By Aeife in Dark Ages
They say that sorrow has no tears, and mourning has no light.. Yet why do people pass us by, and with sadness.. fall and cry
This story takes place around Danaan 2986, before the conquest of Undine.
The full moon rose silently over the shadowy hills of Northern Undine. To the far northwest, a glitter shone through the darkness shrouding the forests, revealing the dim waves of the storming sea. The land, sealed in its heavy slumber, paid no heed to the figure stepping quietly out of the trees. The night demanded silence, and the sleeping land, in its weariness, obeyed.
The figure stopped, a mere shadow blending into the trees, and seemed to lift its head towards the clusters of light to the southeast. It waited, for minutes or for hours, no one but it knew, until even the wind stilled and the stars seemed to dim. Giving a slight toss of its head, the figure rose swiftly, assured of its safety, and stepped out into the moonlight.
And so thus, the only things that saw this figure were the trees surrounding the hills and the waves and waters of the ocean that chanced to rise much higher above their normal heights. The trees never spoke much, to either villagers or adventurers. Their voices have dimmed into a whisper, even had they wished to tell of this figure to the inhabitants of the nearby town. The sea, while much louder than the ancient trees, always seemed to proudly crash down with disdain upon the rocks of the shore, proclaiming her power and dancing once in a while upon the sand. She never looked up when a couple walked peacefully by, nor when an villager strolled through the rocks. The townsmen were only a familiarity to the ocean. It is not often that the sea would stop her dance to converse with them.
But once in a while, when the moon rose as full as that night many years ago, the wind would wake and fly through the top of the waters to ask what happened that night, and the ocean would rise proudly again to recall what she saw. The trees, stirring with the gentle wind urging them, would quietly wave their graceful limbs, and whisper to the wind affectionately of the figure which stepped past them without once breaking any of their branches, nor once ripping a tender leaf from their limbs. The sea would then break in and tell of his eyes - for surely he was a male- and how they shone in the dark; the sapphire fires burning within catching even her admiration. The trees, not wanting to be outspoken, would add that his clothes, even shadowed in the night, could not betray the silken quality of their stature.
And in a hushed whisper, the trees would bend slightly and softly shake their limbs, and tell of the two small bundles he carried. How one, the trees remembered, dark as the night, stirred in the figureís arm. And how, added the sea, the other still bundle reflected the brightness of day. And with this, the sea and the trees would fall into a hushed whisper to tell of the other happenings of that night, and the wind, losing interest, would rise and softly drift away towards the sleeping town of Undine.
After all, it knew what happened after the figure let the moonlight bathe his countenance in radiance. It knows of the two bundles the sea and the trees spoke of. It was only for desire of the knowledge from where the figure came from that the wind asked the sea and the trees each year. All else it knew, but all else did not matter.
Part I - Day
"Lasair!" The small girl whispered, bending over a wooden bed. "Wake Lasair! We must go now!" The girl planted her tiny fists on her hips and attempted a scowl. "Awake! We need to go!"
The bundle of blankets stirred, and sleepy blue eyes wearily peered out. "Latiaran," she sighed. "Remember the last time we went on an adventure of yours? I was scrubbing the woad dye out of my hair for weeks."
The girl threw up her hands in exaggerated desperation. "That wasnít my fault. I didnít know that the bucket had dye in it. Please Lasair. You know I canít do this without you. If we donít explore the woods now, we might never get the chance to again to sneak away." She straightened up and with a sorrowful look, scruffled her feet on the dirt floor.
The blue eyes rolled slightly, sighed again, and with a soft grumble, pushed away her blankets. Standing hesitantly, she turned around to look at Latiaran and ran a hand unconsciously through her light blonde hair. "Did you tell Senae about this?" she inquired with a quizzical look at the dark-haired girl.
"No." Latiaran retorted. "And she will never know if we donít tell her." Latiaran twirled around and skipped out of the room. "Hurry up and get dressed! We have to leave before the village awakes if we want to get back by noon."
In the other room, Senae sat in silence, listening to the activities of the two young girls. It was already morning, and the golden light flooded in from the large windows on the three wooden walls of the room. She stared out at the garden, and smiled softly. It has been such a long time since children have graced her life. Her love had died many years ago, and her children were lost unknown in this dark world. She has lived longer than most other mundanes, and seen more than any has yet to give her credit.
"Latiaran watch out!!" echoed Lasairís muted voice through the thin walls, followed by a heavy thud. Senae startled and half rose out of her seat. She listened for a few minutes, and giving a quiet laugh, sat back down. Latiaran, although the most adventurous child she has ever known, is by far one of the least agile.
