He watched as Relyt stalked through the Palace, calling it anything less than that would be inaccurate. The Soul Healer moved in a bubble of his own grief and self-hatred, walked like an ice storm barely contained in a humanoid form. He watched his charge and tried to remember that he couldn’t make eye contact with anyone around him because his station in this place was one that saw him looking up at others not down.
It rankled but he knew it was necessary. Knew that the job he had was important not just for the good of their cause but to Anointed One Lílrt. Knew that no one else could be trusted to watch over Relyt and stay as close to the Grey and Honorable Courts as he could to make sure that the Anointed One’s mind magick didn’t fail. It was a heavy job for one such as he, but he took to it well enough.
After all, what other choice did he have?
So he followed Relyt through the Palace, watched his back as it twitched and the muscles under his thin grey tunic bunched and shifted. Watched as his hair bounced and swayed with each rolling, jerky step he took, controlled but appearing otherwise. The Palace and the Worlds at large thought Relyt Greymend was addicted to the g’hitshé root their kind was known for cultivating, but he knew better. Knew that Relyt smoked it as a way to calm the pain that rioted across his back where his wings had been, knew he took it to dull the sharp edges of what little remained of his qahllyn’qir. But he wasn’t addicted, not truly. He just used it to remind himself that one more fight with Companion Azriel would see one of them dead and it likely wouldn’t be the Anglëtinean.
He’d been at Relyt’s side as Guardian for just shy of two hundred and eighty years, assigned by Anointed One Lílrt though only he knew that. To everyone else, he had seen the pain Relyt was suffering, the ache few in the Worlds understood and had offered to guide him. Because like the Soul Healer, he, too, had lost his Qishir before his qahllyn had been barely more than Acknowledged. And while that wasn’t the whole truth of why he was at Relyt’s side, it was enough of it for him to pass inspection.
Because Azriel and Jerald and the rest of the Grey Court had handled Rhyshladlyn’s disappearance in stride. Had either stepped up or stepped away but only Relyt had drowned and did his damnedest to pull everyone else down around him. Had gotten pulled under by guilt and self-hatred he didn’t understand because the why was lost under the onslaught of the Anointed One’s spell that had wiped the memories of everyone in the Steward Corps’ camp the day Rhyshladlyn had disappeared, had wiped the memories of everyone in the Grey Court. No one but Rhyshladlyn, the Anointed One, Xitlali and her pet Anglëtinean General, Iköl, and himself knew the unadulterated truth of what had happened that day. And his job was to make sure it stayed that way.
“G’agsha,” he called, using the Grey Soul Healer honorific for one of great standing and honor. Relyt didn’t speak, just tilted his head to the side and back slightly to show he was listening. “It’s nearly time for nightly prayer. We should make for the Temple quickly.”
Relyt nodded and took the next hallway to the left, aiming for the Temple the new Eighth Palace had been built around. He dutifully followed along, careful to look only at Relyt’s back or at the floor.
He only suggested the prayer knowing that Anointed One Lílrt would be there, that he’d want to make sure the memory spell was still holding strong especially given that Shiran’s Watchtowers were glowing for the first time since Shiran City was sunk beneath the desert. It had them all a little on edge because to the best of their knowledge Rhyshladlyn’s powers were still perfectly contained. That to everyone else who came into contact with the Grey Qishir, he was just another faceless Imènian who had been born to a high enough standing Dhaoinic family to have Dhaoinic eyes and coloring but none of their magick or a magickal signature that made him like them.
They stepped through the doors just as the bells rang out the time followed by the reason for the noted hour. Watching Relyt shift from the weighed down, drowning Dhaoine who had betrayed everything and everyone he cared for to the aloof, collected Gret’yinl who led his people as best he could was always a sight to behold. It was like the Soul Healer put on a mask that adhered to his face so seamlessly that it was difficult to believe it wasn’t real. This time was just as unnerving as the first time he’d watched Relyt take on a new persona and live it with a truth strong enough it vibrated his bones.
If he was being honest, it was still unnerving because it showed exactly why Relyt Greymend had been qahllyn as Steward to Rhyshladlyn. Showed exactly why Anointed One Lílrt had chosen for his little brother to be the one who betrayed the Grey Qishir so completely. It had to be Relyt. It may not have been his Self that locked the spell into place, but it had been his hands that had placed the collar about Rhyshladlyn’s throat. Because no one else could have believed wholeheartedly in the necessity of it.
Even if that necessity had been a lie.
“Beloved fellows,” Relyt’s voice was deep and resonating, bouncing off the walls of the Temple as he spread his arms and smiled benignly. He walked towards the gathered crowd of Grey Soul Healers standing at the foot of the Many’s statue and offering table, every line of his body relaxed, peaceful, when mere moments before he’d an entirely difficult Dhaoine. “Be well and welcome here, amongst family. I apologize for my lateness, there was Court business that ran later than I had anticipated.”
Murmurs of acceptance and welcome as everyone gathered around Relyt, reaching out with left hands to touch his gretluos that now encompassed his entire right arm down to the bottoms of his fingers, touching their gretkewqi with their right hands, heads bowed as he passed through them to stand before the Many’s altar.
He scanned the crowd and found Anointed One Lílrt standing at the far side of the group, black eyes so light they were nearly grey filled with a glittering darkness that made him shiver. Holding that gaze he touched the fingers of his right arm, gretluos visible, to the gretkewq that glittered on his forehead. The Anointed One returned the gesture and that alone told him that he wasn’t the only one worried about this whole glowing Watchtowers business. It was oddly comforting.
Because he knew as well as his betters that underestimating Rhyshladlyn Ka’ahne got Dhaoine killed.
Relyt’s power breathed through the Temple then and his breath caught just like it always did whenever he watched Relyt lead the genuflections to the Many, attention yanked back to his charge as he pressed his right heart finger to his gretkewq, eyes glowing as the air around the Many’s statue shimmered.
“Let us begin.”