Long fingers of sunlight stretched through the canopy of leaves and gently stroked her face. She felt warmth then, the warmth of comfort, of a mother’s hug, a lover’s kiss, a father’s guiding hand. Father Sun, reaching down and caressing her softly. She grasped at the comfort, focussed on it, let it radiate through her. She felt no other warmth.

Eyes closed she followed Father Sun’s light touch down her cheek, drying the trail of stale tears that it crossed; she shivered as she felt warm fingers slide down the side of her neck, memories of cold nights naked in front of a warm fire with Djestin, the back of his half-cupped hand gently tracing the same path as he stared in wonder into her dark eyes, as though stars clustered brightly there. The blanket of memory drawn sharply from her mind as Djestin’s touch approached her breast and was halted by her armour. Why was she wearing armour with him? So cold. But armour wouldn’t stop the cold.

She coughed in her agitation, pain flaring out from the dark edges of her consciousness, flooding her mind and forcing its way forth through suddenly wide open eyes and dry gasping mouth. A glimpse of the forest roof, far above where she lay, tendrils of light in heavenly array. Eyes closed once more she searched for Father Sun’s touch, felt his hands join her own where they rested limply across her waist. She could barely feel him, his warmth diluted by the pooling blood between her fingers, her own traitorous warmth abandoning her as soon as the arrow had struck. It sat within her still, a perverse birth of agony, the same place that Pella had slept for nine months, some four years ago. New tears welled and drew wet lines down her cheeks while Father Sun struggled in vain to dry them away.

Sharp cries brought her back from memories of a small flower-laden child running, shouting and laughing across a meadow towards her, the smell of flowers and a babe’s hair as she gathered Pella up in her arms. Smell of happiness. She turned her head on its side and forced her eyes to focus out across the golden carpet of leaves. She could not find the source of the yell, instead her eyes rested on Vargus, the mage’s broken body stared lifelessly back. He stood little chance against the Kurvik once she had fallen to the arrow and could no longer protect him, their number was too great, and he wore no armour to deflect their savage blows.

Not that her armour had helped her.

And who would protect the others now, should any of them survive? How would they continue their task? Little Voric and Yoric, stout of heart, could not be expected to survive such an ordeal alone. Jastel was no warrior. And if they failed, the kingdom would surely falter and fall. Then who would protect Djestin, Pella… oh Pella!

A great cough wracked her body, she grasped weakly at the arrow that bit at her every move. The arrow that had pierced her defences and then her body. They had said she was the greatest warrior of her time; that her armour was a symbol… made her a symbol; that ten thousand sword strokes would never pass her stalwart shield and banshee blade. They were right.

But it only took one arrow.

Cold realisation: she no longer felt Father Sun’s touch. No warmth, no comfort any more. She saw his light dance behind the closed lids of her eyes; her mind showed her shadows of Pella dancing happily in the evening light. Now gone. Another light, brighter, growing. No warmth there either, but strangely… comfort.

She sighed once.

A sigh for release,
A sigh for sorrow.
A sigh for peace,
And for the loss of tomorrow.

Stupid plate mail bikinis.

Posted by Melmoth at 12:48 pm