This is the first story in The Lirael Chronicles (TLC) and mostly serves to allow the main characters to learn about Lirael. The setting of this particular story is right after the binding of Orannis while Sabriel, Touchstone, Sam, Lirael and Mogget are waiting to be transported back to the Old Kingdom. Ellimere had returned in the Paperwing with the Clayr because, in my mind, she had the least amount of injuries as she spends all of the series in the Capital. Lirael received the gravest injury of course, since she lost her hand during the binding. Nick is not with them because he decided to stay in Ancelstierre, as Across the Wall tells us. Also, here in my version, Mogget decides to remain with the Lirael because he knows she won't ever bother him and he will still have all of the freedom he desires, not that he'll ever tell anyone of course. I love Mogget to much to allow him to disappear.
Disclaimer: are characters mentioned are property of Garth Nix. I'm just borrowing them for a bit. No money is going to be made off of this story.
"So no one has told me how you and Sam met or figured out that we were related. All we know is that you two somehow came to the conclusion that you are my half-sister and Sam's aunt at the Abhorsen House. The rest of my son's letter was rather muddled. Not that we don't believe you of course, you have more than proved yourself to be of the Abhorsen descent, it's just that this is a very unusual situation we find ourselves in." Sabriel finally stated after hearing what she felt was an extremely edited story of her newly found, half-sisters childhood with the Clayr.
No childhood could be described in a mere three sentences and it seemed as if that was all she was going to find out for the time being.
"My mother was named Arielle and she never told anyone who my father was before she died. I was raised in the Hall of Orphans with the other Clayr. I was for many years a librarian." The last line was spoken so softly Sabriel and Touchstone had to lean closer to hear.
She continued to stare at Lirael as she leaned back in the uncomfortable metal chair, not having any idea of how to cope with this situation. The only family she had ever known was her father, whom she had seldom seen, and the one she had built with Touchstone.
The etiquette mistress at Wyverly College had also never addressed such a situation. How to deal clean your silver, yes, what order to arrange your dinner guests, yes, how to deal with your husband's mistress and bastard children, yes. To deal with your fathers bastard child who he didn't even know about and suddenly appears when you are the Queen and Abhorsen of your own country -no. She was considering suggesting they add that to their curriculum. Not that it would do her any good at the present.
"It's a tale with an unusual beginning your highness," Lirael replied softly and tiredly, she'd spoken more in the last half-hour than she had in the last five years, the whole time trying to hide behind her curtain of dark hair, "I fished the prince out of the Ratterlin where he was floating with Mogget in a bathtub."
"A bathtub?" Touchstone, speaking for the first time since Lirael's story had begun, stated with disbelief. He turned to his blushing son with a perplexed look on his face. He had most definitely never taught Sam how to sail a bathtub.
"This is about Aunt Lirael, not me" Sam quickly interjected before any more questions about his unorthodox sailing craft could follow.
"I suppose you are right" Touchstone reluctantly said after a brief pause.
Sam could tell, to his immense disappointment, that this conversation was only temporarily delayed. He did not want to explain why he as in the bathtub, wounded, and with a dangerous cat and a set of necromancer bells. He was fairly certain that sailing in a bathtub was not exactly fitting behavior for a royal prince and at the time Abhorsen-in-waiting.
As curious as Sabriel was about why her son was floating in a bathtub, but at the same time eager to find out more about this Lirael while she still seemed able to speak, she asked once again for her newly discovered half-sister to continue.
"As far as how we figured out how we were related, the sendings at the Abhorsen House took care of that step for us.
When they brought surcoats for both Sam and I to wear, as all of our clothing need to be washed from sailing down the Ratterlin, we were confused at first. Mine was covered with the Abhorsen's silver keys over the Clayr's golden star and Prince Sameth's was covered with a silver trowel over the golden tower of the royal line.
We had thought in the beginning that it was a mistake but I had seen the room that we were in before and—"
"How had you seen a room in my house?" Sabriel exclaimed loudly startling everyone in the room. She was shocked that anyone outside of her family, or what she had thought was her only family, could have been inside the safest home in all of the Old Kingdom, and most likely Ancelstierre without her knowing. This was nothing short of an uncomfortable revelation about what must obviously be a serious security breach somewhere.
