Dark Fantasy Original Random Writings by Annwyl

SoftLullaby

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2021
Location
somewhere in your sweetest dreams...
Well you built up a world of magic
Because your real life is tragic
Yeah you built up a world of magic

If it's not real
You can't hold it in your hand
You can't feel it with your heart
And I won't believe it

But if it's true
You can see it with your eyes
Oh, even in the dark
And that's where I want to be

"Brick By Boring Brick" by Paramore


Caer Nuadh, Scotland

The blow to the back of her head was enough to send Kathryn tumbling forward on the ground. Her red hair spilled across the ground and mud caked her palms, ruining the front of her deep blue dress. She scrambled upright, only to be laid low as she was struck once more.

The world was spinning around her and she gasped in a breath, not yet moving. Her head was in agony, blood seeping from the wound. Something hard and cool had hit her both times, and she knew that it would not take many more before her life was entirely snuffed out. And yet, the knowledge brought with it a tingle of despair, because as she looked back at the man wielding such a large and terrifying weapon against her, she felt real pain.

He was beautiful. Incredibly so. "Gideon," Kathryn whispered, struggling to her hands and knees, panting with the effort it took, "why? Why are you doing this?"

"Ye think I'm goin' t' kill ye, don't ye?" Gideon laughed softly as he came up beside her, crouching down. His hand reached out, touching the side of her face. "Tha's where yer wrong, luv. I've no need t' kill ye." He lay his weapon upon the muddy ground before standing, his hand shooting out to hoist her to her feet.

Kathryn swayed a bit unsteadily as she looked at him. The image was blurry, but Gideon's beauty was undeniable. Deep ebon hair had been pulled back at the nape of his neck and tied with a cord. His face was masculine, but bore an elegance unseen in eras. He did not seem toughened by Scotland's harsh clime, but rather, he seemed suited more to finery. His green eyes, however, held a wildness, a passion, within them that was undeniable, even frightening.

"Come wit' me," Gideon instructed her before he began to pull her along with him. She managed to walk without stumbling, her vision still blurred by the blows she had taken to the head. She could still feel the blood trickling downward, pooling in the hollow between her breasts. Her breathing was labored, but she knew she would not die. It seemed more than apparent now that Gideon would not allow it.

As they rounded a corner of the fortress, Kathryn felt her world cave in. Even her legs refused to carry her weight - the scene before her was one of the grisliest, one of the worst, and despair filtered through her entire small frame. "Oh, God," she whispered, reaching up with her hand to cover her mouth, uncaring that mud caked her skin.

Three pikes were attached to the stone walls and from them hung three corpses, each impaled by the head. A man, woman and child - Kathryn's father, mother and sister. She moaned softly as she lowered her head. Gideon's hand released her and she sank to the muddy ground. Her hands hit the wet ground but she no longer cared. Everything she had loved was gone - taken from her by force. The family she had known was gone. Killed by Gideon's highland army.

"I want ye t' understand, Kat," Gideon said softly, coming to stand behind her, "exactly what this means fer ye. Yer mine. A prize. I've won the war. Yer clan is no more, an' mine reigns supreme. Yer my spoils, Kat."

The gravity of his words sliced through her and suddenly… she knew what that meant. She knew exactly what he had in store for her, and it chilled her to the bone.

Some time later Kathryn found herself warm beside the fire, but the chill had not left her. A woman stood behind her chair, taming her wild coils into a braid before winding it around the crown of her head.

Gideon - the man she had loved. Gideon - the man who had destroyed her world. Her father had forbidden their union, reminding her that Gideon's clan was brutal. That she would have no place among them as an equal. No, instead she would be a possession. She had been so very naive to dismiss her father's words. If only she had listened, her family might still be alive.

If she had listened, Kathryn would not have become enslaved to a monster.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Caer Darrow, Scotland

Kathryn felt cold.

It had been nearly a year, but the chill she felt had not fallen away. It was ever-present, the tragic nature of her life a glaring reminder of how she should have listened. Gideon was indeed a brutal man, and she had the marks to prove it. Scars adorned nearly every inch of her body.

