Alyxandra lay upon the well-kept grasses of the public gardens, in the centre of Raiholt, listening with closed eyes to the birds in the boughs of the trees which encircled her, to the laughter of the children as they played, enveloped in the bliss of peace and the gift of quietness.
As she lay, she let her mind run, and she thought of all she had experienced since the day she had broken up that frivolous fight between Gideon, the dwarven fishmonger, and William, the butcher. She remembered meeting with Alceren, Lord Alceren, for the first time, and how they had discovered so much of each other, and of the other Blades of Twilight, in a relatively short time.
She smiled, happy that there seemed to be little contention between them. As she lay, she clasped her pale hands over the amulet Alceren had given her, tracing the familiar lines of the royal coat of arms with her forefinger. She began to think of Alceren, and wondered whether or not he was safe, or injured, or... she could not bear to think the word; she could not bear it if Alceren... she paused, or any one of them, died.
A little perturbed by her thoughts, she sat up, breathing in a lungful of the mid-afternoon air, before standing and concealing the amulet in its usual place at her chest.
Aveyna stood at the north wall, overlooking Raiholt, and felt as though she had power over all that she saw. Looking to the map she had marked with the names and positions she had assigned to each of them, she almost visualised Alyxandra on the opposite wall, her bow loaded, ready to strike.
Beneath Alyxandra, Aranaytha would stand, her reddened lips masked by the lip of her shield, her sword singing, crying out for the enemy’s blood. Beneath the wall she now stood upon, she saw Yvellen and Luan, the former holding his axe in both hands and the latter which his back legs so filled with the tension of the hunt that they looked as though they would snap.
Beside her, she imagined Telthar’rion, his ever-changing, usually hidden eyes would be amber then, as he held his staff, ready to cast all manner of magic upon those who opposed the people. As she imagined him, she was reminded of his sudden departure at the discussion of their personal lives, and began to think once more about his silence, his stillness, his seemingly negative nature and, when he did speak, how impolite he could be. As she thought on this, she visualised herself in the centre of the square, able to see signals from both sides.
They had previously agreed, while making their way there, that Telthar’rion would deliver the signal from the north wall as a skyward burst of light, while Alyxandra and Aranaytha would fire an arrow high into the air and cry out respectively. Luan was told by Yvellen to roar loudly should an enemy approach. The guards of the eastern and western gates had their instructions also, having been told to raise a black flag and to sound a horn also.
The townspeople had been instructed to stay indoors as soon as it darkness fell, except in any emergencies. Another message was sent soon after gently reminding them that an overwhelming desire for ale and gossip did not constitute an emergency. With everything in place, Aveyna smiled, as the sky began to darken in the way it usually does in the late afternoon.
Having allowed the Blades of Twilight their few hours of normality, she descended the steps into the wall and came out of the small wooden door below, and began to make her way through the town, to ask them to meet at the north wall for their first night of duty.