The elderly mundane shifted in her seat and sighed. It seemed like a blessing when the townsmen came knocking at her door six years ago, bearing two bundles wrapped in respectfully, a rich black blanket, and a pure white blanket. She settled deep into her chair, and recalled the bewildered look of the townsmen as they explained that the two infants were left in the temple of Cail, alone and untended for. Senae smiled again, and remembered her astonishment when she saw the two infants. One, bundled up in dark cloth, had short silvery black hair, and the other, wrapped in light hues, slept quietly within a halo of fuzzy golden hair. Night and Day, the townsmen called them, and appropriately so.
Giving herself the luxury of one last contented sigh, Senae rose and silently walked out of the house. Blocking her eyes from the streaming sunlight, she stepped past the garden and stood at the edge of the woods, watching as the two young girls disappeared frolicking into the thick trees. She stood, lost in her memories, her eyes reflecting the last flicker of light across gold and silvery hair in the dark woods. They would not fall to harm today, the intuitive part of her said. They are not the same as other children. After all, as long as theyíre careful, night and day shall be safe.
Many winters later..
Lasair walked up the temple steps, her heavy eyes downcast, unmindful of the serenity of the temple. She sniffed softly, wiping the tears hastily away as they came. Latiaran, ahead of her, stopped and look back. "Donít cry Lasair," she said softly, but her eyes spoke differently. She gave the barest hint of a shudder and with a despairing sigh, wordlessly stepped down to Lasair. Latiaran looked at her sister and blinked as the sun reflected across Lasairís hair. It seemed to flow, a golden wave of light. Mustering up an encouraging smile, Latiaran brushed her own hair aside, of the same texture if a bit heavier than Lasairís. "Lets go sister," Latiaran spoke quietly and gave Lasair a small shadow of the old grin. "The priest is waiting."
Aslen, sole priest of the temple of Cail, stood waiting at the top of the steps. He watched as the two girls make their way up the steps and his heart stirred in a way he had not felt in a long time. His face twisted in remorse and he remembered his own parents, dead from the struggle of power in his home city of Loures. The villagers of the town of Undine had told him that the sisters Latiaran and Lasair had known only one guardian in their life. "We tried accepting them into our lives," Aslen remembered a villager sadly saying. "But they are too different. We are mundanes and aislings only. Those two seem to be something else."
Aslen stirred in the shadow of the temple door and looked back at the ascending sisters. They are coming to live with him, in this stone temple of the woodlands and lake. They are to be maidens of the shrine, and then later on, if they wished, priestesses of Cail. The priest Aslen absentmindedly smoothed his robe. It was such a tragedy that the elderly mundane lady named Senae passed away nearly a moon ago. The whole town mourned and fires burned for days in her honor. Yet, no one seemed to quite notice the two sisters when he saw them huddled in the shadows by the light of a bonfire. Only their eyes were clear of the darkness, two sets of blue eyes, one as dark as the midnight sky and the other, reflecting the morning hues of dawn. They seemed to be sobbing, holding each other as their only comfort in this world. Aslen tried his best to reach them, but a crowd rushed between, and when it dispersed, the sisters were gone.
"Ahem.." A small voice cleared. Startled out of his reverie, Aslen blinked and looked down at the two girls standing before him. Hiding her surprise of this young daydreaming priest, Latiaran raised her head and her proud dark eyes met his mild brown ones.
"I am called Latiaran." She nodded to the astonished priest slightly. "And she," Latiaran turned around to the smaller girl pressing close behind, clutching Latiaranís winter cloak. ".. Is my younger sister Lasair." She looked over her shoulder in silent concern and gave Lasair a tiny smile, attempting to chase the dim and hopeless light from her sisterís eyes. Feeling her sister move, Lasair looked up and returned the smile, her murky eyes grateful and for the time being, comforted.
"I am Aslen, the priest of Cail and keeper of this temple." He gave a gentle bow and as a last thought, tried to smile reassuringly. Latiaran looked at him for a while, her dark eyes unreadable and cold, and finally gave a dimmed weary smile as the dark eyes softened and clouded over again with familiar despair.
"We are pleased to meet you," Latiaranís voice faintly said, her tired eyes lingering between the gardens and the dark door beyond. Aslen nodded slightly and led them into the temple. "As am I" His voice echoed in the dark hall before they faded into the shadows within the templeís doors. "As am I.."
His thoughts drifted again as he led them away, returning only when he tried to remember the two girlsí age. He frowned faintly and seemed to recall. There are no official records or dates of their birth, but they could not be more than nine winters old.
In its glory and years, the wind came across many things. There were hardly any truths in the land of Temuair that the wind had not encountered and saw. Yet, there were a few, and to its dismay, it discovered two small girls, resembling the brightness of day and the darkness of night. The wind passed over them, hesitating and silent, wary of what it did not know.
Indeed, the wind had encountered events concerning a set of twins representing opposite elements, yet it was a rarer case still when each twin can take up the duties of the other twin. The wind flew on, watching and guarding its peaceful land. The moon had warned the wind not to get too attached to the two small girls, but the wind did not heed the moon. Mortals die. The moon had said, her voice softly echoing in the night. They die, and we cannot help. Only mortals can change a mortal world, and trouble is coming.. soon.