Gideon's knowledge of torture was surpassed by no one, and it seemed Kathryn was the person to experience it at every turn. His sexual appetites were monstrous, but she could not overpower him. She could not run. If she did, she would not get far - though a part of her thought an arrow to the heart would be better than the life she was now forced to endure. She was Gideon's hostage.

That she had loved him once now baffled her. Gideon was not the man he had pretended to be, and he was dragging her down with him. He was killing her, bit by bit. It was hopeless. There was no escape.

"Milady?"

The sound of a man's voice penetrated Kathryn's thoughts and she blinked. Looking up, she saw the face of Theon, Gideon's master alchemist. He was a hard man, truth be told, with his scarred face, but Kathryn saw a kindness in him as well. He had never been cruel to her. In fact, he had been the only one to show gentleness toward her in the long year she had spent as Gideon's prisoner.

"Please, come in, Theon," Kathryn said softly, pulling her dress more firmly up her shoulders. She winced as pain accompanied the movement; the flogging Gideon had given the night before had left fresh marks everywhere upon her body, save her hands, face and neck. Beneath her dress, her body burned. "I am sorry to have asked you here. Did you… did you bring the poultice?"

"I did." Theon turned, slowly closing the door behind him. "How much of you needs treated?"

Kathryn flinched slightly as she lowered her head in shame. "All of it," she admitted, her tone quiet. "He was… particularly brutal tonight. I am sorry to ask this of you, Theon. I know it bothers you to see this."

The smile he offered was kind, gentle. Theon crossed the room to her side, kneeling beside her. "It only bothers me because it pains you, milady." He set the healing herbs down upon the floor before looking back up at her. "You will need to remove your garment. I am sorry to ask, but I must get to the skin to mend it."

It was humiliating, having to disrobe before the alchemist, but Kathryn was in so much pain she disregarded that pang of discomfort. She endured the shame with more poise than she realized she could even muster. In the end, she felt shaken and raw, her entire body exposed to a man who was no less a stranger than the one who had taken her a year ago.

The task done, Kathryn pulled her dress back over her head, hating the tears that fell. Hating the necessity of them. A moment later, she went still as Theon wiped one of them away. He held his hand aloft, watching the tear trail down the side of his arm and disappear into his sleeve. "I… can save you, Kathryn," he said softly. "I can. I can offer you a way out. If you trust me."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Eversleeping Isle, Arcadia

Kathryn stared out the tower window.

She had no idea how much time had passed. It seemed to go by both swiftly and slowly, at times crawling, at others flashing by in the blink of an eye. Ages ago it had seemed this place was a sanctuary. A place of dreams and happy endings. But how many happily ever afters must one gain and lose for the beauty of them to cease?

A shadowy form lingered nearby, its face overtaken by darkness. Its eyes gleamed like embers, but it was no friend. It had never been a friend.

It was all that remained of Theon, the alchemist who had promised to free her. Instead, he had imprisoned her. Though it was no physical torture, the internal scars were numerous. He tortured her with the possibility of happiness, only to wrench it away. Soon, she had stopped loving the princes he sent for her, realizing that they were pale caricatures of reality.

"You cannot let your hope die, Kat," the shadowy figure said, its voice low and sibilant. "If you do, then the pair of us die. You are killing us both."

"No, Theon," Kathryn responded, tucking her small body against the pillows in her bed. Even that was a prison; as her hope died little by little, bricks had begun to conceal the whole structure, leaving it an enclosure. The only light was from the brilliant pink rose hovering nearby. It was what Theon had harnessed her life force to. Her soul was bound to that rose, and it had been such a long time since it had begun dying. Petals had been lost, and soon, it would wither.

Kathryn found she could not care. All of the joy of life had been stolen, leaving this pale nothingness.
 

SoftLullaby

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2021
Location
somewhere in your sweetest dreams...
THE ETERNAL STORY:
The Things We Believe In


We should die for the things we believe in
But live our lives in the dark, self-deceiving
In the snow, all the world that we knew is ice
And so we are: cold, dead and gone
Shine a light till the dark sky is burning
Wolves are hownling and fortune is turning
But our hearts and the words that we say are ice

And so we are: cold, dead and gone

* * * * * *​

The Eternal Dream had not felt the brush of snow this far south before.

