Archives => Terreille Archives => IC Archives => Askavi Archives => Topic started by: Ebenar on September 15, 2018, 05:48:10 PM

Title: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Ebenar on September 15, 2018, 05:48:10 PM

Eben held the web up to the sun. It wasn’t a particularly good web. Rudimentary in its crafting, and nonsensical in its weave. He squinted, making sure the blinding disc filled the circular frame. Sunspots danced in his vision as he looked away, the web itself wasn’t the key. Its shadow was. The path marked clearly across the grass. He’d seen how to weave it in the knot of the tree. Bark peeling open to reveal the anchor points.

He was still going the right way. He hadn’t been sure, thinking the journey had gone on long enough. He’d been cutting down webs since daybreak, surely he should have been there by now. Vanishing the web, Eben launched himself skyward, craft and air thermals taking him in the direction the web pointed. Another hour before he landed again, confusion dragging him back to the ground so he could check the web.

So close! He thought maybe it was... Ebenar turned, burning up an illusion as he went. And ran smack into the front door. ”Hell’s tits!” Stepping back he looked up at the shrouded building. He could see it now, draped in layers of craft, so many layers even his Ebon-grey had been blind to it. Inside the red heart pulsed. Thicker than blood. This was the place. She was in there, his destiny.

Sucking his lower lip, Eben knocked. And knocked. Wings loosening from his back as he continued to pound on the door. He wanted in. In was his reward for finding them. She was his reward. He could almost feel them on the other side of the door. Hiding from him. Keeping him out. It reminded him of his mother, locking him out with the wolves. Spreading his palms over the door, Ebenar pushed.

”Let me!” He shouted, pushing harder. ”Or I’ll come in anyway.” He hissed through gritted teeth, his depth rising up to swell down his arms. There were no Witch wards left to keep him out. Not any more.

Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Glorian on September 15, 2018, 06:10:49 PM

Knees drawn up to her chest Gloria waited. Wings tight against her back and arms locking her long legs in place. The walls in the common room vibrated with his knocking. All the sisters trembled. Eyes on Gloria, youngest of them all, though there were others who had been born much later. Barely twenty but they outpaced the queenling in body and mind.

Some whispered that this was her fault. This, this male come to fetch the queen from their midst. In the farthest corner Exalted Matron and the keepers sat in aural silence. Mouths still but with her Red Gloria could hear their threads whipping back and forth.

They didn’t know what to do with him either. This man. If she had been alone Gloria would have opened the door. She wasn’t afraid. Why should she be? Outside was all she had ever wanted and if this man was really here to take her away then she would get to go.

”We should let him in.” She whispered into the flurry of voices. Like a current in a calm pond the words cut silence across the commons. In her corner Exalted Matron stood. Hands nervous. ”No. If we are quiet he will go away. If we let him in, then everything is lost.”

Why? Gloria’s eyes were dark beads that begged the question. Wings unfurling she lifted them half hopefully, ”Then I’ll go out and speak with him. If it’s really me he wants-” No. That idea died in the stern knot of Matron’s brow. If he came in the sisterhood would be lost, but if she went out then all the world would suffer.

Their webs said so.

On a thread she reached for this new psyche. Dark and brooding, like a sister on moontime. It lingered in the air, curious while it waited. Not sure how to catch distaff to spear. Even less sure of what she should say. *What are you looking for? They’ll never let you in, you know.* She asked him when the chance came.
Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Ebenar on September 15, 2018, 10:18:33 PM

He didn’t have to stay, and he was willing to keep their secret, so long as he got what he’d come for. They had no way of knowing that, however, those bodies cowering behind the door. He could sense them. Like clouds in the sky they passed between him and the sun, no real substance of their own, but enough presence to cast shadows. He did not care about them. He’d come only for her. That bright red promise at the center of his web. Thicker and deeper than blood.

Palm slapping the door, Ebenar leaned into it. He wanted in! Damn the rest of them, he just wanted in. He did not have the patience to make them unafraid however. And he probably did not have the skill either. Instead Ebenar wedged his power between the door and the frame. He’d work it loose since they would not open it. Saver than blowing it inward too. He didn’t want to risk hurting his prize.

