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Mera: A Byshen Story (ch. 1) by Acton Bell
SUMMARY: Unhoused because of her psychic abilities, Mera must make a new place for herself. Along the way she'll make friends, enemies, and find love. Comments welcome.
"In or out frú?"
And that, Teir Epor Mera said to herself as she stepped out of the way of the hurrying messenger's way, is the question. Do I wish to enter House T'o'lz or remain Outside?
The building itself hardly warranted Mera's soul-searching. Despite its popular designation as the "House of Assassins and Thieves" House T'o'lz's façade was no different than most of Roaninsh's public buildings. The red, rough hewn Byshen stone that composed its four stories was inset with Doric columns that marched across the front of each level. Each of these was topped with capitals carved with T'o'lz's crest, the eclipsed sun. It was true the windows were all darkened so passers-by saw only reflections and not the interior of the House, but all House's in the busy port city had similarly darkened windows. House business was best conducted in privacy.
It was not even the House's business that caused Mera to hesitate. T'o'lz's reputation as the House of Assassins and Thieves was an ancient relic of the time before the Second Migration, when Byshen's High Houses had settled their differences with psychic duels and knives in the night, rather than verbal thrusts and business deals. But Byshen had long memories and the title remained attached to T'o'lz, though its business in general was no different than that conducted by L'u-cif-er or L'ars, albeit on a smaller scale. It provided a service to those who could pay for it. And if that service was providing Negative Psis to serve as mind guards for those in need, so be it.
The question was, was Mera prepared to enter service as a Negative Psi and leave her old life behind?
She sighed. It wasn't a question. She had no choice. Her old life was finished already. T'o'lz was her only option. If they would have her.
She stepped to the door and was nearly bowled over when it was thrust open from the inside.
"Oh!" Mera's gasp of surprise was ignored by the man striding past her. She was forced to kneel and pick up the things that had fallen from her reticule when it was knocked from her hands
As she reached for the last peningur that had fallen from her cracked change purse, the door opened again and a pair of feet adorned in patterned socks and wooden sandals came into view. "May I serve the Hefðarkona?" asked a quiet voice in House Formal to Guest intonation.
Mera could feel the blood warming her cheeks as she raised her eyes to meet the gaze of House T'o'lz's dsk. The face beneath the band that both held back his dark wavy hair and denoted his position in the House was pleasantly unremarkable, though the green eyes were keenly sharp and seemed to be searching her every thought. She had hoped to enter the House with some dignity. Instead she had, in her usual clumsy way, set first impressions against her.
"Thank you," she said, using UnHoused Formal Second to House inflection. There was no use pretending she deserved receiving House Rights. Those were behind her. And unless T'o'lz took her in, she would never receive them again.