The Night Begins

He came to her, as he always did, to their chosen secret place, and she smiled as he appeared, breathing heavily from the long walk uphill.

“You’re too happy”, he grumbled, even before she’d managed to greet him.

“Sorry”

He sighed, “Don’t be like that.”

“Okay.”

Damian frowned, but couldn’t bring himself to say anything further. After all, she had returned to see him again, just as she had said she would. He knew it must not be easy. The tired lines around her eyes as she turned to smile at him made him feel a twinge of guilt. But he shivered at the thought of that empty, aching loneliness which was just waiting to envelop him once she was gone for good, and he cast aside those feelings of guilt. Now was not the time.

Cerid was watching him closely, a strange expression on her face as she watched Damian’s distracted frown go through a series of minor transformations, until he suddenly snapped his icy gray eyes on to her warmer brown ones, and even though she smiled comfortingly at him, the haunted look in his tired eyes made her want to cry.

But, Cerid had not cried since the war had ended. Not once. Not even when she had spent two weeks watching Damian destroy everything around him, until the cursing and swearing and whiskey and screaming was all done with, and all that remained in its place was his pale gaunt frame, surrounded only by endless destruction and stony silence. Her heart had ached as she’d watched, but she hadn’t shed a single tear.

Damian liked to believe that it was because she had run out of tears, and not because other people’s agony and pain affected her more than his. Cerid thought it had something to do with the last battle she’d been part of. Because she had had plenty of tears to shed that day. An all of a sudden, the picture of little Remo, lying in a pool of his blood, flashed through her mind.

He had been a day away from his fifth birthday. She had promised to gift him a real kite. He had been counting down the days. The day of the last air-strike… it was Roberto who had found out first. Damian had been in the middle of his own dilemma. Straddling both sides of the war, he had a difficult decision to make. Even though, technically, he would always be of the Shadow Tribe first. Ceridwyn had been at the forefront of the battle. And she had watched Remo die.

Ceri! Ceri!

She opened her eyes to find Damian kneeling over her, eyes full of worry, “Are you alright?”

She laughed, then, suddenly aware of the bizarreness of the situation. “We have to stop doing this”, she whispered, leaning up into the familiar frame of his body. He swallowed, once, twice. “I understand”, he said, “But what am I supposed to do?”

She shook her head at him, despondent and unsettled, “I love you.”

He looked down at her cautiously, then swallowed again, “I have always loved you.”

“And that’s why you can’t stay”, she whispered, smiling up at him gently, even as her eyes sparkled with waylaid tears.

The baby wouldn’t stop wailing. She knew that it was Arianna’s son. Arianna, who had trusted her and helped them escape when the entire kingdom was against them. Arianna, who now lay buried not far from here, shot in the heart with a poisoned arrow, even as her husband fought on in the Outer Circle with the other Marine Corps. Arianna’s son was trapped inside the burning building, and his mother was injured, and there was no one around to help him. Cerid had already lost a lot of blood. But she could hear the shouts in the distance, and it was clear that victory was imminent. She was just steps away from the designated Tower. She’d get medical attention there, and probably be able to send someone for the baby.

But it would be too late.

And as she turned away from the tower and towards Arianna’s home, for some strange reason, she thought of Damian and the last thing he’d said to her.

Dead to me.

He stared at her for a moment, memorizing every detail of her face as she smiled at him encouragingly. “It’s going to be alright. I’m always going to be here, with you.”

“So,” he began, in a shaky voice, stopping to take a deep breath and continue, “What you’re saying is I’ll never be walking alone.”

She beamed at him then, and for just one tiny moment, Damian forgot all about the last night of the Quarter Century War, when he had returned to the village only to find her overwhelmed and outnumbered against Assassins intending to eliminate all the noble-born children.

He had joined in the battle, and afterwards held her blood soaked body in his arms, as the cheer of celebration and jubilation rang out all around them, and the last of her life ebbed away from her. “Forgive me” he had cried, but it had been too late, and the only answer he had was the silence of the blankness in her empty eyes, just as she had promised him.

Sudden darkness. The hill was empty now. A cold wind rustled past the nearby trees, and a whisper trembled at his ear.

“You’ll never walk alone.”

Damian fell to his knees.

The night had begun.

Mr. Ebenezer Brightside

You watch her walk up the stairs, her hair so much longer than it used to be that you almost don’t recognize her. You wait until she pauses, then walk up to her and clear your throat. She whirls around so fast that her hair is still falling into place around her startled face when her eyes widen in recognition. “You”, she breathes, and holds out her arm – you aren’t sure if it’s to steady herself from the turn or to protect herself from you.

