The blog has a full Table of Contents and Reference page for Part One: Inundation. It is also advisable that one reads the added scenes with the new character Brisa tu’Onr. (PDF download) Otherwise, we are beginning part two of When Comes the Firetide: Emergents.
WHEN COMES THE FIRETIDE | PART TWO: EMERGENTS
Chapter Four: Black Flames of Past and Future Bright
1st Som of Fortitude, month of Foundations 8178Hands folded across the great seal, the slender body was slumped over, brow resting on the cool jade. Burgundy hair, glinting with purple in the sunlight, spilled around the girl’s head creating a plum-colored pool of silk for her dark brown and ivory horns. Although she was dressed, the counting of her ribs through the shift was easy enough. Her exposed legs and wrists were frail. One might think her an Erahs masquerading as Ganroth.Temple bells and the chant permeated the Cattedrale, undulating through its walls. Enriched cantillations resonated into the streets of the Enclave. All of Viridian hummed with the heartsong of Rotta. Yaffa felt it in her bones. The reverberation fluttered her heart, swayed her breath. The tremor of her lips and lashes as they parted, quivered to the vibration of the universal call.
Not just Uvall. ALL.
Yes. If the Jyotisher is in presence of the Dyás and the Necromantis is near… Apotheosis will Ascend, wittingly or not. To which… to which…?
‘I do not understand, Rotha-Uvall.’
Dyás and the Necromantis, each are only two, in need of a third to Ascend as Apotheosis. Three healers flitter about, One close to Dyas, another the Jyotishr. This poses a threat… ensures Ascension. This cannot be.
‘The third, the younger healer is weakest. Corruptable.’
You must see she is corrupted. She can be a weapon, not just a tool.
‘But you said the Necromantis could Ascend. If you would simply explain what the Apoth–‘
DO NOT DARE QUESTION ME!
A soft whine escaped from burnished red lips as the young woman fought against the physical strain of her body. ‘There is one who might twist healer to Malifica. Perhaps I can sway her. Turn her desires for vengeance to your use.’
‘Corrupt the healer, destroy Dyás and prevent Apotheosis.’
Yes. Then it is done. The others do not matter. Without Dyás, without the Apotheosis, there can be no Blood Reign… there can be no end to Uvall.
‘Show me the Blood Reign.’
Prevent it and it is irrelevant. Yaffa will do this. YAFFA IS DEATH. YAFFA WILL REIGN IN BLOOD.
Collapsing to her side, the girl curled into a ball, aquake with cold. Body clammy with sweat, she shuddered, panted, sucked at the air desperate for relief. The chant continued, the Maasa Ntas Maless dispassionate to her state, or oblivious of it. Disinterested in attention from Massafera, no demands for answers, she did not touch the bells. Nor did she have the energy to reach a bowl when she vomited, though there was precious little in her to vacate. The dry heave was painful. Only a bit of mucus cleared itself from her throat, leaving the twisted muscles of her gut to throb in pain.
Crumpled again, she paid no mind to her hair spilling into the bile. Listening to the sacred song, she rolled away from the great seal and lifted her eyes to look through the oculus. The sky was a vibrant blue, shades of azure, cyan with swirls of gold between glimmers of near green aqua and ebbing purple sapphire. She could see the pulse of the sun, the great heartbeat of the universe. Focused on it, she imagined it as ripples through water, at the epicenter, the beat of her own heart. The sun’s warmth became a radiance within herself to fill her, illuminate the darkness growing inside, consuming her.
Tears slid over her cheeks. The girl closed her eyes to the luminescent portal and sobbed. Both trembling hands raised to her face as she rolled to her back. Racked with the soul shredding agony of her responsibility, the entirety of her frail body convulsed with each sob. Arms enveloped her, but she could not discern whose, only that they lifted her from the floor and she was carried. She knew it was not Aio. His smell alone was a salve to calm her most broken spirit.
“What is this?” a woman’s voice demanded.
The one carrying her was also female, colder, a steadiness that forebode a ravage storm. “Massafera defied me. I found her collapsed in the Temple. Bowls of her own sick surrounded her.”
“This is no Proving. This is torture. Sama, find one of the acolytes, a healer. Bring water for bathing.”
“Anything else?” Sama was younger, her rage a hiss of metal from a sheath.
The reply was not meant to be heard, but she heard it clear enough. “There will be time for that later.”
Yaffa was set upon a bed softer than any she had felt. A hand smoothed her hair from her face, but Yaffa refused to open her eyes, too ashamed to be seen.
“It is Yaffa, yes?”
“Where is Aio?” Rawness scratched away at what little strength her shame had not stolen of her voice. “Aio takes care of me.”
The elder’s disbelief sounded angered, but Yaffa feared she misunderstood and suppressed her tears in an attempt to sound bold. “Keep your judgments. Aio loves me. He would kill Valk Malvud Tyque if I allowed it.”
