As usual, the presence of new people at Alakazarâ€™s court led to a shifting of alliances and relationships, but it soon settled back into a pattern that Serafin was long since familiar with. Fiona, delighted at having another noble around to spend attention on, spent most of her time encouraging both Gwydion and Aililâ€™s affections, resulting in a number of arguments and duels between the two. Eiluned, meanwhile, stayed mostly silent and aloof, but Serafin noticed that she â€˜happenedâ€™ to appear near Gwydion with suspicious regularity, and knew that a new thread was entering that story. Varich, for his part, continued his tradition of moping quietly around the edges of the holding, wearing his grief like a badge of honour.
The only real difference was Millia. Serafin had grown used to spending most of her time living with the fae; as Alakazarâ€™s first wives had aged and died, he had used his growing court to take up their duties, and although he often visited the town below, he did not take wives as he once had. He had remarked wryly that Serafin was more than enough for any one man when one of the servants asked about it. The Crimson Knights were human, but were as touched by the Wyld as Serafin herself, if not more so, and instinctively understood the patterns of story that shaped the freehold. Millia did not, and her innocent questions helped Serafin ground herself back in the world, while remaining a part of the stories she had found. As the child blossomed into a beautiful young lady, turning heads in town, Serafin found herself settling into the role of mother to her, keeping charge of her and helping her where she could.
One morning, three years after Millia had first come to the freehold, she failed to come down for dinner. Walking upstairs to her rooms, Serafin knocked lightly.
â€œCome in.â€ It sounded distracted, and the Lunar raised an eyebrow, pushing the door open.
The room was glowing yellow.
That was her first thought. A moment later, however, she identified the source. â€œMillia?â€
â€œGwydionâ€™s going to leave.â€ The words were half-spoken, half-murmured. â€œNot forever, though. He should have left a year ago, but heâ€™s waiting for something to push him out. It wonâ€™t be good, because Fionaâ€™s going to go with him, and Ailil will be very upset. Heâ€™ll need to find someone to balance it out.â€ She was sitting at the table in the corner of the room, her quill dancing across the paper. â€œI couldnâ€™t figure it out; it just felt like everything was waiting for a trigger â€“ and I was sitting, and looking, and I just couldnâ€™t get it. Whereâ€™s Varich?â€
â€œUm. I donâ€™t know. He went out.â€
â€œThatâ€™s it, then. Gwydion will quest for him.â€ Millia turned, blinking, and Serafin saw the stars in her eyes. â€œOh! Serafin, I didnâ€™t realize it was you. I was just thinking out loudâ€¦â€
Serafin forced a smile onto her face, and nodded. â€œThinking very interestingly, I might add.â€
â€œAbout?â€ Alakazar swept into the room, and raised one eyebrow.
â€œWell, Iâ€¦â€ Now coming out of her thoughts, Millia looked down and yelped. A moment later, she was staring around the room. â€œWhatâ€¦ Iâ€¦â€ She paused. â€œThis made sense a moment ago. Everything made senseâ€¦â€
â€œItâ€™s alright, Iâ€™ve seen this before.â€ Alakazar nodded thoughtfully. â€œIs it something about me, do you wonder?â€ He shook his head. â€œI forget myself. Millia, Serafin, there is a man here to see you. Thetram Nash. I donâ€™t believe he is comfortable here.â€
â€œHow convenient.â€ Serafinâ€™s eyes narrowed. â€œMillia, do you know whatâ€™s happening?â€
â€œItâ€™s starting to make sense. Memories are lining up, anyway.â€ Millia looked around, as the yellow glow died. â€œIâ€™m like you, arenâ€™t I? An Exalt?â€
â€œMostly like me.â€ Serafin tried to keep a smile affixed, and reached forwards to ruffle the girlâ€™s hair. â€œLooks like youâ€™re a Sidereal, kid. Chosen of Fate.â€
â€œAnd thatâ€™s bad.â€
â€œWhat? No.â€ The laugh seemed forced. â€œJustâ€¦ different, thatâ€™s all.â€ Serafin paused. â€œVery different. And I bet Nash knew it was coming. According to my teachers, the Sidereals are ready to sweep down almost before the Exaltation happens. Letâ€™s have a chat with him, shall we?â€
â€œOkayâ€¦â€ Millia frowned thoughtfully. â€œAre you going to beat him up?â€
â€œNo, of course not.â€ There was a pause. â€œWell, probably not.â€ Alakazar and Millia both looked at her levelly. â€œWhat?â€
â€œYou have that look. The Mother Bear look.â€ Millia smiled. â€œYou know, like when Kameron Thatcher almost got violent last year.â€ She stared at her adoptive mother. â€œDid they do something wrong?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€ Serafin shook her head. â€œItâ€™s probably nothing. Come on. Weâ€™d better see if Iâ€™m right about who he is.â€