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|Written a couple nights before school started... that or the night of... can't remember... Let's just say that school inspired this. But there is no way I'm dedicating this to... *spits* that!|
(Thank you to Muffin for her help)
I can hear them coming.
Their feet pound the earth mercilessly, bringing destruction and panic. Leaving only death in their wake. They are here to break us, to bind us and torture us. To work us so that we are numb with pain, weariness, and exhaustion. And then to kill us.
There is no escape. Their approach is inevitable. Any resistance will be shot down before it can be formed, the stolid eye of the enemy seeing beyond the surface and into the heart. They know us well. They know our fears. They know just how far they can push us before we crack, just how much pain we can bear.
Like a black wave breaking on the defenseless sand, so too they come.
The pounding is nearer now, and our panic has grown frenzied. My countrymen are falling around me, thoughts of resistance being their untimely end. I pray my mind will not rebel lest I share in their fate. But what if their fate is the fairer? Surely to die now would spare me the agony of being broken? No... I chide myself. There is no way. They would know my plan and would be even more cruel in their actions.
A child whimpers, the sound the embodiment of grief and fear. The sound of our hearts. She has lost her family to them already, lost her hope now. She will soon be taken. I reach out and hold her in my arms, trying, in what I know is a vain effort, to comfort her. Poor child... all alone...
We can see them now. They are like a black hoard, endlessly stretching out to the sky, filled with a bloodlust beyond compare. The earth trembles, like our hands, like our hearts at their approach. My fellow villagers are all lined up outside our homes, a grim line with mixed emotions. Some weep with fear, others with anger or sadness, others hold their faces in a stone like vice, allowing no emotion to seep through. Then there are those comforting, those who push their fear beyond their conscious soul, or at least try, and soothe the burning fears of others. My heart goes out to them.
We can see their faces now. Their war spattered, sun and wind burnt faces. They are dressed in thick black armor. At least they have the decency to wear the colour of dark and not mock us with bright colours though that would be their nature. They are a fearsome band, seemingly numberless. War trained and battle hardened. They feel nothing, see nothing, hear nothing; only ravage, torture, and kill.
They approach steadily and it seems that they will be upon us any moment. We brace ourselves for the inevitable attack, waiting for our doom. It doesn’t come.
As if on an invisible, soundless signal, they stop in perfect harmony, in perfect form. We open our eyes slowly. The silence is thick and choking, so used to the pounding of death bearing feet we are. It is cruel that they make us wait like this, but that is their nature is it not? We shake as we stare at them, allowing our eyes to take in the details of our death. In addition to their armor they carry swords and bows. Some carry spears and lances, but not many. Their manner is as demons dragged from the depths of hell. Hating everything, fearing nothing but their master, drawing twisted pleasure from pain and inflicting it wildly without reserve. But as our careful study ends with their faces and thus their eyes, we are shocked. We see fear.
Written all over their faces is a strange mixture of despair, apology, remorse, guilt, grief, and most of all, hatred; but it is not directed at us. Some strain as if held in place by an unseen force, an unseen mind controlling their every move. We look at one another, not willing to believe what we are seeing. They are not here of their own choice. They are here because another is controlling their every move.
We still are gawking and staring at this discovery when with a strained motion the host fall to their knees and provide an aisle down which a lone figure strides. He is dressed in white, bright, mocking white. By the sheen and the fold of the cloth it is easy to see that it is of high quality, richly embroidered with threads of gold and silver. I spit at my feet, disgusted by this display. How could anyone be so cruel?
He comes to the front of his host, standing apart from them in distaste it seems, and looks over our assembled village. “People of Asalath, listen to me.” His voice is thin but commanding and I can feel his mind in mine, pulling my eyes to meet his. A swift glance at the villagers shows that he is doing the same thing to them. I close my eyes then, not wanting to give in. “You are mine. Kneel.” The village is forced to its knees, but I am oblivious to them, fighting hard against the commands in my mind, forcing them out with sheer will power alone, or so I think.
I can feel his eye on me. I’m still standing. The commands double and I almost lose control. But I can’t. I won’t. Not while I’m still alive
“You there, girl who is still standing.” I feel his efforts release. He has given me free will. “What is your name?”
I am shaking with the after effects of the effort I exerted and can barely speak, but my voice carries. “Why should I give it to you, white one?” I spit.
