and winding corridors from lesson to lesson: grammar, logic, rhetoric, natural history, natural philosophy, language, geometry, astronomy, and half a dozen others. The sheer amount of work would have overwhelmed her if she’d felt obligated to do any of it. But she had noticed with relish that no one seemed to care what she did or when she did it. Within the confined of the university, she was quite free.

 

“No one expects anything of new students,” Odile confided, over the evening meal at the end of Sithli’s first day of classes. “If you turn your work in promptly, you’ll be all right.”

 

Sithli refrained from mentioning that she had no intention of turning work in, promptly or otherwise. “But what if it isn’t finished?”

 

“Turn it in anyway.”

 

What Sithli liked best about the University of Melcena was that no one paid her the least attention. She took Odile’s advice about keeping to herself. Also on Odile’s recommendations, Sithli cut classes judiciously and used the free time to make up her work as it was called in and graded. The first lecture of the day was the only event that required attendance. There was far too much work assigned in each class to make attendance at all of them possible.

 

Sithli’s fellow students at first had given her the impression of high intelligence and strange intensity. Even slight familiarity taught her that this impression was, if not entirely mistaken, sadly incomplete. In fact, her fellow students were simply exhausted and overworked. Fatigue and anxiety took strange forms.

 

One day in the dining hall, Sithli sat across the table from a first-year student who stared blankly at the single artichoke on the plate before her.

 

“That looks good,” Sithli had observed. The artichokes had vanished before she’d arrived and she cherished a faint hope that her classmate disliked them, perhaps enough to barter for it.

 

“Extremely good,” agreed the first-year, dashing Sithli’s hopes. Wearily she added, “if only I could remember how to eat one.”

 

The only class given in instruction of sorcery took place in a lecture each morning given by the Dean herself and was known simply as “The Structure of the Universe”. It was theoretical in the extreme, but it was all the university offered--aside from the far more experimental alchemy. Sithli listened half attentively to the Dean’s instruction and attempted to sketch the armillary spheres used to model the celestial order.

 

It puzzled Sithli, at first, that the students were neither encouraged to study sorcery outside the Structure lectures nor permitted to practice it at any time. She decided that the rule was meant to prevent students from discovering there was no magic at the university to learn. Every student knew that whether or not sorcery existed within the gates of the college, it was exceedingly rare outside.

 

 

After a span of just a few shorts weeks, Sithli felt the first prick of homesickness. As it turned out, it was not an uncommon or untimely ailment. One student got so homesick; he stopped Sithli in the corridor for no better reason than the embroidery on her shirtwaist.

 

“Pardon me.” The student, a boy who was taller than Sithli by half a foot, glanced down at the fine embroidery, snow white on the snow white of her blouse. “That’s Murgo white-work, isn’t it? Have you come from Cthol Murgos?”

 

“You have excellent vision,” Sithli replied politely. She eyed the boy a moment, slightly taken aback. “I’ve never been to Cthol Murgos. This was a gift.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Something in the flatness of the boy’s tone softened Sithli’s reserve slightly. “Have you been to Cthol Murgos?”

The boy smiled at her soberly. “I’m from Cthol Murgos. I haven’t been back since I came to college five months ago. And please, don’t look so shocked.” He added quickly, seeing the surprise that appeared briefly on Sithli’s face. “I’m honestly somewhat a disappointment as a Murgo, so I’ve gleaned from many of my elders. It has something to do with changing times and generations, I think.”


“You’ve come here to get better, then?” She retorted dryly. The boy looked slightly different than the Murgos Sithli had seen before. The features were there—in his eyes and certainly in the very dark coloring of his hair, but his face had a unique shape. His chin was slightly pointed and he had a rather long nose that ended in more of a point than a curve.

 

His smile became less sober. “Something like that. Prejudice and ignorance has been becoming less popular in Cthol Murgos in the last decade. I assume my purpose here is to research another way to survive those long, boring winters. Particularly since we've stopped picking fights with Mallorea. A regretful loss of a good squabble—or so I’ve heard.”

 

“I’m Mallorean.”

 

“I see.” His face went very serious and he gave her a long look across the distance separating them. “Did you want to fight any?”

 

“Armed or bare handed?”

 

“Neither. I forfeit.” He grinned at her and that was another surprise. As far as she’d always assumed from her readings, Murgos did not grin. Not with that kind mirthful candor. “I’m a terrible coward. My name is Urgar. Were you going to lunch?”

