The Price of Independence - Day 26


Kaylene gasped and backed away from the ore stone; Altman held it absently, staring at it for several moments. Finally he placed it on a table across the room from them, and away from the wall full of pots and pans and dishes and such things. “Such a small amount won’t cause any harm of note, though it’s better to be safe of course. I’ll contain it properly in due course.”

Kaylene nodded. “So that’s what he was after.”

“No doubt to take back with him to the Academy and Conclave, as proof of his claims.” He covered Deman’s face and unclosing eyes with a handkerchief. “You know, with my life so wrapped up in my studies, I haven’t the faintest idea what rites are appropriate, nor even what either of them believed.”

“A simple burial should be enough I think.”

“Yes. In the hills, but far from the electrite. They’ve had plenty enough of that in life.” He was surprised at how clear-headed he felt, yet how detached, far away from everything. It was as though he was watching himself have a conversation, rather than taking part directly.

“And you? What will you do now?” Her voice was concerned, he noted absently.

“I will stay. There’s nothing else I can do, not after this.” His clarity sharpened as he considered the words. “I’ll continue Eldrid Tremaine’s work, and more than that, the work of the unnamed young lord who built this place. He intended this house to sit within a city; I’ll see his wishes come to life.”

Kaylene smiled. “Such work is going to take a lot of time. I don’t live so very far away; perhaps I’ll stop in to see you now and then. To make sure you’re keeping yourself fed properly.”

Altman abruptly noticed that his hand was inexplicably covering hers, and that she was still smiling. He smiled in return. “From time to time. That would be nice, yes.”