By Alicia Steen
James. Garden of Light, Kiroh. Year After Shadow 2097.
Kiroh is a land of zipping serids, mystical gardens, and time honored traditions. When their crown princess comes of age, one can expect ritual upon tradition upon ceremony, though one thing must be said through it all: they have not through their memory of long centuries forgotten how to celebrate. Not how we do in Gathyra by any means, but we Gathyrans are rather unique.
As are the people of Kiroh. If I were proficient in the art of the Kirohan dance before, I now am an expert. My talent for obscure knowledge has blossomed into mastery, and my skill in keeping my plate from greedy serids while carrying a conversation has achieved an effortless grace. If I had known a Gathyran prince would be in such high demand during the Coming of Age Ceremony of Princess Erelynn of Kiroh, I would have either stayed home or at least brought Kathrine along. She can be a pain sometimes, but Kathrine has developed quite a knack for being helpful.
Ah, see? My mind is wandering. As fun filled as the day was, my personal favorite moment will always be slipping away with my brothers for a private star gazing ceremony. Where small talk is the exception instead of the rule.
Princess Erelynn takes us through winding vines and over backless benches to a high stone terrace across stairs so steep they drop from view when we reach the top. Fortunately, there is a fence to indicate where the stairs disappeared to.
“I’ve climbed cliffs less dangerous than those stairs,” Parkr says.
“No kidding,” Mykl chimes in. “This rail too is obviously more for looks than safety.”
Erelynn laughs. “Safety is relative with serids around. Do your dragons not do the same?”
All three of us laugh on cue. “You’ve never met a dragon,” Mykl voices dryly.
“They wait until the last possible moment to decide whether to save you or not. And if they think you can save yourself, they sit there staring at you until you figure it out,” Parkr explains in much the same dry tone.
Not willing to recount our many experiences with this fact, I decide to change the subject. “Erelynn, do you come here often?”
“More or less,” Erelynn answers gracefully, obviously curious but willing to let it lie. “It’s the only time of day I can catch any quiet.” Erelynn glances meaningfully at a pile of happily sleeping serids in the center of the terrace. The serid’s breath in perfect synchronization, causing the multicolored pile to rise and fall.
The sight coaxes a smile. “They’re like living nightlights.”
Erelynn nods. “Perfect for stargazing on moonless nights such as this one. We can traverse the treacherous stairs without diming our view of the starlight.” Erelynn turns to the twilit sky.
We watch as the last light of day fades and stars take over. With no moon to cloud our view, the stars shine brilliantly indeed. “It’s a very different sky than ours at home,” Mykl says.
“It’s said than long ago men first came to this world in order to observe the dance of the three sentinels unobstructed.” Erelynn points to upwards. “That is second sentinel, your home Gathyra, with the warm light. Above it is the bright light of Jeshrun, the first sentinel, and below is the final sentinel Nilonia with bluish tint.”
“Are they always so close?” Parkr asks.
Erelynn shakes her head. “I have never seen them so close, nor have they been so in any book I have read. The sentinels are usually quite far apart.”
“Only in times of great upheaval do the sentinels dance as one,” a new voice says. We turn to find Synrn behind us. Well, three of us turn. Parkr barely spares a glance.
“Such as the ending of an age,” Parkr finishes, still staring at the three worlds.
“Synrn, what do you know of this?” I ask.
“Anyone can tell that much just by looking at them,” Synrn answers in his usual carefree voice. “Kyle do you have anything to add?”
Kyle, who must have accompanied Synrn to the terrace, spares a grunt in reply. With bored face Kyle leans against the railing next to Parkr.
“Does Kyle ever say more than that?” Erelynn asks me. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak.”
“He says plenty when he’s fighting,” I tell her. We turn back to the night sky. A cool chill heralds that night has fully come. Tomorrow I will demand knowledge of Kiroh’s library of legend, but tonight is for a quiet study of a sight none have seen for an age.