“No,” he muttered, not entirely sure if his assertion was true. “I’d rather have my blood.”
She frowned at him, her expression mocking. “Well, it’s too late for that, isn’t it now? Anyhow, what use is your blood to you?”
“It keeps me alive, that’s what!” he snarled.
“Not for long, it won’t. Not with all the poison you’re pouring into yourself. Pity all of that good blood, gone to waste! It just isn’t right!”
He glared at her, resisting the impulse to cower against the wall. “And you’re an excellent judge of wrong and right, of course.”
She smiled widely, exposing her fangs again. “Come to me, Seymour.”
Seymour didn’t move.
“I won’t bite you, I promise. Come.”
Reluctantly, Seymour pushed himself off of the wall and approached her. “What do you want?”
“I want to talk to you. Sit down.”
“Chivalry is cowardice, Seymour. Sit down.”
He sat. She sat beside him, leaning back on her hands, her legs extended in front of her so that her feet were stretched out beyond the edge of the cliff.
“Every group, no matter the size, must have a leader, Seymour. Someone capable and strong who can assert himself when the moment calls. In this case, that’s you.”
“Am I now?” Seymour inquired without inflection.
“Yes. You are not the bravest of the Six, nor are you the smartest, nor the most powerful, nor the agilest, nor even the most perceptive. But you have something that all the others lack.”
“And what, may I ask, is that?”
“Charisma.” She smiled. “They will all love you, in their own different ways. They shall be drawn to you; they will follow you anywhere.” Pausing, she watched for his reaction. “It is a rose. Beware the thorns.”
“What do you mean?”
The Lady Raven regarded him with her blank sapphire eyes. “When the time comes, you will know. Do you know where we are, Seymour?”
He looked around. “Waelyngar…no, Moribinu.”
The sea of blood had drained away at some point during the past few minutes, and there was no trace of it now. Below them, cultivated fields marched off towards the distant mountains in the west, but in the south, the forest was thicker and vaster than it would come to be in Seymour’s time. The sky was still pewter grey throughout.
“Yesss,” Moriba agreed. “Moribinu. The greatest city that ever was. Look upon it!”
Seymour opened his mouth to argue that they were facing the wrong way, but he found this was no longer the case. The world had seemed to curl in upon itself, and now he was upside-down, staring down at the city of Moribinu. Alarmed, he dug his claws into the grass, but he didn’t seem to be in any danger of falling.
The city was built entirely of the same dark stone as the castle, and its architecture was styled in eerily ancient form. Plenty of archways and pillars, along with sinister monoliths and obelisks and a sprinkling of strange statues. Its layout reminded Seymour of the older parts of Brysail, where the city had been built along the same footprint as its long-dead ancestor, keeping its strange, mazelike streets and unexpected plazas. But in Brysail, the ancient buildings had been gone a thousand years. Only their ghosts remained.
Moribinu, as he looked, transfixed, upon it, was still very much alive.