Zeeat has spent her life in contemplation, education and empathy. Given a chance to join the Citadel to learn what she is completely capable of, she takes the opportunity to move to her next level of experience.
In Citadel Morganti, she learns to use the peculiar structure of her mind for the benefit of those around her until the day she is selected for an espionage mission.
Minders have been going missing, and Zeeat is going undercover to find out where.
Her life, sanity and sense of self are all hanging in the balance as she takes on the mastermind of Ikappi.
Zeeat closed the book and got to her feet, slipping out of the nursery while her charges slept. It was her last night on Jiankani. The next morning, she was joining the Citadel.
She set the book back on the shelf in the study and went to the kitchen. The lady of the house was sitting and having tea.
“Are they asleep?”
Zeeat smiled and sat next to Madame Yumant. “They are.”
“Thank you for your service, Aba Zeeat. You leave at dawn?”
“Yes. I have said my goodbyes to the little ones. They are ready for my replacement.”
Madame sighed. “You were the best nanny that we have had.”
“The abbey will send a new aba in the morning. They will be settled in by evening. You won’t be inconvenienced.”
“You were not a convenience to use, Aba Zeeat, you were as close to family as we could have imagined from the abbey.”
Zeeat chuckled. “Yes, it is funny how it worked out. I have enjoyed the last few years with you, but the Citadel is the right place, though I don’t know why they want me.”
“It doesn’t matter why. This is a step forward that will take you to the stars and beyond.”
Zeeat sipped her tea and sat in the warm silence with the lady of the house. “I look forward to the adventure. I am sure I will figure things out once I get there.”
“You usually do. The master will speak with you before you leave, but I am guessing you were expecting that.” Madame’s face drew into a frown.
“He does usually rise early. It would not be out of character for him to be awake when I am taken to the port.”
Madame Yumant got to her feet and left the kitchen.
With a slight grimace, Zeeat got to her feet and cleaned up the cups and the pot. She retired to her small room and removed her habit.
A lifetime in the abbey had taught her obedience, self-possession and humility. Her time in the Yumant household had shown her a life that was never to be hers.
The children she watched over could have been relatives if their society allowed such relationships. As it stood, the man who had fathered her had chosen her as the mentor and educator of his contracted children. It was an honour as such things go, and she had executed her duties with all enthusiasm.
The Citadel recruiter had been Madame Yumant’s idea. Zeeat accepted that the master had ignored Madame’s opinion. She didn’t like having her husband’s child under her roof.
Wrapping herself in her role as aba was her only means to draw a line between herself and the family. Her robes and gowns were sober grey, and she kept her hair scraped back in a severe bun. It was not easy with her natural pastel locks, but she tried to keep herself as sombre as possible.
She would miss the children, but in the morning, her life was going to start anew and she would have a chance to remake herself. If she knew what the Citadel’s plan for her was, she might have slept a little easier.