Vestria’s mechanical quill sat humming in place for a while. By now, she had learned to wait Sionis out. Sometimes he had long pauses while he collected his thoughts or searched for a seasoning, but other times, he was done with the story. Right now, he seemed to be done.
“So, you went to the Frozen Realm… to alter time?”
“That’s right,” Sionis said with a chuckle. “I wanted to use time magic to… I don’t know… save Marjan.”
“Why not just tell Lady Evanor?”
“That magic is one of the many forbidden types. It’s right up there with being a Shadowspeaker. The Udirians deemed it far too dangerous to use. In the wrong hands… well… it could yield terrible results.”
“So, did you get to use it?” Vestria asked. “Do you know how to alter time?”
“I can’t reveal that now,” Sionis said, smiling slyly. “That would spoil the fun!”
“I figured you’d say that,” she groaned. “So, the sun is setting, or at least it would be setting if the rain wasn’t pouring outside. What time should I be back tomorrow?”
“Actually, I have some company coming tomorrow,” Sionis said. “I won’t need your help on the farm. Come back the day after tomorrow and we can harvest the striped melons. I’ll pick up the story after our work is done. I can cook up something fun.”
“Oh, sure,” Vestria replied.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Sionis added. “I don’t meant to be pushy, but we all need our alone time every now and again, yes?”
She agreed, collected her things, and went on her way.
The next morning came and went, with Vestria sleeping in until nearly noon. It was only the hustle and bustle of the lunch rush downstairs that stirred her from sleep. She lazily grabbed some noodles for lunch and went about organizing her notes.
Then, curiosity got the better of her.
Sionis Sepher hadn’t had any company since she had arrived. He had visitors, sure, but they came and went all the time, usually just fellow farmers and travelers looking for a rest. He had never been secretive about it, which made Vestria wonder why he would be that way now.
She sat on this for another hour, then she decided she had to know.
The Sepher farm wasn’t far from the town market. When Vestria arrived at the small hill that led down to the farm, she laid out on the ground and carefully crawled over the crest to see down on the small hut. The front door was open, but there was no activity inside. She scanned the fields and nearly gave up, but then she saw a glint in the sunlight and locked in on two individuals standing in the field.
One of them was Sionis. The other was a Musfurin woman. She was wearing glorious silver armor that had to be uncomfortable to wear in the summer sun. The two of them seemed relaxed, and Sionis even laughed a few times. Vestria couldn’t make out what they were saying, but the mood was obviously not a bad one. After a few minutes, Sionis and the woman kissed, and then the pair headed through the field and up into Sepher’s small home. Sionis closed the door behind him.
“Ah,” Vestria said aloud. “I get it.”
The next day, Vestria arrived at the farm right at sunrise. She had grown accustomed to showing up this early on harvest days because they could get a lot of work done in the morning hours before the heat really had a chance to set in. When she arrived she saw Sionis standing on the stairs of his home, ready to start the workday as well.
“Good morning,” he said cheerily. “I hope you had a good day off yesterday.”
“I did,” Vestria replied. “It was… insightful.”
“I have enchantments around the farm,” Sionis said bluntly. “I know you visited.”
Vestria blushed. “Oh.”
“Did it satisfy your curiosity?”
“A bit, yeah.”
“Who is she?” Vestria asked. “Can we talk about her?”
Sionis chuckled. “Oh, we’ll be talking about her eventually.”
“Really? Who is she?”
Sionis took a deep breath and looked out at the melons in the field. “We’ve got a lot of melons to harvest. After that, we’ll get on with the tales from the Frozen Realm.”
“Okay, right, but can I at least have her name? That way I’ll know when she comes into the story?”
Sionis looked at her for a long moment, then shrugged. “Very well. Her name is Iliera.”
At the end of the day, after the melons had been harvested and prepared for transport, Sionis was busy cooking and Vestria was busily preparing for the night’s tale. Obviously, her mind was on other things at the moment, and when she had stayed silent for the entire day, she couldn’t contain it anymore.
“She’s named Iliera. Sionis, that’s the name of the wand!”
“I know,” he replied.
“So, this is a big deal right? Like, this is a major reveal?”
Sionis stopped his work on the meal and turned to look at her. “You’re skipping ahead. I asked you to stay home yesterday for a reason.”
“I mean, I get what you’re saying, but I feel like—”
“I feel like you’re skipping ahead,” Sionis interjected. “We’re in the Frozen Realm. The events here play a part you see, in all that is to come, but like any good story, you have to sit through it all if you really want to understand.”
“So, you’re not going to tell me about Iliera?” she asked, feeling deflated.
“Eventually,” Sionis assured her, “but not now.”
“Fine,” she grumbled. “So then, what will we talk about next?”
Sionis smiled warmly and went back to chopping up his vegetables. “The next chapter in my story begins a few weeks after I left Amber Ridge. I travelled a good distance by ship, attempting to put some distance between myself and Lady Evanor, until I eventually ended up in a place known as the Basalt Dalles…