Good evening! Yes, I know, I'm late. This text was supposed to be for the theme "Memories" of the Viren week (so like five days ago), but alas, my dark sugar daddy is a capricious muse.

A rather particular style for this one, I hope that you will like it. Enjoy your reading!

Banthere Lodge, Games room. The wind and the snow are moaning outside. A fire sparkles in the fireplace. A pitcher of mulled wine with spices is placed on an end table. Standing in front of the hearth, on armchairs, on a sofa, sitting on the floor drawing or doing push-ups and stretching, is Banthere's little circle: King Harrow, Prince Ezran, the Consort Callum, Lord Viren, Soren and Lady Claudia.

- So the poor, oh so corrupted, the priestess was dragging herself on the ground, all sacerdotal dignity nothing but gone, far, very far, far, far, far away. No matter how much she prayed to her great gods, no one came to get her out of the mud, and as she imagined that it was the punishment for her sins, she stayed there, oh-so penitent, and would have died out of hunger if a mage had not charitably put an end to her sufferings, by sublimating some gremlin's claw reduced with pavot flower. So much the better, you know, because hunger is such a terrible way to go. You imagine your stomach becoming empty, very empty, very slowly, and roaring like a dragon, and then your tongue drying out, and your bones piercing your skin, and you feel that your legs no longer support you, and you drag yourself on the ground, crawling and moaning until the monster in your stomach ends up eating you, you, raw, and the crows come to consume your bones; finally this is what happened to the priestess who preached dead gods to people who did not care about and an end of the world that never happened. Magiiiic! Voilà, the End!

(Claudia, twelve, gracefully courtesies, then returns to the couch)

- Well done! Well done! (Ezran, four, applauds as loudly as he can - he understood absolutely nothing. Callum, ten, looks at Claudia with tenderness and some fear, without ceasing to clap)

- Ha, my sister is really good at telling stories, isn't she? (Soren, fourteen, speaks so loudly that everyone can clearly hear his voice despite the noise) Okay, she's a little too comfortable with loathsome things, but apart from that, she does strutt, right? Right? Right!

- Well ... er ... Indeed, she can deal with her point. But perhaps she should have chosen a more suitable topic for children. A less morbid, less fatalistic, more positive, more moral story.

- More suitable?

- Yes. You have the right word, Viren.

- Well, in my opinion, I personally found this story extremely interesting. As the philosopher Gonamint had pointed out, she evokes with great accuracy the decline of religion in the customs of our time, both because of the printing press ands through the progress of science and literacy -

- So, Milord Me, In My Opinion, Personally, I, think that you would do well to educate your golden sweet-heart in a little less fatalistic values, and to avoid instilling in your children such hatred for this unfortunate prelate Opélie. I will end up believing that you are in love with her.

- I-I beg your pardon, your Grace ?! No way, all but that, with all due respect - Soren, stop laughing.

(Harrow sips his mug of mulled wine and Soren hides his laughter with a series of stretches. Claudia, who is laughing as well, stuffs her face in a cushion.)

- So! (Harrow gets up from his armchair and claps his hands) Who has another story to tell?

- Me! (Ezran raises his arm so quickly that Callum jumps) Dad! Me! Me!

- Um ... I wonder who I am going to designate for this task ... (he scratches his beard)

- Dad! Here! Me! Me! (Ezran gets up, he gestures to himself, runs after his father, pulls his pants. The audience has a tender smile)

- Hmmm… It's curious, I don't see anyone… (he turns his head on all sides, sniffs into the air, bows, looks under the cushions, bends down, scrutinises under the sofa)

- Mememememeee! (Ezran tries to climb on him)

- There you are! Ezran! Why were you hiding? You know I was worried, you naughty boy! Come and charm us with your tales, O prince of minstrels, in the centre of our circle, by the fireplace of this ancestral mansion ... (Ezran obeys, nothing but smiles) There you go. Is everybody ready?

(all together)

- Yeah!

- Ready, your Grace!

- Yes...

- One couldn't be more ready, your Majesty.

- Well! Ezran! (He sketches a comical salute) You may start your tale.

- Ahem-hum. (He clears his throats and puts his hands behind his back like grown-ups do). So, once upon a time, there was a unicorn…

- Starts well…

- Shut up, Soren.

- Claudia, watch your tongue.

- Sorry, papa.

