Phoenix Flame - Sara Holland Page 0,1
the city, and the lady fell ill while her beloved was fighting beasts in the woods. Having poured all her magic into the pendant, she had none left to heal herself and perished.
Without her, the knight was heartbroken, lost. Every street in the city was awash in memories, every tree in the forest freighted with grief.
Upon hearing their story, sadness filled the gods. One—the bird-shaped god of death and flight—cried tears of bright metal over the pair’s lost love. They couldn’t bring the lady back, but they could offer escape. This metal—called phoenix flame—was said to allow passage between the worlds. From the tears, the knight forged a suit of armor.
Armed with the pendant and the phoenix flame armor, the knight left Myr, left Fiordenkill, and vowed never to let harm come to anyone under his care ever again. He wandered through all the worlds, and he slayed monsters and protected the innocent in every one. But he never came back to Fiordenkill.
Whether he died in another Realm or found new life there, no one knows. But wherever he trod, the fabric of the world grew thin and weak, a wound in the world.
Havenfall is my home.
I test the words out, whispering them to myself as I walk slowly down the grand staircase toward the ballroom. My high heels sink into the gleaming red carpet; my painted fingertips glide smoothly against the polished oak of the railing. Music—the strange, otherworldly strains of the Elemental Orchestra, sounds shaped of metal and wind and flame—floats up from the ballroom, muffled and mixed with laughter and the clinking of glasses. A smoky-sweet smell suffuses the air from the candles clustered on top of every flat surface, the same candles throwing nets of dancing light up onto the paneled walls. Their warm gold glimmer contrasts with the velvety dark night outside. No moon, but so many stars that they look like salt grains spilled across indigo silk. The mountaintops all around us are faintly visible against the sky, craggy peaks of even deeper darkness.
Tonight, the magic of Havenfall is almost tangible in the air. Willow has pulled out all the stops to signal to the delegates that this will be a night to remember, the night the new peace treaty—one that doesn’t carve Solaria out as the enemy—is to be signed. This is what the Inn at Havenfall is meant to be, a place of peace and togetherness. Connection.
I come to a halt at the landing overlooking the first floor, my hands subconsciously tracing the subtle carvings of trees and wolves and mountains set into the banister. Below, the open door of the ballroom spills yellow light and smiling, tipsy delegates. Music floats up to the rafters.
For the first time in what seems like a lifetime, the mood inside the Inn at Havenfall is jubilant. We defeated the Silver Prince. We’re safe. The Silver Prince is gone—we beat back his attempt to wrest Havenfall from my hands. Marcus has woken up and seems to be doing better every day, even if he’s not totally back to his old self. Brekken is here at Havenfall, safe. He made it back from Fiordenkill. At last, things are starting to go according to plan.
Yet I don’t feel safe, not yet. Looking down at the ballroom, at the people laughing and dancing, my skin feels itchy, my heart unsettled. This place, the omphalos, represents so much: the peace summit that’s happened every summer for centuries; safety for people from every world; and a home for me. A future.
“Peace at Havenfall,” I whisper to myself, trying to inject confidence into the words I don’t really feel. That’s the goal. That’s why I need to succeed tonight. It’s been a long couple of days of meetings with the delegates of Fiordenkill and Byrn, nailing down the language of the peace treaty which will bring Solaria—at least officially—into the fold with the other allied Adjacent Realms. It took a lot of talking and frustration, but we finally landed on language that everyone could agree to. Then Marcus wrote it all out in his elegant handwriting on a sheet of creamy, gilt-edged paper. That paper is now tucked into a velvet folio in a slim leather case at my side. All it needs is signatures, twenty delegates each from Fiordenkill and Byrn.
Ideally, we’d be getting Solarian signatures too—any Solarian input at all, really. But there are no Solarians here, except for Sura, the girl we rescued from the antique shop, who’s only