Well, it seems I am back in school again. I suppose it is about time. Of course, I have never stopped learning; from books, from life, from other people, but the education itself has been on hold for a while. First there was Mother, then primary school, then ‘the Math’, university, accountancy school, the training I did with Haskins, including my seaman’s training, and then it all stopped. True, there were occasional seminars and stuff I had to attend, but formal education, well, that pretty much ended back in my twenties.
And now, thanks to Lord Maric, it is time to start again. I don’t know exactly how formal this education will be, since it is likely to be one-on-one training, with him more like a tutor than a lecturer, but it will be an education.
I had gone to the castle in the hope of finding Ose to update him on my progress with the Seelie court, but instead, found Lord Maric, who, as is his wont, invited me to share a drink with him. This time, he directed me to choose, so I went with a Merlot from the Corbières region of France. I told him how I had done a lot of trading with a merchant who owned a vineyard in the area and about wanting to take Alex there on holiday, having been offered a place to stay at the vineyard.
In the absence of Ose, I gave my report to Maric, first of all telling him what I had achieved with the Seelie court and giving him the requirements regarding the names of the villagers who would be allowed to forage. I also told him how I was also negotiating for an appointment with the Unseelie court through Valene. I told him about the near-incident with Valene and Ose. He was a little alarmed at first, being very protective of his steward, but I was able to assure him it was minor and that no harm was done. He wanted to know what other assurances and guarantees would be required, so I told him the limits, i.e. only foraging on Seelie lands and doing no harm. I pointed out that I had had to vow to bring no harm to the court, on my own life, so emphasised how I would need the villagers to stay within those limits imposed.
He thanked me for my diplomacy and acknowledged that I had put myself at considerable risk on his behalf. Accommodation, he said, was not sufficient recompense, so in further compensation, asked if would I consider becoming his student.
I considered this, hoping that my suspicions about his nature were correct, and that was the area in which he could teach me. I gave him a very brief résumé of my education and experience thus far, in the mundane world, and admitted my ignorance in regard of my own kind, which, along with the various forms of magic, were the things I was most interested in learning. I told him that if he considered me an acceptable student, I would be honoured to accept his offer.
He did have one question before we proceeded, which concerned my current less than undead state. I gave him the very briefest explanation, how I had accidentally been hit by a burst of life energy from one of the Sidhe, but was vowed not to tell more, explaining how vows were very serious things and could result in the attentions of the Huntsman. He did not press me on the matter, but seemed quite interested, possibly even excited by the idea that being alive was possible, even temporarily. Although he did not press me, he did say that he would make some educated guesses. And in respect of the Huntsman, said that he would have to have further words with the delightful Isabella.
Fearing that he might have some notion towards making deals, I cautioned him that he should only make very careful use of his educated guesses and to be very wary of bargaining on the strength of them, comparing the fae to the most anal contract lawyer crossed with the most pernickity philosophy professor he could imagine. That got a laugh, but he assured me he was no amateur at the bargaining table. He asked me to guess how old he was given that he had had to deal with the most Byzantine machinations of Roman Prelates. I told him I never guessed ages. Given that my lover was supposedly 22 years old, yet, from my point of view, wouldn’t be born for another 100+ years, and, according to the Phoenix, I won’t be born for another 500 years, I had no idea. What he had just told me put him somewhere in the vicinity of 1500 to 2000 years old, at least from the point of view of my time period, but beyond that, I couldn’t say. He would not confirm or deny my estimate, leaving me, as he said, to my guessing.
He suddenly became more serious, telling me that he did not trust easily, and that what we were about to embark upon required a great deal of trust. He wanted to know how he could know that he could trust me. To that, I replied that I did not trust easily either, and yet I had put my life on the line in order to trade on his behalf, adding that the punishment for breaking that oath would not be as simple or merciful as losing my head. I told him that, back in my own world, I could give him a couple of dozen references, in this one, I could only give a few, such as Lady Astrid, who, being fae, could not lie. Even so, I said, believing those references would still require him to take another’s word for it. Instead, I asked him to accept my word of honour.
He was satisfied with that. In response, he gave his word that I had his protection, for so long as I remained a part of his household, in whatever capacity I served. He did require me, however, to keep what passed between us to myself, and specifically, not to reveal his nature to anyone without his permission. Even Ose did not know, which I had already surmised, and things were to remain that way until such time as he found the time right to tell him. We drank a toast to education, and then he left me, on some business of his own.
And so, it is time to go back to school. Maybe this Lord Maric will achieve what Brigitte and Cristof did not, and actually get some facts into my head about what I am. Or, at least, what I was, and presumably shall be again, once this fae energy phase runs out. Only time will tell that.