“Lily woke with a small gasp. It was dawn—it had to be, because Lily always woke at dawn. Never earlier, never later. The moment she woke, she felt relieved; they had slept and lived safely through the night, without getting attacked. She looked at the fire. It was dead, though faint smoke still rose from the layer of ash where they’d piled up logs and twigs the night before. Lily glanced at Clary, whose eyes were closed. Even in her sleep, Clary wore an expression that said danger. Suddenly, a soft, temptingly sweet voice called her name from behind, almost like a whisper carried to her ears by the morning breeze. Lily whipped around, laying eyes on a small opening in the overgrowth through which a barren path of soil and rock passed. She would have woken Clary, but something stopped her as he got to her feet and began following the pathway. She walked slowly, the leaves crunching beneath her soft-soled pumps. The gentle breeze, the warm weather, and the voice calling her name—what could have been more inviting? The trees parted as she walked through the forest, but she was too enchanted to be alarmed by such an unusual happening. The flowers on the trees began to bloom as she passed by them, and began to sprout from the cold damp floor of the Dark Forest. But nothing about flowers in the Dark Forest seemed unusual to her. She came upon a pool, the smooth layer of still water glimmering in the sunlight—the sunlight that didn’t at all seem out of place to Lily in the forest she had known to be dark and decaying—it called out to her to come and break the smoothness of the surface, create a ripple, and disturb the stillness of the water. And all of a sudden she was bending down, into the shining pool, which grew brighter the closer her face got to it—and it was then, at once that she saw, coiled inside the beautiful light the ugliest thing Lily had ever seen. Its teeth bared, eyes ravenous like red rubies. She realized what it was, and the uncanniness of what she’d just witnessed hit her all at once. But it was too late to go back. The pool sucked her down into itself, and she fell into the water demon’s trap.”

“Black was her favorite color. She loved it firstly because she loved the silent nights in her village punctuated by the chirping of the crickets, and she loved looking at the sky, the stars equidistant from each other. She had learned that it was very rare for the stars to be equidistant. Secondly, because darkness was so silent that she could think of new ideas and new things in abundance, without someone reading her thoughts by reading her face.”



“The writer knew he had to stop. He had to stop. He had to stop but he never wasted his time and kept on writing. His flickering candle created an island of light on the table, and his quill scratched across the parchment. He dipped and wrote, splashing ink but not caring. His country was in danger and he alone knew it. The Sun God had trusted him with this, so he wrote not with his own will, but with that of the Sun God himself. The writer finished filling his parchment and without revealing his identity, neatly folded the paper. He slid it into an envelope and sealed it and slipped out of the castle. The night air was cold and there was complete darkness. The hooded writer raked the dead autumn leaves that coated the grass before his hut by the treeline, and then, letter in hand, crossed the forest over to the river bank…”


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