Orion stood chained to the wall of Provenna's dungeon, his chest to the stone and his back to Aeneas and the chief torturer. He rested his cheek against the wall; the coldness of the stones against his burning flesh was the only comfort he could find. Long strands of dirty, blood-soaked hair fell in front of his eyes. His back was a mass of criss-crossing wounds.
How long the torture had lasted he knew not. The minutes and the hours and the days had all melted into each other to form one eternal present of torment. His features, twisted in agony, were lighted by the red glow of the two torches upon the walls and the pile of burning coals which lay within a circle of stones in the center of the floor.
He gave a choked cry as Aeneas slowly drew a knife, freshly held in the red-hot coals, down his back. The pain was excruciating, but he tried to force himself not to cry out or to move, for Aeneas drew the knife down in such a way that the less Orion moved the less he would be cut. But he could not keep himself from starting at the pain, and he gave a sharp cry as the blade zig-zagged across his back and dug into his skin.
Aeneas pulled the knife away, and Orion began to retch involuntarily; he would have thrown up had there been anything in his stomach.
"You’re getting much better at this game," stated Aeneas as he walked to the glowing coals in the middle of the room and held the knife to it. "You scarcely moved or screamed at all, which really defeats the whole purpose."
Orion's shoulders shook as he wept.
"Mystia," he whispered. He could barely say her name–his voice was so hoarse from screaming.
Aeneas gave his brother a scornful look then motioned to the chief torturer, who, whip in hand, was standing silently by. The torturer drew back the lash and sent it cracking across Orion's back. The warrior cried out in pain, but no sooner had the sound died from his lips, when the torturer drew the whip back again and sent it once more biting into his flesh.
"Mystia!" Orion cried over and over with each strike of the whip. It was his prayer, his plea, his cry for help and mercy, but the pain continued. He wanted to run or to fight–to do anything to escape the blows. He strained against his bonds and clawed against the stones of the wall, but the chains would not break or the stones give way. Unconsciousness would not come to him, and he was left half mad with impotent fury as he writhed beneath a torture he could not escape.
"Stop!" a voice suddenly cried.
"What?" Aeneas demanded as he turned. He found himself facing Tnaka.
"Provenna wants him alive not beaten to death!" the elven king shouted
The young prince’s face twisted in rage, but before he could say anything Tnaka said, "Get out. Now!"
Aeneas began to sputter in outrage.
"I said get out!" Tnaka cried.
The young prince gave an unintelligible cry and stormed from the room. The torturer followed him.
Tnaka waited until they had left, then turned. Cautiously, he approached Orion, who stood resting his forehead against the wall. Orion wanted to lie or sit or even kneel, but his chains would not allow it; he was forced to stand even as his body screamed for rest.
"Orion?" Tnaka questioned, not certain if the warrior could hear him.
Orion turned his head slightly in seeming answer to the elf's voice.
"Orion," said Tnaka as he gazed at the warrior's dirty, sweat-stained face, "I’ve come to beg you to come back to us."
Orion smiled mirthlessly and said nothing.
"Orion, you need not betray those you serve. You need not turn from the path you have chosen. You can battle Kozan, rescue Mystia, and then be free to live your life as you see fit."
Still Orion did not answer.
Tnaka hesitated for a moment. "Orion, can you hear me? Do you understand me?"
Orion took a slow breath and, with a hoarse voice, whispered, "I hear you."
"Then tell me you’ll help Provenna."
“I won‘t help an evil person."
"Orion, please," Tnaka begged. "By helping your mother you will be helping and serving Mystia."
Orion's face filled with pain as he took a breath. "How can I claim to serve those who are good if I aid one who’s evil?"
Tnaka hesitated. "Helping your mother will allow you to rescue Mystia."
Orion laughed coldly.
"Orion..." began Tnaka, but Orion continued to laugh–a bitter sound that echoed off the walls.
"Orion, stop!" Tnaka cried. "How hard can it be to do this?"
Orion's laughter died away, and he answered softly. "Not hard at all, but wrong nonetheless...and dangerous." A look of despair crossed his face. "My mother would never let Mystia go. She would hate her and treat her cruelly, and she would kill her rather than let her leave. What sort of a servant would I be to let her fall into such a person's grasp?"
He gave a sort of mirthless half-laugh, half-cough. "I think I fear for her less with Kozan."
