“Why send us all the way out here?” said the soldier leaning against the wall of the gatehouse, arms folded across his chest. “There’s blood on the streets of the Great City, and we’re sent to the border?”
His name was Bakker, and Cithria had never warmed to him—he was prone to seeing the bad in every situation, though to be fair, in this case there was truth in his words.
The rest of their comrades stood nearby. None of them looked particularly happy about their predicament.
Cithria remained silent. She was the youngest of the Demacian soldiers, though she was by no means an untested recruit. In the year she’d spent among their ranks she had proven herself a capable soldier, and one of the fastest with a blade, yet there were plenty of times—this among them—when she felt out of her depth and unsure of herself.
She wore full, gleaming plate armor, as did they all. A shield was slung across her back, and she carried her helmet under one arm, leaving her dark hair, tied back in a long braid, hanging free.
The soldiers stood before the immense Graygate, guarding the northeast border of Demacia. The name was anomalous, for the bastion was built of pristine white stone. It was generally understood that the name had come from the gray shale cliffs nearby, though soldiers stationed here, particularly those who hailed from the south or the coast of Demacia, moaned it had more to do with the perpetually overcast, northern skies.
To either side of the gate tower stretched tall, white stone walls. Pennants fluttered in the breeze from the crenulations, and sentries stood vigil in the cold wind, looking eastward.
“We should be deployed with the rest of the battalion, scouring the forests for that traitor and his rabble,” another soldier said.
“Mages,” said Bakker, speaking the word with loathing. “We should be rid of the lot of them.”
Such talk made Cithria uneasy. She herself had never encountered magic, or at least none that she was aware of, but she had been raised to fear and distrust those that were able to wield it. News from the capital made that fear seem justified.
It was only a month since the rogue magehad escaped imprisonment and ripped the heart of Demacia apart. That insane, horrifically powerful rebel had ignited a wave of unrest across the kingdom, and even now the Great City was locked down, the military controlling the streets to ensure order.
Cithria agreed they would be more useful elsewhere, but the venom in her comrade’s voice disturbed her.
“I say the whole lot of them should—” Bakker started saying, but Cithria cut him short.
“Heads up. The shield-sergeant’s back.”
The short, stocky figure of Shield-Sergeant Gunthar was heading toward them at a brisk pace. A pair of hooded men walked with him, one to either side.
“Who’s that with him?”
“I don’t know,” said Cithria.
The soldiers snapped sharply to attention as their sergeant and his mysterious companions drew near.
“Alright you lot,” Gunthar said. “I know you’re all wondering why in the Protector’s name we’ve been sent all the way out here.”
The sergeant cast his gaze across their ranks.
“A foreign envoy from the Arbormark will soon be arriving here at the border, and we have been tasked with escorting them safely to the capital.”
Even to Cithria, it seemed a strangely mundane task. Still, neither she nor any of the other soldiers said a word, and all remained staring resolutely forward.
“The envoy’s protection is our highest priority,” continued Gunthar. “Were even so much as a hair on their head to be harmed while under our guard, it would tarnish the honor of Demacia. The Arbormark have long been our allies, and we must not allow anything to damage that relationship. It is expected we fulfill this duty with honor, grace, and good faith.”
Gunthar’s expression hardened. “Even if it goes against our better judgment,” he added.
The soldiers were well-disciplined, and made no overt reaction to those final words, but Cithria felt and mirrored their unease. What was that meant to mean?
Gunthar gestured to his cloaked companions, who stepped forward, lowering their hoods.
Cithria’s eyes widened.
The older of the pair was a stern-looking man of middling years, his short-cropped hair going to gray, and his skin weathered with deep frown-lines and more than a few scars. The other was a younger man, slimmer of build and nervous-looking, with a sweep of dark hair hanging to one side of his face.
Both wore form-fitting golden half-masks, and dull gray discs of engraved stone pinned at their shoulders holding their cloaks in place.
Cithria let out a slow breath that she didn’t realize she’d been holding.
“This is Cadstone, a senior adept of the mageseeker order, and his associate, Arno,” said Gunthar, by way of introduction. The mageseekers bowed ever-so-slightly. “They will be accompanying us as we escort the envoy to the capital.”
Horns sounded atop the gatehouse.
“Riders approaching, under the banner of the Arbormark!” came a cry from a sentry up above.
