Authors: Heather Terrell
Relic: The Books of Eva
Copyright © 2014 by Heather Terrell
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Soho Teen
an imprint of
Soho Press, Inc.
New York, NY 10003
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Boundary / Heather Terrell.
(The books of Eva; )
HC ISBN 978-1-61695-199-3
PB ISBN 978-1-61695-620-2
1. Fantasy. I. Title.
Interior illustrations © Ricardo Cortés
Interior design by Janine Agro, Soho Press, Inc.
For my three boys—Jim, Jack, and Ben
Lukas stands on the highest point of the
Ring. He knows the position is too exposed, too risky in daylight, but he has no choice. Not if he wants to see Eva. He strains for a glimpse through a small crack in the ice-roof of the Basilika. If he angles himself just right, he may catch something of the ceremony proceeding behind the colorful stained ice-windows. Perhaps the swoop of a Gallant’s silvery cloak. Maybe even the trailing hem of Eva’s white gown.
Bracing himself against the bitter wind, he walks up toward the edge and looks over the top of the snow cornice. In his eagerness, he moves too close. His misstep sends
flying down the side of the Ring. The chunks of ice-crust crash into one another as they fall, making a noise that no Ring-Guard could ignore. Not even the laziest of
Ducking behind an ice-mound, Lukas slows his breath and stills his body. He leans into a depression, willing his inky sealskin coat and black hair to blend into its shadows. The
picks up, and his coat flaps in its wind. He grabs the coat and pulls it close to his body. To the eyes of the Ring-Guards—poorly trained in the Boundary ways of seeing in ice and snow—he will look like nothing more than a shadow. Which is all he is to them, anyway.
The thud of clumsy footsteps grows louder. After thousands of
on the ice, the Aerie people should be more nimble, yet still they walk as heavily as bears, even on such an important day as this. But it’s just another example of their dependence on the Boundary. The Aerie would starve if there was no one to hunt for them; they’d scare a deaf rabbit away.
The sound of the footsteps stops close to his hiding place.
Lukas slides his bow out of his pack and turns it toward the ground to notch his arrow. In one single, silent movement, he draws his bow and brings it up to his face. He holds it there as he listens to the Ring-Guards.
“Looks like the ice fell from here.”
“The cornice seems weak. Probably just couldn’t hold the ice-crust.”
“So some pieces broke off and slid down on their own?”
“That’s what I’m guessing.”
“It’s possible. Still, the Triad issued strict orders about today—”
“Come on. We still have the rest of the perimeter to patrol.”
The voices trail off, and the footsteps fade. Lukas exhales and lowers his bow, watching his breath form
He dares to step out onto the Ring again and peers down onto the Aerie. The open spaces at the Ring’s center—usually bustling—are empty. All the Aerie folk are within the Basilika’s walls. A stark reminder that this ceremony is not for the Boundary. The Boundary are always
, outside. Unless they’re serving at the Feast afterward.
Lukas waits, watching through his soldered-together metal tubes. Without warning, the sunlight intensifies. The bright rays afford him a view into the rift in the Basilika’s roof. The view is limited, but it serves his purposes.
The procession of Gallants, Maidens, Lords, and Ladies begins the ceremonial walk down the Basilika’s knave—it reminds him of the slow journey of an iceberg across the Frozen Sea. Cold and inhuman. Lukas can make out only their white and silver-grey finery, not their faces. He can barely hear their chanting. It’s the purr of insects on a rare summer night. He’s not certain how he’ll identify Eva.
Anger courses through him, anger at himself. He alone is at fault for this. His acts brought Eva to this juncture. The guilt is his to shoulder; it doesn’t matter that his acts were
, that they could not be helped. Their lies gave him no choice. He’d like nothing more than to send one of his arrows down into the icy parade to stop her ceremony with that tedious Gallant. But he must only bear witness.
At that moment he sees it. A flash of her long auburn hair cascading down the back of her white gown. Eva.
No, she is more. She does not belong to him alone. She is the
. The one who will spark the
Healing, the one who will melt the frozen sea of lies and destroy this place forever.
I stand at the back of the Basilika, waiting. I watch as every friend I’ve ever had, every highborn Aerie I’ve ever known, promenades down the nave first, a resplendent sea of white and silver. The men’s elaborate cloaks of animal hides are bleached white from Mother Sun; the women’s sumptuous gowns of undyed fabrics, scrubbed with ivory, are embroidered with rare silver thread that shine as if just made.
These robes may only be worn on this particular occasion, the Betrothal ceremony.
Except for a Union day when a Maiden and her Gallant alone wear blue, a Betrothal is the only time The Lex permits the entire Aerie to deviate from our usual somber blacks and browns. Only then does The Lex allow us to focus on the future—Unions and children—rather than remind us of our terrible past. On this special day, we Aerie band together in a swath of the purest snow as a plea to the Gods to give mankind another chance.
The rays of Her Sun pour through ice-windows colored in the symbols of the Father, the Mother, and the Healing. The day is unseasonably warm, even for spring. The warmth makes the walls weep, as if the Sun Herself is crying colored tears.
Here I am at the center of it all, some kind of offering to the Gods. The trussed-up milky-white emblem of mankind’s hope for a second chance. But I am a fraud.
I draw a Maidenly smile upon my face for the Aerie
people to see—I know they’re all watching—but really I feel like crying along with Her. Not because my Betrothed is Jasper.