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Mocking laughter sounded in Dark’s head as he clenched his sword, his pale blue eyes darting around him. Where had his enemy gone? Turning on his heel he raised his weapon, expecting to see the god, but he was alone. Mikrah had vanished. Cursing profusely he lowered his sword, raising his eyes to look up at the body on the altar, a profound sense of failure enveloping him.
"I am sorry, my king," he whispered, his feet slowly carrying him up the stairs as a single tear slid down his cheek, "Oh how I have failed, Mikrah has escaped and you lie dead in front of me. I am indeed far from faultless, immortal or no." Gently he placed his hand upon the cold, pale one of King Saihei. Dark bowed his head, allowing the tears to fall his shame could never be undone, he, a warrior of the Children, a ‘faultless’ immortal, had failed his duty to his King, unable to protect him when he should have.
"Foolish child! You dared to believe that you and your pitiful gods had any hope of defeating us! The true Pantheon! Now you shall pay for your insubordination!" The words hung through the air, but their creator was no where to be found. Darkness seemed to lurk throughout the room, defying the sanctity of the temple as it made it’s way to the grieving immortal, "Death is too good for you Dark Seenatai, you shall live with your failure for eternity!" The laughter began to ring throughout the temple, no longer just in Dark’s; indeed, the god was still here.
The form of Mikrah began to reappear in the room once more; it was now clear that he was the source of the laughter. He pointed a gnarled finger at Dark as his laughter increased, his celestial magic crackling around him.
"Suffer Seenatai! Live forever in the memory of your failure!" The god shrieked as dark magic lashed out from his hand striking the immortal in the heart.
Dark convulsed, falling forward onto his knees as the dark magic surged through him. Screams were beyond him now; no cry could ever match his pain. Slowly, he dragged himself back up to his feet, his body occasionally jerking as the black magic took effect inside of him, he would not last long, but he had one last chance. Closing his eyes he focused in on the light inside of him, weak from the god’s assaults but it would be enough for one last thing. His shoulders shook with withheld laughter, perhaps he had not failed so completely after all. Sluggishly he raised his sword, his pale blue eyes alive with duty for one last moment.
"Your Eminence! High priest of The Children!" he cried, his sword held up to the sky beyond the temple roof, his call reaching out along the ethereal, "Take my sword until it is time for me to return! Until it is time for me to return and clear myself of this shame, to bring back the light and magic to Aberwythe!"
Mikrah howled furiously as the black magic thundered throughout the immortal’s body. Dark convulsed and reached up to the sky, tears of hope streaking down his face as his body was enveloped in the magic, to be forever trapped in stone until the Children’s Chosen came to release him of the prison and of his shame.
There have always been gods in the universe, far longer than there have been anything else. But gods, like humans, have a lust for power and despite their divine disposition; war runs through their veins. It is a part of their nature and it cannot be denied. That lust led the Pantheons to war against each other. The two factions in that war were The Old Ones, led by Mikrah and Akashra and The Children, led by the Triad, Aiystred.
The Children, in an attempt to overthrow the Old Ones, called upon the One, son of Aiystred and a mortal man, the only immortal in the history of the land. But, their plans had been in vain and the Children were defeated by the Old Ones, and sent back into hiding for another century…
Or so legend told it.
To The Present
Anya sighed her pale cheeks coloring slightly with anger as she met the eyes of her father’s chief advisor, Lord Tefyin, and the world’s most arrogant and piss headed conservative. How can anyone be so incredibly horrid? She raged internally, hands clasped so tightly her knuckles were white and her teeth clenched so as not to shriek at the master of fool.
"We," meaning really only him and not her father at all, who had grown too involved in his own misery to even remember that his daughter was not seven anymore, "believe that on the eve of your seventeenth birthday we should announce your engagement to Lord Calcrag. We will have the wedding precisely one month after that," he announced, a condescending smile on his lips as he looked down on Anya, there was nothing she could do about it and he knew it. She may be a Princess of Aberwythe but there was no way she could prevent the engagement, but she could indeed try.
