Mourning of Doves

   
Aurelia snorted a laugh. "Damn right you do," she replied, all too familiar with the eager expression on the Jamean's face. She imagined hers had looked something like that when they'd first given the suit to her. Six hard years of training, all the blood, sweat, and tears that went with it, all for that suit.

It was a symbol of her people's unconditional trust. Every time she put it on, she reminded herself of that. Sria were the sol defenders of the Tasaoth Nation from the outside world. They protected their people because no one else would. To wear the suit was to accept that responsibility. Watching Jasper carefully spread it out over the bed, she wondered again whether or not she was still worthy to wear it.

Turning away, she opened her pack and produced a leather-bound volume of her own along with a slim case that held her writing set, putting them both on the desk next to Ruve's journal. She packed the gauntlets,gloves, and belt, but strapped her daggers on again before she set the pack on the floor by the desk and sat down. Clearing her mind, she set-up her materials and opened the journal.

As her eyes settled over the first sentence, she let herself relax. For now, there was nothing but the book and its contents. Time seemed to slow as she turned page after page, pausing every so often to jot a note or a question in her own journal with a strange system of dots and squiggles.

The Lady she knew of. All Sria did and had for several generations at the least. Sometimes they sold her bits of information and artifacts that their own people either couldn't use or had no place for but, in general, she was to be avoided. She was considered to be more-or-less hostile and, as she often sought the same pieces of knowledge that the Sria did, her interests were usually in competition with theirs.

It was standard procedure to abandon a mission if it was discovered that one of the Lady's operatives was after the same objective. If the Lady had it, it was safe from the eyes of outsiders and the Five Circles generally preferred not provoke any kind of conflict with her or the people who worked for her. Her existence was one of the few secrets that Tasaoth willingly kept from each other. One uncooperative Authmoth was of no more use to the Tasaoth Nation than all her dead kin, but she was still quite dangerous. Better to maintain that their ancestors were all deceased and keep the scholars among their people from pestering her in the name of knowledge.

To have insight into the Lady's past and her present operations... Ruvria Tamar's journal was a treasure, indeed.

This was exactly what she'd needed, Aurelia thought as she neared the last few pages of the first volume. Doing this had been the right thing. She felt more calm and at peace here, with a book open in front of her, than she had in all her months on the road. These letters held no pain for her, no more evil memories. Just parchment and ink. For the first time in what seemed like ages, she breathed in their scent.

It was like coming home.

Three tears splattered on the page before Aurelia realized what was happening. By then, it was to late to stop it. Sitting back quickly, she buried her face in her hands and wept.

Jasper spent a long time going over the suit. There wasn't anything for him to see, not really. No loose threads for him to clip (he thought the spook would notice if he started snipping at random spots), no magical knots or lines for him to trace, nothing but splendid and clean work. If he didn't know better, he'd swear that while the fabric was exotic, it was mundane. He did know better, though, knew it to be augmented through the Words he could hardly understand, much less see or touch.

Maybe he could get Ruve to look a little closer for him. Not that it'd do him any good. It was like one of those fancy pieces of music that always had everyone enraptured - over his head and appreciation. At least he could appreciate the elegance and craft, and how it'd looked on the spook.

The sound of crying jerked his head up and he blinked stupidly at Aurelia's hunched back. What.... that was unfair, just down right unfair. Panic rose in him and, again, he wished she was an enemy so he could be pleased that she'd been reduced to a sloppy soggy mess. He couldn't, though. She was Ruve's family, almost an ally, of sorts.

He was out of the house before he realized what he was doing, and running down the street in the next moment. It was a lovely night for a jog, he decided. Maybe Aurelia could have the bed. Conner wouldn't be using his. Or maybe he'd find somewhere else to nest up. Yeah, it was a while since he'd been away from Ruve. Man needed his space.

Far, far away from women.




 

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