- This unicorn was very very, very nice. But one day, she got caught by a unicorn trap. Fortunately, a little human girl found her and took care of her. Alas, she was a very, very poor little girl. (he puts his feet inside) Her tutor was poor. Her cook was poor. Her butler was poor. Her chamberlain was poor. Her steward was poor. Her slattern was poor.

- Ezran, mind your tongue!

- Oh. So, her maid was poor...

- Pfrt…

- Viren, you may stop chuckling, thank you.

- Her groom was poor ...

- All right, Ezran, I think we got it.

- And as they would all die of hunger because of famine, (he accompanies his enumerations with vigorous gestures), drought, plague, leprosy, cholera, starvation and locusts, well they decided to eat the nice unicorn. Or make it dark magic, or something very, very nasty.

- I beg your pardon, my Prince? Do I have to remind you…

- Hush, Viren. (Claudia opens her mouth) And Lady Claudia, make no comments.

(Viren and Claudia exchange a resigned glance)

- The poor little girl then decides to escape with the unicorn, who had become her friend, and to, when she returned, to teach her village that magic animals are not mean at all. So she went to the forest to meet the other magic animals ...

- What animals, exactly? (Claudia straightens up and displays a big smile) Mahahas, leshens, leshii, squonks, ...

- Claudia ...

- Hey, I'm the one telling, Claudia! Well, I'm willing to put on squonks, to please you, even if I don't know what it is.

- Oh, well, it's a sad, cute little creature-

- Lady Claudia, I said no comments. (Claudia winces and curls up, pouting. Viren pinches his lips, but says nothing). Ezran, continue.

- Anyway, well, the unicorn guides her to a brothel…

- A what?! (The audience tenses up. Harrow is the one who shouted. Viren coughs; he chokes on his mulled wine; Claudia discretely casts a spell to erase the red spots that smear his doublet.)

- Yeah, that's a really nice word, isn't it? I heard a servant girl talKing about it, and she explained it to me. It is a place where you can receive love.

(Viren pinches his nose, dismayed. Harrow is too flabbergasted to react immediately.)

- Pfrt…!

- Ser Soren, stop laughing immediately. And my grandfather King Alzar had them banned by decree, under pain of paying a thousand sovereigns.

- We-well, your Majesty, cough-cough-cough, (he still hacks a little in his fist), we must, therefore, believe that the repression lacks some grip.

- Can I continue my story, yes or no? (he stamps his foot, with a little pouting mine) So, the poor little girl catches all the love she can. She puts it in a big, big, big bag, and then brings it back to her castle.

- Hey ! Wasn't it a village, Ezran?

- But the groom, the cook (he counts on his fingers), the butler, the chamberlain, the steward, the gardener, the tutor, the operator, the maid and the cleaning-girl, they do not want it. Then she explains to them, "It's love, you will see, you will be happy afterwards!" But they are too mean and they are too unhappy, so they chase her away by throwing tomatoes and pebbles at her. (he throws imaginary projectiles towards Viren who rolls his eyes) And then they throw one that is so, so big, that the unicorn is hit and then even ... (a dramatic pause) that the unicorn DIES! (he spreads his arms, then spares another silence and looks at the carpet.)

- Excellent news ! (Claudia's smile has grown even larger) They couldn't have thought any better ! Its horn is an absolutely colossal source of magic, and its flesh is three times more nutritious than pork!

- Lady Claudia…

- Oops, haha, I beg your pardon, your Grace.

- The poor little girl fled, crying her blue eyes out because her only friend was dead. So she's angry, and she threw the love bag on the floor, and then she kicks in there, like this (he kicks into the void) wham, bam, wham! (he kicks a cushion).

- Ezran, no violence.

- Sorry, dad. And once the bag was empty, she went into the forest alone, all alone. She is very careful to avoid the brothel, this time ...

- Pfffffftahahaha… (he laughs in his hand)

- Soren-uh!

- Sorry, your Highness -pfrt…

- I'm going on, so. Well, the poor little girl, she goes into the forest. She was all alone, huh, there was no longer the nice unicorn to keep her company. And there was no grass and no birdsong, and no little rabbits, and no hinds and no fawns. And then she was cold, afraid, and above all, hungry. And, oh, dear, the trees were so tall, they were so dark, so severe and so threatening!

- Ah, Viren, I think you're mentioned here ...

- Ha-ha. Very amusing, Your Majesty.

