Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bear the Mark or Bear the Crown

"Why have you come, Bridge-Builder?" Jan asked.

The armored woman smelled his fear, which was as strong as the piss that soaked his wood-rot hovel.

"You have staked your claim within the Duke's lands," she answered.

"We're a desperate people in these dark days," he whimpered. His hands clutched something behind him.

"You have well heard the price to live among the Free." Her cold blue eyes bore into his fidgeting gaze.

"It-it is too high. Spare us this curse! Have mercy, Inrisa Hel-Herald!" Jan begged.

Her left hand lit with a pale blue corona. Inrisa peered deeper into the man's gaze and beyond him. "You have no right to that name and defame my order, Jan Water-Stones. I see you, child. Step forth into the light."

A voice as coarse and shrill as a raven's answered from the dark corner behind Jan. "It is too late for the light to touch this one. Her coward father gave her as a bride."

"These lands will bear no betrothal to the foul and the fallen," Inrisa commanded. She planted her burning hand on Jan's shoulder and he crumpled to the dirt.

A small waif stood with her head down and hair in shambles. The inky blackness seemed to flow and weave through her tangled locks. Inrisa felt the girl staring at the heavy mace she held as if a light trifle in her right hand. The craven voice screeched once more, "You have come to bring torment to a withered exile, doomed to haunt gran's tales and children's dreams."

"I have come across the realms to remove your blight," she replied.

"Yes, world-walker, you have come far, but these lands have darkened. You come perchance too late," it hissed. "Many feed us in these Dark Days."

Something like a sickly cross between leech and eel wormed around the base of the girl's head and through her hair. More slimy tendrils flowed from other parts of her head. The pale gleam in Inrisa's eyes and hand grew. She drew back her mace and outstretched her flaming gauntlet.

"You have ruined enough ages and innocents, Apsinthos. Bear the Mark or Bear the Crown."

Art Source: "A Cleric" by yigitkoroglu
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship


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