Nostrils flaring, Eben grabbed at the thread. Sweet and deep, it sang through his psyche as he wound his descent around her Red. Queen. Black Widow. Red as the blood in his web center. Witch! Witch, Witch, Witch. Eben’s hands turned to fists on door as he really leaned into it, forehead pressed to the beveling. *I have been looking for you.* He answered. They shared a caste. Surely this was the Witch he’d always been meant to serve.

*Will you let me in, lady?* He asked sweetly, probes racing down the thread. He thrust more under the door, tasting the air inside. It quivered with feminine temper and fear, not a whiff of male to bristle at him. *I’m not here to hurt anyone.* Just for her. All this way, just for her his little drop of redemption. His destiny.

Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Glorian on September 15, 2018, 11:12:05 PM
Lips pressing to her knee Gloria closed her eyes. Stifling a gasp of surprise as he formed the link between them. Different but the same. Not that she had needed to chat through psychic links often. Sisters never more than a floor or two away. He lapped at the knowledge of her castes and jewels, sending a shiver down her spine. A hand fell on her head, gently soothing the tall stack of curls she wore. Thinking the tremble one of fear.

But it was not. She only had room for excitement. His answer the one she had been hoping for since the moment he entered the tangled illusions around their temple. Fingers tightening over her robes Gloria tried to look passive. As concerned as the other sisters instead of interested. Invested even.

How could she though?! There were grand stories of just this!

In the library there were thousands of scrolls. Prophecies, they called them, though they were really just copies of webs. As likely to be wrong as they were to be right. “Fate is written in spider silk not the stars,” the Matron liked to say when one of those ‘prophecies’ was proven incorrect. Unless that spider silk was about Gloria, then suddenly it was stronger than steel.

There were books too, of course. Tombs older than the blind old Hyallian sister that was more wrinkle than woman. Those books told Gloria all about the outside. About brave men that were champions for their ladies. Queens that ruled and the people that praised their beauty and fairness. She wanted, very much, to be one.

*Me? I can’t imagine why.* She teased. Testing the thread they shared. Running her power over its length to see what he would reveal for her. She didn’t have anything to compare his male caste too. She recognized the taste of Black Widow, though. And that his Jewel of rank delved deeper into the Abyss than her own.

Was he handsome? She wanted to know so badly. He must have been. The hero was always handsome. Damn the Matron and her idle fear! She wanted to touch his face and see if he belonged to her the way the stories said some men did. *I want to!* She promised. Dismay making her hands work at one another. *They won’t let me…* Gloria answered with evident frustration. Answer half growled along the thread.

”Stop it!” They noticed. Matron was old and withered but her backhand was swift. Judgement a mark that rang across Gloria’s cheek. The eyrien woman gave a sharp shout. Hands clutching at the welt that formed under her fingertips. It was an act of panic, Gloria could see it in the old woman’s eyes. Her chest heaving with the effort of rushing over. ”Why are you talking to him you fool child!”

”He doesn’t care about you! He’s just here for me.” Gloria screamed back. A few tears working free from the corners of her eyes. As if any man would come here for any of them! Ancient old vaginas so happy in their cloisters. She didn’t want to be one of them! ”Let him in! Let him in or he’ll be ten times more angry when he finally gets inside.”

They couldn’t swallow their fear. And they couldn’t keep him out. There was a rush of whispering but Gloria didn’t have the patience to listen. She groaned at them all, launching up from the bed towards the tall staircase to the second floor. There was a window there. Over the door. Maybe she could climb out! At her back the sisters shrieked and called. Willing her with their petty Craft to stay. To behave. To conform.

*They won’t let me.* She whined across her hero’s link. *You’ll just have to come in without permission.* Mother Night she hoped he was handsome.
Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Ebenar on September 16, 2018, 07:27:22 AM

Her power was like fingers in his hair. Ir reminded Eben of another queen who had run her hand down him, long nails parting his hair from scalp to mid-back. Never touching the wings that forced space between them, or made the caress an awkward one. Similar, but different. This queen lacked the depth of Jewel and years the other had possessed.

She teased him, like a girl, startling Eben more than walking into the hidden door had. He told himself it made sense. She was likely to be young if she hadn’t yet made her Offering. It only meant they had more time together. That Ebenar had more time to teach her how to Witch before her power eclipsed his own. None of which changed the fact that he didn’t know how to tease her back.

