From the records of Father Benedict de Monte. Dated 7 March 2007
That first evening was primarily focused on Michael explaining the plan, the Queen of Heaven making changes based on updated information about the state of the divide and the city, and assigning tasks. The real work of preparation began today, and quickly became something that neither Akshainie nor I were equipped to assist. Within two hours of the day’s work beginning, we found ourselves sitting on a hill off to the side and watching.
“Are you enjoying being home?” I asked, handing her one of the fruits I’d bought that morning.
“It’s nice. There are things you don’t realize you miss until you slow down and actually enjoy them again.”
“I have experienced that. Last time I was in Tettnang.”
“A town in Germany, where I grew up. I visited occasionally when I was studying, but last time I got to really just be there and take the place in, I was surprised how much I’d forgotten.”
“When was that?”
“Seventeen years ago. When my father died.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, Bene.”
“It’s okay. I’ve had some time to process it.”
“How are you enjoying Iravati? This is your first time really getting to experience it without me guiding you everywhere.”
“It’s a very nice place. Worthy of all the devotion with which you protect it. Though one thing does occur to me.”
“And what’s that?” she asked, laying back in the grass and starting into her snack.
I laid next to her. “I was standing in my bedroom this morning, and looking around, and remembering the house your family lives in and your talk about how you have no cultural need for separate sleeping spaces. And it came to mind that Iravati has been much more accommodating of my lifestyle and expectations than the mortal world has been of yours.”
“Yes, well, the mortal world largely isn’t aware that I’m real in the same way they are.”
“No. But I’m aware, and I have been in a position to make it more comfortable for you. And I’m sorry for not doing so.”
“So no more camping on the sides of frozen mountains, then?”
I laughed. “Among other things, yes.”
She rolled over and laid her head on my chest as we watched the mages and scribes bustling about below. I absently began running my fingers through her hair as she finished the fruit. “We could stay here, you know,” she said. “Once our work is done, I mean.”
“I don’t think the Church would recognize Iravati as a parish.”
“No, she said softly, “I suppose not.” She sat up and dusted herself off. “Better not give anyone any impressions about us.”
“Michael seems to already have some.”
“He was asking about the nature of our relationship.” I sat up as well.
“And what did you tell him?”
“We’re working together. He wanted more information about how we felt about that, but I reminded him that answers like that won’t help him finish his work here.”
“Well played,” she laughed, “I should’ve thought of that.”
“When my friends asked about you.”
“What did you tell them?”
“Nothing that wasn’t true. Come on,” she said, rising and moving down the hill. “It looks like your charge is on the move.”
I looked and, sure enough, Michael was talking to some officials and moving to the other side of the work site. I followed.
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.