A Balance of Souls Book 3
Three separate spoons line my plate, each one a glittering reflection of miniature fireworks streaming through an artificial night sky. The fireworks are colourful but silent, as fake as the conjured stars above them, another illusion to boast the wizard city’s great capacity for frivolous entertainment.
The inner courtyard which hosts their party is not unlike my own, the difference being that mine last held the solemn jury of a dying race, while Aviantez’s overflows with nobles, politicians, and entertainers all deeply engrossed in their own shallow whimsy, their flirting, their jests, and, most of all, the glistening buffet of food before them, constantly refreshed by a train of servants so enamoured with the pageantry of it all that they can’t smell the tension beneath every powdered face.
Fifty years of peace indeed, and a collared woman chained to the bandstand, dancing for whistles and quarter coins which she’ll never get to spend. Not quite human, but powerless enough to be less than a person in the magician’s paradise. She’s not the only slave, and I’m not the only one watching her. Half the guards in the room stare, though not with desire, with rage. A cold, determined hate that spurs an argument between the two nearest me.
Something is wrong. Something more than the date, more than his memories, more than my lies, but all Cassandra’s mutterings about fate and consequence have me too preoccupied to care. A twisting clock of molten silver looms above the wine fountain, its hour hand shifting a notch closer to midnight. Its chime vibrates through my bones, a physical presence crushing my skull that no one seems to notice.