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Aug 08, 2020 8:18 AM
Abras Ashkevron at the start of the book 3 timeline (A Song for Two Voices)
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His mother pets his hair and keeps saying things for a distressingly long time, but then his sister rescues him, lifting him right off the ground. “Gods, Abras, I’m glad to have you back safe and healthy. Did you learn how to make some nice big fireballs?”

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Abras remembers the incident with the mudslide and lets out a hysterical giggle. "Uh-huh. H-how have you been?"

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"Training lots, learning lots. Lord Corey is strict but I like him." Lissa is in fact looking very fit. "He tries not to play favourites but he likes me. Thinks I'll make captain in five years even in peacetime." Still hugging Abras, she lowers her voice to a whisper in his ear. "It's really good. Being somewhere that isn't home, with people who - appreciate me. Haven't spoken to Father since the, um, things happened. I burn his letters, I'm still furious with how he treated you." 

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"Of course he likes you, you're great. I'm glad you're happy. I should, um. Bring Yfandes somewhere I can get her saddle off." Actually he should probably acknowledge Mardic and Donni exist first; it's not their fault he's having a rotten day and doesn't know how to make conversation. He tries to smile at them; the result is mildly disturbing.

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Mardic, at least, is perceptive enough to notice this. He nods to Abras, grips his arm for a moment, says some words about how he's glad they made it back home, and then suggests that Yfandes probably wants a good rub-down and brushing after their long ride and he'd better let Abras get to it. 

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Yes, that, definitely, good seeing you see you later bye. And off to the stables where Yfandes can get a rubdown and Abras can get his metaphorical breath. :It was good of them all to come,: he admits. :I just can't handle . . . things, right now. Maybe a night in a proper bed will help.:

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:It was a lot of people at once for me to handle: Yfandes confesses. :Your mother is...something:

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:She loves me a lot. Or the person she thinks I am, anyway. Gods, everyone feels so unfamiliar, but it's me that's changed.:

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:The person you are now will get to know them again: Yfandes reassures him. :And they'll get to know you. Your friends are good people:

She turns, presenting a different itchy spot on her flank for brushing. :Anyway, it sounds like they've already assigned rooms in the new Heralds' wing for you and Savil. You'll have your own suite all to yourself, and Savil right next door: 

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: That's good.: He hadn't realized how thoroughly he had been dreading seeing his old room again until he felt the relief at not having to. Which is ridiculous, because it's just a room, but he's still more than happy to avoid it. : It's going to be a totally new routine here, isn't it. Different places, different things to do, different lessons.: He tries to find something in that to look forward to. :Maybe I'll be able to spend some time in the palace library.: And Yfandes and Savil will still be there.

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:That's a good idea! And, yes, it's going to be different. Though we'll try to ease you into it. Speaking of lessons, I think Savil did want to arrange some for the Gifts you didn't have teachers for in k'Treva, but you've covered basically all the standard Heraldic curriculum – you were a very diligent student. Savil was planning to ask Lancir if it makes sense to just put you through the graduation tests and give you your Whites: 

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Abras does a double-take. :What. I mean. What? I can't be ready for that yet. For the tests, I mean, extra lessons sounds great, but I'm so not ready for Whites.:

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:Why do you think you're not? Savil had you doing pretty much everything a Herald on circuit would do, on the journey here: 

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:Um.: He had not really prepared an explicit train of logic for that conclusion; it was more of a background fact about the universe. :I had barely any idea what I was doing that whole time and had to ask Savil for advice a bunch. Also I am currently hiding in a stable because I lack the emotional stability and self-control to have a casual conversation.: Also Tylendel had never graduated and Abras being more prepared to be a Herald than Tylendel is blatantly impossible, but that argument doesn't make it to consciousness let alone words.

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Yfandes nuzzles at his hair. :I think you ought to take the tests, do your best, and let the Senior Circle decide how ready you are. You should be honest about feeling unprepared, but - honestly, nearly everyone feels that way. And I think I know you a bit, by now. You're going to feel like you aren't ready regardless of whether it's true. And I think doing some real, Heraldic work that helps people will be good for you: 

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:I guess that makes sense? I wouldn't want to not be doing something I was needed for just because I was scared of the tests. And if Savil thinks I'm ready then that's evidence that I am. But, um, what happens if I fail?:

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:Then that's fine, it happens, and you'll do another six months or year of lessons and then a proper internship circuit: 

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And Savil and Yfandes and Mardic and Donni and everybody will be disappointed and he'll have wasted the testers' time and feel like an idiot but most of that will still happen if he tries to get out of it. :And I guess I won't know either way unless I take the tests. That's what they're for.: He's still going to be nervous about it, though.

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:I won't be disappointed: Yfandes promises. :I doubt the others will be either. Anyway, Kellan passed on that Savil's headed to her new quarters. If you wanted to meet her outside the wing: Yfandes flashes him a quick mental image of where it is on the grounds, :then you can get the key to your suite as well: 

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:Good idea, thanks. I'll see you later.: He finishes brushing Yfandes, runs his fingers through her freshly combed mane, and follows the mental image to Savil. Mind-to-mind communication is so much more effective than language sometimes.

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Savil is waiting for him, a page accompanying her. She reaches out with quick a one-armed hug. "We'll be in here. Just down the hall from each other." 

It's the new wing, but the opposite end of it from their old suite. Abras won't have to pass Savil's former suite at all in order to get places. 

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"Thanks." He stares down the hallway for a long moment, then shakes his head as if to clear it and takes a look at his new room.

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It's a lot smaller, probably the entire floorplan is the same size as his old bedroom, and the furniture is minimal. There's a bedroom, with a bed and a wardrobe in it, and a couple crates of his possessions (presumably packed up from the old suite) piled up against the wall. The other room isn't really big enough to be a 'living room' or 'study'; there's a desk by the window and a tiny table presumably intended for eating meals. No decorations. It feels impersonal, but it's his. With a lock on the door. 

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Other than being a bit too far from the stables to casually walk there if he can't sleep, it's everything he needs in a bedroom. He doesn't want to look at his old stuff right now, so he ducks back out. If Savil hasn't left yet he can ask her where and when he's supposed to go for lessons.

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Savil is next door, unpacking in her own suite, which is a little bigger – two bedrooms, and enough room in the common area for a small dining table plus her old sofa and armchair, unfortunately familiar from before. 

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