Naradra, pt. 8

The icy wind howls, waves cresting white in the turbulent sea. Dark water rises and falls beneath a shadow blanketed sky. The moon is gone, hiding its eye from the storm. The maelstrom surges forward, expelling a lone form onto the beach. For a time there is no movement. The wind and waves the only sound. But through the darkness a choking cough can be heard and the form rolls on its side. She lies there a long while, as waves continue to lick at her feet. With apparent effort she moves, to her knees first, then stumbling as she tries to stand. Step after labored step, she moves to the tree line, wind gusts threatening to topple her. The path is difficult to see in the dark, but she can feel it ahead, branches hanging low, brush overgrown. She presses forward, forcing her way through. The branches pull and claw, snagging her armor with every step until she falls through, into the clearing. Kneeling there, unable to rise, blood and tears flow down her cheeks. She shudders with sobs until the words finally form.

. . . .“This cannot be! How can my heart be torn so? You gave me no warning. And to one of those?”

Her face lifts, eyes searching the darkened clearing, listening for a response and hearing only the wind.

. . . .“It is not right! What he has done… what I have done…. We are not the same!”

She rises, first from one knee, then the other, until she is standing, turning slowly as she scans the clearing.

. . . .“He is not one of us! I will not be bound to him. You have no right to ask this of me!”

The wind rises to a howl, buffeting against the trees. She turns again in the dark.

. . . .“What else can I do? What other burden could I carry instead? Answer me!”

Turning around, she draws steel. A harsh red glow casts the clearing in the light of hell, twisted branches leaning down.

. . . .“Answer me, damn you! I will not accept this!”

A branch brushes her shoulder. She spins, swinging, battering it away. Another moves and her blade is there. The red flash moves with a deadly speed. She spins and turns, the dance a clatter of wood on steel. Beyond, the storm rages on. Waves threaten to swallow the beach. At the tree line, three figures stand, calmly holding one another’s hands. The shaking of their heads is ever so slight.

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