This is a sequel to Sunlight! Read that first!
Oh, and by the way? To those who read Sunlight, I changed the year... it's irrelevant, though. Just think that Mel's from FAR in the future... yeah. The people of this time have forgotten that magic exists.
Oh, and from the artifacts, care to guess who's shield that is?
DISCLAIMER: I own Mel and her parents and Mr Cansholly. Tamora Pierce owns everything else.
"Mr. Cansholly!" I said, trotting up to my history teacher. He looked down his long nose, saw me, and smiled.
"Why, hello, Mel. May I help you?"
I grinned, nearly bouncing on my heels in excitement. "Nah, I just wanted to show you something," I said and fell in step with him as we made our way from the lunchroom. "My parents and I went hiking, last weekend."
"Uh, somewhere by Dunlath City, I'm not really sure."
My history teacher chuckled. "I hope you pay more attention than that in my class," he joked, and I grinned.
We had become good friends, Mr. Cansholly and I. Before he was my teacher, that is. He lives down the block from me, so last year we walked to school together. He knew of my knack with statues and sometimes gave me artifacts to date. He was going to take me in as an intern, this summer, as well. The guy's old, somewhere around sixty, and I, unlike my class, find him fascinating. He was one of the top scholars in the world and has access to all of these old documents and can go to lots of archeological sights. He brings me, sometimes.
"'Course I do," I said merrily, "Your class is more interesting than some random forest."
"Anyway," I continued, "while we were hiking, I found this really old statue."
"From the four hundreds," I said and he whistled softly. I continued, "and I saw..." I trailed off, and showed him the pictures. His eyes widened. "This is beautiful," he breathed, gazing at the picture of the majestic statue of Numair and Veralidaine Salmalîn.
"Yeah, but look at the grave," I said. He blinked.
He opened the door of his office, and let me in. He sat behind his desk, and I sat in front of it. "I thought you'd appreciate it," I said, grinning. He nodded dumbly.
Mr. Cansholly is one of the few people who shares my passion for history. We even share an interest in the same time period, as well – the Period of the Four Kings, who were Jasson, Roald I, Jonathan IV, and Roald II. Jasson was the first king of Tortall – the first known, anyway, and Roald II... Well, he was the last sane one. He went a bit nuts toward the end, though, when all of the people close to him dropped dead. There were about twenty of them. His queen, some knights of his time who were, according to the documents, his friends, and many more. They all died at exactly the same time, the same day. All of them, just bang, gone.
Not much is known about that time. It's very mysterious, because the only documents we have are from, incidentally, Roald II. Mr. Cansholly took me to a conference last summer, and I read them. I liked Roald II, from his writings he sounded like a good guy. He did go insane, though, he sought obsessively for revenge. Got it, too; he killed about thirty assassins who he thought killed his friends. Then he gave his throne to his son... I forget his name, at the moment... And his son was completely nuts. He destroyed about thirty fiefs; then there was a revolution, and the Contè line was removed, to be replaced by the Smithison.
"So," Mr. Cansholly said, snapping me out of my thoughts, "any idea of which king they were under?"
I thought for a moment. "Jonathan IV," I said, "I'm sure of it. Hey, speaking of Jon, have you found out yet why he's the fourth?"
Mr. Cansholly rolled his eyes. It was something of a running joke."No. we don't know that much about him, you know..."
"Damn," I said with a grin. "Have they uncovered his old palace yet?"
"They haven't collected any artifacts, but yes." Mr. Cansholly smiled. "Stop by after school, and I'll show you."
I beamed at him. "Deal. I'll see you later, I have class, now." I waved, and left his office.
I daydreamed in Science class.
They had uncovered the old city of Corus, which had been destroyed by an earthquake, and then a flood. It was a bunch of ruins, but the archeologists had already found some old documents. I couldn't wait to go to the sight, and nearly bounced through the ceiling in anticipation for the rest of the day.
It was dark by the time we got to the ruins, and the full moon gave them an eerie look. I was beside myself with joy. "C'mon!" I whispered, and ran off into the rubble. Mr. Cansholly rolled his eyes. "Be careful," he said, "I'll be waiting here – don't -"
"Destroy anything?" I asked with a grin, "I won't." I bounded away from him.
Flicking on my flashlight, I carefully moved some old stone. I grinned at what I found. An old trash sight, excellent.
Disgusting as it may sound, you can learn a lot from people's garbage. Their eating habits, their –
I lifted a small locket from the rubble, and gazed at the cover in astonishment.
V ra id e Ma l t
I rubbed some of the dirt off it, polishing it with my thumb, then squinted at the old, curly writing under the light of my flashlight.
