Again, Enough is enough.
Screamed, Enough is enough.
All the wars, what were they for? All the politics, what were they for? All the scheming, what was it for? For a few extra acres, for a handful of peasants, for the clink of gold and the whispered urging of 'advisors'. Was that worth it? Was it worth it to those that believed themselves above all others? Probably, those that believed such things also seemed to believe themselves above all other matters. Matters of honour and its like. Amusing really, when they were often the ones who boasted so loudly of their honour, holding up the tarnished thing that they called 'honour' and yet turning their eyes from it at the same time. No, for such souls there was no honour, merely its pretense, a false shield for them to hide behind, a ragged charter of laws and rules that they paid no more than lip-service to. Some said "But it is the way of the isle", but it was not, it had not always been that way, she remembered the times when those who made no more than the pretense of honour would have been hounded into the sea by their fellows rather than congratulated and even willingly aided by them.
The sorceress stood tall as she looked at the empty sands about her, knowing that for all she had done she would never lower herself to the levels of her enemies. She had done many things, she had apparently worked for the side of light or darkness, she had killed and she had helped life. But always she had held to her own code, always she had stuck fast to the unwritten rules in her own mind, not stooping as low as others might. Again and again she had helped Silus, and his mother before him, take the people of the red desert into battle. Again and again she had convinced herself that it would get better, that only by surgically striking at the cancer within the isle would health be returned to the lands. Again and again she had given everything that she could, using every means at her disposal to destroy those that set themselves against her.
But there was a limit, there was a barrier beyond which she could not go. She had known the bitterness of war, she had willingly launched herself into its midst in the hope that something better would come of it. But it never had, no, with war only came the fears and dangers that had always attended it. It hadn't mattered how much they had tried, it hadn't much how high they had reached, how forcibly they had shaken the thrones of those that thought themselves better. No, in the end none of it had mattered. In the end the figures of others had always moved in the darkness, not carrying the banners of their enemues, but still carrying mischief and murder in their hearts. The banner of war had never stopped those ones, no if anything it had drawn them near, whispering wicked thoughts and deeds into their hearts.
It was amusing really, that those of the Officium would try so hard to hold to their code and strike only those stronger than them. After all they were demons and madmen...or so the rumours of them went. Wicked, wicked creatures that cared for nothing and nobody, seeking only to complete their own devious plans and plots. Yes, that was what the rumours said of them, they were terrible people, dark and terrible, the ruination of those that crossed them. They were the beasts in the shadows, the ones that mother always warned her children about. And yet they had held to their honour, they had risked everything in order to bring their enemies tumbling down to their reach. With dagger, with sword, with claw, with spear, with bare hands if needs be, they had reached out above them, they had dared to turn their gazes towards those far vaster than them. And what had they gained for that? The attention of those figures in the darkness, the figures of other banners. It didn't matter what they did to those figures, didn't matter at all.
We have given everything and now I have nothing left to give, she said softly, the winds and the blood-red sand alone hearing her words. No...no that is wrong, I have one last thing to give, one last hand to play. She cut a sad and lonely figure in the desert, the figure of a woman who had seen more than most would ever wish to see, the figure of a woman who could only do so much. Her pale grey eyes looked towards the heavens but there was no more strength or hope for her to find there. The last strength would come from within, from inside herself, from her blood and her soul, from the Art that had sustained her when nothing else would. She knelt down and picked up a handful of sand, letting it run through her fingers as she whispered, One last hand to play...for now.
There was always a time, a time when rest was needed, when matters beyond wars and strife needed to be tended to. A time for peace, of a sort, just as there was a time for war. Now was the time for the Sanctum's borders to close, a time when there would be no more shadowy figured from other banners creeping into lands that did not belong to them. No more murders in the Dardenite lands done by those who so hated them. No more heathen sorcery taking advantage of other's deeds. No more armies seeking to take what was not theirs. Now was a time for other matters, a time for strength to be gathered, a time for rest and restoration. A time to gather themselves together once more before the enemy next found the blades of the Holy Office at their throats.
She had done this once before, but never on such a scale. This last hand to be played was perhaps an over-ambitious one on her part but if nothing else she had to try. And after all wasn't that what they had always done? Try? Try to just reach up and shake the very foundations of those who believed themselves somehow better? Try to reach with blades and magic to crack the ivory thrones of those who could not judge their own actions? Try...that was exactly what they had done, tried to shake the status quo, try to crumble what all others had believed was invulnerable. And they had done more than try, they had done more than just 'just', they had broken and burnt that which was believed to be too great. Time and again they had been numbered among those who had done just that. They had not flinched from it, not shifted their sights or looked to easier prey as others might. No only the strongest would do, only in the heat of the most frenzied of battles when success and failure sat upon the thinnest of edges could life truly be found.
