The oven clock said my half past dark was in fact just one hour past sunset. The oven light was more than enough, especially when I knew exactly where everything was stashed. Sunset? I must have slept the day around. No, I’d woken up once and again for a glass of water.
I’d had the foresight to cook in advance. Cold chicken fresh off the bone, soda biscuits with unsalted butter, stir-fry curried vegetables warmed in the microwave, more chicken and soda biscuits, milk, sliced plum tomatoes, and finally rum raisin ice cream with chocolate fudge crumbles did just fine.
Soon I was going to go back to sleep. The healing matrix said not-quite-dawn as my drift from slumber moment. Was there anything I really had to do first? The very slightest bit of telepathy, no matter how dizzy it left me, confirmed ponies and barn-cats were all safe. I already knew that, but I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to realize I’d checked once that my pets were well. The ponies would want currycombing tomorrow. Dishes were rinsed and in the dishwasher. Counters were bare. I dragged myself up my stairs.
My garb? It was in the closet, absolutely clean, not a stitch out of place. Clean? After what happened to me? That must have been the Namestone, insisting that the Bearer always looks perfect. In fact, when I met Valkyria, my garb had been immaculate, down to the flawless drape of my cape. I’d remembered to flare the cape so the video audience could see my sigil, the moon occulting the sun.
Namestone? Safe in its hidey-hole. Anything else? Rules engines, your opinions? The usual warning is that you can carry one rules engine ‘Marksman on how to shoot’, or if you’re really good a second ‘Medico on how to use your healing matrix’, but if you try carrying four rules engines you go bats. Mum taught me how to break that limit. I’m a working demonstration. I have like fifty of them floating around, actually not inside my head where they’d cause problems, all being called at once. My rules engines all had something they wanted to tell me, but mostly they cancelled. The ones on buying and running a house were pretty calm. The emergency priority flag rose above ‘Psychist – going bats for fun and profit’. The Lesser Maze was too much for almost anyone. I was building up pressure again about Mum.
Everything I now had, I’d earned for myself. From Mum, the Maze, and aftermath I’d learned the most important lesson there can be: Never trust anyone. Not ever! Not anyone! For a moment bitter tears overwhelmed me. I washed my face, noticed I was getting cold from standing in bare feet, and went to bed. Curled up under my quilt, I drifted off, to sleep, perchance to dream.