Veralidaine, My Magelet
My eyes went wide. Veralidaine! But what was this locket – it probably belonged to some lover, possibly even Numair Salmalîn himself – what was it doing in the trash? I flicked the catch with my finger. It wouldn't open.
I wrestled with the stupid locket for about five minutes until it opened. I coughed when there was a swirl of black, sparkling... something that seemed to have preserved the picture.
She was beautiful.
Veralidaine had brown curly hair and gray-blue eyes. In the picture, her hair blew across her face, and she grinned happily, her eyes sparkling.
Yes, defiantly a lover's token.
On the other side of the locket, there was a curl of brown hair, preserved by the black stuff.
Boy, I thought, this lover had been a tad obsessive.
I smiled, though, and slipped the locket into my pocket to show to Mr. Cansholly later. Carefully, I sifted through the rubble, slowly walking away from the dumping aria. I found lots of things of interest, one old, broken knight's shield with dirt so I couldn't see the animal and the word 'Kennan' inscribed on the back. I walked on. I wanted to find more about the Salmalîs, about my family.
I found, to my joy, two door plaques. Well, one and a half door plaques. One said, to my delight, "Numair and Veralidaine Salmalîn" and the other was broken on the top. It said, "(Something broken off) and Sarralyn Salmalîn." I tucked them into my pockets as well.
But I found my prize when I moved a door from the ground.
The fallen door had protected a trunk from view, as well as wind and rain. I fiddled with the old rusty lock and broke it by accident. I swore, but the trunk opened slowly, even though the latch was broken.
I nearly cried at what I saw, I was so overjoyed.
The accounts of King Jonathan IV,
because Gary insisted that I keep them.
I grinned at the second line. I liked Jonathan already. Carefully, I lifted the trunk and brought it back to Mr. Cansholly.
He brought the actual accounts to a conference and then a museum, but he let me keep the locket and brass door plaques. Mr. Cansholly was kind enough, though, to copy the accounts for me... even though it was summer by the time I got them.
In that time I had gotten myself a small shelf, where I kept the plaques and the locket (which I kept open) under glass to protect them. The shelf was above my desk, and I would sometimes spend hours just wondering what my relative's lives were like.
But now I had Jon's accounts. He may have known my relatives, and maybe I could learn about them – how they met, how they died, their services to the realm, who Arram Draper was, and how he became Numair Salmalîn.
Happily, I sat to read them.
The accounts of King Jonathan IV,
because Gary insisted that I keep them.
No one has kept accounts of our daily lives, so far, according to Gary – or, rather, Gareth the Younger. He insisted that I start keeping them, for "kings to come." Personally, I think he just wants me to waste my time, because who really needs to know what I ate for breakfast? All you "future kings" need is the accounts of out studies, but not of our lives, in my opinion. But then Numair gave me an odd look and said, "You don't keep accounts?" Then Thayet glared at me, and I can't refuse my queen, so I've decided to please everyone and just keep one.
On my own terms, though, I'd like to keep them informal. My other accounts, on progress and functions and such, are all formal, and, frankly, they bore me. Alanna the Lioness, my long time friend and the first lady knight is now snickering and telling everyone that I'm keeping a diary, because this is so informal. A pity she can beat me any time of the day in a duel, or I'd challenge her...
I was giggling by the end of Jon's first account. It was, indeed, very informal, and obvious that he did not like keeping such a ridiculous thing. I now knew, however, that they did keep accounts, but never about daily lives, just important discoveries and such.
To my joy, Numair was mentioned numerous times, and I had nearly beamed with pride, for my relatives to have been so close with the king. Apparently, Numair had told Jon that the documents were "to preserve culture."
And, apparently Jon knew many swear words, for he proceeded to show Numair exactly how many different ways he could preserve his own gods-cursed culture.
I liked Jon a lot. For once, one of the people who wrote the accounts had a sense of humor. I kept reading, learning about the culture and such. I took notes on the history, like a good girl, but what I really wanted to know about was my relatives. What about Veralidaine and Numair?
I found them, soon enough, and copied down what I found about them.
Daine and Numair finally got married. I was overjoyed, if not slightly annoyed. The two have been living together for something around eight years, and, in the words if Alanna, are"so in love it's disgusting."
All I have to say is that it's about time.
It was a beautiful ceremony, even if Daine's lady-in-waiting was a horse. She's a great friend, and a better Wildmage, but sometimes her friends... ah, well. Her only living family left was Cloud, anyway. The Goddess' priestess did a rather nice job with it all, though, and Numair looked relieved that Daine finally married him, poor fellow. She's been driving him insane, this last year.