Shield-Sergeant Gunthar nodded to the guards, and the great gates were heaved open, hinges groaning under the weight. The ironwork portcullis was raised, chains clanking, and the immense drawbridge beyond was lowered. It slammed down with a boom like thunder. Early morning sunlight streamed in through the open gate.
“With me,” Gunthar ordered, striding forward with the mageseekers at his side. Cithria and the other soldiers fell in behind them, moving with well-drilled precision.
Cithria wasn’t sure exactly what she was expecting from the envoy, but it wasn’t the massive, dark-skinned man who waited for them. He was clad in bearskins, and carried a staff of heavy wood. He smiled broadly as the Demacians marched forth to meet him.
Cithria watched him warily.
He rode the biggest horse Cithria had ever seen, jet-black and with thick feathering covering its iron-shod hooves. Accompanying him were twenty riders, all wearing long scale mail coats, and carrying axes and shields. One of them bore a standard, depicting the crossed axes heraldry of the Arbormark, which was mirrored on the warriors’ shields.
The envoy dismounted, and strode forward to meet Gunthar and his entourage, smiling broadly. He had the heavily muscled build of a soldier, or a smith; definitely not what she was expected of a mage. She had always imagined them as sneaking, cunning types, preferring subterfuge and trickery to physical strength.
Halting before the Demacians, he touched the palm of his left hand to his forehead, then extended it to the sky. Cithria clasped her hand around the hilt of her sword, thinking he was performing some arcane conjuration, before realizing it was likely an Arbormark salute. Feeling her cheeks burn, she cursed herself for a fool.
Shield-Sergeant Gunthar gave the man a salute of his own.
“My name is Arjen, and I bring greetings from the Lord of the Arbormark,” said the envoy, bowing his head.
“Welcome. I am Shield-Sergeant Gunthar, seventh battalion. And this,” he added, “is Cadstone, of the Order of Mageseekers.”
“You have been a guest within the borders of Demacia before, have you not?” said Cadstone, without any pretense of small talk. “You are aware of the Laws of Stone?”
“Yes, I have been here before, good seeker,” said Arjen, “and I am aware of your kingdom’s rules and regulations. I shall honor the Laws of Stone and make no use of my… talents… while within your realm. I give you my word.”
“Good,” said Cadstone. “Mageseeker Arno and I will be with you, from now until the moment you leave Demacia. It is our task to hold you to your word. Know that there will be repercussions if you do not abide by our laws. But if you abstain from using your… talents, as you call them… then all will be well.”
Arjen bowed deeply, still smiling.
“Then let us be on our way,” said Gunthar. “Your personal guard will need to remain beyond the border, of course.”
“Of course, of course,” Arjen said, before turning and waving his attendants away. “Shoo!” he said. “Be off with you!”
Cithria stifled a smile at the man’s bizarre behavior. The stoic riders turned, one of them grabbing the reins of the envoy’s horse, and galloped away without a word.
“Let us be on our way then!” said Arjen, clapping his hands together.
It was three hours’ solid march northwest to Meltridge, a small river town, where they would board a waiting ship and sail the rest of the way to the capital. Cithria was surprised to find that the envoy from the Arbormark did not slow them, easily matching the punishing pace Gunthar set, his heavy staff striking the ground firmly with every step.
The march took them across windswept moors and dales. The gales whipping down from the frozen north chilled Cithria to the bone. The Demacians trudged on, cinching their cloaks around their necks for additional warmth. Wrapped in bearskins, the envoy seemed unaffected by the weather.
For all Cithria’s apprehension, Arjen was an affable and easily likeable man. She forced herself not to be lulled into a false sense of security, however. The ways of the arcane were full of deception and trickery. While the Demacians were tight-lipped and stoic, clearly uneasy around this mage, Arjen himself passed the time telling stories of his homeland. Most of them involved lots of drinking of ale, feats of strength, and farfetched heroics, but he had a gift for storytelling, and it certainly passed the time better than silence.
“…and then the great beast growled. ‘You don’t come here for the hunting, do you?’ it said.”
The big man guffawed with laughter at his own ribald joke, slapping one of his meaty thighs in mirth. Cithria, marching just to the envoy’s side, found herself smiling despite herself, even as she shook her head at the inappropriateness of the story.