The woman standing over her was the Vesvudak, a powerful woman whose many scars and tattoos were not mere posturing. She chuckled at this as she lifted her eyes to the elder woman. “Oh, I like her. I think she may be wasted in the Temple.”
“Everything about the Temple is a waste.” Yaffa did not know her name, but recognized her to be the military leader of the Enclave. She wanted even more to hide her face from them now. How weak she must be to them. The other crossed the room with water. “Here girl, drink. Slow.”
The Vesvudak, Daunet helped her sit up. Her body ached, longed to melt back into the luxurious mattress of the massive bed. Her eyes lifted to survey the room as she sipped the cool water. The women stepped aside to murmur in private a moment, then Daunet returned to her. “You look as if you’ve never seen a bed before.”
“I sleep on a mat on the floor.”
“Aio allows this?” Hetaar asked from afar.
“Aio sleeps on the floor outside my room.”
Daunet redirected her attention from Hetaar. “Why does Massafera make you do vision walks?”
Dipping her face behind loose unkempt hair, Yaffa tried to turn away. The warrior’s hand tapped her shoulder, bringing her back around. “Answer.”
“I’m not to speak to… Fåk-Valktomeya of such things. Valk Malvud will beat me for disobedience.”
“He’ll not lay a hand on you.” The woman’s voice was a law struck into being with each syllable. Yaffa had no reason to doubt her.
Trembling still, she kept her head low. “He seeks a being called the Me’eta, a being that can kill Rotha-Uvall. He thinks this is what prevents Rotha-Uvall from rising.”
“Bastard can’t even perform his own fake miracles.” Hetaar dropped against the wall with a shake of her horns.
“Not fake. Rotha-Uvall speaks to me. I have seen its face. I have found the Me’eta. Not one… they are many.” She could feel a weight drag at her as she spoke. Her hand barely managed to set the cup aside before she sagged back into the cushions. “Uvall would see Valk-Massafera dead. This is my duty. I am so charged.”
Lifting her brows, Daunet rest one knee on the edge of the bed and stared down past her crossed arms. “Silence your honorifics. Were I in your condition, this would not be a difficult task to agree to.”
Aio’s voice brought fresh tears to her eyes, which she turned to Daunet. “Such choices are not so stark as this.”
The young man rushed around the Vesvudak and gathered Yaffa up in his arms. “I was sent to market. I had no idea he made you– if I’d known…”
To hide her tears, she buried her face in his shoulder. “It’s not your fault.”
Cradling her tight, Aio looked over the two Falenoth warriors. “She will not kill him as Uvall bid. Give me leave, Vesvudak and I shall. I implore you on pain of treason… let me kill him.”
Hetaar nodded at Daunet, “I say give him a sword. Send Sama in to make sure he does not fail. Keep her appeased for a time at least.”
The warleader held out a hand to silence them as Sama returned with an older woman. “Healer, as asked.”
“Let’s speak in another room, let her do her work.” Daunet ushered the Falenoth out. Glancing back at Aio she nodded he could remain or follow as he liked. That he stayed was no surprise.
The healer did little more than check her eyes and mouth. She mixed a tonic, gave it to Aio. After a few muttered words she left. Yaffa was too comfortable in the featherbed to care, but capitulated when prompted to sit again to drink the foul medicine.
“It will give you more strength. She is sending broth and soft bread.” After settling her back again, the young man scoured the room to return with a hair brush. “I think this room belonged to the Jaed’s daughter before the Awakening. She was very pretty… for a Shae, of course.” He ducked his head as he sat beside her to smooth her hair.
“Shae are pretty too. The fur is… odd but, it’s pretty in a fashion. Soft, I imagine.”
Aio sat forward and whispered, “I like how it glitters in the sun. Some, I mean. Some are very dull, but… but your hair is prettier. You are prettier, Nto.”
“M’not,” she lay down again. “Prettiness is useless. Master Uvall cares nothing for this. I do not understand its desires. Uvall is not the God of death, nor one of vengeance. Fondroy and Vudaa… these are their essence.”
“Hroc Tosh killed Vudaa, and Fondroy is still enshrined. Many scriptures claim he is dead. Perhaps Uvall fills the roles of its siblings. If I were caged for thousands of years, I would want vengeance.” Leaning down he added with a whisper, “and you are pretty.”
The brushstokes through her hair were a hypnotic rhythm. She feared he would lull her to sleep. “What I see and what Master tells me, they are not the same. I hear rage, but I see and feel Master’s fear.”
The air was still around him as Aio’s hands drew her hair away from her face. He set the brush aside. She felt his tension and lifted her head to look at him. Daunet stood near the end of the bed.
“A god should fear nothing.”
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