She could taste the cold before she felt it; it was a bitter, sharp tang on the tip of her tongue, numbing the appendage with little more than a careless thought. The ceaseless cold benumbed the rest of her body as well, but then, she had not thought to attire herself for warmer weather.

After all, the south did not feel the cold as acutely as her home in the north had. This far south, spring should have been rolling off the verdant landscape in languid rolling warmth; her simple dress and slippers should have been adequate. But something had caused the whole of the land to depart its own routine for sheer madness. And try as she might, Eleanor could not deny the awful truth of what was hovering nearby.

Nor could she deny the fact that this was her fault.

The landscape had been plunged in snow simply because she was here. It was no silly narcissism; the demons of the Paradigm were hot on her tail, and they brought with them their accursed, wicked cold. The pang of fear struck her, rendering her to her knees as she came upon another stark realization more horrifying than the last.

If they were here, if they had brought the snow, then what else had they brought?

She bowed her head as she knelt within the snow, closing her eyes to feel the landscape around her. Who she was, what she was, meant she could sense the very current of life upon the horizon - and, by extension, death. What assailed her was the shattering realization that she was right. She could feel it; thousands of lives being extinguished. Their cries of pain and agony - of release - resounded within Eleanor's head. She could not stifle the pained cry which tore from her lungs, and she slumped further into the chilling snow.

The frigid feel of it was nowhere near enough to wash away the sins of what she had brought upon this world. In her mind, she could see the conflict which tore apart the landscape she left in her wake. As they followed, the legions of the Paradigm swept death, destruction and suffering across the land. She could see the innocents felled by the mighty, bloodwashed axes and maces wielded by the demons. She could see as countless men, women and even children were cut down, beheaded, and torn asunder. And for what?

Because she had eluded them.

She pounded her fists on the ground, feeling tears well up in her eyes. Frustration and anger soon replaced the hopeless agony which had cast its shadow over her moments before. "It is not fair!" she shouted to the heavens, raising her flashing blue eyes in defiance. Her pale hair echoed the same alabaster as the snow, and she watched it flail around her in the chill endless winter air. "You cannot ask me to abandon them! You cannot ask me to ignore their suffering and pain, not when you granted me the sight to see it with!" Inside, she was quaking, and she knew she would be unable to drive herself further onward. No matter that death crept ever closer; did she not deserve that fate?

Child, their suffering will be far more poignant, more eternal, if you do not abandon them. If you do not run, the Paradigm will have you within their grasp, and you are the most powerful weapon they can use against this realm.

"You lie!" she hissed. She hated the voice in her head. Genderless, timeless, she hated the fact that He chose now to speak to her. Nevermind when she had been a prisoner in a museum, when she had begged for the comfort of her father's words; they had been lost upon her then. Now, when so much was at stake… He chose now to be heard, to be known, and it killed her inside. "It is not even the realm you care about, is it?! You care that I am a weapon they can use against you!"

As silence met her angry words, she knew the truth of them. The silence was damning. He, an entity beyond the comprehension of the mortal realm, cared not for what happened here. This had not been His creation. No, His creation had been entities powerful enough to create this realm. He had no attachment to it, save for that His true children had begotten it. Why, then, had He created her?

Why, then, had He created Eleanor Halderac? Flawed mortal woman with the ability to sense life and death, who knew the eddies of the world around her as acutely as she knew her own heartbeat. Why create her? Why create something so powerful it not only meant the end of this place, the Eternal Dream, but the High Heavens as well? Why give something the ability to rend apart Cynosure, and Fury's Heart, Arvandor, the Fugue Plane? Why give something the power to sunder the very heavens, to kill the Gods?

While she wanted answers, while she wanted nothing more than to wallow in her sorrow and self-pity, she knew it was unacceptable. She knew she had to be stronger than this. Eleanor Halderac would fight. She always fought. She would stay one step ahead of the Paradigm, and she would not betray the Eternal Dream.

High Heavens - Cynosure - be damned, she would fight for the Eternal Dream. There were innocent people here who did not deserve this destruction. But she could not discern the choice. What did she do? Did she run, while they slaughtered the world, one innocent soul at a time?

