Yet Another Sorcerous Student
It is early evening, after supper. A page brings word to Xenograg that Queen Teleperien wishes to see him in her study. Xenograg immediately walks across Sawrey Castle. The study door is open. He steps into the doorway. Before he can knock, Teleperien looks up and sees him.
"Xenograg, please come in," she says.
"Shall I close the door?"
"Yes, thank you." Xenograg closes the door. Teleperien stands as he crosses the room. "Please make yourself comfortable," she says. He instead walks right up to the elven queen. He looks at her directly and intently for a moment before smiling and holding up his hands before her. She takes his hands in hers and smiles back.
"It is good to see you well, my friend. I…," Xenograg begins but falters. A shadow passes behind his eyes, and he takes a deep breath. Teleperien nods. He releases her hands and moves to sit down. Teleperien retakes her own seat. He sits there looking at her with her natural skin color returned. She smiles at the attention.
"I understand you contacted Alatar," is Teleperien’s statement to get the conversation started. "I am grateful to you."
"Yes," Xenograg answers, and the answer being easier to formulate than a statement of his own. "I had considered it several times over the past weeks, but I hesitated to take such a step into your…privacy." Teleperien nods.
"It was a hard decision, I understand." Xenograg is still tentative.
"I should have dared." Teleperien looks at her hands.
"Never feel I would be insulted, Xenograg."
"It was Erwyn that asked me to contact Alatar."
"Alatar told me."
"Erwyn came to Rhydin City, to the Dueling Arena, to find me. That was a very brave thing to do. Entirely for her love of you. I was very impressed."
"I am entirely at a loss what to say. Her bravery—"
"I wanted you to know."
"I understand she even faced off with Philippe," she adds with a small smile.
"I had heard that, but only as rumor."
"It is true."
"It seems something good has come of your injury: the Crown Princess has arrived." Xenograg’s levity gives Teleperien a smile, but her expression quickly changes to one of intent.
"This is why I wanted to speak to you, Xeno." Xenograg blinks, not knowing what Teleperien intends.
"Alatar has spoken to me. He sees she is incredibly talented. I am at a loss." Xenograg realizes what she means and nods.
"You speak of magic—Nom’s heritage."
"Yes, she has her father’s powers."
"Your people do not have such, I know."
"I confess I do not know how to approach this."
"What advice do you need?"
"Xeno, would you instruct how to handle her powers?" Xenograg blinks again, this time in surprise.
"You honor me, lady." He sits back into his chair, stroking his beard and staring into the fireplace as he ponders this request.
"Alatar will also be involved. I think she will be as powerful as Nom, if not more so." Xenograg looks back to Teleperien.
"I know you do not approve of Nom’s people," he says.
"No. They want to take her from me."
"Yes, I remember now. So you wish me to teach her as I would wish a mage to learn." Teleperien gives a slow, deliberate nod. Xenograg strokes his beard again.
"To control," she continues, "to understand her role. She is a young girl, and knows she has powers I do not share. Her ability to see beyond the surface has impressed Alatar."
"As with my dueling students, my goal is to help a student discover their own authentic abilities. A proper foundation is a standard. I need not change anything I am giving to Amanda or Mystic."
"I have to say, she shows cheek. She stood up to my husband. I am impressed how well she handled the situation." Teleperien beams with pride. "She is like me. I will stare down a dragon if I need to bring help to someone."
"Assertiveness is necessary in a future queen. It is to be developed, not discouraged. But then I forget you may be queen for centuries." Xenograg smiles, but inside he prays what he just said will be true. "She has a good heart. We all know that. She simply needs guidance as her talents emerge with adulthood."
"A third student. A third princess." Xenograg chuckles. "As if the three girls did not spend all their spare time together!" He makes a dramatic gesture of throwing his hands in the air in futility.
"Erwyn loves Amanda and Mystic. Those three are trouble." The two parents share a laugh. Teleperien then reaches for the teapot. "Care for tea?"
"Please." She pours for two and sets the pot down. She lifts his cup towards him.
"To good friends."
"To lifelong friends," he adds with a double meaning. Teleperien smiles wider, fully understanding his intent. They sip their tea for a minute.
"My mind just got made up about something," Xenograg says, ending the pause.
"I have been considering giving up calling duties in the Arena. This settles it. I cannot spare the time for it."
"I agree. I understand the construction of your tower has resumed as well."
"Yes, Lómënolmë has relocated to the build camp."
"My tower will be nothing like yours."
"In what way?"
"It will have only a few Eldar touches."
"A shame. The Eldar have excellent taste."
"Oh, I agree, but it would be out of place. Yours is to be the epitomé of Noldorin design, if I understand Master Vinyamar." Teleperien only smiles in answer, her grey eyes twinkling in delight. Xenograg takes another leisurely sip of tea. "I missed you, Tel…this room."
"I understand I was rather difficult," she says, and reaches over and takes his hand. "I apologize for the hateful things I said to you."
"Already forgiven, Tel. It happened over time. We all noticed, but kept thinking it was…justified after what you went through. I am perhaps the worst of them. Unlike your countrymen, I expect people to learn hard lessons and lose their innocence."
"My innocence has been removed, aye, no doubt."
"I first saw your change as a maturing. I did not welcome it, but I thought I understood and told you so."
"I hope maturing does not include insulting my good friends."
"That came later when we tried to question your darker changes. Paranoia, I suppose. All your most-trusted retainers and friends turning against you."
"I remember sliding slowly into darkness, at first I resisted."
"I remember it now, too."
"But, it grew too strong for me, as you saw."
"Then my absence of those weeks." Teleperien nods. "I returned to find you…far gone. Gwindor and Borin sought me out, but my delay cost us time."
"I remember your absence. For a reason I couldn’t explain, I longed for your return. Perhaps it was the only sane thing I knew of." Xenograg can only smile in reply to such a deep statement. "On a happier note…."
"In celebration of Philippe’s return and my return to sanity, there will be a feast and a dance afterward!"
"Of course, Amaltea, yourself, and the girls will be invited. Erwyn would never forgive me if they weren’t." Xenograg makes a mock groaning sound.
"New dresses for all," he adds before breaking back out in a smirk.
"I can send dressmakers," Teleperien volunteers with a mischievous look in her eyes.
"You better! They only have to travel up one story and down the hall." They both laugh. "Amanda will love an Eldarië gown."
"It will make her lovely skin glow. Will Mystic be able to endure such a night?"
"We will have a maid available should Mystic get tired."
"She is well-behaved and will not complain."
"She has been a delight."
"Will probably find ways to entertain herself. Speaking of Mystic…," Teleperien is sipping tea has he begins, and raises an eyebrow. "Do you remember the problem she caused between us?" Teleperien pauses, trying to remember. "Her leaving Sawrey without permission," adds Xenograg to help her memory. Her eyes widen as she recalls the scene.
"Oh, yes. I remember our discussion."
"I will tell you now that you were in the right, despite your condition. She was abusing your hospitality, and I was letting her."
"It did cause worry with Christy."
"Truly." Xenograg sips his tea, letting the subject rest. Teleperien sets her cup down and reaches up to pull her hair out of its bonds. Xenograg can only look on in mild surprise.
"Please excuse my familiarity. I have answered more missives than I can count." He smiles warmly.
"I take it as a compliment. Just as you are one of the few people to see me in this," as he gestures to his favorite red-brown caftan and sandals. It is Teleperien’s turn to smile.