An eternity has passed for me. A week. A season. There is snow on the ground here in Thura, and in the Andalese Highlands the snow is up to the windows of Mountain hold. I have spent much time in the Great Library of the Dragonhorses, and what a wonder it is – rising shelf upon shelf, layer upon layer, story upon story of books, journals, scrolls and maps. I have begun to read of the earliest times of the place and the people who populate it. They, and the place itself, seem not to change – but then, that’s the whole idea – that unbroken continuum.
What has come to interest me, is the journals of women. Real ones. The memoirs of women who have documented their struggles with society and their place within it. Those who have been forced into a place, accepted a place, or tried to carve out a new place – a new environment where there is room for growth, either individual or societal. Some have died for their efforts and many have failed, but none so far have given up, nor can I.
In my first days here I vowed that if this was to be my reality, then it was going to be my mission to enhance that reality. In the journals of these women I have learned that I am not alone. Oddly enough, I find myself occupying multiple positions. I was forced into a place, and I have accepted it, but I am also much of a mind to change things, as well. I have realized that the first necessity of change is acceptance. While that seems a conundrum, for me, it is not. I have had to accept that this is reality, that I am who they say I am, and that I am destined to be the sexual companion of the next Dragonhorse, and for that matter, all the Dragonhorses after him. I have also realized that if I focus only on that aspect of my existence, I will go no further than that. Be no more than that.
I have chanted that small mantra to myself as I fall asleep, as I waken, as I bathe and eat and propel myself to classes. I must focus beyond my failures and my fears. While this transition has not been particularly graceful on my part, it has been in some small sense accomplished. I can focus in class without hearing Kestrel’s voice saying, “Not just any whore, a Dragonwhore!” I can read a book without seeing Dunlin’s face, look out over the sea without searching the horizon for my island home. I am learning the art of compartmentalizing. When I am here at school, I am here. I am “this me”. When I am at Mountain hold, I am “that me”. They are both me, but they cannot exist at the same time. I’m sure that will come, but for now I must be one me at a time.
The one place where I am integrated, is in my resolve to change the lot of women on this planet. Compared to other places, other planets, certainly we are enlightened, but we can do better. We can make better and wiser choices for our citizens and our society. While I am delighted to be studying cartography, I am also realizing that knowing the law and all its nuances would be a big help in my quest, so next round, I am going to begin studying pre-adjudication. Obviously there is no hurry to get finished and out in the world. I wonder how many rounds I can go, seasons and years, before they begin to notice that I have not changed. Of course we Equi live over two hundred years, and that is going up all the time, so maybe it won’t be too noticeable for a while yet.
I need to go and get ready. I have decided to join some of my classmates for an evening of games and conversation. I am nervous, because I’m still trying to weave together a reality that is believable without being a lie … and I’m trying to remember my brother’s strategy for winning Chinks in the Wall. My brother. Harrier was right – those memories are mine. Deep breath, Ah’ren. You can do this.