Thinking about change was easy enough to reconcile. Once it had been the most difficult endeavor Ista participated in, to try and understand the nature of changes. Sometimes the gods themselves willed the change that shook the world around people and that had definitely been the case for Ista. When the life had left Arvol dy Lutez, and subsequently the very eyes of her husband, change seemed to be the most conspicuous of evils. Change had been the phantom of loss and the captor of the beauties in all of life. The golden hay stripped from her hair to the dull mud, the paleness in the grey of her eyes, symbols of change that seemed to be phantoms of her failures. She had hated change so much in all of those times.
But, much like the gods, change simply ‘was’.
It had been a long time since Ista dy Chalion was in the halls of the place she had once considered home. The palace she had spirited her young children away from seemed to in a similar light to Ista’s first impressions. The difference was that as a young maiden Ista viewed this palace as grand for its fantasy and romanticism. It was very easy to scoff at the blind innocence of her younger self, but she had learned to a sweet salve to the wound of her naivete in the form of forgiveness. As the curse lifted and Ista found herself in the hands of the Bastard she learned there was little reason to hold herself in the same contempt.
And with forgiveness, she once again found fondness in the palace. Once she had found the tapestries and banners of the Zangre stunning, their fine crafted elegance so breathtaking that she felt she could wear them and none would blink an eye at the quality of her garments. Now, the tapestries were altered. It was no doubt her daughter’s command to create more festive arrangements. It was not that the Zangre lacked proper homage to the gods, but Iselle’s touch was something special. Especially in the season of the Daughter. She was surprised to find a similar sensation of wonder. A smile perked on the edge of her lips as she mused at how genuinely happy it made her to think of such things. Her daughter having a positive effect on things meant very much. Gone were the days of hellish futures, gone since the curse was lifted. She loved the brightness of Iselle’s spirit and knowing that it would not be dampened by a legacy she had simply been born into.
Ista’s smile lingered on her face as she examined the hallways and the finery. She found her wry sense of humor barely held on her tongue as she heard the whispers of the ‘Dowager Royina’ and more than one servant hurriedly asked if they could help her when it was very clear why she was here and where she was going. “I am so sorry-” Ista shook her head.
“I know, I know. She is delayed and will be here after a day. If you wouldn’t mind, I don’t believe it would be too much to ask to be shown to the Chancellor’s quarters?” Beside her she heard a voice snickering. The voice belonged to her companion, Illvin, who knew she had come relatively unannounced of her own volition. He had been amused from the start to see the scrambling. A former Royina was alone enough to make servants bemused, but the mother of the sitting Royina and a saint herself? Ista had long ago ceased being the beautiful Royina of Chalion and instead had transformed into a servant of the Bastard, and now she had the freedom and desire to roam as she pleased. Mostly. So long as she did what was needed of her on top of it.
“The Chancellor, yes, he-”
“Is here but you are currently locating him, yes-” She had heard the harried concerned cries of a few higher ranking servants, and she knew within an hour or so the commotion would die down. But many used their concern as a means of catching a glimpse of the Royina’s mother- the famed, crazed, haggard lady who had so many rumors flying around her about the bastard. Ista knew she would cause commotion everywhere she went for the rest of her life, and was torn between reluctant acceptance and the most shrill of amusement. If her mother could see her now, she would likely faint back into her grave.
It was after a short walk that the commotion hit its highest point. Coming from a bright hallway a figure clad in blues that fit the daughter’s time walked more gracefully than she could recall seeing in her recent memory of him. Lupe dy Cazaril had been a haggard individual until most recently, but he had lost the awful beard while gaining an admirable position, a lovely wife and son, and the most assured blessing of the daughter herself. Cazaril had been the one to succeed in freeing his daughter and their whole house of the curse. She had been grateful, but still a somber creature. The look on Cazaril’s face suggested he had not expected to see her in the way he did.
Cazaril had heard of the commotion in the Zangre only after what seemed to be an hour after it began. The Dowager Royina Ista had come, unannounced no less, to visit her daughter. Iselle was currently en route to the palace from another location, but her Chancellor was not absent. Betriz and Cazaril had been spending time with their son, a joy Cazaril had once doubted beyond any measure he would come to enjoy. Change, and the Daughter, had been kind to Cazaril. Though it was not a reward he had not earned.
But when he saw Lady Ista, he was surprised. If each stage in Ista’s life had been marked by Cazaril’s sight of her, this was certainly one of her newest chapters. He had heard of the rumors surrounding her and it would not surprise him if she truly had been given the acceptance of the Bastard, it was very like Ista to be so unlucky as to be touched by two different gods in her life, but he had not expected to see her so similar to a different time in her life.
“My Lady Ista,” Cazaril bowed, and she gave him a wry look. Her companion, a man with long dark hair that stood at her side so as to suggest protection and intimacy, seemed to understand that look with ease. “I did not expect to see you. All the same, it is a pleasure. How have you faired?”
“Well enough, Chancellor dy Cazaril, but I would appreciate the chance to speak with you while in more comfortable surroundings.”
There were always ears, prying. It would be difficult to allude to the truth around as many servants as there seemed to be poking their ears through cracks and crevices at the moment. It did not take much provocation for Cazaril to lead them to the room in which he did much of his work and assure it was absent of any prying ears.
“You seem well my Lady,” Ista shook her head.
“Cazaril, you have done enough to earn the name alone. But you are correct, I am. . . well.” Ista seemed to touch the words with subtle appreciation, as if she had never expected them to be true. Cazaril found himself pleased to recognize that. Her daughter had been saved, but not her son. She had lost her mother and failed the Mother of all- and so the burden she carried had been great. “I assume you have heard much?”
“Enough,” he said as he took a seat. “I cannot say it does not feel terribly appropriate. Erm, not to mean any offense. I meant that in the best way...hm..” Cazaril stopped and attempted to ponder his words. He was happy for her if it was true, not trying to insult her. While Ista had once been a childish fantasy of his she had truly been one of the only people who understood what he had undergone.
And it was true. Ista, discarded by all and a self-loathing failure, accepted in the arms of the Bastard.
“It's quite alright Cazaril. I agree with you.” And he could see from her face it was true. A woman once unable to reconcile her failures, now once again filled with the energy of someone who had goals and ambitions. Perhaps they were not so grand as before, but that was what made them something he could understand. He too had been broken in the sight of his beliefs, and he had lamented that it seemed Ista would be held back by the failures of her past.
“Forgive me,” he replied after a long silence. “There is just an air between us that is. . .” She laughed and he felt his face grow hot.
“Comfortable? I was hoping for it. What needs to be said when we both feel it? You are free of the presence I now carry within me, but we both feel what it is like to be touched by the gods in a way that is. . . . comfortable. For me, it is with the ability to work the miracles of the Bastard and see my own will born free. For you, it is with the miracle of the Daughter that served Chalion and bestowed upon you all the blessings you know now. I enjoy your company because I understand that.”
Cazaril felt very similarly when he was around Umegat, though Umegat’s ultimate fate was less kind than Cazaril, and now Ista’s, seemed to be. It gave him hope for the man that he would one day be able to attain the serenity in his life that Ista seemed to enjoy. He felt he must write him now, to catch up on the state of his re-education in the written word.
“There is something to be said about surviving the god’s miracles.”
And the two of them found a good deal of laughter in that moment as well as a good deal of peace.