Shaking itself and flowing down to the forests, the wind pushed that thought out of its mind. For in these years as it watched Latiaran and Lasair, and named them respectably Night and Day. It has grown quite attached and protective of the two girls, and had guarded them as they grew up. The wind knew that if something did happen, it would be hard to interfere with the comings and goings of mortals, but the wind watched over them nevertheless, waiting half in dread and half in doubt for what the moon predicted.
Part II - Remembrance
The darkness spread across the sky, reserved in its glory. Lasair looked up at the sky and frowned. "The wind is coming sister," she beckoned to Latiaran. "We should get back soon." Latiaran turned around from the tiny flower she was watching and flashed a grin at her sister. "What is wrong with being a little wet Lasair?" She grinned again and tapped the small flower gently. "You are not afraid of the rain are you?" She asked it affectionately.
Lasair laughed and knelt down beside Latiaran. She looked around at the garden, and the lake ahead of them, and back to the temple nestled peacefully in the middle of the forest. She raised her head and stared once more at the sky, and lowered it a few minutes later to look at her pure white robes. Lasair sighed and stirred in the thick grass. With a mirror grin of her sister, she rose and took a few steps back to the temple.
"Coming?" Lasair called back, tossing her hair slightly against the rising wind.
"Coming." Latiaran replied softly, giving the tiny flower one more affectionate tap. It was of a dark blue, silvery in the twilight, with five exact petals crowning a center that shone with a pearly luminance. Giving a final admiring look to the tiny plant, Latiaran rose and met her sister on the path.
As the first drops of the rain fell, all that could be heard is the rumble of the thunder and the echo of their laughter as they ran, two shadows flickering among the trees, back to the white steps of the temple and within its fire-lit halls.
It has been years since we first arrived at the temple of Cail. It was eight winters ago, to be exact, and Aslen, for all these years, have taken care of us. Latiaran used to regard him coldly, with an air that he was to be avoided at all costs. She was convinced that he must have done something wrong to have been commanded to a temple, alone, so far from the capital city, where he was born. We did not realize at the time that he loved the ocean and the forests and lakes surrounding this temple, that it was his choice was to remain alone. Alone until we came.
As we grew up, Latiaran slowly got accustomed to Aslen. There are no more suspicions, and nagging me during the middle of the night to pack up and sneak away. Instead, she seems quite infatuated with the priest Aslen, and he is only seven years older than us. For all I can see, Aslen returns my sisterís love, and the two disregard all disapproving mummers and teasing smiles from the villagers of Undine.
To me, Aslen is still the perfect older brother. And indeed, if Latiaran and Aslen are joined in love, he will truly be one to me, by relationship and not only by name. It is now the three of us that are inseparable, not just Latiaran and I. And as for the truth, I am contented to see my sister smile, and perhaps seeing them warms me also, for I would not have it any other way.
At the next full moon, I shall be seventeen winters old, and as Aslen said, at the peak of my magical power. I am now a wizard, as Lasair is now a priest. She seems to enjoy being one, although I cannot understand Lasair and Aslenís love for healing. They have that in common, and Aslen very often jokes that Night destroys and Day creates. He would always then grin at me, smile, and hold out his arms.
And perhaps there is truth in that joke after all. I can never imagine Lasair being destructive. She has a way with creatures and animals, and the birds have a habit of perching upon her shoulder. It seems that she smiles ever so often when weíre in the woods or by the sea, and perhaps she hears the wind calling us, as I do in the nights.
Aslen has said that both of us are connected with the elements, and that Lasair can also be a wizard, and I a priest. I remember smiling in disbelief, for the villagers have long taught us that a priest is a priest, and a wizard is a wizard. And shaking his head, Aslen told us to forget that, and to our amazement, showed Lasair how to call down fire and water, and I how to heal.
We were very amazed and pleased at the discovery, before Aslen calmed us down and told us that should we use the other skill too much, or exert an excessive amount of energy attempting to use it, it would change us forever. We tried to ask Aslen how it would change us, but we saw, as he spoke, a flicker of regret in Aslenís eyes that made us hesitate and fall silent. Perhaps it is better that we never know.
And last winter, at our pleas, Aslen took us to the capital city of Loures. We were amazed at the glamour and colors of the royal court and palace, but it seemed that Loures did nothing to compare with the silent beauty and grace of our temple.
We met a young soldier there that seemed to be a friend of Aslenís. Lasair was quite taken with him, for he had a quiet grace and was as gallant as any knight ever was. He seemed quite interested about Undine, and asked us many times of its location and its industry. Everything that he could get out of us he absorbed with intent curiosity. When we asked him the reasons for the questions, he replied merely that someday he would wish to visit it.
Lasair was quite pleased at the answer, although she tried her best to hide it. Throughout the journey back to Undine, she was quiet, instead of her usual habit of chattering happily until Aslen and I were ready to climb up the trees for the sake of silence. She denied every accusation, but I knew that her mind was on the young soldier named Serann.