"Absolutely not," Anya quipped back at Tefyin, her voice short and clipped, revealing her anger plainly to the Royal Advisor, "There will be no such engagement for I was not informed of it until this very day and that I did not approve of this ‘Lord Calcrag.’" Her violet eyes burned with the withheld rage as she fought to return her voice back to its normal, pleasant and refined tone. "Also there is still the possibility that Calcrag is too old to even get me with child, which is why I presume you would want me to marry. Do I presume correctly, Advisor Tefyin?"
part one - only a dream
She stood alone, the gray cloud of mist writhing around her ankles, slowly rising, as it always did. Anya glanced around, her violet eyes failing to penetrate the darkness. The only light seemed to rise from beneath the mists, but that was only enough to illuminate a small space. A shiver ran through he body as the chilled air touched her pale skin, how much longer would she have to wait?
"Dark!" Anya shouted, the mists trapping her words. Quietly, she hissed, her long delicate fingers curled into fists. "Dark Seenatai, do not try my patience." Her voice was low and as cold as the moist air around her.
A faint sigh was the only response, and soon enough the mists began to part. Turning on her heel, Anya met the pale blue gaze of the legendary immortal, Dark Seenatai. "You try my patience," he breathed, his voice low and mysterious as always. "Princess, I have known you since you were a child, yet still you treat me as a slave, not as your equal. The only reason I even bother with you is that you are a descendant of the Chosen."
A smile swiftly spread across Anya's face as he spoke. He always tried so hard to be cold to her, but she didn't mind. She had, after all, created him from bits and pieces of the legend of the Celestial Battles… he was in her dream, he was her dream, she knew the coldness was just as much of a façade as were her harsh words.
"Dark." she lifted up her chin to meet his gaze. "You are not a very good liar." She replied flatly, the smallest glint of humour in her exotic eyes.
Her humour received no response in the pale eyes of the immortal. Dark glowered back down at her, crossing his arms over his chest. "What do you want?"
Anya had to resist the urge to pout, but that would be far too spoiled. "What do I want?" she repeated, a thread of curiosity in her voice. "Dear immortal, this is my dream, I believe the question should be what do you want?"
Harsh laughter rang through the mists, and unlike Anya's call, it echoed off into the distance. "Your ignorance is beneath you, Princess. As much as you want to believe it, you are in my mind. It is one of your gifts as one of the Chosen." He replied thinly, turning his head to stare off into the still rising mists. "You are more than royalty, Princess. You have a gift that few possess, the gift of the magicks. You have the ability to change the destiny of the world; you can save it from the Old Ones. Their time has ended!"
Once again, Anya found herself hissing, her eyes dark with anger. She didn't want this, it was her dream, and she didn't need any destiny speeches from him. She got it every single day from Tefyin!
"That is enough!" she snapped, shoving Dark away. "I do not want to hear any of your speeches on gods, Seenatai! It is my dream, I am in control here!" Anya screamed, hurling herself back into consciousness, tears streaming down her flushed cheeks.
The young Princess shivered, curling tighter into her warm blankets. "I'm not even in control of my own dreams," she whispered, her shoulders shaking with withheld tears.
Anya jerked up, her limbs entangled in the thick blankets. Her gaze shoot to the door where the nervous maid stood, her hands wringing her apron. "Your Majesty," the maid repeated, her tone becoming meeker with every syllable that crosses her lips. "The Royal Advisor suggests that it might be best if you make time in your busy schedule to come to the Throne Room."
A low animalistic growl escaped Anya and she crawled out of her bed, a burning fury rising in her gut. "Tell Advisor Tefyin that I will be down in due course." She snapped, furiously trying to smooth out her rumpled nightdress. The maid was gone in seconds.
With a long sigh she flopped back down on her bed, her face in her hands as she continued to delay Tefyin's request. "He didn't even call me by my name."
part two - religious torment
Quietly the princess exited her rooms after finally deciding on the appropriate garments. Her gown was a misty grey-blue, with white embroidery at the neck collar, sleeves and waist. The bottom of the dress came out from the lace embroidery in a gentle flare, leaving all to the imagination. With a swish of her robe, Anya strode down the hallways, her chin held high in a show of dignity and defiance. She could face Advisor Tefyin, after all, she was royal, he was not.
