The Autumn Queen No. 3 – Unending Night

This is #3 of The Autumn Queen. If you want to start from the beginning, go here.

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There had been songs of the sun for as long as I could remember. Epics about the shining light of the sky that was brighter than the silver of the moon, a golden color, a warm color.

In the romantic poems, it was a soft light, sweet and lifegiving, restorative. It made secret flowers bloom, and made snakes grow legs and lay out on rocks to worship its gentle heat.

In the cautionary tales, it was maddening, scalding, blinding, and would burn the surface of the world away to nothing but dust and glass.

They said when the sun rose, it would first be seen as though the horizon were consumed in a great fire. The edge of the world would lighten; the twilit sky would fade from its velvet indigo, and pale to lavender, which would then give way to a blue such as we had never seen, that would blot out all the stars, and even cover the face of our brilliant moon.

Some believed it would be a new era of beauty, and scores of artists made paintings, odes, sculptures, and plays in homage to the sun and all it might mean, while others were convinced it was a harbinger of our destruction.

The Order of the Unending Night, one of the most powerful sects, required that all acolytes put out their eyes before they apply to the priesthood; that way, they would never be able to look upon the light they believed would drive all of us mad.

My brother was such a devotee, but only after our transgression, after we had returned from the court of the Autumn Queen, who had been roundbellied when we set foot in her halls, and was now empty, raging and insane, while her seed was at the breast of a wetnurse we had hidden in the lower streets.

He, Kellis, and I had made the journey weeks ago, a secret envoy whose only purpose was to steal the prince and hide him away. The Queen would start a war she could never win, to try to retrieve the child she should never have had — the child that belonged, by right, by all our laws, to its father.

A father who now would never see its bright eyes, because he joined the Order, and had put out his own.

“Oh, my brother,” I said, and kissed his cheeks. “What have you done?”

“What I had to, Elodie,” he answered. “What I had to.”

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