After all, I have watched over her ever since we were young and tried my best to protect her, just as Aslen protects us now.
The wind, slowing down, listened quietly to the thoughts of Latiaran and Lasair, and content that all was well, left and danced across the treetops, convinced now that the moon was wrong after all.
A moon later..
It was a windy night as the full moon rose overhead. She looked down upon the mountains that shone with her silvery light, and pleased, she turned her face down to the forests and lakes. Her light glimmered off the white stones of the temple, and looking further on, she admired herself by the pale radiance she gave off upon the reflection of the waters of the sea. The ocean, waking from her rest, looked up at the moon, and sought to rise above the ground which blocks her view.
The waves churned and rose, towers of silver foam within the darkness of the night, and the sea, disturbed now, glanced and saw the numerous flames flickering in the distance. But they were in the wrong direction, the sea thought to herself. The village of the mundanes laid within trees and by lakes, but the village was south.
As if sensing the distress of the ocean, the trees stirred upon the land, and too looked towards the golden lights. Those that were closer rustled and gazed, some in amazement, and some in horror, at the legions of soldiers moving across in the clearings. A tremble ran over the forests, and the wind overhead saw them shaking as if the trees too were waves in the ocean that rose and fell. And swooping down, the wind beheld the hundred cold shimmers of steel against the luminance of the moon, and the fires that flickered hungrily against the darkness.
Perhaps it was an accident that one of the torches fell or touched a trembling limb of a tree, but it did not matter as the trees in the northern forest screamed their agony while flames crept slowly among them. The nearby trees seemed to shrivel and shrink, to hide within the earth, and the ocean crashed and roared in despair, as if to drown out the screams. The wind wept and flew, stumbling through the fires, until it reached the temple of Cail, to wake its beloved Night and Day.
Part III - Despair
Latiaran woke. She sat up, reaching for her blanket and looked out through the windows at the moon-bathed forest. She shook her head to clear her mind of the echoes of the sound of the wind shrieking within her mind. Shuddering, she wrapped the blanket around her as if a sudden chill descended upon her. Outside, she seemed to hear the faintest sound of a wind rushing, as if in a hurricane, but much too mute to be one. She looked down at the other half of the bed to wake Aslen, and frowned. It was empty.
Rising hastily, Latiaran ran out to the dark main hall, her footsteps echoing throughout the enormous room. Passing by the great fireplace, which was usually lighted and burning merrily, she hesitated, and saw that where the fire always burned, were shadows and wood. There was only the darkness and the cold light of the moon.
She ran out the temple doors, and rushed down the marble steps. There was enough light from the full moon to see clearly. Latiaran looked back towards the temple, and thought of waking Lasair, but as she glanced in the direction of the lakes, she thought that there was a metallic glimmer reflecting the moonlight. It must be Aslen, she thought.
There was no sound from the night. No birds came out, and there were no sounds of tiny creatures hurrying across the forest floor. Aslen did not move as Latiaran approached him, nor did he turn around to greet her. His eyes were fixed on the waters of the lake, and his hands touched the earth where he knelt hours ago by the shore.
"Aslen." Latiaran ran towards him as she made out his face in the moonlight. "Aslen?"
There was no answer, and no response. Latiaran touched his shoulder and knelt by his side. She looked down upon the waters where he was staring, and saw nothing. There was only the reflection of the trees and the moon, and only the ripples as the water moved silently, restless and weary.
She took his hand, and rubbed it. The night was warm, but his hands were as cold as ice. He seemed to wake up, and looked at Latiaran. "Theyíre coming." He whispered hoarsely.
"Who is, my love?" Latiaran asked, and heard within her mind again the shrill screaming of the wind. Aslen looked back towards the water and pointed with his other hand to the ripples moving slowly across the surface of the water. Except, as Latiaran looked, the dark blue of the water became tainted with red and orange. Fire reflected within the waters, and dimly, she could make out tiny specks of flame moving across dark trees and plains. Beyond the specks, the red and orange mixed with yellow, and seemed to dance and rise as flames in their glory.
And as Latiaran raised her eyes to Aslenís pale face, the wind flew in through the trees, a raging element that rushed across the water, sending silvery droplets through the forest. Latiaran doubled over in pain as the wind screamed within her mind, deafening her, and threw her arms around Aslen to protect him from the numerous pebbles and leaves the wind brought in its fury. In the temple, Lasair woke, and gasped in agony as the windís shriek resounded through her mind, and chanted all the words and prayers she knew to ward off the sound of screaming and agony in vain. And as Latiaran recovered from the echoes of the screams of the dying trees bought by the wind, she looked up, and in a despairing cry, beheld the army that had halted at the opposite shore of the lake, with the dark sky beyond ravaged in flames.