“You get it, lass?” said Arjen, addressing Cithria directly. “He says that because he thinks the man—“
“Oh, I get it,” said Cithria hastily holding up her hand to stop Arjen’s explanation.
Snow began to fall around halfway to their destination. At first, the flakes were small and light, but they quickly became heavier, until visibility was reduced dramatically. Soon, the ground and road were completely blanketed. The snowfall dampened all sound. Cithria walked near the envoy, who was guarded in the middle of the column of soldiers. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the two mageseekers had fallen a few steps back, just out of earshot. They had both drawn their hoods over their heads against the cold.
“I’m curious,” Cithria said, in a low voice that she hoped only the envoy hear.
“Curiosity is a powerful thing,” said Arjen. “Sometimes dangerous.”
A nearby soldier gave her a glance, as if willing her to remain silent. Cithria paused, wondering if she should finish her thought, or let it pass. Her curiosity got the better of her.
“You know of the Laws of Stone, and at least something of the… challenges that currently beset Demacia,” she said.
“I do,” said Arjen. All of his levity was gone now, and his expression somber. “It is for this reason that I have come, sent by my lord. It is for this reason envoys are coming from all of your nation’s allies.”
“But knowing all that, why would your lord send you?”
Arjen looked down at her, raising an eyebrow. “I am chief advisor to the hall of the Arbormark, so it is my place to come,” he said. He saw her surprise, and smiled wryly. “Things are different beyond your borders. If you wished to discuss matters of the forge, you would summon a smith, yes? At a time like this, who better, then, to send than a mage?”
Cithria opened her mouth to say something, then closed it.
Let’s just get him to the capital safely, she told herself.
The sooner they completed this mission, the better.
Dusk was approaching as they made their way into the white-walled town of Meltridge. The guards at the gate saluted, and townspeople stood respectfully aside as the band marched down the main thoroughfare.
“We turn northwest at the next junction,” said Cadstone. The snow was easing, and he lowered his hood, pointing. “The docks lie at the foot of that hill.”
“You’ve been here before, then, lord seeker?” said Cithria, after Gunthar ordered the soldiers to follow the mageseeker’s directions. The mageseeker nodded.
“A young girl lived here,” he said. “Powerful mage.”
“You… captured her?” said Cithria, wide-eyed.
“She gave herself in,” chimed in Arno. “She was benign. Registered. Normally, one such as her wouldn’t be taken in, but ever since—”
“Arno!” snapped Cadstone.
The younger mageseeker fell quiet, looking chastened.
“Let us move,” said Cadstone. “It would be best for us not to linger.”
At this time of early evening, the narrow road down to the docks was busy.
Boatmen finishing work for the day were climbing the hill, making their way home or to one of the numerous taverns that lined the way. Children raced to and fro, chasing each other through the snow, a pair of excited hounds keeping pace. Shopkeepers stood in the doorways of their stores, and peddlers on the street shouted the prices of their wares.
The soldiers were not even a third of the way down the hill before Cithria felt the mood of the street change.
At first it was just a few dark looks and a few muttered words by passers-by. Clusters of townsfolk gathered in doors and alleys, talking in low voices and pointing. A fisherman spat on the ground, his eyes burning with anger.
“Move along, citizen,” growled Gunthar. The man did so, somewhat reluctantly.
Cithria was shocked. She did not expect such outright hostility from Demacians, despite all that had been happening in the capital.
“Tighten ranks,” Gunthar said, and the soldiers responded instantly, keeping the mage and the mageseekers protected at the heart of the column.
A rock struck one of the soldiers in the side of their helmet. Another, thrown from a different direction, glanced from Cadstone’s forehead, drawing blood.
Cithria cursed under her breath at the narrowness of the street. There was little room to maneuver, and they were already too far down the hill to turn back. They had to continue on down to the docks.
“Shields up!” barked Gunthar, the shield-sergeant clearly coming to the same conclusion. “Forward, double-time!”
The soldiers instantly picked up their pace, surging forward along the street.
“By order of the crown, clear the way! Move!” Gunthar shouted. Most of the townsfolk did so, scrambling out of the soldiers’ path, but up ahead, Cithria saw something that made her blood run cold.
A pair of wagons were rolled from alleys ahead, blocking their way. Angry townsfolk crowded before them. Cithria glanced left and right. The white stone walls of shop fronts pressed in on either side, like the sides of a chasm. She realized the doors were all closed and barred, the windows shuttered.
