Or that’s what Rachel said, anyway. It sounded like a genuine compliment, and she never says much about my appearance (not that I’d expect her to), so I think it must have been true or mostly true. We met up by the bridge, where she was clearing away some debris. I asked her what happened, and after a little hemming and hawing, it turned out she’d caused a tornado!
Rachel seems to be blossoming, in so many ways. I mean, sure, there was some destruction, but she’s experimenting, branching out and learning more about herself and what she’s capable of. I have this sense that we’re more alike than different so much of the time, and that day was one of those times. The way she talked about how it felt to have, then lose, control of the wind like that — I could relate, you know? And she’s developing a sense of style! I know I sound like a teacher or maybe even a parent (gods forbid), but I was a little proud of her when I saw what she was wearing. I know I explicitly said no midriffs in our agreement, and I think she is using the constraints to really find her own fashion. Even after our formal bond is broken, I hope we can still get together and talk. And even though she’s learning to focus her powers, I have this feeling we’re becoming friends. I guess I should be wary of that — she’s bound, after all — but I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that inside Rachel there is a sweet soul who doesn’t want to be a demon. I wonder if you can cure demonism somehow?
Nathaniel and Aoibheann came round, and we started discussing a funeral for Paasheeluu. That has to happen sometime soon, but Nathaniel and I weren’t sure what Paash’s traditions would require. Aoibheann said since Paasheeluu was forged in the kiln of the maker, a cremation would probably be in order. I think that would be easiest, too, and I said so, but then it seemed there might be trouble finding where we could safely burn a body.
Along the way, Rachel was asking questions about another lion she’d seen in the forest. I don’t feel it’s appropriate to tell her that Prince Blaise’s other form is a lion: I don’t know what the rules are about that, but somehow it just feels wrong. So I shrugged and didn’t say anything, but I think she knew I was holding something back. It seems to irritate her so much when I don’t tell her things, and I understand that. I hate it when people don’t tell me things, too. But. It’s sad to think I’m not going to be able to tell any of them everything; I haven’t told Nathaniel or Aoibheann about the whole magical opening up thingy, and I don’t think I should; it feels private. But now I’m looking at the future and thinking of the number of things I might have to just not tell them. I know I can trust Nathaniel with anything, but I’d be unable to reveal a secret to him if I was made to promise not to. And if I couldn’t promise not to, they might kick me out, so. I don’t want to go down that road. Divided loyalties, how strange.
I don’t remember who thought of it first, but someone said if only we could find Cristof’s castle, Paasheeluu might want to be burned and scattered there. I suddenly remembered the bugs said her body had been found near a portal in the village, and that led us to speculate: maybe she was trying to get back there when she died.
Rachel said she didn’t want to intrude on our private grief and left to do things on her own. It made sense, I guess, but I’m a little worried about her. She went quiet when I didn’t answer the question about the lion. I don’t know what’s happening there.
Anyway, the three of us took the hike up to the village. We had to deal with this unbelievable rose forest to get there, but eventually we found the portal.
Nathaniel went through first, to check if it was safe. He is so gentlemanly, almost princely. At least to me he is. It felt like he was gone for ages, but then he came back and told us it was safe, to come ahead through. It was hard not to think I was in a book — walking through portals; who would have thought!
There was a noise, and a sense of displacement, and then there we were, in the Castle Shithole tavern! I hated that place, and yet it seemed so nice to be back on familiar ground once again. Cristof came round then, saying he’d felt the portal open. As much as he used to drive me up the wall, it was really good to see him. Apparently it had been hundreds of years for him!
He was very compassionate about Paasheeluu and said we could return with her body and he would have his men build a pyre for her so we could honour her properly in death. He also told Aoibheann that Paasheeluu’s title and the tavern itself belonged to her, as she was Paasheeluu’s heir. I could probably get used to Duchess Aoibheann; it would irritate her deliciously to be called “Your Grace,” as well.
Nathaniel and I left to spend some time together. I think Aoibheann stayed behind to view the pyre site, but I’m not sure. We’ll have the funeral in a few days, and then I think some of the weight I’ve been feeling about the Unseelie sithen will lift. One more loose end tied up.