Chapter 7

SUBJ: Personal Accountability

I still can't accept this memory. I repeat it anyway, telling myself that this time, I'll spot the right detail, the sign that means I can put it down. But I don't: it stays just the same every time. Again and again, no matter what I try, what intent I approach it with. What happened, happened.

I remember that I wanted to forget it all. Forget her, forget them, so that what I'd done wouldn't matter. So it could disappear into the array of past missions with the rest.
I spent a long time lying to myself about it. Something helped me forget.
Now I watch her slip up behind me, watch myself turn with weapon readied, and I remember everything.

And I think, this is the only place I'll ever see them again. So I call it up one more time, just to look her in the eyes. I'm not sure how long I've spent on this, it probably isn't wise… but just once more.

One more look, and I'll be sure to remember them, even when I've left.

One more.

I don't know how many times I've said "one more." Have I learned anything at all?

There was one thing…

I close my eyes. Think about it. What do I want least, right now?

I draw a breath. I don't recognize the scents. I remember again when I last came here, when I thought not of accessing memories but instead of the architecture and how it directed us inward…

And then I turn away from the unvarnished truth of my worst moments and walk. I'm not going anywhere in particular. Just… out. Away. Crystal and runes and the impression of beauty grow fuzzy and frail around me, and the steps to take grow harder, as if dragging my body through mud instead of walking on solid ground. Fog blinds me, and now I hear it: whispering, barely distinguishable, but louder as I go.

I know what my body failing feels like, and I don't care. I walk as far as my legs will carry me, listening to the whispers of the Witch Queen, searching for the meaning here in this liminality.

Piri wakes me under a high-vaulted ceiling, and I remember what I must.