Or did she stand and fight, knowing full well it could end in her capture, and thus the end of the very world she wished to protect?

* * * * * * *​

The sounds of battle screamed on around him, and he gritted his teeth against the driving panic. All around him were battle cries as, together, the races of the Eternal Dream stood side-by-side against the foes of the Demon Paradigm.

At the fore of his army stood the Fey'ri commander, Jarrod l'Arynne. He was a formidable fey, certainly, but against the Paradigm he was so frighteningly fragile. His skin shone like ebon, with lines like molten lava tracing the whole of his flesh. Even his eyes burned like the core of the world, like fire and earth together as one. His midnight hair was shorter than most, cropped to his chin. Clad as he was in the obsidian armor of the royal court of the Eternal Dream, he looked like fury incarnate, knowing that even the delicate gossamer of his wings flamed with the burning desire for death, and showed that he was a force to be reckoned with.

"Soldiers!" he shouted, watching the view before him as dispassionately as he could, but he could not deny the way it killed him to watch his people slaughtered by such a vicious, remorseless foe. "Stay strong! There will be reinforcements from the desert! Lord Artegan promises to send soldiers! We have to hold out against these demons and keep them from breaching the castle!"

The healthy fear which accompanied his words cast a shadow over him, if only briefly. His daughters, his wife - they were ensconced within the castle behind him, safe for now. So long as he and his warriors could hold out against the coming foe, the innocent women and children barricaded in the castle would be safe.

He could recall his beautiful wife, as her eyes had flashed and she had angrily demanded that she fight alongside him. A bittersweet smile traced his lips at the thought. As he recalled what he had told her, then, to keep her in the safety of the castle, he knew that it had only been partly true. His wife, of course, was a formidable fey'ri in her own right. She was no fragile flower, but he could not bear the thought of losing her.

Of course, that had not been what he had told her. No, he had instead stated, "As the Queen of the Eternal Dream, your people need you. I will provide for my men on the battlefield, and you will provide for those kept here, within the walls of the castle. They will be frightened, love; they will need your strength to keep them, especially with the sounds of battle echoing past the stone walls. They need their queen."

Now, she was doing exactly as he had asked of her. Inside, she was keeping the women and children, the defenseless, strong in the face of danger and bloodshed. And, for now, she too was safe. He could not deny the way it warmed his heart to know that she was well out of harm's way, along with their daughters. The three young girls would be just as frightened, he imagined, and it only strengthened his resolve.

As another wave of demons flung themselves upon the soldiers, Jarrod abandoned his musings. It was time to act, not to think. It was time to fight, and as he beat his wings to propel himself upward, he calculated the swiftest and deadliest decline. He was a flurry of movement as he descended, with a battle cry, and with his twin blades, he ripped into his foe like fury unleashed.

Blood sprayed upon his face, upon the faces of his men, but he watched as his very movements minced the four demons in front of him. As they fell to the ground with a sickening plop, their bloodied and pulpy mass served only as a means for Jarrod to launch himself into the next group.

And so it went, with him tearing the demons limb from limb with the swipe of his twin swords. He was a force to be reckoned with, and once he allowed himself a moment to rest, he did not even turn to view what carnage he had wrought. He was honed and ready; in his sights was the leader of this malefic army.

Lord Matthias Halderac stood tall and formidable at the helm of his own army, clad in so much armor and metal that Jarrod could not make out the man beneath, but for the thin strands of stark white hair which sprang out from beneath his jagged plate helmet.

The fey'ri knew that if he could only reach the formidable man, he could force the demons to flee. Back to Paradigm they would retreat, and with them they would take this awful, accursed winter, and the Eternal Dream would nurse its wounds. But Matthias was a stronger foe than Jarrod knew, and he was careful in his appraisal. He would not attack unless he knew for certain that he would be the clear victor.

It was not an attack he would fling himself into needlessly. As the king of the Eternal Dream, he had to be rational, logical; he could not be the hotheaded youth he had once been. No matter how the hatred roiled in his blood and urged him onward, toward this malefic foe, the fey'ri hung back. He calculated the risk.

Lord Matthias Halderac was the king of the Paradigm, as surely as Jarrod was the King of the Eternal Dream. They were two sides of the same coin; Halderac was the Nightmare, while Jarrod was the Dream.

