[Eleanor]: 668.Margaret - Grethe.VIV

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2012-09-04 00:16:29
short story
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My mother’s answer left me so shaken that I had to withdraw to my own chambers. I had not realized the depth of her devotion and love until that moment, for what she requested was unselfish in the extreme. She had become reconciled to the fact that she would never have what she desired, could never have it, but was determined that those she loved would benefit from some measure of happiness. In the privacy of my own quarters I pored over my notes until I found what I was looking for. It could be done, but I felt I needed to consult with someone more experienced than I.

Using the scrying bowl and arcane means, I contacted my old teacher, Master Sparfeld, as he was the only one I trusted to have the answers I sought. He was glad at first to see me, then became quiet and withdrawn as I laid out my commission and proposed course of action. In all this, I was very careful never to mention my mother’s name, for I had vowed secrecy. If he had cared, it would have been no problem for the old wizard to discern the subjects, but he respected the issue of confidentiality. After I was done talking, I waited for what seemed an age before he responded.

Finally, pulling thoughtfully on his beard, he said, “There is something here you aren’t telling me, Elizabeth. Something that is bothering you a great deal.”

I sighed. My professor knew me so well. “Yes, there is something,” I admitted. “While I can’t name these people, you must know that they are extremely close to me. I am having trouble with the ethics of filling an empty vessel, as it were, of drowning anything that might actually be there and in effect destroying it. Is that not akin to murder? Would I not be committing a sin?”

“I don’t know,” responded Master Sparfeld. “You would definitely be provoking a change, be it for better or for worse, but I don’t think you could be accused of murder if the patient does not actually die.”

I tried to maintain a professional demeanour, but could not prevent a slight note of pleading from entering my voice. “Do you think you could assist me with the procedure? I rely on your experience, especially as this is outside my area of expertise.”

Master Sparfeld chuckled, “Elizabeth, you are underestimating your own abilities. You are as capable as I when it comes to these things, perhaps more so if you are as close to the subjects as you say. Good luck, and let me know the results.” With that he broke the connection and his image faded from the water in the bowl.

I took several days to study and memorize the procedure, after which I presented a list of medicinal ingredients I would need to Margaret. She in turn gave the list to Mistress Rose who had much more access to the apothecary and marketplace than the Queen. It took several more days to acquire them and I took the time to examine Grethe more thoroughly. To be honest, I wanted to memorize her as well so that I would not forget this person I had grown up with, for I knew that she would be changed in irrevocable ways by my actions.

First I had to ascertain that the lesion in her brain could be healed and that she would be able to form and retain new memories. Upon close examination, I discovered that only one area was badly damaged and it would take some delicate manipulation to reroute the pathways that would allow new experiences to be engraved where she would be able to recall them. However, it was not impossible and I had in fact performed a similar operation during one of my healing sessions as a student at the academy. A local man had been struck on the head when his horse had panicked while he held the reins. He had developed amnesia, remembering nothing of what had happened before regaining consciousness. I had redrawn the threads that connected the past with the present, and he was able to access his former memories.

But Grethe’s injury was an old one and the scars that disconnected her memory centre from the rest of her brain functions were tough and not so easily circumvented. The amnesiac I had treated had only been thus for a month when I saw him. Grethe had no past and no present, as any new memories she formed were not retained. She had been able to work in the kitchen only because she did the same tasks daily. As soon as she was removed from that environment, she forgot them. In that respect, she truly was a blank slate. If I were able to “cure” her, she should be able to create and store new memories. What worried me was whether or not she retained any from before her accident. Would she be able to access those or would they be lost forever?

Eventually all was ready and with a certain feeling of trepidation, I had Margaret and Grethe join me in the family chapel, away from prying eyes, just after midnight on a night when there was no moon. With wards drawn to ensure our privacy, I administered a draught to Grethe which would make her drowsy but not allow her to actually fall asleep. I needed her conscious for what I would do next. That entailed invasive sorcery to connect the new pathways in her brain so that she would be cured. Although I knew that it should work in theory, I still wished Master Sparfeld had agreed to assist me. It took me almost an hour to be satisfied with my manipulations; then I turned my attention to Margaret.

She sat on the first pew, intent on Grethe and myself, although she would not have been able to see what I was doing. Her hands were clasped tightly in her lap and her knuckles were white with the effort. I could see that she was as nervous as I. While I left Grethe to recover from my ministrations, I gave my mother another draught to drink, one that would relax her and loosen any inhibitions. While I waited for it to take effect, I took chalk from my bag and drew symbols on the floor and altar to pull energy from the shining moon outside the chapel window and focus my own efforts.

When I could see that Margaret was relaxed and that Grethe was near slumber, I requested that the Queen join her maid on one pew. The older woman was to embrace the younger and to put her mouth over the other’s in a most intimate kiss, so that the air one breathed in had first been used by the other. When I was satisfied of their position, I began my incantations.

The process was long and tiring for all of us, and eventually the two women lost consciousness, falling back on the pew. I proceeded to wash away my chalk markings with a damp cloth I had brought for that purpose and waited for them to awaken. I was exhausted and not a little worried as to how my spell had worked. Eventually, Margaret opened her green eyes and looked up.

“Is it done?” she asked? I nodded. Grethe stirred next to her and opened her blue eyes.

“Is it over?” she said, her voice a mere whisper from years of nonuse. I nodded again.

The two women looked at each other, green eyes meeting blue, the same expression in each. They reached out like mirror reflections and touched each other’s face, hair, hands. Then as one, they both turned to me.

“It won’t last long,” I said, wiping away the last of the chalk, “maybe a few hours, maybe a day. But right now, you are of one mind. You share the same thoughts. What you do with that is up to you.”

The women stood and both embraced me and kissed my cheeks, then turned on their heels and fled the chapel. I knew where they were going. I did not need my scrying bowl for that. My mother returned to her chambers to crawl into bed for what remained of the night. Grethe sought out the servants’ quarters where she found Stephen’s room and quietly slipped inside. She undressed and slid between the sheets next to him, arousing him with her kisses and caresses. Before he was fully awake, they were making love and Margaret, with a sudden shock, once more felt the pain of lost virginity.

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