... I am so tired. These last few days have been exhausting, not only physically but mentally and emotionally. Trust Cynla to complicate everyone's life, even upon her death, or maybe more accurately, specially upon her death.
Maybe I should start at the beginning. I know how I feel, right now, but in a year or two, if I do not write this correctly, I will not even know what I am talking about.
A short while ago, I received a letter from Cynla informing me that she was dying and that she wanted to see me before she died. She seemed quite adamant about that I had to be sure to arrive before her death (as if I would wait until after her death to see her).
I did not waste any time and headed straight to Essle. Once there, I saw that others had been called: Leva and someone I had only heard of, Jeran. And, for some odd reason, Cynla refused to see us until we had had a meal together. So, there we are, having a meal (I guess I should add that Raith, Cynla's current apprentice, was also with us) while Cynla is dying upstairs. I had little appetite. I knew the old woman was stubborn but one does not tell Death to wait indefinitely. From what the household staff had told me, which was very little, and from what I could sense, Cynla did not have much time.
Eventually, though, we were led upstairs to her death bed. The woman looked horrible. I have seen dying people before but it had been years since I had seen Cynla. She had aged and now, on her death bed, looked much older than her years. More strangely, she looked worried.
Once she saw us, she invited us to her "place", something she had not done, at least with me, in a long time. Being a bit surprised by this, it took me a moment to accept.
At first, nothing seemed different. Her garden was like it used to be. However, there was a boy there and... (this is where I cannot reconcile my memories) the next thing I knew something snapped, the place was gone and I was back in the room. Raith looked odd and Leva was... I cannot really describe what happened. I was totally confused. It was only after the fact that I realized that Cynla had died while we were in her "place" and, when that happened, Raith had, for some reason, decided to follow Cynla. Only Leva's quick wits saved Raith. (It was irresponsible of Cynla to use Raith as she did. Raith was not ready for this kind of ordeal and, even if she had been, the girl simply did not have the experience to handle the situation. We came close to losing her.)
I could go in a lot of details into what happened afterwards but that is really not that important. Basically, I can summarize it into a few words: the boy we saw was Athal, Cynla's first apprentice who, somehow, during his journeyman's trial, had been mentally affected by the intervention of Cynla's sister, Venla, of the Nameless. The boy lost all his abilities, became very simple-minded and spent the next 40 years working in a warehouse (where we found him).
It also became clear that neither Venla nor Cynla lost track of him over time. I never was able to determine exactly who it was (Athal has problems figuring out who was who), but one of them, maybe both, provided for him over all that time.
So, Cynla, upon her death, decides that now is the time to deal with a 40 year old problem. Why now, I can only guess. It seems that, as long as both sisters were alive, they could not really do anything about Athal. I can only assume that Cynla thought that her death would leave Athal totally to Venla. Maybe that's true but I have my doubts. It became obvious that Venla was already trying something on the boy/man (I see a middle-aged man in front of me but I think of him as a boy - his thoughts are those of a boy, not of a middle-aged man). Athal kept referring, in obvious fear, to the man with the eyes. I do not know what he did to Athal, but Leva was sure he was tampering with his mind.
I am getting sidetracked again. Why did Cynla wait so long? The four of us, none of us a grand master, did in two days, what she could not accomplish in 40 years. Maybe she could not have done it herself but why not ask for help? The woman had her pride, true, but we are talking about letting a man live a half life because of that pride. Venla was wrong in what she did at both trials but Cynla has some answering to do. Except that she is gone...
I think we are fortunate the Athal is not of the Nameless. He was so close to his trial that anyone with the right approach could have successfully assisted him. That we found him so quickly and that Leva was able to evaluate the situation so accurately and do something about it, I think is just plain luck. Had Venla moved a bit faster or a bit more aggressively, we might all be dead, or at least mind dead, now, with Athal having made the wrong choice.
Eventually, though, everything worked out. No thanks to either the cretin Morin or Jeran (who jeopardized Athal's soul just so he could have a go at the "man with the eyes"; rather childish but maybe that's how runners are chosen). In any case, we are now heading back home. Raith is coming with us. I guess I have to start thinking who she will be working with. She's very close to her trial. Cynla's death has affected her so we'll have to be careful.
I am more worried about Leva, though. Being a grand master is something she never pursued and now she is saddled with it. It will be hard for her to accept her new responsibilities but, as is our wont, what real choice do we have? Time will tell, I gather.