 

 

The philosopher Ardower occupied Sithli through the next month. By that time, mid winter had set in and classes had moved on to more advanced topics. Sithli began to discover that there was more to being a student at the University of Melcena than studying, sleeping, and complaining about the food. And there was more to being Urgar’s friend, she learned, than marveling over his unorthodox demonstration of cultural difference. Urgar’s acquaintance was shockingly wide, his friends drawn from every year. There was wide-eyed Malden, a newly arrived student from the village on the coast of the Melcene empire. There was calm Eridis, from Dal Zerba, who would probably take her comprehensives with record high marks, and even more probably stay to lecture at the university in years to come. And there were Airi and Nathalie, third year students who spent almost as much time slacking off as Sithli. Nathalie, Sithli recognized. She was the girl who had been so tired she’d forgotten how to eat artichokes.

 

It was Nathalie who revealed Urgar’s real identity to her, one afternoon while Sithli was sitting in dining hall with the third year girl and the soft spoken Eridis.

 

“My family owns a great deal of property in Dalasia,” the girl was explaining, while she spread butter generously on a steaming dinner roll. “but we don’t have any formal titles, so the casualty that they treat rank with here wasn’t all that startling for me. One of the other girls in my year though, she’s a duchess and for months she would bristle with outrage every time someone spoke to her without using ‘your grace’. It would be easier to have sympathy for students like her, but then you compare them to others like Urgar who looks pained even you even look like you’re going to ‘your highness’ him.”

 

Sithli had looked up from chasing a pea around the outer edge of her platter, eyes flying to the older girl. “Your highness?”

 

Nathalie looked back, shrugging slightly. “Well he’s the crown prince of Cthol Murgos, you know. Although you wouldn’t know it. He seems so self effacing and giddy.”

 

“That’s all an act.” Eridis said in her voice like flute music. She’d been listening politely to Nathalie speak but hadn’t spoken herself until just then. “He’s actually very clever and very ambitious. But those are dangerous traits for a ruler so he hides them behind flippancy and caprice.”

 

“If that’s so, isn’t it just as dangerous for you to be revealing his true face?” Sithli pointed out.

 

“We’re all friends. I’m sure none of us will do anything untoward.” Gentle Eridis gave them both a very stern look that was startling considering her disposition.

 

With quick insight, Sithli realized that petite Dalasian girl was in love with Urgar. A smile made the edges of her mouth curl up and her eyes danced. She felt a bubble of hilarity settle in her chest. Nathalie was just as quick and, to judge from her similar smile, had come to same conclusion as Sithli. Eridis caught their dual smiles and she sighed, in a long suffering fashion, and looked away.

 

Airi approached their table and looked down at the three of them quizzically. “What’s so amusing?”

 

“Ladies’ things.” Nathalie replied with deliberately flippancy.

 

Airi looked pained. “I wondered why Malden was seated at the other end of the hall.” And went to join the other boy’s table.

 

Later that evening Sithli went looking for Urgar. After a brief visit to the boys’ dormitory she was pointed towards the library. She found the Murgo boy seated at one of the polished goldenwood tables, pouring over a large book bound in ruddy brown leather.

 

“<I>Prince</I> Urgar?”

 

His head came up and he made a face at her, closing the volume he’d been scribbling notes in. “Oh, don’t do that.”

 

“You didn’t mention you were the son of the King of Cthol Murgos. When you told me were from Cthol Murgos I assumed you meant Verkat or Rak Cthaka or one of those other islands.”

 

“Rak Cthaka isn’t an island.” He corrected with an even tone. “It’s a peninsula. I didn’t assume that my title would be all that important here. Besides, I don’t usually go around announcing I’m the next king of the Murgos off handedly when I’m not in the midst of two or three hundred armed guards. It’s the sort of thing that can get you a knife in the back.”

 

“I can’t imagine that’s a legitimate fear here. And don’t snipe at me for my shocking geography.” Sithli added. “If it isn’t the Empire, it’s all the same to me: Rak Cthaka, Cthan, Goska. You really can’t expect me to keep all those little provinces straight. I’m not ignorant, just Mallorean.”

 

“Can you tell a peninsula from an island?”

 

“Don’t sulk, it’s not becoming.” She looked him square in the face. “My father’s name is Zakath.”


“Oh? Oh!” He looked startled and then, without warning, he began to laugh. He continued to laugh until someone at a nearby table turned and shushed him firmly, their expression grim and offended. “My father’s been terrified of your father for years.” He sighed and smiled at her. “I suppose we really should fight now.”

 

“I suppose we should.” Sithli agreed, but she was smiling back.

 

Before they could say anymore the silence of the library was interrupted by the sound of voices calling their names. From the little topiary garden outside the library, merry voices called until Sithli unlatched the nearest window and swung it wide. The winter night air fluttered the pages of Urgar’s other open books and he shoved them aside and joined her at the window. Sithli ignored the icy breeze and the cold looks from the other students in the reading room and leaned out into the darkness. The light from the library’s green shaded lamps reached far enough to show her four upturned faces, hardly more than pale masks in the gloom, but she recognized Nathalie, Malden, Eridis, and Airi.