- The poor little girl, she's lost. And then she finds herself by a pack of wolves, very, very huge wolves with very huge sharp teeth (he bends and mimics a beastly face, one of his hands representing the fangs) who are also very, very hungry. She no longer has a rope…

- Huh?

- Hope, Ez. Hope.

-H -hope, and she let the wolves eat her off as mince-meat. (he spares silence again, his big blue eyes lowered on the carpet)

- Geez, Ez, that's quite a gloomy story...

- Yeah, Clo has a bad influence on you, boy ...

(Claudia has a mischievous smile, but doesn't fight back)

- But by this time, (he raises his head and exclaims, with a huge smile) the love that was in the bag, well, it had not disappeared at all. The bag had fallen to the ground, and the love that was in the bag nourished the ground. It spread very quickly, and the grass all grows back. (Harrow and Viren exchange a bitter look. Callum stops drawing and looks thoughtfully at Ezran.) And the birds were singing again, and there were again grass, flowers, sun, fawns, hedgehogs, little rabbits. And the grass, the apple trees and the piers start growing again, and ...

- Hum-hum… The what? The Pyres, your Highness?

- Come on: piers. Pie trees, Viren. (Harrow finishes his glass of mulled wine and fulfils it again.) Your ignorance leaves me speechless.

- And then the earth is so full of love that the wolves, who ate the rabbits who ate the grass, thought that it was not right to eat the poor little girls, so they spit her out, like that, bwaaarg! (he mimics vomiting)

- Yuck, yucky.

- And the poor little girl thanked them very, very much. She told them they shouldn't eat meat because it a was a very naughty thing to do, and they obeyed, they spit out the rabbits, and they all became her friends, all of a sudden, she was full of them, friends, friends everywhere. (Callum looks at Ezran, with something sad and sorry in his glance.)

- No kidding?

- Hush-uh, Claudia! Can you please stop talking when I speak?

- I crave your forgiveness, your Highness. My offspring will no longer bother you.

- So the poor little girl became very happy with her wolf friends. They let her ride them, pet them and sleep abreast them.

- So, they're basically stuffed animals.

- Soren-uh! Hh-hm (he clears his throat again as grown-ups do). But the poor little girl remembers her city…

- I would remind Your Highness that you said it was a castle ...

- Lord Viren-uh! Dad, he's being mean to me!

- Milord, leave your future King be and perhaps you will not taste the executioner's axe.

-Your executioner does not frighten me in the least, your Grace; a sublimation of Kraken's tentacle reduced in a decoction of cyanic grenade consisting of a magnification and body control spell and I shall endeavour to strangle him in an instant.

(Harrow shakes his head, amused):

- Your cheekiness will be the end of you, High Mage. (he finishes his glass of mulled wine) Ezran, you may continue.

- The poor little girl rides her wolves and then she goes back to see her city. She missed the people a lot, she didn't know if they weren't all dying out of starve, and maybe she could explain the value of love to them now that she had wolves to protect her.

- I got a bad feeling about that, dunno why ...

- But when she found her castle, (he counts on his fingers) the chamberlain, the butler, the steward, the operator, the groom, the cleaning-lady, the maid, the cook and the tutor were all very, very, very, very, very, very, very happy. They even did the crazy jerk-face dance for her!

-… Ahem, I beg your pardon, Prince Ezran?

- Oh, forget about it, Viren, it means asking for forgiveness when you make a mistake. No chance that you will understand anything to it.

(Another look full of bitterness cast towards Viren, who responds with an eyebrow raised out of incomprehension.)

- And then all the earth had grown back, as in the forest, so everyone had plenty to eat! And the best thing was that the unicorn had returned! Because when the chamberlain, the tutor, the intendant, the maid ...

- Uh ... I think we got it, Ez.

- When, when all the people ate the vegetables and the jelly tarts of love, they understood that it was not right to eat the unicorns, even dead ones, and that dark magic is a very, very bad thing.

(Claudia rolls her eyes. There is a look between Harrow and Viren. Viren sighs, and Harrow wipes some dust from his eye.)

- So, well, they spit out the unicorn, except that it was no longer a unicorn since they had already used its horn for ... er ... er ... (he stops moving, in hesitation)

- Ah, there are plenty of spells that can be cast through a unicorn horn, Ezran! Counterpoison, cure of all kinds of diseases, aphrodi…

- Haha, so many digressions already, Lady Claudia! Let Ezran tell his story!

