54

They’d returned to the seat of the Grey Soul Healer race. It was the only place the Grey Court didn’t have any influence, the only place the infamous Court his charge was part of hadn’t touched in some form, so they had gone home. And surprisingly with Nhulynolyn’s reappearance and the retaking of Ryphqi City from the deadly magickal creatures that had tried to kill it, the attack on the rest of the Worlds had eased. Not ended fully, no, they were not so lucky, but if one was careful enough and skilled enough, safety could be found when traveling, could be found in other Cities and villages and metropolises.

So he had brought Relyt back to his first home and Relyt had placed the torque of his first and truest title upon his head and sat on the seat of his ancestors. At first things had been as fine as could be expected given that Relyt had spent days with Azriel, given that Nhulynolyn had returned and was bereft of the who gave the Other life, but for all that Relyt had fallen into his duties as Gret’yinl easily enough a shadow had plagued his eyes. And after nearly a week of watching it, Sheieh had asked after it. He normally wouldn’t have pressed his charge for as a Guardian it wasn’t in his nature to do anything that could bring harm to the one he protected, but that shadow had unnerved him because the Self that had looked out of those shadowed slate grey eyes wasn’t the one he had spent the better part of three centuries getting to know. It was still Relyt but not all at once. So he’d asked and Relyt had surprised him by answering without hesitation or reservation.

And by the Many’s ten faces Sheieh wished he hadn’t asked in the first place.

“I’m remembering things, Sheieh. At least… I think they’re memories.”

“What is it, g’agsha?” he tried to keep his voice calm, to hide the roiling fear that filled his gut and spilled up his throat.

“I… I don’t even know where to begin.”

“Speak on what is most recent.”

Relyt looked at him with an expression Sheieh had only ever seen on the faces of children who were lost and hurt and didn’t know where to go or who to trust. It made him wonder what had happened to the Soul Healer before he’d taken the Guardian Oath. Made him wonder what else had happened that enabled someone so strong and so old to have that look and it not be faked.

“I remember Azriel saying I had betrayed our Qishir. He named me anathema to the Grey Court after he tore my throat out.”

He gripped the two-way mirror tightly between trembling hands as he sat at the base of the Many’s altar in the Grand Temple. Gripped it and wished he didn’t have to do this. Wished fervently that he had ignored that shadow and pretended he had never seen it because he knew Relyt wouldn’t have spoken of it unless pressed. After all, getting answers from his charge was more difficult than pulling teeth from a struggling and angry with it snow lion. But he had asked and now he had a choice to make. A choice he had prayed he would never have to make but knew would come the day he had agreed to serve two masters. Had known that one day he would be forced to chose which orders to follow and which to betray. But despite knowing that, he had prayed fervently that that day would never come but it had and in the least expected way and he hated it. Hated even more that he sat hidden behind the effigy of his Patron god and prayed for an answer he already had while he lost control of his emotions.

But he knew what he had to do. After all, he wouldn’t have come to this place, hidden behind the Many and any who would come to pray at its feet, if he hadn’t meant for utmost privacy for the call he was putting off making.

He didn’t want to do this but he had to. For Relyt’s sake as much as his own and that of the Seven Worlds. Because if Relyt was remembering the day Azriel had named him anathema to the Grey Court? It was only a matter of time before he remembered more, until he remembered worse things than the moment Azriel had done the unthinkable. And may all the gods help them if Relyt ever remembered committing the atrocious act that had altered the course of modern history in a way no one involved could have predicted.

The mirror in his hands creaked softly in protest of his grip and he loosened it slowly, carefully. Took a deep breath and let it out to the count of ten as he spread his hands and pulled the mirror open as he did so. There was no going back now, he had made his decision and he had to act on it before things got worse.

That thought wasn’t as comforting as it should have been.

The call engaged and the Anointed One’s face swam into clarity in the small circular mirror, splattered with blood and other things, tendrils of smoke curling off what Sheieh could see of his shoulders. It was an effort to keep his face blank, to remember that this wasn’t a social call, that no matter how much Lílrt valued him asking the Anointed One what had happened to him was not acceptable.

“Anointed One,” he greeted with a bow of his head, voice breathier than he wanted it to be but there was no time left to get control of his emotions. “We have a problem.”

Lílrt raised both eyebrows. “Speak, Sheieh. Is my brother alright?”

“That’s who I call regarding, your Grace,” Sheieh swallowed and met Lílrt’s gaze steadily as he spoke the words he’d prayed he would never have to, “I fear, no I know, your mind magick spell has started to fail.”

What?” the incredulity and fury in that single word smacked across the connection and made the glass of his mirror hum dangerously.

“He has remembered the fight that ended with Companion Azriel naming him anathema to the Grey Court.”

The Anointed One was silent for several breaths then he cursed, glanced over his shoulder and cursed again with more feeling. Sheieh fought not to flinch when those burning pale black eyes landed back on him with something too close to rage to be anything but.

“Where?”

“The Grand Palace.”

“He went home home then?”

Sheieh nodded. “It was the only place I could think to bring him that was not touched by the Grey Court.”

The Anointed One hummed noncommittally and rubbed a face down his face, smearing the blood and other things further. Sheieh blinked rapidly to keep from grimacing at the sight though Lílrt seemed not to notice.

“Is there anything else?”

“Nhulynolyn has returned. He is the reason Ryphqi City still stands and why the waves of deadly creatures has retreated from Dhaoine-held locations.”

The Anointed One stared at him in clear disbelief before shaking his head. “Keep Relyt there, tie him down if his stupid ass tries to leave. I’ll be there as soon as I can. But Sheieh it may take me a week, maybe less, maybe more; I’ve got things going on here that I can’t abandon before they’re stabilized.”

He swallowed hard around the lump in his throat and nodded. “I will do my best for him, your Grace. And I understand that other things take precedent but I could not hold on to this information and the danger it holds.”

Lílrt held his gaze for another minute then cut the connection. Sheieh let out a shaky breath as he closed the mirror and pressed it against his chest, head thunking back against the stone base of the Many’s altar. He hadn’t lied when he said he would do his best to keep Relyt’s memories buried but he hadn’t said he feared there was more his charge recalled that Relyt hadn’t shared. Part of him felt guilty for holding that information back but he knew if he’d spoken of his fears that the Anointed One would have made it to their homeland faster than a week but it wouldn’t have been to strengthen his rapidly failing mind magick.

No, it would have been to kill his charge. Because once Relyt remembered everything? He would know what had happened to Rhyshladlyn, he would know how to save him, and if the knowledge that he had been the one to lock the Grey Qishir away didn’t kill him? Relyt would do his best to make amends and take them all down with him if necessary. And may the Many Hear and Keep him always, but the thought of losing Relyt for any reason was too much.

Guardians weren’t supposed to care for their charges on an emotional level, the magick of their Oaths was supposed to tamper that risk. But like everything with Relyt Greymend, nothing had gone to plan. Sighing heavily, he rose to his feet and made for the entrance to the Temple as he pocketed the mirror that no one but the Anointed One knew he had. As he reached the doorway he stopped and looked back at the effigy of his people’s god, the largest in the Seven Worlds, at nearly twenty feet tall, the ten heads with their intricately carved faces and the emotions they represented, staring with eyes that seemed to hold a weight to them that stone shouldn’t have, he prayed for forgiveness, prayed for salvation, prayed for guidance.

But above all I pray for the mercy none shall show us if things go wrong. See and Keep Your chosen son, o’ Great One, should I ultimately fail.

He touched his gretkewq as he bowed his head and then left the Temple just as the bells for the midday meal began to ring.

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