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Sylene of Unbroken Promises

Sylene of Unbroken Promises

Sylene paused, briefly, at the corner of Hope and Chance. The spies of the Calming Notion were everywhere these days, and she would rather her home away from home stayed private. Along Chance, and a brief turn onto an alleyway running parallel to Hope and Providence. Rain fell here, a soft autumn drizzle, and she quick-stepped between puddles, her footing sure on the slick cobblestones.

Around her, doorways surmounted by elaborate archways and columns sometimes materialized from the faceless gray walls of the alley, only ever visible from the corner of the eye. Their appearance calmed her nerves, showing her that her path was still inviolate. They would not appear if she were followed: only an Unseen Observer may see Forgotten Doorways. She began to whisper quietly to herself as she stepped through the rain, bringing a memory of her time with Summer, never to come again. The pang of lost love opened a door in the rain, and she stepped between raindrops into her abode.

Soft yellow candlelight fell upon rich wood panelling lining the walls of a warm study, a fire burning in the hearth beyond a pair of rich green leather chairs. There were no doors, but the shelves lining the walls held pictures; hundreds of pictures in frames of wood, silver, glass. Sylene removed her long leather coat, flicked the rain from it, and hung it upon a tall coat stand in the corner of the room. Turning to the shelves, she cast her eye over her dominion. Each picture showed a different location, or a different time. She hadn't unlocked nearly a tenth of them yet, but she had mastered enough to make this a veritable fortress. Each was a room of this place, located elsewhere and accessible only through these pictures.

Sylene took a velvet pouch from her belt and considered it a moment. She brushed water from her long ponytail absentmindedly, and scanned the rows of pictures. There: a small room with white walls, its only furniture a tall side table surmounted with an intricate device of fine silver filigree in the shape of a globe. Stepping towards it, she held the pouch tightly in her left hand, and placed the right on the edge of the picture frame. She leaned in close, her lips brushing its surface gently, tenderly, whispering.

"I took this pouch from a night-gaunt's hoard, and filled it with the names of demons and angels that never were, won by guile from the Echo of PIty's Sighs." A blink, a sensation of movement in a dimension beyond the normal five, and she looked upon the white room, its strange occupant alone and serene on its high table.

The filigree globe, nearly a foot in diameter, was hollow, as though a spherical cage had been built by an impassioned, mad artisan obsessed with numbers, runes, and sigils. Rather than straight lines of longitude and latitude, its shape was made up of thousands of delicately worked glyphs, some packed so closely together they almost looked like solid continents on a sea of nothing. The globe itself was suspended perfectly within a cube, its faces empty, its edges worked of the same silvery material, an unseen force holding its content in space, untouched. As Sylene moved towards it, the globe began to revolve slowly, almost imperceptibly. Sylene licked her lips. She had the key, at long last; it had cost her the square root of negative one, a heavy cost indeed, but if she was right…

Holding up the velvet pouch, she carefully released its drawstrings, angling its opening towards the gently spinning globe. On the edge of hearing, the names of twice eight beings that never were and now never would be slunk across the space, and the sphere's movement quickened. Now for maybe the greatest price of all, the last part of the key. Sylene leaned forward, hesitated. Who will I be, this time tomorrow? She drew a breath.

"Sylene of Unbroken Promises."

Her mind twisted, her identity tumbling. Her memories shifted somehow, no longer her own but the content of a story whispered in dark places, songs sung by candlelight. In front of her, the silver of the globe glowed bright, and the sigils squirmed and slid, consuming one another, mating in wild abandon, burning away in the incandescent ecstasy of rebirth. The nameless woman focussed her eyes: before her the globe was now a simple ring, open face to hers, its secret revealed at last.

A black cube hung in the empty space within the ring. The woman smiled, and reached out a hand.

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