Clío was sitting at her vanity as Adora deftly twisted her hair into braids. Her pretty blond handmaid was chatting with someone, but she didn't recognise the person's voice and she couldn't see a face. She couldn't even tell if it was a man or a woman, though to have a man in her bedchamber who was neither Trystane nor a physician was simply not likely. And anyway, it made no matter; Clío took only a cursory notice.
Some dark, obscure fear seemed to gnaw at the very back of her mind; something unthinkable, yet unnameable. Fleeting thoughts kept flashing through her mind, each disappearing before she could fully grasp it, but she kept coming back to one: there was something she had forgotten, or just plain neglected, to do, something important… but what? And why did she seem to fear—to know—the consequences of her negligence would be dire, possibly even deadly?
Suddenly, she was aware of a baby crying. It sounded distant, yet she had the distinct
Sons of Kings:
where she was, but she was certain she had never seen this clearing before in her life. As fear set in, black clouds began gathering up above, blotting out the sun and threatening violence.
She turned slowly in a circle in an effort to decide in which direction she should set off in search of… what? She wasn’t even sure which kingdom she was in–
As she completed the circle, she saw with a start that Trystane was right beside her, where she knew he had not been just a heartbeat before. “Trys,” she murmured and reached out to him…
And he vanished.
She spun around, and he was there again, this time about six paces in front of her, yet seemingly unaware of her presence. She took a step toward him…
And he vanished again.
The cycle repeated again and again, what must’ve been a hundred times, setting him further away each and every time, until she grew dizzy from spinning
impression that it was right there in the room with her. As the infant’s screams abruptly grew more urgent, she whirled around in her chair, vaguely aware of the startled, “My Lady?” from Adora, who stepped backwards with a start at the terrified expression on the princess’ face. Trembling violently, Clío leapt from the chair and frantically searched the room, gripped by the absolute, unwavering certainty that she must find that baby; she must save that baby…!
Then, just as quickly as they started, the cries stopped, and a wave of crushing despair took the very breath right out of her lungs, and she staggered, falling to her knees with a strangled sob. Suddenly, she was alone, in a forest clearing on a sunny day. The forest looked a bit like the Wooden Grove here, much like the Northwood of Anglica’a there. She gazed around and wondered why there were tears on her face; she couldn’t remember having wept. Wiping them away absently
with the back of her hand, she tried to identify
moment for her to understand that the wails were coming from her as she cried out in vain for her lost love.
Then came the crushing grip on her heart and the sickening tearing sensation as she looked down just in time to see it torn from her chest, held in the iron grip of a man's hand. Her agonized screams were abruptly cut off as she fell to the ground, dying. As she gazed toward the sky, she could see the shape of a tall man looming over her, holding her still-beating heart, crushing it as her own warm blood trickled down upon her.
“I told you I would take what is mine,” she dimly heard the man say as everything faded to grey.
and turning, dizzy with fear, and she fell to her knees once more, her body wracked with uncontrollable tremors.
Rain began falling, and she cast her eyes to the sky in exasperated defeat. As she watched, a blood-red bolt of lightning opened up the sky, and the rain began coming in sheets.
Lowering her eyes, she saw him again. Only this time he was not standing. He was lying on the ground, motionless, oblivious to the raging storm around him.
Protruding from his chest, where it was sure to have struck his heart, was the thick, feathered shaft of an arrow.
As her eyes widened and she opened her mouth to scream, the arrow turned into a sword, pinning him to the now-sodden ground and spilling his lifeblood in a ghastly crimson stain that grew larger by the second.
She was aware of a blood-curdling wail that seemed to explode all around her, sounding to her like the cries of a thousand tortured souls. It took a