The scene materializes around them, a lavish but sparsely decorated room with red banners, emblems depicting flames, a roaring hearth draped in gold and curtains, and a simple altar, covered by a modest cloth.
Phaedra: In the monastery atop Crucible Hill, there’s an altar made of bleached coral.
Cheth: I know.
Phaedra: Each new year, High Priestess Halea sees a symbol in a dream, and marks it on the altar.
Cheth: Yes, I know.
The princess places one hand on top of the altar while Cheth stubbornly keeps his back to her.
Phaedra: The symbol foretells the fortune or misfortune of the following year.
Cheth: I told you I know!
Phaedra turns, the fire leaping in the background tinging half of her face with red. Her and her friend’s souls rest on this, but she appears perfectly calm.
Phaedra: My question for you is: What symbol lies upon the coral altar this year?
Cheth half turns to face her, looking unimpressed.
Cheth: Out of all possible questions, you choose that?
He turns away again and conjures an image in the water beside him with his strings. Two birds, circling one another. Behind him, Phaedra sits on the altar and watches on.
Cheth: As with all other years, it’s another one of my sister’s stupid birds. It’s the twin ravens. “Hurting and healing.” If you knew you were going to lose, you could have at least done it without insulting me.