(7th of Elesias, 1491 Dalereckoning)
After almost a tenday of gathering up her courage, Kaileena knew the opportunity had been chosen for her when she learned that Traskus Orthal, Supervisor of the Elversult Chapter of the Cormyrean Immigration Center, was in Suzail, checking up on any residents he had admitted into the country. Since she was still under his jurisdiction, he’d set up an appointment by letter, and with nothing for it, she’d come to a small office off the Promenade, the wealthier section of Suzail by the palace.
He greeted her warmly when she was admitted into a tidy little room with a desk and a small window on the wall behind him, sitting her down in an opposing seat. The air had a musty smell to it, unique to stacks of parchment that had been left to sit for too long. Traskus himself looked perfectly at home there; his weary expression, thin, spindly fingers, and slight frame marked him as one who spent days at a time reviewing paperwork, though he looked more weary since she had last seen him.
It had been six years, after all.
A little grey had crept into his hair, and his stubble had become a neatly trimmed beard. She noticed now that his eyes had a mote of sadness to them, which brightened when they fixed upon her.
"Still better at Chondathan?" Traskus asked her wryly in that very tongue, to which she shook her head, “No. I think I’ve learned Common well enough.”
“Good. Let’s see here now...” he said, distracted as he ran through her file, “Six years as of the 4th of Flamerule. How time flies. Tell me, how have you been?”
“Very well.” Kaileena replied happily, “Suzail has been generous to me. How are you?”
“It’s been difficult, with the war and all.” he explained, troubled, “After Archendale fell into enemy hands, the crown had no desire for new immigration. Poor Salen fell on the field of battle, tending to the wounded. I’ve spent the last few years chasing down my citizens-to-be and deporting more than a few. Rough work, that.”
He perked up, “Enough gloominess, though. I’ll be back in business shortly and the Ministry of Immigration will be bustling again. You were among the last on my list to check up on, and then I’m off to Elversult.”
“Still working at...” he asked, his expression pinched, “Teneth’s Festhall, under the employ of Lady Gaelyse Cormaeril?”
“I thought you made it clear you would not be...-”
He politely left the rest unsaid.
Still smiling, for she’d prepared this beforehand, Kaileena placed her hands together, and called upon the connection she felt at all times with the Lady Firehair. The room visibly brightened, and shades of soft red and pink intensified. The scent of roses filled the air.
“I am a priestess of Sune.” she explained, “Gaelyse has shown me a path to better myself. How lonely my existence was, before Sune, and before Suzail. If I may do good in return, no matter in what form, for the betterment of both, what complaint have I?”
She paused, then giggled, “And what complain have I if I’ve come to love doing good in that fashion.”
Traskus blanched, and his cheeks colored, before he dismissed the matter, “Ahem, well then. Have you purchased property in the city?”
A rhetorical. Certainly, he would have access to deeds of property.
“I live out of my room in Teneth’s. I have no need for a house.”
“True enough. Certificate of marriage?”
She raised a brow at him, and he shrugged, “Purely for posterity. I have to ask.”
“No. But Zolin Naran, a Paladin of Amaunator, is my mate. We are still...acclimating to the idea.” she explained, “My duties to Sune do not well entwine with the expectations of a wife. And there is still...-”
The fact that she could not provide an heir for Zolin either. It had been a tender subject neither of them had been ready to broach.
“I understand.” Traskus said, all honest sympathy, “But you seem much more open and happy than when we first met. I see you were the victim of an attempted kidnapping?”
“Will there be any recurrences?”
“No. The one leading the effort to return me to Turmish was beheaded in accordance with Cormyrean law.”
“Nasty business. Long term plans?”
“I would take leadership, beside several sisters, when Gaelyse decides to step down, and manage Teneth’s in accordance with Sune’s will. Besides that? I cannot say.”
“I plan to briefly leave Cormyr.”
