Math is awakened from his daydreams by the gentle knock of a knuckle on fine, aged wood. Although he has been leaning over a manuscript handed to him by a very well-placed employee of the judicial office of the Curia, his eyes have long given up on their reading. The news of the investigation are many and conflicting and altogether too silly to be true. The Council’s Eye, Ewá Nanã, must be working overtime not only to make her report, but also to manage to befuddle the many spies that the Archons have working for them, so that she can ensure that all observations are as impartially beneficial to their needs as possible.
She is proving better than expected, he thinks.
He rubs his eyes and blinks once or twice to refocus his vision. The soft knock registers again.
“Enter already!” he orders with a slight note of irritation.
The door to Math’s study opens to let in an unexpected guest. Her golden hair falls braided over her left shoulder, decorated with purple and red blossoms that seem to loll in the soft breeze that her motion causes. The beautiful dress that leaves her shoulders bare and covers the rest of her elegantly-shaped figure in soft browns and greens rustles as she moves, planting whispers of fabric in the echoes of her steps.
“Is this a bad time for a visit?” she asks with a voice that is like Spring blooming on a snowy day.
The sight of her makes Math smile. Carefully, he puts the document he had been reading in a desk drawer before rising to greet her.
“Ah, Lady Lyria!” he says warmly as he walks over to her and takes her hand in friendship. “It truly has been too long since you have graced this house with your presence.”
The obvious show of etiquette in that line makes her giggle, in that innocently malicious way that is so unique to Lyria. “I am flattered that my presence has been missed, my Lord Archon,” she replies in kind, bowing her head. “Surely, so many great personalities step foot in these sacred halls that my simple soul could easily be forgotten.”
Math chuckles, moving to the small table where a jar of Ambrosia and a few glasses always sit. “From head to toe, there is nothing of simple in you, Lyria, albeit all the things that could easily go amiss,” he says while he pours her a glass. “And please, have we not known each other for long enough? This ‘Lord Archon’ silliness is beneath you, regardless of with whom you choose to share your bed.”
“Not just a bed, Math. A life,” she responds.
“Does he have one of those?” Math asks with a smile as he tries to keep the slightest of traces of bitterness from his voice. “One could never tell.”
Another giggle from Lyria. “Oh, little soul, you were always so quaint. There is more life in death than death in life.” Her tone suddenly becomes smoother, more serious as she accepts the drink Math offers and adds, “I should know. The road never ends, really. It simply just…reaches a turning point where all great choices can be made.”
“And how do your choices find you, dear goddess?” the god asks, raising his glass in a silent cheer.
“Glad of them, my friend,” Lyria says, raising her glass in return before taking a sip of her drink. “You have met my daughter.”
Math nods, smiling at the subtle question implied in that statement. “Of course and what a rare sight she is,” he notes, walking to his desk and pretending to examine a document as he adds, “None of your creations could ever rival her. In the solemn elegance of her beauty and the graceful etiquette of her demeanor, you have sculpted your most worthy successor.”
He raises his eyes just in time to see her expression darken for the tiniest fraction of a second. The vision pleases him immensely.
Yes, I have met her. And her eyes looked right through me to see where my intentions lie. And if you did not teach her that, then you surely made certain she would learn. And then she was left alone to keep her creations safe and she grew up and surprised you. If only the sculpture hadn’t found a will of her own, eh goddess? he thinks with wicked delight. If only she could be kept under lock and key until her unique abilities became necessary. If only they weren’t mine to keep now.
“She has much of her father in her,” Lyria says, and the way her words break Math’s train of thought makes them sound almost like a warning. “Even if she fights him, they could not possibly be more alike.”
“Would she send a daughter into the arms of a stranger for her own gain, then?” Math asks in conversational tones.
When the goddess answers with nothing but silence, he uses it to take a sip of his drink and add, “Did you?”
Lyria shakes her head slowly, putting her glass down on the little table that holds the jar of Ambrosia from which Math has served them both. “Arion was a mistake from the very beginning, one I tried to stop from happening.” She smiles sweetly at the archon, as if resigned to her failure. “Alas, Alma is a willful creature.”
“Something else she takes after her father?” Math questions, crossing the distance between himself and Lyria to pick up her glass and refill it. “If I remember it correctly, you were the very definition of willfulness at her age. Life itself in the shape of a woman. Strong…“ He offers her the now full glass. “Vibrant…passionate.”
“Impatient…” Lyria notes with a sly grin as she raises the glass to her lips. “Impervious to mind games.”
Math grins back for a short moment. There she is. My Lyria has come out to play. Now we can talk.
“Do you believe your daughter is still faithful to Arion?” he asks without missing a heartbeat.
“I do, for the worst of her sins,” the goddess replies. “In all the years they have been apart, she has yet to pick a new companion. Perhaps in consideration to what happened the last time she fell in love. Why do you ask?”
“She may have found a new one in my nephew, Gwydion,” Math explains. “They have been quite…close during their time here.”
Lyria looks confused for a moment. “Gwydion? Oh, Eidon’s son!” She puts her hands together in joy. “He does take after his mother! Those beautiful hazel eyes used to be the downfall of the First Ring male population.” Her expression darkens for an instant. “It truly was a tragedy what happened to her. That the young boy had to grow without a mother…how awful.”
“I feared he had grown without a heart,” the Archon concedes, putting his glass down on the table and taking Lyria’s glass to put it down as well. “Lately, however, he seems to be changed. Not much, but enough that I could notice a difference.”
The goddess smiles at this, touching Math’s white-bearded cheek with a gentle hand. “How blessed can one be, to be taught to care?” she says softly as her thumb strokes his skin. “One can change a life that easily, save a soul almost by accident.”
“Or doom it without remedy,” the archon notes just as softly.
“You have always been so negative, Math!” Lyria retorts in irritation, walking away from him. “Why see anything wrong in two young souls finding companionship in each other? And after all, it is perfectly normal for the boy to want to know more about his parents.”
Math’s senses tingle at her words. “What are you saying?”
“Did you not know?” Lyria asks, turning back to face him, her expression holding as much confusion as his. “Alma and Gwydion have visited my Hall of Records and looked up a couple of entries.”
Math’s eyes widen for a moment, caught off guard as he is by the revelation. “Why would you allow them to do so?”
“My dear, I wasn’t even there,” the goddess replies with a hint of concern. She moves closer to him. “Did you not know them to have left captivity?”
“I…I thought they were there to visit with you,” the god states. “What entries did they look up?”
The inquiry is unnecessary. In his mind, he already knows.
“Gwydion’s and your own,” Lyria replies nonetheless.
“What did they find?”
“There is nothing to find, little soul. Nothing more than smears on old pages,” the goddess says, tracing the lines on Math’s seasoned face with a finger. “Secrets can be quite consuming, Math. Destructive too. You might want to consider revealing them before it is too late.”
“I would challenge you to reveal your own first, Lyria,” the archon replies taking her hand and raising it to his lips.
Lyria laughs at the challenge. “Why would I ever keep secrets of my own, my dearest friend?” she asks as she allows him to guide her out of the study. “There is already so much work to do in keeping other people’s secrets.”