Author's Notes: Any comments, suggestions or queries are welcome. This is the prologue of a story that I have titled 'Dark Prophecy', but this could also serve as a story on its own, I suppose. ^_^ Anyway… enjoy!Dark Prophecy - Prologue Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves
-- Emily Dickson (The Chariot)
She walked alone through the town. In her hand she gripped a wooden staff. At the top, on the flat of the staff, a beautifully carved phoenix spread its wings majestically, the golden gems in its eyes glittering. Glossy black hair fell in smooth ringlets down her back, from which two delicately shaped wings grew; the mark of a powerful Sorceress. She was garbed in a black robe, woven of shadows, with a silver belt fastened around her waist.
The cobblestones beneath her feet were stained with sticky rivers of blood. Nausea twisted Hyne's stomach at the sight of the mangled bodies that lay scattered on the street around her, dark in the light of a fading sunset. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to calm herself, but the stench of death was thick upon the air and she blinked away the tears that stung at the corners of her grey eyes.
Kneeling down beside the lifeless body of a small boy, she drew him gently into her arms and brushed some of his hair from his face. His eyes were wide and staring – frozen in the same terrified stare that had been on his face when he died. Hyne sighed sadly and gently brushed his eyes closed. Kissing him on the forehead, she laid him down reverently and stood up, her head still bowed. Glittering tears leaked down her face, splashing almost silently onto the cobblestones.
"Do my eyes deceive me? The Great Hyne - crying?"
Hyne stiffened at the mocking voice, but didn't turn around. "What do you want, Odyis?"
"Ah. Indeed you are," the voice continued from behind her. "I never thought I'd see the day –" Odyis never got to finish her sentence; Hyne spun around and swatted her across the face, fingernails scoring the flesh of her cheek. Odyis took a step back in surprise, touching her hand to her left cheek to determine the extent of the damage.
"Why did you do it? What did they ever do to you?" Hyne snarled through gritted teeth. Odyis looked up to stare at her insolently, blood leaking from four shallow grooves on her face. She drew her hand away from her cheek and stared at the crimson fluid on her fingers almost incredulously.
"Blood?" She glanced at Hyne slyly. "So. Not even Sorceresses are immune to bleeding."
Hyne returned the stare. "And not even Sorceresses are immortal."
Odyis curled her upper lip over teeth in distaste. Then, regaining her composure, she smirked. "You would challenge me?" Amber eyes glinting, her right hand travelled almost unconsciously to the hilt of the sword sheathed by her waist.
Hyne lifted a dark eyebrow. "You have need for a weapon?"
The other Sorceress laughed. "You are a fool, Hyne; believing that magic is enough to defeat me. My sword skills are ten times better then those of Odin himself, and, combined with my magic, I cannot be defeated. But since you are so insistent, let us do battle and decide who shall be the victor." She closed her eyes and the world around them shimmered; the shops and lampposts lining the bloodstained street rippled like the surface of a moonlit river and blurred into oblivion. They stood no more than four feet apart, alone in a vast field of emptiness, with nothing but the soft stirring of eternity sounding in their ears.
Odyis drew her sword from its sheath and spread her dark crow-wings majestically. Her eyes snapped up, blazing blue light erupting from her pupils. The steel blade of her weapon seemed to flicker in the light and take on a burning appearance. It was then that Hyne saw the words engraved upon it:
Excitate vos e somno, liberi mei
She tightened her grip on her staff, only briefly wondering what they meant. The phoenix's eyes seemed to glitter more brightly then ever, and Hyne felt the light pulse in time to her heart.
"So I suppose you want to know why," Odyis said, the faintest hint of a smile curling her lips. "Why I killed them; why I destroyed a race." She spun around, slashing the burning sword horizontally. Hyne barely reacted in time; the eyes of the phoenix flared, and Odyis was thrown back twenty feet, knocked back by the magical barrier. Odyis snarled and climbed to her feet, her auburn hair somewhat tousled and slipping out of its neat ponytail.
"So," she said, "Your powers have developed, sister."
Hyne lowered her staff. "Why did you do it?"
