Shadow's LegacyBy: Julie Kagawa
“Are you certain you don’t wish to take a carriage to the human world, Your Majesty?”
I gave the faery hovering in my chamber doorway a weary smile. “No, Elaith,” I told my personal attendant and snatched my cloak from its stand in the corner nearest the door. “I’ll be fine. Honestly, I’d rather walk. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the real sun.”
The faery nodded reluctantly—the motion nearly invisible in the dimness of the room. Like all my subjects, Elaith was a Forgotten, a faery who had been unremembered for so long she had nearly faded out of existence. She was slender and wispy, with delicate dragonfly wings and long curly hair. But that’s all anyone knew of her, because, like all the Forgotten in my court, Elaith resembled a living shadow. A silhouette without color, warmth, or features, except for two glowing, yellow eyes in the blank abyss of her face. As a personal attendant, she was unrivaled in making sure I had everything I needed and keeping the household affairs running smoothly. But she wasn’t much of a conversationalist: sometimes I’d think I was discussing the events of the day with her, only to turn around and find that I’d been talking to myself for who knew how long. It wasn’t Elaith’s fault, just something I kept having to remind myself of: take your eyes off a Forgotten, and they probably won’t be there when you look back.
“As you wish, sire. I will call the guards to accompany you.”
“No,” I told her, making those two glowing orbs blink in surprise. “I won’t need them,” I continued. “Not where I’m going. Besides, I promised a friend that it would just be me this afternoon. No extra fey or Forgotten tagging along.”
Elaith hesitated. Obviously, she did not think the King of the Forgotten traipsing out alone was a good idea, but she bowed her head and took a step back. “Yes, my king. If that is your desire. Please excuse me. I will return to my duties.”
I nodded, and with another bow, Elaith turned and departed my chambers, making no noise as she slid into the hall. I swirled my cloak around my shoulders and gave myself a quick check in the mirror. Where I was going today, I had to look presentable. Though, the image staring back at me from the glass still made me want to punch that face into a thousand glittering shards. It had nothing to do with appearance, which I never put much stock in. Not long ago, I had been a faery prince, and I still looked the part. My silver-white hair and blue eyes came from my mother’s side; my athletic build and height came from my father.
But I knew what the soul behind the face in the mirror was capable of. And what it had done—to Faery, to its family, to everyone it had cared for—still made me sick to my stomach.
Today, they call me the Forgotten King. My real name is Keirran, son of Meghan Chase, the Iron Queen. And not long ago, I nearly destroyed the entire Nevernever.
* * *
As I slipped out the manor doors into the courtyard, the city of Touchstone was quiet...but it was always quiet. Being made literally of shadows, the Forgotten were a silent group, able to glide up walls and through cracks in the floor without a thought. The city reflected this.
When I was first establishing my court, I had attempted to make it brighter, to add some color and cheeriness to the landscape, but I’d quickly realized that decision made the Forgotten uneasy. They liked the darkness, were comfortable in the gloom and shadows. And so, after a few days of my subjects slinking around like dogs with their tails between their legs, I gave in and let the darkness rule. Touchstone was now a city of mist, rock, and old Gothic buildings, where gargoyles perched on every corner and vampires would not be out of place. For my own sake, I allowed the sun to rise over Touchstone each day, even if only for a few hours. The Forgotten might be faeries of the darkness, but their king occasionally needed to feel the sunlight on his face or he would have a mental breakdown. But the rest of the time, the city existed in perpetual night.
The manor courtyard was empty as I walked across the cobblestones, my footsteps knocking eerily in the stillness. Overhead, the full moon peered down like a glowing silver eye. I reached the center of the courtyard and paused, gazing at a pile of rubble surrounded by a fence. These ruins, only a few stones, were what allowed the city of Touchstone to remain here and not fade into nothing.