Chapter 1: Things passed

Sidia Adoni looked out the window. It was a lovely view of the sunset on the rooftops of the city. One of the best views in the city. It reminded her of the loveliest person she had known. She hated it.

She hated everything lovely these days for all beauty seemed to stand there as a memorial to the fairest woman to ever walk the land, Tinivera. But she walked no longer upon the face of the land, and could not be found upon the sea, for she was dead. She'd been dead for almost five years now, killed by Sidia herself.

It was Sidia's trial. She stood in the middle of the room with them all looking down at her from their raised platform. They looked at her with faces that showed the shock, distaste, grief, and horror as clearly as if they had been written there. She hated them. How dared they look at her that way! She could feel the hate swelling up inside her as her father the King read off her offenses, but she heard him not. She glanced at Tinivera Adoni and the hatred inside exploded. How dare she be the most beautiful! How dare she be the first-born and in so be the heir! How dare she steal Kajiel practically right from Sidia's own arms! Before she knew quite what was happening the Black Magic was bursting from her in a furious wave of power. Her head was spinning. Through half-consciousness she saw her mother and father flying some distance before hitting the wall and crumpling to the ground. Tinivera flew upwards, caught between the force Sidia's own spell from the front and a shield projected from Shiliki from behind. Sidia saw even as she fell before the power of Shiliki's shield Tinivera come crashing down, her enchanting beauty spoiled, and her life gone before ever she hit the ground . . .

Sidia shook herself. It was long over. A knock came at the door.

"Come in," she said.

A maid came half-way in and bowed. "There is a young rider here to see you, My Lady," reported the maid as she started to back out of the room.

"Show him in." Sidia told the maid just before the maid had completely disappeared.

"Well, how was I supposed to know you were in love with him? I didn't even know you were in love. You never told me. And, what was he doing in Sidia's army?" Elinaria Adoni said. She was sitting back in her chair with her crown hanging over one arm of her chair, her long hair hanging down her back forming little golden curls streaked with brown.

"I don't know what he was doing, he was supposed to be going to visit his aunt's home for some time in the country. And I never got much of a chance to tell you I was in love with him, before you executed him, did I?" demanded Taria Adoni as she paced the room, her auburn hair swaying from side to side.

"Oh, I'm sorry about your man. But was there really anything else to do with him, as a traitor to the crown, employed in the army of one who murdered our parents, and Tinivera? Be sensible. I am sorry, but there is nothing that can be done about it," said Elinaria as she ran her fingers through her hair in an agitated manner, giving her a rather disshelved appearance.

Taria's face grew red with anger. She started to breath a little harder and stopped pacing. She opened her mouth, and nothing came out. She was too choked up to speak. She glared at all of them, all those sisters who had not left her, Elinaria, Rinowa, and Melora.

Rinowa sighed. "Taria, calm down. Elinaria, try to be more understanding. The last thing we need is for you two to get in a fight and kill each other off. We are all sorry about how things have turned out. Taria, we love you."

Melora, who had been quietly been sitting by the window turned around and half-said half-laughed,"We really do love you Taria. And anyways don't get mad at me, I didn't do anything. Don't worry. After a few years you won't feel it quite so keenly. You might only want to die every other day for about half the day."

Melora looked out from the shadows where she stood. The graveyard seemed to be empty, quiet, and peaceful. She slowly walked the well-worn path through the graves and debris to a lonely grave. She knelt with all solemness and whispered words of love and loss to the cold headstone. She carefully placed the small yellow roses at the head of the grave. When she had done this her eyes filled with tears and she collapsed forward, resting her heard upon the gravestone, silently weeping. After some time she started to slowly back away when she was suddenly startled by the sound of a twig cracking.

"Who goes there?" she cried, her voice just loud enough to hear.

"Does it matter?" the stranger whispered through the darkness.

"What are you doing here?" Melora asked.

"Visiting my brother's grave. And you?" the stranger replied in a soft woman's voice. The girl slowly rose out of the darkness near a small tombstone a short way off.

Melora started to speak but before the first word was out of her mouth she saw a slight movement at the entrance of a dark alleyway to her right. She squinted, trying to catch a better glimpse of whatever it was that had been there. She slowly put her finger to her lips, trying to warn the girl of the nearby danger.

"What is it?" the girl whispered from right beside Melora.

Melora widened her eyes and pressed her finger to her lips more firmly. How much had they noticed? Did they know she was there? She paused, unsure of what to do. She thought she saw something coming at her and she started to rise with wild thoughts racing through her head. She saw the vague form of the girl beside her turning to flee, men rushing forward, the girl tripping and falling, a man coming right her, she turned to flee . . .

Sidia turned away from the window and walked over to a large desk. She sat down in a large, engraved, wooden chair. After a moment a tall man dressed in all dark browns and greens, dusty from a long ride, entered the room. He was not a bad looking man, in fact Sidia found him rather attractive.

He bowed low in front of the desk. "Your Ladyship," he said, then straightened. "I believe that I have found the person I was to find."

"Do you have him?" Sidia asked, trying to limit the excitement in her voice.

"I have him. Do you wish him to be brought in for your inspection?" the rider answered.

"I do," she replied.

The rider bowed and left the room with a final swish of his long green cloak. Sidia gave a quick look in the mirror to be sure nothing was out of place. She wanted to be looking as stunning and enchanting as possible if it was indeed he that the rider had found. And, if not, the rider himself was not bad at all for an evening's entertainment. She was smiling quietly to herself when the rider returned, followed by four strong men carrying a very large parcel.

They gently set it on the ground and quickly left the room. The rider walked over to it and pulled off the cloth with a flourish, revealing a cage. Sidia got up and walked over to the cage, staring at its contents . . . Kajiel.