Either Odyis didn't hear her, or she felt no need to answer the question so quickly; she flicked the tip of her sword, sending a crescent-shaped wave of speeding fire at Hyne, who created another barrier. The flickering barrier barely saved her from the onslaught.
"I did it because I had to," Odyis growled. "They hated us, Hyne. We are Sorceresses – condemned by the rulers, and feared by the common people. There was no place for us in that world. Look at the possibilities, Hyne – we can build a new world, resurrecting the dead and manipulating with them as we please. It shall be a place of terror, abundant with death… for we truly shall give them something to fear."
"And what makes you think that I'd be interested in this proposition?"
Her sister laughed. "Hyne, Hyne, Hyne; it's obvious to you that you can't win – and you don't have the power to revive the dead. It's only if we combine our powers that you even had a chance of seeing that child again."
Remembering the child, Hyne's anger flamed once more. "Don't you dare talk about that child! You abused your power! Sorceresses were not created to harness their powers and use them to destroy – they are the teachers of the ancient stories, and the bearers of magic."
An ugly look worked its way onto Odyis' fine features. "Are you're saying that I'm a freak?"
Hyne saw her tightening her grip on the burning sword. "I'm sorry, Odyis," she said, not answering her question. "I have no choice. I have to do this for the sake of these people, and for yours." The eyes of the phoenix perched upon her staff glowed a deep, pulsing red, forming a shimmering aura around Hyne and Odyis.
"W-what are you doing!?" Odyis demanded angrily. She tried to cast a Shell, and her eyes grew fearful when she discovered that her powers had been disabled.
"Something I should have done a long time ago." Hyne wove her hands through the air in an intricate design, then drew them together, as though in prayer.
Angry and confused, Odyis gave a scream of rage after her second attempt at a spell, and charged at Hyne, brandishing her sword. Hyne did not look up as Odyis drew closer; the aura grew brighter, and as the sword came in contact with the light, there was a sudden silence as time ground to a halt. They were two separate beings, standing in a place where time had no meaning, and eternity slept. Then, like a porcelain vase falling to the floor, Odyis shattered. There was no blood – all that was left of her were just bright pinpoints of light. Her sword fell to the ground. The sharp words engraved on the blade glowed menacingly for a moment before the light died. The air around Hyne shimmered, and she found herself back in the streets of carnage and death, the cobblestones beneath her feet still slick with blood.
She took a deep breath and beckoned the lights towards her with a trembling hand. Once again, Hyne drew her hands together, head inclined. The town became bathed in a soft white light; the bodies littering the streets seemed to shimmer… and she revived them.
The people seemed to be confused – with no recollection of the slaughter or their past lives. Of course, Hyne thought, their memories had been lost in death. Drained and tired, she chose from their number many women and gave them the power of Odyis, sealing her away into each Sorceress with fragments of her own, hoping to confine her forever, but knowing that she would return. They became Sorceresses like herself, and she briefly wondered whether, in the future, the word 'Sorceress' would be one to strike fear into the hearts of mankind.
Hyne communed with the Sorceresses, teaching them the ways of magic. She taught them to love peace, and appreciate the beauty of life. As time wore on, the years seemed to weigh heavier and heavier on her.
So she left behind the race that she came to love, dividing the rest of her powers, giving them to carefully selected women, and so loosing her wings. Hyne was no longer any different in appearance from the humans; only set apart from them by the struggles and challenges that she would to have to face and the sacrifice that she would have to make. She would return to them, in the future, when Odyis broke free of the seal. She was the Great Hyne – as the people had come to call her – and she would protect them to the ends of the earth.
Well? What did you think? If you're wondering why Hyne didn't just kill Odyis, it was because she didn't have the power – neither had the power to kill the other, so she did the only ting she knew how to do, which was to seal Odyis away (How she did it will be explained later on).
The prologue was more of a short story than a prologue, but I think that if you liked this, then you'll probably like the rest of 'Dark Prophecy'.
Some chapters may be longer than others, depending on where I think it is best to break the story apart, so please forgive me if it gets a bit inconsistent. ^_^