I lie back on the bed, adjust myself and close my eyes.
I begin to simply think back for now of that night the youngster in blue walked into my house and I was appalled they had send such a one and thought it another insult from the council.
Marani was serving my evening meal when I knew him to be approaching and gave permission to enter. I told her to bring more food because I knew he had my new apprentice in tow who would be arriving later, confused and stranded out on the dark road for she had failed to pay attention to her guide.
He walked into the house and came straight into the morning room, sat down without invitation and said absolutely nothing, yet I could feel his discomfort at my presence even then as clear and sharp as any waving flag of silk above his head.
I took some wine and noted that we both tracked the girl’s progress, and a painful progress it was, towards the light I set for her in the tower when it became apparent that she would not find her way without some help.
She was a strange one, that was for certain. She had a strength and when she finally came in, she didn’t enter like an apprentice would but like an outraged princess.
She ignored us both and stripped in front of the fire. Here now, there would be me in that chair rather than that other, the other from that time.
Oh but how much more I would enjoy and know to enjoy her form, her movements!
Oh how much more I would appreciate her absolute innocence and her absolute resolve to have no-one know how frightened she truly was.
I would have offered her wine and swiftly dismissed the boy.
She would have taken it, surprised and perhaps a little shyly grateful for she had not known a great amount of care then, indeed.
Her brown eyes would have looked into mine and I cannot help but close mine briefly in return for I can feel her now without those denials and non-understandings that plagued me then. I savour the moment and when I open my eyes again, I smile and force the rough, old fashioned link that in turn forces her to pull me into herself in defence, a brilliant movement that I truly did not expect and never had experienced until that moment.
Out of control, I fall to her and know her, recognise her, allow myself to be there with her unknowing self for a moment before withdrawing regretfully.
“An interesting lesson,” I say to her but there is a smile in my voice and a softness that widens her eyes, innocent that she is and altogether herself, unburdened by my memories, unburdened by the memories of me.
“I am Lucian Tremain,” I say to her.
“I am Isca,” she responds in a reflex and without having to pause and think.
She holds the wine glass in both hands and asks me, “Are you to be my teacher?”
I can’t take my eyes off her and she becomes uncomfortable, blushes and pulls on her undergarment, pulls her legs closer, curls up into herself and puts the glass down, so she can hold herself with her arms.
“I will teach you what I can,” I say gently and send her a re-assurance, a finely balanced vibration that is just enough to calm her but without her noticing it in consciousness.
She sighs and relaxes, picks up the glass again and takes a small drink.
“Are you Serein?”, she asks me, shyly but behind this is her burning desire to know everything, to experience everything. I have to smile again.
“No,” I say to her. “I am – “ I stop and can’t think of how to describe myself to her in such a way that it would make any kind of sense in the context. She is holding her breath for me to finish the sentence, so I just let my thoughts speak what they will.
“I am a very old man who once was in the service of the Serein council,” I say to her. She breathes in at last and on the outbreath comes the next of the endless questions that race in her mind,
“Are you a magician?”
I smile at her again and have to shake my head.
“Yes,” I answer her gently, “I am.”