- But it did not matter, because the unicorn ate one of the jelly-love tarts which grew on the trees, and then the poor little girl hugged her and cried tight against her. NOT sure what this means (Harrow wipes new dust from his eye) And then her tears, filled with the power of love, gave the unicorn back, not only its beautiful horn, but also huuuuuuge wings (he straightens his arms). Like a swamp.

- A "swan", your Highness.

- Dad-uh ...

- Go on, Ezran.

- And then the winged unicorn, like a Pegasus, the poor little girl and the wolves and the villagers all lived very happily forever, far, far away from hunger, meat and dark magic, thanks to the power of love! The End!

(Applause. Ezran makes a curtsy and returns to his audience.)

- It was a great story, my boy. (He raises Ezran and takes him on his lap) You are the best storyteller in the Kingdom. Maybe even the whole Pentarchy.

(Claudia smiles and raises her eyes to the sky, softened by so much candour. Soren points to Viren with his chin with the same complicit smile. The mage hasn't noticed anything, absorbed by the flames of the fireplace.)

- Dad, why are you crying? And Callum too! Did I say something bad?

- It's okay, Ez.

- Dust in the eye, Ezran ... Just some dust in the eye. Your story was ... was wonderful.

- Well done, little prince! (Soren, by way of applause, started doing clapping push-ups)

- Ahem. If I may have a word, your Highness ...

- No, you may not.

- Ezran! You have to know how to accept criticism and listen to advise. It is the very heart of the King's state.

- Okay, then. (He jumps to the ground and lands heavily on his feet, he stands up, crosses his arms) Go ahead, Lord Viren.

-… I appreciate it, Your Highness. Since you allow me to be honest with you, your story carries a laudable message, indeed, but also too many inconsistencies.

- Huh?

- Well … contradictions…

(Ezran makes a very concentrated pout)

- Moments that lack… how could I phrase it… plausibility.

- Well, Viren, (he chuckles) let me tell you that it was not the goal that was-

- First of all, (Viren cuts off the King, who makes an irritated face, but says nothing), a poor little girl has no cook, no butler, no steward, or anything of the sort.

- Is that so? Nothing of that? No servant? No gardener? Not even a maid? But… (He remains speechless, frowns, throws a questioning look at Harrow who shrugs his shoulders) But how does she get on, then?

- It is, your Highness, what is called being poor. (Ezran stays mute. He looks once more at his father, who nods. Viren lets a silence firmly place this new concept's place into Ezran's mind, then goes on with his lecture). Then, "starvation" and "famine" bring together one and the same meaning.

- What?

- These two words mean the same thing. Then the tomatoes are a vegetable…

- A fruit.

- ... Indeed, your Highness.

- Wow, how he just crushed you, father! (Soren smiles enthusiastically. Claudia giggles in her hand.)

- ... So be it, then. (murderous look and exasperated sigh) A rare and costly fruit found only in certain climates such as south of the Evenere archipelago or northeast of Aïr-al-Behr, where there are also cocoa beans to grow there as well. There are certainly some at the table of Kings or sometimes in great Lord's or nobility's castles, but there is no chance that some peasants will throw some in the face of a small pariah ... (Ezran does a concentrated pout again) ... someone they no longer want to see, in such times of scarcity. Then (he has a slight grin as if he did not actually believe how absurd the sentence he is about to pronounce is), a unicorn is not killed with a pebble and even less with a tomato.

- Is that so?

- Of course, Ez. (Everyone turns to Callum, surprised to hear his voice) Otherwise, how do you want her to be legendary? Besides, it gallops. One can't throw stones at her, she's moving too fast. Think a bit. (Then he realises that everyone is looking at him, and immediately returns to his drawing)

- Is that so? Oh... And how is a unicorn killed, Lord Viren?

- Hmm ... (he glances at Harrow, who silently articulates a formal ban on giving details). Well…

- By dark magic, Ez, of course! There are so, so many things that -

- Dark magic (annoyed glance at Claudia who answers with a pout), which requires ingredients a thousand times rarer and a thousand times more expensive than a tomato, not to mention the necessary knowledge. No chance that simple illiterate and penniless peasants would know even the basics. Do you understand, my Prince?

- Uh ... well ... I don't know ... (he squirms and looks at the ground)

- Hey, papa, where does it come from, the expression "Throwing tomatoes at?"

- Hmm ... Let's say that the performance is so bad that a beggar would be ready to acquire a tomato just to be able to throw it at the head of the unfortunate histrion.

