No Regrets

by Jessie


Walking in on your own funeral is one of those things you’d have thought would be funny. It isn’t.


Necromancers. Necromancers, and glass, and visions of things. She remembers, last time up in Dream, Locke cowering in fear, and obeying the demands of the Necromancer because he could see something terrible that the rest of the party couldn’t, something that wasn’t there. She remembers feeling scorn, and then some time after that, running from a nameless, formless fear, and afterwards understanding why Locke had done the things he’d done. Neither of them has ever brought it up, since.

She remembers the Labyrinth of selves, the reflection that she did not dread nor fear, that she could neither accept nor reject. She remembers the assassin cowering before his reflection, and gripping his arm with all her strength to keep him from running, from becoming lost. She feared him more than any of the reflections, this man with his bandaged hand, and spiders in his past or future or mind.

She was afraid of the atmosphere of the place, not what she could see. She wanted to lash out, to break the fear, but her friends shouted her down, and her reflection whispered that there are better ways, better ways, and she didn’t dare let go of the assassin’s arm.


She does not fear the peak of Regret. Her choices have all been right. She knows this, fiercely, deep inside. She has always fought for what is right.


Federico’s family retainers block their path. His face twists as he realises the betrayal. Afterwards, she asks him if his family is always like this, and then feels stupid, remember he’s Velasquez.

‘Always,’ he says to her. She smiles.

‘You could lose the name,’ she says. He looks at her hard, and then shakes his head.

‘I still need it,’ he says. ‘For now,’ and she thinks, what use is a family if they’re blocking your path, but she doesn’t say anything more.


Kit stands red-faced and flustered and uncomfortable in her academic robes. It isn’t funny.

‘Do you know how much hassle and expense goes into arranging a funeral?’ she fumes. Adi shrugs, and moves the conversation onto other things.

‘You should go and let yourself be seen,’ Kit says eventually. ‘Clare’s been going around looking as though her world has ended.’ Adi nods.

‘Can you have it announced around college, or something?’ she says.

‘I’ll put something up on the notice board,’ Kit says.

‘But no one ever reads the notice boards,’ Adi says, and Kit has said it too, and they grin at each other. The college doesn’t change, and Adi finds herself suddenly grateful.

She wonders, later, if she shouldn’t let herself be seen elsewhere in town, too. There’s a respectable, non-descript street, in a respectable non-descript area which probably hasn’t changed either.

She’s changed, though. Just as she always wanted to, she’s changed.

She doesn’t regret not going back.


Crushing despair is a new one, she thinks afterwards, with a wry smile. New experiences, isn’t that what she does this for? She doesn’t remember the stories behind most of the scars on her arms – what blood-mage would? – but she’s pretty sure she’ll remember these ones. The memory of it is faint and confused, like something from a dream, but she remembers hopelessness, bleak and grey and unrelenting, and the glass-shards in the bodies seeming an invitation to let the blood flow into the ground, until the despair was all drained away, and the life with it.

But there is always an answer, she thinks, fiercely, deep down. Always a right way out. If you can’t outthink it, you can outfight it, and if you can’t do either, then you can find someone else who can. Despair has no place. And if life has become purposeless, then death should give it meaning. She can imagine throwing herself relentlessly into a lost cause. She can imagine fighting to death, or bleeding to death a sacrifice. But she can’t imagine letting the blood flow, wasted, ever again.

On the whole, having tried both now, she thinks she prefers optimism.


‘He was beautiful,’ Federico tells her, in a low voice. ‘He was beautiful, and his ideas of aesthetics seemed, fortunately, to line up with our own.’ Adi nods, her eyes shining.

‘Why do they call you messiah?’ she asks, though she’s already guessed the answer. He looks at her a long moment.

‘I freed him,’ he says.

She’s elated.

‘Innocence said they belonged to her. She called them the Beautiful Ones. She said that in the beginning, they’d been different.’ The words tumble out of her, and he’s nodding.

‘Those in the East are insane,’ he warns her, and she nods acknowledgement of the warning, but at the same time, she’s thinking that this… this is something more concrete than a vision in Dream.


‘Don’t listen to them!’ she’s screaming at the top of her voice, but all around her is chaos. She grips Phillipe’s arm, telling him it’s not real, it’s not real, over and over again, until she think he’s heard her, and then she turns and starts to fight her way back to Federico, and Phillipe slips out his dagger, just out of reach.

By the time she’s reached him, he’s unconscious. She grabs his dagger, dripping with his blood, and kneels down beside him…

… when she regains consciousness, at first she assumes that she’s overreached herself, trying to save him. She wonders if he’s dead. Then she remembers Arbella, shouting about Innocence, and for long moments, the world is red with her rage and she can hear herself shouting, hit them for gods’ sake just hit them! and the dream-things dissipate under her sword.

Visions, she thinks, why does everyone always believe the damn visions? She wants something solid to lash out at – Arbella’s face would probably cover it.

On the peak of Hope, she’d told Arbella vehemently that she wanted nothing to do with the Bound Ones, that all she wanted to do was know more, to understand, and to complete the mission. Arbella had no reason to think that it was a lie.>

She wonders, briefly, if her Dreams of Chain and Innocence are any different to any of these other visions, and consoles herself in the fact that she hasn’t yet acted, that she’s seeking out more knowledge.


‘You’re not dead,’ says Clare, and she’s shaking.

‘No,’ Adi says. It’s all she can say. She grips Clare’s arms, and there’s a silence, long and awkward. Adi finds herself thinking back to the Glass Woods, to the terrible moment when she’d realised that she was alone. At the time, the possibility that Clare and Locke were dead had flashed briefly through her mind, but she’d pushed the thought aside, pushed on with the task in front of her. And afterwards, she rationalised it – she’d had no way to know where Clare and Locke had fled, and besides, the task at hand was more important. But now, with Clare’s tearful gaze on her face, Adi wonders if the action was right. Ideas should not be more important than people, and some sacrifices are too great to be made, even for the greater good.

She doesn’t know what’s important.

Clare wants contact and comfort, and Adi is prepared to give it, though she wonders if what she offers is what Clare wants. Clare’s death would not rip her heart out, and it is this that makes her feel guilty, almost as much as the pain she has put her through.


She’ll fear the Peak of Regret next time. This she knows.

She could have got to Erica, maybe, if she hadn’t been trying to save Federico.

She doesn’t tell Federico that.

misc/fiction/noregrets.txt · Last modified: 2011/03/31 21:20 by osj01
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