“I never imagined I’d live to see such a thing.” Solas Creek, the plump proprietor of the Lightholder Tavern, stood on the wooden slats of the pub’s front porch, toweling off a pewter mug as he watched the strongbacks pulling on the ropes to bring the statue to its full height of twenty feet at the heart of the crossroads.

The bronze sculpture depicted a gaunt figure in sleek robes, a widow’s peak above a sharp nose and an icy gaze. The figure’s left hand dangled at his side, while the right hand stretched forward, holding a stone orb.

“Good he can’t drop it now, ain’t it?” quipped Bartle Seed, a peasant working on his third mug of wheat wine.

Solas sighed, shaking his head. It had been more than three years since that day when the Crown Regent of Fastheld, Zolor Zahir, vowed to deliver the realm from calamity and instead tumbled, smashed the magical relic he carried, and created some kind of mysterious energy rift that consumed him along with dozens of other Fastheldians.

All dead, presumably.

Thus far, only the Regent seemed worthy enough to merit an Imperial remembrance.

“It’s the boy’s doin’, they say,” Bartle added.

The barkeep frowned. “Don’t sit right with me,” Solas said. “We lost a lot of good people that day. That black raven’s to blame for much grief.”

“Oh, I dunno,” Bartle replied, gesturing toward the statue with his mug. Some wine sloshed over the rim, splattering the porch. “Give the plaque a look.”

Solas spared a brief scowl for the mess the patron was making, but then complied. He walked down the steps and crossed the central square below Caryas Hill under a warm Huntsmoon sky. As he approached the statue, a broad-shouldered worker moved aside to reveal the brass plaque affixed to the marble pedestal.

The message of remembrance on the statue commissioned by young Emperor Talus Kahar XV: “WATCH YOUR STEP.”

That got a wicked grin from Solas Creek. “Oh, he’s gonna do fine. Just fine.”

By Brody

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