She could hear the girl’s footsteps on the hard earth, as the dog barked around her heels. Her
fingers gripped the knife tighter… and relaxed. The rush of the Covenant Flame was beginning
to die. She felt it slip away. She wished to kill if only to bring it back; but wisdom came with the
going of it. She would obey. The girl would live.
* * *
A Shadowed Past
The war is over, and the King has gone from our land. Gone with him are the faithful children
of men, and now only I am left! I alone remain to sing the Song of the Burning Light over this
bloodstained ground. The Earth Brethren are gone; I know not where. It seems they are
vanquished who once made all men tremble with fear before the strength of wolf and wind and
water, of growing thing and of fire. They are gone, and never more shall I hear their battle cries
all around me. My heart quakes to think of them conquered, yet how could it be otherwise? Their
power was shattered in grief when the King’s heart was pierced by the treachery of his beloved
ones. Surely the anguish of his heart-breaking must shake this world so that nothing can stand
And the Shearim, the merry ones, the Fairest of Creation: they too are gone. They whom no
one could kill have destroyed themselves that the children of men might be protected from their
own wickedness. With the life-force which once danced in their eyes the Shearim have woven a
Veil, a barrier between the Blackness and men. Yet my heart tells me that even the Veil cannot
last forever. One day it will grow weak and tear, and the Shearim will pass out of the world
forever. How the stars weep for us!
But now my blood grows hot within me and visions pass before my eyes, and I, the Poet, I, the
Prophet, will speak! The Blackness will not reign victorious always. In the end the hearts of men
will yearn again for their King, and he shall come! Hear, all you heavens. Listen to me, all you
earth! Rejoice, for he will come again!
Yet quietly will it begin. His reign shall not be taken up first on the Throne of Men, but in their
Hearts: in the hearts of small things, of insignificant things, of forgotten things. In their hearts
shall be kindled the Love of the Ages, and they shall sing the Song of the Burning Light!
And he shall come.
* * *
The air was just beginning to take on a metallic chill when Maggie passed the Orphan House.
Its tall wrought iron gates frowned down on her and striped her face with shadows where they
blocked the orange light of the windows. Creepers, brown with the coming of winter, wound
their way up the red, soot-covered brick walls. The windows were barred and tightly shut. One,
on the ground floor, had been cranked open, though bars crossed it. Maggie could hear the
clanging and shouts coming from that window, and though she was too far away to feel it, she