“I need to talk to you”, you say, and nearly cringe at the hoarseness of your voice, but her eyes are darting to the stairway and the elevator just visible in the lobby, as if calculating her chances of escape. You wait patiently as she fiddles with her hair, a different shade from what you remember too, and then sighs, “Alright. But, not here.”

Your relief quickly turns to confusion, yet you keep the expression on your face characteristically blank. “Okay..”

She knows you too well though, and answers the question you did not ask by holding up her hand before her face. It takes you exactly six seconds to notice; if the diamond hadn’t been shining so brightly in the sunlight, you’d probably have taken longer. Her hand trembles and she lowers it slowly, your eyes falling with her fingers as they clench into a fist. You look up to her to notice her looking at your face, waiting for your attention. She won’t say your name. “I have to go now.”, she says, and silences your protest before it has begun, “I’ll meet you tomorrow, by the War Memorial. In the evening, at six.”

Six. Once it was dark. She didn’t wan’t to be seen with you. She turns to leave and starts to walk away, and you can’t help but call out her name. She stops, but does not turn around.

“Who is he?”, you ask.

A strangled noise makes it way from her lips as she whirls around, her eyes wild and hair framing her face like the flames of hell, and you remember her from your days together at the war. She seems to struggle with herself as you stand firmly before her, wondering how things could have gotten to this point, until a cloud passes over the sun, distracting you into breaking eye contact, and by the time you look back, the moment is gone. She is standing tall before you now, the expression on her face eerily serene, and more so in contrast to the anger you could have sworn threatened to consume the both of you just moments before. She gives you a tight-lipped smile, her face pale, but her eyes are bright. “That is none of your business.”

She turns and walks away.

“It used to be.”, you call out to her retreating back. “You remember? When you begged me to help you? It used to be. Until you left.”

She pauses again. “Yes..”, she says, thoughtfully. “It used to be. But it is not anymore.”

And, with that she is gone. And the flowers you brought on your way here are suddenly too heavy and dead in your jacket, And the ring on her hand is now shining in your mind, blinding in its meaning.

You walk out of the complex in a daze and almost don’t see her across the road, swallowed up whole in the too-large jacket she has on. Someone walks up to her and hands her a cup of something warm and steaming, and you see her lift up her head to smile at him in gratitude and loyalty. You recognize the smile because it used to be you she once smiled that way for. And you watch as she adds sugar to both their cups, the wind carrying snatches of conversation towards you amidst this sleepy corner of the city.

She is speaking of Christmas as she hands him his cup of coffee; and the man leans forward and kisses her forehead.

And you turn away, suddenly sick.

Excerpt: The Cursed

“Why’d you do it?”

Her voice was small, but steady as she stood before Norflus and the bodies of the three young children.

“I had no choice, Saya.. You must believe me.”, said Norflus, taking a step towards her.

“You sick bastard… You murdered them! Your own children!”

“I only did it to save them! They were sick! You know that!! You’d seen Maya and Aliana yesterday! They could barely stand. And Ria hasn’t opened her eyes in 4 days! They’re at peace now, and I’m not sorry for what I’ve done!

The sound of a gun cocking made both of them turn around in time to see a disheveled Shade standing at the door, his eyes sweeping across the ransacked room.

“Saya, what the fuck is going on?”

 “Shade!”, Saya exclaimed, instinctively moving towards him, “What are you doing here? You need to be resting! Where are Tonya and -“

She stopped in her tracks as Shade pointed the muzzle of the gun at her, “I asked you a question.”

Saya stared at him in disbelief, dismayed at her training having seemingly failed her at this crucial juncture. She had no idea what to say to him. Besides the fact that it was dangerous for him to be here.

She watched his eyes sweep over the room, pausing over the bedsheet strewn carelessly over the bodies of the three young children. Oh, no.. Aliana…

Norflus now stepped up to Shade. “My Lord, I did what I thought best. Now you must do the same.”

Saya’s heart began to race. The Imperium would never forgive such a transgression. Already the walls were tainted with the blood of three innocents. Shade would be held responsible. The council was waiting for just such a transgression. The last thing he needed was to kill the one man who could offer proof before the Most Honorable Assembly of The Highest Justice.

She moved closer to him, and Shade drew back his pistol, cracking Norflus across the face with it. It took all of Saya’s training to not gasp out aloud at the sudden violence. Norflus fell to the floor in a faint, and Shade swayed himself.

“Shade!”, exclaimed Saya, slipping her arms around his waist to steady him. “Guards”, she called out into the hall, cursing the Others for letting him out of the Healing Ward and into this mess. He must have followed her. But why was he alone? His body was tense against hers, and she resisted the urge to dig her nails into his back, shocked at the suddenness of the thought.