“This is a trap!” she hissed.
“Aye,” said Gunthar. He cursed under his breath.
“Halt! About-face!” the shield-sergeant shouted. The soldiers responded instantly, turning in place. All had their shields raised, though none had drawn weapons.
The mageseekers stood close to the envoy, one to either side. The three of them were kept protected at the center of the soldiers’ formation.
“It’s no good!” shouted Cithria. “This way is blocked, too.”
Now facing the way they’d come, they could see the townsfolk had hurriedly rolled out another wagon, blocking their retreat.
“Give him to us, and no one needs get hurt!” shouted a burly man from atop the wagon. He looked like the local blacksmith, wearing a thick leather apron and holding a hammer in hand.
“Clear the street!” Gunthar ordered.
The blacksmith, who appeared to be the spokesperson for the angry crowd, appeared unmoved.
“Not gonna happen, lad,” he said, gently tapping his hammer into his open hand as an unspoken threat.
While some people ran to get clear of the tense standoff, more townsfolk joined those gathered at either end of the street. Many of them carried farming tools, woodcutter’s axes, and other makeshift weapons, but more than a few had swords scabbarded at their waists. While they were clearly outclassed by the soldiers they faced, they would not be intimidated.
“I say again, clear the way,” said Gunthar.
In response, a stone struck Cithria’s shield. The soldier alongside her—Bakker—made to draw his sword, the blade hissing as he began to slide it from its scabbard.
“No blades!” Cithria cried, putting her hand on the hilt of the sword. “These are Demacians, those we are sworn to protect!”
Bakker, older and more senior than Cithria, scowled, and went to brush her aside, but their shield-sergeant stopped him with a sharp order.
“She’s right,” Gunthar growled. “No sword will be drawn unless I order it.”
The crowd became ever-more aggressive, shouting and closing in threateningly.
Among the din, Cithria made out several individual voices.
“You’ll pay, you swine!” shouted one woman.
“Get him, get him!” roared a man well into his twilight years, though he had the bearing of an ex-soldier.
“We should just give him to them,” muttered Bakker.
Cithria glared at him. “Envoy Arjen is under our sworn protection!” she snapped. “Where is your honor?”
“He’s just a mage,” said another soldier, though Cithria couldn’t see who had spoken.
A heavy earthenware jar struck the soldiers’ line, shattering on a shield in an explosion of shards. A heavy chunk of masonry hit another soldier in the pauldron, dropped from above, and driving him to his knees. His comrades helped him quickly back to his feet, and Cithria looked up to see people appearing on the rooftops around them.
She saw a hooded man up there throw something. Instinctively, Cithria lifted her shield high to protect the envoy standing behind her. A rusted horseshoe struck its curved surface before clattering away harmlessly. Had it struck home, it could have been lethal.
The mage nodded his thanks. He wasn’t smiling now.
“We’ll get you out of this unscathed, on my honor,” Cithria said.
The townsfolk had closed in around them, still shouting, though none of them yet seemed willing to get too close. Nevertheless, Cithria knew it was only a matter of moments before someone charged the line, and she feared what would happen once they did.
“We have to get out of here!” she shouted, as more stones, bricks and loose detritus clattered off the soldiers’ armor.
“If we charge through them, there will be citizen casualties,” said Shield-Sergeant Gunthar.
“That might be our only option,” said Cadstone. Reluctantly, Cithria had to agree. Unless…
“That door!” she called out, gesturing toward a locked and barred shopfront nearby.
“Worth a try,” said Gunthar. “Half circle, on me!”
The Demacians smoothly shifted their formation, forming a curving shieldwall with their backs to the shopfront.
“Cithria! Bakker!” ordered Gunthar. “Break down those doors!”
The pair of them stepped out of the ranks. The mageseekers and Arjen stood within the protective cordon of soldiers, and Bakker impatiently pushed by the envoy.
“Out of the way, mage,” he snarled.
Cithria saw Arjen take a breath to remain calm and not respond. She hurried to the doors, stepping around the mage, and nodded to Bakker.
“On three,” he said. “One, two, three!”
Together, they kicked the double-doors, hard.
Three more times they struck, putting their full weight into the kicks, before there was a sharp, splintering crack, and the doors slammed inwards.
“Go!” shouted Gunthar. “Take the envoy and the seekers, and find a way out! We will hold them here!”
