Crown of Sight – scene 4

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4

The hard heels of Darathel’s boots echoed on the
marble floor of the gallery – a floor made of hundreds of unique, mirror-smooth
stones that no elf or man had ever laid. Beside him the diminutive form of
Faedra slipped along, her soft slippers making only a rustling within her
skirts. She had put her hood up, though whether it was out of fear or
reverence, Darathel could not guess. He watched her hemline move along
intricate stone grain, complex like wood, but infused with the chaos of time.
Sun fell on it in great squares from the windows above, lighting hidden
crystals in the matrix.

He picked his head up and looked between the great
pillars. The paintings that had been made since the creation of Pelanalda stood
out from the wall, which was beginning to feel faded. Darathel sighed as the
details slipped over and out from his mind. He adjusted his baldric, taking it
in a notch so his father’s longsword would stop swinging and hitting his left
calf.

“I am forgetting,” he said softly. Ahead loomed
the empty door, a black portal which he always dreaded.

“So am I,” Faedra said. “But we won’t forget each
other.”

“You speak fatalistically. Do you know something I
don’t?”

“Many things, my lord, but of the future,
nothing.”

Darathel stepped up to the door and held forth his
hand. The darkness rippled like water, then faded, revealing a sun-lit room
filled with furnishings. Darathel and Faedra stepped in. The dark curtain
formed behind them. When it did, the room grew darker as well. A halo of light
surrounded a bed on the far wall. As if seeing it for the first time, Darathel
flinched, then walked toward it.

On the bed lay an elf, breathing slowly. His eyes
were open, and he wore a grim expression, though he stared at nothing.
Bedsheets covered him to his chest, but he wore no shirt. His head reclined on
a pillow, and on his golden hair sat a detailed circlet of golden-white metal
that glowed with its own light, illuminating the dark space.

“Can you hear me, father?” Darathel said.

The elf blinked, then looked at Darathel. His
voice was clear and slow. “My son. It is good to see you. How long has it
been?”

“A day.”

“So little time. It felt like years.”

“It might have been longer to you, King Pelanel,”
Faedra said.

The eyes of the elf in the bed turned to regard
her. “Good that you brought Faedra. How are our stores?”

“Gone,” Faedra said. “The prim is growing more
chaotic as well. Our ability to draw forth substance is failing.”

“I am at my limit,” Pelanel said.

“The castle…” Darathel looked down. “I don’t quite
have the words.”

“It is losing itself,” Pelanel said, nodding his
head slightly. “I feared this. Even without the army that encamps outside our
walls, I feared it might come to this, eventually.”

“That you would lose your power?” Darathel said.

“That Midgard might not suffer us. That the truth
of the dim would rest on us – that all you make with your own will you are
destined to unmake.”

“Let me take up the crown, at least for a while,
so that you can rest.”

Pelanel closed his eyes. “It is not your burden.”

“It wasn’t always a burden to you.”

Pelanel, his eyes still closed, frowned and shook
his head. “No.”

“What shall we do, then?”

“Your burden is to find a solution for our people.
I cannot divide my mind. I must focus on the Prim and the city.”

“Shall we go out and fight? Have a heroic last stand?
Should I try to send messengers beyond to Alfheim?”

“Go,” Pelanel said. “Return later. See to your own
duty, my son.”

Darathel looked sadly upon his father and placed a
hand on the ancient elf’s chest. He turned to leave, but found that his father
gripped his wrist.

“Your mother… Send her.” The king’s eyes opened
again, and were shimmering slightly with moisture.

“She’s… not here.”

“Oh… Yes, of course. Is Faedra here?”

“I’m still here, my lord,” Faedra said.

“Good, you’ve returned,” Pelanel said.

“Returned?” she said.

The king turned his head and smiled at her. “Take
care of my little one.”

“I shall,” Faedra said, and forced a smile.

Pelanel closed his eyes. Faedra glanced at Darathel, then turned toward the darkened door.

I hope you are enjoying the book! The Crown of Sightebook goes live live on March 22. Follow me on Twitter to get news of the physical release. It’s coming early so that people can read on Friday.

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