"Orion," Tnaka answered, "you're being foolish and melodramatic. Provenna would never act that way. Listen to me."
"I am listening to you," Orion snapped, "but I’ll not do as you ask. I once followed evil, and you begged me to do good. Now I serve a good woman, and you beg me to help evil. I’ll not do so. I’ve chosen my path, and I will follow it."
"Even if it means death?" Tnaka demanded. "You know what a price that is!" He paused then continued with soft intensity, "You have not the strength to resist. You and I both know you’ll fall."
"I do not!" Tnaka cried. "And you know it. 'Tis only a matter of time before you surrender, and I would have it be sooner, while you still hold some of your convictions, rather than later."
"You lie," Orion said again, his voice trembling. "I’ll not turn. I’ll stand firm for Mystia."
"Forget that woman. Provenna herself said she’d find you twenty women more beautiful than her. Just return to us. All my life I’ve wanted peace, and all my life I’ve been surrounded by war. Provenna has conquered and conquered and conquered. Now, if you simply help her defeat Kozan she’ll be satisfied, and there will be peace."
"And what care I if you have peace?" Orion asked. "I’ll not turn."
For a long moment Tnaka looked at the blue-eyed warrior and tried to think of some other way to convince him. Finally, without another word, he turned to walk from the room. As he started toward the door he stopped short in surprise, for in the doorway stood Eagle. How long she had been there the elven king knew not, but it was clear she had many questions.
* * *
Tnaka sat in his chambers. His head was bowed, and his hands were folded and resting on the table in front of him. Eagle sat across from him. Her brow was furrowed, and she looked intensely at him.
"Who is this man?" she asked "You say he’s Provenna's son, yet she has him tortured as though he’s her worst enemy. He may be a warrior, but what good can he do against Kozan who’s a Power? Why do you want so much to make him follow you?"
"Eagle," said Tnaka with a sad, weary voice, "ask me not why Provenna does the things she does, for I know not."
"Very well, why do you want Orion to turn?"
"I wish him not to turn at all, but I know he will so I wish him to turn now rather than later, when he’ll become so completely evil that he’ll draw Lairannare into wars that will last far beyond my lifetime."
"And how can you claim to know the actions any man will take before he actually takes them?" demanded Eagle.
Tnaka gave a wry, half-smile and answered, "Because Orion is the son of Phyre."
For a moment Eagle could only stare, dumfounded, at Tnaka.
"What?" she finally managed to say.
"Just as I said, Orion is the son of Phyre, the one who was the king of the Realm of Earth, the one who first rebelled against Joretham."
"But how can that be?" she asked. "He cannot be the actual flesh-and-blood son of Norenroth."
"No, he is no longer Norenroth's flesh-and-blood son; he has a far stronger, more evil tie than that."
Eagle looked at him in confusion.
Tnaka took a breath. "Perhaps I should simply tell you the tale in its entirety."
Eagle straightened and looked at him attentively.
"As you know," began Tnaka, "Phyre was cursed by Joretham. After he had been cursed, he sought by every means he could to defeat Joretham and overcome that curse. He started the wars with the Shallee and was defeated. He killed Jaidev and was defeated. Eventually, he was overcome and thrown down from his place as King of Lairannare, and, ever since then, he has sought to regain his former position and the power that went with it.
"Forty-three years ago Provenna was born. She was a simple peasant girl in a quiet, little village unheard of even by most of the citizens of the neighboring cities, but Phyre–some way, somehow–learned not only of her existence but also that she was the Greater Power.
"He came to her village in the guise of a wandering knight–Aidan by name–and in that form he turned her heart to him. It was not difficult to do, for she was young, and her family was not a good one.
“Phyre hoped that through her he would be able to regain that which he had lost. But that hope ended when Orion was born. It was obvious, from the moment of his birth, that Orion possessed great magic power. The rulers of the other Realms had, with growing trepidation, watched Phyre, and with Orion's birth they could remain silent no longer. Phyre's evil was held in check because he was thrown down from his place as King of Lairannare and the Powers were given dominion over him. But Orion, who not only held great magic but was also the son of a Power, had no such checks, and it was feared that he would be just as evil and destructive as his father.
"The Council of the Three Realms was called together to deliberate Orion's fate. From the very beginning, the Council was turned against him. Some argued for his death, and others thought he should be thrown from the Three Realms and made an outcast like the Shallee, but none stood with him. Provenna, overcome with the thought of her son being taken from her to be murdered, begged with all her might for his life. I also argued and pleaded, and even Kozan fought for Orion's life.
