Chapter 17 Part 4 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1
After a trip to the bath crowded with lethargic men and women, and a soak in the hot pool until they were all the color of well-done lobsters, Temmin and Anda helped put the twins to bed, each in their separate rooms with attendants nearby if needed. "Now what?" said Temmin.
"Now nothing," yawned Anda, plucking a candy off one of the huge piles of offering sweets distributed among the clergy. "I'm clean, I'm brushed, I've tucked the Holy Ones in, I'm done. No one who worked last night does anything today. The lay servants run the place, the petitioners' rooms are closed, and there's no real offering traffic the day after a Spectacle. I am going back to bed for a nap. Aren't you tired?" Temmin shook his head, still wet and shaggy from the bath. "Well, you may do whatever you like, but don't expect me to do it with you." She rose from the couch they were sharing, dropped into her bed, and was asleep in five minutes, her odd, musical snoring muffled in the crook of her arm.
Temmin nibbled in boredom at one of the traditional crescent moon cakes heaped on a nearby plate, eating first the delicate green icing leaves, then the pink icing rose, then the whole little white fondant-covered cake all in a bite. He pocketed a handful of candies intending to take them to Ellika, before he remembered that he couldn't go back to the Keep for at least a few days, if not a few spokes. He shuffled into the bathroom, past the giant mirror in the antechamber and around the modesty wall, and relieved himself, pensive and staring off into space as he pissed.
The full enormity of what he'd done weighed down on him. He wouldn't see Jenks, or Sedra, or Ellika, or his mother for some time. They might try to come here, but he was sure his father would discourage it with everything at his disposal. Perhaps the King might even sack Jenks--a horrifying thought he didn't let himself dwell on. He might see Teacher, if Harsin let anyone see Teacher ever again. How odd that a tutor would prove to be Temmin's greatest ally; he would never have imagined it. He actually wished he could see Teacher, if only to talk about the sigils he'd seen on the twins. Teacher knew about magic--everything Temmin knew about magic, he'd learned from Teacher.
He gave himself the shake, tucked himself back into his red trousers, and walked around the modesty wall, only to stop abruptly before the mirror. Reflected in it stood Teacher--sharp, visible, not the usual shadowy figure just beneath his own reflection, but Teacher standing in the Tower Library. Temmin could read the titles in reverse on the books stacked beneath Teacher's hand, until the hand emerged from the glass. Temmin took it and let himself be pulled through.
"I saw you," he began in a rush, "I saw you clear as anything, clear as through a window pane! What's happening? There's more, too, I saw marks on the twins! Hello, by the way! Are you all right? And before I forget--" he dumped his pocketful of candies on the table among the piles of books-- "can you get these to Elly? I'd have brought some for Sedra, but she doesn't like them."
"With luck, I will be released from the Library before they grow stale," said Teacher. "But do calm down. Start over."
Temmin explained the silver sigils on the twins' hips. "They glowed!"
"Have you seen them before?" said Teacher, an intent, almost frightening look on the pale face.
"No, just since last night, though truthfully I hadn't seen Allis naked before." Temmin blushed furiously. "Still, I have seen Issak naked, and there was no mark before, I swear. And then there's this mirror thing. It used to be that when you watched me, I saw you as if you were a shadow, just under my reflection."
"Now it's as if I'm looking into the next room. I don't see myself at all, only you and wherever you're at. You don't think," Temmin gasped, "you don't think I can use reflections now, do you?"
Temmin squared his shoulders before the mirror. For a brief moment, he examined his face for signs; did he look different now? Older? More experienced? No, just his same old self, as he had been when he first arrived less than a spoke ago, the increased fur on his chin the only difference. "Show me...show me...what do you say exactly?"
"The general formula is 'If this or that is within sight of a reflection, show me,' but it doesn't really matter as long as you have the skill and can say something."
"All right, then, show me Allis!" The mirror remained resolutely still. "Perhaps she isn't before a reflection--I didn't pay attention to her room. Show me...let's see, where would I know there'd be a reflection...oh! Show me Papa's study!" Nary a ripple. "That answers that question," Temmin sighed. He turned away from the mirror, secretly glad to be free of magic; it seemed more a burden than a blessing.