By Alicia Steen
James. Next day. Kiroh Library. Year After Shadow 2097.
Erelynn adds a stack of old records to the mountain forming around James. “You should be able to determine where to go from this,” Erelynn says. “Kiroh has been studying the stars since before Shadow. If there is at all a record of the sentinel’s dance we saw last night, it will be here.”
James nods his thanks. “You seem to know more of Kiroh’s library than the keepers do.”
Erelynn laughs. “I am the princess after all. Where are the others?”
James picks up another record. “Kyle is sleeping in the corner, and Synrn is doing whatever it is he does in times like this. Parkr seemed to know something he wouldn’t tell me, so he and Mykl went back to Gathyra to check it out.”
“Ah. Well, I wish you success in your endeavor. I would join you, but my presence is required elsewhere.”
James looks up and smiles. “It is your coming of age after all.” He stands does a short bow. “I thank you for doing this much. This is your week, and yet you have taken the time to assist us.”
“It is nothing. When you are finished, just leave the records on the table. The Keepers can and prefer to return them to their proper placement themselves. Whatever you do, do not let the serids organize them for you. Serids are banned from the library.”
James laughs. “I shall be sure to attend the banquet this evening. Until then.”
“Let me know what you find out.”
Gathyra’s borders are ever expanding as its citizens push ever onward into the wilderness. Much of the southwestern border is disputed territory between Gathyra and the satyr kingdom. Here among the low mountains claimed by one or another and the pathways winding through forest and river, a wary traveler must keep his feet or else find himself in hostile territory surrounded by enemies. Unless, of course, that traveler rides a dragon.
Having scouted one such disputed mountaintop, Parkr and Mykl stand ready to charge the small force of fifty large satyrs that have taken residence in an old ruin.
“Are you sure this is the place?” Mykl whispers.
Parkr nods. “This is it. A symbol from the dance of sentinels is here.”
“Well, it’d be boring if there wasn’t a little excitement to this quest James found for us. Ready for some bait and switch?”
Parkr matches Mykl’s grin. “Let’s claim this hill for Gathyra.”
Kyle. Kiroh Library.
I learned long ago that if you pretend sleep most people will leave you alone, though there are a few exceptions. Luckily none of those are here in Kiroh right now. That makes this hall of hushed silence, filled only by the rustling of paper from James’ fort, the perfect place to rest the eyes. Even the serids find this place boring, if the sleeping pile around me is any indication.
Yes, to rest the eyes, but sleep is far from my mind. The dance of sentinels last night resonated deep, with me and the others as well. As James pours over records past, Synrn flies upon his phoenix to stare at the dance, locking it into his memory. Parkr and Mykl chase down a fading memory, and even Jeske, when told of the sight, went home to Jeshrun to check the records of the Toledoth.
Idiots, all of them. Most people would at least think of hesitating before chasing down such a whisper of ancient past. Especially this one. Before change comes chaos, every time.
Especially for the one who brings the change.
These Gathyrans, though, they seek out the flaming chaos like a precious thing. Their search drives them in whatever they put their hands to. A smart man would ask time to think it over, but them, they say, “Bring it on.” Their boundless energy for life is practically infectious.
After all, isn’t life less boring that way?
Hall of Feasting, Kiroh.
At the royal table, Princess Erelynn is seated first at one end, and then Queen Ranette seats herself at the other end. When Prince Ekriam, Erelynn’s attendant, seats himself at Erelynn’s left, the guests are brought in by threes.
First of the guests, to Erelynn’s surprise, is Prince James. He grins as he sits opposite Prince Ekriam. “No matter what he is engaged in, a prince always keeps his engagements.”
“Did you finish reading all those records, and so quickly?” Erelynn asks.
“I did. It was a simple matter once I archived them. The serids helped tremendously.”
Now Prince Ekriam is startled. “The creation of an archive spell is complex enough, but you completed this and found your information in a single day? How did you accomplish this?”
James shrugs. “I had the basic spell already set up. Once I discovered the serids naturally process loads of information both quickly and completely accurately, the rest was easy. Then all I had to do was uplink to the archive, and I found what I needed with time to spare.”
Prince Ekriam shakes his head. “You Gathyrans constantly astound me.”
“That’s their job description,” Kyle says. As guests of the proceedings, he and Synrn have been led to the table last, though they still hold royal seats as the entourage of the princes of Gathyra.
“I won’t deny it, but you’re definitely not one to talk,” Parkr quips back. He and Mykl take seats beside James. To James’ unasked question, Parkr explains, “Apparently Mykl and I are on the guest list as Prince’s attendants.”
Erelynn almost stifles a laugh. “My heartfelt apologies for this oversight. Please grant us patience as we struggle with the thought that not all princes wear a crown.”
“That’s right, you place the proof of your title on your weapons or armor of your choosing,” Ekriam recalls. “Prince Parkr, yours is the blue crystal on your gauntlet, and Prince Mykl, your red crystal is embedded in your sword, correct?”
“Good eye,” Mykl confirms.
“But where did Prince James place his crystal?”
“Look closely,” Parkr says.
Ekriam and Erelynn study James’ profile. Erelynn gasps. “The crystal in your circlet. It blends in with the design so well I didn’t notice it.”
“Watch it when he uses magic seriously,” Synrn speaks. “Then it’s truly a sight to behold.”
“I shall look forward to it,” Erelynn says. “Now, aren’t Parkr and Mykl going to tell us what they found. I don’t know how James refrains from asking with such composure.”
A twinkle moves from Parkr’s eyes across his expression. “King Cenryr, the first king of Gathyra, knew of the dance of sentinels. He placed mention of it for all to see, but we never understood because of the context.”
James leans forward eagerly. “You found the hidden resting place of King Cenryr?”
Mykl nods. “It was on a hill occupied by satyrs. Parkr and I cleaned them out this morning and found a symbol of the dance of sentinels. No doubt, King Cenryr placed something in his grave for our generation to find.
“The generation that watched the dance of sentinels,” Synrn confirms.
“I wish I could join you when you leave in the morning,” Erelynn sighs. She reaches beside her and picks up a small yellow serid contentedly snacking on stolen treats. “Take this guy with you. He will light your way where none other dare to tread.”
“This quest you’ve found will not be easy, even for warriors such as yourselves. Are you truly going to leave in the morning to chase it?” Ekriam asks.
The princes exchange a look. Mykl turns to Ekriam with a grin.
“Isn’t life less boring that way?”