The wicked heroine, p.29
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       The Wicked Heroine, p.29

           Jasmine Giacomo
 

  ~~~

  Sanych reached her rooms, having had the carriage to herself on the ride back across the valley from Highnave. Meena had not been waiting for her. Sanych assumed she had decided to cool off by exploring the city. Hopefully it would make her feel more at home here and encourage her to stay.

  Sanych wasn’t sure how Meena would react when she learned the Archivist was going on the quest despite the Shanallar’s warning. She hoped the woman would understand.

  As she entered the inviting coolness of her new Archivist’s chambers and set her headdress down on the small table, Sanych determined that no matter how uncomfortable it made her, she would at least leave Meena a note.

  Rather like the note that was waiting for her on the corner of her bed, folded in dozens of creases, reflecting the light off its creamy surface like a finely crafted pastry. It had to be from Meena. How did she get it here so quickly? Sanych gazed in amazement for a moment at the note; she had never seen such intricate paper-folding before.

  She delicately lifted it from the blue quilt and examined it, pulling gently here and there to watch the paper creases flex and stretch. She looked underneath it and turned it inside out. When she’d finished examining the small, temporary wonder, she finally smoothed it out enough to read it, albeit with regret that she was ruining its beauty.

  Meena’s hand was elegant and flowing, with odd little lines and dots over some letters; their significance was a mystery to Sanych. Though the writing appeared exotic in its construction, it was written in excellent Versal.

  Sanych,

  Your people do not understand, so they cannot believe. The lesson they need to learn can only be taught by their own experience. Their own failure. You should mourn them when they leave. You will not see them again. Without me, they will never be able to find the book they seek, and if they make it as far as Shanal, and their quest becomes known, Dzur i’Oth will seek and achieve their destruction. Perhaps even before then, if they do not heed my warning. The wisdom of Vint cannot stand against the evil in Shanal.

  Why didn’t I say this to them, I hear you whining. If they cannot truly accept that I am the Shanallar, then nothing I can say will change their minds. I have better uses for my breath.

  I have things I must attend to. When I’ve finished, I’ll contact you. Wait at the Temple.

  Meena

  Sanych’s hands crumpled the delicately creased letter into a meaningless wad. “Folly’s bastards!” she swore, throwing the ball across the room; it vanished beneath a low table. She sunk to the floor, hands knotting in her upswept hairdo.

  All that rushing, all that worry, and she just walks away? How can she do that to us? The Shanallar now seemed terribly callous to Sanych, and she felt a schism form between them, replacing heroine worship with doubt. Could Sanych have prevented Meena from abandoning them, or was this catastrophe inevitable? Maybe she’d left because of Sanych. A lone tear trickled over her cheek, leaving a trail of hot ire that cooled into guilt.

  “Archivist?” Ahni asked in alarm, having hurried in from the next room.

  “Yes?” murmured Sanych.

  “Are you all right? Has something happened?” Ahni asked. She hurried to Sanych’s side and helped her move to a nearby chair.

  “The Shanallar has left,” Sanych said dully. “And you’d better start packing my things.”

  “You’re going after her again?” the chamberlain asked, reaching for a warm pot of tea.

  “No,” Sanych said, her voice flat with the weight of betrayal, both hers and Meena’s. “I’m going on the Magister’s quest.”

 
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