Before the Throne

“Ridiculous,” scoffed Elymas, but Oren had stolen the power of his argument.

“This thing may be, despite its unlikely location, the star prophesied of old.” A’Sing spoke, the first to regain his composure. “If the star has come, must it be known by all? If there is as much danger as the Shautu suspects, then to have it fall into the Salt Marsh Sea, observed by only a few frogs or Dabbers, makes sense.”

“A point well made,” mused the King. “But tell me, from what quarter comes the opposition? To oppose the Axis child is the same as opposing Elyon himself. Who would dare?”

Suddenly, a tallow candle impaled upon an iron ring sputtered and went out. The King followed its trail of smoke as if searching for answers.

“Must we speak so emphatically of a star that has not appeared, an Axis child that has not been born, and something close to my heart, a new Earth Skyll who has yet to make an appearance?” Elymas sighed, running both hands through his thinning gray hair. It was, and was meant to be, a gesture that implied impatience with unreasonable children. “I’ll grant the danger. The world about us is unknown and unpredictable. Perhaps, if the Axis had been born, he’d have the same chance of coming to harm as the rest of us. But he has not come to harm, because he hasn’t been born.”

A’Sing made a gesture as if to speak, but Elymas continued.

“Hear me out.” Voice thundering, he looked at each one. “Every year my Sacred Servants scour the land. They leave no stone unturned in the search for my successor. Again this year, the search was made; again there was nothing. I have held this position since the days of King Revel. Truly, I grow weary, but the truth is that the Elyon, in his infinite wisdom, hasn’t seen fit to put another in my place. If I’m not to be believed and the efforts of my Sacred Servants are disregarded, then look to the Tree of Life. The Tree, lest anyone forget, has not put forth a blossom. I checked on it only yesterday, and it stands devoid of bud and bloom as before.”

“That much is true,” conceded Vue unexpectedly. “I have checked it myself.”

“When?” Elymas croaked.

“Shortly after you left,” replied Vue, failing miserably to keep the self-satisfied smirk off his face.