The moon passed over the lakes and the forests, rushing away, but was caught fast within the sky. She shed her tears and prayed for clouds to come to block her view, but none came. The trees, in their own agony and despair, did not come to the moonís rescue this time, and the sea hid beyond the earthís shadow, crying alone. The wind seemed to go crazy, intent on its two maidens once named Night and Day, and rushed about in destruction, heeding only to its own despair and pain.
And as they all turned their hopeless gaze to Night and Day, they sobbed, and struggled; Their world awoke in smoke.
"ASLEN!" Lasair gasped as Latiaranís voice cut through the night air and shattered the silence. She ran out of the temple, her eyes wide and horrified at the fear and anger in her sisterís scream. Her heart rang painfully as she rushed across the forest to Latiaran, and coming to the lake, despair overwhelmed her. Beyond the clear waters of the lakes stood an army with arrows and swords raised and unsheathed. Shadows flickered throughout their ranks as the flames upon the torches leapt and crackled. A knight stood there, seemingly leading the waves of soldiers, and shock vibrated through her body at the angry red and orange glare reflected from his armor.
The sound of sobbing suddenly broke through her shock, and Lasair saw Latiaran dimly under the shadow of the trees by the lakeís shore, holding a dark shadow. She ran towards them, forgetting the army and the knight, and sank down by Latiaranís side. And as Latiaran held Aslen closer, her hand stained dark by the his blood and the arrows, she looked up at Lasair and the light within her eyes seemed to dim and die. "They killed him.." She whispered, and her voice rising. "You killed him!" She turned towards the knight and the soldiers.
There was no reply except for the sound of leaves crushing beneath their boots as they came around the lake slowly and solemnly. The knight guided his horse carefully, wary of the swampy soil around the lake, and stopped when he reached Latiaran. He looked down, and his lips seemed to curl up in disgust behind the helmet at the sight of Aslen. The knight dismounted and knelt down by the body, and in a single unexpected movement, removed his helmet.
The soldiers behind the knight stirred in surprise, but none dared to challenge their leader. Perhaps the knight knew this, or perhaps he did not care, but as he lifted his head into the crown of moonlight spilling down from the treetops, Lasair gasped and Latiaranís eyes widened in disbelief.
Lasair stood up and in shock approached Serann. His face wasnít as kind as she remembered, and his smile was absent. The smile that she dreamed of a season ago. And indeed it was his eyes which pained her the most. They were cold and uneven, reflecting the shadows surrounding them. She stopped before him, and her eyes flared once with anger and hatred, and before anyone could react, she slapped him hard on one side of his face, and with her other hand pulled his sword from its sheath.
Perhaps it was that the girl was so silent and so strange that no one moved, held in their own horror and amazement. There was no scream, no yelling, and no words except for the tears streaming down her cheeks. There was no time, and no opportunity to stop her as she brought down the sword upon Serann. There was no sound except for Latiaranís cries.
He died instantly, his skull shattered, and the soldiers roughly grabbed the sobbing girl and pushed her to the ground. The second in command stepped up to the ring of soldiers and to the shivering girl, and looking down at her, gestured to the other soldiers not to touch her. Latiaran, letting go of Aslenís body, rushed and forced through the mob of soldiers to fall beside Lasair. There, she cradled her sister and let her tears fall.
"Perhaps it is better this way. Serann killed the priest, and you in turn killed him. It does not matter, as Undine will be conquered before sunrise." The second in command looked to the body of his former leader in disgust and disdain. "Because of his whims, we have sidetracked enough." The soldier seemed to wake for an reply that never came. Latiaran and Lasair did not look up, and did not care to look anymore as the soldiers withdrew one by one, intent on their purpose, as they faded into the night.
Part IV - This Promise I Make..
"Ara." Lasair whispered urgently. "Theyíre coming this way." Latiaran nodded and whispered to the man standing beside her, who quickly retreated into the dense forest. They had left after laying Aslenís body by the lake. The villages would come to give him a proper funeral. To them, Aslen represented faith, and Latiaran knew that Aslen would not appreciate having Undine conquered without even a small amount of resistance.
Lasair watched the man as he disappeared into the shadows. He would go warn the villagers, and they will in turn take up their posts, and fight as best as they can. She looked at her sister, and saw Latiaranís darkened face. Latiaranís skin was naturally, and always was, darker than hers, but tonight it seemed to shame the shadows themselves. They could not possibly hope to hold off the armies, but for their home, it is worth a try.
They had rushed to the village of Undine as soon as Aslen was settled by the lake. Ainn the tavern keeper was the first to greet them, her usual smiling face streaked with soot and dirt with a weary smile that seemed to further emphasize the worried light in her eyes. It was obvious that she had been crying, but they knew better than to ask why.
