Chapter 16, Part 1

Alessandra stayed in Mikaelo’s room for several hours, just chatting and catching and reminiscing about old times. She was so engrossed in her conversation with him that she completely forget she’d agreed to have dinner with Shalor until he showed up at Mikaelo’s door.

“There you are, Alessandra!” he exclaimed as he entered the room. “Did you forget about our date?”

“Date?” Mikaelo asked, trying not to look hurt, and only partially succeeding.

“Oh, that’s right,” Alessandra replied, jumping up off of Mikaelo’s couch. “I did forget. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Mikaelo, and we were talking about all of our friends in the slums, and I guess I just lost track of time.”

“Quite understandable,” Shalor said smoothly, with a slight bow to Mikaelo. “I am sorry to break up a meeting of old friends, but I do have important matters to discuss with Alessandra.”

“Of course, of course,” Mikaelo said hastily. “I don’t want to get in the way of Order business, after all.”

“Very well then,” Shalor said. “Alessandra, if would come with me?” As he said this, he gestured to the door.

“I’ll see you later, Mikaelo,” Alessandra said as she left the room with Shalor.

“So what were you two discussing?” Shalor asked as they walked toward Shalor’s chambers.

“Just what I said,” Alessandra said with a shrug. “Old friends. Old times together in the clan. Things like that.”

“I see,” Shalor said. He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, “You are having a difficult time adjusting to life in the Order, are you not?”

“Um…I guess,” Alessandra reluctantly admitted. “Why do you ask?”

“I can see it in you,” Shalor replied. “And I remember how difficult it was for me, when my predecessor went through what you are going through. Actually, it’s difficult for everyone. Every apprentice whose master dies and so is promoted to Atavame has a difficult transition period. But it is certainly more difficult for those are forced into the role.”

“I mean, I know I’m a member of the Order of Sunaru, but I still feel like a girl from the slums who’s going to be discovered and kicked out at any moment,” Alessandra sighed. “I don’t understand how magic works, I don’t grasp the intricacies of the city’s history or politics, and most of all, I still don’t have a single memory from Ilimay or anyone who came before her! It’s hard to feel like I belong when I’m missing something so vital that everyone else here has!”

“Trust me, I know, Alessandra,” Shalor said soothingly. “That day will come, I promise you. There have not been many cases like yours, but every time, the memories came eventually. You will be no different, I assure you.”

“But what if I am?” Alessandra asked. “What if I become the first person to never reclaim the memories that were passed on to me?”

“We will figure something out, don’t worry,” Shalor said firmly. “Ah, here we are.” They had reached the door of his quarters, and he gestured for her to enter the room first. This was the first time she had ever been in his quarters. The layout was similar to hers, only his suite of rooms was slightly larger than hers, and much more richly decorated.

“Where did you get all this?” Alessandra asked, slightly breathless.

“Ah, here and there,” Shalor shrugged. “Trinkets, mostly. But it helps a man’s heart sometimes to be surrounded by luxury.” He walked over to a shelf and picked up a bottle of red liquid. “Some wine?”

“Uh, yeah, I suppose,” Alessandra said, still somewhat flabbergasted by all of the riches surrounding her. If she was still a thief, and was able to carry all this stuff back to the clanhouse, it would feed the Mekoval clan for a whole year. As soon as she realized that, a strange feeling welled up inside of her, almost like…fury. Why should this man get to live like a king while people in the slums had to steal just to survive! It wasn’t right! But…he was a member of the Order of Sunaru. Everything he did was to protect the city from demons. Was it so wrong that he was rewarded richly for his efforts? The conflicting feelings warring in heart made her uncomfortable, and so she shoved them into the back of her mind and tried to ignore them.

“Cardellian Red. An excellent vintage,” Shalor said with a sardonic smile. “Of course, in reality, it’s just izumal that has been magically manipulated to taste like real wine. But in this day and age, it will suffice.” He handed her a glass full of the red liquid, and she accepted. He took a sip of his wine and sighed. “Of course, the problem with having a memory that stretches back before the erection of the barrier is that I can remember how much better certain things were back then. The Cardellian wine groves were north of the city, and they stretched as far as the eye could see. Such excellent wine came from those groves. Some people preferred wine from Alavaia, far to the south, but I’m still convinced they only liked it because it was more expensive, since it had to be shipped farther. Cardellia had the twin advantages of being cheaper and more flavorful.” He took another sip of his wine and sighed again. “Ah well, no point in waxing philosophical about bygone glories. That’s not why I asked you here.” He settled into a large, comfortable chair in the far corner of the room, and gestured for Alessandra to sit down as well.

“So why did you ask me here?” Alessandra asked as she sat down.

“Partially because I want to go over what you plan to present to the thief clan representative tomorrow. And we need to talk about how we are going to communicate with them in the future.”

“Communicate with them?” Alessandra asked. “What do you mean?”

To be continued…

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