Turns out, what I really needed to do was write (along with some good, hard drinking). So, since I didn't have any good ideas of my own, I sauntered over to Mr. Wendig's space to see what his latest challenge was--I prefer to saunter on the web, don't ask me why--and it inspired me to produce the following piece of fiction. It was actually pretty difficult. Trying to get a cohesive narrative across, capturing, or at the very least alluding to, the previous events in the story while staying true to the challenge was extremely hard, but also, incredibly fun.
It has been many years, and he has found them. His wounds have healed but Lara's passing still haunts him. The nightmares are often, and in them he relives her death.
In the dreams Malbec somehow senses, somehow knows about the amulet, and in his knowing has rendered it powerless. He cannot defeat him. He sees the cruel tools wielded by the twisted forms of the Enclave's priests. Watches as her Essence is torn from her; the one he swore to protect. His vision is blurred by tears as the priests channel his love's Essence into the vessel, knowing all is lost. A moment later he feels Malbec's sword pierce his belly and his screams echo out across a world on fire.
He does not wake from these nightmares with a start, there have been far too many for that, but he must reach within himself, to the place in his mind where she resides, before he can relax. Her presence is reassuring. Her Essence still lives within him and has made him powerful, now he will use that power to rend the soul of the man who betrayed them.
He strides from the tent and lets the cheers of his army wash over him, for they know that today blood will be spilled and, with him at their head, they know they cannot be defeated. As the cries fade and the men resume preparing themselves; saddles cinched tight, breastplates donned, swords honed for the last time before they taste the blood of their enemies, he thinks of the young soldier who left his home to protect an even younger girl on her journey. A girl blessed with Magick more potent than anyone had guessed. Not her, nor the man who had sent them on that doomed quest. The man who had wanted more than anything to possess her Essence, the man whose hide he planned to carve her name into before the sun went down on this day.
Preparations made, he stands outside the camp, his army massed behind him. He draws upon Lara's Essence—her last gift to him, his last chance to fulfill his vow—and his body is surrounded in a cold blue fire. Its caress is her caress, and with it comes the sorrow, the longing, for though a part of her is always with him, it is not the part he loved most.
He reaches out and opens the Way. It is almost too easy, like a whisper, and he smiles to think of the effort it took the first time he tried to use her power. His search for the Enclave was not his only obsession these long years, and he has learned his lessons well.
The Way is wide enough that one hundred men riding abreast could easily pass through it, and tall enough that the siege engines could be stacked three high and still have room to spare. On the other side he can see the enemy's city. The spiraling towers of the Enclave stark against the blue sky, as if someone had taken a dagger and cut them from the day, exposing the night beneath. He scans the horizon for a moment, his eyes deep wells of blue fire, and steps through the Way onto the battlefield.
Deep within the central tower of the Enclave the Viceroy enters the Grand Hall. The only light is given off by guttering torches held by sconces set into pillars every twenty paces or so. At the end of the hall, behind a stone desk, sits the King. He is poring over ancient scrolls which are scattered across the desk and spilling onto the floor; The Prophecies.
The Viceroy's heels echo as he crosses the cavernous room until he stands before the King. “There is an army massing to our south,” he says. “Our scouts have confirmed, it is Pernod.”
The King looks up from the scroll he is holding. “Has he come as Vengeance?” he asks. The King sits back in his chair, closes his eyes, and recites, “Vengeance shall come unto us, wreathed in flame, his armies vast, and the Enclave shall drink from him as from a chalice so that we are made whole, and our power, everlasting.”
The Viceroy trembles before the King. “They say it is Pernod. They say he burns like the sun.”
The King opens his eyes and stands. “So the boy has come back to us,” he says, walking around the desk, the papers he was studying now forgotten. “You see, all things must serve the Prophecies. We have waited long and long for this day, let us go to him, and let us drink deep.”