"But it was all for naught. The Council was determined that Orion couldn’t be free to live completely unhindered. However, just before the sentence was to be delivered, Lyght, the king of Keiliornare, stood up and spoke. He declared that Orion would neither be killed nor thrown from the Three Realms, but that he–Lyght–would take him as his son and protect him.
"Queen Nyght was furious, for she had been most vocal in the call for Orion's death. There was, however, little she could do to keep Lyght from his intentions. She threatened to throw him down from his position, but still he took Orion as his son.
“Nyght argued that at least some sort of staying power ought to be placed upon Orion, and it was not difficult to convince the other creatures in the Council of that. She demanded that Orion’s magic strength be taken from him, and so it was; at least while Orion remains in the Realm of Earth he cannot use magic.
“But Lyght gave Orion perhaps an even greater gift than that which had been taken from him. He placed a spell so great upon Orion that no one–not even a Power–can touch him with magic.
"The Council ended and we returned to Lairannare. As the years passed, a terrible truth became clear. Lyght, through magic, had made Orion his flesh-and-blood son, but Orion still possessed Phyre‘s soul. He was evil to the core, and there was nothing we could do to hold him back. Lyght had made certain that magic could not touch him, so we could only beg and entreat him to stop. You know not how relieved I was when he finally ran away and I no longer had to deal with him.
"I had hoped that he had died.” He smiled bitterly. “But that proved not the case. When Provenna called him to the palace I was terrified at the thought. The wars seemed finally to be ending, and peace was close to becoming a reality. But I was certain that if Orion returned to the wealth, luxury, and power he once held he would desire them even more and plunge Lairannare into yet another war."
Tnaka leaned forward. "But when he came, I looked into his eyes and saw within him something I never thought him capable of holding. The years had changed him and had taught him what I never could–the ways of righteousness–and I allowed myself to hope that the evil I feared would not take place."
His gaze fell and his shoulders slumped. "But the years taught him too well the ways of righteousness, and now he refuses to stand with us–all because of that foolish Shallean princess."
Eagle's brow became even more furrowed. "Lord, you fear the evil Orion is capable of doing, but what evil can he do by refusing to serve Provenna?"
"Don’t you see?" Tnaka cried as he rose to his feet. "Orion still has Phyre‘s soul; that’s one thing Mystia cannot change. His most basic instinct is that of total evil, but because of the love he holds for this woman he forces himself to turn against everything within him and follow her ways. He refuses to bend–he believes that would be evil–but he will break beneath the torture he’s forced to endure, and when that happens, he’ll reject completely the ways of righteousness and become exactly what he was before: a man given over completely to evil."
Eagle looked intently at Tnaka. "Then free him before he is broken."
"How can I do that?" asked Tnaka in despair. "How can I turn against Provenna? Powers are not to be divided." He turned and walked to the window and said quietly, "Besides, were I to rescue him it would bring about the very thing I wish to prevent–war. Only this time it would be between me and Provenna."
"Powers are not to be divided against each other?" repeated Eagle as she rose and took a step toward him. "Kozan stands against Provenna, and he’s a Power. He stands for what he believes in: evil and oppression. Why, Lord, can you not stand for what you believe in: peace?"
Tnaka turned back to her. "But if I turn against her, I’ll bring war."
"Sometimes peace is only bought with war."
He did not answer.
"Leave me alone," he finally whispered.
She said nothing but curtsied low then turned and walked from the room.
* * *
Provenna sat upon her crystal throne and stared out into the empty space before her. Her throne room was empty, and she sat as unmoving as stone. So had she come and sat every day since the Dark Sorcerer had left.
She started as there came a pounding on the doors to the chamber.
"What?" she demanded. Her voice echoed off the walls.
The doors to the throne room were opened and a servant woman walked in. She curtsied and said, "A man named Nuri claims you know him and demands an audience with you."
"Does he have white hair and very bright blue eyes?" the queen asked.
"Yes, Your Majesty."
She paused then said, "Very well, show him in."
"Yes, Your Majesty." The servant curtsied low then turned and walked from the throne room only to return a minute later, ushering in a noble-looking old man. The servant curtsied once again and left.
