Excerpt from Dark Ember
Rhama’s gaze was, again, drawn to Swift at his side.
Her eyes had changed direction, which Rhama followed without hesitation. His own eyes found a grand castle at the eastern edge of the city. Unlike the homes built into the mountainside, this castle hovered above the river, supported by massive beams of solid stone that appeared to come from the water itself. The towers swirled toward the heavens, a delicate curving of stone that seemed impossible to create with tools alone.
Huge windows dotted the castle side he could see from here, a long walkway built above the river, inviting someone to take a stroll over the water.
Rhama’s eyes found Swift’s face once more, finding the expression there quite sad.
“Swift?” Rex’s voice cut through the throng as they were pressed together by those entering the Concourse. “You ok?”
Rhama could imagine what their leader felt from the look in her eyes. He cleared his throat quietly.
“That must be home.” He said, keeping his voice low.
Rex and Jonas both glanced to the castle, then back to the hunter as though those two things could not possibly belong together. Rhama had spent enough time in Peralt to know anyone could be anything in this place.
Her eyes did not leave the soaring, romantic castle. Rhama thought he saw the glistening of tears in those luminously dark eyes.
“Once, long ago.” Swift confirmed. “A little girl lived in that castle with her parents.”
The sorrow in her tone pierced Rhama’s heart. He knew what it was to miss home, to see it through the lens of someone who could never really go back. His home might not have been this grand castle in Peralt, but he felt as homesick for that land of ash and fire as Swift must for her own.
“It seems our ride is here.” She continued. The tears vanished from her eyes. Rhama stepped back, slightly astonished he had moved so close to her.
The males turned as one, finding a large, ornately carved coach pulling up to the street. Those entering the Concourse gave the coach wide berth, whispering as they passed it. Rhama could not blame them. The wood was well shaped, painted a brilliant white and enhanced here and there with gold filigree. Swooping waves rose from the iron struts, making the coach appear as though it were coasting along the river itself. A pair of dappled horses, their manes and tails elaborately braided where in the hands of a smartly dressed Elf.
A Fae appeared from the back of the coach, bowing so low his nose might have scraped the walkway. Rhama cut a glance to his companions, catching the pain on Swift’s face and the shock on the humans’.
“Dume Endicott.” The footman pronounced what sounded like a title as “dome”. A set of iridescent wings were displayed in the expert cut of his fine jacket dyed a sapphire blue.
“Hello, Hinkle.” Swift said as she stepped forward. She pulled her quiver and bow over her shoulder, then produced her sword and twin blades from her belt and boots.
The footman happily took her gear, stowing it into the trunk strapped to the back of the coach. Swift turned to her companions, her dark face blank. She twitched her hands at the footman, then jerked her head toward the coach. It was an indication to follow that none of them would ignore.
After all, she had led them this far.
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