A dying magi has a chance reunion with her lover in a Graveyard.
Thunder roared overhead as a hooded figure walked through a graveyard. “The gods don’t intend to show me any favor, even now it seems.” Muttered the figure softly as she held up the torch in her right hand. Blue flames danced on oil-soaked cloth that covered the tip of the torch, allowing her to see in the darkness. Were it not for the flames of Delphi, I never would have made it this far.
Her feet dug into the muddy earth, each step painful as blood flowed from the open cuts. To think, a woman of my talents reduced to walking through a graveyard barefooted and dressed in rags. I wonder what my father would say if he saw me. A small smile crossed her face as the memories of her childhood ran through her mind. But they were fleeting, and the cruel hands of fate reminded her of what she faced as sharp pains erupted in her chest. The pain was dull at first but grew more intense and sharp as the seconds passed.
Coughing fits overtook her as she dropped her torch. Blood ran down her chin as she fell to her knees. Her hands shook as she reached for a small bottle in the pouch on her belt. Popping the lid off the glass bottle, she drank the liquid. The shaking stopped as she dropped the bottle on the ground. The elixir seems to be working. She wiped the blood off her chin. But there is no cure. How long can I hold off death? Casting away the terrible thoughts, she grabbed her torch as she stood up How long do I have before I join my sister in the afterlife? Thought the woman briefly before she started moving again.
Time seemed to pass slowly as she walked toward a small gravestone. Kneeling in front of the gravestone, she pressed her fingers against its surface. “I know it's been a long time since I last talked to you. Please forgive me, sister.”
She closed her eyes as she spoke. “Perhaps it is my shame over all my failures in life. I was unable to find a cure to save you or to protect Cateria after you passed on. Even now, I am powerless to save my own grandniece. All the power that I held as a young woman is gone, replaced with weakness and the looming threat of death.” Holding back tears, the old woman lowered her head. “How did you face your death? You died as a young woman, but you seemed to accept death. I have lived for years and watched Kings be born and die. Now, I fear my death. Can I simply not accept my death? Is it an attempt to cling to life?”
“You!” yelled a man as he approached the woman.
The woman said nothing as she turned to face the man.
“How dare you show yourself here again!” The man raised his lantern as he reached for a curved dagger. “This time, I will kill you. To desecrate a cemetery is not only an affront to the gods but a crime punishable by death.”
The woman smiled as she spoke. “I know it’s been years since we last saw one another, but I never thought our reunion would involve you pointing a knife at me.” She lowered her hood. “It’s been a long time since I last saw you, Kelvior.” She reached for his face. “I can assure you that I’m not a grave robber. I simply came to pay my respects to my sister. .
“It’s ok.” Kelvior put away the dagger as he grabbed her torch. “I must apologize for my behavior. Several graves have been robbed in the past few weeks, and the previous caretaker was killed trying to stop a woman. “
“Such a shame….” she said as she looked at her sister’s grave. “Why would someone mock the dead like this? Do they want to anger the gods?”
“I don’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. But the king entrusted me to protect this cemetery from all threats. Although, it has not been easy.”
She noted the handle of the dagger as she faced him. “A Telkerion Dagger? Those are made of a special metal that disrupts the mana that flows in a magi’s body and renders them powerless. Is your grave robber a magi like me?”
“Aye.” Kelvior nodded his head. “The last groundskeeper went at her with a spear, and his charred body was found by an older lass the next day. A good man too, he once fought in the Great Demon War many years ago.”
“What has happened to this world? Did humans forget the virtues that the gods blessed us with in their final act of divine wisdom?”
“This world is being consumed in darkness. All the wars that we fought and nothing changed.” Kelvior shook his head. “To think I tried to change this world for the better in my youth. Tried to be a paragon of values that humanity could use to live in peace, as the gods intended.” He shook his head “But it’s all pointless in the end. I could not even save my son.”
“Our son….” She corrected as she reached for his face.
“No.” He grabbed her arm. “I walked away from that life the day our son walked a dark path. I chose to lose everything. I went from a man who spent his life trying to show the virtues as a holy warrior. I failed to change this world. Every day, more and more people die and others blame the vampires and gods for their suffering.”
“Even in the darkness, I have never blamed the gods nor have I twisted their name to suit my own ambitions. Men have become arrogant and have lost their ways. Empires have consumed much of the world. I could not stop our son any more than you. He fell to the darkness, just as so many others have…. Like Cateria did.”
“What happened after I left? I searched for you over the years, but every lead was false.”
“In a single year, I lost my sister, my son, and my niece. All my power and I could do nothing to help protect them. You were gone during that time. I ran from everything. I lost faith in the world.” She looked down at the elixir. “Now, I am dying from the same illness that killed my sister so long ago. I was such a fool when I was younger…. I thought I could help the people of this world by using the gift of magic that my mother taught me. But all of them have lost their way!”
He shook his head. “I never realized you were so bitter.”
“Man and his ways made me bitter. I was nothing more than the pawn of kings. My life, my gifts as a magi mean nothing to them unless it furthers their ambitions. Not that the vampires are any better. My sister struggled to help the world by calling forth the blessed beasts that were willing to let her control them. But she died alone, forgotten by the humans she once served and protected.”
“I see….” He looked away. “I never should have left you. Maybe if I had been there, things could have been different. Nothing I can say will forgive the sin that I committed of abandoning a wife.” He picked up the elixir bottle. “I wanted to find you so desperately. But now, the gods have decided to show me some fortune by having us meet again.”
“I would hardly call this fortune. To meet here of all places seems more like a cruel joke.” She shook her head. “We’re both old. Our bodies are weak and death is close. Maybe our reunion could have meant so much more had it happened years ago. But now….. I’m not sure if I can feel anything.”
“I never thought. I’m so sorry.” He looked away as he spoke.”
“It sounds cruel, but it is the truth. Old forgotten relics like us have no place in this world. I wish I could go back to the past, remembering the quests we undertook in the name of our King… It seems so distant, so far away now…..”
“Come with me.” Kelvor reached for her hand. “You should not stay outside during such a dreadful storm. I don’t have much to offer, but I do have some food and a place to rest, even if it is meager.”
“I...I don’t want to be a bother.” Said Kassina as she pulled her hand away. “We both have our lives to live. It's been too long to rebuild the past. You and I both know that.”
Kelvor closed his eyes as he took a deep breath. “I’ve spent years trying to face myself, to justify what I did. How I lost our son, how I lost you. Please, give me a chance to rebuild…. That’s why I ensured I would meet you here.”
“Of course, you became the caretaker of a cemetery that my sister is buried in. But like I said before my life is mi--” She felt her chest tighten as her coughing fits began to consume her again. The world became a blur as her senses were dulled. Pain overtook her as she slumped to the ground, blackness consuming her. The voice of Kelvor was the last thing she heard as the darkness overtook her.
She closed her eyes, a soft smile crossing her face as the world faded. So, is this when I finally join my sister in the afterlife? Will the gods finally release me from this hell?