The baroque abomination of resinous filigree and squamous tendrils of flowering vine that serves as Yrax’s clock strikes. It interjects two tinny, wavering notes into the still air. Zadkiel always called this the Hour of Memory; but then, he would. Yrax, for his part, finds memory to be much like his clock: it goes sour and runs down the longer you hang on to it. He really should commit that thing to the garbage hole.
The mug held between his hands—really more of a large soup bowl—barely steams now. Viveka will pout at him over it; it was one of the few occasions he’s allowed her to add a bit of honey to it, and yet he’s let it go cold. Ripples appear across the surface of the tea, cascading side to side, interfering and confusing one another; the base of the mug clatters against the table. With effort Yrax steadies his hands, and the rattling ceases. Out in the distant hallway, the heavy footsteps of his fossilized guards retreat.
The Hour of Memories.
They are unwelcome guests, and like many of their ilk stay long past their use. Once, when Yrax was younger and the betrayal fresher, his memories spurred him from conquest to conquest, relentlessly goading him to create anew the kingdom from which he had been cast out. As each banner fell, each crown vanished forever into the frozen wastes, he would rend his garments and scream into the demoniac winds, Do you see now? Do you see what I am? Do you see all that I could be?
But those fires have long since gone to coal. He’s no conqueror now, he’s a governor. An administrator. And when he thinks back to the Long Night, the night of broken words and broken wings: he feels only the cold rush of the howling winds, and the hard unyielding ice rising to meet him.