The man made his way up to the dais with a slow, dignified gait, and stopped and bowed before Provenna. For a long moment, Provenna simply looked down upon him. His beard and his long, flowing hair were as white as snow, but he seemed not to be as old as from afar he first appeared. He stood with quiet dignity and looked up at the queen with his spectral blue eyes.
"Lyght..." said Provenna coldly. "Why have you come here?"
"You know why I came," answered Lyght. "To ask you to release Orion and torture him no longer."
She looked at him for a moment, then asked softly, "And what right have you to ask that of me?"
"As much right as has anyone to seek mercy for one who deserves not his fate–more, considering I’m his father."
"You," Provenna cried as she rose, "are not his father! You’re nothing more than a meddling old fool who’s ever worked to turn my son away from me. No doubt you stood idly by as that Shallean wench stole his heart."
"And what know you of what I did?" Lyght demanded angrily. "You can’t see past the doors of your own throne room, much less across the whole of Lairannare into the Realm of Magic where I make my home."
"If you had done something, he wouldn’t serve her now."
"And think you he’d do as I desire–I who, as you say, am not even his father?" asked Lyght with scorn.
Provenna's eyes flashed with rage, but she could say nothing in reply.
"Provenna, release him. 'Twould be wrong for any man to so treat him–how much more you who are his mother?"
The queen was silent for a moment then took a step toward him and began to speak. "I am his mother, and he is my son. Joretham commands him to obey me, yet he does not do so. What else am I to do save punish him? He has brought his fate upon his own head."
"You speak falsely and know it. 'Tis wrong to treat any man as you treat him, but, unlike with other men, the consequences of doing so with Orion will be deadly. Now free him."
"I will not!" Provenna snarled as she stepped back onto the dais. Eyes flashing, she stared down at him. "He deserves no mercy." Beneath the anger which filled her eyes and covered her face there was also deep pain. "Aidan turned against me. Kozan turned against me. The Dar..." The words caught in her throat. "The man I would have given my whole kingdom to forsook me. My son shall not turn on me also."
"How can you speak so?" demanded Lyght. "Three men have rejected you, so you take out your anger upon your son? You’re the ruler of Lairannare. You should possess more wisdom than that."
"And do you think I want to be the ruler of Lairannare? I never wanted to be a queen or a Power. Often have I felt that I was not fate's first choice to be the Greater Power. But I am the Greater Power, and I am a queen. My word is the law of Lairannare, and you will have to live with it!"
"Provenna..." began Lyght.
"Be quiet," she snapped as she sat down upon her throne. For a long moment she simply looked at him.
Finally, with a bitter smile she said softly, "They say that Darus, the true king of Delovachia, still lives and that he ever works toward the destruction of Kozan. You know not how much I wish that legend were true." She leaned forward. "I rule Lairannare because I must; because I’m the Greater Power; because if I did not Kozan would; because if I stopped the people would kill me. But how I wish Darus were real and that he would kill Kozan. My Power would be destroyed with Kozan's death. But they say Darus is a good man, and I think he would rule Lairannare well. I think he would not be a man to fear; and I think he would understand why I am what I am and would show me mercy." She leaned back again. "But Darus is a legend and nothing more, and I will rule Lairannare until I die."
Lyght was silent for a moment, trying to think of a response. But before he could answer there came a pounding on the doors to the throne room.
"Enter," snapped Provenna.
The doors were opened, and the servant woman walked in. She curtsied low and said, "Forgive me, Your Majesty, for this intrusion, but you wished to be told the moment Zenas arrived."
"Very well," said Provenna. "Have him brought here immediately."
"Yes, Your Majesty," said the servant woman, who then curtsied and left the chamber.
Provenna turned her eyes back to Lyght and said quietly, "I will not free Orion. Now leave."
Lyght remained still and silent for a moment, looking up at her, trying to decide what he should do next. At length, he bowed stiffly then turned and walked away. The sound of his feet striking the hard, stone floor echoed off the walls–the only sound in that solemn place. He reached the end of the room and stopped to look back at Provenna and up at the stained-glass pictures. Then, without a word, he turned and disappeared from the throne room. There was a hollow boom as the doors shut behind him.
Provenna sat upon her throne, forcing herself to remain absolutely still and calm; though her face was an unmoving mask, darkness and fury raged behind her flashing, green eyes. The doors to the throne room were opened once again and the servant woman, followed by Zenas, entered. Zenas hesitated and looked about him, wide-eyed with fear. The servant curtsied, gave the wizard a soft push in the direction he was to walk, then turned and left.