But the fey king was not foolish. He understood that this was a fight he would not win in the traditional sense. No, this fight would be won with diplomacy; after all, there must be something that the Paradigm king wanted. He would not be here, laying waste to the Eternal Dream, otherwise. There had to be something Jarrod could bargain away, to keep his people safe. In that instant, he realized his desperation. As his wings carried him above for an aerial view of the battle, he saw that they were losing. The Eternal Dream was dying, and bit by bit, the Paradigm shifted closer to the castle.

There had to be some way to save his people!

"Halderac!" he shouted, willing his wings to carry him directly before his foe. "This is madness!"

The Paradigm king must have looked at Jarrod, for he shifted ever-so-slightly on the back of his monstrous nightmare steed. Cold blue flame rippled down over the beast's midnight flesh, hissing as it touched the snow beneath its hooves. "No," Matthias finally said, his words like a million ice shards shattering. "The madness is that your pathetic army believes it can stand against mine. Look around you, watch your men die. We are the nightmare, and we will not fail. The true madness is that you think you can win."

"I am not blind," Jarrod replied grimly, hating the very words that left him. It was true, he knew; his army would not stand against Halderac's. The Paradigm was filled with malevolence and evil, as nightmares often were. They would keep coming, for there was no end to such a thing. "I know we cannot win. Which is why I am here, speaking to you. I want to end this, Matthias. Diplomatically."

"You have nothing to offer me, Fey."

It was then that Matthias Halderac made the first move, his cold blue eyes flashing beneath the hard metal of his helm. He took the mighty sword he carried into both hands and lunged toward the fey king. Although Jarrod had not been unprepared, he was not fast enough to evade the blow.

As the darkness of death began to devour him, he vaguely heard the sound of shouting behind him.

* * * * * * *​

As Eleanor ran, she ignored the numbing cold. She panted with exertion, determined to make it in time. The sounds of death and destruction were growing weaker, but so too was the life force of the world around her. She had to make it in time! She had to save them! This was her fault! The suffering, the death - it was all her fault!

If only she had never left! If only she had stayed in her prison, in her cage, and done exactly what had been demanded of her! If only she had not disobeyed!

No matter what the future held, she crested the hill and stumbled into the fray. Death was all around her, violence a flurry of blood and flesh, both which were shed it rapid succession of one another. It turned her stomach, made it roil and wretch and rebel, but she forced her legs to continue doing her bidding. Nevermind that she felt insubstantial and unable to carry her own weight; she forced herself to do so.

"Stop!" she shouted. "Stop this madness!"

As the words were uttered, a quiet calm fell across the battlefield like a shadow. Swords stilled, cries faded, and all she could see was the blood and sorrow of lives lost. So many lives lost, and just because she had rebelled. Tears stung her eyes and she let them fall; she was mourning the loss. So many innocent lives lost in the wake of the oncoming storm that was the Paradigm.

She could make it right, she knew, but not the way her true father wanted. She would not run, not any longer. No, she would stand tall and firm, regardless of the consequences. And if it meant she must die…

Well, then, she would die.
 
Last edited:

SoftLullaby

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2021
Location
somewhere in your sweetest dreams...
THE ETERNAL STORY:
The Ravenlord


With blood he'll capture the sky
When the morning comes you will die
Reborn in the underworld
Hail, the Ravenlord!
He is the ultimate sin
Evilized the demon within
Eternal master of the world

Hail, the Ravenlord!

* * * * * *​

Night clung low and oppressive as the young fey knelt in the shadows.

Darkness was a foe she could not understand, nor could she underestimate. Since the fall of her beloved, precious home, the world clung to a darkness that the Eternal Dream could not sustain. With a pang of sorrow, she wondered what knelt beyond the veil of their world, if its blackness had seeped into the hearts, the souls, the dreams of reality.

Her Dreaming was not finished, not yet, but she knew not what would cast the darkness aside. Here, in the Eternal Dream, they were powerless. The Paradigm had cast a nightmare's endless shadow across their tower, across the whole of the landscape.

