Orphia has spent her life waiting for life to start. She ends up being a Walker for the Dead, and during a funeral reception, a dagger finds her. Waking in a bubble between time and space isn’t nearly as unsettling as the man who is holding her hands and helping her through the agony of reanimation.
Xeric is a Hirn and one of the Nameless. He is doomed to see his people living and thriving at all points in time, knowing that their death and extinction is inevitable. He bonds to Orphia the moment that he sees her, and at the moment of her death, he is there to catch her and carry her off to a new world with new challenges.
Who could resist a man who carries off their body to a world outside of time?
Orphia inclined her head. “One more time, Sorrow. You will see us one more time.”
Xeric wrapped his arms around Orphia, and they moved into the next year.
A storm was brewing, and they waited for Sorrow.
With a gown covered in crystals, Sorrow appeared out of the forest and walked up the steps of the ruin, every inch a queen. Her husband followed her and stared in shock at the Nameless on the ruin.
Orphia extended her hands, and Sorrow embraced her.
When the queen released her, Orphia curtseyed gracefully. “Greetings, Queen Sorrow.”
Sorrow smiled, “I have changed my name to Ayartha, an ancient word for laughter. It suits me much better to be Queen Ayartha, don’t you think?”
Orphia kissed her pink forehead and brushed back her snow-white hair. “I am glad that the time of Sorrow is over. Laughter is always preferable when I am given a choice.”
“Thank you, Lady. Thank you for coming to me when a lonely child called for wisdom. Your words have never steered me wrong, and my people are happy.”
“You were to follow your heart, I only confirmed that it was the right course of action.” Orphia was blushing.
Ayartha laughed. “Thank you, Nameless, for coming to a lonely child.”
Orphia’s lips twisted, “How long have you known?”
“Five years. Your hair never changes, and there is a tuft poking out like a fan in the back. It is obvious that you were moving through time and around the normal progression. It simply took me some time to find the records that explained what you were and why you came to me.”
Orphia smiled. “You are exceptional, and you needed a bit of help. Time provided it and sent me to carry it out. It was an honour.”
Xeric took a few steps forward and wrapped his arms around her. “It is time.”
“Thank you as well, Forest Lord. It has been three thousand years since a Hirn touched our soil. We are glad that you are not one of the lone gods. She is a good match for you.”
Ayartha grinned and pressed a kiss to Orphia’s hand. “Thank you, Lady. I will treasure your words always.”
Orphia opened her mouth, but Xeric took her away in a burst of light. She sighed and turned in his arms. “I will miss her.”
“You knew her for six hours out of twelve years of her life.”
“I know, but watching someone grow puts them into a special place in your heart. Don’t argue with me, just pat my back and say, there, there.”
He stroked her back and rubbed her spine. “There, there.”
She chuckled and looked up at him. “Thank you.”