Seeing the object of their ire about to escape, the mob of townsfolk surged forward, charging into the shieldwall.
“Come with me!” Cithria ordered, entering the darkened shop, shield raised before her. “There’s got to be a back door.”
The shop, it seemed, belonged to a candle-maker. Hundreds of wax candles lined the shelves, and an array of floral scents assailed Cithria.
“Here!” shouted Bakker, disappearing towards the rear of the shop.
“Stay close,” said Cithria, and the envoy from the Arbormark, flanked by the pair of mageseekers, dropped in behind her as she followed Bakker deeper into the shop.
The door he found led to a storeroom, filled with barrels, stacks of crates, and sacks. It was so dark that Cithria could barely see Bakker’s shape a few feet in front of her.
“If only we had a candle, eh?” remarked Arjen mildly, making Cithria snort, then cover her mouth to stop herself. It was hardly a time for levity.
Then there was a sound of cracking timber, and light suddenly entered the storeroom as Bakker kicked the back door open. The alley beyond was clear.
Bakker ushered Cithria and the others forward.
“Move!” he said. “I’ll take the rearguard!”
Cithria nodded, and plowed forward, leading Arjen and the mageseekers. She’d gone no more than ten paces when someone stepped out of the shadows of a side-alley, blocking her path.
It was an auburn-haired woman, and she cradled a heavy crossbow in her arms. Even as Cithria slid to a standstill, one hand raised in warning to those behind, the woman leveled the weapon in their direction.
Time seemed to slow.
Snow was falling again, the heavy flakes drifting soundlessly down. The clamor of the crowd and the shouts of her fellow soldiers were faint, here in the quiet alley behind the main thoroughfare.
Cithria saw that the woman’s eyes were red, as if she had been crying, and her expression was one of desperation.
What had driven this town to such a state? In Cithria’s experience, the people of her homeland were lawful and stoic. Why was this town so angry?
“Get out of the way,” the woman said to Cithria, eyes pleading. Her voice was cracked and choked with emotion. “Please.”
“This man is an envoy from an allied nation,” Cithria said, in a calm voice, the kind she might use around a skittish horse. “I cannot allow any harm to befall him.”
“What?” said the woman, her brow furrowing.
“Don’t do this,” said Cithria. “This man is under the protection of Demacia.”
The woman laughed then, the sound desperate and almost manic.
“It’s not him I want,” she said. “It’s the seeker. That one.”
Only then did Cithria realize the crossbow was pointed at Cadstone.
“My daughter never did anything wrong!” the woman said, and tears ran down her cheeks. “Kyra chose to step forward, to alert the mageseekers of her power. She didn’t want to get anyone into trouble, didn’t want to bring grief down upon her family, or on this town. Everyone loved her! All this trouble—you caused it all!”
“You took her daughter…” Cithria breathed, looking at Cadstone.
The mageseeker nodded grimly.
“We had to,” he said. “The law was amended. Any citizen with known magical power, benign or otherwise, is now ordered to be brought in for judgment. Every mage in the kingdom.”
“She was just a girl!” shouted the woman, jabbing her crossbow in the mageseeker’s direction. “You locked her away! With all those criminals! Or maybe she has been exiled and is out beyond the borders, alone! You condemned her!”
Cithria sucked in a breath, certain a bolt was going to be loosed… but it wasn’t. Not yet, at least.
“Kyra was no threat to anyone!” the woman cried. “She used to cry herself to sleep, wishing she had been born like everyone else. And you took her. You’re a monster.”
“The law is the law,” said Cadstone.
“Then the law is wrong,” the woman said. “She was my life, and you took her from me. Now I will take yours from you.”
Her finger tightened around the trigger… but she hesitated as Cithria stepped in between her and the mageseeker.
“Move, please,” said the woman, crying. “I don’t want to see anyone harmed but the one responsible for this.”
“I cannot let you do this,” said Cithria. “Put the crossbow down.”
“My life is over,” said the woman. “His should be too.”
“If you do this, there is no coming back,” said Cithria. “What happens when your daughter returns home, but you are not here because of the choice you make today?”
“No one taken by the seekers is ever seen again,” said the woman. “Kyra is never coming home.”
The depth of despair in her voice was heart-wrenching, cutting Cithria to her core.
“You can’t know that,” pleaded Cithria. “You owe it to her to be here if she does. She’ll need you.”
