In Serein


3-9-2 Triad

A very, very long time ago I remember, I read in a book of magic of the power of the triad.

It was said to the be strongest of all the systems, the most stable and the most supportive, and I never really understood it to any degree.

Now, here I am faced with the reality of this system.

Her, me - and him.

I cannot make sense of it consciously, and it is time that I would stop this futile endeavour. Where had it led me, where had it led us?

I sigh within myself. It had, of course, led us exactly where we had needed to be, each and every one of us. I would share my insights in trying to change time and what happened when I attempted it with the other two and the time will come. I still quite cannot comprehend to have these two to share an insight with. That is – unprecedented, alien to me and yet, dare I say it – delightful?

There are still remnants of shoring up and shying away from this, I would be lying if I tried to deny the truth of it. I have always been on my own and it is a considerable strain to not fall back into the old ways. It is very tempting, easily done, creeps upon me quite unnoticed until –

I am sitting on the bed in my room at Tower Keep, having requested a moment of privacy in order to collect myself.

My perceptions are different, my thoughts are different. Something has changed me, or perhaps it would be simpler to note that I have changed. I have learned, it could be said. Perhaps I also simply needed a rest and the space of dissolution that she calls the Becoming is most certainly a place of restfulness.

Yet I am glad that I am here.

That thought is one of these alien occurrences which startle me. I get up and go to the window, the panes shadowing green with small bursts where the bright light of the outside day may enter. She did this for me, forever thoughtful and mindful of me, even now, perhaps even more so now than before. I don’t wish to disrespect her work, to disturb or undo it and yet I still wish to see beyond, to see the outside.

My perception shifts and I can see. The kitchen garden below, the formal gardens with the conifers rearing to their great height, the forest beyond that and away to the horizon with the sky above. I see it clearly, taste the air and the wind, know the temperature and the amount of moisture in the air, the prevailing currents, visible and invisible both and above that, the networks, part broken, and below, the wells and connections, some perverted, some so deep that you could not, no matter what you might try and do.

She shielded the room and yet I side step it so easily, a small fine tuning that allows a wide view of all the minds not just in the house, but all around, as far and wide as I wish to know them.

They are not intrusive. They are not where I am, high above the landscape and with a perfect view and still in tranquility and high winds of a mountaintop position.

I centre to myself and slowly close my eyes. When I open them again, I see the windows green and pin prick stars and I am standing naked in my physicality, hearing voices muffled down below, high pitched vibrations only and I become aware that I am hungry and I wish to move. I wish to reach and stretch, flex, run. I move my shoulders, my arms, turn from the hip. I walk into the bathroom, relieve myself and stand in front of the mirror, greeting the physicality and trying to find some kind of relationship to what it represents, what it used to stand for and how I used to express that.

I failed entirely to do so and it didn’t matter.

I dressed in a shirt and trousers, a pair of boots, but I didn’t want a jacket. I left the room, the shielding and the soothing green and had to stand and halt in the upstairs hallway.

It was empty yet much passed by many.

The house was changed. Or perhaps I was changed.

It was strange to see again. I walked down the stairs with some care and saw that below, a woman was occupied in cleaning the windows to the side of the double entrance door.

I recognised her patterns and found that I smiled. She had pleased me well in another time and might do so again. I made myself unnoticed by her and went to the tower room where the other two were awaiting me.

They were sitting side by side on one of the book cases, looking to all intents and purposes like young lovers would, their respective energy systems deeply aligned and their link strong, steady and resonant. It caused me to experience a moment of unwantedness, of vertigo, an old, old repetitive feeling of making the world and their lives a better state of being if I just turned around and remerged myself to the shadows from which I have crawled.

I breathe it away much at the same time as they greet me, one with utter delight and the other with an unclear mixture of many strands of thinking, of feeling but a meaningful greeting it is, nonetheless.

I don’t understand the triad, still don’t understand it.

How can anything be stronger than the duality aligned, as they were before I entered the room?

They hear the question and one agrees on some level, the other laughs at me on all of them and rises to meet me, to greet me.

The woman Isca, my wife – ah, what irony, what foolishness there lies in that what was of the past! So delicious and so intensely embarrassing, if you were to think of it in such terms! – she is dressed in white this morning and most beautiful.

I take her hand and kiss it, and in return, she reaches up to stroke my cheek.

How are you adjusting, my beloved?

A little confused still, somewhat disorientated.

She smiles radiantly and nods.

Indeed, that is what I felt too. But I am anchoring better now and I might have a notion as to how I might help you in this endeavour.

