(Fiction) Anthology

Amoranth carefully finished painting a rose on the last page of the book. He had spent his free time in the last month illustrating “The Children’s Book of Virtues” for the free nursery the Kinship of the Rose was opening. Some might consider such use of his time frivolous, but Amoranth didn’t agree. There had to be art in Virtue, and there had to be love. Amoranth loved to paint, and it would make him happy to see the children of Paws laughing with the illustrated bard or rooting for the knight facing a dragon.

Placing the open book on the shelf to dry, he picked up the bowl with his half-eaten dinner. Amoranth slid the food bowl into a cage holding the order’s elderly silver serpent. Normally a lazy and placid creature, the snake lunged and knocked the bowl out of its cage.

Bending down, Amoranth started picking up the shards of the ceramic bowl. Cutting his hand on one, he sucked at the wound and looked back at the snake, “What a strange reaction…”

*****

Syria watched the new recruits and nodded her approval. When she had taken over after the disappearance of De Snel, many had doubted the young warrior’s ability to lead, but she had continued to build the reputation and glory of the Library of Scars. Giving the order to go through the maneuver once more, she left the great hall and headed to her quarters.

As she stepped inside, someone pressed a knife to her neck. “You are looking well, Syria.”

She recognized the voice, and her body tensed. “You’re supposed to be dead.”

“Close enough, my dear.”

“So you came here to kill me? Stabbing someone in the back always was your way.”

“I’m not going to kill you. Not yet. Not until I’ve destroyed everything that you’ve built.”

With this last word, a club came down on the back of Syria’s head.

*****

Dr. Owl was drawn to Fyrgen’s chamber by the screams. The room was dark and filled with the heady smell of the younger mage’s incense. On the small cot, Fyrgen was struggling against a knot of sheets. Dr. Owl moved to calm the prophetic mage, helping Fyrgen unbind himself and catch his breath. After a few minutes, Dr. Owl found the nerve to ask Fyrgen what he saw.

The young mage whispered, “Nemesis…”

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