*Can they stop you?* There were too many of them for Eben to sense individual Jewels other than her own. And that only because they were linked together. Some may have been darker, Greys perhaps. He sensed none that sang brethren to his own. But there were enough of then to inhibit him. The store still hadn’t cracked. *You are queen! You are...* Pain radiated down the thread, bursting over Eben’s barriers.

Her pain. Someone had struck her!

Ebenar howled. His power withdrew, drawn back into his body so quickly it left a void in its wake. Wings wide he pulled back from the door, eyes searching the front of the temple he couldn’t really see. Hung over by cobweb illusions, some older than he was. *Lady?! He would blow the door down, he just didn’t want her in the way when he did it. If only he could see where she was! Link trembling as whatever was happening inside happened without him.

There she was! Eben fed more power into the thread so he wouldn’t lose her so easily again. Her whining grated on his already frayed temper. Her pain having left him teetering on the edge of the killing fields. *I only need your permission.* No one else had say over him. No one else had a drop of hope in stopping him. And her words were permission enough. It was obvious she wanted him to come in. To come to her.

*Be away from the door, lady.* Ebenar warned, just before letting his power loose again. The door groaned. A low, aching sound of despair as it held tight to its grains and splinters. Centuries of being strengthened and guarded made it fight hard against him. But Ebenar’s Ebon-grey was young and fresh. Its power was the power of today and not the memories of years before. The temple shook as his fists connected with the door one last time, wings sweeping.

And then it shattered. Pouring inward and filling the entry way. Dust and splinters made the air thick and ground beneath Eben’s boots as he stepped inside. There was screaming. And craft. It tasted of zinc and stung his shields. There was blood on the air too, and weeping. The temple moaned, and Eben couldn’t tell if it was the collective despair of the witches or the rattled bones of the building. But then it really didn’t matter.

”Where is she?” He demanded, wings brushing the walls on either side of him, his dark hair streak with dust and plaster. He didn’t know her name. She didn’t need one. She was Witch, and he was here for no one else.

Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Glorian on September 16, 2018, 10:48:14 AM

Could they? Tongue making a damp spot on her bottom lip she glanced at the sisters furtively. They were not very many. Twelve, she thought, without having ever counted. Mostly old women. There was only one of her, though, and Red or not the only Craft she knew was the Craft they had taught her.

Not a drop of it violent. She had never so much as called a shield to her own defense. Before she could tell her new friend any of that the Matron tried to silence her with a slap. No chance to make him understand that being a queen held no meaning in this place. Gloria was quick to temper but thus far in life it had only ever been the petulant sort.

Distracted from her hero she stomped up the stairs. Delicate ego still ringing. Stroked instead of soothed by the hero’s words. Only her permission! No one had ever needed her permission for anything. It stopped her in her tracks. Hair a cushion for her head as she leaned into the rail of the open corridor. Below her the sisters stared in worried curiosity. Thumb scratching at the bare wood Gloria hugged the nearest pillar and looked down at them. One leg supporting her weight while the other rocked side to side while she considered the consequences.


*You have it.* Her permission. Her hero. Looking for her. Cheeks flush she raced off again. Down the corridor to the sitting room at the end. A loft that hung over the larger room underneath. Not the place she had been meaning to go but he wouldn’t be by the door much longer. From there she would have a better view.

The sisters read her movement and reacted with panic. Exalted Matron and the keeper’s council moving to raise shields against the intrusion. Lesser sisters cowering in the far side of the room. Would he kill them? Did she want him to? Leaning over the banister she watched. Heart in her throat. Maybe she didn’t really want anyone to get hurt. *Yes, I’m far from it.* She promised.

”Just let him in you idiots.” She called down to the elders. From its roots deep in the mountain the temple shivered. In her cotton slippers Gloria’s toes wiggled. Curling and splaying with the feeling of the foundations straining against the rock. With a scream the door gave up its mighty fight, and the glorious crispness of fresh air flooded the temple. Breathing in deep she closed her eyes. So she didn’t have to see if he did kill them.

None of their Jewels could match the near black of her hero. Someone started to cry. Maybe several someones. There was pain in the air. Blood singing to Gloria’s instinct. Worry and the desperate drive to see her hero mingled until she couldn’t keep her eyes closed another moment. His face was obscured in the shadows of the shallow entry. Lit in passing by bolts of Craft that bounced away as harmlessly as if they threw kernels of popped corn at him instead.

