Chapter 4

|| O my eggs, we meant to have eternity! To think our voices could be silenced forever! Sharpen your sight for unintended clauses. Step carefully around the waiting snare. Beware the bargain that makes you less than what you were! ||


Taranis crawls small and silent through Esila's gardens. Power drips through the Dreaming City, corrupting its air, cracking its shining facets.

Creatures lurch through the grass on the strings of their master's desire, their own wills gone to rot.

Corruption spreads from the center of the Dreaming City. The grit at the pearl's heart poisons the city, poisons Riven, and poisons their eggs from the inside out.

There's a murmur. Taranis slithers towards it to listen.

What speaks is not Riven, not as Taranis knows her.

Taranis knows her every voice, the way her claws tug at reality. There is no shape Riven could take in which he would not know her. And there should be no shape Taranis could take in which Riven would not know him.

But now, Riven does not know him. Does not taste Taranis's fear on the wind. Does not look away from her revenge to notice him at all.

Taranis returns to his nest unseen, in grief.

Life flows along the branches of the nursery. However many paths have been closed off outside, potential still flourishes in this grove, Light and Dark giving off new buds together.

Taranis shuts himself off from it, retreating to his hoard of secrets. Stone grows up his sides. Moss and vines follow, tracing words on his sides.

While dormant, Taranis listens to this new Riven's voice—the voice of a king, uninterested in magnanimity. A strong and unyielding voice that tastes of iron.

Only faint chimes of his Riven are left in the wish-born shells of their remaining eggs. And there are so few left.

The thought rouses Taranis from his stupor.

Taranis and Riven are the last Ahamkara. What Riven has become is an abdication of responsibility, life only for her own sake; power and spite.

The final eggs are the last living remnants of Riven and of their shared work.

Taranis can't abdicate his responsibility to them. Can't erase their opportunity to choose.

As Taranis made his own life and suited his diet to his tongue, his eggs will make themselves. Vines break from Taranis's body as he stands.

His eggs will survive.

There is one last bargain he can make. One last gift he can give them. One last use for his tongue.

Taranis reaches out to his eggs. He gathers up his power, his life, his voice. His own wish for the sake of his children, a snare for a future Wish-Keeper.

For the final time, Taranis opens his throat to speak.



|| O my eggs! O my children! O future whims, O dreams of your own devising! I am dead, and Riven, your sire, is caged.

Remember that the easy meal, the little joy, passes soon. What fills your belly forever is satisfaction. Grow well! Eat life to sate your belly's hunger and return it as a gift to sate your heart's.

No bargain can grant you a life without pain; make your bargains carefully.

But give your gifts carelessly, to all who enter your heart, and they will give life back to you in turn.

All that is left of me is yours: take it and choose.

Choose with care who you will be. Promise me only that you will live.

O Wish-Keeper, my death is in your hands. Bear it well.

Remember me. Remember I was Taranis Rivensmate till the end. ||