“All stories have multiple points of view.”
“J- J- just the part which belongs to me.”
My brother's jaw drops when he realizes what that would mean for 'his' tower. He spins towards me, startling me, then back to face Nova. “You can't do that! A necromancer's tower is his pride! It would take months to rebuild it!”
My daughter's face doesn't show any reaction to his emotional outburst. “I am very sorry. Do you propose another solution? My mother really wants to take the garden with her. It wouldn't be that much of a drain on my powers, so I tend towards going along with her wish.”
My brother's wife, Riona, tugs on his sleeve and whispers, “It's just a tower. I know that you aren't happy with your sister's peculiarities, but you really should be the bigger person in this. She is still your sister. The people will recognize that your strong character doesn't stop you from helping your family.” She smiles at me and winks.
I really don't understand what a woman like Riona sees in my idiotic brother. She is too nice of a person for him. Me hating him, while liking his wife causes real trouble for me.
My brother glares at Nova for a few more seconds. Finally, he relents and nods. Samir rolls his eyes and throws up his hands. “Fine! I guess we can always rebuild it bigger and better than before.”
“I could place a glass-peak on your tower to replace the lost floors,” Nova offers. “I intend to do some restructuring to Illum and have to repair our pond. The Empire broke it when they attacked us.”
I frown and ask, “P-Pond?” Damn it! Why can't I speak normally? This environment gives me the cold shivers and my heart constantly tries to leap out of my body. There are simply too many people and I am missing my grove.
Nova nods and crosses her arms in front of her chest. “Yeah. The big glass-bubble with the hole inside it. It isn't supposed to look that way. I have to melt down the whole thing and reshape it again. Otherwise, I could never be sure that there are no leaks. Patching the hole would be fine, but if I do something, I want to do it right.”
Unfortunately, I have yet to get a good view of Illum. Their arrival kind of surprised me.
Samir laughs, unable to contain himself. “You are something else! Are you still available? I could match you up with a few people who would surely be a great addition to your abilities.”
Surprising myself by stepping forward, I place myself at Nova's side. “N- no! She a- already has Zane.” Damn it! That came out totally whiny!
Nova smiles and touches my shoulder to stop me from fretting. Are my feelings that obvious?
“It's okay. I am sure that uncle Samir meant no offense.” She turns her attention back to Samir. “Such an arrangement would be out of the question anyway. The fertile grounds are already seeded, so to speak.”
Fertile grounds? Oh… oooh… that’s a good one. Despite my agitation, I have to snicker.
My dimwit of a brother doesn't get it. He keeps on smiling until Riona tugs on his earlobe to lower him to her level. Then she whispers into his ear. To his credit, he doesn't change his expression until his wife lets go of him and he is standing straight again. “My apologies. I wasn't aware that you are already taken care of on that front.”
Seriously! He doesn't deserve that woman.
It's so infuriating that he is the one who gets to live a proper life, while I make a mess of myself and everyone around me. I can't even stand up for my daughter without disgracing myself. Suddenly it seems like everything is becoming too much. All the people. My brother and his perfect life. My inabilities.
The world starts spinning and the broken part of my personality threatens to take over. The part of me who I was after the abduction. My chin starts quivering and I press the bag with my personal items tighter to my chest. I can't have a breakdown right here and now. Nova will worry. Somehow, I have to get over my fears. Maybe seeking to assist Nova was the wrong choice.
Who am I kidding? What am I doing here? Nova doesn't even know the real me and I don’t really know her. I was grasping at straws! It must be a terrible pain in the ass to invite some stranger into your home. Why is she doing it? Gods! I even asked her to trust me when she is inconvenienced by her pregnancy.
Janice notices my plight and takes my hand. “I think that this event has gone on for long enough. Nova and I will escort you to Illum, but then I'll return here. Being back in the capital after such a long time surely piled up a lot of paper work.”
Nova smiles cheerfully and slides an arm around me. “That's an excellent excuse to escape. I still have to give Mom an introduction to Illum! Ah, and we have to find her a room until we start with Illum's restructuring.”
The physical contact calms me down. Clenching my jaw shut, I stop it from quivering. I have to be strong.
My mother rebuffs all relatives who try to entangle us in a conversation with short remarks. She and Nova guide me out of the hall. We leave the tower’s interior and step onto a small balcony from where we float up into the air and towards Illum. Zane follows us silently.
They clearly noticed that I was about to have a mental breakdown. “J- just g-great. I c- clearly messed up the show.”
Janice pats my back. “Don't say that. You finally ventured out of that garden of yours. It wasn't fair to throw you right into the middle of such a large event. I also should have cut down on that stupid speech.”
Nova sighs and it's suddenly as if a mask slips off her face. “Mom, you are a life-saver. Honestly. I was about to lose it. And believe me, nobody likes it when I lose it. Now I totally understand why you think that uncle Samir is a fool. I wonder who paired him up with that intelligent wife of his.”
She bends forward and squints past me at my mother. “I really wonder.”
Janice clears her throat. “Ahem, he needs a controlling element in his life.”
For a very long moment, I try to catch up with the conversation. Then I slowly turn my head to face Janice. “Riona is on your payroll!?”
“That's putting it too bluntly! Watch yourself, Castella Mirai. We don't want any bad rumours about the bloodline.”
The corners of Nova's mouth curl down in disgust. Something got her really riled up. “I also want to know why you uplifted Castella. Didn't you say that the whole process is very dangerous? If you can do that to your own daughter-”
Realizing what’s going on, I grab Nova's hand. “T- that's n-”
Squinting my eyes shut, I try to get my stuttering under control. After a few deep breaths, I imagine myself being in my garden. We aren't among so many people any longer and the night's cool air brushes through my hair, which helps to soothe the turmoil of emotions.
“I am calm and controlled.”
After chanting my mantra for a while, I feel calm enough to do this without stuttering. Having thought about my words, I speak, “Right after the abduction I was a mess. The Castella from back then was nothing more than a child. Did you know that my brother is thirty years older than me? He already had his own family by the time I was born. That's why we aren't that close. I was always the distant baby-sister to him.
“In addition, I was a total greeny when I was abducted. And before you ask, a greeny is someone with a green aura. I was twenty-two, nothing more than a big child. When mother's agents rescued me, I was a total mess. You can’t imagine what the imperialists did to that version of Castella.”
“Version?” Nova asks, confused.
I nod. “Once rescued, they had to lock me in a cushioned cell to stop me from hurting myself. Janice performed the procedure to unlock the memories of a previous life. She hoped that it would help me to overcome the trauma which destroyed the old Castella. And you have to believe me when I tell you that I was past the point of any sanity at that time. Janice hoped that the memories would help some other personality to take over.”
I smile and squeeze Nova's hand. “So don't think badly of her. It didn't work quite as well as Janice hoped it would. I am still me, but having a little more life experience helped to go on living. It certainly helped,” I reassure Nova and myself at the same time.
“Kind of...” I admit after a short silence. “The stuttering and shivers when I am under stress are a bother.”