The Bound (Ascension #2)(11)

“You were half-dead, Ava,” Ceis’f responded. “How do you even know that you actually saw this human use Doma power?”

“I know what I saw, Ceis’f! Believe in those whose honor doth shine. That was the Doma motto after all, and she looked like the sun before she released her powers and wiped out the Indres.”

Cyrene’s head was spinning. Those words, that motto, had gotten her out of a lot of bad situations in the last couple of months. She couldn’t believe the words were related to the Doma. Not to mention, she was having a conversation about her magic with complete strangers, as if it were normal.

“Enough!” the Queen commanded. “You two will remain silent while I speak with the Doma.”

“You truly believe her to be a Doma?” Ceis’f asked with a barely concealed scoff.

Queen Shira narrowed her eyes, and Ceis’f quickly closed his mouth.

“I believe she is Doma, yes. Not because I have seen her use her abilities, though I have no reason to doubt Avoca’s story, but because of this.”

Then, she slowly retrieved something from her side and held out Cyrene’s book for all to see.

Cyrene gasped. “That is mine!”

“I’m quite aware. It was found when we searched your things.”

“How dare you!” Cyrene snapped. “That is personal and classified.”

The Queen gave her a wry smile. “And you can read its text?”

Cyrene opened her mouth and then snapped it shut. “Can you?”

“Only magical users have the ability to see the written text,” the Queen said with a nod. “Anyone who attempted to read the book who had not passed a magical test would lose time—hours, days, years—due to the spell written into the text. A precaution to keep those who should not have access to the text from accessing it.”

Cyrene tried not to show her surprise. That exact thing had happened to her when she first tried to read it.

“Are you actually saying, that book is the lost Book of the Doma?” Avoca asked in awe.

“Yes,” she stately simply. “And you can read it, can’t you?”

Cyrene nodded slowly. “But what exactly is the lost Book of the Doma?”

“A precious historical artifact of the Doma reign. Very few books chronicled their magical prowess, and this is one of them.”

“The Circadian Prophecy stated that it would reappear with the Doma,” Avoca said.

“Yes. If we have read it as intended, the lost Book of the Doma would be given to a new Doma, and so would begin the Rise of the Children of the Dawn.”

“Rise?” Ceis’f snorted. “Even if this girl is a Doma, there is still only one. That isn’t a rise.”

The Queen smiled. “We will see.”

Cyrene’s head was spinning. The lost Book of the Doma. Circadian Prophecy. The Rise of the Children of the Dawn. She had thought, when she found out what the book meant, it would lead to answers…not more questions.

“Are Doma called the Children of the Dawn?” Cyrene asked.

That was the name that Basille Selby had used with her all those months ago. She had known even then that the man knew more than he let on.

“Yes, child. You know so little of your own people,” the Queen said with a sad sigh. “I believe, at this time, it is best if the Doma remains in Eldora. We have to determine what our part is in the Rise of the Children of the Dawn. And, until she can protect herself, she is a danger to everyone she encounters.”

“What?” Cyrene cried at the same time as Ceis’f said, “Never!”

“We cannot allow any individual to leave who could level a city without a way to control the current.”

“What about my friends?” Cyrene asked. “I don’t even know where I am or who you are or what you want with me, but they were out there with me last night. I cannot stay here while they are still alive.”

“Friends?” the Queen asked Avoca.

“Captured by human soldiers and taken to Strat.”

Cyrene’s world tilted. “No.”

“Are they Doma?” Queen Shira asked.

“No,” she breathed. “They were to go with me on my mission. I must save them.”

“Let her go,” Ceis’f said. “We shouldn’t have scum in our sacred halls.”

“She saved my life!” Avoca protested.

“To your greatest shame, Ava.”

“Enough!” Queen Shira cried, raising her voice for the first time. “You two are acting no better than children. Would you like me to strip you of your teams and return you to child status?”

Avoca and Ceis’f stood stiffly. Their shoulders were set back, and they shifted uncomfortably, back and forth, from one foot to the other. Cyrene wondered if they knew how similarly they acted in that moment.

“What is your mission, child?” Queen Shira asked her.

Cyrene ground her teeth together. “It’s classified but of the utmost importance. I will stop at nothing to achieve it.”

“I see. Does it have something to do with this?” She raised the book again.

Cyrene straightened herself up and nodded once. “Yes.”

The Queen tapped her lips as she considered Cyrene. “I’m sorry. I can only grant you visitation rights. Avoca, you are to remain as her guide until I can decide on how to proceed.”

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