Legacy.

Jan. 28th, 2010 02:52 pm
[identity profile] lanfykins.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] zg_shadows
She was seventeen years old. She had been trained since she was seven. She knew three different martial arts and how to turn almost any common item into a weapon. She knew the strengths and weaknesses of all the common supernatural creatures, and could recognise all but the rarest of the Wyrm's creatures and their magics. She knew how to rouse a crowd to riot and how to quiet them again, and could play on the hopes and fears of kings as she would a musical instrument (and she could play three of those, too).

With her guardian and her stepmothers standing beside her, there was nothing in this world she could not deal with.

Her heart was beating too fast. Odd shivers ran up her spine. His fingers trailed down her collarbone and across the curve of her breasts.

She was seventeen years old, and he was the first man she'd ever met.

***

It was her guardian who told them that the settlement had been overrun. She stood hugging herself against the sudden cold, silent, as he told them all what they would do next, who they would next rally to fight, to burn like a torch against the darkness.

As her stepmothers turned away to begin the preparations - the difficulty which with the older one walked now catching at her heart - he turned to her.

"Was there someone there you cared about?" he asked her, and only years of his own training let her notice the odd undercurrents beneath his concern.

Yes, everyone, she wanted to say. He was, after all, the one who had taught her to care, to love the world that could be, to believe in its salvation. Surely he understood. Unless the beliefs he had so painstakingly inculcated in her were not ones he shared after all...

"No," she said quietly, shaking her head.

"You wouldn't have left, would you?" he challenged her. "You'd have stayed and done your duty."

"Yes."

She would never know why he looked quite so happy as he walked away.

***

She was thirty two years old. It was ten years since she had last seen the people she had thought of as her family. She knew at least one of her stepmothers was dead; she was not sure whether she would be grieved or glad to find that her guardian was too.

The village below was quiet. Few people went out in the open these days unless they had to. Even if anyone did, they would not see her. It wasn't difficult to conceal herself from mortal eyes; she had had a lot of practice since she had limped into this place five years ago.

She didn't limp anymore.

The darkness twisted about her for a moment, and it was a hawk that erupted from it into the flame-streaked sky.

She let herself soar for a moment, then with slow wing-beats started to work her way to the East. She had a long day's work ahead of her if she was to re-set the wards before dark.

***

"You have no choice. You're the daughter of the Shadow King, and you were born to lead the court through the time of Hell on Earth. This is your destiny. You can't avoid it."

"No. I'm not playing your little game. I wouldn't be my mother for Daniel, and I'm sure as hell not going to be my father for you. So if you
really want me to help you, you're going to have to do it my way."

***

She was seventy years old, and she still hadn't started to age. The people she tried to protect fought the darkness marginally more than they fought each other. She wondered how long she could protect them for. How often she could pit her powers of ice and terror against the Wyrm's armies before she found her limit.

She rarely took human form anymore. There seemed little point.

***

She was five hundred years old.

She drove the talons of her good foot deep into the corrugated bark as she alighted on an upthrust branch and watched the final few of her rag-tag band stagger ashore. Less than half of them had survived this far.

They would not leave again. There was nowhere else to go.

And even this last haven, the one they had fought so hard to reach, would soon be gone. Beneath her talons she could sense the tree's faltering heartbeat. The long sacrifice was failing; one life was not enough.

She had an idea she could change that.

***

She was one thousand and three years old.

They said she was the daughter of a demon. They said she had got from him her power, her longevity. They said she knew the future like another woman might know her past.

They called her Hawk, still, although today she had left that shape behind her. She stood, awkwardly, under the charcoal sky, feeling the cold in bones that had been tempered in winter. It was a feeling no other immortal had ever felt. It was the feeling of time running out.

Her fingertips brushed the bare black wood of the stump before her, once. She would join it soon enough.

Then she turned to the fair-haired boy-man who stood waiting, torn between a childhood fear of her and adult caution.

"Take the hilt," she commanded, her disused voice cracking slightly. "Pull it out."

As it was, so it shall be again.
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