Where is the glory in fighting a battered enemy? Where is the fight in beating those who are already bloodied? Where is the honour to a deity in destroying that which has already been destroyed? She turned slowly with each word, letting go of the final grains of sand in her hand as she did so, scattering them all about her. Each grain fell back to earth to be with its fellows once more, no different to the sands about it. Where is the satisfaction in hiding in the shadows to strike at an enemy? Hiding your part in a war that was never declared upon your banner? There is none. She laughed, the sound of it strange and alien in the silence of the desert about her.
The magic within her barely needed to be called, it danced to the music of her laughter, rising like the swell of a wave, blooming like the first flower of spring. It was like an explosion of colours and sensations within her flesh, a feeling that could not be described in mere words. No one other than the Sidhe could truly appreciate what it was like to call the Sidhe Art, to call it and feel it respond like a raging torrent within their veins. Others used magic certainly, but just as Lyssia could not feel the sensation of controlling their magic, neither could they tell what it was like to weild the Art. It was a joy without equal, a sensation that could not be bettered, an ally within her flesh that would never let her down or turn upon her.
One last hand to play, she repeated the words as the magic build up within her, flowing within each mote of blood and fibre of flesh. She could feel it, could sense it like another being within her, almost like the hand of God reaching down and touching her. But this was no divine power, it was the Art, ancient and other-worldly, beyond the ken and comprehension of some. And it was hers, a part of her, tethered to her soul, connecting her to her bloodline more surely than any tie of family. For now.
The Art wreathed her hands in sparking magic, forcing itself from her, pounding through every inch of her body. It danced from her fingers and about the crown upon her brow, it crackled around her body, the caress of some invisible lover. It touched her like no other, the softest of caresses upon her skin, reaching every part of her, inside and out. Her heart ached from its touch, her mind span, her thoughts racing from one memory to another, barely able to focus on the moment before her. It was no longer a matter of Lyssia controlling the Art but rather the Art controlling her. It knew her desires and her wishes, it was a part of her, knowing her better than any other, even herself. It knew what she wanted to be done and would do it.
Magic leapt across her features, tiny blue flames that almost seemed to be kissing her flesh where they landed. There were no words within the sorceress, no commands or demands, she simply existed, no longer caring for past or present, simply existing. And the Art continued its maddened dance, reaching through her, practically lifting her from the ground by the sheer force of the magic that was being worked. All across the red desert, priests and priestess, users of magic and workers of wonders, collapsed to their knees, feeling the desperate beat of magic beyond their grasp being worked. They felt it so keenly, it called out to them, whispered to them of what it could do to them, of how it could bring their worst nightmares and deepest dreams come to life.
And they screamed.
Away in the ruins of Gyppeswyk a metallic tasting wind whipped itself up, throwing the remains this way and that. The restless ghosts of its people cried out as one, afraid of some nameless foe, afraid though nothing threatened them. Their bleached bones rattled upon the ground, disturbing their final slumber. The ashes of the once great library fluttered in the wind, unable to leave the room that had once housed them yet at the same time stirred up by the power of their former mistress. Half-glimpsed souls flickered across the fallen stones of the city, unable to change what was occuring. The magic of the Sidhe that had once sustained them reached out to them, reminding them of the lives that they had lost and of the cause of that loss.
And they screamed.
To the west, in a wasteland that few cared to remember and even fewer ever thought to visit, a strange heat haze wavered. If any had been there they might have glimpsed the tall walls of a previously unseen fortress, a sanctuary of sorts, but they were gone as soon as they had appeared. But there were other souls in the desert, and they too heard the call of the sorceress's magic. A tiny elf looked up, baffled by the tormnt of feelings within her. A banshee thought for a moment that she had been called to war once more. A black beast of a creature pushed himself up on his hind-legs, desperate to strike out at something. A tall archeress reached for her bow adn thought of a father long lost.
And a ghost wept tears that would never touch the lands.
In the red sands Lyssia no longer thought, no longer acted, she merely existed, living but nothing more. The Art controlled her, touching her, caressing her, whispering to her words that she would never remember. It whispered to her of what had been and of what would be. It cried for her loses and laughed with her for her successes, it held her when no other would and protected her when all wished her dead. Protector, lover, confessor. Guardian, teacher, mother. It was so many things to the Sidhe woman and it would always be with her. Till the End Times, till death claimed her for its own.
And a great blue light burst forth from her flesh, bathing all about it in its light, blinding those within the red desert for a time.
And whenthe light faded, when sight was restored, what was left? Shields of magic stood tall about the desert once more, but not just about the desert, about all those who flew the banner of the Officium. Everything had been given and now all would be restored. No more secrets enemies in the darkness for the moment, no more heathens bringing their flames to tear down what was not theirs. No more sorcery working its wickedness after others had played their part. No more. For now.
And in the middle of the sands lay the body of the sorceress.