A scene from chapter twenty of my WIP, SOLOMON’S CHOICE, coming soon!
Terrance is nowhere to be found when we reach the top of the stairs, the traitor.
“He was trying to help,” says Notte.
“I am at odds to determine how.”
He steers me right, and suddenly we are in a hall I haven’t seen – the usual luxury on the left, but on the right, a chaos of stained-glass windows, stretching enormously from floor to ceiling, displaying people and places in sharp, asymmetrical color.
It must be day, still. Light floods through them, spilling to infect the wall and floor and carpet. Some have Roman numerals above people’s heads, and some have sets of numbers – I think latitude and longitude? – as if to send viewers to locations of yore.
I’ve never seen blues like that. Reds like that. Yellows that hum with the soul of warm, as if they hold the heart of the sun.
“These were my children,” says Notte, startling me, and I realize I’d stopped walking to stare.
“These are those who have died.”
Oh, fuck me. “Why would you show me this?” He grieves, says Terrance in my memory. “This seems unwontedly personal.”
“Because the time has come for you to decide,” he says, colored by the glass’s light, a patchwork representation of memories of his own. “Because I am about to give you a way to speak to your child. Because I need you to know that I have children of my own.”
Now, this is where a human who wasn’t broken, who had more sense, would say something clever, or empathetic, or… I don’t know, because I can’t say those things. I have no idea what wouldn’t be insulting, or seem condescending, or worse.
But I must say something. “Why do you need me to know that?”
He turns his gaze to me, and his eyes are greener than the sun-blushed glass, brighter than the sky outside, sharper than Terrance’s knife. “Because I am tired of losing my family. Because my own face a threat as terrible as your own. Because we share a love for those who are ours that defies reason and power, shapes dreams and mountains, and drives us both to do that which ought not be done – all to save our own.”
I can barely breathe in this hall.
Here I stand in the monument to his beloved gone, alone with the weight of decisions I cannot possibly see the ends of, cannot possibly work out all that will come from my choice, and yet I must make it now.
The King of Blood waits for me. Silent. Still. He has time, more than I, and can afford this torque.
I can look him in the eye.
He has not shamed me.
I know what I must do.
“I will take your deal,” I tell the Mortal’s Doom, and a breeze comes from nowhere to dance in soft and wordless relief.