Even now, across the desert, the Golden King, Ahmet Artegan, fought for control of his world. Soon, even for him, darkness would fall. That was what this world had become; a shadow of its former glory, the insidious nightmarish tendrils warping the pigment of what had once been beautiful, magical, and tainting it beyond recognition.

She knelt low, closing her eyes in a prayer. Even now, she recalled the swift betrayal of her father's most trusted High Priest. Konstantine had been the Fey'ri King, Jarrod l'Arynne's, most trusted ally. He had stayed behind with the Queen to protect the innocent and defenseless who had remained holed up in the castle.

And Michira l'Arynne, only surviving member of House l'Arynne, could still recall his betrayal.

She could recall the dagger which had pierced the heart of her mother, the Queen of the Eternal Dream. She could recall her younger sister seized and beheaded, right in the main hall, before the wide, watchful eyes of children barely old enough to comprehend such evil. Michira recalled her elder sister, Mythandra, the shining jewel of House l'Arynne, and how Konstantine's eyes had devoured her. She could still see the way Mythandra rushed to their child sister's rescue, the tiny flailing arms of dear Aria twitching even after the head had been severed.

Mythandra had tried to save her sister; tried to employ that font of healing she was so well-known for. But she had been unable to do so. Instead, Konstantine's fellow priests took her captive and spirited her away to Cevelis knew where.

Bitterness brought bile to the back of Michira's throat and she had to fight not to wretch. She had hidden, using magic to conceal herself from view, but she had seen what the priests had done to the rest of the innocent and defenseless denizens of her kingdom. None was safe.

For a man who had purported to follow the tenets of faith as passed down from Lathander, Konstantine's true betrayal had been in that very lie. The mantle of Zanbos, the Ravenlord, draped around the Fey'ri's shoulders; it had transformed him from something less fey and more… demonic. The Ravenlord had claimed His chosen, as was his right, and certainly - certainly - who was Michira to stand in the way of a deity?

She crept through the shadows, clutching them around her like a cloak, letting them conceal her small frame. Her feet were bare, her garments loose, and she carried no weaponry; she needed to make the least amount of noise as was possible. She had to stay noiseless, for it was the only way. The only way to defeat Konstantine, and lay waste to whatever ploy Zanbos wove upon her people.

She was their only hope, and right now, she gathered hope around her along with the shadows, allowing it to guide her. As voices became audible, she knew she was going the right way. Those voices, she knew, would lead her to the truth.

Those voices, she knew, would help her save her people.

* * * * * *​

"...have not said a word since we took the castle, High Priest."

Konstantine growled, rounding on the priest with a gauntlet-clad hand, striking the man in the jaw. The monk went flying, hitting the far wall before crumpling to the ground. His eyes flashed, a deadly and malevolent opalescence which glared at the remaining priests. "I do so loathe bad news," he hissed at them, "so let us try for something more… productive, shall we? The Ravenlord says we have precious little time before the Paradigm threat no longer conceals our intent."

He turned then to face the circle of young women. None were Fey'ri - a fact which made his blood boil, considering he knew she had been hidden from him. The remaining three women were all human and unbelievably ordinary. He knew this to be the magic of Cevelis, the Mother of Sybils and Seers; knew that beneath the Glamour they gathered about them so easily, they were easily the most beautiful women in all of the Dreaming.

Yet, so too were they also the most pristine and untouched.

The three sat, heads bowed in silence, eyes closed, dark hair splayed around bare bronzed shoulders. He bit back his anger, knowing that this would take words, subtle threats, instead of violence. But he knew what they would fear, above all else, and it was one of the Ravenlord's portfolios.

He plastered the warmest smile to his lips as he knelt down behind one of the girls, eyes shifting between the other two. "Girls, you have no idea what you have walked into," he told them softly, his voice like honeyed venom, his anger concealed in charisma. "I know you know where your sister is, and I know she is the one you protect. I know that her eyes possess true Sight, and that makes you expendable to my brethren. I want to help you, but first… you must help me." He lay his palms upon the bare shoulders of the girl directly in front of him, feeling her tremble.