That puzzled him for a moment. Still writing down everything she said, much as he had when she’d come to Elversult, he bade her elaborate, to which she sighed nervously, hands intertwined tightly in her lap.
“I intend to return to Teikoku.” she explained, “My father was unjustly slain, and my foster brother, my only remaining kin, is there somewhere. I need to speak to him. I need to...do a great many things.”
Traskus nodded, “And is this a personal venture? Or a calling?”
“I have never found my personal desires and Sune’s will to contradict. I see one as I see the other.”
“Well enough. For how long?”
“It will take over a month, likely, to reach Teikoku. How long I will spend there, I cannot say. And a month to return.”
“But you plan to return?”
She nodded, glum, “Unless I perish, of course. That risk is a constant, as you can imagine.”
Frowning, he completed his file, “Any new magic?”
“Yes. The War Wizards should have a Taxonomy of my abilities.”
“Oh, yes, I see here. ...Very impressive.”
“I think I have what I need.” Traskus concluded, “I will need you to return to Elversult and renew your file when you come back. Just to confirm that you will...remain a resident.”
“Thank you. I understand.”
“And...good luck.” he added, as she went to the door, “You were and are one of the better ones I’ve sent through. I don’t agree with your...vocation, but it seems like you’re happy and comfortable enough and providing a service, so who am I to say? Cormyr is lucky to have you, I’m sure.”
"Hai." Kaileena replied in her native tongue, ”Arigatou gozaimasu.”
“And you as well, I assume. Unless that was profanity, in which case; how dare you?”
His laughter joined hers as she left the office behind, pondering...
Lady Gaelyse Cormaeril lounged in the main area, sipping a light, bubbling wine as she silently communed with Lady Firehair. The scent of roses filled the air, and the laughter and hushed whispers of the festhall rang inordinately loud to her ears with the ebb and flow of clients and their blessed. With the Sundering at last come to a close, a degree of normalcy had returned to Cormyr, and the festive atmosphere had calmed.
Still, it remained steady, as did the flow of coin. Enough to repair the last of the damages the Sharran agent that had infiltrated Sune’s holy place had wrought.
Saddened again by the vision of that misguided young man, whose heart’s shadows had been largely known to her, Gaelyse frowned thoughtfully, setting down the wine. Its piquant bouquet no longer seemed so appetizing.
Yes, she had guessed at his secret allegiances...but she had also seen the potential for good. For a heart to be restored, by Sune’s love. It still wounded her to know she had failed to help him, and of the disastrous consequences of that failure. Had it not been for the Tiefling and her lover, Gaelyse’s dream and her tribute to Sune would have been destroyed utterly. Years had passed, and still, she grieved at this. How could she not?
She smiled, however, as a pair of curtains behind the stage parted, as Kaileena returned from her appointment from the back entrance, a new addition in case of emergency. That was one she had been able to help; a wounded soul from a faraway land. She took a mother’s pride and a sense of religious necessity in introducing Kaileena to Sune, and to herself. In the intervening years since that dreadful incident with the Yuan-ti slaver, she’d proven a model employee and underpriestess.
How saddened, she was, that Kaileena would not be the one to succeed her...
“Gaelyse-sama.” Kaileena said with a stiff bow, a foreign peculiarity she’d never shed. Her light, childlike voice and lilting accent likewise remained unchanged. Gaelyse smiled, “And a good afternoon. Please, sit. Selon is going to try his act with the swords again. At the very least, it will be interesting to watch.”
“Hopefully his hair won’t catch fire like it did the last time.” Kaileena noted dryly, but took a seat regardless, hands in her lap, her tail curling around the leg of her chair.
She was content to watch in silence, as Selon indeed took the stage, garbed only in tight, form-fitting leggings with a stylized sash. A Half-Elf Calishite in the prime of his youth, he offered a low bow to the audience, displaying his sun-bronzed skin and finely honed muscles. Charming, if rakish, he was built like a hunting cat, light and nimble, perfectly accentuated as he lifted a pair of thin, elegantly curved swords called scimitar.
