This scene is one of my favorites from my novel, because part of me loves sadness, and I find it moving. I’ve been thinking of just pulling scenes out and re writing the rest of it. It is such a massive mess, over 250,000 words written many years ago, 2001 to be precise.
Still Telmishei is one of my favorite characters. I tortured this poor guy in a couple novels actually, I seem fond of torturing him. I almost feel bad. Actually, I added clips of several scenes just for some context. There is another chapter I’d like to find, and excerpt here because I doubt it will actually make it into the final draft. Tertiary characters at best, but it has some philosophical discussion that I like, but, otherwise is too much of an outlier unfortunately.
So hear goes..
“You mean to you, Telmishei. Our time was years ago. I’m flattered you still remember. I found you, not much different from Diamtur. In a family that would have killed you as a child had they known. I have never met a family that hated magic more than the Razshai’s. Your first talent was the portal of worlds, was it not? How old were you, Telmishei? Maybe seventeen, sixteen?”
“How old were you, that was the question. I remember. I offered to marry you, and you turned me down. A rude awakening for a boy heir.”
“To the most powerful clan in the land. Yes, that was sweet. This is no different, only I am the one getting turned down.”
“How old are you?”
“It is rude to ask a lady her age, Telmishei. Didn’t your mother teach you anything?”
“Don’t tease me anymore, or I might show Lorune how it is done.” With this he laughed, for he and Jannhilae had known each other for so long.
He kissed her lightly on her soft chocolate colored hair and went to his horse. He’d kept the King waiting too long as it was.
“Good night, Telmishei. We will meet again tomorrow night.” Shaih left with the King, Diamtur left in the other direction. Telmishei turned to Jannhilae.
“My offer still stands. Give Lorune a break. I am all alone here, and I miss you. There is no one here, not even Shaih.”
“Telmishei, you had no interest in me until a few days ago. Are you really that simple? Find another girl, you’ve never had trouble before.”
“I took you as a given, and for that I am sorry. We have always been there for each other. Spare him this night, and we can remember old times.” He saw she was tempted despite herself. What woman didn’t dream of having men fight over her? Lorune didn’t want her, but Telmishei did. In the end she turned away.
“Telmsihei, I like you this way. Perhaps I will consider your offer some other time. I wouldn’t want you to take me as a given.” Telmishei watched her leave reluctantly. Maybe he was still the boy to her, thinking that being a lord was enough to get the girl.
“Jannhilae, come with me to my tent. I would like to speak with you.”
“Why, my lord, of course. Excuse me, Lady Orshei.” Jannhilae stood up slowly and walked to the exit toward Telmishei.
Once they both were in Lord Razhshai’s tent she glared at him.
“How did you know Arousei was Lorune’s?”
“His thoughts aren’t guarded. He was always obsessing over Daemia, who hadn’t loved him.”
“Ah, the tainted blood, and so on. So, why were you with him, Jannhilae?”
“Oh, Telmishei, do you not have sight behind those violet eyes of yours? Aren’t I more lovely than you remember?”
“And, Lorune has aged considerably. He is always tired.”
“Yes, he hasn’t noticed at all, but when he is with me, he feels young, but after he is older I’m afraid.”
“The secret of your youth? How much have you stolen from me, I wonder?”
“Telmishei, you are one of us. Stealing from you, would only hurt us. I have from time to time, not meaning to, really.”
“Yes, I am not much older than Lorune, yet I look much older. He does seem to be catching up to me, though. I ask again, how old are you Jannhilae? You seemed the same twenty something maid when I was sixteen.”
“I was a little older than you are now, perhaps. Now, I am older still, and it takes more energy to keep up my maintenance than it used to.”
“Lorune isn’t here. I have realized that I love you, because you are like me. Others fear me, you understand me.”
“Would you still, if you saw my true age, Telmishei? Would you have still loved me at sixteen, if I looked older, with grey in my hair?” Telmishei had to admit to himself, that he wouldn’t have. Not at sixteen. He wouldn’t have seen her that way.
“That was then, we are here now.”
