It is best if I start from where I left off, I have not yet forgotten that.
That evening we (mostly just me and Dwengi) said our goodbyes to Ustareth and her Masked Palace and left Summer. During our travel across the Ocean to Chylomba Yinyay was kind enough to provide us with new coats. (Of course, Winter spend hours designing it, picking out the fir, and describing "design elements poor, drab, Claid could never understand.")
When we reached the Raven tower Winter turned to me and delivered her last parting words. In little way were the words snide: "Eh, Claid, I guess this is goodbye. Perhaps we'll see each other again someday."
But I responded curtly enough: "I should hope not."
At that she sneered, and with a flip of her perfect ink-black hair she bade Ngarbo to grab their stuff and stalked off towards the tower.
The same day after lunch I caught Dwengi in the library and asked her about what plans she and Venn had maid.
"We are still unsure of where we want to go yet," she informed me. She had maps Yinyay had provided "from her internal satellite coordinate system" or something.
"I definitely do not wish to return to the House," Dwengi said to me idly, "I am royal, and therefore will be ostracized, or at least treated differently. An outsider. Venarion and I are considering going back to the Rise, which I have been told is very lovely, and I am a bit intrigued to see what it is like, a jungle grown from desert. However, I get a sense that Venarion, like me, feels much like an outsider there."
"When I talked with him I got the impression that the people he had grown up with were, for lack of a better word, abandoning him more for the villagers, spending less time with him," I tried to explain. That unfortunately backfired in a way.
"You are close to Venarion. At least, you still know more about him than I do, you even call him by the nickname Venn, which you gave him," Dwengi mumbled. I had never heard her speak so much since the time she learned I was to be whipped, or act in a way that was something other than stoic or otherwise unconcerned.
In an attempt to switch the topic I said, "I suppose you two would be outsiders no matter where you go. You two could travel with us and when we find the Hulta, or, at least until you figure out where you want to go."
"I am under the impression that Venn does not take to kindly to Argul as it is, and that he would most likely to be… uncomfortable, to put it slightly, among his people. It is still my belief, though tentatively, that Venarion still retains feelings for you and is therefore jealous of Argul, as well as in that way has affection towards what in me he sees to resemble you."
"Personally I cannot see the resemblance between us that Argul says exists, and I truly believe Venn cares for you genuinely for you. I believe he has already gotten over me, he even came to me and apologized for liking you instead, as silly as it was," I protested.
We continued to discuss Venn and maps and little things until Argul came in looking for a book on something that I cannot remember because I didn't really pay attention. Dwengi politely dismissed herself, taking the maps with her. I am not sure what to make of Argul and Dwengi's relationship. This I mused to Argul, who said something like, "As usual you aren't one to acknowledge social customs. If everyone was more like you we'd have a much more honest world," then kissed me, never bothering to answer my question.
I believe that Dwengi is mostly respectful of our relationship as a married couple and means to give us privacy. I wonder a lot too about what she thinks of me. This I also wondered at Argul, who told me she probably wonders the same thing about me. When we met up at dinner, with it being just the four of us, the atmosphere was filled with an uncomfortable silence and strained conversation. I felt a lot like a fool since I was doing most of the forced conversation, but Argul I think tried his best to help me, his best of course excluding any attempt to talk to Venn.
It saddens me a bit to think that I have a strained relationship with Venn and Dwengi, but then again they are probably more focused in each other than to bother with silly old Claidi, who should also be more involved with Argul. And that's not to say I was not, I was very happy with Argul, but I disiked the idea of being dislike by people that I held no ill will towards.
The next day I helped Dwengi and Venn figure out where they wanted to go, but at the end of the day it was beginning to become very likely that they would be traveling with us for quite some time. For this Dwengi apologized for getting in the way of Argul and I's plans and privacy, but blindly I thought at the time that our trials were over with and I could love Argul at a reasonable pace.
I would be proven wrong the next morning when, awaking earlier than everyone else, I decided to take Siree out for an ride. I rode along for a couple of hours, along the edge of a wood, and was beginning to turn Siree around at the sound of Mireen's whinnies when I was grabbed by men that I assumed, once I was able to form rational thought again, were once again Tower guards or people of the same sort. I thought I could begin to hear and see Mireen and her rider emerge on to the top of the knoll bordering the woods before I was shoved into a cart full of produce and roughly dragged into the woods.