Amanda goes to bed early after her day of exertion. Alais, Khirsah, and Xenograg withdraw to a warm room and enjoy a drink or two. Conversation comes and goes; none of the three being uncomfortable in silence. Khirsah eventually departs and Xenograg retires to his room around midnight.
Perhaps an hour after midnight, Amanda’s sleep becomes disturbed. Her dream changes into something worse than a nightmare. A dream-vision comes upon her and she is forced to see an event through the eyes of another. As this man does, she sees bodyguards die fighting to protect him. She only sees; mercifully, there is no sound. The man now defends himself with a sword but is disarmed and captured. A new man in armor enters the room. Amanda is shocked as she recognizes him. She now realizes whose vision she shares and her blood goes cold. She tries to cry out but no sound comes, nor can she do anything to affect the scene.
The captured man is pushed to his knees, his arms held firmly by two warriors. The conquerer steps up and reaches towards his prey’s unprotected head. Amanda moans as the golden crown is taken from ‘her’ head. She sees words pass between the men, but does not hear them. The conquerer places the crown upon his own head, and Amanda panics. ‘Her’ eyes are upon the conquerer’s scabbard even before he reaches for his sword. The kneeling man struggles but it is futile. The conquerer places the sword edge against the left side of the fallen lord’s neck. With some last words and a dark, snarling expression, the new ruler pulls the sword in a cutting motion forward.
Amanda screams, breaking out of the vision and sleep. The scream brings Alais and Xenograg running. Alais arrives first to find the girl crying and yelling madly.
"Traitor! Murderer! Assassin!" Xenograg arrives and tries to hold Amanda to calm her, but she is inconsolable and continues to yell.
"Bastard! Damn him!"
"Amanda, what is wrong?" Xenograg asks in a strong voice, trying to get through to her.
"He is dead! My cousin is dead!" she cries. Xenograg’s head snaps around towards Alais. He is clearly shocked.
"She has only one cousin," he says even though Alais knows this already. Xenograg looks back to Amanda. "How do you know this?"
"I saw it! I saw—" she begins but falls to hard sobbing. She hugs her father as if she would fall off the world otherwise.
"Is this true?" asks Alais.
"I will find out right now," growls Xenograg. He lowers his head as if to talk to himself. "Teraden, attend me," he half-whispers. Alais’s eyes widen as the command is loosed—not at its power but its intensity and flavor. For the first time, she has witnessed Xenograg use necromancy. Alais can already feel the approach of the spirit and looks into a shadowed corner of the bedroom as it materializes. Alais has never before met Teraden but recognizes him immediately from Xenograg’s simple description from years past: a good and noble spirit. He is tall with blond hair. Though dead, he is armed and armored—residual self-image.
"Summoned, I come," Teraden says. He then bows to Alais. "Forgive my intrusion, mistress." Alais nods her acceptance and permission for him to remain. Xenograg looks to Teraden with a tight jaw.
"Is this vision true?"
"Past or future?"
"Amanda saw it as it happened," Teraden says with a look of sympathy to Amanda. "Theograg is dead at the hands of your eldest son." Xenograg’s face darkens in rage.
"I will burn the flesh from his bones—" he begins but is interrupted by Teraden.
"No, you will not."
"What?!" Xenograg snaps. He stands up and Amanda falls forward in the bed where he was. She is still sobbing, but the tenor has changed from anger to pain.
"You are dead in Demodar, Xenograg," Teraden announces in a voice resonating with otherworldly authority. "You gave up your place to affect events there. You are forbidden to avenge Theograg or otherwise strike at Kenograg." Xenograg simply stares at Teraden, knowing this is a command of the gods but not believing it—and hating it. Teraden ignores Xenograg and steps forward to lay a hand upon Amanda’s head. She looks up as if suddenly aware of the spirit’s presence.
"I am sorry, bannu," he says to her. "Your love for your cousin made for such a strong connection." Amanda begins to cry again but it is no longer sobbing. Xenograg sits and takes his daughter in his arms again, rocking her.
"Xenograg, ‘s th’ former wathu-Darelir, ‘m Ah allowed tae r’turn tae Demodar?" asks Alais. Xenograg looks up at her a moment before looking across to Teraden. Teraden just shakes his head in the negative. The spirit then bows to Alais as he did upon arrival and dematerializes.
Amanda simply cannot be consoled. She allows Xenograg to mesmerize her into sleep.
She wakes shortly after dawn and, heartsick, cannot get back to sleep. She gets out of bed, washes, and dresses.
Her eyes harden as they fall upon her saber in its leather sheath, lying across the bench. With deliberate slowness, she reaches down with her left hand. She wraps her fingers around the sheath just above the saber’s crossguard. She has seen her father carry his sword this way on occasion. She holds it at her side for several moments, testing the feel. She fights off the urge to draw the saber; breaking her father’s rules would delay her training, and she wants no delays of any kind.
Amanda feels a shiver up her spine as mind and heart synchronize in one crystal-clear instant. She turns to look at her reflection in the mirror and gives the thought voice.
"I am going to kill you, Kenograg," she whispers. Amanda realizes she is gripping the sheath so tightly it hurts, and forces herself to calm down.
Amanda decides to wear the saber rather than carry it in her hand. She finds her sash and wraps it around her waist several times. The saber is then tucked through the sash as the Rellugai do. Satisfied, she exits the bedroom.
( Originally posted in the Red Dragon Inn web community forum. )