"Your sister is the only one who can help us, for she is the Chosen of Cevelis. But you know this, and that is why you keep silent. You are protecting her. That is commendable and courageous of you, but it is time for you to protect yourselves." He watched as the three girls lifted their heads at last, unsettled by his words; he had laced them with a veiled threat, and they were frightened. "Yes, that is good. You are listening to me. Very good."

Konstantine allowed his hands to slip from the girl's shoulders and instead of standing, allowed his powerful wings to pull him aloft. He looked down upon the girls, affecting the guise of a protector, of sympathy. Nevermind that it was all a ploy to gain their trust; he would do exactly as he must.

"Surely you have heard the rumors, that the Ravenlord now occupies this castle," Konstantine murmured, bowing his head as he folded his hands as if in prayer before him. "It is true. And I know that you know what the Ravenlord's tenets of faith are, and what His followers mean to do to you if you do not provide the information."

He watched the girls begin to shake profusely and had to bite back a malevolent smile. He still had so much more to say. "You have been untouched for so long; surely you do not wish for the Ravenlord's priests to defile you? Such monstrous men, to be sure; who knows if you would even be left alive after the act? Though, to be sure, death could be far kinder than their true intent." He nearly laughed as one of the girls let out a startled whimper, but he managed to stifle it just in time.

"You can save yourselves. I vow to you, as the Ravenlord's High Priest, none will touch you, so long as you provide us with her whereabouts. Your sister, the true Sybil, must be somewhere. And I know that the three of you know where. You must stop hiding it from us."

For a moment, the three girls shared a look. It was fear coupled with indecision; even with all of the torment he offered their minds to think on, they still feared giving up their sister. It was noble, commendable, but he was out of patience.

"I do not need all of you to get the information," Konstantine said softly, and as he descended to his feet, he gripped one of the girls' shoulders. It mattered little which one he had chosen; as he lifted her to her feet, he flung her into the small cloister of monks off to his left. "Take her and do with her what you will. I do not care if she lives at the end of the act; I have no need for her."

The girl shouted and cried out, protesting, begging to be forgiven, but her cries soon amounted to nothing as she was dragged from the room. Konstantine's cool eyes rested on the other three.

One of the girls lifted her gaze to meet his directly and he met the defiance within them. It was admirable, he supposed, that she stood against him, strong and resolute. "You can do what you like with us," she told him, "but we will not give away our sister. We are bound to Cevelis, and no matter what you do to us here, we will be forgiven in the After. And while we die, she will stop you."

Anger seeped into Konstantine's veins, and he realized this was a battle he would never win. Cevelis' minions would stand strong and resolute against the followers of the Ravenlord. In his anger, he unleashed a torrent of white-hot fury that consumed the room, boiling all flesh within, save for his own.

As the heat died down, he barely cast a look in the direction of his very own followers who had died in the inferno. Instead, he let out a long, drawn-out sigh.

"I will have you, Sybil. Mark my words…"

* * * * * *​

Barely managing to stifle her cry, Michira turned from the room and fled. Shadows be damned, she had to get free of this accursed castle! She ran as far and as fast as her legs would carry her, and when those failed, she let her wings lift her high into the air.

She was uncertain how she managed to disappear through the upper spire. The promenade was silent, even while the battle raged on below. She refused to look, instead focusing on her flight.

Tears burned the corners of her eyes as she wrapped her arms around herself. Her father and mother were dead. The Eternal Dream was without a ruler, although she knew that Konstantine would soon assume that mantle, and that those left still Dreaming would have no idea of his betrayal. Here, they would see their High Priest of Lathander, a holy man, mourning his king and queen, and they would support his ascension.

If the Paradigm left anything of the Eternal Dream to rule.

As the young fey'ri let her wings carry her as far and as fast as they might, she let the tears fall. She let herself grieve the fallen priestesses of Cevelis. They had spent so much time in service to their deity, to have their lives wrenched away in such a horrific and unfair manner seared Michira to the core. But it did something else as well.

It strengthened her resolve to defeat Konstantine. She simply did not know how, but she knew how to find out.

Her will strengthened, as well as her small spine, she flew to the abandoned temple where she and the others had first developed their pact; where they had first lent their power to her own and strengthened her Sight. With it, she would discover the means to defeat Konstantine.

The High Priest of the Ravenlord would fall, and Michira would learn how.
 
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