Dying was not easy, not even the second time. 

“Just a taste”, the Nazrethem said, and then he flew away, with a knowing smile.    “This could be yours.”  A dozen platitudes that meant nothing, until the moment she breathed again.

It was cold.  She hadn’t felt cold in so long that it was a novel, exciting sensation; her armor was heavy, the sky so very very blue and so bright.  Her voice didn’t have the strange echo that she hated so much; her hair… was black.  Black!  It was hers again.  She tasted the air on her teeth and felt everything.  Everything.

Her heart hurt.

She touched the tears that fell from her eyes with a certain wonder, looking at how they sparkled on her gauntlet.  She felt her heart beat, and a thousand tiny aches, and each one was joy.  She wondered, fleetingly, if she were pretty.  She half-heard the demon as he went on, droning something about how this could be forever, how it could be hers, and she wondered if it could be.  Then she wondered if she could stand, and did.

Everything was heavy – her armor, her runeblades, so lifeless at her sides.  She staggered and tried to stand tall, and managed a sort of half standing thing that was at least mostly upright.  She tried to hate the Nazrethem for this .. weakness… but simply couldn’t.  As he postured and posed and spoke, she watched him (and wiped away more tears – why was she crying? It was very silly.) and wondered and hoped and… she felt pity.

It was a strange thing to feel.  Half remembered, mostly forgotten.  She hoped she remembered it – it was a sad, bittersweet thing, and she liked the feeling.   She tried to feel hate for the demon, to summon up some kind of rage… but could find none at all, just that strange pity, and a sad joy.

“You should kill me,”  she told him gently, “because I will hate you.  It is safest for you to do this now.”  

He asked her to join him.  Told her the doors were open, that there was no hope  – perhaps half a dozen other things, but she did not hear them.  Instead… she sang for him.

And then she was alone in the snow, and her heart hurt.  She could – feel- the magic fading, the cold growing stronger and her own body going numb to it. 

She was afraid.  And even that felt good.  She said things, into the guildstone – trying to tell them silly things, like how much she loved them, while she still could.  SHe tried to tell them not to worry, but they did anyway.  

Her heart was failing again.  She remembered the first time, when she hung from the sword in her chest and the Knight in Black laughed, hollow and empty.  And she felt that hurt, deep inside.  She thought that, perhaps, it would be nice not to die alone again.

And then Caelryn was there, trying to save her – and it was sweet, and for a brief moment she loved the wolf for trying, for wanting so much to save her.  SHe wanted to hug her, to say it was alright.. 

… and then there were more.  The Mage, Jandarious, whom she barely knew.  Esriella and Zen, her friends – and her heart was full, and she tried to tell them, but the words were scattered and not quite right, and she gave up when Zen picked her up in metal arms and flew her to the keep.

“… it is not so bad,”  came the thought. “It is warm, here.”

Then, there was black.

Pain.  Pain and rage and hatred and /kill/ and he was /soft/ and his blood was /there/ and she could feel the life and the fear and she wanted to hurt them and she was -hungry- and..

Voices.  Koryander.  Zen.  Esmeriella.  Arialynn.  Names slowly connected with voices and faces and fear and .. with an effort, she threw her food away and her runeblades snarled and her hate grew.

She would destroy that demon.  Her hate was sweet, and she brought it close, letting the cold within her wash over her body, letting it bring her grace, and strength.  She heard the Templars talk, and half-answered.   Her gauntlet sparkled… and it caught her attention.

Slowly freezing there was… water.  Tears.  And she stared at them, shiny as diamonds, turning her gauntlet so the firelight made them shine and flicker. 

It was strange, how her heart hurt.   She let the cold pour in, but it still ached.   

Author Aunne
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