DANCE OF DESPAIR

The Ilvannian Chronicles Book Two

PROLOGUE
ESAHBYEN

The world of our children was no longer for us, the Gods, but sometimes I yearned to walk among them, to watch how they made their lives their own and made the mistakes we had so carefully avoided when we still had a presence in their world. But for us to roam it again would mean devastation of the highest order—an apocalypse if you will—so we only deal with them as Sevaehthaer, mere projections of our true selves that can only visit their world in very specific places.

            Seeing my daughter clearly, no longer a small babe but an adult woman, had been the best part of my last visit. She had had no idea who, or what, I was—which was probably for the better—but she hadn’t been scared. In fact, she’d been annoyed, and in that moment had looked so much like her mother—the only mortal with whom I had ever lain—that it broke my heart knowing she would soon lose her.

            I had not counted on the ferocity inside of her—the will, the discipline, and the strength to endure what she endured, which was why I sought my brother out.

            “Please, Seydeh. Don’t do this.”

            He looked at me, eyes the colour of the great deep ocean regarding me dispassionately. Seydeh had been of the sea for so long, his personality had begun to match. His moods went from a quiet calm to a ferocious storm in a matter of moments, regardless of what, or who, was in his way.

            “I do not control the weather, Brother,” Seydeh replied, turning away to look upon the globe through which we witnessed the world. “It comes and goes as it pleases.”

            “Surely there must be something you can do?”

            His eyes changed from the deep green of the sea to a swirling storm of all colours as he turned back to me, tilting his head to the side.

            “I thought we had agreed not to interfere with our children’s lives?”

            Grabbing the rail around the globe tight, I leaned heavily upon my arms, closing my eyes.

            “You do not understand, Seydeh,” I whispered through clenched teeth. “This is too important to leave to something as mercurial as the weather. Please?”

            Hearing footsteps, I looked up to see our eldest sister walking our way. Dressed in a long white gown, silver hair flowing loosely to set off her long, elegant ears, Xiomara looked as impeccable as ever, but there could only be one reason why she would interrupt our conversation.

            “Seydeh has the right of it, Brother,” she said in her musical lilt. “We cannot interfere. Do you remember the last time we did?”

            Her eyes took on a distant look, filled with sadness and remorse, yet it passed quickly.

            “Of course I remember,” I replied, jaw clenched tight, “although you cannot deny, Sister, the signs of history repeating itself.”

            Xiomara glided over the floor towards the globe, lips parting as if she were surprised. As the Goddess of Life, nothing much took her off guard, but when she looked at the globe and witnessed why I was begging, her brows shot up and she looked at me.

            “Esah,” she purred, almost amused. “You would beg for a mortal?”

            “I told you,” I replied. “She’s important to our cause.”

            “As are all our children,” Xiomara said, lifting her chin to look down on me, “but we made a vow all those years ago.”

            “She’s getting stronger.” I rose to my full height, staring straight in her eyes. She was tall for a woman. “Can you not feel it?”

            Her peaceful façade broke for a few moments, revealing the hurt and anger she kept hidden beneath a mask of perfection.

            “Of course I do,” she said, her voice like ice. “Do you think I would not love to go and stop this madness myself? We made a pact, Esah, to do what must be done and not interfere again. You are asking Seydeh to break that promise!”

            My lips curled up in a snarl. “So you would rather allow your sister to bring about eternal darkness to the world of our children than saving one who could stop them?”

            “She’s your sister too,” Xiomara scowled.

            “No,” I replied, folding my arms across my chest, lips pressed in a thin line. “She forfeited that privilege the moment she attacked us.”

            “What about him then?” She waved her hand across the globe. “Why not beg for his life too?”

            The scenery changed to a room. A young man in the throes of a high fever lay in bed, waist covered in bandages. He appeared to be only a step away from greeting death. Xiomara’s eyes, normally light as a summer sky, had darkened to a colour moments away from nightfall.

            “She will never forgive you if you do not save his life.” Her gaze was drawn to the young Anahràn visible in the globe, and I was surprised to see a gentleness in them when she looked back at me.

            I straightened, pushing up my sleeves. “He is nothing to me.”

            She shook her head with a sigh, throwing her hands up in surrender. “I do not wish to fight you, Esah. I merely beseech you to think. You’ve grown too fond of this girl, and you are risking everything by doing so.”

            “I am not, and I promise that before the end, you will see the right of it.”

            Xiomara relented with a shake of her head and took a step back to bow in my direction. Seydeh watched us with an unreadable expression on his face.

            “There is a price for what you ask,” Seydeh said. “It is the way of the world—our way. Nobody is exempt.”

            I nodded. “And I am willing to pay it, Brother.”

            He inclined his head and made a sweeping gesture towards the globe. From the corner of my eyes, I saw him go out of focus and before long, he was gone. I gripped the bars around the globe and peered inside. It was a dark, swirling mess with a speck of white in the middle sinking slowly into the darkness, white hair floating like a banner of peace as if she had surrendered.

            “He’s too late,” I whispered in disbelief.

            “Seydeh is never late, Brother,” Xiomara murmured. “You do know what price he will demand, no?”

            I shrugged. “No price is too high to pay for her life.”

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Kara S. Weaver | Fantasy Writer

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