"Majesty!" the maid cried, scuttling up to her after bounding off the stairs. "Majesty, please, you must hurry. There are priests downstairs and they will not wait much longer!" the small woman squeaked, obviously afraid for her own position. If the princess didn't make it to Court on time, it was the maid's fault.
Anya looked down her nose at the maid, pursing her lips in a profound annoyance. She would be getting there a lot faster if the maid would get out of her way. Shouldering the maid aside she made her way to the stairs, stomping down them like a child in a tantrum.
"My lady," Tefyin purred, his voice like oil, washing over her. Anya had to resist the urge to shudder. "I'm ever so glad you could join us. There are some Priests here, and they have a very important announcement to make." Anya bit down the scowl that itched at her lips, Religion, she thought, how boring.
Smiling, she glided across the floor to the religious delegates, her face as pleasant as any diplomats as she shook the hand of High Priest Delorin, head of the Dominion of The Old Ones. "Your Holiness, it is truly an honour to see you again. You look well," she greeted, her tone light and gracious. Delorin only inclined his head before side-stepping her to approach the King, or, in reality, Tefyin.
"M'lord Advisor, surely you remember what time of year it is..?" the High Priest inquired, raising his eyebrow ever so slightly as he let the question hang in the air. Anya furrowed her brow, it was simply Midsummer, nothing but the celebration of nature… Tefyin blinked, clearly the same thoughts going through his mind.
"Your Holiness, forgive me, but all I can recall of the Holy Calendar for this season would be Midsummer," Tefyin admitted, scratching his balding head. He glanced up at the High Priest and spread his hands in a final expression of apology.
Delorin showed no indications of surprise, and swiftly picked up where his question had left of. "But, alas, I am not surprised that you do not. For you see, it has not been practiced in decades for lack of the appropriate - oh, how shall I put it? - sacrifices."
Anya paled and placed her hand on her throat, her eyes darkening as she recalled her history classes. Forcefully she suppressed a moan and manage to squeak out a few words, "You cannot mean the Witch Burnings!" The Witch Burnings were older than Dark Seenatai himself, but had faded away just over a century ago. Under the Old Ones rule, the magicks were forbidden, and their users were burned at the stake, but, there was only so many people you could burn before there were no more. Anya couldn't resist her shudder as the words left her mouth, had they really found more people to execute? One thought led to another and, unbidden, came the worst one of all, What if they had discovered me?
The Princess was no stranger to the "old" magicks. She had learned them from her Mother, who secretly followed the ways of the Children, who believed that magick was the lifeforce of the planet. She had the skills, as Dark had said, but she rarely used them, out of fear for her life. Officially, the government accepted and tolerated the beliefs of the Children's followers, but nothing could be farther from the truth. No one who openly admitted their devotion to the Children could get anywhere in life, restricted to the life of a peasant and most likely treated lower than dirt by all who crossed their path. In Anya's mind, just being a peasant was horrifying enough.
Delorin nodded affirmatively at her reasonings, a little smile forming on his lips, horrifying Anya to the core. He actually enjoys the thought of kill people! she thought to herself. Immediately she wished with surprising fervor that she could flee back into her dreams, even Dark's callous attitude was better than this.
"Indeed, Your Highness, that is exactly of what I am speaking of." He turned his attentions back to Tefyin, "We shall be holding the burnings on Midsummer Eve, m'lord, do we have a royal backing with the church's decision?" He inquired, his infernal eyebrow raising of its own accord.
"Of course!" Tefyin exclaimed, his dark, snake-like eyes glittering at the idea of the Burnings returning to Aberwythe. "It shall be a true joy to honour the Gods as was meant to be. I shall personally see to it that the whole royal family will be there," he glanced over his shoulder at the King, "isn't that right, my King?"
The King snorted as if he was waking froma deep sleep. He blinked wearily at all of them, his eyes showing no true signs of recognition. "Oh, yes, of course, Tefyin. Whatever you say," he murmered, before returning to his daze.