(I won't lie to you, this third instalment was a nightmare to get right in planning. Defiance style, hopping back and forth from character to character was easier in my old story Restoration but I was just making it up as I went along there. With this series I have been planning every step so make the story parts relevant and interesting. I hope I succeeded here. Enjoy)
"A wise man once said; 'do unto others as you have done unto yourself.'
Never has a phrase been more apt.
I had sent Raziel tumbling into an abyss but he had done the same to me in another lifetime, which only now had caught up.
And so I went as he had gone, tumbling into oblivion to meet my fate.
But like him I too survived.
Like him, I too would rise again.
My heart still beats… but not in my chest."
The sky was a deep blood red, marked by the thick black columns of smoke rising up from fires in the distance. The smell of roasting flesh was a constant miasma and its taste on the tongue was choking.
For miles around lay the scattered and broken corpses of many races. Hylden lay collapsed on the ground alongside silent and still winged vampires, locked together where they had died struggling in mortal combat.
Siege weapons with their human crews were broken and shattered atop rocky cliffs, their bodies draped over the timbers like rag dolls. Many of them were on fire, burning to add to the smoke coming from ravaged settlements across the land.
Blood from the thousands of bodies that stretched across the land turned the ground into mud and rivers of the scarlet liquid ran down from the battlefields to empty out into the sea far to the south.
Standing defiantly on the edge of their vast battlefield of the dead was the only settlement in view from the horizon that was not on fire. The Hylden defending it were battered, bleeding and exhausted but still very much alive. Their families and young were here and there was nowhere else to flee to. Even the youngest of them were manning the walls some with the crudest of weapons.
During the battle the line had been pushed and pushed, the terrible slaughter forcing them to retreat more and more; but not this time. They had been pushed this far but no further.
The defenders of the Hylden settlement locked eyes on the zealots that were preparing to attack; the black winged terrors that came to kill in the name of their abysmal god. They stood there in their swarm, just staring back at them; waiting and waiting. Slowly night began to fall and with it came thick gathering storm clouds that seemed to boil up out of nowhere. Thunder rumbled in the distance several times before it began to rain; a sudden heavy deluge as if heaven wished to wash away the grime of the battle.
There was a flash of light from the middle of the zealot's encampment and the Hylden defenders watched in terrified awe as out of that flash stepped another winged figure. Seeing this new arrival the vampire zealots immediately bowed low to him even sinking down onto their knees in the mud.
The new arrival was glad in golden armour that fitted to his body perfectly and even forming shield guards up and over the rim of his wings. Attached to his left arm was a triangular shield formed of blades and in his right hand he held a long spear shaped like the curve of a bird's wings. This he set into the ground and with his free hand he removed his helmet, revealing his black bangs that framed a face full of cruelty and a fanatical zeal that eclipsed any of the others.
All knew him and responded with either adoration or fear, for he was Raziel-Divus; the scribe of heaven.
"None defy what fate degrees." He declared in a booming voice, overly loud so that the Hylden might also hear him. "Defiance of death is rewarded only with death." He picked up his spear and pointed it forward towards the Hylden barricade.
"Warriors of the Wheel of Fate!" The vampires around him stood up in response, eager blood lust clear in his eyes. "Give them their reward!"
With an answering howl filled with fanatical devotion the winged Vampires burst into the air, a flock of carrion birds not content with waiting for their prey to die.
The fire that rained down upon the Hylden was the fire of the righteous and it was pleasing at the eyes of the servant of god as he beheld the glorious slaughter and accepted it in the name of the lord as worthy tribute.
The fires of the Divus burned and still burned.
The burning fire of Divus' wrath had been an agony to endure, to be mercifully quenched by the numb embrace of the white oblivion of the void. To be honest if this experience was intended to be akin to the nightmare he had cast Raziel into it was quite disappointing.
A moment of pain and then blissful depredation; hardly a punishment in the physical sense of the word.
What was worse by far was the damning, intrusive thought running continually through his mind. Divus had beaten him and then sent him cascading beyond the veil of time to drift forever in nothingness. He would never be able to fulfil his desires now. He would never see Pillar's restored; the land of his native time neither turned green and lush again nor see his people delivered out of the depths of their devolved madness. That certain knowledge was like a knife twisting inside him and suddenly Kain's numbness here was indeed an unrelenting torture.
Why had she betrayed him? It had been the Seer who had cut off his route of escape, forcing him into battle with Raziel's first incarnation. It was the only thing in his mind that he could latch onto. He had to ponder it out or risk being driven insane by the thoughts of defeat.
Desperately he called up the words she had said to him before she had disappeared.
'It was a choice between the well being of my people or your own.' What had she meant by that vague attempt at an excuse? Had Divus threatened harm against the Hylden race and with them held hostage against her cooperation?
Had it been something more personal? There was no way to be sure but he pondered that question over and over, forcing himself to analysis intently. It would do no good wondering what might have happened if he had been able to slip past her and escape with the Serioli into the future. With them he would have created a new empire around the pillars and on the ruins of the old to stand against the machinations of the cephalopod deity, a guardian force to forever be watchful for signs of corruption.
Kain cursed himself for such an idealistic foolishness. He should have known it would not be that easy. He had lost the battle and with it the Reaver. Without the sword in his hand he was powerless against the agents of fate.
And then, he felt hands upon him, a shock of recognisable sensation cutting through the numbness, drawing him in like a hooked fish. He offered no resistance to the pulling and indeed he had no strength to fight even he were inclined to.
Slowly he was drawn back and back, floating through the void and opening his eyes; Kain caught sight of some distant shape; a filmy indistinct grey haze somewhere off in the unending white all around him.
Reaching out, perhaps instinctively, Kain reached out and as he did so the white all around him began to change; turning to grey like forged metal and then darkening and darkening. It became pitch black and an impenetrable darkness that swallowed up everything around him and Kain was no exception, falling into unconsciousness far more profound then the earlier numbness.
And then he was swimming, floundering like a helpless child in a darkened womb. There was liquid all around him, but not water for against his skin it was soothing and nourishing. It fed life back into him, life that he had been sourly lacking.
As strength flowed back into his body Kain's eyes snapped open and he saw himself, floating deep in a pool of red liquid; a liquid that was more then familiar
Sweet life giving blood, the provider of strength for all vampires. It soothed him, healing his wounds and he opened his mouth and gratefully let it all flood down his throat even as he began to swim upwards towards the light shining down from the surface far above.
"From the depths of the abyss I rose, swimming up higher and higher towards the light; that beautiful light that was my salvation."
As he swam the burns and scars inflicted upon his ravaged body began to disappear, fading away to be replaced once again by strong muscle and toughened skin. Even his long white hair began to re-grow, spreading out behind him as he swam.
As such he was fully restored by the time he broke the surface.
Unveiled from the blood around him, the light stung, stabbing into his eyes and he was forced to shut them as he clumsily made his way forward, swimming with the skill of a floundering child over to the side of what he perceived to be a deep cone like stone pit.
With a loud crunch his talons bit into the solid surface and coughing hoarsely, he hauled himself up onto the edge. He left one leg dangling in the blood as he struggled to regain his breath, his body rippling with renewed strength.
"And so once more I lived. The agents of Fate had come for me but I had cheated them again. This was turning into a hobby."