The First Light
The Cepri were a reserved race. Elegant and refined, they epitomized grace and splendor. Skilled in the spell weaving of their choice, it showed in the vibrancy each of them displayed. At first sight they looked human enough, but as one looked closely, they would notice the subtle changes that amplified their aura of mystique.
For one thing, it was impossible to look into their eyes. There was something distinctly odd about them. Their eyes seemed to vibrate at an extremely high speed and would give mere mortals a headache. Their stature as they moved spoke of power and discipline. They seemed to glide about effortlessly and made a regular individual's walk look particularly laborious.
So as she walked across the glittering hall, it seemed to cause a stirring. No one took notice of the worn out hood that covered her face, but the hurried pace amongst the easy-going Cepri drew narrowed eyes.
The Cepri did not hurry. They had not hurried for four decades, and they had preserved. But there was a distinct buzz in the air and the whispers following the hooded figure were many. They seemed to be forming a ring around her, but she took no notice of them. For even in a party that celebrated the unexpected rejuvenation of their leader, their eyes were dead. They had no time for furrow-eyed people who brought with them troublesome news, for they had truly suffered enough. But she had no time for them either, those that had forsaken her and left her for dead. There was only one she sought, and he had noticed her.
The manner in which she walked was particularly odd. She seemed to be trying to hide her left hand. With a definite sense of purpose, she walked across to the man who was at the centre of everyone’s attention. She clenched her left hand harder the closer she got, for she believed that this was it. No, she knew that it was. She had been the only one that had believed, and fate had truly tested her enough. As the only Cepri without magic, Meg Serene finally understood the purpose of her existence.
Abalenc was the only one who was not irked by the peculiar behavior of this newcomer. He had casually taken note of her unsure steps, which were different from the carefully administered walk of the rest of them. Seeing the stranger come closer, he felt a familiar tug inside, though he could not comprehend what it was. The hooded figure seemed to be headed for him. He could not tell why, but he felt that he would be getting some answers soon.
As the leader of the Cepri, his health had been deteriorating and it had been a cause of great concern. Miraculously, three days ago, that had all changed. This party was to celebrate the miracle, and he had been waiting without expectation. But finally, it was happening - something unexpected. It had been four decades since something he had not been forewarned of had happened. It had been four decades since he had seen her. Four decades since he had banished her. Them. I banished two that fateful day, he thought to himself. He had been right to do so. He had to have been. He could not have erred, and yet circumstances of the present seemed a bold proclamation of misunderstandings about to come to the forefront and throw his predictable world into chaos. A sense of unease enveloped him and his throat went dry as he realized that his calm demeanor was a façade. He desperately wanted that chaos. Imperceptibly, he thought of her. It could not be her, for then…
As the hooded figure came closer, Abalenc froze. He was not prepared. He cursed himself, for the signs had been glaringly obvious. Politely disengaging himself from his guests, he swiftly made his way through the throng.
Meg Serene was caught off guard. He had been there a moment ago, and now he had disappeared. Feeling a piercing gaze burning through her, she turned and there he was.
“Why are you here? It was foolish of you to come. You cannot escape,” Abalenc hissed. She kept her head down, her face hooded. She smiled. Even after all this time, he was an open book and she could feel the racing of his heart. Slowly, with all eyes upon her, Meg Serene held her left hand out. Shaking slightly, she opened it. In her hand was something that resembled a feather. A feather so dark, it seemed to suck the light out of its surrounding.
Pandemonium broke loose. Eyes flashing, the Cepri were all in battle stance. Meg Serene stood perfectly still, for one wrong move would be the end. All around her were an assortment of weapons and spells at the ready. Abalenc had not moved. He simply stared at her, trying to gauge what was going on in Meg’s head.
“Why won’t you look at me?” he asked. She took a deep breath, and was proud of herself when she spoke and her voice did not shake. Her proclamation rang through the hall, so that the few who had not noticed turned their attention towards her as well.
“Do you have the courage, leader of the Favour Count, to look into the eyes of Meg Serene herself? Many have tried, and all have failed. For within these cursed pits of hell lies the answer you truly seek.” This was met by silence, and she could sense him stiffen. All across the hall there were gasps as the Cepri realized who was amongst them.
Visibly shaking now, and with everyone looking at them, Abalenc slowly pushed the hood back. The world as he knew it seemed to crumble and fall away around him. Her eyes, they could not lie. For all the time that he had known her, they had been the pits of death itself. Black, so impossibly black that she had been abandoned as a child. When she had ultimately betrayed them, Abalenc had changed as a person.
Only two people had been with her throughout her childhood, he himself and his brother. He felt a jolt go through him. He had not thought of his brother in all this time. Meg, and his brother - the two Oathshades. One had returned, and he instinctively turned to the north, but there was nothing there.
“This cannot be,” he said frowning, backing away slightly. “We were both there. The Fates made their choice, and the Sequera fell.”
As he stared into her eyes, he felt tears sting his own. He was staring into an abyss as black as death itself, terrifying and frightening. But her other eye… as golden as the leader of the Five in their glory, burning as bright as the days of Senterra Legends.
“She calls you once more Abalenc, for it seems that we have one. What will it be? Will the Favour Count do as the Fates did and watch quietly? Or will we as we have before, influence it? You know the price I pay for a mistake,” and her voice held knowledge the others knew she withheld. They waited, for the next word would decide it all. “But- ”
And cheers the likes of which had not resonated in Deniera for decades broke the shackles. Eyes flashing, Abalenc touched the feather. The world seemed to spin around them. The feather he held let out a melodious note. Suddenly he knew what the tug in his heart had been. Hope had visited him, and the feather turned a brilliant golden.
They rejoiced as one. Holding the feather delicately, Abalenc turned towards the Cepri. Voice shaking with passion, he said, “Half a century ago, the story was halted! The war was lost, or so we thought. But the story goes on! For four decades we have been asleep, but it seems we have a role to play yet. It seems that we have been given a true reason to rejoice. The Sequera lives, and the Nameless is amongst us once more.”
As he put forth his proclamation, there was a deep gong-like sound. They all looked towards the north, towards the Raphaelon Peak as one. It was the gong they had not heard for four decades. It had been the sound of hope. The resonating sound of Wexin on Thormus. The one that had many an enemy quaking in fear; the gong that had run away from the battle field four decades ago. For the first time in four decades, Abalenc looked unsure of himself. “Edmond?”
He said the word as if it was a curse and his last prayer. His eyes were narrowed and his voice hesitant. The day was fresh in his mind, as he had watched the cape disappear. But now he wondered, how much of what had happened he truly knew, and how much of it he understood.
© Sewellyn Enn, 2019. All rights reserved.