My mouth dropped.
Pailadyn was my… was her… she….
“What is it Juewuhl?”
I couldn’t answer, only stare into the desk for a very long time.
“Juewuhl! Is something wrong?”
“I… I know your daughter.”
Lyte’s eyes bugged out of her head and she nearly leapt over the table again to grab me by my Shroud.
“You do? Where did you see her? Was she ok? Tell me Juewuhl!”
My hands were tugging at Lyte’s, as she was choking me without realizing it.
“Must… let… go… Lyte!”
Lyte stopped shaking me, and looked at her hands and then back to my face. Slowly and with shaking palms, she released me from her death grip and sat down. From that display, there was little doubt that Lyte was Pailadyn’s mother.
“I saw her on Cyst… were friends and… she…” I decided that bringing up the whole “love” thing was a bad idea, so I just trailed off. Lyte was took that as a bad sign and started to have another panic attack.
“She what?! What aren’t you telling me Juewuhl? Is she de-“
I raised my arms defensively and tried my best to assure Lyte that everything was fine.
“She is ok. She joined the tournament that I mention to you yesterday. She lost in the first round, but her opponent let her yield, so she lived.”
Lyte’s face was set into a snarl that scared me even though I knew she was on my side.
At least… I was hopingshe was still on my side.
“Who. Who beat her?”
“A woman named Slyce.”
“And what happened to her.”
“She uh… she died in the second to last round.”
Lyte closed her eyes and bowed her head slightly in what appeared to be a peaceful and accepting expression.
“That is good. Do you know who put an end to Slyce’s life?”
“Well… I suppose I do.”
“I am being serious Juewuhl. I want to know who performed this service for me.”
That pushed at my buttons just a little…
“It was me. And don’t you ever refer to killing as a service again. I do not care what the reason are, killing is a necessary evil at best. Treat it as such.”
Lyte was shocked for a moment at my outburst, then her features smoothed and she bowed once more.
“I am sorry Juewuhl. You… you never liked that in the past either. But as a mother, I must say thank you. I hope you can perhaps understand.”
“And I too apologize for my outburst. Your daughter is much like you when it comes to this matter.”
“I… I am glad. But… back to business. What is your second question?”
“In the Journal, the old me mentioned that Biest’s Shroud turned black when it was being used. On Cyst, it wasn’t just his that was black, but it was everyone’s. Including mine. In fact, mine is still black see?” I held up my arm and formed a spinning black blade.
Lyte just looked at me like I was crazy.
“Juewuhl… your blade is white.”
It was my turn to look at her like she was crazy.
“No, it’s clearly black.”
“Juewuhl… have you met Biest?”
“Yes I have… wh-“
What had he done to me?
“Please, you must help me!” I said to Lyte.
“But… I don’t know how! Juew-… you never told me what to look for!”
“There will be a small black dot on me somewhere. Somewhere that I wouldn’t be able to see very easily.”
Lyte went around behind me and said, “This would uh… probably be easier if you took off your Shroud.”
I blushed a little, but agreed.
“You’re right…” I started to pull of my Shroud, and Lyte helped with an awkward enthusiasm. When it was completely off, Lyte began to search my body for the small black spore that Biest had managed to plant on me. I tried to think of when he would have easy access to me. When I was sleeping perhaps… or when I first came to Cyst and was surrounded by the crowd… that would have provided the perfect atmosphere for sticking something small on me.
After a few very odd minutes, Lyte exclaimed “Ah!” and I could feel her pluck something off of my back. The first thing I did was put my Shroud back on, and then I turned to look at the small grain sized speck that she had found.
“So how do we get rid of it?” asked Lyte.
I set my jaw then gestured at the floor. “We destroy it. Place it there please.”
Lyte bent down and carefully dropped the speck on the white floor. I focused on the image a blade and created a saw parallel to the front of my fist. I was pleased to see that my Shroud was now white. I placed the saw directly above the speck, with the flat side facing the floor. I started the blade spinning and ground the black speck into the floor.
When I was satisfied, I stood and retracted the saw.
“Are you able to see your Shroud’s true color?” asked Lyte.
I nodded. “Yes. Thank you for your help.”
“Of course. I am glad I was able to aid you. Is there anything else you require?”
“I don’t believe so. I should probably get back to reading the Journals. No offence, but I want to be out of here as soon as I can.”
“None taken. Knowing that my daughter is alive spurs me on with renewed vigor. I… I want to be able to do one thing right for her.”
I had been about to leave, but that last line caught my attention.
“What do you mean?”
Lyte looked at me like I was crazy, then it dawned on her that she had said that thought out loud.
“Um… well I just never told her that I was her mother. The moment I saw her, I had a vision from the past. Call it mother’s intuition or fate or whatever you wish, but I knew that she was my daughter back on Earth… and I never told her until she was leaving to go after you. I didn’t want her to go… I knew I would never see her again if she left. And so I finally told her… she barely acknowledged me. Why would she want to stay with me? A mother who couldn’t even admit to her daughter who she was... he last words were ‘If I wasn’t important enough for you to tell me who you were, then you aren’t important enough for me to stay.’ And then… she left.”
What do you say to that?
By the time I had thought of something to say, Lyte had slowly lowered herself into her chair and had a vacant look on her face. She was somewhere else. I didn’t have the right to bring her back. So I quietly opened the door and left.
Once back at my house, I made my way back upstairs and laid down to continue reading the journals.