|Erytasne lowered his sword just an inch, its shining golden
hilt piercing through the approaching dusk, and light metal slicing through the
night cold that was bearing upon the two in the alley so viciously. Sand irritated
Whisp's ebony, reptilian feet, though she drew Darkenbringer nonetheless -- the
anger that had driven her so long evident in steely grey eyes.
"I suppose you're going to ask why I want to
hurt you," she growled, her voice barren of kindness and humanity.
"No… I wasn't. I know why you're so set on this
fight," he replied in a steady voice, calm ringing through his vocals. Even
though the soul-scarred Krawkess he faced now was so intent on killing him,
his voice was laced with that of understanding… almost kindness. Whisp, in her
abject hatred, did not hear it. Could only hear what she wanted to hear.
"So you did it then; you killed Raishre," Whisp
affirmed, dipping her head and narrowing her eyes -- her fingers tightening
on Darkenbringer's hilt. Rain continued to drip from the sky, almost as if the
sky was weeping at the battle destined to take place, raging with Whisp's rage,
and equally steady with Erytasne's calm.
Shaking her head abruptly to shake raindrops
from her eyes, Whisp did not wait for an answer from the sandy Draik opposite
her -- and instead, charged him, raising her sword to knock the blade easily
from his paw.
She had expected the battle to be momentary,
lasting merely as long as it took for Whisp to spin the blade away from him.
Instead, the Draik was better than she had ever imagined. Better, perhaps than
He leapt back, wings aiding him in the dodge,
and parried her blow. She swung Darkenbringer at him again and again, using
all the skills and strategies she had ever known. He blocked and sloughed every
attempt -- his aggravatingly white blade shining… almost victoriously it seemed.
Despite Darkenbringer's desperate desire to strike Erytasne, the white blade
was always there to defend the solemn faced Draik. It was unearthly -- both
fighter worked with their swords as partners would, weaving through the other's
attack, parrying the blows. However, in all of Whisp's rage, she realized dimly…
irrelevantly… that he never once used his blade to strike her. He only used
it in defense.
Rain dripped down Whisp's straining arm muscles,
her endurance finally beginning to tire. Not one enemy had been able to match
her skill for this long, and Whisp was stunned at his undeniable ability. Stunned
so much she begun to despair she would lose. Thunder rumbled above in the sky,
echoing Whisp's pool of never-ending hatred for the world.
"You killed Raishre!" she shrieked, her pain
filled voice almost lost in the howling storm. Erytasne heard as clear as if
she had stood and spoke in his ear.
"No, I didn't," he said mournfully, finally.
"I never killed anyone before in my life."
Visions of Raishre filled Whisp's head: her
smiling face as Whisp tearfully accepted the earring, her determination as she
picked her sword up yet again, her glee as they snuck to see Renah, her face…
streaked with tears…
"You lie!" Whisp screamed, shattering the visions
as if they were naught but irritating insects. She could not afford to be distracted…
not with so skilled an enemy…
The rain flooded down as if the sky was weeping
as Raishre had, reflecting upon the neglect of her father and friends. Springing
to attack with new ferocity, Whisp continued to weave in between Erytasne's
clever shield for hours. Whenever she tired, she only needed to remember Raishre
crying… Erytasne, by contrast, viewed the enraged Krawk with distinct sorrow,
sympathy. He knew that she was incredibly skilled; perhaps even enough to strike
him down, but that didn't matter at the moment. All he knew was that he was
dealing with a creature that had been deeply hurt, and was venting her hatred
of the world on a living being.
"Don't you remember?" he whispered, his voice
carrying through the storm to reach her ears as the faintest murmur. She hesitated
a brief instant, but continued to attack.
"No… no… you're lying. Whatever you're saying,
The swords clashed again, the ugly ringing lost
in the sweeping wind and echoing alleyway…
Raishre grinned at Whisp, her mouth parting
to laugh at another of Whisp's off-color jokes…
'She's never going to remember,' Erytasne thoughts
sadly. 'She's held off the memory because her mind rejected the notion. She
will continue to go on a never-ending search for the killer, unless I bring
the memory to surface again. It's the only way.'
Erytasne reached out a sandy arm, and grabbed
Whisp's forearm. Whisp tried to jerk away, but could not pull away from a flood
of reluctantly returning memories, filling her mind with horrifying thoughts…
memories of a dream… the night before Raishre died.
Whisp hung in a plane, a vortex of black - the
cold filling her soul. It cleansed her - the cold and the dark sweeping through
her very being and filtering out the unwanted. The cold was very proud of its
creation, this ebony and crimson Krawk, jealously guarded the tapestry woven
from cold and dark…
All at once, the endless infinity of dark was
flooded with approaching light, the light gentle and golden in its calm love.
