The darkness is calling softly to me; I can hear it in the very essence of my surroundings. I cannot succumb to the darkness though, there is still too much for me to do on this world, and so man things I wish to learn. But the darkness is getting louder and more insistent. I dont know if I have the will to defy it, but defy it I must. The end seems so inevitable now, so unavoidable, the preceding chain of events seemingly conspiring to bring me to this point.
As I feel my lifeblood slowly ebbing away, my thoughts are drawn inextricably back to the seemingly innocent encounter with who has now become the bringer of my death. I was a researcher mage in a prominent college in Mer-Sah. I was too curious in nature and too naïve about the ways of the world, believing that proven research would be accepted as truth.
I hear a voice calling me back to the present, but I dont want to hear it. There is considerably less pain in the memories than in my present situation, but the voice is not one I can ignore, I never could. That voice has brought me to the edge of oblivion and back, and to this day I do its bidding. I draw a shaky breath and quickly expel the air as I feel my breath bubbling and foaming in my chest. I try to open my eyes but my strength fails me as the darkness calls ever louder, but the strength and encouragement that starts to flow into the back of my mind allows me to gather what little remaining strength I have and I slowly open my eyes, expecting to be blinded by the sun only to find that night has fallen and Sah is shining brightly above me. I wonder to myself how long have a lain as helpless as a newborn babe on this desolate beach before I was stirred into wakefulness.
Mikaels worried face greets me and I try to smile, and tell him everything will be fine, only to break out into a fit of coughing that soaked the cloth at my mouth red. I summon him with my eyes, unable to speak, and as he wipes the blood from my face, I beckon him closer and I engulf him in a deep kiss, full of goodbye. The darkness comes back, with every pump of my heart that sends more of my lifeblood into the ever reddening sands.
Agonothetas and Animus ears pricked up as the slight breeze caused the grass to dance. Mikael carried the lifeless body to the tomb set in the mountainside and broke down beside it, sending all the mourners out before kissing Sicas head and sealing her eternal resting place. Dayvid laid his hand on his brothers shoulder. At the touch, Mikael turned toward his brother, fire in his eyes and let fly a strong right hook, turned on his heel and untethered the horses and set off deep into the mountains. Dayvid moved to follow, but thought better of it, he had been the receiver of Mikaels wrath before, and it certainly was not something he wanted to repeat.
Mikael tethered the horses at the cabin, and putting their nose bags on, he unloaded their rather precious cargo, entered and lit the fire. Emptying his pack onto the table, he cracked open one of the four cases of rum, broke the wax seal, took a long draught and settled down in front of the fire to look through Sicas few remaining possessions.
Throwing yet another empty flagon into the fire, causing it to flare up from the dregs igniting, and after clumsily poking the fire, almost falling into it, he grabbed his second to last flagon, smashing the neck against the table and falling back into his chair. The sound of Agonotheta and Animus whinnying made Mikael jump unsteadily to his feet, struggling to free his sword from the confines of his scabbard, and crashing into the wall beside the door, slumping heavily to the flagon covered floor.
Slumped in the shadows of the flickering firelight, Mikael attempted to wield his sword steadily Reveal yourself, or die! Delightful laughter greeted his ears, causing him to shake his head at the hallucination before him. Waving his hands before him as if to dispel the mists from his eyes, he stumbled over to the chair, dismissing the voice as a mere delusion wrought from a ten-day of extreme inebriation. Attempting to pick up his newly opened flagon, he found it ripped from within his grasp and dashed into the fire, along with his final flagon. Roaring in fury, Mikael grasped to draw his sword, only to find it and the scabbard that houses it removed from his belt. Looking around frantically, he found his delusion waggling their finger at him and looking down at him along their nose Now now, you should not play with weapons when youre drunk. Leaning heavily against the table Mikael roared Who are you and why did you destroy my Rum! Laughing again, the figure in the shadows moved the sword from both their reaches and removed the cloak and hood that had ensured anonymity. Mikaels jaw dropped at the sight of Sica standing before him, her eyes laughing at his state its its its not possible he stammered breathless as he moved to touch her to prove to himself that she was real. Underestimating the distance, Sica caught Mikael and gently laid him on the bed as he passed out from a combination of shock and rum.
Stoking the fire, she went about removing the empty flagons and feeding the horses before preparing a broth that would purge the drink from Mikaels body, and return his wits to him.
Sica surveyed the broken furniture and went about righting the cabin, so that it was at least liveable, she was going to have enough work getting Mikael into shape, after-all. Seeing a small pile of her belongings sitting beside the fire, safe from the destruction that assailed the rest of the cabin, she walked over, settled in the chair to sift through all that remained of her former life.
Mikaels cursing and flailing broke her from her reverie and she went to his side as his body fought to be rid of the toxins that had been the sole fuel in his body for a ten-day. Kneeling on the scarred wooden floor, she wiped his brow with a cool cloth in an attempt to break the fever. She cursed herself at her behaviour upon entering his cabin Mikael, I should have come to you earlier, or at least been less flippant about my apparent resurrection. Once he returned to slumber, Sica settled back into the chair by the fire, the smell of fresh Khofey reaching her nostrils and picked up the unopened letter with her name, and using the kitchen blade, broke the seal and unrolled the papyrus.