And those annoying court ladies twittered, as usual, but thankfully Daine set her wolf pack on them so they were gone soon enough..
All in all, it was a wonderful ceremony, even if both of them did "mysteriously vanish" towards the end. And when Kitten, Daine's – well, their, now – adopted dragonet, went to find them and then returned, purple with embarrassment... well, then everyone laughed. We all can't wait until we see them again; some teasing about missing their own wedding is in order...
I grinned at that. Jon went on, then, describing how the ceremony took place, as the account was to "preserve culture," which was his running joke. There were priests, priestesses, and prayers to the gods to give Daine – which was Veralidaine's nickname – and Numair happy lives and such.
I wondered about the animals, though. Jon made it seem as if Daine could actually talk to them, and that confused me. No one can talk to animals...
Sighing, I read on, determined to find out more about them – about Daine and Numair Salmalin. And, I thought, looking up at the other plaque I had found, who was Sarralyn?
My idle thoughts stopped with a sigh as I read something out of a different account – it had a note scribbled on top from Mr. Cansholly that told me that this may be of interest as well. It was, apparently Thayet writing, and also from her personal account – although she called it a diary.
One of Stefan's stallions is acting up, and Alanna and I had been looking everywhere for Daine. We looked in the forest, of course. Daine is always there when we can't find her.
It was dark by the time we found them, with a crescent moon hanging in the sky. One might call me an old romantic, but, truly, when I found Daine I hadn't the heart to pull her away.
She and Numair were dancing, as if to slow music. Several animals had gathered off to one side, just watching them. It was like something out of a myth. Numair told me once that Daine's parents are gods, but it didn't sink in until just then, when they both looked almost like minor gods come down to dance to the moon beams.
The faint light of the night sparkled on them, and they seemed to glow, dancing in a moonlit field. Numair was smiling as if the gods had granted him his heart's desire, which, I suppose, they had. Daine, who usually despises dancing at court functions, was leaning into him, joy coming off her in waves.
It was the sweetest thing I ever saw, and Alanna and I had looked at each other, and then left Daine and Numair to their own devises.
The horses can wait.
I smiled. Happily, I looked up, at my clock. Two in the morning.
I went to sleep in an amazingly good mood.
Jon mentioned Daine and Numair sparingly, after that. A few months had flown by since I had started reading his documents, and I had a lot of information about them.
Apparently they had gone to a place called the "Realms of the Gods," where the gods of that time lived. The gods then were much like the gods now, although they had different names. I asked a wayward Stormwing, after I read about them, and she had grinned at me.
"Really? Yeah, they've changed the gods' names over the years, mortal. Still the same, though. S' a bad idea to mess with 'em." She had bared her teeth at me, and flew off, over the city.
They had fallen in love in the Realms of the Gods, and I smiled at the fairy-tale-like quality that had. They had lived together for eight years, not marrying because he was fourteen years older than she was. I had gagged at that, but then had re-read Thayet's passage and shrugged it off. They had built a bridge over that canyon, as far as I was concerned. Sarralyn was their daughter, who had fallen in love with... well, no one mentioned his name, oddly. Anyway, they had a son and named him Salmalîn just to piss off the proper people. They also had another child, a boy by the name of Rikash. I think, however, that I'm a decendent from Sarralyn's line. I haven't yet figured out what was up with Arram Draper, though.
I positively adore my relatives, now. They were quirky, and they completely defiled the regular version of "ye olde proper people."
My parents and I had gone hiking, again, and we were in the same place that I had discovered the statues. I actually sat by the statue of my dancing relatives, at both of their feet, and read Jon's accounts. I felt closer to them that way, and when I found something about them, I would smile at them, and Numair would smile back.
I read the account of their death with tears in my eyes. Apparently Numair had stopped something called a spell from hitting Daine, and used up his life force, dying at her feet, only to have her block a stray arrow from hitting him with her body.
The locket that I found had been taken off by a mournful Alanna, and she had thrown it into the trash in a fit of rage, by accident, and never saw it again.
I looked up, nearly crying, at the statues behind me. Numair still had that gentle smile on his face, Daine still her blissful expression.
Don't cry for us, they seemed to whisper, their stone selves caught forever in a joyful moment.
I gave them a watery smile, and walked back to my parents' camp. I turned at the edge of the field.
The light from the crescent moon just touched them, making them almost glow. I looked off to the side, and saw a doe gazing at them.
I looked back, pretending that I was Thayet from all of those years ago, seeing my friends dancing, so in love.
Smiling, I headed back, the documents, which I had finished, still in my hands.