It takes me a moment to understand what she means by that and when I do, I smile at her in return.

Then I turn my attention on Catena.

He is bright and much stronger than you would think to look at him. He is much, much stronger than he knows or could imagine at this point and I try and find a reference for my feelings towards him.

It is difficult. Perhaps there is no description or name beyond a strange familiarity that runs as deep as blood relationship, perhaps deeper still. It is immaterial if he should be fast or slow, good or bad, or whatever – he is simply one of us.

She was right and wrong about him. I was always wary of him and how he did not seem to fit the categories of my mind. He is young, and not just in his body. Compared to her, he is an absolute child and he has been on this plane longer if you count the way the people do who reside here and here alone.

He rises too and comes across, stands before me and offers me his hand.

Welcome back, Tremain, he sends sincerely and I take his hand and express my gratitude for his actions and stout defense. Without you we would both have died. It is good to know you are here.

We link strongly for a moment and then recoil as one as old patterns take hold with power.

Beside us, her laughter stands brightly, a stream of glass bubbles, rising weightlessly and vibrantly clear.

Ah, she smiles into our minds and comes, puts one hand on his arm and one on mine, and as she does so, she closes a connection and becomes a bridge between us and the sensation is thus that not even the recoil reflex of being this close to another who is not a lover, or a father, or brother can hope to compete.

I flail nonetheless and it is not until I rise above it enough to be able to watch him flailing even worse that I join her in the laughter state which becomes the overriding force that collapses him into our mode of being without recourse or defense being even a possibility.

When he does, the threshold is breached and we laugh in actuality, all three of us, curling up, crying and choking with it, Catena slapping the table behind him, I’m doubled over and Isca is jumping and spinning.

It takes a while to recede and leaves me with an intense pain in my side and short of breath. Catena is wiping tears from his eyes and Isca comes to me and falls about my neck, shaking her head against my chest.

Ah, what are we going to do.

What are we going to do.

Just play, she sends, play with it, learn about it, what else can we do?

Tremain, Catena sends me, exhausted yet still with that deep humour attached, the day I see you play, the day I get married.

I look at him and can’t help but laugh.

Both already happened, you’re too late, I tell him and he comes across, hesitates, leans against Isca and then drops his forehead on my shoulder.

I am utterly disconcerted for a moment and then I understand that he is teasing me with my own limitations. Briefly I consider to return the favour and to stroke his hair or something of that nature but then decide against it. He looks up at me, grinning, triumphant.

I smile and step back from both of them, shake my head.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, a great many barriers to overcome, and a great deal of learning to be accomplished. I must presume that the problems of the triad are here to offer an opportunity to discover the next layer of entanglements, those beyond the usual concerns of the Hard.

I used to be the Dark Lord.

For a very long time, indeed.

This is not just new, it is so alien to everything that I ever constructed, that I ever understood, that I am having difficulties and I can feel a tremendous desire to walk away, to get dressed in black and fasten my cloak about my throat, take the double Tadara and just go and ride through the town for a moment. It is a yearning of a greater proportion than I would have expected to have experienced at this point and I find it disconcerting.

Catena is still wrapped around – ah, I nearly called her my lady then.

But I am, that is exactly what I am, she sends and looks at me most seriously. For a moment, I experience a strong sense of vertigo as the idea of MY lady being uniquely mine and the reality of the triad and the impossibility of owning such a thing as she collide in consciousness, cancel each other out, crest against each other and intermingle to an utter confusion that has me stumble and nearly fall until she comes and steadies me by taking my hand and holding in tight in both of hers.

She does not, however, attempt to interfere in the processes of reorganisation and after a short while, the chaos unravels and leaves a strange emptiness behind; I can’t quite remember even what I was thinking just a short while before.

Shhh, my love. All is well. It’s probably harder for you than it is for us, much harder. You’ve done everything so much longer. But you are doing well. Better than I expected, to be honest.

She smiles at me and I can’t help but smile back at her. I can’t help but think of my hapless effort to change the course of time and her young and innocent self in this same room, in a very similar position, utterly rejecting of me.

?

?

This what I did, I tell them both and play them the events that occurred in an alternate reality, where suffering did not occur and there was no burning, no death, no torture, no mistreatment, no death of innocence.

Ah, Lucian, my love, she sends me immediately. You still have not quite truly released this, have you. You are still not quite sure that all is as it should be. You still believe at some level that I – we, all of us – would have been better served by such a turn of events.

