94

It tucked itself into the deep shadows that pooled in the corners of the room as the sun set below the horizon and true night began to slowly creep across the Worlds. This was its favorite time of day, when light and darkness hovered on the sword’s edge, when they jostled for control before one bowed out and allowed the other to step up for a few hours. When everything hovered suspended, waiting to see which one would win this time, as though there was any real chance the outcome would be different.

The air of the room felt stagnant with things unsaid and things said that couldn’t be taken back, a line irrevocably crossed. A stagnation that coated everything and everyone, weighted down chairs and tables and pressed against the windows until the glass whined in subvocal protest. Made the skin and clothes of the Dhaoine who were spread across the room sticky with humidity and slick with sweat, though it doubted they knew what the actual cause was only that the sensation was annoying. It knew without having witnessed the event that Rhyshladlyn had finally stood his ground against Azriel, that its chosen Scion had drawn the proverbial line in the sand, pulled it into solidity, and then smacked Azriel with it. It chuckled soundlessly and settled further into the shadows, amused that for all that Rhyshladlyn said he was nothing like it, had always gone to such great lengths to do the exact opposite of what his instincts and his namesake told him to do, he and it were not so different.

And while the Grey Qishir wasn’t in the room like it had assumed he would be, it was content to remain where it was. After all, Rhyshladlyn would feel the destructive force of the ahtjeer activating, of it gaining its freedom just as Desolation intended regardless of where he was in the Worlds, but especially given that this one sat in a tavern in H’jae just over the Txiwteb-Anglë border. Near enough that the fallout of the ahtjeer gaining its total freedom would jump the Worlds’ border but only western Anglë World would be destroyed.

It glanced at the windows, tracking the brightness of the last of the sun’s rays as they stretched above the horizon. Estimated that there was probably another hour at the absolute most before the final key slid home and released its creation’s chains. After all, all it would take was one more Dhaoine arriving in H’jae city. And given that H’jae was a busy metropolitan hub, well, that wouldn’t take long. So Desolation would sit and it would wait, hidden from sight, as its lesson took root and spread.

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