�Mother?�  She heard him say.  �You know I have to do this.�


She settled the breastplate into place carefully, over her worn arming jacket � the blue-enameled titansteel a slice of starry, morning sky, fitting her like a second skin.


�It is what I have been training to do.  To keep them safe ��

Tassets styled into the edges of racing clouds went around her waist, and the sabotons covered her legs and hooves with the sky after a storm, filigreed birds taking wing above her ankles in an inlay of silver, subtle linework that remained hidden until the light hit it just so, when it flashed like lightning.


�I have my father�s armor, my grandfather�s blade, and my mother�s blessing.  I have that, don�t I?�

Pauldrons built as the wings of great herons wrapped around her shoulders, their golden eyes fierce and their expression triumphant.  Her power filled them, aided by the nearly-dried blood above her unbeating heart.  Frost flowed from them, the ice setting each feather to shimmering, dancing, in the early morning sun at Westguard.

�Always,�  she said, softly. �I am proud.�


�I know.�  His armor shown gold and brass in the setting sun of the Plaguelands, touched here and there with his sister�s jewelwork. �Don�t worry, mother.  I�ll come home in a month or two � with stories to tell.  You�ll see.�

�Yes.�  She strapped on bracers studded with stars � her gauntlets were dipped in silver, knuckles and tips of fingers flared to fearsome talons, gleaming truesilver that glittered and shone with her own magic.  The runework was exquisite � almost imperceptible, spidering in whorls and twists of gleaming mithril across the spotless enamel.

�You never came home, Kuru�nai.�  She flexed those talons, shifted the armor carefully.  It moved with her, the weight carried well across every strap. 


�I know, mother.  You know why.  But -she- can come home.  You can help save her.�

�Yes.  Is it alright to hate them?�


�The demons?  They won�t care.�  She could see him, standing at the edge of the forge � the sunrise shone through him.  He cast no shadow� and he smiled, a bit sadly.

�It does not matter.  I need to hurt them, kuru�nai.  I need them to fear me.  I cannot lose another child.�


�Then go and find her, mother.�  His nonexistent hand came to rest on her pauldron � almost a benediction. �Help bring her home.  I will be there. I always am.�

She turned for the drake, sitting patiently nearby � the great frost wyrm�s eyes empty and glowing blue, matching her own.  As she moved, she wrapped her guild cloak round her shoulders – repaired now, the embroidery gold against white, Templar colors bright in the morning sun.  “I know.  Tell your sister I am missing you both, yes?”

There was no one at the forge to answer.

Author Aunne
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