Chapter 6: Emily

Chapter 6: Emily

All is pain, my heart, my head, my soul. I am cold, always. Each breath burns me and yet I dare not stop.

I did my part, just as he said. I spied, and I reported. I did what I was asked. I trusted him, like I trusted them all, and he, like they, betrayed me.

Tantibus has come, Tantibus is here. From across worlds and centuries and he promised that we, that I, will go with him, but he lies. Only he can go on, he and the Other; the rest of us join him until he is finished with us, and then we are done.

And in between all is pain. Is he in pain? Or the Other? Have they hurt and suffered for thousands of years?

Come, he said to me. We will be knights in his army, and we will stand beside him, forever.

I believed him, and now I have lost everything. I died, and now I will die again, no closer to eternity than I ever was, but farther away from life than I could ever have imagined.

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Chapter 3: Julian

Chapter 3: Julian

1.

Our home sat about midway between the Covent Garden market and St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields. The market bustled at all times of day, with fashionable ladies strolling in pairs past the vendors hawking their wares. The square teemed with children, but with their dust-colored clothing and earth-stained faces I barely recognized them as children, and they, in turn, didn’t even see me. When I was much younger, maybe four or five, I told to my father that the children were dangerous—”urchins,” I’d called them. He asked me if any had ever bothered me, and I said no, but that I’d heard lots of people, adults and children, call them that. Father took me to the market then, and we sat on a wall and watched the goings on. We watched quietly as the children played, and worked, and begged, and stole. We watched them be sent on errands, shooed away, rewarded, and kicked. And we watched a group of manor-born boys come in pick a fight that ended with adults chasing the street children away. Father didn’t comment on the scene, but explained that while I must be willing to receive information from wherever it comes, I must also withhold judgment until I can see and understand things for myself.

A part of me always wanted to befriend the street children, but I never did. There weren’t many other children on Shandos Place, and ever since Emily Shively had disappeared none of them spent much time outside at all. Continue reading “Chapter 3: Julian”

Chapter 1: Julian

Chapter 1: Julian

1.

Five crows is an omen of illness to come; six is death.

From my window I watched them flitting about the building across the street, black dragons in miniature. Were they crows or ravens? I don’t know very much about birds. Crows are smaller, duskier. And if the ravens leave the Tower then the kingdom will fall.

Lord Shively and his family had abandoned the house across the street during the winter, retreating through the cold away from the City. They had by then accepted that their Emily was gone. She abandoned them, and they abandoned hope, and then they abandoned their home. That’s what my father said as we watched them go. The crows seemed keen on moving in. I tried to count them but it was hard to keep track, given the way they slipped in and out through the broken window that led into what had once been Emily Shively’s bedroom.

Four? No, five. Illness. For me, who was counting them, or for the Shivelys, whose house the crows were haunting? I’d ask my father later. It was he who told me about counting crows, which I was doing now instead of my geography lessons. France is down and Scotland is up, and across the sea there is a new land filled with fierce and primitive warriors. That was enough learning for now, I felt.

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