I Have To Do This
He paused to smile at Granite-Tiergan before turning back to Sophie. "As of this morning, Prentice is awake."
Sophie felt her heart crash to her feet like a stone. Prentice was awake?
"How? Why? When?" She felt the questions roll off her tongue before she could comprehend what she was saying.
Granite-Tiergan-what was she supposed to call him again? She opted for Tiergan, as she felt much more comfortable talking to her easygoing former Telepathy mentor than a member of the Black Swan's Collective. Tiergan laughed, saying, "Just a few minutes ago, actually. Physic was able to treat him with some soothing medicines and elixirs and before we knew it, he was mumbling incoherently and now is fully awake."
Suddenly, his beaming face turned stony as he glared at Sophie. She shrunk back, knowing exactly what he was going to say before the words even exited his lips. "And before you ask Sophie, if you see him, Prentice's thoughts are still a very shadowy place. Do not even think of entering his mind." Tiergan exchanged a look with Mr. Forkle (Magnate Leto?). "Yet."
Sophie felt her spirits soar. Yet. Yet could mean so many things. Yet until the Black Swan finally gave her permission to heal Prentice's mind, and bring him back to the wonderful world of the living again. Her hope fizzled into confusion. Why hadn't they given her permission yet? She could have Prentice's mind healed within the hour, and he could be working with the Black Swan and live as one of their Keeper once again. Everything would be back to normal.
That was when she realized perhaps for the Black Swan, yes, everything would be normal. But would it be normal for Prentice? He would wake up from his sleep in broken madness only to realize that his real life wasn't much better. His wife, Cyrah had faded away in a leaping accident a few years back, and his only son, Wylie had grown up under Tiergan's tutelage and was already in the Elite levels. She couldn't imagine what life would be like for him.
That got her thinking, what were the Black Swan planning to do now that Prentice was "awake"? Tiergan had already said that if she was able to meet him, she wasn't allowed to open her mind to his and heal him, so what exactly were their expectations?
"What exactly are you going to do with him?" Sophie asked, hoping that they had something in mind.
Magnate Leto-she decided to call him by his real name-and Tiergan exchanged uncomfortable looks. "We're not exactly sure," Magnate Leto started, running his fingers stiffly through his over-gelled hair. "Physic has taken to caring for him, and we have one of our most skilled Telepaths-Sorren, going through his mind to see if there's anything left that can be healed."
"Wait-" Sophie paused. Something was definitely up. "Why are you sending, what was his name again? Sorren, instead of me? If I was the one to go through his mind, I could've assessed the damage and fixed the break right there."
Tiergan put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "We know you could, Sophie, but that is exactly the reason we need you to stay right here, away from the chaos of Prentice's mind."
"Yes Miss Foster," Magnate Leto agreed. "You are far too valuable to possibly give up your life to search through Prentice's memories before we give you the permission to heal him. And yes-" he paused when he saw her flashing a grumpy glare at him. "We will be the ones to give you permission to preform the healing. No sooner and no later."
"But I've been through his mind before," Sophie argued. "And besides, is it really fair to risk one of your own members' lives to do something I can do just as easily?"
"You are one of our members, Sophie," Magnate Leo said firmly, fiddling with the gaudy tassels at the end of his cape. "And whether or not you realize it, we are not pushing you aside and letting our more older, experienced members have all the fun." His uranium blue eyes bore into hers. "We need you. Especially to heal Prentice's mind."
"Besides," Tiergan interrupted. "You'll get to at least see Prentice soon, once after Wylie's had a chance to spend some time to spend with him."
Sophie knew that no matter how hard she argued, her efforts would be futile. "Fine," she grumbled, rolling her eyes.
Tiergan cracked a smile. "I sometimes forget how stubborn you are."
Sophie had to laugh at that, and added, "Not as stubborn as Silveny."
Suddenly, she wished she had kept her mouth shut. The room turned somber, and even the sparkly new flowers woven into the carpeting couldn't cheer her up. She could only imagine what the glittery alicorn and Greyfell were up to now. Probably enjoying sightseeing all over the world before their foal was born, or maybe gorging themselves on swizzlespice. It was hard to predict what the willful alicorn would do next.
"How is she, by the way?" Magnate Leto asked sorrowfully.
Sophie shook her head. "She hasn't transmitted at all since she left." She had admitted it to herself more times that she liked, but she couldn't help but miss the crazy winged horse's exuberant transmissions.
Tiergan cleared his throat. "Keep in mind, that Silveny and Greyfell haven't even been gone for a full day. I'm sure they're still looking for a place to stay." He sighed, and stared out one of the large windows in Sophie's room. "Still, it's such a shame to lose such a magnificent creature."
