The pale yellow light of the rising sun sparkled off the violet gems on top of the spires. Elena felt pride watching her people below moving with purpose even after a war which had threatened to wipe them out. Worse were the Jaduars who had been drained of their abilities by the bonegoths. None had been killed by the monsters but Elena knew their fate was worse than death. A few had already committed suicide but even those who lived suffered from extreme bouts of depression at having lost not only the ability to wield magic but also the sense their magic was related to.
No, not just my people. The armies of the Northern Alliance had poured in to help under Lord Tremane’s command. Even High Commander Nermo has taken to shoring up the defenses once she had signed the truce. She would try to forge peace between the magic and non-magic people. And she was a leader of all people. She owed that much to Fabius.
Pain engulfed her. She didn’t know if she loved him or even if she hated him. But he was gone. And that hurt. It felt like her heart had been ripped out and a phantom pain agitated in the cavity. Every single time she thought she’d made up her mind about how she felt about him and how she would react, he had left her confused. And this time she didn’t even know what to feel. An essential part of her life she’d never needed but the loss of which would haunt her.
A knock on her door alerted her to the presence of Lord Tremane. She walked into the room. “Lord Tremane, I would have come down to your chambers. There is no need for you to climb up the spire.”
“Nonsense, Empress. A man my age needs all the exercise he can get.”
Elena smiled. The man’s spirit was indomitable. “Did we find any of the bonegoths?”
The old Lord shook his head. “No, as soon as Darius died, they just left. My guess is he was controlling the beasts and they went back to wherever they came from when he died. But we will search for them once we have brought this city back to its feet…actually all of the land back to its feet.”
“Speaking of the mad prince, did we get his body to hang at the gates?”
Tremane flinched, as he had before at the idea, but she had been adamant. Androl had taught her that display of power was necessary both to inspire and to maintain discipline. “No, unfortunately, no one wanted to go near the fracas when the monsters were leaving and there is a literal pile of bodies around there.”
Elena sighed. “Then what did you come to tell me?”
“The Way of the Voice has sent me a message and it is from King Thaddius. I expect it may concern Fabius but as leader of the Northern realms, I want you to hear it. Secrets should not be the basis of a new empire, especially now that you’re an integral part of it.”
Elena nodded. This was a strong gesture from the old man.
“Bring her in.” he gestured to one of the maids.
A girl dressed in black walked in. She was barely past her teens.
“So, these people have magic too?” she asked.
“Yes and they have been using it for quite a while now.”
She made a mental note of contacting the secretive group. Learning about new forms of magic is what had saved them. Adaline had saved them.
“So what is the message?”
The girl withdrew a rolled up parchment from her pouch and then pulled out a thin and sharp quill.
Elena winced as the girl sliced her hand and used the blood to scribble on the parchment. She would have to stop this practice.
The colour faded from the old man’s cheeks and his eyes grew as big as a gold flower. The girl turned around and left.
“What is it, Lord Tremane?”
The old Lord turned around and held up the parchment still glistening with the fresh blood.
Elena’s blood went cold.
Run and hide. Sen-Tian has fallen.
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