“That dawn, I could have watched Gray Hennan walk out of the Argent Forest.
I was working in the Morning Temple in the north-eastern corner of the terrace, setting up flowers and floating candles for the First Ceremony. He arrived from that exact direction; a dark, tall figure stepping out into the early light of the day as if one of those towering trees in their tangled liana-robes suddenly came alive. Separating from the harsh green wilderness like he’d been a part of the woods himself, he crossed the Hand of Lilies with a slow but deliberate gait—his worn, faded clothes hanging around his form, his hood pulled down over half his face. He moved among the vibrant reds, purples, and whites of the garden like a blotch of darkness, his glance never wavering from the high-reaching pinnacles of the central palace. And when he faced the guards posted around the gate, he didn’t wait for an invitation to step inside the dark-wood structure.”