Knuckles pale she leaned in as he came deeper into the temple. Ladies scattering in his wake, their failed Craft lessening its attempts to bend him. They knew no more of combat than Gloria did. And here, here was a warrior.

A little frightened Gloria ducked behind the railing. Looking at him through the cracks as he spoke with real words. Words that made the window panes rattle. Or was that her heart? He had wings, just like Gloria. It made hers flutter. She had never seen another Eyrien. ”Here.” Her voice sounded very small in the big room. Nearly drowned by the group that sobbed over Matron. There was a great deal of blood there. But Gloria only had eyes for the hero.

”I’m right here.” She tried again, voice cutting through the crowd this time. Knees weak with the wildness of it all. Better than any fantasy she’d concocted. More terrifying than any nightmare she’d ever had. In the books there were sketches sometimes, of the men in the stories. Heroes of old who were worth remembering. He was like one of the great tapestries in the sitting room come to life. Larger than she thought people had any right to get.

And he was twice as handsome as any of the drawings or threaded figures she had seen.
Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Ebenar on September 18, 2018, 06:36:15 AM

It was easier to focus his power against the door when he knew opening it wouldn’t harm what he’d come to find. To push against all the Jewels and craft set against him. The illusions had been more refined. The compulsions spun so finely he’d never even noticed them. Only his compass had allowed him to find the place. And his own power let him break down their centuries old barriers and tear the door from its hinges.

That and his soul deep need to reach his destiny.

The light was murky. It spilled in behind him and filtered through air thick with debris. Wood and plaster dust, motes of honest dust from a door frame that had not been dusted in who knew how long. Air that sang and shivered with sparks of craft that battered at his shield, erected when the first slash had opened his sleeve at the elbow. They really didn’t want him coming in. But Eben really didn’t care.

Probes ran before him, but he didn’t lash out. There was enough weeping and blood smell to steady his temper. The way they cowered and scurried away from him was pleasing. So was their crying, even if it also annoyed. So much confusion and distracted! He just wanted the queen! That was all. They should have been thankful for his service! Surely they wished to see Witch backed by a strong male. To see her rule as she was meant to rule.

Stepping over what might have been a body, Eben looked up, a voice calling him from up high. There she was. It took him a moment to find her, eyes tracking the railing, expecting her to step out of the shadows. He had not noticed the balcony loft when he’d come in, not until her voice had called his eyes to it. There she was. Calling him again, crouched low behind the banister. Hiding from the explosion of the door, probably.

”I see you.” I see you, Witch. Not well. Old wood bisecting her face where the shadows hadn’t obscured it. She sounded young, but a voice could be misleading. But she’d not made her descent yet. There was still time, time enough to teach her as he had been taught. Eyebrows thunderous, Eben tipped his back and looked at the ceiling, a twitch of his wings judging distance.

Enough, though barely. He only needed one good sweep. Stepping into the opening, Eben crouched, then leapt upward, wings propelling him those last feet up until he could grab the railing. He yanked himself up, feet balancing on the wooden rail before he stepped off of it and into the loft with her. His boots stirred dust here too. A crack running along the ceiling above them.

”I’m not here to hurt you, lady.” Ebenar held out his hand to her. He could see her better now. He would need an eternity to study that face. Beautiful where the other had been dazzling. Mouth soft, if almost petulant, instead of cruel. Eben liked the way she looked at him. Liked the way she looked. This was the one. It had been right to flee from the end of the old Witch. He had always bent meant for this one.

”Come.” Eben beckoned. He did not know where he meant for her to go. To him. With him. His fingers curling around her hand and drawing her close. He just wanted a sniff. To be sure. The temple would work fine. He didn’t need the tender spot behind her ear. Eyes closing as he looked for what he wanted to know. Probes like a flurry along her barriers. Girl queen, with hardly a whiff of woman to her.

He had plenty of time then, to be sure she was ready. Even if it meant he would be doing a whole lot of waiting. He’d waited before.

Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Glorian on September 21, 2018, 05:26:17 PM

Mother Night. Knuckles paling on the railings Gloria tried to steady her breathing. In, one two three, out, one two three. A useless endeavor as it turned out. Not a moment later it all turned to a gasp that stuck in her chest. Wings shivering as they pressed in on her back while her hero’s unfurled to help catapult himself up.