Starting slowly, the Half-Elf twirled the blades in spiraling flourishes, accentuated by drumbeat. As he picked up speed, the handles of each blade seemed to pass between, above, and around his hands, but not once did he appear beyond the reach of either.
Now moving his body in union with the swords, Selon contorted his body to nearly the same degree of flexibility as Kaileena herself could, sweat beading on his skin as his body stretched and twisted to its limits. At one point his left leg was facing straight up, his head and right shoulder nearly touching the floor, as his other leg bent slightly at the knee, passing the blades around his torso as it rested perpendicular to the floor, before kicking down with his left, and half-somersaulting to his feet, catching each sword in a reverse grip just before the twin pommels touched down.
Grinning wickedly, though his eyes betrayed a state of calm concentration, Selon passed each oil-slicked blade through a brazier off to the side, and displayed his now quite fiery swords to the stunned and mystified expressions of the crowd. More than a few nobles, women and men both, appeared to be considering him for the night.
Even the men previously occupied with their brightbirds gaped.
Now he was all fierce, wild energy and abandon; spinning, leaping, even hurling the blades bodily into the air and catching them in new and intricate poses as he swiped and slashed with the one in his other hand, before alternating. The resounding drums became erratic, frenzied, and then abruptly stopped as he performed his final, and previously hair immolating, stunt.
Tossing both weapons forward as high as he could, towards the crowd, and one terrified pair in particular near center-stage, Selon leaped forward, and caught both swords in the midst of a roll, by the edges themselves no less, swatting them into a backward spin, and catching them by the handle. Two strikes of the drum, and the performance ended, to an energized ovation.
Even Kaileena gasped, delighted, applauding his performance.
“Good. No more burnt hair smell now that he has that down.” she noted quietly, “I am...I...I needed to speak with you. It’s important.”
As Lady Gaelyse’s regard returned to her, Kaileena tried not to flinch. Not that she was intimidated, mind...but her mistress always seemed to know what she was thinking. What everyone was thinking.
Indeed, she smiled, knowingly, as if the truth of what she intended was branded on her skin, “You intend to leave.”
“Only for a time. I promise, I-”
“No, please!” she chided, stopping her, “I understand. None here would hold you from your heart’s desires. You’ve paid back your initial costs and far, far more. And while I have enjoyed very much having you here...I know you’ve been thinking of those you left behind.”
Her smile remained just as open, almost motherly, but her eyes saddened, “I know well what it means to be apart from family. I would never hold it against you to want to see them. Allow me, however, an indulgence. I merely wished to offer you a gift before you departed. A little reminder of home to take heart until you returned.”
She handed her the bundle of cloth, which must have been atop her lap, under the table, and unwrapping it, Kaileena gasped, delighted.
The shape and dimensions of a large coin, the medallion was a mosaic of white and red crystal, depicting a woman’s face in the center, her skin pale, her eyes closed and peaceful, with red lips and a mane of red hair which reached in all directions. Surrounding the crystal was a thick band of gold, enclosing it.
“It’s a...holy symbol.” Kaileena noted, breathless.
“Indeed. Take it.” Gaelyse insisted, “A gift from one faithful to another. It will be easier to tote around than that idol in your room. Sune doesn’t need idle prayer, like most deities...but it never hurts to have convenient access to spells.”
Clutching the holy symbol, her holy symbol, a treasure beyond anything that she might have bought with coin, Kaileena embraced her mistress, offering a gratitude that was truly beyond words.
"Follow your heart to your true destination. The lady keep you, Kaileena. When you are ready, you can leave with my blessing and a forward of funds to keep you comfortable. I insist.”
Knowing not to argue, Kaileena nodded, setting her hand atop her mistress’.
“And you as well, Gaelyse-Sama. I may be returning to Teikoku, but this place is and will always be my home.”