Her eyes burned with tears, but she managed to keep her eyes dry as she said quietly, "It was for her own good. Now the Neverseen won't know where she is and she and Greyfell will have a easier time hiding their baby and keeping it safe." She swallowed a bitter taste in her mouth as soon as she said "Neverseen". Now not only would she be fighting against her sworn enemies, Brant, Fintan and quite possibly Ruy, she'd be fighting against Alvar, Fitz and Biana's older brother, whom she once considered a fellow ally and . . . Keefe.
Sophie's heart twisted as she recited the words he had told her over and over again in her head. Please don't hate me. Those words had echoed in her head throughout her entire conversation with Magnate Leto and Tiergan, and she decided to keep true to her word. She fiddled with the necklace Keefe had given her and peered more closely at the letters etched in the Panakes blossom he had painted for her. Trust me. How could she, after all he had done to her? At the same time, how could she not? If Tiergan and Magnate Leto still trusted Keefe, then Sophie would too. She knew that that wasn't the real Keefe hidden underneath the Neverseen cloak. It was a scared, angry boy who thought someone had already written his destiny out for him, and thought that it was his future to turn against everyone he cared about and cared about him.
If only she could make him understand.
"Miss Foster, please don't fret about the Sencen boy. I am willing to believe that he will come around, and even though his decisions may have been rash, he is still truly good at heart," Magnate Leto comforted, while Tiergan cast a surprised look his way.
Sophie, meanwhile, flashed him an angry glare as she demanded, "Were you reading my mind again? I though we agreed that you wouldn't do that anymore."
Magnate Leto backed away, with his hands up, as if in surrender, and smiled. "No, but your facial expressions are very telling."
Sophie didn't know what to say to that. She wanted to feel angry, to hit someone, to throw something. She wanted to stay mad, to get all her anger and frustration and sadness towards Keefe out. She felt the anger churn inside her, sprinkled with blots of sadness, well up inside her, forming into a giant ball of pure, raw emotion. Her vision turned blood red, and it was then she realized she needed to rid herself of the rage. But before she could let it all out, a comforting hand touched her shoulder, and her vision cleared.
"It's all right, Sophie," Tiergan whispered. "Calm down."
She breathed heavily, and could hardly believe what she had been going to do. Instead of rage, embarrassment clouded her mind, and she could feel her cheeks becoming a very unbecoming shade of red.
"I'm so sorry," she apologized. "I-I don't know what came over me."
Tiergan and Magnate Leto exchanged looks that Sophie was having trouble deciphering. Worry? Amusement? Perhaps pity? All three? It was hard to tell.
"We understand you might need help coping with the loss of one of your closest friends," Magnate Leto began, eyeing Sophie.
"Which is why it is essential that you have the rest of your friends around to support you," Tiergan finished, nodding brightly, although she could see the films of sadness spreading over his eyes.
"Speaking of," Magnate Leto said uncomfortably, staring blankly at Sophie's empty walls. "The Vacker and Dizznee family need to be informed of this new . . . situation. I have no doubt that it will affect them all deeply."
Sophie couldn't even imagine. The Vackers were already dealing with the betrayal of their eldest son, and just awhile back had to deal with Alden's mind being broken, and now they would have to learn that one of their family's closest friends, whom they had treated like a son, had officially changed sides and was no longer with them. And the Vackers were supposed to have the easy life. And Dex? She didn't want to think about how he'd react. It took him awhile to trust people since many elves treated him as lesser since his parents were a "bad match", and even though he had come to trust Keefe, he didn't like him too much either.
Although it broke her heart, Sophie knew what she needed to do. "I'll go talk to them," she offered.
Magnate Leto's eyes widened, but Tiergan looked at her knowingly.
"Are you sure you don't want us to come with you?" Magnate Leto asked, confused.
She took a deep breath. No, she wasn't sure, but she knew that this was something she had to do. "I'll be fine," she murmured unconvincingly.
"I understand why you feel like you need to do this, Sophie, but do think about this. Not only will it be hard for them, but it will be hard for you as well," Tiergan advised, sadness filling his voice.
"Yes," Sophie said, swallowing a small sob. "It has to be me." She flopped face down on her bed, burrowing her head in the silken sheets, wishing the swan feather mattress would swallow her whole.
"All right," Magnate Leto sighed, after a time of silence, in which Sophie had no doubt that the two Black Swan members were having a secret telepathic conversation. "But if you really feel like you have to go, Miss Foster, you will head to Everglen tomorrow. We will ensure that the Dizznees are there as well."
Sophie breathed a sigh of relief, even after a wave of worry hit her.
She would have wanted it no other way.