 

It was not merely their voices she recognized, nor their relative heights, nor the attitudes they struck, with their batsleeved academic gowns rustling around them. It was their immense gaiety that betrayed them, their blithe confidence that hailing Urgar and her from studies at just this particular moment was the best and most hilarious thing they had yet contrived to do. From the geometrically neat garden below, four voices rose in wobbly harmony:

 

Time's my constant mistress

And the untamed space my marrow;

The flaming drake, and the night child make

Seed and flower of my sorrow

 

The universe is full of noise,” called Urgar, trying not to laugh.

Behind them in the reading room, throats were cleared, papers were shuffled, books were slammed on desks. A cross voice called, “Some of us are trying to study!”

 

The harmony struggled on, half submerged at times by stifled laughter.

 

With a host of chosen scions

Whereof the twice loved is commander;

With a burning sphere, and a horse of air

To the wilderness they wander

 

“Some of us are trying not to freeze to death,” the cross voice called again. “Close the window!”

 

Sithli marveled for a moment at what kind of life these strict scholars must have led to make them so indifferent to the thread of song from the garden. She had never dreamed college would hold anything half so dear to her. Perhaps it was different when the song was for someone else.

 

While the prince and dreaming princess” Urgar sang as he climbed out of the window and jumped feet first into the garden. “Summoned are to tourney; Ten millennia beyond the wide world's end; Methinks it is no journey.”

 

Sithli followed after him, narrowly missing the topiary as her dropped into the white snow that blanketed the garden.

 

Nathalie said, “Just yesterday you told me you didn’t understand conic sections, yet here we find you, trying to make yourself into one.” She and Malden helped Sithli up and brushed the snow off her skirts. Eridis made sure the topiary was not damaged.

 

“What are you singing?” Sithli asked she shook snow off her braid.

 

“A hymn we found in an old book we found in the lecture hall. Though we’ve embellished some and forgotten more.” Nathalie replied. Then she turned her face up towards the open library window. “Tee-hee quod she and clapped the window to.” Before she’d even finished speaking, someone slammed the window firmly shut. Nathalie looked satisfied. “Thank you!”

 

Airi picked up the song again as they left the garden:

 

I know more than the anima

For oft when they lie sleeping

I behold the stars, at mortal wars

And the rounded welkin weeping

 

 

Sithli had been at the university for almost four months and it was then late winter when she received her first visitor.

 

She’d gone to Theory of Law that morning and had decided to skip her next class and return to her rooms to catch up on the sleep she’d missed while delving into a particularly interesting topic in the way of astronomy. Her visitor was waiting for her when she climbed the stairs up to her little room in the female dormitory. He’d seated himself at the desk the university provided in each room and was admiring a wax carving of an Algarian mare. He looked up when she entered and the smile he gave was as bright as the glowing nimbus of light that surrounded him.

 

“Eriond.” She recognized, shutting the door behind her with a gentle click. “I was wondering how long it would be before you came to visit me. I was starting to think you were two busy.” She stared at the young looking god, savoring the old familiarity that his presence brought her. Eriond had been a presence in her life for as long as she could remember. To her, he was like a gentle uncle or older brother—he just happened to also be divine. “You’re glowing.”

 

“I’ve gotten use to it. It’s not really all that bad, glowing.” He smiled at her, that smile of absolute love, and set down the wax figure. “Your father sends his congratulations on your admission.”

 

“I was almost certain he would. How’s mother?”

 

“Cyradis is the same as usually, of course. She sends her love, but she has her own way of keeping an eye on you.”

 

The Horse God’s voice had taken on that respectful, affectionate quality that Sithli noticed it always had when he talked about her mother. She knew why, of course. Sithli had read the accounts of the last twenty years. They had been compiled by a Mallorean historian named Mordant. Her mother had also arranged for her to have a copy of the memoirs of Belgarath the Sorcerer and of Lady Polgara the Sorceress. And she had bombarded her mother often for stories of the prophecies and the necessities. It was strange still to imagine the fact that her quiet, gentle mother had once been the focal point of the entire universe. Although she was suppose to have lost her seer abilities, now that her purpose had been fulfilled, it had been proven that Cyradis still had an uncanny ability for obtaining impossible information.

 

“Is there very much news from Mallorea?”

 

“A bit, if you’d like to hear it.”

 

“I would.” She replied eagerly, but smiled regretfully. “But I’m absolutely exhausted just now. It’s unforgivable rude of me, but would it be very inconvenient if we talked longer after I took a brief nap?”

 

Eriond smiled at her, looking amused. “Go ahead and sleep Sithli. I’ll be here when you wake.”

 

 

 


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