The woman’s face crumpled in grief, her eyes screwing shut, tears running freely. But she didn’t lower the crossbow.
Cithria took a step forward, reaching out to her.
“I’ll help you,” Cithria said. “I promise you, I will do all I can to find out where your daughter is.”
Cithria was certain she was failing to reach the woman. At this range, the sheer power of a heavy crossbow would punch straight through her breastplate.
“Please,” she said. “You need to be strong. For Kyra.”
The woman collapsed to her knees, all the fight going out of her. But as she dropped, finally giving in to grief and exhaustion, her finger tightened on the trigger.
There was a click, followed by a sharp snap, as the crossbow fired.
The bolt sliced through the air and ricocheted off one of the alley’s white stone walls. Cithria spun as the deadly bolt hissed past Cadstone and Arno, missing the nervous young mageseeker by inches, and shot directly at Bakker.
Cithria saw the envoy from the Arbormark make a slight motion with his fingers, a subtle twisting of his hand. The bolt was knocked off course, as if it had struck an invisible, angled wall just in front of Bakker, and it spun harmlessly over his shoulder.
The hair on the back of Cithria’s neck suddenly stood on end at what she had just seen.
Bakker’s eyes were wide in shock. The bolt should have taken him in the neck, and Cithria could see that he knew it. The giant, bearskin-clad envoy gave her the slightest of winks.
The young mageseeker was on the ground, breathing hard. Cadstone was pressed up against one wall of the alleyway. The woman was kneeling on the ground in the snow, her body wracked with sobs.
Cithria rushed to her side, and gently removed the crossbow from her shaking hands. Then she hugged the woman, drawing her close.
“Do not arrest her,” Cithria said, looking up at Cadstone. “It was an accident, nothing more.”
The mageseeker hesitated, looking troubled.
“No harm befell anyone,” continued Cithria. “She has suffered enough. Please.”
Cadstone sighed, and rubbed his eyes.
“This is not a matter for my order,” he said, finally. “Since there was no magic performed here, I leave that decision to you.”
Cithria caught Bakker’s eye… but he said nothing.
The mob of townsfolk hurled themselves against the Demacian shieldwall, kicking and surging. Bottles and rocks clashed upon shields and helmets, but still the soldiers did not draw weapons.
There was a shout as Cithria emerged from the candle shop once more, leading the red-haired woman, an arm around her shoulder, and the townsfolk backed off.
“Rosalyn?” called the burly blacksmith.
“Kyra wouldn’t want this,” the woman called out. “She wouldn’t want anyone hurt on her account.”
Her sudden appearance gave the crowd pause. A few of them fought on, shoving against the shieldwall, but others backed off, suddenly unsure of themselves.
“Clear the street!” roared Gunthar. “Leave now, and there will be no repercussions!”
The townspeople looked to the blacksmith.
“Do what he says,” he said, finally. “It’s over.”
The fury and resentment in the crowd dissipated, like an early morning fog beneath the sun’s rays. Within a few moments, they looked just like regular citizens once more, now that their faces were no longer twisted with anger and rage. Many in the crowd muttered and looked down, ashamed.
At a nod from Gunthar, the soldiers parted to allow the blacksmith through their ranks, who took the woman in his arms.
“The rest of you, go home!” Gunthar ordered the milling crowd. He could have had them all rounded up and clapped in irons, but Cithria was glad he chose leniency.
Cithria looked around. Miraculously, other than a few scrapes and bruises, no one had been seriously harmed, either among the soldiers’ ranks, or the citizenry of Meltridge. The townsfolk drifted away, dragging the wagons with them.
Her shield-sergeant, Gunthar, looked at Cithria in relief.
“I don’t know what you did,” he said, shaking his head, “but whatever it was, you helped avert disaster today, soldier.”
Cithria felt suddenly tired, and didn’t have the energy to respond. She nodded numbly, and sat heavily on a nearby step.
Soldiers were still watching the last lingering townsfolk warily. Bakker stood nearby, his expression clouded. Cithria’s gaze drifted to the pair of mageseekers, their expressions grim, then to the woman, Rosalyn, crying in the blacksmith’s arms.
All these people were Demacians, and all had good intentions at heart, yet recent actions had set them against each other.
A difficult time was coming to Demacia, she thought.
No, she corrected herself.
It was already here.