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July 19, 2011 / Bika

Cersei and the Magisters

Ever wonder what happened to Cersei? Me and Claire did, too. Read on; I hope you like it.
* * *
The main Magister’s offices were quiet and creepy after dark, when all the ranking nobles were out having their asses kissed and the peons were getting drunk or lucky or both. Very little of importance had ever happened on the late shift, and that was just how Magister Fardawn liked it. It was half past eleven, which meant he was halfway through a bottle of Suntouched Reserve and well on his way to a content stupor. He would never put his feet up on the desk during daylight hours and risk an asinine punishment–being turned into a pig or snake or some such stupid thing, for example–but it was perfectly safe at this time of night. He tossed a well-worn deck of cards to his partner and waited for her to check for cheats, as she usually did.

Magister Brightwind paused her manicure to riffle through the deck, keeping her nails carefully separated as she passed the cards from one hand to the other. “What did you have in mind?”

“Strip poker,” he said, and grinned at his own joke for what may very well have been the millionth time in a row.

The other Magister let out a noise that was somewhere in between a giggle and a sigh. “You may be the most persistent man I’ve ever met. But yet again, no. Someone might actually need us to do work some day, you know.”

He snorted and took his feet down, bellying up to the big polished table that would be surrounded by middle-ranking assholes in less than eight hours. “I’m sure you can work just as well with your clothes off, my dear.” Taking the cards back he set them on its shining surface and shuffled the deck using only magic. At one time this trick was invariably paired with a raucous “Look, mother, no hands!” but as it came to annoy even himself, the phrase was permanently discontinued.

Forty-two hands later they sat tallying their respective winnings on little leather notebooks designed for taking messages but that had long since been reassigned to poker duty. Deep in his cups but hardly showing it–he had quite a lot of practice, after all–Magister Fardawn interrupted his companion in the middle of a declaration that she would most certainly beat him next time. “Elissa, did you hear something?”

She paused mid-scribble and looked up from her notebook. “Hear something? Like what?”

He put a finger to his lips and they sat still in the semi-dark room, long ears pricked for the sounds of a possible intruder or perhaps even the dreaded Night Shift Surprise Inspection, which was rare but certainly not unheard of. The blonde, broad, besotted man gave up first with a small shrug and was about to suggest a round of strip backgammon when a mighty knock sounded at the main door. It echoed through the empty halls. Magister Brightwind jumped in her seat, startled.

“Er, rather like that. Hell of a lot quieter last go, if I do say so.” He stood up and straightened his shirt while his companion looked up at him, brows drawn together. She was definitely starting to feel the effects of a bottle or three, if the expression on her face was any indication. “What should we do?”

“As much as I would like to say ‘wait quietly and hope they go away,’ it could be something important. Wait here, I’ll be back in a moment. I won’t complain if you indulge in a peremptory undressing.” It was extraordinarily difficult to suppress a giggle at that, and he muffled it against his sleeve as he headed for the door.

Elissa Brightwind poured herself a generous serving from her partner’s unattended bottle and was half-done drinking it when the ruckus started down the hall. Lorannis’s booming voice echoed back to her along with the softer, brighter tones of a female. She rolled her eyes. They ruled the Dead Shift, had for years, and Elissa knew the old lout like the back of her hand. She didn’t need to hear any words to know that this was his damsel-in-distress routine and that whoever might be at the door, Magister Fardawn was trying to charm her pants off and almost certainly failing. A brief look around the room decided her; whatever was going on in the reception hall was a thousand times more interesting than sitting alone surrounded by empty wine and liquor bottles. “Do you need assistance?” she called out, and swayed down the hall not waiting for an answer.

In the carpeted lobby lit by a few floating lamps, Magister Brightwind walked in just in time to see a sturdy redheaded elf crossing the threshold backwards dragging a limp figure behind her, arms locked under armpits. Her drunken mage companion stood close by and watched without offering to lend a hand. Shameless, she thought, and shot him a dirty look. It should be noted that it didn’t occur to her to offer any help of her own.

Once the prone woman was clear of the door, the girl with the flaming red hair straightened up, groaned, and wiped the sweat from her forehead.

“Is she dead?” said Magister Brightwind.

“Whether she is or isn’t, you might be better served taking her to an infirmary,” said Magister Fardawn.

“Please, we need help that no medic can give,” said the sweating girl. There was a long streak of dirt on her cheek and forehead, but neither magister really noticed. Instead they stared at her ruined face and pale eye, then (in the case of Lorannis) mentally checked the fit of her chestplate. Neither of them noticed the tall, lanky elf who crept into the lobby after her, either.

