Chapter VI:5

Do not press through,
until the waters are still,
do not press through,
or what you wish to save,
you will undo,

Oh beautiful prince,
why did you not listen to me?
Oh poor broken man,
this is what you now,
must be,

Oh perhaps the witch might fix you,
but only if as she.

– Notebooks of S.C. Lowes, 450 E.R.

The Wake

Estae 33rd, 1 S.R.

“Let me, get this straight,” a man in the robes of a high cleric, said behind a desk. “You… have happened to acquire around a dozen Assassins, and their ill-bred children. All plucked by chance, from Westend, up north in the Ascension. Then, rather than hand them over to local authorities, you have brought to my shore, on Palentian soil. As if… all of this was not enough, you have the sheer gall, to imply we should… take them in… to be… what? White women, and paladins? Even the women, paladins? On the precedent that some… fool council of seven down in Southern Palentine, gave you the rank. That… somehow explains, how a bunch of fallen women have any business…”

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Chapter VI:4

Obedience is life, evergreen the cry of tyrants.
Does it matter by sharp blade, or cold heart?
To be left to wolves, or lose their heads.
Thieves of life work in myriad device;
– sharp blades, and blunt arms
– poisons, and vitriol
– abandonment, and exile
What then is to be done,
with that we cannot mend?

– The Red Texts, circa 230 E.R.

Exile or Service

Wren stood before a woman in white, spattered with red, his staff in hand, a dead man beside them. He looked down upon her, torn by every possibility he could imagine. All the thing best left unseen, that might lead to that moment. Standing there he felt the staff in his hand could tell him, like a warning. Not one against, but that all things were flawed. A useless warning, really. He knew that more than well enough standing there. He wished he wasn’t, and yet, he would not make that wish. Had he, the warning would have come sooner.

“My Lord,” the woman said. “I’m sorry I’ve failed. I meant to strike the red harlot, that threatened him… but… is she yours?”

“I’m not your lord,” Wren said with restrained venom, but a clenched jaw. He knelt down, and reached for her cheek, but it was covered in two veils. He pulled them away, and she averted her gaze. His gentle grasp turned her face back by the chin, and then the cheek as he first meant to. He felt wrong, even for this, but how could he think of doing what might be needed, and never have looked in her eyes.

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Chapter VI:3

A mouse scurried from an old stilled clock,
quick past the whiskers of a cat in shock,
there up the hem of an old black frock,
and out the low neck, midst silver locks.

A woman turned her eyes from the briny sea,
there a visitor come, she did not believe,
she’d counted days that had passed her by,
by the ticking of a clock, then stopped nearby.

How long have you waited, you precious dear?
How long been left, to such fear?

I do not know, the woman replied,
it all fell away, when you arrived.
Are you death, at last come to call?

Nay, I’ve stayed his hand, until the fall.

Then what is it, you might want with me?

I’ve a plan to share, if you might believe.

– The Mouse, the Witch, and the Window, 421 E.R.

What Winds Might Carry Us

“I’ve been telling you,” Mara said as she sat down with the last plate she was serving. “These stories we keep hearing, the fights the men have been getting in. It started with that Deadwater we hit, and no one could agree on the day.”

Ambrush didn’t look pleased. Orwell looked if anything amused, and started on his soup.

“I can confirm,” Katrisha offered. “There was never a King Theador in Avrale, and the Sisterhood stands protected. By King John’s decree, and cosigned in my hand.”

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Chapter VI:2

How long have you been waiting here?
Too long without a single tear.
How long have you stared out along,
shores from whence a love hath gone?
How long? Too long, it’s been too long.
How long? Too long, I fear he’s gone,
too long.

– Notebooks of S.C. Lowes, 450 E.R.

Insoluble Iniquity

Katrisha caught Liora’s eye outside their rooms, as Kiannae’s door closed.

“What are you still doing out so late?”

“What are you doing back?” Liora countered, with what sounded like a laugh. “I don’t understand you.”

“Do you need to?”

“You, are the one who insists our paths are doomed to cross. Let me admit, it seems you might right. So, yes, I suppose I do, need to understand. Why the Avatar would call you Sister, and Anathema in the same breath. What binds this strange family, of stranger powers. That I, am cursed with the like of.”

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Chapter VI:1

Tick tock, tick tock,
a mouse ran up the clock,
tick tock, tick tock,
wheels did grind and knock,
tick tock, tick tock,
a clock struck none,
a mouse’s job, was done,
tick tock, click clock,
knock.

– The Mouse, the Witch, and the Window, 421 E.R.

The Turning Wheel

The world could easily forget the pitiable end of a mad god. It had larger, flashier concerns, after all. It would take years to enter wider circulation, as even a footnote. One tied to more visible, later events, recording the start of a war.

However it weighed upon the Ashtons, and companions, they had their own uneasy futures. None amongst them truly knew what to make of Estae’s willful sacrifice. Though it proved a strong incentive, to linger no longer than necessary. They had never expected to be welcomed, and what welcome they had received, was no more comforting.

The big things, are oft a distraction from the little, that tell us truths. The reverse can be true as well. What was easily missed in rural lands, from the high towers of the heart of the world, thrummed like a heartbeat. A rhythm, long then short, long then short, and again, till a falter, that warned not all was right.

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Chapter III:70

Press the Argument,
respond with Questions,
retreat the Assertion,
the Premise beckons,

protect the Theory,
advance the line,
don’t take too long,
you’ll run out of time.

– The Black Book, circa unknown

The Gambits of Gods

Kiannae found herself sitting at a chess board. Across from whom exactly, she wasn’t so sure, nor when. Where was more obvious, a west tower chamber, high on Broken Hill. Mercu was strumming an old lute in a window seat.

Everything else was still, the board fresh. She looked up at the figure across from her. Taloe, she settled on, and could almost remember where, and when she should be.

“Are you alright?” Kiannae asked. She was worried, though why was slippery. He’d had trouble she remembered, ever since the Blight. That wasn’t right, but it was true. He gestured to the board.

«This is not now.» Echoed in her head.

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Chapter III:69

All things have mirrors and shadows,
for every darkness there is a light,
hold high the lamp if you please,
for even the Sun, casts the night,

fear not what in darkness hides,
the frightened is the lesser of foes,
beware the thing proud before you,
without fear, its contempt doth show.

– The Foe Ahead, 83 E.R.

The Shadow of the Sun

A grizzled, old High Cleric looked across those gathered at the edge of the Great Balcony. His eyes lingered on a woman who stared into the bright gold of one of the most holy of relics. For a man of such gift, his appearance spoke of great age. He didn’t look happy, but it was hard to imagine that weathered face to ever look happy.

He’d been silent through most of the day. Watched, and listed as the tallest of their guests negotiated for what the Avatar’s command was worth. He had begun to wonder himself, as the others came and went, growing frustrated. Doubt weighted on the lines of his face as their seeming leader walked back to her company. The grimace deepened. With all the determination an old man is due, questioning things he thought long settled, he moved to catch up.

“The others,” the man said in a hoarse voice to those gathered. “Are not brave enough to do what sense would ask, such as there is sense left in the world. Perhaps this is why I was chosen to give the order, to bring forth the old shield from the vault. So it seems, the rest falls to me as well.”

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