“What does it mean, Marthulus?” the Everking demanded.
The flamewarden seemed to deliberate for a moment. “I do not know, Alyan.”
There was a time where the Everking would have balked at the casual use of his name, but flamewardens were few and far between, and one as powerful as Marthulus deserved a few liberties.
“Well I need answers. The entire court is in disarray, and already word is spreading through the provinces. I must be able to squash the rumors, or we will never hear the end of this. It has been a brightmoon and a half since the incident, and still you can tell me nothing about what happened.”
Marthulus sighed heavily, weaving his slender fingers together and studying the signet ring that represented his position in the kingdom. Alyan was not wrong in demanding results; the flamewarden had never failed to provide answers in the past, but events of late were beyond his comprehension. He spared a look at the Everking’s deeply concerned face and heavily furrowed brow, and realized a sigh was not enough of an answer.
“It is beyond my power, Everness. If this is glyphcasting, it is unlike any I have ever heard of.”
“By Sha!” Alyan exclaimed, smashing his fist on the table. “What of the Enomatics? Have you heard word back from them?”
“The messenger arrived moonrises ago,” Marthulus said with no little exasperation. “But the foolish monks with their religious ordinances are accepting no audiences until the third brightmoon of the year.”
“By Sha,” Alyan said again, this time in an exhale of defeat.
Tovorash shifted uneasily as he stood outside the Everking’s private meeting room. He knew Marthulus would do nothing to endanger the ruler, but he had his reasons for his unsettling feeligns about the flamewarden.
It was with a significant amount of relief then, that Tovorash fell in behind the regent as he exited the meeting room. The knight-guardian felt Marthulus’ stare without even looking, but did not deign to return the look. Once again, something scratched at the back of his head, but he chose not to be distracted by it.
For a few minutes, Tovorash followed his lord quietly as the Everking wandered. The regent had taken to walking much more frequently of late, possibly to ease the burden of carrying the kingdom on his shoulders.
“I am sure you wish to know what we discussed,” he said at last, stopping and looking out into the night sky.
“I wish only to know how better to protect you against such events, Everness.”
The Everking chose to ignore the implied question. “The world is changing, Tovorash. Rythanda was killed.”
This stunned Tovorash. “The Flamelord of Vithr, sire?”
“Yes. I do not know much about him. Our fathers were not on the best of terms, but we, fortunately, did not bring with us their enmity; though I fear I cannot say the same for our kingdoms. I heard that Rythanda was a good man though; like you— honorable.”
“I cannot be compared to a Flamelord!” The bodyguard said in some alarm.
“I did not mean it in that way. And I meant no disrespect to Rythanda, Titime carry him well. He left a daughter, who takes strongly after her mother, if the rumors are correct. Whoever she weds will be the next Vith Flamelord.”
The bodyguard sensed that the Everking was now just talking aloud, and made no reply.
“Do you know what strikes me as strange? The reports say Rythanda died of a heart disease, that he suffered from some kind of seizure while in bed with his wife, and then died, suffocating the queen in the process. However, when I last saw Rythanda, he looked well and strong, despite his age. I would not have placed him past thirty, and I could have sworn I even heard rumors of him beating you at arm-wrestling.”
Tovorash did not reply to the implied question, not wishing to let the knowledge spread that he had arm-wrestled a Flamelord, let alone that he had nearly beat said Flamelord and had to fake a loss to maintain the ruler’s dignity. He could not remember the Vith Flamelord’s daughter very well, but he did recall her fiery spirit and the well-mannered poise she hid it behind.
“Well,” the Everking said, realizing his bodyguard would not humor him. “Let’s just hope we hear from the Enomatics soon. We need some kind of information.”
Over fifty spans away, high in the Hivalia Mountains in the Shandannah province, the messenger from the Capital stared anxiously out the window in the small room they’d given to her. She did not know exactly how much weighed on her success in getting a message back from the Enomatics, and she herself had heard very little of the incident at the palace. What she did know was that she had not traveled fifty spans to sit and wait on the pleasure of a cryptic order of religious people who did not even answer to the Everking.
The moon shone strongly on the jagged rock formations surrounding the Enomatic temple. Bright white light outlined knife like edges which silhouetted themselves against the darkness of the land below. Nobody knew the reason or the existence of these strange sharp structures which surrounded the temple. Enomatic belief dictated that these structures were placed there by the Everflame in the very beginning of creation, but the messenger wasn’t so sure.
It was not that she disbelieved in the power of the Everflame, she just did not think that something as threatening or dangerous in appearance could have been the work of someone who was purported to be the ultimate good. Of course, she did not dare speak of such thoughts, especially while she was being hosted by the Enomatics themselves. The last thing she wanted was for them to chase her away for heresy after she’d waited all this while.
Noise at the door of his room disturbed the messenger’s reverie. She rushed to open it, only to have a robed figure fall into her arms.
“Sorry,” the person mumbled, obviously suffering from the effects of Rendelfel. “Wrong room.”
The man was about to stumble further down the hallway when, realizing that she might not have another chance, the messenger grabbed him by the shoulder. “Can you tell me what they are doing? When will I get an answer? It is for an urgent matter that I have come.”
“What urgent matter?” the Enomatic asked, speech slurred.
The messenger groaned, frustrated. “I need an Enomatic to accompany me to the capital and explain the meaning of some strange signs! This is by order of the Everking himself. Surely even you religious folk have some respect for his authority!”
“The others won’t come,” the intoxicated man said. “They are preparing for the Fire Circle Ceremony, and will be interrupted by nobody, Everking or not. I can come, though.”
For a moment, the messenger hesitated. She had been ordered to bring an Enomatic back with her, but this one clearly had some— habits. However, an Enomatic was an Enomatic after all. Imbibing in Rendelfel couldn’t make that much of a difference.
“At least tell me your name.”
The Enomatic looked at her with surprisingly clear eyes for an intoxicated man. “Time. My name is Time.”
 About 80 miles