It tentatively approached Whisp as if one would approach an untrusting Angelpuss
-- a paw out and inching closer, whispering words in its ears.
Whisp was appalled at this intrusion of her
cold and dark by this disgusting light and warmth. It filled her suddenly, touching
a paw and curling a tendril around her waist. It was absolutely revolting to
be embraced so by her worst enemy - her most hated fear. And so, she fought
The Krawkess threw every ounce of ice cold at
the warmth, the light suddenly retreating as it found that the Angelpuss could
bite. However, Whisp was glorified at this sudden knowledge that she was enemy
to the light… could hurt it. Under other circumstances, she would have let the
warmth flee to its own creation, its own tapestry, but Whisp could not let it
escape so easily.
Instead, she barraged it with the dark, closing
it off and encircling it with ice. Smothering the dwindling, barely living light
now, she watched with anger and ferocity as the light finally faded to nothing…
evaporating as slowly and gradually as it had come. Only the cold, permeating
through her once more, was left.
Whisp opened her eyes with a gasp, returning
to the pouring storm and Erytasne's sad, brilliant sapphire eyes. She had memories
now of such a dream, memories that drenched her soul with sorrow and hatred…
though now the hatred was directed at herself. She could not deny the truth
of the images, but they grieved her all the same. She let out a sudden shriek
of raw pain and sorrow that she had been holding so long… saving for the one
who had murdered Raishre. But now…
"I'm sorry," Erytasne said, his face reflecting
her sadness. He turned, as if in slow motion, turned to walk away from the alley.
She never saw him again.
Whisp was the murderer. She had killed her own
* * *
Whisp leaned forward on the roof of Renah's tavern, absorbing the rain as
it fell. That water on her face… was it rain? Or tears? She could no longer
distinguish from the other; tell sorrow from reality. She wished the rain would
dissolve her being, drenching her so that she would be able to run as swift
as the water was running now - away from herself and this now hated cold. She
hated the cold.
Raishre appeared once more in her head, face
tinged with sorrow and twisted in anguish. Whisp felt as Raishre had… though
worse. Whisp was scarred… how could she ever recover from the knowledge that
she had killed her best friend? The information would haunt her to the grave.
She could wish that she never knew, but it was the truth -- and how could she
turn away from truth? She could wish that it never happened, but it had - and
she could not change it now.
Whisp bent her head in abject horror and despair.
The earring, once a ray of hope and justice, but now dulled to deadness by either
the rain or her own grief, brushed against the side of her face. Steely grey
eyes were no longer so shielded - now they were pools of scarred emotion and
She knew now who Erytasne was -- he was the
very one who had given her Darkenbringer. She would recognize those brilliant
blue eyes any place she went. It also explained why he was so skilled. Why he
had given her the sword that was the other half of her - she did not know.
The sick children were easily explainable, which
she realized once she put the tiniest bit of thought to the subject. The Lupe
had seen that they were falling ill before their symptoms had begun to take
place, before even the children knew, and had summoned a palace healer. Erytasne
may have said that the children would go through the disease without any trouble,
or there was simply nothing he could do.
She had turned away from every piece of evidence
in her path, just for the hatred that had driven her for revenge for so long…
How could she have been such a fool? What would
Raishre think of her now?
Clambering down from the ceiling of the tavern,
she strode through the doors. Once a proud, self-reliant stride, it had withered
to naught but a dispirited trudge. There was no one inside the tavern, the tables
abnormally clean and the chairs upside-down on the tables. There was no one,
not a soul… except… yes! There he was, the familiar, morose-faced cloud Krawk
cleaning his never-ending dishes.
"Hello Renah," she said, her voice dull and
full with self-revulsion. "Whisp! What have you been doing, out in that storm?"
he asked, head tilted curiously. She explained everything - who she was, Erytasne,
and that she had killed Raishre. He was silent throughout her story; face an
"So what am I going to do now?" she asked, her
voice rising in self-doubt and fear for the upcoming years.
"What you are to do?" he repeated; watching
her face with calm, light blue eyes that reminded her of Erytasne. "What do
you think you are to do? You are going to continue to take mercenary missions,
you are going to continue being yourself - the proud, almost arrogant young
Krawk that I have grown to love, and… you are going to be happy. Just think
of Raishre, what she would like you to do. Just think of it."
Whisp did think then, a deep consideration.
Raishre would want her to be happy, even if Whisp had killed her. Raishre had
loved her like a sister.
Raishre and Renah wanted her to continue being
herself, to be happy.
And so she tried.