I look at the window. The morning is quiet, even a bit foggy. Kyle is dozing in the bed. Denerim is already active at this time of the day and I can see some people moving around the marketplace. I sigh. I wonder where should we start looking for that Orlesian woman.
Lirya must be still sleeping in the room besides ours. Or maybe she didn’t want to bother us. Well, soon I’ll have to check both my sleeping beauties and start to look for clues. I peek through the window again. The beginning of a new day… the beginning of a new life.
Before I leave the window, I see our old companions walking down the street. I release the curtains and come back to bed, with a conflicted feeling. We could be with them now, I wish we would… but things always have an end. I still regret having offered them to come with us to Tevinter… I know the mages wouldn’t have missed it, and George profited to find a tutor for his sister… But I feel they didn’t have to pass through all they endured for us, and they know too… and somehow, they make me feel guilty.
Kyle’s curses are his own business. Mine too, because I’m his wife and I chose so. But some of our companions left clear they weren’t theirs. Well. They won’t have to mess with us anymore. We were together before meeting them, and we will be now they’re on their own way. I can’t deny I’ll miss some of them terribly… specially those who became more than friends, the family I never had… And that hurts. But I can’t stay where I don’t feel welcome, even if there’s people there which I don’t want to lose.
I look at my husband and I smile. He’s the only one I need. So it’s ok if he’s the only one I have.
I walk to the bed and sit beside him, then I lean and kiss softly his lips to wake him up. He opens his eyes and gazes at me, smiling. He was probably already awaken. He grabs me by my waist and pulls me on the bed, by his side, depositing soft kisses like snowflakes over my face.
“Good morning”, I grin. “You did sleep well, I assume”
“Mmh”, is his only answer, rubbing his nose with mine. Oh, Maker. I love this kind of mornings.
“Your mother is in the next room”, I remind him. “And we came here to help her”
He licks my noise. “Spoilsport”. Which, of course, doesn't encourage me to get up... more like the opposite.
Some time later, he’s resting his head over my chest, and I get drown into his dreamy green eyes, stroking his hair. I would stay in this haze of bliss forever, his weight over me, his love in my heart.
But suddenly noises and screams outside the room make us startle, and a different haze, this time made of smoke, crawls from under the door. That and the cries of “Fire, fire”, are enough to make us get up swiftly, get some clothes back and rush to the corridor, trying to sort out what happens.
When Kyle realizes the smoke comes from Lirya’s room, he can’t be stopped. He rams over the door with his shoulder and slams it open. And then he stops in the threshold, and I with him, seeing how his mother just looks at him, her eyes expressionless, while burning carefully the pages of the Inquisitor’s diaries in the fireplace. The old parchment and ink in flames smell funny, and produce all the smoke which caused all the ruckus.
People in the corridor make harsh comments out of relief and amazement, but Kyle runs to hold Lirya’s arms.
“Mother! What happens? Why do you burn that?”
Lirya just turns her face at him, a sad look in her eyes. “It doesn’t bring memories back. Just pain”. I wave the curious away, telling them there’s no danger and the fire is controlled, but giving them some privacy is useless. As usual, Lirya’s behaviour towards Kyle is formal, without the motherly love he expects. He leans his head on her lap, heartbroken, and she hesitantly strokes his hair. “I wish I could say otherwise, Kyle… but I read them and I only remember the needles under my skin, the liryum in my veins, the pain in my limbs. And I already remembered that”.
As every time I see my husband that way, my heart breaks a bit. I wonder how would I feel if I found back my mother, or the man I considered my father, and they wouldn’t recognize me. I lost them in such a short age I hardly remember them myself. Maybe it would be the opposite, maybe they hearts would ache because I can’t remember them. It’s that how my real father feels, in his few moments of lucidity? He almost seemed to care for me that… sad night in the Fade….
Suddenly Tim, Kyle’s faithful falcon companion, perches on the window and squeaks. I walk slowly to pet him.
“What’s the matter, birdie?” I ask.
Tim moves awkwardly across the windowsill to climb in my arm and suddenly lets a shinny thin fall in my hand. Then he shrieks satisfied, looks at his master, who has raised his head with curiosity, and flies away again. Clever bird.
Kyle walks towards me and looks over my shoulder. “What is this?”
I open my hand and look at it. A shinny necklace, in the shape of a bleeding heart, is resting in my palm. The chain is broken, and I’m not sure if Tim has taken it from the floor or stolen it from a neck.
Kyle moves forward and takes the pendant from my hand. “Seems silver” he says. He looks at Tim flying over the Denerim buildings. “He probably took it near the Guard’s headquarters” he mutters. “I sent him there to find clues about Raleigh”. Personally, I’m more worried about why he did so. I mean, he’s a damn falcon. How can he know if something is relevant or not? Maybe it was the shine which drew his attention?.
Kyle shows the pendant to Lirya, but she doesn’t seem to recognize it. For a moment, though, the red stone which fakes a drop of blood in the heart makes her blink. “Blood”, she says. “So much blood and pain…”
Kyle startles. No matter how prepared he thinks he is for the moment in which she recovers her memories, she always manages to surprise him.