The gentle baker Enna had been sitting by Ainn, her face pale and haunted. A few stray and drunk soldiers had came in earlier the night and demanded that she provide food. When Enna refused, they broke into a fit and destroyed everything. All that remains is a half of a burned roof collapsed to the ground, and the other half that was the tavern was still burning when Aslen was killed. There was no one left to help take out the fire as everyone left for the forests to seek aid. And so the two stood outside, alone with their tears as their life collapsed before them.
When Latiaran and Lasair found them, they were still sitting in front of the rubble, taking comfort in each otherís presence. The armies would come, they knew, and so in dread waited. Ainn and Enna seemed surprised to see the two sisters, but they had no more energy nor life within them to greet them as they had always done in the past; Ainn with cider and Enna with cakes.
They had cried when Latiaran quietly told them of Aslenís death, and hugged both of the sisters tightly as their faith softly crumbled with the death of their priest. They had nothing left, and as Latiaran and Lasair left them, they looked out upon the lake and the moon. And as there was nothing left indeed, they softly wept.
Lasair shook herself out of her dream, and reprimanded herself for being distracted. In the distance beyond the ring of trees in which they were hidden, she could see the flickers of the torches of the approaching army. Her face paled as she remembered Serann, and the disbelieving look he gave her as he died. Nausea flooded over Lasair, and she clenched the branch of the tree closest to her. And as she lifted her eyes over to the tiny golden sparks in the distance, she looked up to the moon peeking just beyond the dense treetops.
And as Latiaran stirred within the shadows, she dimly heard her sister vow to the moon that she would not kill again. Smiling sadly, Latiaran turned towards the hills, where the armies are approaching still, and silently promised Lasair that she would not let her kill again.
No clouds came across the sky to the pleading moon, and none would come. The wind would have gathered some in other days, but today the wind was preoccupied. And thus, with nothing to hide behind, the moon looked on as a regiment of soldiers circled to the south of Undine, and discovering the villagers clustered at the edge of the woods, engaged in a brutal slaughter. Some were saved and some escaped, but the moon could not tell the difference. They were lost.
Latiaran and Lasair looked up in disbelief at the sounds of battle echoing behind him. It came from the southern side of the village. They turned their eyes quickly back to the dots on the horizon, and realized that those fires and torches have not moved in a while. Latiaran stood up abruptly, and with a wild look to her sister, started running towards the first houses of the village. Lasair followed, and soon they passed the shops and winding paths that led to the forest.
Were it not for the sounds, the screams and the roars and the sound of metal against metal, it would have not be different from an ordinary night a moon ago. Nothing stirred and the lights were out except for the occasional candle burning through a window. Latiaran wondered at herself, and why she noticed such trivial details, but soon pushed the thought out of her mind as the reached the edge of the village.
There seemed to be no one left but soldiers. The sisters halted at a distance before the army, and their eyes darkened with sorrow at the bodies strewn across the ground. Behind the army stood the forest, a formidable wall in which lakes were artfully hidden. The soldiers did not yet notice Latiaran and Lasair, and celebrated in triumphant cheers, convinced that they had already conquered Undine ahead of schedule, and without the other regiment.
And as they watched a few soldiers approached the nearest building holding a torch. The soldiers, knowing that all eyes were on them, touched it to the wood in an extravagant manner, as the others laughed at this symbol of their conquest. Latiaran tensed in anger beside Lasair, and Lasair, looking to her sister, saw her eyes narrow and her lips tighten.
By now, the soldiers came close enough to clearly see Latiaran and Lasair, and halted as near to the two as they could, wary in their uncertainty. They were no doubt waiting for their commanderís orders, and they were no doubt sure that all of the villagers had fled in fear. The trees loomed above looked down upon the tiny men and their two opposing forces, blocking their way deeper into Undine, and shook their heads and closed their eyes, unwilling to see more pain. The sisters seemed to notice the trees shrinking back, but Latiaran was set. "For Aslen," she whispered.
Latiaran, awaiting no words from her sister, outstretched her hands as if to welcome the soldiers. The wind flew, summoned, and gathered in a swirl before her, and spinned in unconfined anger.
The closet soldiers few back a few steps, bumping into their companions, but it was not far enough. "Wind I summon, spirit I call," They heard her whisper. "Thunderís fury light to thy fall." Clouds appeared in the sky, swirling madly and blocked out the grateful moon. Thunder rumbled in flashes across the newly arrived clouds, and lightning heatedly stamped down upon the soldiers, creating sparks that found clothing and fuel.
Lasair looked to her sister in horror, and watched as Latiaranís eyes widened and flashed, commanding the wind to attack. Sometimes, as Lasair watched, the lightning would touch the wind, and the wind would explode in fire, and become a ring of flames instead of air. The stench of burning flesh filled the air, and Lasair fell back against the trees in dizziness and nausea. The lightning and thunder seemed to cry out in rage and horror along with Lasair as more and more soldiers fell to the wind and the flames.
