She awakes on Arendas. Or is it Balasdes? How has she forgotten already? When one wakes up, one should know the day! Especially if that one must lead by example. Her chest hurts, and she realizes that she’s slept on something. A flutter of panic builds within her gut…

Then she calms herself and smiles. Smiling makes everything better.

She gets out of bed and finds herself kneeling before its edge as the seven bells of Lauds sound across the land. Then she prays; she thanks the Lord for having been granted another day to better serve him; she thanks the mages and the tainted who have not heralded death and terror upon the populace, and prays that they find the courage to turn themselves in; she thanks her brothers and sisters for keeping her safe and upholding their responsibilities; she thanks the priests and the Inquisitors who must surely wake up the same as her, but knowing the days; she thanks the Queen for her strength in the face of such a trial, and offers condolences for the soul of her lost child.

She eats in the Bakehouse alone, for she’s come down quite early. When Hayden arrives, they gossip over oats, and she laughs until the rumors turn meanspirited.

She chats with Sir Harshsea for a bell, and enjoys the grizzled man’s warm company in the blistering cold. He gives her advice on how to swing a sword, and commends her for besting that, ‘Absent Vavardi fop.’

She races to the stables to check on Sunshine. The fat stallion is chewing on feed. She giggles and touches her nose to his before taking him out for a morning ride. The air is moist, and dew gathers on the bark of the trees. She rides through the dense forest and scrapes her cheeks as bare thicket tries to subdue her. But Sunshine prevails, and carries her out back onto the road.

After Terce, the pages and squires in the chapel demand that she instruct them, and she concedes with bubbly laughter. Some are older than her – the squires – and remain distant. The younger ones, mostly pages, cling to her in reverence. She teaches until they have exhausted themselves. Her smile never leaves her lips. How can it? She loves them too much.

A patrol brings her to Harmon Tower, where she lingers for a time. She touches the cracked stone of the walls and recoils when her fingers run over vine.

She writes a few letters; one to the Lady Earl Marshal; one to Papa back home; one to the High Inquisitor. She loves writing letters. She dawdles over the parchment, swiping her quill from left to right. The ink dances across the sheet with reckless abandon until she’s flecked her face and eyes.

She bathes in the warm waters of the underground spring. She has made sure that she has it all to herself for this precious half-bell. She undoes her braid and lets her hair pool around her. But then she sinks below the depths when an impatient boy hurries down and in for a ten second lather-and-rinse before he is hurrying back up to find a seat for supper.

She decides on a fast for having succumbed to acedia earlier whilst writing letters. She returns to her quarters with a grumbling stomach, but a smile on her face.

She strips down to her underclothes and prepares for Vigil prayers at the foot of her bed; she thanks the Lord for having been given another uneventful day; she thanks the mages and tainted who apply for not heralding death and terror upon the populace, and prays that they have turned themselves in; she thanks her brothers and sisters who love her, and those who do not, for she loves them anyway; she thanks the priests and Inquisitors, who, after a long and trying day of carrying out their holy duties, must surely be going to bed as well; she thanks the Queen for maintaining her strength for the Kingdom, and wishes the departed little soul peace once he is reunited with the Lord in the divine wellspring.

She rises from her knees and searches around her satchel, from which she gets a small, oval-framed portrait. She looks at the woman depicted; the shrouded brown hair; the beautiful hazel eyes; the small, knowing smile.

She weeps and kisses the varnished surface. She tells her mother of how much she misses her. She curls up into the bed and holds the portrait tight to her chest. Her cheeks streak with tears and her shoulders quake violently as she sobs into peaceful blackness.

She awakes on Balasdes. Or is it Circadi?

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