(Soren shrugs. A new word to add to the list of those which sound too smart for him.)

- What is an histrion?

- It is, my Prince, a bad actor. Then you have to make a decision. Are we talking about a hamlet, a palace or a settlement?

- Uh ... Well ... I don't know the other words, so I'm going to say "palace."

(Harrow seizes his head in his hands. Even Callum can't help but chuckling.)

- Wrong answer, your Highness. But I will not dwell on this, your royal father will plainly explain all this to you far better than I would. Won't you, your Grace? (Harrow chuckles faintly in exasperation) Then we have to return to the definition of a brothel ...


- … I was joking. Your father will gladly explain it to you. (Harrow rolls his eyes and Soren sneers between two stretches) Furthermore, wolves are not beasts to be tamed, and even less when they are hungry.

- But it's just big dogs, right? Dogs are nice. They always lick my hand, and they always bring back the branches that I throw for them!

- The tamed animals certainly agreed to bow to your whims, but I doubt that wild beasts are as accommodating. Take care not to walk alone all by yourself in the forest, Your Highness, or it is not a twig that the animals will hold in their mouths, but your warm and bloody cadava -

- Viren, haha, I think he has enough details on this! Is that right, Ezran?

- But even the houn...

- Then (Viren cuts him off, without noticing Harrow's irritation at it. He leaves a silence; then he clears his throat) ... No one forgives so easily, my Prince, and love does not raise the dead.

-Viren… (Harrow clenches his fist and sighs. Callum puts his pencil down and grimaces. Claudia glances an understanding look at him. Soren stops his pumps and lies on the floor. )

- Bah! (Ezran didn't notice anything) What about Little Red Riding Hood? What about Sleeping Beauty? And Snow-

- Nonsense, your Highness. This problem... well, is not one of those that can be solved. (he looks at his mage sceptre resting against his armchair.) Believe me, no one regrets it more than I.

- Oh.

(A heavy silence fell over the audience. There is nothing to be heard aside from the logs burning in the fireplace.)

- Is that why you haven't brought my mom back yet?

(Viren jumps up, his sceptre in his hand, his seat overturns with a great crash, the mulled wine spills on the carpet and the parquet floor, the flames of the fireplace make the red of the wine sparkle on the floor. All the members of the audience straighten, move backwards. Viren stares at Ezran, his ashen face and contracted features. Ezran has backed away, put his hand in front of him, curled up. Then, Viren strides out of the living room.)

- Ezran! (he gets up from his armchair, designating the door) Excuse yourself right away!

(Claudia jumps off the couch and follows Viren, looking worried. Soren and Callum get up, look at each other, undecided, then sit down again. Soren grimaces and stretches his neck.)

- B-but why has he left? (Ezran has tears in his eyes. He doesn't understand why Lord Viren suddenly left, why everyone looks suddenly so furious, especially his father, whom he has never seen in such a state. Even Callum seems frightened.) He-he plays all day along with poor animals who are d-dead, and he-he says it's an answer to-to everything, to all the problems, and-

(Callum glances towards the living room's wooden door as if Ezran's words had suddenly made him realise something unpleasing, then immediately shakes his head, changing his mind.)

-A-and Claudia too, and -

- It's not the same thing, Ezran.

- But, dad…

- Ez, stop. (Callum's features are too severe to be him).

(Ezran starts to sniff and cry. Harrow suddenly softens, bends down and takes him in his arms. Soren suddenly sinks into contemplating the patterns of the carpet)

- Excuse me. I didn't want to be angry at you.


(Harrow lifts him up and places him on his empty chair. Ezran hates being carried, but he doesn't protest.)

- And your story was outstanding.

- (he sniffs) I-it was?

- Yes. A wonderful story of love and forgiveness. The little girl has suffered a lot, but she understands that her torturers did not mean to be mean.

- Er, your Grace, sorry, but they still murdered her unicorn, huh.

(Harrow sighs, annoyed)

- Yes, they did. But even if they had killed it for pleasure and not to appease their hunger, their sadness and their anger ... (he sighs) that does not change the fact that any crime has the right to forgiveness, and whoever the opponent is, love always finds a way.

- Uh ... even if the opponent is Death or something?

- Callum…

- Oh, uh, that's what I thought ... uh, sorry, uh, sorry, y-your Grace ... (he blushes and goes back to his drawing)

- It's nothing. (he sighs. Then, seeing that Ezran did not stop sniffing). Ezran, your story was great. (he scratches his forest of hair) It was the best story in the world. Do not listen to the ill omen bird that Viren is and come to the kitchens. (he gets up) There's an orange cake leftover.