“Does this pendant tell you something?” he whispers.
Lirya’s eyes are unfocused, still pointing at the pendant but not looking at it. “Blood. Knifes. Torture”, she says again.
“At the inquisitor’s dungeons?” I try to help.
“No… not those dungeons… not that man…”. She looks at Kyle and for a moment a sparkle of recognition crosses her eyes, but it disappears again.
“Mother?” Kyle asks, holding her shoulders. “What was it?”
Lirya shakes her head, recognition gone again.
“A flashback. Gone…”
Kyle clicks his tongue, disappointed. Again. I grab his arm.
“Must be Raleigh’s dungeons”, I say. “Probably the blood reminded her. Maybe we should go there? If sergeant Kylon is still in charge… well, he still owes me one”, I say, not wanting to speak much about why he owes me some attention, after one of his men tried to rape me. Sometimes I understand why Lirya doesn’t want to have all that knowledge back. If I, who was infinitely more luckier than her, don’t want to even think about that… how would I react if I had suffered as much as she has?
Lirya shakes her head when she hears my proposal. “Coming back… there? No… no… I can’t”. She covers her face with her hands and Kyle seems torn.
“But… but… what if it helps you to remember?”
“I don’t want to remember that!” she says, stubborn. I squeeze Kyle’s arm, still holding it.
“Maybe you need to think about it, Lirya… I know it is hard… But it may be the only way…”
She looks at me with a despairing look, like begging me not to force her to take that decision. But she knows, as I do, that she must come back there.
It’s a windy afternoon when we walk to the Denerim City Watch headquarters. Sergeant Kylon remembers me, and proves again to be a nice person when he seems genuinely happy to learn that I’m now a married woman. Only a raised eyebrow at Kyle seems to tell him “Are you sure of what you did, lad?”, but his smile towards me is honest.
“A visit to the dungeons?” he asks, a bit surprised by our request.
“My mother was held captive here in Raleigh’s times, Ser”, Kyle explains. “And she has lost her memories. We thought that maybe visiting them would help her to remember”.
The sergeant shakes his head, still reluctant. “Do you really want to live all that again?”. Lirya looks small, lost, which is hearbreaking because she’s always looked like a strong woman, but swallowing, she nods. I suddenly realize she’s doing it because of Kyle, and I wish he could understand that, no matter what has happened with her memories of her past life, she loves him again. Enough as to expose herself to all that suffering again.
Finally Kylon shrugs, and orders one of his men to go with us.
“It’s your choice. Constable Phil will go with you. Phil, accompany the ladies and the man to visit the old dungeons!”
Kyle smiles and thanks the Sergeant, then he takes Lirya by her shoulders gently, both to comfort her and to guide her behind the Constable. The young man doesn’t like to go to those dungeons either… Seems Raleigh’s legend still endures.
Lirya glances around, nervous, and her hand reaches Kyle’s over her shoulder and squeezes it. I feel a bit out of place. It’s something they have to solve together, but surprisingly, it doesn’t hurt as much as with Tahl or Lindy. Maybe because I feel Lirya as my own mother too, or maybe because she has missed as much of Kyle’s past as I have done too.
I look at the dark corridors and shiver. Behind the bars I can see some torture benches, fetters and shackles, and memories of the time I was caged in one of these cells come to my mind. I shake my head and focus on Lirya. If Kyle wasn’t guiding her, I think she would freeze and not walk anymore. I’m about to tell Kyle it is enough, that we should turn around and come back to the daylight, when she looks at a cell by her right and, getting rid of Kyle’s gentle hands, walks slowly to the door and grabs the bars, shaking.
“There. I have been there”
Kyle makes a hesitant move to touch her shoulder again, but I stop him. Lirya’s eyes roll, scanning the room as if she was drinking it, like cold water in a hot summer. Her breathing, though, is calmed, and I swear I can’t imagine what is passing through her mind because her face is like a mask.
I just can hear her mutter: “Bitch”, and suddenly she spits on the ground. And she softly releases the bars, and walks back, without more words, without a sign that anything has changed.
“Let’s go”, she says. “There’s nothing else here to do”
Kyle looks at her, stunned. Suddenly we both are aware of her transformation, because her fear, her hesitation, has disappeared and turned into… what? Hate? Rage? Kyle raises a hand, and suddenly stops. He just looks at her. And she looks back at him. Still no recognition. Still not that sparkle in her eyes. And Kyle lowers his head and looks at the ground. I sigh, and grab his arm.
“Lirya is right. We need to go out. Things will look different out of this gloomy place” I say, trying to make him feel better.
And we walk, following the Constable, back to the reassuring daylight.
When we leave the guard’s headquarters, Lirya is trembling. Kyle notices it and takes his cloak gently, putting it around her shoulders and embracing her at the same time.
“You remembered” Kyle whispers, more an affirmation than a question.
