“It is my duty.”
“Bullshit. Bullshit. You have no duty to anyone but yourself.”
“I know it’s like that for you, love. Not for me. Gods, Katrina – do you know what an honor this is? Only two Dasaroi in all the world are ever chosen for this. This is… a position just below Lishaya, and unlike Lishaya, it is one for which one is chosen.”
She sat on his bed, shoving his duffel bag aside. “So you’re the fucking chosen one. You’re summoned to fucking tourney. Where does that leave me?”
“I’ll be back, Katrina.”
“You don’t know that. This Martin guy didn’t come back.”
“Take me with you.”
He stopped, taken aback by the change in her tone – from fury to a simple, childlike plea. “I can’t.”
He set the shirt he’d been folding on his suitcase and knelt before her. She bowed her head, waves of deep-gold hair falling around her face. He pushed her hair back, took her face in his hands, forced himself to confront the misery in her storm-grey eyes. “It is… a lengthy initiation process. Becoming Telenias. There are things that must be done that could not be done if I brought any… attachments. With me.” She made a disgusted sound, tried to push his hands aside. “Katrina. Love. Not everyone survives.”
She looked up at him, shocked. “What? How –“
“There have been suicides.” He forced himself to stillness. “I am chosen for my strength. My mental resilience.”
“How can they do this?”
“Because it is necessary.”
He took a deep breath. “I want you to behave as if I will not return.”
“You said you would,” she said quietly.
“I believe that I will.”
“Because… they may be wrong. This may break me. And even if they’re right… it will change me, Katrina. I will not be the person you know anymore. Not entirely.”
She shook her head. “This is crazy.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. You know I do. But I have no choice.”
She stood, arms wrapped around herself. “You always have a choice.”
He studied her for a long moment. “I choose to do what my House requires of me. And now it is your turn to choose.”
She radiated anger, confusion, resentment – but she did not speak. She glared at him in silent reproach… and turned and stalked out of his apartment, slamming the door behind her. He felt her, the bright-burning flame of her, as she walked away. And he prayed to the gods above and below that she would stay away. He could no longer allow himself the luxury of love.
And he goes to Vegas and becomes the Telenias, and she turns to Stephen; by the time Telenias returns, she'll have fled the city, and he will not see her again for a long, long time. It was that future meeting that showed me they had a history at all, and I traced that back to this... I've been writing a bit about young Katrina lately. Of all her daughters, she's most like Julia. Solitary. Prickly. They turned out very differently, but they're made of the same stuff. When Katrina first came to Shayara, first learned who she was, she was torn between cool, reserved Alexander Tallart and dark, aggressive Stephen ni'Tamra. After much deliberation, she ended up with Alexander... until he was called away.
So many points in my story where one could say "If not for this..."; if not for Alexander being called away, Katrina would never have turned to the Council.