Perhaps the thunder protested so strongly against its misuse that Latiaran spent part of the time trying to control it, or that she was already tired with the death of Aslen and this night. But before long, Latiaran wavered and she stumbled, as if her legs were no longer strong enough to support her. A soldier who had managed to avoid most of the wind and the fire noticed this decline in the strength of the attack, and raising his sword, rushed to Latiaran. The wind screamed, and Latiaran, looking up, managed to avoid the sword, but could not dodge the body hurling towards her. She flew to the ground, weighted down by the soldier, but she tiredly mummered a word, and lightning and wind flew to the object on top of her. It burned and exploded, and with its force knocked him up into the air.
Lasair, having hurried to her sister, shrank back in revulsion from the burned body that landed beside her. But before she could react, a small gasp of pain caught her attention, and she saw her sister attempting to lift herself up, and failing miserably. Lasair kneeled by Latiaran, and with a word, summoned a flame that flickered in her palm. She lowered it to Latiaran, and soon the glow surrounded the wounded sorceress, and the cuts and slashes inflicted by the soldierís sword that banged against her disappeared.
However, Latiaran looked older than she should be. Much older. Her dark black hair had turned into a silvery gray, and although her face remained the same, her eyes were darker and seemed to sink within her skull. She had no more strength left, that was sure, and as Lasair looked about her, she knew that they had no need of it. There were no more soldiers left, only the smoke and burning bodies that tainted the serene landscape.
"Come on sister," Lasair raised Latiaran carefully, as if afraid that Latiaran would collapse any second. "We have to get you to a warm place and shelter." Lasair put Latiaranís arm around her neck, and supported her older sister as Latiaran rose painfully. They took a few steps into the village, and painstakingly walked up the small sloping hill that lay somehow in the middle of the buildings. But as they reached the top, their eyes widened and Lasair grew numb, watching as flames slowly devoured the northern buildings of Undine.
The army below them stood around the burning buildings, and slowly saw the two girls on top of the hill. The commander, formally second in command to Serann, frowned and wondered why the other regiment did not come, instead of the two haggard figures that supported each other between the thick trees that grew on the sides of the hill. And as the commander led his soldiers silently and somehow dignified, he blinked in amazement as he saw Latiaran and Lasair, and the remains of the battle behind them.
"You did this.." His voice trailed off. His eyes met Lasairís, and saw a plea in her eyes. "You saved us once." He could almost hear her whisper within his mind. "Let us go."
The commander shook his head suddenly, vehement in his anger that the other regiment had been defeated only by two girls. Granted that they were not disciplined nor as well trained as his soldiers, but they were the arms of the capital of Loures, and Loures was never defeated easily. But lifting his eyes back to the clear blue ones of the younger girl, his resolve seemed to lessen slightly, and he began to consider letting them go.
"Commander," A voice said behind him. "If we do not get rid of these two, they could very well come back and cause to us what they did to the other regiment." The voice was forceful and resentful at his leaderís hesitation, and the commander, hearing this tone, frowned darkly and broke away from Lasairís gaze. His eyes hardened once more, cold and unfeeling, and turned to Lasair.
"We saved you once, but now, there is no choice for you but to die." He said it quietly, with no hesitation nor uncertainty, and as the last word he said faded into silence, the earth shook and moved.
Rather, it looked like the earth was moving, for while Lasair was paying attention to only the commander, his troops had slowly spread out into the shadows, and as they heard the command within his words, with a tremendous roar, the soldiers rushed towards Latiaran and Lasair. They will die. The thoughts in the minds of the soldiers were all the same. Die.
Part V - Goodbye
Lasair looked around, her hair flashing as her head flung from side to side. They rushed at them in a circle, there was no escape. Putting Latiaran down softly, Lasair stood and seemingly hopeless, remembered something Aslen had taught her winters ago. "Look within yourself, and find that pool of energy." She remembered him saying. "From that pool of light, draw a thin thread of energy. From that energy, form an element using your will, and mold it according to your mind. Slowly let that thread of energy thicken, but always steadily, and when you had the element and its form, form its destination, and release the element."
And as she heard his words again in her mind, her hands followed. A steady blue glow gathered in her hands, and soon formed water. The soldiers were approaching, ignoring the light as it brightened and shone. Lasair twirled in a circle, leaving a blue outline of light surrounding her and Latiaran, and forming the element, released the light.
Blue flooded over the incoming soldiers in a widening circle. Except instead of just merely light and tricks, as the soldiers had thought, it was solid water that cut through limbs and bones. The blades of energy flung and danced in mad patterns, spinning away from Lasair in intricate forms. Their screams were terrible, and Lasair, held within the power she released, only dimly heard them and something inside of her shriveled.
Latiaran, lying on the ground by Lasair, closed her eyes against the blinding blue and the dark red that tainted its cruel unrelenting light. She could feel Lasair shivering, and remembered Lasair whispering that she would never kill again. She lifted her head slowly, trying her best to ignore the resounding pain that rang through her mind, and she remembered calling out to Lasair tearfully, begging her to stop. Latiaran gazed up at Lasairís face, and saw the tears streaming down, but the determined look was there, and her arms still moved in patterns that they had never known before this night.
