Chapter One: Prologue

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"At the end of her life she was aware of heat but not pain

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"At the end of her life she was aware of heat but not pain. She had time to consider eyes, eyes of that blue which is the color of the sky at first light of the morning."--- Stephen King, Wizard And Glass

Sunsets are beautiful, a celebration of everything that makes life joyful

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Sunsets are beautiful, a celebration of everything that makes life joyful. Evienne's mind spins, looking at the expanse of sky that is her escape. It is the darkness that is terrifying, and the darkness always lasts so much longer than the light.

Emerald-green eyes fix on a red-orange flame not far away, watching it grow smaller and smaller, only to soar in an unspoken blaze of glory. It is a transfixing sight, one that declares its need to be watched until eyes sting with smoke and ash. Eventually, the flame dies down, and the eyes covered by the embrace of a kind, soft oblivion.

Without being told, Evienne knows she is meant to be thankful. Instead, she feels a sense of panic. She dislikes being trapped and unaware of her surroundings. Her breathing quickens until her chest hurts.

Oblivion releases Evienne to a world she does not know, but it is not kindness. The thick black smoke doesn't fill her lungs but sets her heart ablaze with panic and makes her feel as if she is burning.

It is my penance, Evienne chastises herself. It is what I deserve. When he most needed me, my father did not find the comfort of my eyes. He wanted me to come closer, but the cell was terrifying. I was not strong enough for him. Why should anyone be strong enough for me?

"Please. I want to see." The sound is almost a cry of panic. It is the girl's only request, a hand to lead her out of the darkness that so many coveted. For one moment, she hopes she will see the kind and loving faces of her family, the angelic voice of her sister telling her everything will be alright.

She breathes in relief as the answer is given in the light that floods her once again. "Thank you." Evienne's voice is merely a whisper, a faint shadow of the strong-willed girl she had always been. This woman is not the one who'd travelled through life as if she owned it. She is instead a modest and pleasing girl who doesn't dare to raise her voice.

A quick glance at the faces through the haze, the parts of them she can see, tells her that others are indeed very displeased.

The heat of the fire draws closer. She shudders as her eyes stare out into the crowd for the consolation of a loving face. She does not find one, her heart melting into silent tears. There is no loving reassurance, no family, no God to call upon, only a pair of icy blue eyes that proudly shine with enough hatred to cut through her flesh. She has her mother's eyes, Evienne thinks, though not her beauty nor her tenderness. For her, this is mere duty.

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