Springs, I never
crit long stuff (1k is long for me!) as I can never usually finish reading through to the end. But I finished this.
Tis very good stuff. I only have a couple of teeny comments: It seemed fitting that here, in the centre of her palace, at the heart of her great city of Abendau, she should have the bloodiest part of her Empire
I didn't understand this sentence at all. Nor did I understand this one: Recessed lighting cast pools of brightness which barely illuminating the shadows.
That's all I have to say really! I don't understand the Empress's "Are you so close?" question, but I'm prepared to let it go because I think it must make sense to Ealyn.
Oh, last comment, I'd re-order this bit: Tiredness seeped through every bone in her body now, sapping her strength. She turned to leave. “Please,” said his soft voice behind her, his words slower, less strident. She turned to face him. “Take the prism down.”
I think it's the 'soft voice behind her' bit which doesn't quite work for me. I'd want to put it, or similar, in front of the 'please.' It'd flow better for me. (Something like Behind her, he spoke, his voice soft etc. etc. Only you'd do it better!)
Not much help but there it is for what it's worth!