Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty-Eight

For a long time Roark stood staring at the black wall, waiting for it to devour him. Minutes passed before it occurred to him that the blackness had stopped its approach and gone still, not closing in so much as a hair’s breadth. It had stopped less than a finger’s span from the edge of Weslyn’s dress.

Disbelief that it really had stopped flooded through him, and he waited, now counting the seconds until it moved again to swallow up him and the bodily remains of the sweet merchant woman. Minutes passed by his counting: three, five, eight, eleven. A quarter of an hour went by, and the black wall hadn’t moved a bit.

Weslyn would have lived...

The thought hit him like a hammer. She would have lived. Had he not been so certain they faced their deaths, had he not acted in haste... if only he had put his faith in the Mother to save them, she would still be alive, pulse beating, lungs taking air next to him.

She would have lived...

Falling to his knees next to Weslyn’s cooling body, he threw back his head and howled. Oaths flew from his mouth afterward, shouted curses for everything from himself to the Mother Above to the Dark Father– and everything in between. Time froze as the minutes and hours passed with him damning everything he could think of. Part of him, deep down, pleaded with the Mother to let him take it back, to let him die in her stead and send her back to the living world.

When he finally opened his eyes again, having completely drained himself of tears, the blackness had receded. It had more than receded; it was completely gone. The nothingness surrounding him, swallowing up everything, was gone as if it had never existed at all. Beyond the balcony, the glittering gilded walls of Estria shone in the late afternoon sun. He suddenly became aware that the banging on the door behind him had stopped. When had the Keidenelle given up their pursuit?

Weslyn’s body was gone.

Unbarring the door, he cracked it open, but there was no ambush. There were no Keidenelle savages waiting for him on the other side of the door– in fact, there wasn’t a single soul to be seen in the corridor. Not a bit of dirt from a boot, a shallow depression on a rug from a footprint– there was nothing to suggest people had been in the castle recently.

Warily, Roark explored the castle. He passed through chambers he’d been through before, knowing there should be corpses, bloodstains, abandoned weapons, something! For all he saw, he could have been the only man left in all the world, in all of– what was the name of this place? “Ighosia” came into his head, and he decided that must be the name he was searching for. Was he really the only man left in all of Ighosia?

Weslyn would have survived. If I hadn’t killed her, she would have lived, and I wouldn’t be alone...

The pristine walls that surrounded him were unsettling. Hurrying, with only the echoing sound of his boot heels striking the floor, he strode through the great audience chamber that reminded him of Lady Ara’s and out to the balcony for some fresh air.

He wasn’t the only man left in Ighosia! There were three men lying on the stone floor out here: one was plainly dead; Sonsedhor stuck out from his unmoving chest. The other two were young men– lordlings by their clothes– and both on the brink of death themselves. One had a shard of glass sticking out from his gut, the other didn’t have a mark on him, but not and then his whole body twitched violently. Only the one with glass in him– the young man who had claimed Sonsedhor for himself, Jaidyn– showed any sign that he was aware of Roark’s presence.

Calmly, as if he had all the time in the world– which he really did, he thought with a smirk– Roark sauntered to the body Sonsedhor was buried in. Wrapping his hand again around the familiar hilt, he drew the sword from the corpse’s chest, not bothering to wipe the blackish blood from the metal. Jaidyn didn’t make a sound as Roark stood over him, legendary sword in hand, but his eyes screamed his fear. The other young man still showed no sign that he was alert to anything that was happening around him. Rather than let that young man suffer, Roark decided to put him out of his misery, too.

One well-placed swipe with Sonsedhor ended the lives of both young men.

Roark threw back his head and laughed. Without needing proof, without having to see if it was true, he knew he was the only man left in all of Ighosia. It was his. The world was his.

“Finally mine!” he shouted between hearty laughs.

No comments:

Post a Comment