She shakes her head, takes my hand and places it on her chest, just above her breast, on her heart.

What kind of life would I have had without you? What kind of lack of true magic there would have been? How senseless and disappointing would it have been? Oh but I would have played away my years, heedless, with an emptiness that would have always been there and me entirely unknowing and incapable of filling it for I would have never even known or guessed what it might have been.

I sigh deeply and find that in spite of her utter congruency and deep conviction, and even the matching resonance within myself that knows full well that she is right, there is still something, something deep and important, that is resisting a full acknowledgement of the rightness of it all.

Catena comes over and after a moment’s hesitation, takes my free hand in his.

What do you need to know, he asks. What is missing?

In response to his question, a notion stands in the triangle we are forming, clear between us, deeply engraved like a shield of cast iron that was struck by lightning and twisted beyond all recognition, black and charred.

Forgiveness. Penance. Undoing. Absolution.

And the utter impossibility of this in all the evers, and all the evermores beyond, shoring forever, into all ways, beyond all ways, beyond everything.

I don’t want to have been what I have been and I don’t want to have done what I did do.

Not any of it, not one single incident or focal point in time or space, not a one, and never mind the burden of it all, the enormity of it all, too much.

Too much.

So much too much.

I can feel an old old darkness descending upon me and it is familiar, comfortable in a way and then, all of a sudden it lightens, brightens and I am disorientated again, spinning again before I realise ….

“No!”

My rejection is so complete, even my physicality joins and shouts the words into the room.

“You are not to taint yourselves with my darkness! Release it at once, it is not for you!”

The others are stunned for a moment but I will not allow this. I have carried these burdens and I know them, I know I can bear them but either of those will become extinguished entirely, no matter what they might think or how noble their motives.

I call the darkness back to me with force and total volition, and the others are far too unbalanced themselves with what they had taken without understanding as to what it was or how much or how powerful, to resist or even try and to try and fight me for it.

The missing parts of darkness return to me, fall upon me and I struggle briefly before I can take it to where it by needs must reside, deep down below at the very foundations of my existence, firing my endeavours and filtering my strength, taking it into the requisite directions as it seeks and hungers to re-create itself.

I find myself breathing deeply and I open my eyes, shake off the hands of the others and step back.

There are just three people in this room, one of them is me, and there are no thought constructs between us, no twisted shields, nothing but a faint tingling, a taste of nastiness or burning that dissipates swiftly with every breath I take.

Isca and Catena exchange a link touch and a glance, and both look quite distraught. Yet neither challenges my actions or my decisions, and I know they are glad that I undid their decision to try and share my darkness between the three of us.

I reach out to both, carefully and with gentle caution.

It’s alright, I tell them, it is a familiar state of being with me. I was born in darkness and it is my true home.

Catena looks down but Isca steps towards me, shakes her head and sends a fiery negation.

Lucian! Do stop, we have already settled this. You were not born to darkness, you were made.

I sigh deeply and I shake my head. It is time that truth was spoken, that truth was experienced by all, for how else can we be?

Gently, I tell them, I would like to believe that, believe me, I would, my love. But it is not the truth. The truth is that even long before Sepheal, long before the monks and long before the siege, I would delight in the suffering of creatures and I would torture them and enjoy their screams, their agonies.

Catena looks up at me beneath his brows and Isca makes a warding gesture in the air as she cannot refute the evidence, she carries it inside her in the form of all my thoughts, my deeds, my plans and even how I felt in executing them.

She moves her hands again and leaves a starry trace of blue and grey and whispers, “You were but a child.”

And still, she knows as I know and through us, Catena knows the truth of the matter.

I was a child but always, always when I could, I would hurt and punish and make suffering and seek to hide it too, young as I was, already knowing as I did that one should not experience as I did, as I always had.

I am evil. It it the simple truth. Born to a great man and the queen of all the ladies, raised in luxury and comfort, with the best of trainers, this is what I am.

Catena straightens and he tells me, This is what you are, but what of me? I am nothing. My mother was a whore and my father could have been anyone in an entire regiment, and I should think, they were. I am nothing, I’m worth nothing and I will amount to nothing more than nothing.

I hear the bitterness and feel it and inside me, black coiled there’s a twitching and a sniffing and an opportunity to generate more pain, a desire to hear screams and to delight in it, and I sit back and watch this without reservation and without the wish that it would not be there, and without the need to cover its existence with illusions and pretenses of just doing what I had been ordered, as I had been trained to do, and it had nothing to do with me feeding the evil inside.