Slowly the old man made his way across the wide room. His head hung, and his shoulders were hunched over. He held tightly to his staff, but even so both his hands trembled. When he reached the dais, he stopped and looked up at Provenna. His eyes were haunted with fear and despair.
"Ye called for me, Y’r Majesty?" he asked softly.
"Yes, I did," she answered.
"Here I am. What d' y’want?"
She was silent for a moment then began, "You’re a very old man, and a very wise man. I cannot begin to imagine the things you must have learned during your long life. You know Orion well, and Joretham knows you must know as much of him as I do." There was a bitter tone to her voice as she spoke. "I want you to find a way to use magic on him."
"D’ I have to?" Zenas asked in a pitiful voice.
"Yes," Provenna answered coldly.
"But..." began the old man, sorrow filling his voice.
The queen rose from her throne and, drawing herself up to her full height, scowled at him. "I’m the queen of the Realm of Earth. You will do as I order."
The old man fell to his knees and looked up in anguish at her. "Ask me t' do anything but tha'," he begged, "but please don't ask me t’hurt Orion." His shoulders shook.
"Zenas," hissed Provenna, "you’re nothing more than an old hermit whom Kozan would have killed had it not been for me. You owe me a great debt–a debt you’ve yet to pay."
"But she was such a pretty lass," he whispered in despair. "Such a very pretty lass."
"I care nothing about that. Now tell me how to use magic against Orion."
Zenas simply stood there and said nothing.
"I’ll not ask again."
"I don't even know if it's possible."
"You’ll find a way."
For a long moment Zenas was silent. When he finally spoke, he sounded as though his heart was being torn from him.
"As you wish," he whispered.
* * *
Mystia sat upon the floor of Kozan's chambers. Night had fallen, and the silver rays of the moon shining through the window provided the only light. Kozan sat at a small table and drank wine. It seemed to be all he ever did. He would sit there for hours on end. As he drank he would stare off into space with the most anguished look upon his face; or he would fly into terrible rages that seemed never to end.
Mystia did not look at him, but she winced in pain from a bruise on her face. It hurt, but not as much as the ache in her heart, and in her soul. She leaned back against the wall and, turning her eyes to the ceiling, began to pray. She cried out silently–she dared not pray aloud–that Joretham would help her and give her strength, and that he would protect Orion. The mere thought of Orion was enough to almost make her burst into tears. Her shoulders shook with a rising sob, but she forced herself not to cry.
"Are you praying again?" asked Kozan, mockingly.
Mystia started and turned her face to him.
"What makes you think that?" she asked, her voice soft and trembling.
He sneered. As he spoke again, the slur in his voice became evident. "Your eyes were vacant, and you were staring up at the ceiling as though Joretham were up there. You never think he’s behind you or below you or in front of you. No, he’s always somewhere up there." He waved his hand vaguely at the ceiling.
Mystia stared at the floor and said nothing.
"Perhaps he’s standing next to me," said Kozan as he reached to pour himself another glass of wine. "Then you’d have to look at me every time you prayed."
Still Mystia said nothing.
Suddenly Kozan laughed. "Come here."
When he saw that she did not move, he growled, "I said come here."
Slowly, she rose and approached him. Her black eyes were filled with fear, and when she came within six feet of him her steps faltered.
"Sit," Kozan ordered as he motioned to the seat across from him.
She hesitated, eyeing him warily, then did as he commanded.
"Look at me," he ordered. When she did, he said, "Now pray to your god."
"What?" she said in surprise as she pushed her chair back and tried to rise. Kozan jumped to his feet and tried to pull her back, but she was too far away for him to touch. He growled in fury and fixed her with a dark stare. She groaned as unseen hands pulled her back down into the chair and forced her face to turn toward him. She stared wide-eyed at Kozan.
"I said pray to your god!" he snarled.
She opened her mouth, but no words would come. Tears streamed down her face. Kozan looked down in fury at her, and his gaze locked with hers. For a moment he stood, holding her gaze, then suddenly turned his face from her.
"Stop looking at me," he snarled.
The spell broke, and Mystia fell sobbing to the floor. Her chair went toppling over with her, and she gave a sharp cry as it fell on her hand.
"Would you be quiet!" snapped Kozan. "What sort of a god do you worship if you burst into tears every time you pray to him?"
