I stated at the beginning of these chronicles that most people believe Norsunder to exist as a vast army with a single motivation, an oversimplification that borders on outright lie.
This much was true: Those in command of Norsunder withdrew from the temporal realm after the Fall of Ancient Sartor nearly wiped out magic as well as humanity from the world early 4800 years ago. With the dwindling of magic, magic-related talents vanished forever—or so humans thought.
But magic slowly manifested in the world again before Norsunder was aware or ready, this being the disadvantage of existing outside of time.
My record commences the day the world of Sartorias-deles became aware that Norsunder was back for a second try, beginning the Norsunder War.
* * *
I will begin in Choreid Dhelerei, capital of Marloven Hess, which appeared to be unchanged to the two newly-arrived figures staring upward.
Choreid Dhelerei, to Liere Fer Eider, appeared to be the embodiment not just of power, but of order. Stability. Her gaze moved over the sun-warmed, peachy stone walls of the fortified city as she breathed in the combined smells of sage and plains grass and faint, oh so faint, the distant sea, until her daughter Lyren-Sartora twitched impatiently by her side.
“Why did you do the magic transfer to the outer Destination?” Lyren-Sartora asked, elbowing Liere impatiently in the ribs. “You couldn’t have forgotten the inside one! It’s only been a couple of years since you were here last—”
“Five,” Liere said.
“Fine, five, but that’s not fifty!”
Liere had not forgotten. She was one of the half-dozen people who Marloven Hess’s wary king had trusted enough to transfer straight inside his fortress.
“Now we have to walk all the way!” Lyren-Sartora hissed a loud sigh.
“It’s a perfect afternoon for a walk,” Liere replied. “And I wanted to see if anything’s changed.”
“Does anything ever change in Marloven Hess?” Lyren-Sartora snarked; at thirteen she was already an expert at the teenage eye roll.
“No,” Liere said, but maybe its king had. She looked up at the massive city gates and wondered if any enemy (other than Marlovens themselves) had ever tried to breach them.
The sight, the scents, overwhelmed her with how much she’d missed this place. No, how much she’d missed Senrid, the only person she’d been able to tell everything as soon as she thought it. And yet here she was, mentally rehearsing what she ought to say, and what would be best left unsaid.
Lyren-Sartora was also intent on personal concerns, though of a very different sort. She was annoyed with Liere, who had never seemed like a mother, but more like a devoted, darling, exasperating, very, very different older sister. Lyren-Sartora did try to hide her exasperation. Liere had vanished for nearly five years. When Lyren-Sartora finally got her back again, instead of being like a sister, Liere had acted like a typical grownup and became besotted with that yellow-haired Elsarion king in Enaeran. So now, even though Lyren-Sartora had Liere back again, it was only for a month, before she’d go off to bury herself in backward Enaeran to live with him.
Someone should do something. Maybe Senrid would know what to do, what to say, how to bring back the old Liere.
They passed inside the gates and headed toward the royal castle that, like the city, was an artifact of Marloven history. But now these same buildings, even the afternoon slant of sunlight, all seemed to have Senrid’s personal mark in some way Liere could not quite explain. Widely as she had traveled, Choreid Dhelerei had never seemed just another city. It was Senrid’s city.
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