An amnesiac Sriet searches whats truth, what's lie and what's in her mind
|My dear Colborn,
You would label my actions as foolish, sitting within eyesight of our bedroom window and yet writing to you. I don’t know who else I could speak to, you’re the only one who remembers me in more than story from before my capture.
At least, that’s what you say. Some days it’s hard to believe that I was truly captured in a prison world for near a century. Other days, when I can remember the glimpses of the life I held before, one hundred years doesn’t seem enough time to capture the wealth of memories I once had.
If I’m so damned powerful, wherein my arcanic power pushes the limits of my mortality to a distance I cannot find, why can I not find my magic? Gods know it would be nice to have a defense at my disposal when the nightmares hit, something besides screaming us both awake.
Perhaps when the sun comes out we could talk about this. Perhaps you won’t just kiss me on top the head and tell me this is natural consequences and I’ll find my footing again if I rest.
The strangest part of the whole matter, I have memories of us having a different relationship. Granted they aren’t clear, but I have no trouble grasping concepts and emotions of my past, even if I can’t put name or face to them.
Husband. Bed. Safety. Love. I’m entirely convinced that my husband before my capture would have held me, not brushed me off for waking him up. All my emotions associated with my husband are nothing like what you make me feel.
Perhaps only remember the very best highlights of a struggling relationship. Perhaps my memories aren’t memories at all but desires. How can I remember with all my memories pushed away like they are.
And that’s why I’m sitting here, writing out my emotions in a letter to you like a child. Whether real or not, I need the comfort of the idea of husband right now.
If I pretend you could read this, then perhaps I could also hear the advice you would give me. Speaking, or writing, has a way of sorting out problems, right? I cannot keep pretending the past hasn’t happened to me, and I don’t know who else to speak with.
Everyone I was supposed to have known has either moved on to pursuits outside the capital, or have died. I’ve yet to find a mage who isn’t terrified to speak with me. When I am seen they walk to the other side of the halls and will go so far as to talk to people they despise to avoid speaking with me.
In the castle, the King has enough of his own problems, doesn’t he? He keeps his wife away from from me, I’m not even sure what her name proper is. Their daughter Tienn would listen and support me, she’s also the quickest way to make sure the entire castle knows my business.
And then there’s Deline, the priestess. I know she’s supposed to be the one who listens to us and gives us advice and all that. I can’t walk into that damned temple without feeling the nauseous of disgust. I don’t know why, but I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon.
I don’t know what to do, husband. The nightmares can’t be talked away as only dreams because they’re memories. The loneliness has no easy answers. And the one person I should be able to rely upon is so emotionally distant. I told him that we didn’t need to pick up where we left off. That I’d be happy if he moved on, and had a different woman (or man) in his life. A century is a literal lifetime.
What am I supposed to do, husband? Writing out my problems don’t seem to be the solution right now. So what happens next?
The sun is rising, and I still don’t want to go inside and face the day. If I stay this close to the blue willow tree, I’m going to be scolded at by the guards. I might accidentally touch it and destroy it’s sanctity or something.
But you know what? Screw them all. I took a fallen blue leaf into my hand, and it made me feel happy. Not because I broke the rules but something long ago. Don’t we have happy memories associated with this tree?
Why else would we have chosen it for our family name? And don’t tell me it was given by my father, because I know that isn’t true. I don’t know how or why, but my name is of my (our) choosing.
Maybe clarity will come through the day with the leaf in my pocket as a totem of luck.
With all my love,
How did you know that the leaf was in my pocket? And why on all the worlds in the planarverse would you take it from me at dinner with the King? You would have known about it through the day.
If you wanted to make a fool of me, I think you succeeded. What do you want from me!
I do know I’m not meeting you in our bedroom, not tonight. I won’t sleep much anyway, I might as well sit in the library and read. Rest be damned. Peace feels the better choice right now.
There’s a man here, a mage I hadn’t yet met in person. He’s short, skinny, and has a scruffy beard like he couldn’t find the time between reading and being a mage to shave. I liked him more than any other mage I’ve met at the capital.
For half a moment I thought about sleeping with him frustrate him. He might, if he didn’t make a vow. But really, I wanted to give him a cup of hot milk and maybe a meal, and send himself off to his own bed for sleep. The hypocrite that I am.
I’d have to introduce myself to him in order to do any of that.
I’m so angry with you, I don’t think I can have a conversation with anyone without showing that anger. You want me to be your perfect little trophy wife, someone to show off at parties without embarrassing you by carrying a willow leaf in their pocket.
So before dinner I asked for what I’d imagine every bored housewife with no job or prospects considers. And it isn’t that you told me no, I’m sure I asked for all the wrong reasons. It was how you said no.