He laughs, a sound that sends shivers washing over my skin. “You are spirited, and very strong. I give you credit for that. But you cannot hold forever, and once one part of your will is broken, the rest will follow in a crumbling ruin. There will be no escape once you have fallen.” I feel his mind manipulating mine with a well controlled force that is stronger than anything I have ever felt. I cry aloud with the effort to stay standing. I will not give in, not unless they break my body, but even then I will not surrender my mind.
The efforts become more and more furious, pulling at my legs and knees like thousands of heavy chains trying to bring about my downfall. We struggle for what seems like an eternity, the villagers and the hoard watching me with horror and awe. Who knew I had this much will in me? Finally after one more jarring blow his mind releases me and I almost fall to the ground. I am breathing hard and sweat drips from my face and trickles down my back even though the air is chill. I am shaking uncontrollably.
He is staring at me, I can feel his eyes on my form, but what he is thinking, I cannot tell. It seems that he is balancing between awe and hatred. “Never has anyone been able to withstand my mind, maiden of Asalath. You are the first.”
I look up at him, my eyes burning with a fierce light, but I say nothing. He regards this calmly.
“I have a proposition for you, maiden of Asalath.” His voice is impassive, though I sense some hidden emotion dancing behind its cool veil.
I raise an eyebrow to him, refusing to ask, refusing to speak.
He sighs. “I will spare your village if you accept it, maiden of Asalath.”
This rewards him with a further raised eyebrow. “Continue...” I say, knowing where this is going.
He smiles. “I will spare your village for as long as I still control my mind if you come with me and become my apprentice.” I look at the villagers. Their faces are a mixture of alarm, hope, scorn, and indecision.
“You want me to become your apprentice? An apprentice to what?” I ask.
He smiles and two soldiers, straining and unable to control their actions, are pulled from his ranks. They stop atop the hill, eyes wild with fright and hate. He nods and they draw their swords, trying not to, but having no control. They bring the swords to their necks...
“STOP!!” I shout. “Enough!”
The soldiers fall to the ground unconscious, but still alive. The man in white eyes me warily. “You already have the skill. It was not I, but you that made them stop. Such a raw talent is rare these days, that is why I offer you this choice. I ask again, will you accept my proposition?”
I eye the villagers, knowing what I must do yet hating it. I could not be responsible for all their lives. Cursing fate for its cruelty I look him directly in the eye and nod. “Yes.”
“Good girl” he purrs and the villagers are freed from his control. They run, all except for the little girl at my feet, the one I had comforted.
“I want to come too!” She says, looking up at me.
I look down into her eyes and see something there. The same fire that burns in my own. She has the skill. If she were to be trained like me... I look at the man in white, my master to be, and ask if I might take this child.
He raises an eyebrow and asks, “Why?”
“Because she is an orphan due to your advances and you owe her that much.”
He sighs and agrees, “But if she causes any trouble, she will die like her kin, and I am notorious for painful deaths...”
I look into her eyes. “Do you understand, child? If you do anything against my or the white one’s orders, you will be killed. Do you still wish to accompany me?”
She shudders only once and nods. “I will come with you. You made me feel better and no one likes me here.”
I wrap an arm around her shoulders and nod. “Shall we bring anything, white one?”
His wrinkles his nose at the name I call him. “You will call me Master from now on, understood?”
I am tempted to cry out, Make me! but think better of it in time. He really could make me in the state I am in, I hardly think I could withstand even the slightest manipulation. So I grit my teeth and remembering the child say again, “Shall we bring anything, Master?” The word is distasteful on my lips and it comes out more as a snarl than a word.
He laughs at this display and replies, “You will find that you will lack nothing while in my service, maiden. We are well... supplied. Come as you are.”
I take the child’s hand, “Are you ready, child?”
“Then it is time to go.” I begin to walk up the hill, resenting each step for it brings me closer to this man and his hoard of victims. He is smiling at me, victorious in his quest. I snarl back, my eyes never leaving his. All too soon we reach the top of the hill and I stand face to face with the monster, his dark eyes boring into mine, our minds intertwining, testing, searching. At last he lets out a sharp command and the hoard rises from its knees. He snaps his fingers and a carriage is brought forth.
“Get in.” He snaps, knowing I will not obey a simple request.
I glare at him but do as he says, guiding the child into the luxurious interior before climbing in myself. As he is about to climb in, I look once more on my homeland. Its peaceful vales and forests, its fragile beauty, its purity and peace. I fear I will never see it again. With a bark to the horses, which of course are white, he closes the door and we are swept away with his victims, pawns in fate’s great game.
A Brook of Frozen Glass
Death's Tears Parts 4 & 5