Her breath left her lungs and her hands gripped the frail papyrus like a vice. The rather simple coded letter brought the news of the death of Tomash and Djoules in a somewhat successful assault on Canta. The tall, striking woman whom Djoules appeared to know delivering her to the afterlife and Dayvids late arrival at the battle informed her of the rebels movements. Heavy tears dropped onto the papyrus, smudging the ink on the fragile woven reeds. Remembering the Khofey, she quickly removed it from the flame, cursing her decision at dashing the rum into the flame. One thing was certain, Mikael could not know that she was still in contact with Dayvid, and she must exact revenge on the woman who, by the rebels accounts, slaughtered Djoules in cowardice. Bringing the kitchen blade to her hand, she sliced it through her hand, clenching it to draw the blood, and vowed on her blood that she would avenge her friends death.
Taking inventory on the few possessions she still had, she planned a tomb robbing expedition upon Mikaels recovery. Fingering the still tender scar on her side, she downed her Khofey in one gulp and dragged a pale of water from the well and tossed it over Mikael No time like the present.
Mikael jerked up, the freezing water mingling with what felt like scythe through his head, making him slam his eyes shut tight and wince. The simple movement of sitting caused his stomach to back flip, vomiting into the bucket that was miraculously in front of him. He then found a bowl of a foul smelling substance in front of him and tried to shy away from it but strong hands held his head and brought the dreaded substance to his lips coughing as the scalding broth scorched his throat.
Sica left Mikael to rest, knowing that the sleeping draught in the broth would take him through the worst of the sickness, not to mention keep him unconscious for the remainder of the day. Donning her heavy cloak she walked outside and greeted Agonotheta and Animus, and changing her appearance to that of a highland folk, she rode Animus bare backed to her resting place scouting the rock for any faults that may be taken advantage of.
Mikael was still snoring loudly in the land of slumber, as she had suspected he would, and so there was nothing to be done until he awakened and would be returned to the formidable man he once was. Mikael began to stir, and Sica sat on the coarse floor beside the bed, holding his hand and encouraging him back to wakefulness.
Mikael opened his eyes, instantly regretting it as daggers shot through his brain, and blearily he opened his eyes and he looked to where firm hands were holding his own. He squinted in the dim light, trying to focus his uncooperative eyes to the form kneeling before him. All breath left his lungs and he gaped at the stern face of Sica gazing upon him. Noticing his distress, she placed a finger to his lips Shhh Mikael, this be not a dream, I am here. He clutched at her hand, desperately wanting to accept that she had returned to him.
Sica brushed a stray hair from his eyes Sleep now Mikael, I need you recovered come morn, as you have work to do before we can leave this place. Sica massaged his brow until his breathing evened out, and then changing her appearance to that of a gruff mountaineer, she mounted Animus and made way to her eternal resting place.
Sica could not wait another day to enter her tomb, as today was that of the festival to Wesir, and all the mountainfolk and villagers alike were partaking in the feast in the festival square. Knowing that she would not have much time after her explosive detonated, she hid Animus in the bush ready for a quick departure, and after the loud explosive rocked the valley, she quickly entered her newly excavated tomb to find what she needed.
Filling her pack with certain required belongings and clothing, she went to the burial chamber to retrieve the sword. Seeing the likeness of herself within the sarcophagus, she did not know how long she stared until she broke from her reverie, removed the sword and again covered the sarcophagus. Gathering up her pack and strapping her sword she ran from the tomb and into the bush where Animus was waiting.
Emptying her bundle into his saddlebags, she then mounted up and galloped back to the cabin. Attaching a nose bag to both Animus and Agonotheta, she retrieved her belongings, and after removing her boots, settled down in front of the blazing fire to sift through what was recovered.
Sica set about reorganising her pack and preparing the cabin for Mikaels rehabilitation. Sica put out the fire and wrapped herself in as many blankets as she could in anticipation of the freezing night to come. She awoke two hours before dawn and awoke Mikael. Reluctant to leave the warmth of the bed, Sica tossed the mattress off the frame, sending Mikael to the floor in a pile of limbs. Sica had taken the form of a military drill officer, and after throwing clothes at Mikael, she directed him out to the snow. After the ten-day of abuse Mikael had put his body through, he was not in the shape to do the various exercises he was forced to comply. Collapsing in the snow after running his one hundred suicide, Sica ordered him to push-ups, sit ups, and other such training involving weighted sacks.
Mikael was beginning to think he had hallucinated Sica, as he had seen neither hair nor hide of her since, and at the end of yet another ten-day, he was physically stronger and fitter than what he had been. Walking back into the cabin after stacking yet another pile of wood, he saw the fire blazing for the first time since his training began, and he was even more delighted to see his beloved Sica lost gazing into the flames.
He strode purposefully to her, but she stopped him dead with her hand. Taking up the form of the drill officer once more, she boomed Did I say you were finished, Soldier? Mikael looked confused as he saw Sica look to him with an amused smile You can not touch me until you have bathed the filth from your body, if not your mind. Look at yourself Mikael; you have not washed in over a twenty-day. Mikael sported a lopsided grin as he realised that he had not been rejected and getting a cheeky glint in his eyes he innocently said Lar, I may have difficulty bathing after such a tiring twenty-day. It would please me greatly if you were to assist me in this matter. Sica laughed at his mock humility and an equal cheeky glint came upon her eyes Lar, what you suggest is improper! However, we cannot have this stench any longer, and being the only other person here, I am obligated to assist. Taking his hand, they walked into the bathing chamber to where a warm bath awaited them. Mikael shed the muddy, sweat soaked tunic and pants before sinking into the scalding water, grimacing as the water stung the myriad of scrapes and cuts that graced his body.