“A man, Marquart s’Beshu, will come here to take up lordship of this valley. He is of the Shambler’s lineage and he stands at the crossroads of his life. You must guide him, and I will give you the knowledge and strength to do this. Whatever else befalls, he must not come to know his heritage, and neither must his coming son. As long as Marquart lives, he must not become known to the Shambler.”
“As long as he lives! No! No!” Baralia’s terror and loathing echoed through Hea as the girl realized the term of her servitude. “It is too long. Too long.” For an instant the abahara’s features strengthened and Hea saw her as she had been in life, with the clear copper skin and black hair of that region and her face still unlined by pain or care. Twenty-five years old, dead of bearing a child too large for her body. Tears trickled down her translucent cheeks and Baralia threw herself at Hea’s feet, crying out, “Please release me. What terrible thing have I done? What crime, to deserve this?”
But Hea hardened her heart.
# # #
Lyré could not change Hea’s mind. The g’dame was immune to pity, and unwilling to take council that this was an unwise action. A pivotally, irretrievable unwise action.
So Lyré returned to Bihag and called up her runeboard of pure ai, and sat mehakan through long hours, tracing influences to build up arguments to back her intuition.
Seeing was her gift, and she saw disaster in Hea’s actions. The craving for a final rest through enreithment was an emotion peculiar to this world. Lyré had been born here, and understood it dimly. Hea Santala did not comprehend it at all, and could not appreciate the extremity of Baralia’s need.
Baralia would betray them. It was as plain as sunlight on water. If she must live in limbo through Marquart’s life, then Marquart would not live long.
But what would come after that was unclear, and Lyré was not one to act on partial knowledge.
This was the crossroad of Lyré’s life, as well. In this hour she came to know that seeing was itself a responsibility. One who saw, had to act. It was time to turn away from her search for a separate peace, to begin to look for actionable knowledge, and to seek a time and place to apply that knowledge.
# # #
Now the stage was set. In her bungling attempt to influence the future, Hea herself had skewed the forces that controlled her world, and set in motion a confrontation she would soon be unable to control. more Monday