In anger or in love? she asked herself, suddenly miserable.

Shade looked down at her, “I’m fine. You can let me go.”

Reddening, she stepped away from him. “You tried to shoot me.”, she accused, already aware of what was going to happen next, as if she had seen it all happen before. In the ghost of a dream, she thought, feeling her skin tingle as she watched Shade turn away from her and walk towards the murdered children.

Even though he wasn’t supposed to have entered the room before dawn. By then the girls would have been prepared for the ceremony. And he wouldn’t be walking towards their still-warm bodies on a floor slick with their blood.

It wasn’t your fault, she thought, her heart aching for him. But she couldn’t say that out loud. Because it wasn’t what she was supposed to say. He will curse now. Swear vengeance on the Introducers of this Vile disease. And Norflus.. And even me..

He stopped before the outstretched hand, that would have tugged Saya’s heart right out of her body were it not for her lessons in Momentary Isolation Techniques. “They need a proper funeral”, she said, finally, because that was what she was supposed to do, even though it was six hours earlier than when she was supposed to be saying it.

He will curse now.

A sudden movement on his part drew her out of her reverie, and she saw him on one knee, hand hovering around the youngest child’s hand, which stretched out from below the bloodstained sheet, fingers curled around a crumpled piece of paper. He took the piece of paper with his left hand, then covered her hand with his right.

She took a step closer, concerned with the different direction the situation was taking, and then stopped as she heard him speak. The Ancient Tongue! Tears sprang unbidden in Saya’s eyes..

He was praying for the children.

What had they done?

The Cursed – Excerpt: Nova

(c)

The ground trembled beneath them again. Yonas ran through the carnage, pushing his red hair out of his eyes as he craned his neck, trying to locate any of the Nine. To his right, he could see the brave Sir Richmond battling two creeps all by himself. He tried to catch his eye as he passed, but did not dare to linger. Ahead, in the mass of dust and sweat and blood, something bright and white caught his eye. The Queen of the Lost! He rushed forward, darting through the feet of men and beast caught up in a lust for battle that his young mind could not yet fathom.

He struggled to keep her in his sight, heart soaring with pride as he saw the Lord Shade and his young squire flanking her as she cast devastating spell after spell at the charging enemy lines, only pausing to summon up protective shields around her friends. The elven archer grinned as he spotted the boy, and yelled out to the Queen. But he need not have bothered, for she was already looking at him, a worried smile lighting up her tired features. She swayed, and the Knight and his squire simultaneously leapt forward to catch her, swords at the ready in their free hands, daring anyone around them to come seek a challenge. She smiled at them reassuringly and steadied herself on the forest floor, preparing to cast once again.

Suddenly, a sharp pain stabbed through his spine, and he dropped to the trampled grass, confused. He could barely make out the Queen’s distant screams as she lunged forward, only to be held back by Ether, even as Janek and Shgyar moved in closer and assumed defensive positions. Lord Shade and the Mhak man charged forward, but a tightening feeling in the pit of his stomach brought forth the sudden realization. He had been stabbed. And he was dying.

He could hear the Queen calling out to him, much like the first time he had met her on the bridge outside the town, her dark hair blowing about her pale face, even as Lord Shade spoke to her in low urgent tones. She had caught sight of Yonas perched on the tree growing on the riverbank, and she had smiled at him causing Lord Shade to turn about to investigate the source of her humor. For some inexplicable reason, he left his hands and hung upside down from the tree, reveling in her gasp and the pretty laugh that followed. She was the most beautiful lady he had ever seen. And, as he swung upside down on the tree, offering to pluck her some fruit for one of the pretty stones around her neck, he noticed the Lord watching her as she fingered the green gems about her neck, and when she screamed in delight at the berries Yonas tossed her, he saw that the Lord was smiling. Yonas had never before then even seen the Lord of Shade smile since he returned from the first Crusades.

But now she was crumbling to the floor, eyes wide and unseeing and pointed at him. He wanted to reassure her about his place in the palace of God, but did not know how to. He shivered violently, and felt rather than saw her helplessness and fear.

Another tremble took over the ground, and the last thing Yonas saw was the Mhak man peering down at him intently, even as Lord Shade cursed out loud. The trembling intensified, and the two sword wielding men turned just in time to see the burst of flames heading out towards them at a rapid speed.

“Nova”

Beware the Rose’s thorns

 Her Last Letter to Lord Stone

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hosCuzo6JKo

In this world of pain lies betrayal, you were the only person I ever fully trusted with myself. The only person who learned the truth about me. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why you loathe me so. Because of a weakness I shall never have the chance to correct. Because I had already disappointed you before you had ever even laid eyes on me, even though I redeemed myself from the image of the life you once thought I’d lead… Even though you were straight fingered and caught in your own pots of honey back then. While I, while I drowned in endless rain.

