It is hard sometimes, to know what to do for the best. I do not yet understand what Horace’s motivation is for his quest to restore Faermorn, or even if it is real. It may yet be some delusion, some fantasy, occasioned by the things he has suffered. Nevertheless, I said that I would help, and so I shall.
I made a start this evening by speaking with Vedis. She was sitting under the tree, reading, so I joined her. After the usual pleasantries, I asked if she had seen Horace and explained, in part, what he wanted, of his quest to restore Faermorn and his need of the red crystal.
Vedis was somewhat sceptical. Faermorn was never meant to be alive, she said, and was only the way she was because of the wishes of the dark-haired menace. While she agreed that a restoration was possible, she did not see why Faermorn would desire such a thing, as her life had mostly been unhappy. She was not sure she could do much, as there was another she sought, before Faermorn.
I told her that I knew the story, as Valene had told it. I knew of Faermorn’s unhappiness as I had often sensed it, that and her regrets. I said that was why I had tried to offer her my friendship, not as an adoring subject, or kiss-up courtier seeking favour, but just friendship for its own sake.
She smiled at that, saying it was a precious gift, especially for those with power, as they often had few friends who would walk with them. I told her that there had been times when that was all I had to offer. The ordinary man I had once been had little else to offer, and that why it was so important to me. And, I preferred to give it without seeking reward or favour. I said that she and Galyanna were among those friends, so I would assist her seeking if I could. In the meanwhile, would she be willing to assist Horace in his? She said that she would talk to him, and perhaps, if she felt his quest worthy, she would let him use the crystal.
Wren and Hadley turned up and joined us. Vedis had evidently been anticipating this, because she said she had a treat for them. Hadley expressed the hope that this might be some sort of puppy, but it turned out to be cakes. Cakes with their names written on in icing. Vedis said that she had found the recipes through the mirror. The kids were delighted with the cakes, though they did seem to be slightly less delighted when they tasted them. Wren eventually persuaded me to try a piece of hers and I could understand why. It was incredibly, overpoweringly sweet. I remarked that it must have been one of Mitternacht’s recipes, as she had always been overly fond of the sugar.
I noticed that Hadley was having a little difficulty holding her fork and when Vedis remarked on it, we could both see that her hand was bruised and swollen. I guessed, from the look of it, that she had been trying a little too hard with the archery from the previous evening. I told her that I would make her some protection, a tab and a bracer. She said I shouldn’t go to so much trouble, in case she decided to give it up, but I assured her that such things would only take a few minutes to make.
I wanted to talk more of Faermorn and Horace, but did not think it appropriate in front of the kids. I asked Vedis instead about the possibility of being able to communicate with one another – contacting her or contacting Galyanna. She did not think it an issue at first, as we could always speak her name into the mirror, and she was never out of touch with Galyanna. When I explained further, she said that she could devise a very small portal, based on a crystal, which would allow sound through. That would allow the wearer to talk to another wearer. When I asked, she said it could also be used to locate the wearer, but that it would have to be done by somebody in the know, so it would be relatively secure. She asked if I could supply some crystals.
Galyanna arrived then, and whispered something to Vedis. I don’t know what it was, but Vedis excused herself thereafter, saying she and Galyanna needed to discuss things. I said that I would look into getting some crystals and that we would talk later. I had to go myself soon after, as I had business with the castle staff.
My evening ended on a very pleasant note. I was summoned to the Shadow Roads, to the presence of my beloved Valene. Judging by her attire, or lack thereof, she did not intend a formal meeting of any sort. I told her that I had never been a great one for formality. She asked if I remembered the games we had played, back in the place that we had once called home. The teasing and torture of having each other but not having each other. I recalled well the flirting, and the times we had come closer to becoming more than friends. We were different people then, I told her. On the one hand, we had to deal with each other in the context of her position at Fiendish Pleasures and me being a customer thereof, and on the other, there was the friendship we had built, which I had not wanted to compromise by confusing our professional and personal relationships. That was past, I said, and now we had each other, and could love unencumbered by those other considerations.
That, I think was what she wanted to hear, and she came to me, and I to her. Not a customer and a muse, not a Sigil and a Queen, but just each other, friends and lovers. And that, in itself is a very healing thing. Just for a few hours, there was nothing else, but each others’ arms and each others’ hearts.