I had tried to put it out of my mind, that I could swear to. But ideas were like the Norsewoman's mangy... Never mind. I felt a cold sweat on my forehead--I was shocked to find I had not noticed it developing. I threw off my multi-coloured furs and stood quickly, trying to air out my damp body. Clutching a hot mug of aja tea close to my breast, I felt myself quivering uncontrollably, as the machines on my makeshift workspace shook from their miniature endjinns. These books, piled up high like a monument to democracy, they cannot fulfill my purpose. I rubbed my eye absently. Each one was now as a sister to me, yet I keep hoping one will offer new secrets, will have by osmosis remembered the knowledge of the book kept adjacent to it or a shelf below. I have to hope, or the knowledge will never be uncovered, and the knowledge will never be preserved and savoured.
And hope is deserving, has been deserving. Just last week, the proudest vehicle-owner on Texel, Lambo, showed up from Iris-knows-where to offer his service. Our midnight raven, Lambo explained, set up a foundation that preserved all photographic evidence of the Texelites. I'd realised in the past that the machinery of our Gaia could never rival the machines of the Exos, but it was not until after the Exos' defeat that I realised magic could combine with Exo technology to create such incredible endjinns and tools. Castletown wasn't built in a day, but Slight Complication was--out of the imagination of a few creative gurus. Gazing out of my window I saw the perpetual bright sky of the compressed city. That was a kink they had yet to iron out, but the Wikia Foundation and the computing machines I used were flawless. I could hardly believe what I was hearing when I was told I could collate the history of Texel in a magical place that was accessible from anywhere, assuming one had a computing machine like mine. I had a great foundation stone set by the defenders of ages past, and presenting knowledge in an easy to understand manner soon became second nature.
But the history, the culture, so much of it is lost. I dropped to a squat, resting my backside almost on my ankles as I hugged myself one arm-edly. The war was over, and I should be grateful. How could I though, when I knew that entire battles and adventures have been lost to time, and that us defenders will soon be exiled from the world they so adore? What a bitter romance we've suffered.
It was some time before I noticed the presence of another in my makeshift study. It was odd how so powerful a presence could mask themselves to the point of appearing ordinary. You expect to feel a gentle pressure on your mind, alerting you to the location of a majestic guru, a star pulling you into their gravity--but here stood Tchanki the Amberling, wearing a peasant's gown and waiting patiently for me to recognise him. "It is so wonderful to see you, Tchanki who has been Fancha who--"
"Elise, I've told you before! Please, no formalities."
"Oh, but I do so enjoy them. I wish I had past or future evolutions that defined who I was, rather than being named by my trade."
"And what again is the trade of 'circuiting', in your world?"
I was truly pleased for a moment, but my smile quickly lost its sheen. "I cannot complete it, Tchanki. Our losses are too great. I will never recover the knowledge lost after the New Year Celebrations--nor if I had access to such knowledge would I have the time to coordinate it all in the Defender's Wikia before I had to leave."
An incomprehensible expression flitted across Tchanki's face--but that was a frequent occurrence. Not many Texeli were as old as he that they grew solidly white hair, and so he was oft indecipherable in his manners and his emotions.
"Even distracted as I am I have still felt the impact of the defenders' neglect. The moon has passed from a full sphere to a sliver and still no one calls for the defenders' aid. It should be time to siege the surviving Exo plants and clear but..." My voice cracks and I blink rapidly in the hopes of preventing more tears. I take a sip of my now-cold aja tea to steady myself. "We're no longer needed. And that's fair--we've known this truth for a while. Texeli have had Strategos for many moons now. But it hurts us all to finally have it confirmed."
Tchanki stayed silent for a time, thinking. "There has been a great mistake indeed if even the youngest of the defenders has become jaded so soon. I apologise. When Lifequest asked the Council just yesterday of the delay in arranging a siege party, I had not thought you feared the worst. Please, please know that defenders will always be welcome here, The Idea be damned! Twofers or dotters or humans still, you're all saviours to us Texeli." A tender look crossed his face, recognising more than just my anguish: the fear and grief of an entire community of defenders. "And you can help us for a long time to come."
Relief flodded torrentially through my senses, bringing me an europhic, lightheaded dizziness that was perhaps half-induced by a Bitters-only-diet. "It's not over, yet... There are still adventures to come..." Time to sleep then, I thought. Maybe I'll sleep outside of the Complication tonight, see a real sky with Texelian stars and meteors and Irises.