“You’re amassing quite a reputation,” the Diamond Raven commented, as they made their way out of the Judge’s office. “We should hurry if we’re going to catch the train today. I know you’re on a deadline here.”
“I don’t understand it.” Raizel shook her head. “It has to be you, people know you.”
“The-” He hesitated. “The last one didn’t know what I was. They know you have a golden rope on me, but most people don’t even know what that was, or what it means, or what I am. So no, I think it’s you. You’ve done some pretty amazing things, and people talk.”
“I didn’t set out to do anything amazing! I just want-”
“To pay your family’s taxes and get back to your little mountain town. With me and a kitten, it seems. Unless you were doing to drop us both in the Capital?”
She hadn’t thought about that, had never considered taking them home with her. “I live with my family-”
“And I was living in an abandoned temple, as you might recall. I know the mountains, Raizel.”
“I thought you’d want me to free you.”
“That’s a long way away.” He shifted uncomfortably. “Anyway. You could come back to Esteronzerai with me. I could go back to the mountains with you. First of all, we have to get to the train.
“Hello, hello, I need to talk to you.” Someone grabbed at Raizel’s arm, only to find the Raven suddenly in their way. “Hello, I filled out all the forms. You, I need to talk to you.”
“The forms?” Raizel stepped back a step and let herself look at the woman. Rich folk, her mother’s voice in her head said, and can spend lots of money. Can afford those silly clothes. The robes looked like an imitation of something ancient, hanging from her in folds and folds and folds of fabric.
“I filled out all the forms,” the woman repeated. She flapped her hand to one side, revealing someone wearing an iron collar and about half a yard of cheap fabric and carrying three miles of paperwork. “In triplicate. Some by my own hand!”
From the looks of the someone carrying the papers – and the one on the other side of her, mostly hidden by her robes – she hadn’t done much of it at all by hand. But Raizel couldn’t disrespect work done, even if she could argue about who had done the work. “What are these forms that have been filled out?”
“When I asked the High Priestess of Arlke what should be done, she said that I had to find the One Who Voyaged, the One Who Quested. And I asked the Oracle of Weplen who the One who Quested was, and she said it was the One who Chained the Raven. And then I went and I asked the Seer of Porfi and Pler who the One who Chained the Raven was, and she said, ah-” she turned to the slave on her right, the one not carrying the stacks of paperwork.
This one, clearly female, cleared her throat. “Look for the one who everyone wishes to speak to, although they know not why. Look for the one who fortune seems to flock to, though it knows not its reason. Look to the one who is blessed and cursed, clean and tainted, gifted and taken from. Look for the one who pays more than she wishes, the one who will, in the end, succeed.“
“That. She said that.” The woman flapped her hand.
Raizel had been certain a few prophecies back that they were talking about her, although why Arlke and Weplen and Porfi and Pler were aiming some rich woman at her, she had no idea. “So… where did the paperwork come from?”
“That was,” the paperwork-carrying person answered, “the next one, the Ruminant of Roelkia. That one said the forms must be followed, and when Mistress asked what forms she was supposed to fill out – well, these appeared.”
Behind Raizel, the Raven started to cough. She ignored him. “So a whole bunch of deities sent you to someone who might be me. Why?”
The woman flapped both her hands yet again. “Nobody knows the will or the reason of the gods. But I did everything they said, and this is where I ended up.”
“I… see. But what do you want from me?”
“I filled out the forms! You have to do it! See? I filled them all out, every one of them. In triplicate! Just like the Ruminant said!”
“Mistress wants you to bring the Blessed Sword back to life,” offered the attendant not carrying the paperwork. “It was her husband, once. Our master. And then – well, now he’s a sword.”
“Temporarily! Just for a little while! It was supposed to save him! He was supposed to be aware! But he just sits there!”