Blocks of polished gray-black granite shot with silvery flecks form the walls and vaulted dome of this chamber, inset with high, narrow windows composed of multiple small panes of crackled glass. The chamber's walls form most of a circle, flattened on the only inside wall, where a single door leads to the rest of the tower. Nooks the size of small rooms are set against the walls at various heights, many unreachable save by flight or ladder, most furnished to serve various different purposes study, sleeping, reading, and so forth. Light gauzy curtains may be drawn before the assorted sections, to screen them for privacy. On the main floor, a ring of comfortable ivory-hued seats, in various styles and types to suit different species, along with small matching side tables, surround like satellites a central dais hidden by a blue-green drape. The "Procession" theme continues in the hanging ceramic braziers tinted silver, descending in a graceful arc from crystal-accented black velvet ropes fastened to the ceiling. On close inspection, other dark ropes are visible, crossing from various points on the walls and ceiling, though their purpose is not readily apparent. Arc-shaped black floor candelabras glitter with similar dangling crystals, providing additional lighting for the chamber after sundown.
A black-furred Eeee sits in one of the chairs around the dais, the fading light after sunset still glowing through the crackled glass windows, casting long shadows across the chamber. The braziers high above remain unlit, and the glow from the candelabra beside his chair makes the rest of the room seem gloomy and cavernous by comparison with the small oasis of light by which he reads. A knock comes at the door, and he stands, putting aside his book to open it.
A slightly worn-looking Aeolun stands outside the door, and bows to Cyprian when he opens it. "Hello, Mage Cyprian. I'm glad you could see me. Please excuse me if I'm a little late. I wasn't dropped off as close to the Guild Hall as I would have liked, and ran the rest of the way back."
Cyprian quirks one eyebrow, then bows to her, and in the same smooth motion stands aside and gestures for her to enter. "I see, Mage Envoy. I am pleased to see you in no worse condition. There was some concern over your … ah … visit to the Yodhblakat, though I was given to understand that it was more or less voluntary on your part, despite appearances."
Envoy makes her way to one of the chairs and collapses into it. "Well, it's all part of Blakat's final challenge. I have to teach the Yodhblakat a new kind of sport, and make it interesting enough to increase Blakat's popularity. Then she'll let me take the challenge in the Dream Realm so I can hopefully defeat her. According to Morpheus, the mages are trying to rush the ritual to get it completed before they're discovered."
Jerking upright, Envoy turns the Eeee and says, "Oh! One more thing … I need to get a message sent to the Mages' Guild on Rephidim as quickly as possible. Is that something you can arrange?"
"The scryer, Mage Dikyri, ought to be able to send that for you, if it's important," the black mage answers. "She usually sends and receives messages once per day. I gather much has changed since we last met, but your dreams remain haunted by our … good friends." He offers a wry smile. "I've had some of the story from various sources, but your dealings with the Red Warrior sound stranger than most."
Envoy nods. "Blakat is … odd. Still, I think we might be able to deal with Sunala without challenging her at all! The Yodhbarada have given me enough information to make a good guess of where her weakness is, and the key is on Rephidim."
"Probably," Envoy adds, grinning. "It's worth finding out, in any case."
The Eeee returns to his own chair and sinks into it, wings flicking out to either side of its high, narrow back. "That would be fortuitous," he comments. "Of all the Kindly Ones, she is the one I would think most dangerous save, perhaps, the Beautiful Lady. But I think you are all too familiar with her more subtle risks." His expressive green eyes cloud briefly.
"I didn't find much subtlety in them, actually," Envoy says, and slumps back into her chair. "But she is the reason I'm here to see you. When I broke her possession of me, the parts of me that she controlled were also … broken. I've regained my motor control, but my magic ability is stillsomewhat suppressed. I was hoping you could find out how bad the damage was, and if it could be repaired."
The mage nods. "Suppressed?" Cyprian inquires. "I understood that you were neither able to activate nor sense magic?"
"Yes," Envoy says. "But I can tell the ability is still there, just … blocked. I don't know how to reconnect it to my mind."
"How can you tell that it's still there?" the bat asks, voice curious. "If you can explain it."
"I can still work and sense magic in the Dream Realm," Envoy explains. "I haven't suffered any physical damage that would account for the loss of this ability in normal life, either. Is there any sort of diagnostic you could perform to find out for sure?"
"In the dream realm, I can sense the minds of those dreaming around me, and distinguish them from dream-realm creations," the Eeee says, soberly. "I would not necessarily correlate powers possessed in dreams however generated with ones you should have in reality. But, certainly, there are steps I can take to isolate the problem. Before we begin, I understand you are not able to fly, either?"
Envoy nods again. "I fractured my wings during the escape from Inala's Temple. They'll be healed in another day or so, and then I can start exercising them."
Cyprian nods again. "Ah. I heard something about numbness in them that might be mind-related, but it sounds like that may be fixing itself." He stands and walks to the dais, pulling aside the drape to reveal a platform around nine feet in diameter, with a smaller runic circle inlaid in silver tiles on its base. "Let's get started, shall we? Your recuperative powers remain unchanged by your ordeal, I gather?"
"So far they seem to be normal," Envoy says, and approaches the circle. "Or as normal for me as can be expected."
The mind mage gestures to the circle. "Step inside, make yourself comfortable, I'm sure you know the drill. This will take some time. And some blood. We'll use mostly yours, if you don't mind, since you'll recover it faster than I would, and your main problems sound more mental than physical." He tosses a few cushions and pillows from a nearby sofa into the circle. "Be sure that nothing touches the runes of the circle once you settle yourself."