As a child she had learned to fly from that very balcony. Launching over the edge to the shrieks of her sisters. Wings battering the air until she could stay aloft like a swimmer treading water. No one to teach her, and no need to be taught. She had danced up the banister a thousand times too. Toes on the wood as she flitted along her way. But she had never gone from the floor up. Not like that.

Half terrified half captivated she tracked his ascent. Hair moving in the soft rush of wind his wings created. Her hands slipping lower down the rail as he towered over her from the top. Legs folded out of his way she felt the wooden boards beneath her quiver as he dropped nearby.

Eyes still wide she looked at the hand he reached for her with. Lips parting in surprise. Instinct and eagerness drawing her palm up. His skin was warm and pleasantly textured by callouses. She wasn’t sure yet, if she should be afraid or pleased to see him.

It was a delicate balance that shifted like water over stones. His eyes made her nervous. And the fingers he curled around her hand. Possessive in a way that made her spine tingle in warning. But he was so handsome. Long hair, warrior’s form in the build of his body… it trickled electricity over her skin. She didn’t know what to say. He didn’t seem to mind. Speaking very little himself.

With a breathless squeal she was lifted off the floor by the twitch of his hand. Drawn so close she could feel his breath by her temple. Gloria felt like a captured animal. Playing dead instead of struggling. He was… smelling her! Face flush she wiggled to see if she could get away. Not sure what he wanted from her as he bathed probes against her barriers. A palm settling on his chest she frowned at him slightly, ”You could just ask you know.” She prickled her own probes at him anyway. Just as curious. He… had such an unusual psychic scent. It made butterflies blossom to life low in her tummy. Was he hers? Could he be made to be?

So very curious. ”What now? How did you know I was here? Where will we go?”  Did he have a plan at all, or had he hoped for a welcome greeting? ”And what’s your name?”

Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Ebenar on September 21, 2018, 06:22:30 PM

She bleated. Sheep like and frightened as he pulled her to her feet. But it would not stand, her cowering there like some frightened animal. But she squeal and face him upright than remain crouching behind the banister. He was already over it anyway. And inside. There was no hiding from him now, if there had ever been.

Soft to the touch. Her hand was small in his own. Small and impossibly soft. Fingers and wrist delicate. Pulse quick. She was not soft on the senses. The scent of her like a sharp kick in the stomach, punching his ribs and tripling his heart beat. Black Widow and Queen. Her Red hummed at him even as she wiggled, as if she would wish herself free of him. Ebenar’s fingers curled around her wrist and tightened. Space she could have. Freedom, she could not.

”Why should I?” Why ask when he could know? His own barriers parting of their own volition. She did not ask either, and Eben wasn’t sure he could have denied her, wings compressing against his back, and skin heating at her touch. Tipping his head back, he breathed silt filled air to try and clear his senses. Let her occupy her own space as his grip loosened. But did not let go.

”Now?” He asked back in confusion. What now? Where? She upbraided him with a dozen questions at once. Demanding plans that Ebenar did not have. He had been intent on the finding, not wholly sure what he was seeking. Now he had her. Witch. She had to be. He had plenty of grand dreams, but very few plans. ”Now, my lady, we go wherever you wish.” She would rule them all. Perhaps the Keep. Or somewhere near there.

Soon. One day. Ebenar wasn’t sure just yet. She was young still and untried.

”My name is Ebenar. And I found you in a web.” Or through a web, gifted him by a tree that was not a tree. But that sounded insane. A web was simple, and all widows understood webs, even if they did not weave them. Not all under the Twisted Kingdom, and Ebenar had never been able explain it. ”Would you like to leave this place, lady?” He looked at her, young and beautiful, and then around at the weeping women cowering on the lower floor. Surely she did not belong in this crypt.

Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Glorian on September 23, 2018, 10:49:29 PM

”Because! It’s…. Well, it’s just polite.” Gloria sputtered. What sort of question was that?! Not everything was for others to know. Thinking of a fresh answer she added, ”And far less unsettling. You shouldn’t just go pouring yourself all over a girl you’ve just met.”

She assumed. Maybe this was how everyone behaved in the outside. The books she read detailed the lives of great figured who had lived in centuries long lost. Any manner of things might have changed over time. It wasn’t fair to judge him without knowing, she decided.

