Reading Time: 2 minutes
“Tell me about your home.”
“Nazarai?” Azi queried back, knowing it wasn’t the answer she wanted.
“No,” Meredith responded, “your true home.”
Azi, compelled by the magics woven through their bones, would always give Meredith what she wanted. “I was born on a water moon.”
Meredith raised her eyebrows. “Island dwellers?”
“No islands,” Azi said. ”Not that I can recall. Just water. My tribe were nomads. Pirates, maybe. I was taken before my tenth turn so my memories are vague.”
Meredith gazed at them, her eyes soft. “Tell me about your family.”
“My mother was a storm mage, a weather wielder.” Azi said. “They were my only family.”
“What do remember about her…about them?” She stuttered over the pronoun. Azi suspected the term mother had gendered their hermaphrodite parent in Meredith’s mind.
“My only vivid memory of childhood is one night.” Azi’s gaze widened from the cabin wall to the watery vista of their memory. “We’d been tossing in a gale for hours. I’d already lost my guts – not something I was prone to, it was a vicious storm – and my mother was called to the decks. We sailed on massive trimarans – three long floats with acres of decking stretched between them.”
Meredith cocked her head at the hyperbole.
“I was small, to be sure, but the vessels were truly huge. That storm, though, diminished us to a scrap of flotsam on the sea. The sails were doused and the ship tossed and spun in the waves. I followed my mother but they shooed me back. The wind and water roared in my ears. The sky was black. I didn’t know if was night or just the clouds – the storm had stolen my sense of time. I watched from a hatch as my mother rose from the deck. Levitated. That was a trick I’d seen before, spinning the wind until it lifted them in the air, not a great feat for a weather wielder but it always impressed me.”
“Mother began a casting, undulating their hands and arms, the rhythm urgent. I could see them strain, the tension in their shoulders. A crackling boom shook the ship and their body straightened, snapping rigid. I thought they’d been struck by lightning. But suddenly they relaxed, and the storm relaxed with them. The wind whipped their gowns once more then fell. Rolled away into the sea. The clouds melted and the stars appeared out of a deep blue night. I’ve never seen stars so strong. My mother glowed in their shine. I’ll always remember that image, Mother reflecting the starshine over a tamed ocean.”
Azi came back into their body. They felt Meredith staring.
“Imagine the power of my mother.” Azi finished. “They settled the entire sea.”
Azi paused. Breathed. “A few days later I was stolen by a Nazaraik raider.”
Meredith lay silent for a few moments then spoke quietly. “Thank you for telling me, for sharing your memories.”
Azi nodded. I did not share them, master. You wrung them from my blood. One day I will rip out your heart and savor the taste of your memories as your body twitches beneath my boot.