"(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby
Most children do not dream of death, but Will had, and it had looked nothing like this. She had expected to leave this world with a blaze of light and a swirl of magic, amidst clashing horns and breaking skulls.
But life rarely goes the way it should.
Instead, she had been dealt a wretched, lingering death. Forced to slowly degrade until noting in particular killed her, she simply ceased to be. It was humbling. It took everything from her, down to her dignity.
I should have thrown myself in the Nerinean Sea moths ago. Gods know I couldn't have kept my head above the water.
She had always been a warrior, and explorer - a girl who could not be satisfied - but that was when she was a girl. Warlight had greeted womanhood fractured and wheezing. Each day of what should have been her prime was worse than the last. But still, she had loved and she had grappled with her fate, and she had surrendered her strength to the growing child in her belly. By some miracle or curse, the boy has come to term - taking what he could from his malnourished carrier and entering the world at her expense.
Out of sight, they had lingered on, and she hadn't stopped bleeding.
It's clear now, what she should have done.
She should have gotten help.
She should have told her family.
She shouldn't have left Raul.
She shouldn't have left the east.
She should have given her son a better life, even if it meant saying goodbye.
The adoption den, her family, a good-willed stranger, the options were endless. But selfishly she had kept him at her side, this child she never wanted, and they had wasted away when all others were cured. And still, they remained in the shadows, always on the move.
"Mama, my legs are tired." Her nameless child softly complains but she doesn't stop moving, and he doesn't dare to ask again. They can not rest, not now, not when there is no one around to hear her yell.
She knows because she tried.
A shadow had been following the malnourished pair for days, and though she had stomped and huffed and tossed her head, it had not left them. It trailed them, disappearing for a time only to return: patient, hungry, constant; it hunted her like prey.
She was nothing more than prey now.
Her heart beats a little faster as she realizes that it is time- that fate has given her one last chance to find her warriors death and Valhalla. She takes a deep breath, she puts her son behind her, and squares to the beast.
Prey and predator face each other and she thanks the dark god for the surge of adrenaline she feels as their eyes lock. Her head lowers, his haunches coil and they meet in a clash of horns and teeth. She is knocked back into the earth, and she sees a wound she can not feel welling blood along the line of her shoulder.
It takes more effort to rise, to arrange all four, wasted legs below her haggard and hairless frame. Her head swings back looking for her target, but he can not be seen.
Above the ringing in her ears, she hears her baby scream.
She dives forward again, clearing brush as she hurtles her body towards the sound of the attacker recklessly. This time she strikes true. Glorious and beautifully sickening, her horns puncture his hide, easily slipping deeper into the soft, wet musculature of his once-proud neck. Her breath catches as she smiles and she doesn't know that her lips are painted red - that the spit which wets her tongue is not spit at all.
In an action fueled by victory and blood-lust, she rips her head downward with all the strength of the warrior she should have been. The effect is gruesome and efficient, and as her proud head rises again, there is an added weight to her antlers as from each prong a token dangles.
She looks to her child, any satisfaction she feels vanishing; he is blinded by his blood. His mouth agape and relentlessly, he is screaming.
Will steps gingerly towards him, the wound at the base of her neck causing her step to falter. She reaches out to tuck him to her breast, but she is suddenly sent tumbling forward. Mother and child collide, and neither one has the strength to break the others fall.
It's harder to kill than stories would have told her, so rarely is it quick.
When her eyes lift she sees him, impossibly grotesque. "He should not be alive," she moans as the beast steps towards them again, all the missing pieces of his throat dangling red and globular below his jaws.
With a swinging and unsteady steps, the beast nears. Warlight turns her head to face him, to look him in his terrible face and plunge an antler into his fucking brain. But she doesn't get the chance, her world is fading and the tears are streaming from her cheeks. and her child, oh her child, he won't stop screaming.
"Hush, baby." She says as tenderly as she can, nudging the ear which hangs limp and half-severed down his cheek. "Sweet baby, it's time to dream."
When death finds her, slowly creeping and sweetly numbing, it feels a lot like sleep. But she knows she has one more thing she must do before she can submit to rest. Warlight pictures her mother, golden-white and kissed with frost, and she summons whatever magic may linger in her broken body.
The scents of The Forest overwhelm her senses, and she hears her mother softly humming. What she feels she knows is joy, and her heart beats full and warm of it. She is stretched so thin as her soul travels the length of a world, but she finds the strength to push him to Solace - something she should have done months ago.
"Take him, keep him..."
Pain rips her away from The Forest as her consciousness re-settles in her body one thousand miles away. But as she opens her eyes she knows her son had made it. He is gone. Now, Warlight laughs as the dead-thing crashes down on her. Manic yet content to let the numbness take her, entangled with her killer and victim.
— soul as sweet as blood red jam —
Here lies what remains of Warlight, once Princess of The East. The vultures picked her clean before she was ever found, but her antlers remain to mark the place her weary bones rest.
Kagerus: You taught me to never temper my passion for the convenience of others and that it is possible to be feared and loved. But most of all you showed me that family is all that matters.
Dreamlets: My heart breaks to leave you, Blood of my Blood. When it's all over, find me on the other side and tell me the stories of how you lived your lives.
Raul: If I was given more time in this world I would have gladly spent it all with you.
Solace: I guess I can thank you for the few times my manners came through. Take care of my son.
Svedka: You were the coolest uncle ever. p e r i o d.
Clegane: Please don't remember me, not like this. The others will tell you stories of me now and then, listen to those and remember me whole.
Clayton: thank you for all the wonderful hours we passed together and the love you showed me. I'm sorry I was never able to return it properly.
Velk: You are a true healer, inside and out.
Valdis, Aegon, Oriash, abysm, Warrick, marble: I wish I could have known you better.
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