On a precipice jutting from Cloud Tower which serves as both a look-out and a landing platform a young Faë with hair shaped like a purple flame stands by his wind rider while an angry young Witch with flowing brown and amber streaked hair paces back and forth in front of him.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” screams Darcy at Riven, turning and facing him. “I released you from all the illusion spells I put upon you so we could be open and honest with each other and yet you never made one mention of this.”
“I was not sure if this was really the case,” replies Riven, angered by Darcy’s outburst but trying his best to be calm. “It was not until I asked Ishandra and had it confirmed by Tecna that I knew it to be true.”
“Coming from Tecna, I know it must be the truth because, even if she is a pixie, she is hard-wired to never knowingly tell a lie,” heaves Darcy, “but Icy would lie to you as would Musa, Miss Griffin and M’Trika just to make you abandon me and to deprive me of what little true happiness I have.”
“How many times must I tell you that Tecna is a Faerie and not a Pixie?” says Riven, his temper beginning to boil. “And who is this M’Trika and why would she want us separated from each other?”
“M’Trika is a Panther-Morph Witch and the head of the Cat-Witch guards who maintain security and discipline at Cloud Tower,” explains Darcy in calmer tones, “and she is someone who would flay us both alive if she ever caught the two of us together. And why she wants us apart is so you’ll go back to Musa which she believes will calm the tensions between Witches and Faeries.”
“I doubt it,” says Riven to Darcy who has again turned her back to him. “The hatred, fear and mistrust of each other go too far back and run much too deeply to be changed even if I should go back to Musa. But you also know my situation on Daingneach.”
“Yes,” says Darcy, not bothering to turn around. “His Royal Highness must find a wife for himself who can bear for him an heir before year’s end or lose his right to ascend to the Throne of Daingneach. But I want to be that woman who is your wife and your Queen and to bear you an heir but now even Nature herself is against me,” she sobs.
“Maybe there is another way to work it out,” says Riven softly, while taking Darcy gently by her shoulders. “I was adopted by the King of Daingneach and made a prince of the kingdom. Maybe he would allow us to marry and to adopt a child as my heir.”
“Oh! How just like a man!” hisses Darcy, turning on her heels and shoving him. “You just don’t get it, do you?! That might be well and good for you and your high-and-mighty father but not for me! An adopted child will not be one that came from our lovemaking, that grew within me and for whom I suffer the pain and know the joy of bringing into the world. And no matter what child we might adopt, it will never be ours nor will I ever love it.”
Darcy walks a few paces from Riven, her chest heaving, then suddenly turns running to Riven and throwing her arms about him. “I must be crazy!” she exclaims. “I should hate you and cast on you such a hex that you will be driven screaming mad for the rest of your life.” Then looking tearfully into Riven’s face she whispers, “But I still love you. Do you love me, Riven? Do you care anything about me?”
“Of course I love you,” replies Riven. “I have always loved you from afar. You needn’t have cast a spell on me during the Race for the Roses. You had only to ask and I would have come to you. But I am still upset with you for taking me and then dumping me.”
“I had no choice as I told you before,” whispers Darcy sadly. “I would have never willingly abandoned you, my love, but Icy forced me to it because she did not want me distracted or spilling her plans to you. And what about Musa?”
“I love her too,” replies Riven.
“You can’t have both of us, Riven,” says Darcy. “You must decide on one of us or the other. Now you had better go before M’Trika discovers that the woman sleeping in my quarters is only an illusion and she comes hunting for me and finds you here too.”
Riven kisses and then releases Darcy, mounts his wind rider and heads off towards Red Fountain. “Yes,” thinks Darcy as she watches him vanish, “go think on it, Riven, and decide but if you decide on Musa then I swear that she shall not live to be your wife or bear your children. I will kill her before surrendering you to her.”