Twilight in Heaven: Chapter 33


Chapter 33

Hyrthon walks in circles, muttering to himself, and having half-conversations where he yells at invisible antagonists. He’s talking himself up, getting madder and madder, when I climb the roof and peer through the ceiling. He’s posted up in the Aspen Forest, a guest room in the east wing. I didn’t know he was there until he appeared when Mom upstaged Merryweather, but there aren’t too many rooms a guest could keep their presence secret. It’s a secluded place in a hidden part of the house, where stonework trees stand like a forest. Their leaves are amber and emerald. I climbed the walls and snuck through the marble aspen trunks to the roof, and looked down through a ceiling full of small windows. Hyrthon is walking in loops around the table below me, getting angrier every time, until someone speaks.

“Relax your anger,” she says, and Hyrthon looks up confused. I didn’t notice her at all, and he doesn’t look like he knew she was there. For a moment he flushes.

“Don’t be upset,” she says again. “He wanted a reaction out of you. You are reacting.”

She’s tall and dark, though of skin or because she’s wrapped in shadow I don’t know. She has black hair that falls thick and shiny down her back, one liquid wave of it with a single reflection where the light hits. Her dress is dark in layers, an outer shear gown, straps inside that over her shoulders and around her torso connected by something like netting, and darker material over her bust and hips. She seems like she’s almost exposed, but I tried to sketch her and couldn’t see quite enough outlines to start anywhere.

The dark lady does not smile. Hyrthon reacts angrily.

“Don’t be upset? You promised me a kingdom if I took Fallor’s Castle, because it was you he insulted! Look what that got me! I’m insulted, and Aethionema-”

She interrupts. “Will give you everything when you take her to your bed.”

Hyrthon stumbles in his words and looks at her.

“She is weak and vain. Already her son is forgotten to her. The mortal reminded her, yes, but she thinks of nothing but herself and her stature. I promised you a kingdom if you took Fallor’s Castle, and you didn’t. However, do not question me. Know your place.”

Hyrthon looks like she poisoned him. He swallows and grimaces.

“Good,” she continues. “Fallor came to his destruction. I intended to give you his keep and kingdom, but more so, I intended him to die. He did. You tried to do my bidding, and I appreciate you. I have given you a rich heiress who is mad with lust for your rank, your titles, and your name. Do not question me again.

“But, like against Fallor, you are failing me. You challenged a mortal to a duel, elevating him to your level. You showed neither wisdom or skill, and I am not convinced in your skill were you to engage him. They are gone now, and I do not think they will return.

“Listen carefully. You will ignore him. Tell the world he fled before you. Tell them his every word is a lie. There is nothing he can do to you. I will ensure that he vanishes as a mortal does. A few decades from now he will be gone, and his life will leave no trace more on the world than a pebble after it sinks into a pond.”

“And his insult to me? His threats to me?” Hyrthon huffs as he talks.

She sweeps air aside with the back of her hand. “They are the rage of a mortal against a god. He is nothing. I would have made you a great king if you’d taken Fallinor, but I will still help you. I tell you now, ignore the human. He is irrelevant. If you do my bidding, I will make you powerful and strong. I will exalt you among the ranks of the divine, and you will rest on silver clouds.

“Do nothing to the mortal, Hyrthon Dawnchild. Let him spend his years in a wagon. Take your pleasures with Aethionema. She is a fool and besotted with wine. Go to her, tell her you cannot leave her, and bury your hot blood. She will forget, and I will give you everything you need.”

The dark lady smiles. “Obey me.”

“Yes,” says Hyrthon, and he departs.

She is gone too.

I feel sick and nauseated. I wish I didn’t have to hear that, and instead of following Hyrthon, I go back to my room. I don’t want to know what else is going on in White Hoof.


It is hours later. I don’t know what to do or where to go. I feel like something big is happening and I should react, but I don’t know how. Instead I wander the house, the lawn, check the rock garden, and finally climb the roof again. I’ve got a knife and a pencil, and I’m drawing nothings on my paper when Hyrthon walks back into the room. He’s changed his clothes to a brown robe, and he paces.

For a long time he walks without saying or doing anything. He winds through tables and chairs. He forms orbits among the statues. His circles constrict to single, tight loops about a bucket of cleaning cloths and expand to wander the entire room. He goes up stairs and down, walking with his head down and watching the floor.

I find watching him restful, but he isn’t rested in the walking. He’s working himself up again but very, very slowly. At first he walks with his hips, almost leaning back at the shoulders, but time and loops about the room continue until he’s leaned forward. His hands curl into fists. His jaw clenches. His circles constrict again to a tight, fast path around a couch. Finally he stops with his fists on the backrest.

“I am not convinced of your skill were you to engage him,” he says. I can hear the words perfectly.

“I am not convinced of your skill,” he repeats.

“Your skill,” he says.

“Were you to engage him.”

He’s talking to himself like there’s another person in the room.

“Do nothing to him.”

“Do nothing.”


He stares into nothing. His face is moving. There are expressions flickering across his skin so quickly I cannot read them. They settle into some quiet glare. He stares into a cold fireplace, and speaks a word of command. Cherry red flames leap from sandstone.

“Children of Olnedi, come to me,” he says.

The flames leap and bend. They reach from the fireplace and arch over the floor, and dribble fires into pools on the polished stone. One by one, figures arise, and they are flickering and thin.

“Olnedes, listen to me. Go out and go wide through the Simhalls. Hurry above the cities. Be seen by all the mountain peoples. Then find Laeth, the mortal, and Merryweather, his lover. Kill them and be not secretive about it. But tell no one who sent you thus, and let everything you see or do tonight burn away with the coming dawn. Go and kill him.”

The flames bow to him, and they turn to the fireplace. One by one they leap up the chimney, and I see them racing skyward when they emerge. Above the house, they are but bits of cinder, floating upward. I look down, and Hyrthon has disappeared.

I search the house quickly, and I find him in the worst of all places. He has returned to my mother’s rooms.

When I go outside, red and yellow figures appear in the far sky. They are scarlet and orange, riding horses of white and blue. They run across the dark night,
outshining the stars, and over the cities they pause. Their flaming horses rear; they leave trails of sparks in the air. They come from all directions, heading south.

I am scared now, very scared, and I leave White Hoof as well. I run toward Merryweather’s wagon.

I flipped to the back of the folder and paged through the index. A citation linked this page with a name: Arya, the Goddess of Twisted Ways, Lady the Labyrinthe. She was one of the ancient ones, a goddess from before the first rising of the Sun.


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