On seeing the theme, this was the tale which came to me, so I thought I'd put it out there.
As ever, these are the thoughts which came to me (so any faults with the story are in my transcribing) and this may well end up being part of a larger story.
Grateful for any/all feedback, as I'm always trying to improve for yourselves. Andygorn.
(= 1100 words, not including title)
“Neither sweet, nor sorrowful”
With a gurgling scream, the grey beastman falls to Kurt’s scimitar; his coup de grace removes the thing’s spasming black heart from it’s leather-clad chest.
Across the clearing, Jasmine’s mace crushes the skull of the last real opponent -a triple-horned Pestigor- putting the rest of the foes to flight.
Ragged gasps of breath return to normal as the other victors regroup, leaving the dead and dying carcasses to rot where they lie. If there are any lesser injuries, nobody shows them, for fear of being turned upon by their own victorious comrades who seek to ‘cull the weak’.
Atop his mount of sagging flesh, exposed musculature and bedraggled feathers, Yanthall Champion of Tzeentch reins it in to leave the clearing. “We ride North, to the land of the snows. Any who cannot keep up shall perish, this is the Word of Tzeentch!”
A ragged cheer in praise of Him vents from the remaining combatants’ bestial throats and they variously stagger, hobble and stride to obey.
Ever-eager to keep their troth to The Great Changer, no-one spares a rearward glance, nor even a thought, for the pair remaining in the gore-defiled glade:
“I was too far away to assist, but I feared that clawed one would account for you, my love.” Kurt whispers.
“A bestial thing, nothing more worthy of life than an insect!” she voices triumphantly, exulted by the endorphins of combat.
His soft laugh halts her sense of achievement: “Years ago, the shy girl I knew would run far away from battle before it joined. How much you have changed.”
“Now you see someone strong enough to stand up to such weakling foes, is that not correct?!” she interrupts arrogantly, unheeding of the sadness within his voice.
“I followed you to the ends of the earth, Jasmine. I thought my past crimes irredeemable, but I have committed unspeakable things just for one more day by your side.
"Now, my time has come to follow the words of your God and change, whereas you are already...altered...by your acts of devotion.”
A wave of fevered joy instantly crosses her face, the speed of her voice betraying her hopes: “You would join my loyalty to The Schemer?! We’d fight together; none shall stand against us!”
The replying gentle shake of his head tells her this is not to be their fate.
“You are...ashamed...of my cause, then?” she enquires, earlier bravado now fading to reveal the vulnerability which he knows still resides within her.
“Or it is my appearance you reject..?” she adds, rubbing the small horns which bud through her forehead.
Clasping her in his warm embrace, Kurt gazes down into her azure skin and eyes, losing himself in them for what he knows will be the final time. “No, you always travelled your own path -I admired you for it- but surely you know that your journey was never my own..?”
Her resultant nod of reply is heavy and her shoulders slump, forced to admit the fear which she knew, but hoped she’d never face.
Her heart sinks further as he continues: “Before we met, I was purposeless. At your side, I experienced more joy than you know. But I have also murdered more people than I can remember, only to witness what you have become. I love you, yet can no longer play any part in this.
“Each night as you sleep, I see your body flinch in turmoil as your feelings for me war against your oaths, diverting you from your purpose.
"You must cast aside one part of yourself, yet you can no longer choose, so I shall decide for you:
“The nearest sentries are over the next hill and I go to warn them of you. Either they stop you, or you shall stop me; letting go your humanity, finally gaining recognition from your twisted God. If your sorcery is quick and true, you should have sufficient time to rejoin your comrades...afterwards...”
Even now, despite all they shared, he can no longer keep her gaze and his last sentence is a whisper, opening his heart to her in a way he never could before: “Whichever result occurs, at least my life would finally be worth something, as this is the power you have wished for yourself all along, isn’t it?”
Unable to speak, she bows her head for want of anything to say, similarly now unable to look into his handsome face.
He takes her stance and lack of verbal response as an admission of guilt and turns away, starting a slow leisurely walk towards the embankment.
First-hand he has seen the searing, melting death she visits upon her foes through Tzeentch’s Pink Fire yet -with her now lost to him forever- he is resolved upon his course and knows that she will have no other alternative than to use it once again.
In a way, he draws a certain kind of comfort from that knowledge.
“No! We shall find another way!” she screams at his retreating back, clenching her fists in helpless outrage and anger. Yet her pleas and entreaties no longer seem to have any effect upon him; he has evidently now discovered the true depths which she has plumbed, witnessing her inability to take that last step into full Chaotic dedication.
Just before he reaches the top of the hill, Kurt slowly turns around to look at Jasmine one last time, a rueful smile plays across his lips -the same one he knows she fell in love with long ago- but it is now a smile that speaks of good times passed, yet also that he can do nothing more for her.
Despite her vocal denials, the need for survival begins to prevail and a nimbus of pink fire skitters around her head as she knows what she had to do, yet sparks of green flash through it as her feelings for him still linger.
As she shouts out in torment once again, he takes a small step back; one more and he will be visible over the crest of the rise. Although hating him for the choice he forces upon her, her dark incantations are also tinged with love.
Watching her gorgeous blue eyes change as the bolts of pink fire lance towards him, Kurt strides forth, back down the hill towards his fate.
Even though it means his end, it will be her new beginning, Jasmine accepting her innermost yearnings for power.
Despite the scorching agony as his flesh peels away, Kurt’s final thoughts are that there is nothing he would rather do for his wife than to fulfil her dreams.
Urgently trying to trace any living relatives of Private Sam/Samuel "Jock" Wilson (Black Watch, No. 6 Commando, UK Army Service ID 2764432, died 10.06.44). Any info/suggestions gratefully received.
"Mockles! Pent on silpen tree, blockards three a-feening. Mockles! What silps came to thee, in thy pantry, dreaming?"
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Last edited by andygorn; 02-07-12 at 08:35 PM.