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The Unspeller and the Book of Days


What the Queen Knows
The cold winter wind blew across the gray sky, and Na Serin's flags twisted on the towers. Aesa
ignored the cold, sitting on Laeron, who sat on the castle wall. They watched the procession of mages and
Council members walk across the castle's bridge to the Gate.
In the center of the procession was a covered litter, black and gilded with gold. Exinder lay inside,
burning with fever and passing in and out of wakefulness, as close to the Death Realm as he could get. He
could cross as at any time.
The procession reached the Gate and paused. The entrance shimmered and a lone Arkenian stepped
Her wings were scarlet and there was a red mark across her eyes. Her feet were bare. Her simple
white gown had no embroidery or ribbons, yet there was no mistaking the royal figure. Armath, the Arkenian
queen, had come to take Exinder to his people.
Fear rose in Aesa at the sig ht of her. To still his fear, he called up his magic, letting the warmth fill
him until he knew his eyes swirled with it. New runes came into view around her, complex and possibly very
ancient. She did not need warriors to guard her.
As if she sensed him, her gaze turned to the wall where the dragon sat. Aesa quickly quenched his
magic as she met his eyes. Images flickered in his mind, and he recognized the familiar dream-speech of
Arkenia. He saw a hand touching a wall in the darkness, and Tamlin crying out as Aesa ripped his Arkenian
race from him. Longing and terror clouded Aesa's thoughts. The last thing that Tamlin had felt, he knew.
The queen turned away and the images vanished. She knew who Aesa was and what he had done.
She knows what I did to Tamlin before he died, he said to Laeron.
The dragon shifted his wings. You were feared before you did that. You are the End of magic.
Is it a war ning? Aesa asked.
I don’t know.
She went to the litter and opened the door, where Exinder lay under brocaded linens. Aesa couldn't
see her face as she leaned in, but anxiety coursed through him. What if she kills him?
Why would she?
He is half-human.
So was Tamlin.
She is so unpredictable. I don’t know what she’s thinking.
No one does. But he will die without her help. His people are the only chance he has, whether they approve of his
origins or not.
The queen stepped away and closed the door, then gestured for them to follow her into the Gate.
Most of the procession moved forward and the Gate swallowed them, taking them to Arkenia.
The ones who had not stepped into the Gate turned back to the castle. One of them wore a thin
circlet on his dark, ebony hair. Lord Wexler had been summoned before the chaos of the battle had been
cleared. The next heir to the throne stood for a moment, staring at the Gate. Then he whipped around and
strode back to the bridge, the mages moving smartly to follow him.
I’m not sure I’m going to like Wexler as king, Aesa said.
Better him than his oldest son.
Thinking of Harlan, Aesa shivered. It would be the ruin of the Trader kingdom if Harlan ever wore
the crown.
out.
 
 
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