The soldiers were closer, for climbing up on the hill, they could not see anything but the blue light, and knew not that it was lethal until too late. Blood flowed down the hill along with the waters that flew from Lasair, and those that saw the blood screamed and fell back before the light reached them. Latiaran looked away from her younger sister, and remembered faintly when they were young, and when Latiaran was hurt, Lasair singing softly to her older sister, promising that she would protect Latiaran even if she didnít know how.
Latiaran sank within herself and whispered and pleaded to Lasair to stop, but Lasair did not hear, and Latiaranís voice was gone from the chanting she had done. Soon, less and less soldiers came, and Lasair collapsed as Latiaran had done. The darker twin crawled towards Lasair, and to her horror, saw that Lasairís hair was white, and that wrinkles adorned her face. The blue eyes that fluttered wearily and tearfully when Latiaran whispered to her were as dark and deep as the night.
And with a heavy heart, Latiaran knew: Lasair was dying. Latiaran lifted herself up, gasping at the pain from her body, and cradled Lasairís head within her arms. Lasair could not have known that once the magical pool of energy was gone, the destructive magic drew from another source: the deeper source, the life energy. And crying to her unconscious twin, Latiaran remembered her promise and reached into herself, beyond the empty pool of light, and into the dim light of her life.
She slowly drew it out, in small threads, and gathered it into her hands. It was a ball of golden light, rotating softly and throbbing along with her heart. The ball spinned slowly, and it gave off flickers of light that fell to Lasairís body. Smiling softly, Latiaran noticed that Lasair was breathing easier now, and that her pale face had regained some color. Latiaranís vision dimmed, and she blinked. Not yet, she thought, and her mind chained her spirit to this world until she was ready.
Lasairís hair became golden again, and the wrinkles on her face smoothed and disappeared. The throbbing of the orb became the throbbing of Lasairís heart now, and as the orb slowly disappeared, Latiaran sank to the ground. And if she had been able to see her own eyes before she died, she would have noticed that instead of the dark midnight blue, there replaced and flickered the soft loving glow of the morning sky.
Part V - Night
The wind flew over the land of Undine, heavy in its sorrow. It was a moon since Night had died. It remembered Day, and her fury at the world when she awoke, and saw her sister there, peaceful and serene, but nevertheless, no more. She had beat and cried, and screamed to the wind, and the wind had fled, unable to bear its guilt. Her heart had beat painfully, but strangely, as if borrowed. She had lay there, holding her sisterís body in her arms, and wept and cried. More armies came, ravaging Undine, but she did not notice, and they, strangely, did not notice her. Undine was conquered easily that second time, and the people of Undine seemed to remember a temple to the north of the village, and of two priests and a sorceress that used to live there. But their memories seemed have faded, and as Day never returned to them, they did not remember.
Everything returned what they were, except now no one was allowed to bear weapons. Other than that and the taxes, the villagers of Undine went on their normal life, and although they did not forget the occupation of Loures, they were glad of the peace.
It was in the next moon that the stranger came again, his eyes drawing the attention of the sea and trees. The wind saw him this time, glowing in the darkness, and the man seemed to give no regard for secrecy as he had done the first time. He walked with long graceful strides, with a confident and silent air. Oh how like Night he was, the wind mourned. It was with him that Day left, her now dark eyes biding farewell to her home and memories. They took the bodies of Latiaran and Aslen along with them, and even though anyone standing upon the hills would have seen them leaving and fading into the seas, none did.
And as the wind flew over to bid its last farewells, Day looked up and smiled softly, her eyes clouded with tears. The sea rose and crashed down upon the shores, mourning the death of the laughing Night, and the trees, in their own grief pain, accepted the silent sorrow of the man and the girl. And the wind, watching them leave, wept in its own way, and turned its heavy eyes to Undine. For the wind, sea and the trees were its protectors now.
And sometimes, during a full moon, when the moon gently smiled and greeted the night, a figure would step out of the trees, her morning blue eyes looking towards where Day had left. Another figure would then step up, and put his arms around her, his voice soothing her sadness. And the wind, carrying their whispers, would fly to the village, and the villagers would stand outside and seem to see the two walking away and fading towards the sea. A gust of the wind would blow a mist of tiny blue flowers that followed the two figures, and seemed to echo, "I will always protect you." Those that listened closely could hear its rely resounding softly within their thoughts. "And I you, Latiaran." The words would fall to silence.
And as the villagers walked back into their houses and shops, in the distance they could hear the mummer of the sea as the two figures stood and watched over the village and land as the moon slowly rose and fell. And in the morning, when the sun would peek out over the horizon and see the two fading slowly in the growing light, it would softly wave and bid its farewells as the two smiled silently once more, and disappeared as the dying Night faded into the silent Day.