Carefully, Envoy settles herself on the cushions so as not to touch any of the runes. "How much blood do you need?" she asks the Eeee.
The mage pulls a concealed drawer out from the base of the dais, and begins laying out candles, small vials, and a silver dish the size of his palm. "Not much. Around three ounces. Some of mine, some of yours; ratio is not important."
"I'll have to have some meat for dinner then I suppose," Envoy says, and rolls up one of her sleeves.
The candles in the arc-shaped stand have burned most of the way down, and with sun long vanished below the horizon, the chamber is steeped in gloom, only the glowing green eyes of the mind mage brilliant in the darkness, kneeling inside the runic circle beside the prone form of the Aeolun. Then, even that light fades out, as Cyprian's long chant finally ends. Envoy sees the faint outline of his head shaking, as he stands and reaches for a nearby flask.
"Are you alright?" the Aeolun asks, hoping the Eeee just has a dry throat from all of the chanting.
The Eeee mage nods, not pausing as he downs the liquid. "Fine," he answers after a moment, his voice raspy from long use. He rubs a hand over his face. "You've done quite a number on yourself, Mage Envoy," he says, at last. "I'm surprised you're doing as well as you seem to be." He pauses again, then adds, "I found signs of your magical abilities."
Envoy perks up at the news. "So the damage isn't irreparable?"
She hears the rustling of robes as the Eeee mage shifts to the edge of the dais, legs dangling of the side. For a long moment, he makes no other sound, then repeats, "Irreparable?" Another silence. "I don't know," he finally admits. "Given what you are … yes, it's probably reparable."
"You don't sound very confident," Envoy says, sounding a bit disappointed. "Has this sort of thing ever even happened before?"
"Where a person has managed to effect her own exorcism, without the use of magical powers? Yes," the Eeee mage answers. "I dug through the archives and consulted the resident Spirit mage on the matter earlier today. Managed to come up with three cases. One who died insane, another who never regained control of most of her body, and a third who suffered no ill effects whatsoever. I'm sure there are more examples, in two thousand years of College history. But that was all I turned up on a cursory search." He shakes his head. "Damn Ssrithiri," he hisses softly.
Envoy blinks at the curse. "What has the former Dean of Dreams to do with this?"
"Ah … " The black bat rests his palms against the dais. "Were it not for him and his 'Dean's Privilege', Mage Hymu would have had you exorcised on the spot. That's not without risks, either, but I've never heard of a case as extreme as this … There are pieces of you that are just missing, Envoy. Parts of your personality, who you were, that I remember from the times we've met before, and couldn't find any signs of this time." He sighs. "Perhaps I am fussing unduly. I wasn't inspecting your mind for that sort of damage, specifically."
The Aeolun shifts a bit uncomfortably at this news. "Missing?" she asks, sounding worried. "I can't split into Aspects anymore, but … they were mental exercises in the first place a way of defining parts of my mind so I could try to control it better. If they are gone though, do you suppose Inala still has them somehow?"
The lines of the mage's wings block the candle flames briefly as he shrugs. "It's possible, I suppose. There's really nothing to compare these dream rituals to. But it doesn't seem quite that way … more like … " He stops, gathering his thoughts. "Sometimes, if a man takes severe damage to his brain, it'll wipe out parts of his memory, or control over his body. That's what this reminds me of. Severe trauma, to the point where structures have been not just damaged, or impaired, but actually destroyed. That's … much harder to fix."
Envoy thinks about this. "Any damaged neurons will have regenerated by now, so it would just be a matter of re-imprinting them with the correct information from my own memory, wouldn't it?" she asks.
"Assuming you still have the correct information elsewhere, yes. I don't know how much redundancy you expect your memory to have, under normal circumstances … but my impression from examining you is that … ah. It's not enough. You've lost a great deal," Cyprian says, softly, "and I could not find most of it, even lurking in places hard to access."
"My active memory may be damaged, but my unbuffered data-store shouldn't be affected … but I don't think it can be reached by magic," Envoy says. "I'm really not sure how much of my brain beneath the cerebral cortex layer is amenable to magic at all, since it is … more mechanical than organic." After a few more moments of thought, she asks, "What do you think can be done, then?"
The bat pushes off from the platform, walking to the candelabra and snuffing out the stubs remaining, one by one. "I will not pretend to understand all that goes on in an Exile's mind or body. If the spirit that possessed you has, in fact, taken these pieces of you away with her, that might be cause for hope at least then, you would have someone to get them back from. If not … ah. I do not have access to the appropriate materials, here, but on Caroban it might be possible to restore or re-create enough of what you have lost to enable you to practice magic again. As you stand now, my lady, I fear you would not even be able to re-train from the beginning in the ability you've lost. You had a piece of you that understood magic, that knew how it felt and worked. That part is gone."
Envoy wraps her arms around herself and frowns. "Well … I'll just have to hope Morpheus can be freed before the ritual is completed, then. He is the one most likely to succeed in any repair of my mind, if I can't do it on my own."
"As you say. He has helped you before and may be able to do so again." The mage replaces the extinguished candles with fresh ones, re-lighting them as he does so. "If not … Well, there is always the College. I should like to have another look at you in a week's time. Given your peculiar nature, the passage of time may turn up new information. At the least, it would let me guess as to whether or not you will recover on your own."
Envoy stands up, and smiles to the Mind Mage. "I will do my best to survive that long then."