"Learning to See"
The first thing Annalee learned was
why the Sequestered Seer
was in fact sequestered.
The Diadem of Dreams and Thorns
was a powerful artifact, and
She'd gotten lost in the gardens,
she'd gotten lost in the halls,
and once she'd even gotten lost
in her own suite of chambers --
all because at any moment she
could lose her grip on the nearby
and tumble into the flow of knowledge.
"Familiar places help," said the head gardener,
leading Annalee out of the roserie.
"Familiar people help," said a novice,
guiding her through the halls.
"Control here gives you control within,"
said the maid, walking her around the room.
They brought her more journals written
by previous Seers, and that helped too.
Sitting in the window, reading, Annalee
could learn what was expected of her
and not worry about getting lost again.
She still didn't understand how to live
as a woman, even though she was one,
because everyone had insisted she was
a man until the Diadem said otherwise.
Sometimes she still felt like a fraud,
a man in women's clothes, wearing
a sadly deluded artifact like a crown.
When her growing hair touched her shoulders,
the unfamiliar tickle drove her mad for days,
until the Diadem gently touched her mind
with an image of a fashion from a century ago:
a net of delicate lace to hold the hair up until
it grew long enough to braid out of the way.
Annalee was so overwhelmed that she cried.
The worried novices drew close around her,
patting her hands and fetching handkerchiefs,
until she finally calmed down enough to explain.
Then they sent for a lacemaker from the city
and a book of historic fashions from the library,
so that Annalee could point out what she needed.
The book was a beautiful thing, with a cover
of leather titled in gilt, thick with illustrations
colored in red and blue and green.
Annalee enjoyed looking through what had been;
it helped her feel more comfortable with what was now.
She showed the lacemaker the hair net she wanted,
and within a few days received one to hold up her hair,
which improved her mood immensely.
It was then that the Diadem whispered to her,
You are not alone, and showed Annalee the others
like herself scattered across the land.
She knew how hard it was to survive, and so
she spoke to the novices and said, "Pass the word
that anyone whose body is not the same as their heart
may come to the temple and we will find them work here."
She was learning to see, not just problems, but solutions.