Chapter III:37

Always it seems we come back to this,
a moment of loss, in an avoided kiss,
always rehash the moves unmade,
the fatal flaw in the roles we played,

always these things come back to mind,
as it all crumbles, and we run out of time,
always I wonder what might have been,
had I not stepped away, from you my friend.

– unattributed, circa 210 E.R.

Traitor’s Sorrow

Laeur 18th, 655 E.R.

“Hey goldie,” said a man outside a jail cell, banging on the bars with his boot. “You’ve got friends, come to vouch for you, and put down money for your release.”

Liora just laid there, an arm over her eyes.

The jailer banged on the bars a few more times.

“I don’t have friends, so I’ll stay right where I am, thank you.”

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Chapter III:36

Oh what winds we’ve sown to bitter ends,
Oh what storms we’ve reaped my friends,
Oh for all the fortunes we might’ve gained,
Oh was it worth it, this withering reing?

– Heirs of Ruin, 34 E.R.

The Sown Winds

Laeur 18th, 655 E.R.

“A little girl?” Katrisha demanded incredulously.

“Of all the things to get disbelieving over?” Kiannae countered irritably. “Strange things, growing in the dark, shadowy apparitions that might be either, or neither of us. Then another turns into…this.” She nodded down. “The fact they took Zale in there, and I can’t do a cursed thing about it. All because one of us – of all things you say it was Wren – made that insufferable maze. Of course he did, and the little girl, that looks like him, this is what’s too far? We know he wasn’t always a he. We know mother has touched this power, and she is in him.”

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Chapter III:35

For every lock there is opening to fasten shut,
for every hiding place a thing great or terrible,
the grander the guard the greater the value,
of keeping a thing where it so securely be,

beware the palace and the dungeon below,
high walls and deep halls, prisons for kings,
beware the buried chest midst forest greens,
where wisp has led you be dangerous things.

– The Locksmith’s Warning, circa 20 B.E.

A Twisted Path

Laeure 7th, 656 E.R.

Wren lay on his back staring up at a gray winter sky, heavy flakes falling all around. Etore was circling, snow crunching under boot. Snow had barely cushioned his fall, and done far more to contribute to it. Cold, wet, and uncomfortable his aching head and back still made him not want to move. Taking stock as a healer was a thin excuse to lay there a moment, even if he wasn’t quite buying it himself.

A slight weight on his chest was strange, a feeling half there, like a shadow of a memory. Like one of his mother’s, a past that wasn’t his intruding on a present that was. It wasn’t hers though, he was oddly sure of that, nor was it long ago or far away. The pacing footsteps stopped, and a red-headed Osyraen looked down over him. For just a moment he saw the wrong one. Long thick coils of a bright crimson stood out even in the cold light, and not the dark well tended bun he expected.

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Chapter III:34

None can know the very hour or the day,
when all we have known shall pass away,
none can know what brings the storm,
a darkness carries light to a world torn,
none can stand where all things fall,
nor resist to move towards its call,
tis the end where all visions converge,
and a warning too few have heard.

– The Black Book, circa 10 E.R.

Beyond the Eye

One expects a great many things the day after a god is reborn. The snow to melt, and everyone to go on like nothing happened, should be much higher on that list. It was a day, almost like every other day. No more than a thread that tore long before the whole unraveled. Maybe some heard that first snap, or felt something and checked, only to find little of note. Most didn’t notice a thing. Breakfasts were ordered and eaten, shops opened, and meetings called to committee.

It was a day that started with an angry, tall woman glaring down at a seer on a couch. The woman nervously shuffled her cards, unsure what she could have done differently. The shield and the sun still wanted to be drawn. The cards hadn’t changed, but their directions and meaning were much less certain. Between them stood The Child, and Adria could see it all in her mind. Below them The Storm, to the right hand The Dog, still reversed, and to the left The Chamberlain. The Moon or the Queen could stand as the key, each in her noblest face.

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Chapter III:33

Oh what hath I known oth the,
of this life two eyes hath seen,
oh what faith hath mortal had,
of any great god’s fool plan,

there I brushed aside her veil,
there glory inside did swelled,
there I laid languid finger tips,
there brought two longing lips,

Oh what hath I known oth the,
of this life two eyes hath seen,
oh what glory had one known,
till I shared with her my home,

by the southern sea we stayed,
there lived as though we may,
yet endure a thousand years,
for each tomorrow never fear…

– A Thousand Years, 50 B.E.

The Thinning Veil

Jovan 31st, 655 E.R.

Katrisha sat staring at pieces of a stellar simulation that had flow apart. Only the orbit of Thaea and her moon remained largely intact.

“Are you really going to fuss with that all night?” Kiannae demanded.

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Chapter III:32

Opine if thy will upon the invariable wandering stars,
what follow courses through houses named for ours,
periods so known and refuse err to come to change,
though all we know of worldly attraction seems vain,

oh ponder the ephemeral shifting winds there above,
swirling Thaean seas beyond each sovereign shore,
in changing without end they change not in the least,
more choice thought and will, hath the common beast,

these other fates we stand there so solemnly between,
seeking reason in these unthinking things we’ve seen,
they can tell us not the least of who we mortals are,
not sea, nor storm, no twinkling forlorn light ever far,

at best the stars are but the vast scale of measure,
at which the sum of human folly might come together,
at worst the elements with intemperate fickle ways,
tell of how far from true natures, we might ever stray.

– The Three Fates, 93 E.R.

The Fate of Suns

Jovan 31st, 655 E.R.

Katrisha was bothered, standing at the first crossroad in the Drifts. Everything that they faced hung on her, and yet the simple fact Adria had stayed away kept intruding. Which was fine, she was her own keeper, didn’t mean it didn’t leave Katrisha with an annoying ache inside. She didn’t like being alone.

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Chapter III:31

What anointed in darkest infamy,
cannot to hallowed ends ever be,
what desecrated in sealed law,
cannot profane purpose so resound,

these halls are a twisted ground,
stones in blood there were drowned,
oh call me not a superstitious man,
but I’d put my seat in other lands.

– the Black Book, as carved on a foundation stone, Lower Court, Mordove, circa 20 E.R.

Courting Shadows

Jovan 29th, 655 E.R.

“Please put those away,” Katrisha said with irritation, as Adria closed the door behind them.

The woman winced, stopped shuffling, and put the cards in their box. She set it on a nearby dresser, slid the lid closed, and looked up again. “I’m sorry.”

“You mean well, I think. I know. Fates, I want to be mad at you, and I know how clever you are, and how calculated every move you make is. Fates, it makes me so angry to know how much you mean well, and what lengths you will go to, to do the right thing. You will betray me, to save me. What does that even mean?”

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