Lirya nods. “Only a few bits. The bitch… the Orlesian bitch. I saw her face… And glimpses… glimpses of things I don’t want to remember again….”
I look at her concerned. If she doesn’t want to remember, maybe we shouldn’t force her… I understand Kyle’s feelings… but the price… the price seems too high.
“We’ll find her” are his only words. Revenge. Always revenge.
We’ve spent more time than expected in those dungeons, and the sky starts to get the fire-like hues of sunset. But the cold Lirya feels is not due to it, of course. I glance at Kyle
“We should go back to the inn and get some dinner. A warm one”
Kyle nods, and we three come back to the tavern, after a short goodbye to Sergeant Kylon. But the dinner is uncomfortable, and the silence weights like lead while I look at Kyle, Kyle looks at Lirya, and Lirya focuses on her dish.
It’s when we’re back in our bedroom when Kyle releases his temper. Feeling useless, guilty for the pain he has inflicted to Lirya, even without wanting, he hits the wall with a rage that scares me, even if I know he’s not mad at me. His hand throws away all the things over the table, making poor Tim startle on his perch, and suddenly he realizes it and collapses on a chair, his hands covering his face.
I’ve been silent all the time, but I know now it is the time to act. So I just walk to his side, and hug him.
I can feel his shoulder tremble, and I know a sob is trying to escape through his throat, even if he’s not crying. Big boys don’t cry, and he will better be caught dead than allow me to see how his heart is broken in a thousand pieces. But I know. I’m his wife, and his soul has little secrets for me now.
I say nothing, just stroke his hair, and hold his head against my chest. Finally he lets himself go, his arms grab my waist, and I feel the tears warm over my breasts. I just lean down and kiss his forehead.
“Hush my love”, I whisper. “It wasn’t your fault, and you know it. She’s a strong woman, she’ll overcome it… and maybe tomorrow the good memories, the ones you want to come… will return too”
He sighs, deeply, and his hug becomes tighter. I let him stay that way for a while. He needs it… just support, just love… not useless talk. And only after what seems a blink, even if I know it has been a long time, he finally releases me and gets up, not looking at me in the eye.
“I’m going to train” he says, and takes his sword and goes outside.
I look at him going and hug myself, feeling as if winter had arrived. I feel the same every single time he goes away, even if it is just for a while, even if he’s going to be just some meters away from me. But even if I never liked his training schedule, I must admit this time he needs it. So I just shiver, and prepare to go to bed. At least, demons don’t haunt me anymore, so the only thing which will avoid me to sleep is the lack of his warmth by my side… which is always painful.
How can I have ended needing him so much?. The thought floats over my brain like a butterfly, before I get asleep. He’s like air to me… when he’s not here, I feel as if I couldn’t breathe…
And with no transition my mind wanders from vigil to dream, from reality to the Fade. In a world which shines like diamonds, I have a glimpse of Lirya, the Fade Lirya, the one who remembers all, smiling at me, and then turning back to go.
“Wait!” I want to shout, but no sound comes from my mouth. And I wake up looking for breath, as if I had been diving.
It must be four or five in the morning. Kyle groans by my side. He must have finished training and slipped on the bed without me noticing. I have a bad feeling, and when I hear him whisper “No… mother… no”, my suspects are confirmed. I wake him up, even if I know I’m stealing his time with the Lirya who remembers him, and when he opens his eyes, surprised, I jump out of the bed.
“Lirya! Let’s check her room!”.
He blinks, but jumps after me without thinking twice. He has understood the meaning of the dream as well as I have, and when we find Lirya’s room empty, just with some discarded letters wrinkled in a corner, we know she’s gone.
I look at Kyle, thinking he will be devastated, but somehow his face is serene. He takes a look at the wrinkled papers on the floor… all start with a “Dear Kyle” or “Dear son”, all of them suggest a promise, and none of them is finished.
“So finally she reached me in dreams” he mumbles.
I nod. “That was her goodbye”
“Not a goodbye”. He shakes his head. “She… she wants to remember. She wants those days we shared back, like I do. But she doesn’t want to see me suffering because of that. That’s why she left. To do her quest alone”
“So she’ll come back when she remembers you” I reply. He nods absently, looking around at the now empty room. I touch his arm. “You know she will. Unless you want to look for her…”
“I don’t know what to do. I… I don’t want to loose her again, but I don't want to hurt her again either. I suppose... I should respect her decision…”
I smile sadly. “She didn’t want to see you sad. I think that’s a step in the right direction”.
I really believe it. Same as he suffers when she does, she feels his pain too. As simple as that. Her feelings are there, waiting for a gentle nudge to come to the surface again.
Kyle sighs, and looks at me again. I fear for a moment that he’ll want to run after her, but he touches my elbow and guides me back to the bedroom again. There, he embraces me softly, sinking his face in my hair, smelling it, as he likes to do. I stroke his, giving him all the support I can.
“We’ll find her” I promise. “And when we find her, she’ll look at you, and in her eyes you’ll see her calling you “son” again”And I know that it is true, and that we just have to be patient, and wait for the future to bring her back to us.