He was very handsome, after all, and some bit older than herself. That must mean he was a good example of what to expect beyond the temple’s walls. It made satisfying her own curiosity seem less invasive. That and the easy access he gave. Barriers falling before she could touch them. Would they all part, right down to his center? Or would he erect a wall once she had moved beyond cursory information?

There were too many questions on her mind to find out just then. And the distraction of this amazing creature doing more strange things. Hold gentling so that they stood chest to chest instead of Gloria pulled into him. Nose sussing out something new, she thought, as he turned it towards the rafters.

”Yes, now.” Gloria repeated, tone leaning towards laughter. The look on his face as not very promising. Had he no home to offer? No place in need of a queen? ”How can I wish for any place when this is the only one I’ve ever seen?”

Silly boy. The hand on his chest curled. Fingernails skimming her palm. A queen was supposed to take care of her people, if she wanted them to love her. And she very much wanted this man to love her, and be her person. ”Ebenar,” She tried his name on her tongue. Smile cheerful despite the despair of her sisters below.

”Do you have a place to take us? We could stay… The door is open now.” Not forever, of course! A night or two while he told her what to expect. But she had always learned best by doing. Trying to keep the desperation from her voice she told him the truth. ”I do want to go. I want to see it. The Outside.”

His eyes had turned down to the sisters. Was he worried about them? Palm flat again she smoothed away a little dust from his chest and shoulder.  ”They won’t let us help them. Once they’ve set their mind on seeing a prophecy through, they’ll never give an inch. All we can do is leave them to recover or die by their own design.” She didn’t want him to think about the sisters. He had come all this way and caused all this chaos. There had to be a reason. Why me, Ebenar? Surely there must have been queens easier to get to.”

Title: Re: ding dong, the witch ain’t dead
Post by: Ebenar on October 02, 2018, 08:40:04 PM

Already she was trying to rule over him. Rules. Restrictions. Ebenar smiled, and spoke not a word. She would learn, in time, what was polite. What was permitted. And how none of those things applied to him. He was free to do as he pleased. There was no one to stop him, not anymore.

He let her in because that is where he wanted her. Ebenar possessed no shame and few secrets. She was his. It was good and right that she know him. Taste the depth of him. Stronger than she, for now. The edge he needed to teach her. Has she been the stronger then, he would not have had the power to deny her. First he must teach her, so that later she could not control him. Not totally.

”There are windows.” He pointed to one. The glass spiderwebbed from the concussion of his power. ”You have a mind. Any place you can dream of, you can wish to go.” He looked down at her. So close there was no space between them. Her hand resting against his chest. Possession. She complained about him being to forward, but she did not pull away or run from him. Spoke his name with a smile as if they belonged. And they did. Ebenar smiled too. They did.

”I can find us a place.” Take one, if needed. Any place she wanted, witch of his soul. His destiny. His hand spread over hers, pressing her knuckles into the steady beat of his heart. ”Then that is where we will go.” He promised. Had they kept her prisoner then? So eager to go from the only place she had known. Ebenar could forgive them, they had kept her safe when she might have been in danger. But he was here now. He could show her the world. And together they could conquer it.

”That seems a foolish way to live.” He looked away from the women, back to her. Witch. Fingers spreading with hers across his chest, falling away to his side as she stroked him. His face turned toward her hand as it passed over his shoulder, wiping away the dust that had settled there. But his eyes did not leave her face. ”Why?” How could she ask as if she did not know? Smiling, he stepped back, catching her wrist again and spinning her around like a dancer until she faced him again.

”Other queens? What could I want with them, when there is you?” How could he serve anyone else when he could serve Witch? He had been born to serve Witch. Bred. Trained. Destined. An idea formed. Where. There was one place to start. The place he’d skirted when he should have heeled. ”Come then, lady. I will show you the Outside. I’ll take you the the Eyrie.” Queens. He had seen how they called to each other. Witch, the dead one, had kept several near. Friends. Companions.

Stepping stones.

He gestured to the doorway that would not close again. Not until someone hung a new door in its frame. ”Everything out there is for you. Let me show it to you.” He stepped onto the bannister and leapt down, back into the entryway he’d risen from. Dust rose around his feet as Ebenar turned and looked up at her, hand outstretched. He would have called her, but he’d never asked her name. He didn’t need it. She was his.