“Very well,” she reached out, and took his hand. He felt the energy course from her into him, and he saw her age speedily. Her hair lost its curl, turned grey and thin. Her skin grew taut and stretched tightly over her bones. She looked like a worn wooden doll ready to break apart with the smallest breeze. Her teeth were long and yellow.
Instinct made him want to recoil from her, and tear her hand away from his, but he resisted. Instead, he bent over her, and kissed her on the mouth. He felt the energy start to course in the other direction and felt her lips plump and her cheeks soften. When he pulled away, she was beautiful again, perhaps even more so.
He heard someone shout outside his tent. ‘They will go away,’ he hoped but they did not. “The King summons you, Razshai.”
“I must go, but please wait for me. I will be back soon.”
He entered his tent to find it empty. Hadn’t he told her to wait? he walked over to the women’s tent. “Jannhilae, I thought you were going to wait for me.”
“I will return soon, Lady Orshei. Good bye, Kalowen.” Jannhilae stood reluctantly it seemed, and went to the exit of the tent.
“Telmishei, I am sorry. Shaih has told me of my doom. Years ago, understand, I made a pact with Keltorill, the God of Death. I may retain my life and youth through others’ life force. If I didn’t now, I would surely die in moments. You saw how I was. There is a price for everything, Telmishei.”
They entered his tent, she seemed uncertain. “Telmishei, I am sorry. My price was that I could use others, but not truly love them.”
“Does it matter? One more time, for the years we’ve had.” He saw that she was crying, and he had never seen her cry before. “Oh, Telmishei, but I do love you. You kissed me, as I was when I thought no one would. If only I..”
They were on his blankets, and he loved her. He kissed her, and had her, and when he was done, he noticed she was quiet. He moved away from her to see what was wrong, when he saw that her hair was grey and brittle. It was coming off in his hands in clumps. Her skin was like clay, and crumbled when he touched her. Before his eyes her bones cracked and broke into a fine grey powder. Where she had been was nothing.
He kept trying to find her in the powder, calling her name over and over. “No, where are you? Jannhilae! Jannhilae. Come back, come back. Where are you?”
He frantically searched his tent, and found her clothes. They still had her scent on them, and he hugged them to him in a tight embrace. The tears wouldn’t stop. She had tried to warn him, had avoided him for quite some time. Shaih had known. Had told him to stay away in fact. Told him, that it was his flaw. If only she had told him, but she had. And it was too late.
Time passed, and yet he just stayed where she had been, not knowing what else to do. He saw light coming from the bottom of the tent flap. It was day and he would have to move, but he didn’t want to.
“Telmishei, Telmishei, we had best be going. We cannot keep the King any longer.” It was Shaih. He didn’t know what to say. He took down his wards so that Shaih could enter his tent unharmed.
Shaih entered, and didn’t seem too surprised. He had probably been expecting it. “Telmishei, let me have a look at you. Jannhilae made a pact with Keltorill, sooner or later he claims all. She only put off the inevitable.”
“I loved her, I killed her. Why hadn’t you told me?”
“You wanted to decide your own fate. You didn’t want to know, and I did hope I was wrong. We could have used her in the war. Come over here, Telmishei. I could see what she saw in you, now. She has given you a parting gift. You don’t look a day over sixteen, my lord. Like when she met you, I’ll bet. She was a little sentimental it seems. All that energy has to go somewhere. That does leave us with some explaining, I’m afraid.”
“What are you talking about? Nothing matters anymore.”
“Now, that isn’t the proud lord I remember. Telmishei, wake up. Look at your hands. Your hair is thick and black, you are a very pretty boy. It’s too bad you like women.”
Telmishei did look at his hands. They were young, and his voice was smoother, and he knew it was true. Many men would have loved a second youth, but Telmishei would have traded it all for Jannhilae.
“What will we do, Shaih?”
“Let’s make up something. You can be one of your bastards, and we’ll say Jannhilae ran off with Lord Razshai.”
“The King is bound to look for Lord Razshai.”
“The King will know the truth tonight, Telmishei. I’ll even give you your own horse. And, we’ll call you Telmishei. Common enough for a mistress to curry favor with her lord by naming her brat after him.”
“As you say.”