Lirael cowered behind her hair once again trying to disappear as the queen- who was also her newly found sister- fumed.
Sam, knowing Lirael wasn't one to talk much and not wanting the conversation to turn towards himself again answered for her, "Aunt Lirael is a Rembrancer."
Confused looks covered Sabriel and Touchstones face.
"What is that and how would it allow her to see the inside of the Abhorsen house? You can't even see over the wall from the outside. It is built high for a reason."
Mogget, also now known as Yrael, who had been listening to the story under Lirael's bed decided at this precise moment to remind them of his continued presence.
"Ah, once again your ignorance of your own bloodline shines through Abhorsen" he stated with his trademark smirk as he watched all of his companions jump slightly at the sound of his voice.
He lithely jumped up onto the bed with Lirael and onto the blanket that, for some reason she appeared to be completely enthralled with, still in his favorite form of a small, white cat. The only change was that the red leather collar which had bound him to service of the Abhorsens since the creation of the Charter was now missing along with its miniature Ranna.
"If you are going to speak in riddles then don't speak at all, Mogget" Sabriel stated with an air of authority.
"Of course, of course" he responded. "You could always wait until the northern mute finally manages to speak for more than a couple of sentences. You should know that this is the most I have heard her say at once during the entire time I've had the honor of being in her presence. That stupid mutt had done most of the talking for her. Good luck getting her to continue. Personally, I have decided to just marked her as lost cause and given up on—"
"Please explain what a Rembrancer is Mogget" Touchstone cut in, knowing that Sabriel, as much as he loved her, had little patience for dealing with the little devil and that they would have more luck getting information out of that mangy cat than they would out of the quiet girl, sitting on the bed who looked about ready to pass out from blood loss and anxiety.
"How could I not answer such a politely phrased question from the King Fool?"
Touchstones eye twitched and Mogget once again smirked.
"I suppose I should start from the beginning but I don't really want to. Half of the information that I would state as fact would be made up anyhow, my memory of the beginning is very selective at times. All you need to know is that Rembrancers are people who are both half Abhorsen and half Clayr. None of her children will have the ability as far as I know. Most likely the ability will die out for another thousand years before another one is born. I cannot even say for certain if there ever was one before her."
Lirael looked up from where she had been tracing the weave of the blanket covering half her body, surprised at this revelation. If there had never been a Rembrancer before her, then who had written the Book of Remembrance and Forgetting? Who had created and used the panpipes and how had the dark mirror come into existence or the creator had known that it had worked? Had the Clayr from the long distant past really just leave everything to chance?
"But what does the Rembrancer do, Mogget?" Sabriel tried to ask politely. Unaware of just how important the information he had just revealed was to Lirael, who had been forced out of her home and onto a journey without any chance to scour the Great Library for any information on the history of Rembrancers.
Surprising everyone, Mogget actually decided to answer clearly. "Rembrancers, have the unique and dangerous ability of being able to travel into death and look at past events of their choosing. Other than that, I can't tell you anything for other than the theory of the Rembrancer, I know nothing."
A heavy silence feel over the small gathering.
Millions of questions were running through everyone's minds. Questions they knew not to voice for there would be no one who could actually give them an answer. Lirael's very existence now stood as a reminder of how little they knew of Charter magic or of the original bloodlines.
Before anyone could decide to speak again there was a light rap on the door to inform them that is was now ok for them to cross back over to the Old Kingdom and the problems that existed outside of their family. There were Southerlings to distribute lands to, all thanks to Prince Sameth, dead to lay down, hemispheres to bury, and a new life to begin.
As they all turned to follow Touchstone out the door Sabriel turned to Lirael and clasped her only hand.
"I would like you to return with us to the palace. Sam has told me that he plans to make a new hand to replace the one you lost. We also need to make plans for you to train to take over for me as the Abhorsen.
But most importantly, I would like to get the chance to find out who you are, my sister."
Peeking out from behind her curtain of hair, Lirael could only nod.
"And so a new adventure begins" Mogget muttered to himself out of earshot.
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Thank you -Ranna