February 12th - Abaka
Aoifa sat by the light of the campfire, studying her younger brother intently. It was hard to discern the boisterous youth of just a few months ago, constantly in trouble with his tutors for his wild antics. There was something in his eyes, a restlessness as if they were looking beneath the surface of things, hunting out truths that escaped her.
"Something has changed you Cathal. Changed you in ways that shouldn't happen," she finished her tea, spiced and sweetened the way they drank it in distant Talerium.
"The shroud has been lifted and I see clearly. It's as if I had lived my life in a darkened room, only to step out into the full glare of a summer's noon," he poured her another glass of the steaming beverage.
"But you should be back home in Cagil, preparing for the life at court our mother wants for you."
"I will not be swayed Aoifa. I did not choose this path, it was chosen for me. But I accept the burden as the blessing that it is," he sipped his own tea thoughtfully and the two sat in silence for a long time.
"When I was imprisoned in the dark pits of Oritolon I experienced dreams. Dreams which prepared me for the task set before me."
"I don't understand Cathal. What kind of dreams?" she deftly picked a hot barley-cake from the fire. It was heavy with dates and honey.
"The powers of The Trinity, blessed be their glory, have called me to their service."
"I know little of spiritual matters," Aoifa paused to lick the baked honey from her fingers, "but it's clear that your heart has made its decision. I pray it is the right one brother."
"It is sister. For who else will cry out for the people of the west when the maelstrom consumes them?" and the sadness in his voice sent a shiver through Aoifa's spine. She had heard the words of prophets in Talerium, the wild-eyed followers of The Word with their cryptic language and impenetrable allusions to the ineffable mysteries, but Cathal's manner was utterly different. So... so concrete.
In some unnerving sense he was transformed, as if a bright flame had been set at his very core, burning away the youth she had known to reveal a strength of character and purpose that was both startling and strangely comforting. She had seen it elsewhere amongst the hosts of the Theocratic Alliance, and not just amongst the priests of Kamido and The Trinity either.
"I cannot understand the path you are following brother, but you have my blessing and my support," and she gripped his hands in hers.