Time’s Edge Prologue
Worlds That Lie Frozen Before the Dark Storm
Zonliann entered her bed chamber and softly closed the door. She glanced around the room, her gaze lingering on the silvered walls, which were glowing with a soft inner light, the shimmering tapestries moving with a life of their own, the colorful floor tiles gently pulsating with warmth and light beneath her feet. Her pearl desk stood in its alcove, smooth and shining from the loving polishing she had given it. A large bed, hand-carved from pearl and silver, stood across the room. She stood still for a moment, savoring the memories the room held. Then she walked toward the bed and put out a hand to brush aside the pale blue and white draperies that hung from the silver canopy.
The bed was empty. With a start, Zonliann glanced around the room and then noticed the glass door to the balcony was slightly ajar. She moved forward and as she reached the door, she saw the shadowy figure moving beyond. Before she could take hold of the handle, the figure turned and opened the door for her.
Zonliann stepped out into the moon-washed darkness. She looked up at the man who stood there. “Thank you, my dear,” she said softly.
He bent his head to kiss her and then took her arm and walked her over to the railing. The city of Navonne sparkled below them, reflecting the light of the moon that rose steadily above it.
They stood in silence for awhile. Then Zonliann turned to look up into her husband’s face.
“It is nearly time, Zantar,” she said.
“I know.” He smiled down at her and then lifted his eyes once again to the city. “I have seen this city a thousand times, but tonight I feel as though I have never seen it before.”
“I feel that, too.” Zonliann paused and tightened her grip on his arm. “She will be a full grown woman before we see her again.”
Zantar turned and took his wife in his arms. He knew her thoughts were not on the city any more than his were. “You foretold her destiny would take her far from us.”
“Yes.” Her voice was muffled against his shoulder. Then she lifted her face. The vivid turquoise eyes were awash with unshed tears. “She has a great gift. I knew she would. As soon as I held her, I felt what she would be.”
“Be thankful we have this salvation to offer our people.”
“Yes. The planets rejoice while I weep.” She caught her breath, shook her head, and before Zantar could speak she added, “I won’t weep now. I know it must happen this way.”
“Lacia must weep as much,” Zantar added quietly. “She never even got to hold her child.”
Grateful her husband wasn’t a seer, Zonliann quickly lifted her eyes from him to the sister planet glistening in the sky above the rising moon. She thought of Lacia, waiting in her palace for the darkness to descend and then of Jinn and Alrick, who would escape the darkness but faced even greater peril. She wouldn’t let herself think of her daughter and the other child. Their future was a swirling pattern of murkiness and mist through which she could barely glimpse the momentous events which awaited them.
“Come, Zantar,” she said softly. “Let us go in. It is almost time.”
He gave her a lingering kiss and a final embrace before taking her hand and leading her back into their bed chamber. A gesture from him extinguished the faint glow of the walls. They lay down together on the bed, hands clasped. The bells of the city began to toll the hour. Zonliann turned her head to look into her husband’s eyes.
“I love you, Zantar.”
“I love you, Zonliann.”
Then the world disappeared in a freezing tide of darkness.