In “Of Memory and Making,” Connor makes the decision to not share memory with his significant other. The choice seemed so significant to me and in_the_blue mentioned it. Here I wanted to show the healthy relationship established and continuing to develop between another couple whose memories have affected them just as deeply, if not more so. Here is a woman who has more self-control than anyone I have ever met. And there is a reason why.
Liana Mir reads, writes, and wrangles the muses from her mundane home in the Colorado Rockies and, occasionally, from the other side of the Barrier.
Story Within a Story
Story Within a Story - 508
Story Within a Story - 510
Story Within a Story - 517 W
She remembered the akhlakhai. She did not honor them.
It is Llereya’s birthday, a day for remembering what has gone before, but these are things she remembers alone. She does not like to honor her birthday.
Vardin Science Fiction Fantasy
Vardin Science Fiction Fantasy
On the day of her birthday, Llereya was missing. Her presence in the Household of Calai was quiet, quieting, but as present as the still depths of the lake of Vardin. Cayden felt the emptiness when he rose from an empty bed in the morning, when he dressed and went out into the kitchen and saw that she was not there. He paused in the hallway, seeking her through their bond, and remembered anew that she was quiet. There was no outer reserve to cover a fierce inner person. There was only stillness that went deep enough to drown in if he had the gift or knowledge to be able.
It was not like tracking an animal, this seeking. Llereya left no traces but the faint sensation of her mind inside of his. Their marriage bond was new and she was not vibrant enough to make it easy, but slowly he grasped the concept of this sharing within that could lead him to her without. He passed out of the House into the courtyard, from the courtyard followed her line to the overlook, a rocky outcrop up the foothills a way with a clear view of the valley where Calai’s horses and harvest fields spread out below.
There he saw her, a woman at rest—she had made herself small, sitting with limbs folded, elbows holding knees tightly. She looked out over the valley, but Cayden knew as he approached that she did not see it.
Memory washed over her in waves, like the tides of the Vardin lake through the Barrier. Blur the edges between one world and another, between the kahtchen and the outsider, the world of the guardians and the outside world where people like them were mere myth. Some stories were not shared around the Household fire, some akhlakhai, remembering tales, mumured over only in a single mind.
It was Llereya’s birthday, and her youth came back to her. A hot day in summerlight when she was seven years old, laughing in the morning with her mother as the older taught the younger to make small baked desserts. They were trying an old family recipe, one her father had never mentioned and her mother missed.
“Sweet cakes are always served at the summer festivals,” her mother told her, guiding small hands until both mother’s and daughter’s were sticky with dough. Her mother was mãenet, plain, and knew things Llereya would never experience. “We dry out the grapes, then make these with albam leaves.” Leaves that were a staple of the plain.
Llereya’s father was Bryn, the youngest son of the Household of Calai in Vardin. He was kahtchen, gifted, unable to be harmed by the passage of time. Her mother had no gifts, had not been born to this House, but even she knew that Llereya and her younger brother and sister could not be plain. Llereya was seven today, the year when doubtless she would manifest a gift to mark her as her father’s child.
Llereya climbed up on the stool and reached her small hands into the flow of the sluice where warm water and cleansing clomen ran out. When she moved to turn down the flow, the handle depressed before she could touch it. She frowned at it, but said nothing, nothing. Just a glimmer and nothing dangerous. Perhaps she would be able to move things with her mind, and she stretched out her fingers, wriggling them and wanting the flow to turn on, but nothing happened.
“Llereya, my sweetling.” Her mother’s voice was sweet and Llereya left the sluice to help her put the sweet cakes under the firestone.
Memory blurred after that from the pretty, from the cherished to outside on the rocks up the hill from their House and overlooking the valley of Vardin where a little girl, seven years old, power swelling beneath her skin, screamed in fierce and fighting winds, not understanding the rocks breaking and crumbling, the odd dark shapes hurtling toward her, disintegrating before they could reach her. She remembered the horror in her father’s eyes, running to stop the mother who would comfort her child to herself, embrace her. Don’t. Nyahel. Don’t.
“Llereya.” The soft dark timbre of her husband’s voice broke through the waves of memory, the broken tides of the Barrier within her mind, dispersing the akhlakhel to the scattered winds.
Llereya sat within the crook of his arms on the rocks near Calai overlooking Vardin. The valley was as green as memory, the sky as warm a gold as it turned to day. She had married Cayden less than a year past and told him the day of her birth only because he asked it. She had told him she did not remember it as a remembering tale. Her words were only half-true. She remembered the akhlakhai. She did not honor them.
“You found me,” she said simply and felt him nod into the back of her neck. She had not wanted to be found.
Perhaps he understood. For long moments, he was silent as the stillness she held the air around them to with force of will. He had long known she demonstrated more control over her gifts than was common. He knew her well.
He did not speak of any significance to the day but asked softly, “What are you thinking?”
Llereya closed her eyes on the words, packed up the little girl of infinite power, and secured that power with a woman’s hand. She opened her eyes and shrugged gently out of Cayden’s grip to turn and look him in the eyes, trace one finger over his weathered face. “What do you remember from the day the kahtchen were made?” she asked.
His gaze froze on hers. She knew what horror she asked. She knew that Cayden was there in the First Great Slaughter when so many had died from what turned the plain kahtchen, that he knew intimately what it was to be made gifted and not born. It was a line cast out before a bridge. Catch it and I will know our souls are alike.
Cayden breathed; he pulled her tight against him and whispered, “My wife.” His first wife and only other. She had not survived the slaughter. “And you?” he murmured roughly. “What do you remember?”
Only one day a kahtchen was born—the day they manifest. Llereya relaxed into his embrace at last. The same, we are the same, for she was orphaned only once and had no other mother. “I remember my mother.”
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