Lilac bent over a book bound in brown bark, tracing the gold letters on its smooth surface as she had done so many times before. They stood, smooth and stern, against their background, telling what lay between the pages of the book they rested on. “Words”, and then their author, Boran Innis. She lifted the cover, her eyes darting, without forethought, to the last words on the first page.
“We whisper of love but we cannot find it.
We whisper of hope, but it never comes.
Age is stalking us, we who are so young,
And death waits at the door, ignoring the slowness of time,
Ignoring our youth, determined to bring darkness.
And so, someone else must fill the places we leave empty.
Someone else must defeat the darkness that we cannot.”
They were her bîndan’s words, the knowledge that came to him in his despair, he whom she had bound herself too, he whose sapphire bînd she still wore. He had feared the darkness coming, the attack of the lizards they knew would come, and he had known they were not to end it.
He had gone out, with the bravest of the faerie warriors, to fight the black lizards on the borders of the desert. And he had died there, her dear Boran. He whom his people had loved, he who gave himself for the future of those only just birthed into the world.
But now they too were dying. The young wandrian, departing their homeland to search out the truths that lay waiting for them, were torn from their mission by cruel death. All their hopes, and all the hopes of their people taken with them, were crushed beneath the blows of the enemy. Tragin… He had been such a handsome boy, his father’s pride. Now he was dead. She could not bear it. And her dearest Eline, would she too die so horribly?
The queen bent her silver-brown head, her thin eyelids closing over her troubled eyes. She was a weary woman. Her body felt the strain of the growing years. Though her heart still bloomed with new strength, she could not bear all of this weight. She must do as Boran would have done. Someone else must fill the places we leave empty.
It was time then. She must choose a ducissa. She was not old, barely into her middle seasons, but the time would come soon when her mind could no longer bear the strain of two crowns. There must be someone to care for the people of Fleure when that day should dawn, a girl to inspire and unite them, to bless them with her wisdom, and stir them with her love for her people.
Queen Lilac rose and slipped from the room.