Isca makes a sharp slashing movement that trails red this time and she says, “So. You’re evil and you’re nothing. So, what’s wrong with me?”

The beast inside me twitches again and from nowhere, I find myself pointing a finger at her and I hear myself say to her with force and power, “What’s wrong with you is that you are Serein!”

The instant I say that word, there is a discharge of energy that knocks her backwards, lifts her clear off her feet and throws her halfway across the central floor space.

Even before she lands and stops sliding, her mind is screaming on all levels,

No!

Ah but I know the patterns, I knew them before I ever saw them …

I knew the stones, they spoke to me …

I made a starfield, how did I know …

I can’t, I can’t be and yet when I saw the Serein on the road I knew I belonged more there than I ever …

Then my memories joined hers, creating a cascade of insights and incidences –

I had to beat her out of that robe, I thought it was grown onto her skin …

The monastery, so familiar …

I saw her glide, I can’t remember where …

How could I light the tower for the asking …

She trails light from her hands when she is upset …

Reyna always felt more than a sister to me than …

How could she have broken the council’s bonds …

That familiarity with Dareon, oh, so familiar …

She is so much like Sepheal, she knew his mind, his art  …

“No!” she screamed out loud, holding her head and shaking it furiously, “no, my mother told endlessly of my birth, my aunts were there, it can’t be, I can’t be, I can’t be and have …”

Catena and I watch her in silence but both of us still think the same and we synchronise. Just as my parents having given birth to a thing like me made no sense at all, her lineage made even less.

She raises her head sharply, looks at me and says clearly, “If I am Serein, then by all the hells and the creator and the sisters too, so are you!”

I am stunned by the accusation and shake my head, slowly at first and then violently, try to stem the evidence that descends on me now, incidences out of time, out of sequence, senseless …

No! I have no talent whatsoever for pattern work!

… but how he swooped and dived amongst the strands ….

No, that was just you, your teaching …

… the glacier bird, the time shifting that Sepheal himself could never master …

There is Catena, chiming in, … and the unnatural feeding, that is not human at all …

Oh hell, hell, I am back in the old days, staring madly at the symbols in the abbey, in the books, and I KNOW I know those symbols and what they mean but there’s this wall, this barrier that I simply cannot transcend …

In the abbey, in the abbey ...?

I turn to Catena and pass on the condemnation, “Damn it, if I’m Serein then so are you!”

He steps back and raises his hands, shakes his head but Isca is already upon him.

The ring! He wanted the ring!

I just couldn’t get myself to kill him, such familiarity …

How many times have people said to me, how do you do it, how do you get everyone to like you …

He worked with me in the Abbey better than Sepheal would have done …

The colours, I held the colours ….

We all fall silent then and memories and incidences swirl everywhere, thoughts, decisions, and I call us to a halt.

“Enough! A supposition has been made, an idea has been posited and now we are all busily collecting evidence. This is no way to procede towards the truth.”

As one we all take a deep breath and then another. Isca says, shakily, “It would explain things. But I still can’t see how …”

It is my turn to wave my hand in interruption.

“That in and of itself is not a stumbling block to the theory,” I say to her. “We can translocate objects easily enough. I am sure it would have not been difficult to place a – small child inside a woman and her never even noticing.” I thought about the practicalities and nodded. “It would be easily done. I could do it. Just mesh the outer layers as you would in time work.”

Catena walks heavily to one of the book cases and sits down on it. “My mother always wondered why I was the only one,” he says, darkly. “She used to joke about it and call me her miracle mistake.”

I think of my parents and of my father. I look so much like him now, it cannot be a co-incidence. Whatever the Serein can do, whatever the parentage of Catena or Isca, there is truly no denying my own lineage.

Isca says quietly, “If they can transplant life, they can shape it to whatever outer appearance they might desire.”

I turn around sharply and say to her, “You would give them the power of the creator himself, if you could. Do remember we killed them all. Just the two of us. Remember that before you start to have them be and do all these things. And even if they did, for what end? To construct two – no disrespect, Catena – who would destroy them and their world?”

She is silent and pale and wrings her fingers together, and it is Catena who says, “If we are – Serein,” and again, all three of us shake our heads at the notion, “well if we are, then there must be a way to tell. There must be a difference somewhere.”

Isca turns to him, her brows creased. She taps her nose with a fingertip and says, “He’s right. There must be a difference in the patterns. Call Reyna and that boy – Ricco, Lucian. Have them come up here and we will find out once and for all who is Serein, and who is not.”

