The story so far: Suspicious of Lady Gwella’s designs, Tollon is building alliances. It’s politically chancy. It’s turning out to be personally chancy as well. Now read on . . .
I think experiencing the god Mrokitar’s viewpoint somehow left me better able to see through people’s fronts into their true character. Take the woman climbing out of my bed just as dawn comes. She looks and acts the young innocent girl most of the time. But she’s really quite pragmatic and mature, even if only fourteen.
She tells me as she’s dressing, “Naturally, my father will give me an angry lecture.”
I nod. Her father is the member of the secret society that gave me sanctuary once at Mia’s behest. I found out who he is and where he lives from Zilla. He was shocked when I waltzed into his shop and began chatting up his daughter. And everywhere we go, outside of the palace, a member of the secret society is shadowing us.
Evana finishes dressing and comes over and sits on the side of my bed. I sit up. We exchange a kiss. She gives me a questioning look. “Who’s Mia?”
Her father must have mentioned Mia. I reply, “A friend, an ex-slave, a member of your father’s secret society, a fairy. Why?”
“You were talking about her in your sleep.”
My heart sinks.
Evana goes on. “Are you in love with her?”
Six months ago, I would simply have denied it. Now? “I don’t know, Evana. We have a complicated past. But she’s a fairy, and I don’t know when or if I’ll ever see her again.”
Evana runs her finger down the ridge of my nose. “I think you’re still carrying a torch for her. I know you’re not in love with me. And I,” and she sighs, “am falling in love with you, even though I just intended this to be a casual relationship.” Before I can speak, she holds a finger to my mouth. “Now don’t ruin everything by trying to explain. Just give me a kiss, and I can go home.”
So we kiss, hard. And then Evana leaves.
My good mood is slaughtered. Paviara, Mia, and Evana: I don’t know what to do about any of them. I want to see the spell lifted off Paviara, but I honestly wonder if I want her back. My feelings for Mia are so mixed up I think it best if I never see her again, but I so want to.
And Evana? She’s mature beyond her years, or her scanty education. I made a play for her partly because she’s cute, and partly to force her father to deal with me. She understood that, but decided I was cute, and walked into her first sexual relationship with me without any illusions. Yet we’ve become fast friends. I can’t imagine falling in love with her, and I can’t imagine losing her.
Oh, I’m great at understanding how other people play roles in their lives. I’m doing a cruddy job of understanding how I play roles in my own life.
With a grunt, I get up, bathe my arms and head, and put on work clothes. I take out my new magician’s robe and bring it with me to the workshop. Sarton and I have some spells to prepare. And then we are going to a Royal Audience. It’s going to be my first chance to see Lady Gwella since our encounter in the dragon’s cave. And like everything else about myself, so it seems, I don’t know quite how I’m going to deal with that. She’s certainly Sarton’s enemy, probably mine, and she’s carrying my child, which I am not supposed to know, and probably won’t get a chance to prove unless Lady Gwella can turn it to her advantage.
I begin to feel nostalgic about fighting gods.
(To be continued . . .)