Even through her fear, anger filled her at his words and she jumped up. "And what sort of a god do you serve? You, who murdered your wife, who’ve killed thousands of people, who strike innocent women, who know nothing of ruling a kingdom but sit in a drunken stupor and let your servants rule it for you?"
"Be quiet!" Kozan growled as he lunged forward and struck her across the face. She gasped in pain and again fell to the floor, where she scrambled away from him as quickly as she could.
"I’m a Power and a king and your master, and you’re nothing more than my slave. My word is the law. How dare you insult my god!"
"Balor is no god," she answered.
His lips curled up in a sneer. "And I suppose Joretham is? Joretham, who’s stood ever so faithfully beside you, keeping your country from falling and you from being taken prisoner. Yes, what great power he has.”
He rolled his eyes and added, “Just the power one would expect from a dead god."
"Joretham rose from the dead," Mystia told him softly.
Kozan laughed. "Do you actually believe the foolish stories made up for your religion?"
"Do you believe the stories of your religion?"
Kozan sat back down at the table, "I do not need to put my trust in foolish stories created by long dead people in a pitiful attempt to lend credence to their failing religion."
He grew very quiet, and for a long moment he gazed upon Mystia where she sat upon the floor. Finally, he spoke. "I know a tale few have ever heard; fewer still have been allowed to live once they have heard it." He took a drink from his goblet, and there was a far distant look in his eyes as he spoke. "There once was a boy, many, many years ago–a pirate. How he became a pirate who can tell? For he himself remembered nothing of a life before the rocking of a ship and the ocean stretching endlessly in all directions.
"Pirates are an evil lot who prey upon all who are weaker than they, and this boy was very young and very weak." An angry look filled Kozan's face. "But this boy learned strength, and he learned power, and he learned ruthlessness. He learned that men were weak fools to be broken to his will, and he rose in greatness until, when he was barely a man, he became the greatest and most feared of all the pirates who ever sailed the seas.
"One day a storm sprang up suddenly, and he was caught in the very middle of it. It raged for weeks, and his ship was battered beneath it. Finally, the vessel was broken, and the boy was cast into the water. But how could the mere sea overcome one as great as he?
"He was tossed upon the waves until finally he was cast up on the shores of an island. It was an island he had never seen nor heard of before. It was a dark, magnificent place filled with magic more potent than anything he had ever felt before. And in the very center of the island was a great, towering temple made entirely of the blackest marble.
"The boy entered the temple, and there he was met by a man–a man more proud and terrifying and powerful than any man the boy had met before." Kozan's eyes fairly flashed with evil. "That man was Balor, and that island was his sanctuary where he would stay until the time came for him to return and rule over Lairannare.
"He led the boy into the inner sanctum of the temple, and there he told the boy many things. The boy was great already, but he was destined to become even greater. He was destined to become the greatest man who ever walked the face of Lairannare. He was to rule the Realm of Earth, and he was to destroy the High Elves once and for all and thereby open the way for Balor's return.
"Balor told of another–a boy, a man, a woman, an elf; he did not say–and this other was a Power, but one who did not deserve it. Balor taught the boy the most dark and ancient of magic spells, and together they cast it. The pain that took hold of the boy was unlike anything he had ever felt before: it was as though his body was being torn apart. But he was strong, and he endured, and, when all was finished, he held within himself the magic strength which had but moments before belonged to the unworthy Power."
Kozan gave a wicked smile. "Now that boy has only to destroy the fool of a woman who dares hold herself up as the Greater Power. Then all will be finished. Balor will return and rule over Lairannare and, finally, over the whole of Deithanara." His brown eyes flashed as he leaned forward. "That is the power of Balor: the power to take a person's magic strength–the very essence of a man–and give it to another, the power to set oneself up and reign on high over the whole of Deithanara. That is true power. What is Joretham compared to that?"
Mystia said nothing in reply. She simply sat upon the floor looking steadily up at him. And Kozan, for all the might of his god, could not bring himself to look into her eyes.
* * *
Far away, in the country of Jocthreal, in the city of Leilaora, Queen Eagle stood in the dark dungeon of Provenna's palace. She stood outside Orion's cell and covered her face with her hands. Aeneas had gone and the beatings had ended for the night, but still Orion cried out in a hoarse, pitiful, broken voice. His chains rattled violently as he strained with all his might to break them. Over and over he cried out for Mystia–or to Mystia. Silently Eagle stood in the dark and dirty corridor and listened to him.