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Though Alvis’s phrasing might not have been the best, the question he raised was a good one. Tavia watched as Evos walked away without even a glance back, unsure herself as to why he’d suddenly snapped.

“He’s normally not so… expressive when dealing with other people,” she said. “He doesn’t even really talk much to anyone other than me. Maybe—“ she thought for a moment as she tried to find a reason for Evos’s sudden anger, “ he’s a Demi too, so maybe it just hit a sensitive spot for him?”

“He’s a Demi?” Alvis asked.

His gaze followed Evos into the other room, and he turned away from the replica, as if drawn forward by the real thing. He began heading for the exit, and Tavia took one last look at the replica, before following him. Regardless of how it was made, the sword was lacking the most important part. It was empty, just a hunk of alther dressed up to look like a legend.

As she passed through the rest of the exhibit, Tavia gave most of the paintings and sculptures a cursory glance. There were dozens of them, and though some were certainly magnificent, most were old and faded, the pain chipping off of old pottery and loose threads unraveling from the ends of ancient tapestries.

Alvis stopped before a faded painting. Suspended in a glass case near the exit. Dim lights illuminated the painting, as if the curators were too afraid to expose it to anything stronger. Considering how fragile the canvas looked, it was probably a prudent consideration.

“The Immortal Prince was always my favorite story,” Alvis said as he stared at the painting.

The painting was a pastoral scene, the once bight colors faded, of a young man laying on a slab of stone, his eyes closed. He looked like he was sleeping, but the black robes of the weeping mourners gathered around him implied otherwise. A fallen crown lay at the foot of the slab, and beside it, a dark sword that could have been the Ageless Sword if Tavia squinted at it and pretended it was so.

Around four hundred years ago, the ruling family of Marquest was usurped and the throne stolen by a corrupt general. The sole surviving prince was poisoned and disappeared, believed dead by all, but fifty years later, he returned with an army and reclaimed his crown from the despotic general’s son. The mysterious part of the story is that the prince hadn’t aged a day since his disappearance. The popular theory was simply that he was actually the grandson of the original prince, but that kind of boring story didn’t catch the hearts of the people, and so the legend of the Immortal Prince had come to be. Though the Ageless Sword was never mentioned directly in the tale itself, there were many accounts from the time claiming someone wielding a sword matching the description had been in the prince’s party both when he disappeared and when he returned.

As far as legends went, it was probably one of the least exciting ones.

“Why that one?” Tavia asked.

“It just always made me think that there was more to the story,” he said. “There were secrets there that no one had discovered.” He paused and then looked at the exit again. “I wonder if Evos would tell me what really happened?”

Tavia blanched and then shook her head.

“He doesn’t even like talking to me about the past,” she said.

“And you’re all right with that?” Alvis asked. “Aren’t you curious about what he’s seen and done?”

Tavia shrugged.

“I mean, none of that matters anymore, does it? The past is the past, and I’m more worried about what’s going to happen the next few days.”

Alvis scowled and turned away from the painting. As he walked away, shaking his head, he grumbled one last thing for Tavia to hear.

“You just have no imagination, do you?”

Tavia watched him leave, following the others into the next room, but let him get away without trying to retort. Sure, she might not have the greatest imagination, but what was the point in imagined things that might be when she was already so caught up in dealing with the reality of Elijah and Ikarios staring her in the face.

This room should have been the last, which meant Melora and the others were likely waiting for her back in the main lobby. She began to follow after Alvis, but her eyes caught on a tapestry, so old and frail it seemed a bit of breeze might disintegrate it. It was protected between two sheets of glass, sandwiched between them as if even the slightest risk of exposure was too much.

She slowed and stopped as she stared at the tapestry. It shouldn’t matter. As long as she could use the Ageless Sword to protect what she needed to, it didn’t matter what Evos had done, or who he had done it with, and yet, as she stared at the lone black figure standing on a field of gold, hand holding a dark sword with blue blazing around the edge, she found herself drawn in. The lone figure was surrounded on all sides by a sea of darkness, a darkness that the weaver had managed to craft with hints of evil eyes and wicked talons, monsters set to spring upon the lone hero in their midst.

The plaque beside the tapestry had no name or date. The only information was regarding the belief that it was tied to the tale of the Hero and the Dark, but that wasn’t a story she recognized, and the plaque didn’t explain further.

Tavia scowled at the tapestry and then turned away. If she asked Evos, would he tell her? The image of that lone warrior, facing against that terrible darkness made her think he wouldn’t. Who would want to remember something like that? Evos’s past was his own, and who was Tavia to pry?

“It’s amazing to see all the pieces brought together,” a voice called out from behind Tavia. “It almost seems significant like this.”

Tavia froze and spun around at the unexpected voice. Though there wasn’t supposed to be anyone else here, a woman was standing beside the replica, watching Tavia.

“I’m glad I got to see it again.”

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A note from GracelessLiar

Hmmm... another busy weekend, another delayed update. I may have to really think about pre-loading some chapters...


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GracelessLiar

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