“Do you have a moment, Col?” I asked him in his office. You told me it was once mine, before I was captured. Why can’t I work here? Or take a little of your work? You’re always so busy.
“Of course,” he answered, and I took a seat.
“I’d like you to give me a baby,” I told him, plain and simple. That’s how one asked her husband, wasn’t it?
“There’s not exactly a baby store in town. Wouldn’t you rather I give you a necklace?”
“I thought we could obtain the baby the natural way, through a pregnancy,” I scolded him. Really? Instead of a child, a necklace?
“Are you mad? I can barely keep you from shaming me, how can I expect you to behave yourself and keep a child behaved?” he asked.
“Children aren’t supposed to be behaved, they’re supposed to be curious and explore and learn.”
“And I’m the archmage of a Kingdom at war, I don’t need the distraction of two children under my watch.”
“If that’s how you feel about me, you’re a very ill man, for sharing a bed with me,” I told him, and turned my back to him to leave. It’s hard for me to rationalize you and him as the same person. A husband I loved would never speak to me like that.
That I’m not stable enough to add the burden of mothering is a reason, but that I would be an embarrassment? That I was too much a child under his care?
“Where are you going? I haven’t dismissed you.”
“I used to be the archmage, you don’t have to dismiss me,” I told him, and instantly regretted my harsh words. “If you won’t give me a child, I’ll go to Tienn for advice.”
Way to dig a hole deeper, right?
“If you go to Tienn, don’t come home,” he stated.
I didn’t go to Tienn, but I also didn’t go home. Let him wonder what happened to me, right?
The strange nocturnal mage keeps staring me down.
What a strange conversation, I don’t know what to make of it! He walked to me, an extended his hand for a shake, though it wasn’t common among men and women.
“Hian Shem,” he introduced himself. It sounded familiar. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him.
“Sriet,” I introduced myself. “Will you sit with me?”
“You’re the first person who will sit in the same room as me for more than a few minutes.”
“I had thought the same about you,” I answered.
“Why, who are you?” he asked with a laugh.
“A relation of the Archmage’s?” he asked surprised.
“He’s my husband, I was the archmage before I was a prisoner of war.”
“I’m sorry to hear you were captured. I was born shortly after you were captured. Hian Shem. Kosna is my mother.”
Hian was the Regent of Iduina, with whom we were at war. Was he here as a diplomat, or as a scholar who needed to use the library? He spoke as if we knew each other, or at least that I knew his mother well. If I were the Archmage, and she the regent, why wouldn’t I?
“My mother will be so happy to hear you’re well. Once you’re well enough to travel, you’ll visit my mother of course?” he asked, as if it were a given.
“I’d love to,” I answered. Maybe Kosna would treat me with more respect than anyone hear could. “You’re a long way from home into enemy territory for a few books.”
“They don’t have any of the nice things out in the public, and your King figures my mother won’t attack the capital directly if her son is here. Or you, really.”
“Hmm,” I agreed, why would I make a difference?
“These books aren’t going anywhere, why don’t you go to bed and get some sleep?”
“Mother will want me back soon, need to read as much as I can as quickly as I can. I’ll sleep when I get home. Why don’t you go to bed? You look ragged and exhausted.”
“Colborn and I are fighting, I’m waiting for him to fall asleep,” I don’t know why I told this stranger the truth.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Is it alright if I tell my family you’re alive and well?” he asked.
“It’s not exactly a secret.”
“My great-grandfather might want to see you,” he said.
“I’m sorry, but who’s your great-grandfather? I’ve had a little difficulty keeping track of things I knew before my capture,” he didn’t need to know I remembered nothing.
“Hian Arlimu,” he said with a smirk.
The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t say for certain. It could have been something I read in the newspaper. “I know we’re not supposed to acknowledge he’s alive and around, but you’re… you, so that’s alright. Right?” he asked.
“My existence is not a secret, I’ve done nothing to keep my return a secret and do not intend to do so. If that means telling you’re extended family members, then so be it.”
He smiled, and gave a nod. “I should go contact them.”
“It’s the middle of the night.”
“That’s fine,” he answered, stood, and left.
Who the hell was I, husband? I watched the boy leave, and felt my own exhaustion coming on. Maybe I could sleep in the infirmary.
I did something reckless when I woke up this morning. I had fallen asleep in the library, and my whole body ached. That wasn’t what was wreckless - I went to a healer in the city. An emergency type. I wanted something for the pain which wouldn’t make my head spin, like any healer under Col’s direction would give.
Darling husband, whoever you are, wherever you are, I know you are someone who is not Colborn. I asked the healer to tell me everything she could of my past, based on my body. Certainly there was something like broken bones or trauma or whatnot? Even if they were from the torture.
