About Spires and Mountains...
From among the tallest trees, an Aesidhe Hunter watches fire and smoke fill the horizon. Within an island tower, the general of a stolen legion surrenders, victorious. And within the walls of a mountain city far from her home, Adria Idonea awaits her assassin.
The journey of one heir continues, and the stories of many are begun.
Some days Mateko felt like all he did was climb trees. In the Awaking Season it was, very certainly, his typical activity—weaving his way from branch to branch, taking a little more care as they began to thin. Each morning he would already be at the top of the highest possible perch, anxiously awaiting the sun. The climbing, then the waiting.
This morning was clear and cool as the sky grayed and reddened, and the stars were slowly swallowed, a few at a time. He said a prayer for the birth of the sun, and then another for the safety of the People. He squinted as the light swelled up and over the lip of the world and, as always, held his breath, anxious for any sign of Aeman clouds. The dust of an army's boots, hooves, and wheels. The black smoke of fires among fresh Pine.
But there was only clear sky, and just a few wisps of clouds lazily making their way from mountains to sea, and Mateko exhaled at last, and smiled a little. Though perhaps a little later in the morning these signs may come, may mean an early retreat for the Shema Ihaloa Táya, it was more likely that there would be one more day of peace. Knights march early, always.
Mateko closed his eyes and whispered a prayer of thanks, but before he had finished these words, he sensed something wrong. He heard the sudden flight of many birds behind his back. And then more, in waves which grew closer, like ripples on a lake. He opened his eyes as they darkened the sky around him, moving south and seaward.
So many... he wondered. Too many...
Impossibly, in the clear bluing sky, he heard a great shout of thunder, and then a strong breath of warm air swept his hair over his shoulders and rustled the limbs and treetops. Too slowly, he steadied himself in the swaying treetop, settling his footing to turn. And now he saw smoke, great black peals of it darkening the sky and swallowing any stars the sun had left behind. Among the stony peaks of the Yakseanitáo Holobeya, the Hollow One had awakened, casting flames into the sky, raining burning stones among the trees, and exhaling long, terrible fiery tongues along its slopes and into the heart of the forest.
Tears warmed upon his cheeks, flushed in the swollen heat.
“Wapozo wazi mayu.” And Mateko wept. “So wanawiya lemayapo nipshalabe.” The end begins. Now ours is a world without stars.