- But I don't like oranges…

- Jelly tart, if you rather. Huh?

- Okay… (he wipes his tears with his palm) But-but it's not the time for a snack…

- We will pretend. Come on. Callum, you too.

(Ezran has a big smile and rubs his face in his sleeve) - Oh, you're the best dad in the world!

(Soren grimaces as if he was injured; then Harrow leaves the living room, holding a hopping Ezran by the hand, with Callum on their heels, his shoulders tucked in. Soren, still on the ground, remains alone in the living room. Motionless for a few minutes, he is on his back, then his gaze falls on the seat and the overturned glass and the red puddling on the carpet. Then he gets up quickly with just his legs, stretches and takes a turn in the direction of the kitchens.)

At the Mausoleum of the Kings, the silence was haunting.

Carved from the craggy cliffs, five centuries weighed on the last cobblestones of the Ecarlate Artery. Obara the Orphan, Phaeton the Preux, Claudia the Righteous, Garyn the Bloodthirsty, Barry the Builder, and others of whom no one remembered the name. Under the pale ray of sunshine which pierced the clouds at the end of the afternoon, they all had the appearance of judges. Their immense blind effigies, seated on their thrones, leaning against their legendary weapons, were rising from the stone as their models would do from death. Even Asmar the Charitable, Harrow's father, and the late Sarai, who was stretching out a benevolent hand to the ground, looked like ants beside these age-old giants.

Placed on the base of Sarai's cenotaph, two candles were spewing trembling flames.

After the departure of General Amaya and Commander Gren, Viren could not follow them immediately, as he should have. His horse was still groaning behind him, but its whinnies were as if swallowed by silence.

When a monument had to be erected, Harrow refused to meet the sculptors. He didn't even want to pay a look at their sketches. Viren could not prove him wrong: despite all their efforts, none of them could ever do justice to the Queen. High Prelate Opelie had to leave for a meeting of the Conclave, so it was to him that the craftsmen had turned. He had spent several hours in the workshop they had been given, examining their proposals, their essays, their sketches, their models. Too solemn, too pompous, too royal, too refined, too static. Too dead. Finally, he had been the one who had to make them a drawing, several, even; despite his skills in this area being limited to sketches of magical plants, some vague studies of the anatomy of the Elves, limbs of dead animals, and runes. It was the only time in his life that he was jealous of the Consort Callum. It had taken him hours and hours of work and crumpled drafts to achieve something anatomically correct, not to mention the armour. The horse gave him less trouble than the Queen, the alive Queen. Despite his efforts, he had not been able to detail the facial features and had, therefore, to write that she had to smile.

And there she was, smiling at him, him who had made the decision to have her children murdered.

Viren took a few steps towards the cenotaph, and suddenly, without being able to tell the reason why, he remembered this winter evening. Not only had Ezran not listened to a word of his advice tending towards more reality, but he had found it fitting, in his candour, to throw Sarai in his face. All of this, of course, hiding behind his big, watery blue eyes, huddling in Harrow's dithyrambic praises, and of course, without any apologies to him.

The years had passed, indeed. Ezran was now eight years old, Callum fourteen. But those two were still breast-fed by naivety and rose jam, fairy tales and overly generous pardons, pretty songs and cradle justice. Not to mention that neither of the two kids had ever seen the red colour anywhere other than on jelly tarts... Unless the Moonshadow elves had already taken charge of educating them on it. While humanity was already on the brink of extinction and the nobility persisted in burying their heads in the sand... none of them, neither Princes nor Lords, would accept the mere advice of a bird of bad omens such as himself.

A breath of wind extinguished his candle, but not Amaya's. Viren bent his knee, snapped his fingers, and dark magic rekindled the flame.

And yet Sarai held out her hand to him as she had on the last day.

At the time, Viren had seized it.

But on this day he turned on his heels, mounted his horse, clucked his tongue, turned his bridle; then he spurred on and cantered his way towards the castle.

There you go! *Jenny of the Oldstones starts playing* A nose-thumbing at this third season's ending, so, oh-so-much simple...

I hope you enjoyed this particular style. I tried to give each character a specific style so that the reader would recognise them.

Happy late birthday to our favourite touchy Dark Mage!