I nod and place the thought command sharply and clearly to those minds and we stand quietly and wait until their emanations are advancing up the stairs, running swiftly in response to the urgency of my command and in their fear of me.

The door opens and the Serein girl in brown who no longer looks or behaves the slightest bit like any kind of princess and the boy, a head shorter than her and petrified to an inch of his life, appear. They step up to the walkway’s edge, hesitate at the steps. Behind them, the door falls shut and as one, they reach for each other’s hand and clasp it firmly.

Isca is already reaching towards them and I align myself with her, then stop and take Catena into a link as well and drag him along. He is clumsy and inexperienced yet as he is here, he might as well partake and learn. He sends me a gratitude that because of the intimacy of the link washes straight into me and causes more unbalance, disconcertment, recoil.

Concentrate, comes a focussed whip from Isca who is absolutely forward pointing and impatient like I have rarely, if ever, known her to be.

I align Catena with a small grimace to myself and then take both of us to stand behind her, mesh with her a little more as she starts her soaring flight across the patterns and into the all there is beyond, more complete and more powerfully controlled than ever I have known her. Catena is overwhelmed and I steady him whilst keeping our position; I, too, am far advanced of what I used to be able to achieve. I move us closer to her and closer still until the boundaries of self begin to come undone and it is as though I am studying the two up on the walkway with expanded knowledge, expanded awareness and as though the burning desire to know was now mine alone.

They are two separate entities which appear to be entirely unique, entirely composed of differences. Indeed, as we/I sweep over and through, beneath, above, behind there is very little that matches, it is hard to begin a comparison at all.

A different view is what must surely be required and as this resolution comes to me, they fall away entirely and all is dense and complex for a moment, so much and indeed, too much to begin to read and another shift occurs and I am in a still place.

I don’t think I have ever been here before.

I don’t think any of us have for a fear and a holding of breath is common to us all, and each contributes their particular recoil at that they never knew and have no way of understanding.

Yet, there is the desire to know, the need to know and each of us has too, their own particular way of moving forward even when we are afraid. I delight in pain of challenge and that is like a battle cry that rouses her shimmering anger and her need for understanding; and he as well lets go and turns to forward drive and so we rush, no hesitation, unconcerned and threshold inspired, into this state of being.

Huge symbols seem to live here, huge systems smooth and silver, gold, a clean and massive realm of titans that would squash you, mangle you entirely and not know that you were ever there.

She calls for a deeper merging then and I enfold him to me and then what we are to her, and rush into the coming home of oneness and of unbelievable power, of such knowledge and such understanding as would be impossible to learn and here it is, right at my very fingertips, the titans are my command and when I raise my hand they slow their dance and stop and tell me all I need to know, they bow before me and acknowledge me and give their reverence which I receive as is my right and duty both.

I am unsure why I am here and back away and through, to let the titans move along their everlasting path for they have things to do and I would not delay them, nor would I want to interfere.

I back away and down, step down and down to other levels, other layers, immaterial and childlike as they are and soon, there is the gentle pull of divergence which I heed without regret for it is as it is and needs be as it is to make the sense and the connection that is right and necessary for this layer, for this space.

Isca is a white flame dancing, swirling wildly ahead and to my left and Catena is spinning out of control behind and to the right. I seem to be the only one with any sense right now and so I catch him, steady him and bring him forward, bring him down and take us out.

I manage to cross the distance just in time to catch him in physicality before he crumbles to the ground, unconscious. I lower him and lay him to the floor, stem the flood of blood that is pouring from his nose and repair the fine veins that have ruptured, clean his chest and shirt by dissipating the dark liquid and then I clean my own, stained from holding him.

Isca is standing still, eyes still closed and pale. The two on the walkway have fallen and lie unconscious but they are alive and well. I get up and walk across to her, hesitate for a moment then I put my arms about her and pull her closely to me, synchronising myself into her swirling, slow her, slow her and slow her more until she sighs and relaxes against me and we can make a link.

She is still very fast.

(impressions, the giant symbols, confusion yet too much clarity all at once)

Steady. Breathe in physicality. I am here.

(fear, a falling back) Chay?

Steady. He is contained for now.

Too much. It was too much for him (have I broken/destroyed/hurt him?)

Steady. He may be temporarily damaged. But you cannot hurt him or destroy him.

With a deep sigh she steps down more and becomes more focussed and heavier in my arms. She re-contacts with physicality and lightly moves her head against my chest, puts her arms around my waist.

Oh Lucian.

