March 8th - Taselak
Scein’s senses faded as the blood leached from her shattered body into the dark, fecund soil of Moeth, just one amongst the fallen. For the longest time she sought to hold the pain of death close to her breast, to anchor her failing consciousness to the terrible wound splitting her body from shoulder to breast. But try as she might she felt herself lifted as if on a gentle summer’s breeze, carried ever higher above the battlefield.
Time and space had lost all meaning and she found herself drifting through strange dimensions of thought, the continents stretched across the rim of the oceans far beneath. Higher still she soared, above the furthest winds towards the black of permanent night and the moonbeam roads between the worlds, the paths of light where shadow player and balance walker sought inspiration as readily as lesser men sought solace in their cups.
Dressed in raiment of shifting hue she felt rather than saw, or heard, the hulking forms of those primeval enemies of mankind who dwelt beyond the relative safety of the paths in the outer darkness, the daemons of the unfettered void. And there, a presence. One unnamed and yet all too familiar. Far from a kinsman and yet somehow not a stranger either.
“Return to me what is mine, flesh-child. RETURN TO ME WHAT YOU STOLE,” the monstrous shadow broke from the darkness, shifting and coalescing as it crossed the threshold.
A memory. A fragment of another life… of her mother’s life. A struggle amidst cyclopean structures, a temple half-buried in volcanic ash, a raven-haired woman in battered leather, in her hands two short blades of dull iron and yet from her current vantage Scein could see a cryptic fury in the cold-forged metal, and towering overhead an inhuman form, roiling and shifting through strange angles as it brought a terrible weapon to bear. Back and forth the battle raised, the frail figure somehow countering blow after blow, her knives striking again and again, each blow somehow diminishing her foe, wrapping its essence around her like spun silk, stripping it of its primordial power.
A small heart beating fast, a girl-child newly wrought swimming in the comforting embrace of her mother's amniotic fluid. A girl-child safe in that nurturing womb, protected from the darkness and yet strangely interweaving with it.
“I WILL HAVE WHAT IS MINE!!!!!”
“YOU DARE RESIST MY POWER!?!?” the shadow filled with flame, an inferno of hate spreading in all directions.
“You are dead. You have no power. Go into the darkness and find peace.”
“PEACE!!!! WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF PEACE!?!?!”
“Nor shall you, Scein of House Dubhaine. Let your flesh be your prison and tomb, your final resting place until all you love is dust, knowing that you must continue, that you must endure.”
Scein came to with a start, her body strangely silent on the funeral slab, cool and unbreathing. For a moment she lay studying the darkness of the vaulted tomb, her senses somehow much keener now than she remembered them, before testing her body. Her limbs responded effortlessly, as if the flesh anticipated her thoughts before they’d even fully formed. Swift and sure.
Sitting up in a single elegant motion she slipped from the cool marble surface and stood, her funeral robe falling to the ground, her hands gently exploring the dreadful mortal wound which even the embalmers art had failed to fully disguise. As they touched the ruined flesh it briefly convulsed, skin and bone and sinew reknitting to a smooth, pallid perfection.
“I am a force of nature. I endure,” or did she? Was this semblance of life truly hers? Or was there a darker power at work, one which bound her here until she bowed to the inevitable, unchanged in form yet burdened with the weight of centuries...