“I still think you’re in the wrong place. Exorcisms are more of a priest’s area of expertise, may I recommend–” Elissa was interrupted mid-sentence once again by her partner.

“Is that… Cersei Dusksinger?”

There was movement in a corner of the room as the tall stranger flinched. Magister Fardawn narrowed his eyes and demanded, “Step forward and identify yourself, please.”

The tall elf cleared his throat, blushed, and pointed a finger to his chest. “Uh. Um. You mean me?”

The redhead took a few steps toward him and stood protectively at his side. “He’s Fenniel Dusksinger, Cersei’s brother. I’m Ysani. Er, Dame Cloudbreaker.”

“You’re kidding me.” Magister Brightwind smirked, and a giggle barely escaped her lips.  “Dusksinger has a brother?  What in the name of the Light happened to her anyways? She looks absolutely dreadful.”

Ysani glanced up at Fenniel, then at Magister Brightwind. “We’re not exactly sure, ma’am. She wasn’t at her post–over at Stonard, you know?–so we checked the swamp and found her like this. Well, dirtier, and… and worse… but more or less like this. Catatonic mostly, sometimes babbling.”

The two magisters exchanged a look, then moved in to peer at the elf on the floor. “Can’t say I’m surprised to see her this way,” said Magister Fardawn, taking off his slim gold spectacles and cleaning them with his shirt.

“Uh…you’re not?” Fenn cleared his throat. “Of course you’re not. Um. Right. Anyways. We just found her like this.” He nodded at Ysani, whose ears reddened slightly.

“She’s largely unresponsive and I believe she may have been under duress for a prolonged period of time? I mean, she’s really messed up and I haven’t had any luck bringing her around. We thought…” Here she trailed off and bit her lip. Magister Fardawn hmmed and nodded, focused mostly on her fitted elementium armor as he scratched his chin.

“You thought…?” said Magister Brightwind, helpfully.

“We, ah, thought maybe that she might be better off, um, re-educated. To erase the trauma so she can recover, you know?”

The magisters exchanged another long look, this time with matching raised eyebrows. They say that people (and even animals) who spend a lot of time together begin to look alike, and there was definitely a resemblance between them now while they wore identical expressions of bafflement.

Magister Fardawn folded his arms across his chest and addressed Dame Cloudbreaker in a most gentle what in the name of the Light are you thinking voice: “Have you a prognosis from a medical professional? A second opinion? A list of witnesses or evidence? Do you realize that your so-called solution might destroy the possibility of any evidence coming to light in the future?”

Ysani’s eyes–eye?–flicked to Magister Brightwind for a moment, then back to Fardawn. “Well, yes, sir. I do realize that.” She paused. It was a very long, awkward pause, in which Ysani stared at Fardawn, both magisters stared at Ysani, and Fenniel avoided eye contact with everyone in the room. Magister Fardawn began a mental count of the silence and once it reached ninety, he shrugged. “All right.”

Fenn fanned himself with the collar of his shirt. “Um, that’s it?”

“Sure. It’s been a slow year. Elissa, would you be a dear and write up the paperwork for us?”

Elissa tilted her head to one side. “Sure.” She reached into her robes and drew out a small pad of paper and pen. “What would you like her to be like after re-education? I always thought she could use a little attitude adjustment, myself.”

“Uh. Well. Um.” Fenn’s fanning increased in speed. “She used to be quite nice. When I was a kid.”

“Mm. Moderate regression, if possible.” While she jotted down notes, Lorannis helped Ysani lift the woman into the nearest chair. Within twenty minutes, Cersei, having been examined for potential of recovery (the magisters agreed that ‘unlikely’ was an adequate guess and made it official in her forms) was taken away on a floating stretcher from the storeroom while Lorannis gave the two visitors a laundry list of instructions for the care of a freshly re-educated soul.

“Just wait here in the lobby to pick her up when we’re finished. Shouldn’t take more than, hrm– three, four hours. Depends on what kind of mess we find in there. I’ll send Elissa back to let you know how it’s going, but don’t leave, because we’re off at seven and breakfast won’t be eating itself. One way or another, she’s your problem at dawn.” He left them sitting with their eyes wide and jaws slack while he caught up to his partner, trying to recall the one specific incident that got the infamous Cersei assigned to swamp duty and finding himself unable to pin it down.

Magister Brightwind waited for him in the white room with the spare set of instruments set out on a tray. “I haven’t done one of these in ages, have you?”

“Nope,” he said, and grinned. “And here I thought it was going to be a dull evening.”

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