Sinister thoughts overcome my mind sometimes. Maybe that’s why I hate white. Or maybe that’s why I prefer the color of skin when it is devoid of any color except undertones of blue and white. But then I remember other paler faces, and I know that that’s not true. (Is this when I’m supposed to feel relieved?)

Remember when we were flung out so far in that distant painted phony looking sky? When we laughed so hard that I began to cry, like I always do when I can’t stand how happy I am, and you wiped away every last tear even as we fell freely to the ground that was so so so far beneath us. Whispering over and over, Don’t cry, sweetheart, I’ve caught you.

Except I took too long to fall, and the ground was actually an ocean, and the ocean swallowed you whole, and made you see me from a whole new point of view, and you could tell how broken and damaged and worthless I truly was. And I could not find you. Can not find you. Because you do not want me to, and no one can reach you while you’re gone.

And I’ve followed you into this ocean, beloved. This ocean of ash and dust. You cannot turn your back on me now. Not after all this time. Not after everything we’ve been through together. Not after everything I have been through in your name!

But now I see just how this test was designed for me to fail. How the past year was designed to lead to no other outcome but this. It was clever of you. An almost automatic response, I would assume. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see it happening. But I thought I had more time. I thought I had at least as long as some real betrayal.

If I had known that this is what it would turn into. If I had only known that the easier path would be all that attracted you, that you would rather run from something as simple as pain than stand your ground and be the man you swore you were, if I had known that you would actually choose mediocrity over meaning, as long as it meant the stabilization of your dominance and authority…

My father was right about you.

And this is the price of my disobedience.

Exercendo Latina: Introductis Sparky et latina

Ego sum Jade. Ego canem habet. Canis est Sparky. Sparky est valde pulchra. Ego Sparkem amare.

Sed Sparky est nunc antiquis. Ipsa est X annos. Tamen ipsa est adhuc valde pulchra. Et ego adhuc adorent eius. quia, illa est lux de meus vita. et absques ipsa ego sum nihil.

ego sum eruditio latina. me beatum facit. Sparky quoque facit me beatum. Hodie ego sum omnes ego sum quia de mea canis.  et mea educationae.

quia mea canis docuit mea diligem. Et mea educationae docuit mea amare discat.

.

TRANSLATION:

I am Jade. I have a dog. The dog is Sparky. Sparky is very beautiful. I love Sparks.

But Sparky is old now. She is 10 years old. However, she is still very beautiful. And I still adore her. Because, she is the light of my life. And without her, I am nothing.

I am learning Latin. It makes me happy. Sparky also makes me happy. Today, I am all that I am because of my dog. And my education.

Because my dog taught me to love. And my education taught me to love learning.

.

Retranslated to Latin:

Ego sum Jade. Ego canem habet. Canis est Sparky. Sparky est valde pulchra. Ego Sparkem amarent.

Sed Sparkem est nunc antiquis. Illa est X annos. Tamen, illa est adhuc valde pulchra. Et ego eius adhuc adorent. Quia, illa est lux de mea vita. Et sine sua, ego sum nihil.

Ego sum eruditio Latina. Ipsum ego facit beatum. Sparky quoque facit ego beautum. Hodie, ego sum omnis illa ego sum quia de mea canis. Et mea educationae.

Quia, mea canis docens mea amares. Et mea educationae docens mea amare eruditie.

The Last Letter

I stand here to present

an arrogant appeal to your better senses

This is no argument

but a humble plea to lower your pretenses

.

For you were there when the moon fell

Don’t you remember, you were there?

You pulled me out of my reverie

And out of the way of the poisoned air

.

And you know what I am destined for

Surely, you know what I am meant to do

Is not that why you saved my life?

Back when we were young, and whole, and true?

.

But that my worth would come to so little,

If I had only had but a clue

Remember, my erstwhile lover

I would have never chosen you

.

Ah, well, what’s done is done

And what must happen, happens

I’m not afraid of your thunder and lightning

for I have fought with dragons

.

I gave you, once, a prophecy

A warning borne out of nothing but love

You underestimate your enemies

And one day, that will fuck you up

.

But, I am not your enemy, my dear

Oh, no, though one day I know I must be

I hope your freedom and space, my dear

Are worth having forsaken me.

.

Though, in this depth, I feel strangely free

And for that, once again, I owe you my sanity

The first for pulling me out of the sea

the second, for holding me down and drowning me

.

Take note, my erstwhile lover

Things are not always as they seem

The age of nightmares is just beginning

And all life is only a dream.