Nothing will be simple again

With Zuko focused on training while Kadon and Scarlet were sequestered away working on their secret project Mnemia decided to take the opportunity to return home for a few days, Zis accompanying her. The visit would be mostly pleasure…

Mnemia had had little chance to see Aly and Kasi since they had returned, but there was still some business to take care of, business that should include everyone in their dysfunctional little family. And in the interest of privacy this meeting would take place in the Azure Vaults. The manse had been designed for the comfort and protection of a powerful and influential solar, making it an ideal getaway for a visit that would be all too short.

On Mercury’s Envy the trip from Wavecrest to the manse would take no more than a few minutes, but Mnemia had decided to take the scenic route, looping around most of the islands before finally reaching their destination (though the stealth was potent, Mnemia still avoided some of the nastier parts of town). This was Aly’s and Kasi’s first trip on the airship and she wanted to give them plenty of time to take it all in. There was no reason this couldn’t be a vacation for them as well. Even monkey butler was thrilled to have the children back again, seeming to effortlessly keep up with them as they all but ran circles around the decks.

After settling the Envy into the safety of the southern lagoon they spent most of the remaining afternoon letting the twins wear themselves out before they collapsed under the watchful eye of the monkey butler who was soon dozing off contently next to them. As the sun set the others retreated to an small foyer, a room Raxin once used to entertain guest that weren’t destined for his bedchamber (or those that still needed a little convincing). Though Anna remained standing, Zis, Celeste and Mnemia each took a seat in one of the large chairs circling a low table.

“I believe you are the only one who isn’t aware of this mother. Zis was there when I received the letters and Anna is, well, always there.” As Mnemia spoke Celeste turned her eyes to the projection who had the good graces to look embarassed.

“I had hoped to keep Aly and Kasi secret from the rest of the world, unconnected to me and whatever trouble I was involved in. Unfortunately that effort has more or less failed. We were away from Nexus for a while and upon our return I was given a number of requests from schools all over Creation that wished to have the twins enroll there.”

With that Mnemia drew all of the forms and pamphlets and spread them out on the table.

“I would never think of making this decision alone. I would even like to have Aly and Kasi here as well, but I think some of what we are going to have to discuss I would rather they not know yet. If they can just be children for a little while longer…”

Mnemia trailed off a bit and it was Celeste that reached over and put a hand on her daughter’s knee, offering her support. It was something neither Zis nor Anna could do and Mnemia was greatful.

“So, let’s get started then.” Mnemia finished.

Celeste turned her attention from her daughter to the pages on the table in front of her and sat back. ”That’s… impressive.”

“And disconcerting.” Anna responded. ”Almost every deathlord in this world and the next has a request in that stack.”

Zis gave Anna a side long glance, a bit of a warning to watch what she was implying, before speaking up. ”Several schools in the Realm have also expressed an interest. Just about everyone you didn’t want knowing about your children seem to.”

Mnemia sighed heavily. ”I know. I’m just not very good with all of the cloak and dagger stuff. We all figured we were being watched, especially after what happened in Nexus. Mercury’s Envy and the portal system make us a little harder to track, but aparently not hard enough… But as bad as it is that they know, I’m more concerned about why they are all revealing their hand like this. What can they hope to gain except make me more protective or maybe force me to take the twins and disappear? If they wanted them why didn’t they just take them? I don’t know if all of us together could stop a deathlord if it showed up here this evening.”

“What are our options after we take out those from the Deathlords and the Realm?” Celeste asked, trying to keep Mnemia from dwelling.

“A school here on Wavecrest, two in Nexus, one in Lookshy, another in Sijan, though that one is a little too close to a shadowland for my tastes. The Emerald City has also made an offer to take them in.”

“Seems to be a simple choice then.” Celeste responded as her daughter finished. ”But it isn’t, is it. What’s wrong with the Emerald City?”

Mnemia didn’t respond right away, prompting Anna to speak up. ”While we were away we had a chance to see a bit of the future…” Celeste’s arched eyebrow stopped the projection before she could continue.

“It’s complicated.” Mnemia finally added. ”Kadon has explained it to me no less than four times now and I still don’t understand it. The point is that we know war is coming, and it’s coming to the East first. The Bull of the North is going to make a move against Aboshi, and from what we’ve seen things don’t go well for us. I don’t know the details, but much of the East appears to be devastated by the fighting. And that’s before the Scarlet Empress returns.”

Celeste sat back, a look of unease unmasked on her features. ”You can’t be serious.”

“We’re hoping to stop it, get the Bull in line before he acts and try to somehow keep the Scarlet Empress out of Creation. But there are no guarantees in this.”

“I see.” Celeste said softly.

“Right now the Emerald City is the most secure, but we don’t know why we lose Aboshi in the future and we’re extremely dependent on the portal network to get there.” Anna said, mentioning Aboshi’s disappearance for the first time. ”Lookshy and Nexus both contain elements that would wish to hurt you and the circle Mnemia, not to mention the potential of a breach of the prison Kadon has spoken about beneath Nexus.”

“I know you weren’t happy with Sijan,” Zis broke in, “but it’s that border with the shadowland that makes it ideal. Should something happen to your children and they are taken to the Underworld that would provide an easy way to follow them.”

“I’ve never even been to Sijan.” Mnemia responded. ”Besides, with Envy we can reach any number of shadowlands within a few minutes, certainly before sunset when the transition happens.”

“And what if we don’t have the Envy?” Zis prodded.

“Then we run!. I…” flustered Mnemia trailed off again, but no one broke the silence, letting her collect her thoughts and continue. ”If this was going to be an easy decision we wouldn’t all be here having this discussion.”

“Is it really all that difficult?” Celeste asked. ”All this talk of seeing the future… You once mentioned a picture drawn by that little god Arvia, a picture of our two little girls grown, the markings of the Tya on both of them. Back then the Bull was still going to attack and the Scarlet Empress was still going to return, right? And yet they had a future, even then. I know you fear for what might happen to them in the larger world, but there are people here who will love and protect them even while you are out there protecting us. I think this is where they should stay.”

“I hadn’t considered that.” Anna said. ”Arvia’s has always been right. My babies, all grown up…”

Zis said nothing, her bond with the Neverborn limiting how much she could contribute to a conversation centered around creating happiness and saving lives. But with a brief flare of essence Mnemia read her heart and nodded, the woman’s silence, her lack of protest, was all the assurance she could give.

“Very well. I’ll speak to Aly and Kasi, I can’t make this decision entirely without them. But if they don’t object I’ll contact the school and let them know my answer.”

Nothing will be simple again

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