Any answers was better than none, right?
She told me my bodies held the scars (badges) of pregnancy. I had been a mother before. That I had carried at least one child and fed the child from my breast. That’s not miscarriage.
I had once been a mother, and I don’t know if my babies are okay. Why would Colborn be important to me, and not know about my children? He said he was the only family I had.
After the healer, I confronted him of course. I went to his office and he looked at me with a smirk I wanted to smack off of his face.
“I hope you slept well last night?” he asked. Ass.
“Well enough. I hope you did?” I asked, and he shrugged.
“I had no reason not to.”
“I’ve had children before, you know,” I told him.
“Not by me, you haven’t,” he answered without hesitation.
“I’m completely certain I have though. So if you weren’t the father, if you didn’t know the children, who did?”
“Sriet, darling,” he said as if I were a child. “You weren’t a young woman when we met. I never questioned you about your past, and you never questioned me about mine. It was part of our bond.”
“You’re saying that I married you, took your family name, and made a life with you and never once told you about my family?” I asked.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. You came to the city a beggar, telling stories for money. Perhaps you were married before me, you certainly weren’t… inexperienced in loving a man.”
“Stories? I’m not a storyteller.”
“Desperation does strange thing to people,” he answered. I wouldn’t beg for money by telling stories.
“Are you certain I didn’t do something else for money?” I questioned him. He looked at me a long few moments.
“It’s possible you were selling your body for money. You were fairly well established at court when we became friendly.”
“And what was my role with the Hian family?”
“The Iduina regency?” he asked with a frown. “I don’t think they even knew who you were, darling. You mostly kept to yourself, to your books and your magic. You were no politician.”
“Alright. Thank you for clarifying.”
“Are we good now?” he asked me. “Will you come home tonight. “Will you come to bed tonight?”
“Why would you want to sleep with a child?” I asked him.
What other lies is he keeping from me?
Oh, husband, whoever you are, I wish you were here to give me answers. I wish I could find them for myself.
With all my love,
Shem went back to Hian last night, I thought for sure he would have at least said goodbye to me. Maybe he was using me for some reason, maybe Colborn was right.
Perhaps Colborn didn’t give him the chance to do so. And I needed to know something. So I did what seemed natural.
I went to bed, and as soon as I was certain Colborn was asleep I went to his office. It was locked, but I did have a little magic at my disposal, and it wasn’t a particularly complex lock. If there was a trap in place, something to let him know I broke it I would deal with that tomorrow.
With a little magic candle in hand, I went through the books, and searched for something locked away. Where he kept the most secret records. And I won’t lie, I was there until the sun went up. If he was a particularly hard worker, and went to his office immediately after breakfast I would have certainly been caught.
He never missed a morning. And why shouldn’t he like so many other men? The priestess of the Golden Sun was young and beautiful. Eventually she would want to set aside the priestess title, marry, and have a family. Every man thought he might be the one.
The whole religion baffled me, especially in how it could be sustainable.
But that was a separate issue for a separate day. I found a record book of court officials dating back centuries.
Before Colborn, the archmage had been listed as the Head of the Mage’s Guild, and had belonged to a person named Geon. No Blueleaf was listed anywhere in the book. No Sriet by a different family name.
I put the book back and searched through the rest of the vault. Another book, something like a visitor’s log of important people. It took a little digging to find one during the years I was there. Perhaps it was vanity to think I would be listed among important people.
When I did find my name, plain and simple, it was with absolute astonishment.
It is my sad responsibility to write that friend of the court, Sriet Blueleaf, is no longer in residence. There is evidence of a fight, interplanar in nature, but she is the only Mage among us with power to track through planes.
Geon will continue looking, and we look to our allies in Iduina for assistance. The Regent cares for her, beyond reasons of my reckoning. Her wisdom and friendship will be missed.
Her personal possessions will be locked in vault fifty seven with the hope she returns to us again one day.
So of course I locked it up, and went down to the basement, to the vaults. Fifty seven - easy to find, easy to break into.
It shouldn’t have surprised me to find the room empty. Didn’t he go through enough trouble to lie to me?
Perhaps I could take the risk and go off to Iduina, to see what the Hians had to offer. Or maybe I should stay here and determine what’s going on. Why go through all the trouble to create a false identity for me?
Tonight I’ll go to bed with Colborn. If I’m close with him, and he doesn’t realize how much I know perhaps he’ll tell me more. And well, it really sucks to sleep alone. At least I know Colborn will wake me up when I have nightmares.
I’m sorry for not being stronger for you husband. Perhaps I’ll find out what happened to you one day soon.
With all my love,