Mia turns to look at me. There is hatred in her face. There’s not a hint that she recognizes me.
I was astonished when Paviara looked at me without recognition. My hearts breaks a little when Mia does.
I want to stay, I want to persuade Mia that I’m her friend. But I have to leave. Vorana’s told me what I need to know. The real problem is elsewhere.
So I quickly activate a teleportation spell. My destination? The throne room, where I expect Chypa to be struggling with Mrokitar.
That’s in fact what’s going on. The two of them are wielding magical forces much greater than anything I’m capable of, yet. And what’s surprising is not that Chypa is clearly losing, because she is, but that she’s still holding out so well. Just watching her, I can appreciate how ingenious she is in using magic. She blocks, parries, and counterattacks so relentlessly that Mrokitar is having trouble simply overpowering her.
I don’t make a move to help. It’s hard. I can see Chypa is getting desperate. But she warned me about being a hero. And she was right. This is not the time or place. Mrokitar is the problem, and brute force isn’t going to work.
Chypa sees me. She sees I’m doing nothing. Suddenly, she stops attacking Mroktar, just uses defensive magic, and comes to stand beside me. In an undertone, she says to me, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
Mrokitar stopped attacking Chypa. She sees me, too. She’s still in the form of that woman with the tan skin and brown hair. Her face looks even more animated, even more human. She comes to stand in front of me. And I find myself standing alone. Mrokitar has whisked Chypa away, somewhere.
“Do you not like what I’ve done, Tollon?” Mrokitar asks.
I shake my head. “It doesn’t matter whether I like it or not, Mrokitar. I made a mistake. I recommended that you try to hold onto a human perspective. I was wrong.”
“No, you were right. I am really enjoying this life.” Mrokitar smiles. “Vorana is such a fascinating tool for understanding you humans. She’s so alive, so passionate.”
I’ve been looking for an entry, a way to undermine Mrokitar’s self-satisfaction. And now she’s handed it to me. “I think congratulations are in order to Vorana, for making you into her tool.”
Mrokitar gets angry. “That’s nonsense!”
“Really?” I don’t overplay the sarcasm. “Who were your allies in fighting Ovedisca? Mia was one. Vorana has enslaved her. I was another. Vorana just ordered Mia to kill me. Even gods are supposed to keep faith. But now you’re less than a god.” And I turn my back on her.
Mentally, I start counting to ten. If I make it to ten alive, there’s a good chance I’ve made my point.