The city was old.
Some said it was as old as the stones themselves. Some said it had always existed, a thing beyond time. And now time itself held no meaning. There was only the endless night, the pale green light that never changed, and the mist that never left.
Outside the palace walls, the mist now rose and swirled. He had observed long ago that its movements reflected his mood, and there were times when he had looked out through the palace windows at the swirling shapes, vainly hoping to learn the secrets of his own mind.
But now the mist went unnoticed. His footsteps echoed as he walked through the bare halls, as he crossed the empty tapestried rooms. Where once were parties, voices, echoes of music and laughter, these walls now echoed only with his footsteps, for there was no other sound.
He paused just outside the bedchamber, and thought about the city — his city. He knew that rumors of the city swirled about like mist. Such foolishness, such empty patterns in the air. He, alone among all, knew the true nature the city, for it was his nature as well.
He stared into the mirror, at the ageless face that stared back. Can this be my true face, he wondered, or is this merely another illusion? For what is a face that never changes, but a mask?