Chapter XXX – Slave No More

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(Painting by Jean-Baptiste Santerre 1651 – 1717)

Two days later, Mia is in the library already when I show up for our daily reading. She tells me she has a book for me to read. She hands me an open book. I sit down and take a look. The book is open to a description of fire opals and their magical properties.

I look up. Mia is staring at me with a serious expression on her face. It’s one I’ve never seen before. It’s not just her determined look. It’s as if she is exerting an independent authority for the first time in her life. She’s holding up her left hand so I can see the fire opal ring. I notice the opal is actually glowing a bit.

“How long have you known, Tollon?” she asks.

I don’t try to play dumb. “For sure, only since the day I bought that ring,” I reply.

She nods. “Sarton?”

“Since the day I summoned Grudnostue. Though I imagine he must have suspected before that.” I’m trying to be truthful without causing trouble.

Mia gives a short laugh. It sounds so un-Mia-like. She turns her hand to look at the ring. “Funny how this changes everything. I just thought it was pretty when I saw it in the window of the shop. And then I looked at it in the night, when I was in bed, and I saw things in it.” She looks over at me. “I was scared, Tollon. I hid the ring under my pillow to stop looking at it. But I couldn’t stop.” Mia doesn’t sound scared now. She holds out her hand toward me so I can see the ring. “I can see my people in it. They tell me it’s time for me to come home.” Her expression turns grave. “Is anyone going to try to stop me, Tollon?”

I shake my head. “No. I don’t think Sarton wants to stop you, and I doubt I could.” And then I add, truthfully, “I wish I could. Maybe it’s just as well I can’t. But I wish you’d stay, Mia.”

Mia’s expression softens. “That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” She stands up and comes over to me. I stand up, too. She wraps her arms around me, and in a happy voice says, “Will you kiss me?”

I don’t answer. I just lean down and kiss her. It’s a long passionate kiss. When it’s over, Mia looks into my eyes, and says, “Goodbye, Tollon.” And then she walks out the door and disappears from our lives.

§

I’m not a good journal keeper. Oh, I try. But then I go weeks without writing a thing. But Mia’s departure is an event that definitely deserves an entry:

I once knew a young girl who had been trained as a slave. She would do whatever she was told. Her first owner used her cruelly, abused her, and sometimes even removed her will in order to make her do things. The first time I met her, her owner bent us both to her will, to satisfy her own lusts and savagery. My master bought this young girl, this slave, set her to nurse me, and had her help with my training. She was dedicated to protecting me, and even was willing to kill my enemies. And in the whole time I knew her, she asked me for one ring and two kisses.

She was a fairy. People say they are inhuman. I got nothing but kindness from her. By that measure, she was human. Is human. Wherever she is.

END PART THREE

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