I am here, my love.

How do you cope? How do you continue to function in the face ...

Shh. I hug her closer and bury my face in her hair. I love her. All else is immaterial. This is the only truth, there is no other, no room for anything else.

She subsides, steps down further still and her heart calms its rapid beating. All of her softens more and she regains a steadiness and a clarity, and with it comes a sadness of profound proportions.

I concentrate on remaining entirely steady myself, anchor myself in my sense of protection and care for her and that is simply so until she regains composure, clarity and a beginning of control.

I am tired, Lucian.

I know, my love. Would you like me to carry you to our room?

Yes, I would. Anywhere.

She lets go off her physical control immediately and I have to move fast to catch her, then pick her up. I consider taking her somewhere else, but there truly isn’t any point in going anywhere now, or ever again. I stop myself from thinking towards any of it and focus on the task in hand. I carefully carry her up towards the walkway, stepping across the two that block my way to the door, then simply disintegrate it rather than attempting to do anything else. I carry her lightly and gently down the spiral stone stairs, remove the door to the hallway from my path as well and then take her back to our room.

Once again, for how many times have I done this now, I place her upon the red tapestry and she smiles inside me as she views herself falling without reserve, her head on the pillow and her hands stretching open and loose.

Restful. I am glad the green is here. Cathedral forests.

You made that for me.

Yes. (Did you like it?)

I smile at her closed eyes and bend to kiss her forehead.

I loved it. I love you.

I wouldn’t know what to do without you, Lucian. There is nothing without you.

I know, there is no need ...

Yes there is. It needs to be thought and I will speak it in physicality when I have rested. It needs to be made clear on all the levels. The clarity will connect and ...

Shh, little one. A shaft of surprise touched me at this my form of address to her but she did not notice and so I continued gently, Sleep now. Drift. Restore yourself and be at peace. I’ll be here when you awake and there is much time to connect the levels.

Connect the levels ... her thought is like a whisper and fades as she drifts down and away from awareness. For a moment I realise that I am tracking her in fear, that I am afraid she might go somewhere I could not follow, but it is only a moment and it passes as I recognise simple sleep, or sleep at least, that turning over of your waking thoughts to another place, a necessity born of physicality, sleep and nothing more.

Gently, I back from the link so it will not jar her; gently, I pull the other half of the tapestry upon which she is lying across her to keep her covered, keep her warm, and gently and quietly I rise and leave the room.

Easily I translocate to the Tower where the two subjects are beginning to stir. I ignore them for I am concerned with Catena.

He is not just unconscious, he is withdrawn in a peculiar way that I do not recognise from any state that either I or she inhabited on our various encounters, various journeys. He is quite in disarray, and his central being deeply coiled within itself, detached from all the systems he is meant to supervise and indeed, control to a degree.

I flick back from the view to just seeing him lying on the floor, on his side, one arm outstretched and the other across his chest, and squat beside him.

Do you have my memories as well now, and hers, too? I look down at the orange Serein ring on his hand and yes, there it is, clear and in perfection, too bright by far, too close by far, too hot and noisy and sensuous by far, a total assault on my clarity and composition – I remember seeing that ring, wanting it, Pertineri Market, sun low over the buildings, burning in my eyes ...

I shake myself from the memory with a shuddering breath and have to rub my forehead.

Damn it. Instability. Threat. What good is this, what is the point of it all? I am getting weary of this – already, and how long has it been since I awoke? An afternoon, half a day perhaps?

I call myself to some form of attention. She was tired and it must be presumed that I, too, have expended much energy and am probably in dire need of a sanctuary space to re-organise myself. I have him inside of me now and on top of that, of course ....

“Ah,” I hear myself say out loud and get up fast, too fast and nearly become unbalanced. I focus on Catena, take a deep sigh and pick him up too, heft him over my shoulder and translocate us both to my rooms. For a moment, I stand quietly in the green silence and consider, then I walk around the bed and deposit Catena, arrange him so he lies on his back beside her and there’s enough room for me as well. I hesitate profoundly before joining them, this being one of these alien situations once more that conflict with what I used to know so very deeply. And yet, it is correct. Catena needs us both by his side if he is going to regain his balance. I can’t be anywhere else but here, neither can any of the others. Sighing deeply, I take my place next to him, cross my arms beneath my head and close my eyes.

A shielding profound enough to set fire to anyone who would attempt to breach it encircles the room, creating a deep silence that resonates with the light and atmosphere she calls cathedral forest.

It is restful.

I will sleep.