The air was still, stagnant for… how long? How many centuries had the castle lain undisturbed?
How could these trees not be seen from outside?
She was still accustoming herself to magic. Couldn’t see the city at all from outside, couldn’t get through to the castle at all if you weren’t born to it. Hiding trees was nothing in comparison.
She stepped in hesitantly. Circle of seven.
Flash of memory – the father-god, at the other side of the clearing, sorrowful and implacable.
Her breath caught in her throat, a tiny sob. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
The price had already been paid. So long ago.
How long will you punish yourself?
Another step, and another. The center of the grove. The heart of the castle, of Shayara. The heart of the world.
Another flash – creating Airenn, Nisar… shaping and breathing life.
Another flash – her own awakening.
This is where I was born.
This exact spot.
This is where the world was born.
And the spot seemed to know it, seemed to hum around her. She felt almost giddy in its magic. And she knew that Jason had not shielded this place from the Council – it had shielded itself.