Anthology’s End

“He returned in triumph, having proven his Valor. The dragon’s skull still adorns his stable door, and the knight’s nieces and nephews throw rocks at it.” Amoranth smiled as he finished the story, and the children around him started asking questions. They seemed most curious about the grisly details of the dragon’s demise, but such was expected.

As the children scattered, Amoranth waved to Lap-Lem and little Catherine, who had been planting roses together around the nursery. The wingless gargoyle held out his arms to carry Amoranth’s satchel, and the old monk was happy for the help and company on his walk back to Britain.

Recovery from the Snake’s poison had been slow, but the other monks and Nastassia had been kind enough to shoulder his burden for him. The period of rest had allowed him to get to know those who had taken refuge with the Kinship. While others had cared for the physical injuries, he tried to help with their grief and disillusionment.

Eventually, most of the refugees from Cove left the House of the Rose. Some had made lives for themselves in Britain, but the Juka and the old beggar had returned to their wanderings. Amoranth hoped they found what they were looking for.

 

*****

Syria leaned against a wall as her warriors sparred. There was a tension to their practice that only grief could cause, and the usual banter was absent. Satisfied with the drills, she nodded to the trainer, a man named Marc who had been involved in much of the year’s strife. He gave a salute and returned to correcting the posture of a young soldier.

Steadying herself on an oak stick, the Commander of the Library of Scars began the tiring walk back to her quarters. The healers had told her the cane was temporary, but that she might always have a limp. Entering her quarters, she collapsed onto the chair in front of her desk. Out of sight of her people, she spared a moment for grief. She then straightened in the chair and began writing the letters she owed to the families of the fallen.

 

*****

Dr. Owl watched as the false Lycaeum crumbled to dust and was swept away by the eddies of the Ethereal Void. As the vision in the bowl of water faded, he made some final notes for his report to the King. It troubled him that Thariand’s folly would be reduced to a few hundred lines of inked script. The lessons of toying with such dangerous magic should be better memorialized.

Later, as he walked back to his study with a bowl of stew, he met Fyrgen in the hall. The younger prophetic mage looked haggard and mentioned his bad dreams.

“I thought with the paradox mane gone, you would have no more nightmares?” Dr. Owl asked.

“That threat is gone, but there are other terrors that lurk in the Void.”

“You could give up the dreaming.”

Fyrgen gave a sad smile, “No, I can’t. We dream so that the nightmares never become reality.”

 

*****

Penumbra gazed into her crystal ball.The reflected candlelight showed the flickering destinies of those she had guided. She felt the tension leave her shoulders as the six flames steadied. The reflections now stretched into the future.