Whether he?d simply broken concentration, or acted of conscious volition was unknown to Nazareth, but after her brother dropped his head the manacles of sand loosened from her wrist and ankles, melted away back to the desert floor. The girl had a simple and weakly angered expression. Her hair and face were still peppered with the notes of blood that had dripped out of Green Eye?s split-open head. She said, ?I?ll look at it. If I were talented with a brush, I?d paint it. If I were skilled with a quill, I?d write about it.? Three long, furied steps brought Nazareth to her brother. She knelt to make eyes, but he wouldn?t look up. ?And if my body didn?t require sustenance or sleep, and if our mother hadn?t put me in charge of making sure you don?t end up hung from the pole like our sister, I would do it every hour of every day for the rest of my life, Valcroix. I would kill their parents, everyday, and I would kill their children, everyday, and I would kill them. Every. Day. I think I would keep a dozen or so as pets and make them breed just so I could keep killing them, Valcroix.?
Val?s head shot up, as did both his hands. Agony and an insatiable rancor flaming in his eyes, the dark haired boy snatched his sister by the throat then kicked off the ground so that he could position himself atop her. He tried to jerk her head, tried to press his thumbs into her windpipe, tried lifting and smashing, but when a fresh screen of tears were disbanded by a blink, his unblurred vision rendered the image of a girl unphased. Val was Dominion, but he was not cut from the same cloth as Nazareth. Not only did he not have the physical strength to strangle her this day, he ventured that he could come back to this very moment in time three hundred years from now and still not possess the power to do so.
He released her neck by shoving into it, pushing himself up. Nazareth stood soon after and adjusted her scarf.
Marcius had taken himself back down to a knee. During Val?s advance and the subsequent argument that followed, he?d watched, he?d felt something when the boy spoke, but he was quite sure the sun had set on him.
But Valcroix made Marcius the center of his next assault. Pointing him out, and with a strained, crushed gaze leveling his sister, he said, ?You?re not killing him. You won?t.?
Nazareth was still picking sand out of the welcoming fabric of her scarf. A smile formed; she rejected him with a shake of her head. ?No. I just murdered four soldiers wearing Bride regalia, Valcroix. Brave Master Marcius over there will have the Capital?s armed forces mobilized in a weeks time. As much fun as that sounds, mother won?t allow it.?
?Nazareth---you just killed their Speaker in front of the entire village. And if you think I?m going to let you decimate what?s left of this village, you?re dead wrong. I?ll cover it in steel; I?ll stand guard until my body dies from exhaustion. Then you can explain that to mother.?
The boy?s sister rewrapped her scarf, smiled when it was snug, then again shook her head. ?Not a problem,? she said simply. ?Brides love relishment---the leader of their towns, their clans, always live in the most lavish houses. I?ll simply pay their leader a visit before our leave and explain to him that what I did, I did as an act of retaliation for the murder of our sister. And if I sense that he does not believe me, I will threaten to vanquish his bloodline. And if I still sense that he does not believe me, then I will do just that. Besides---no simple towns mayor out here on the rim wants to be the currier for war---our remaining tribes will strike this area first. I?ll swear that there will never be a Dominion presence in this town again.?
Hastened by the cool, logical explanation, Val hurried over to Marcius. ?Well---he won?t say anything either. Right?? Hopefully, the boy looked down to Marcius and began nodding his head, hoping to beckon replication from The Commander.
A smile, long and wise, developed on Marcius? scruffy jaw. He closed his eyes and shook his head. ?No. Those four men mean---meant---more to me than my silence; than some shallow escape. If you two left right now, I would bury what?s left, then make the march to Ionosis and file my findings. I?d have no choice, boy.?
?Nazareth,? Val said. ?Don?t. You told me before that Mother has pull in the city---she won?t let something like this bring everyone to war again. If they really fear her like you say they do, then they wouldn?t dare."
The grinning hellioness began to slow stroll over to the downed blonde who still had her blade captured in his belly. ?I?m sorry, Val,? she said sweetly on her way past. Shrugging, she looked at the boy with a catty grin. ?Can?t you see that brave Master Marcius wants to be with his brethren?? She paused near the commander, bent over and poked his chin. ?What is it you call your deity again? Arias? He is represented as the sun, yes? ?The Man with The Fire in his Eye?---that?s from one of your hymnals, yes? Do you pray to him now??
She stood up then kicked over the blonde, snagged the hilt of her weapon and jerked it out of his belly.
?Nazareth---if you spare him, I?ll be yours forever. I?ll stop wandering away from home, stop making you waste your days searching for me. I know you have better things to do. I?ll stay at home, letting you go out to do whatever. I swear it---I?ll do--?
?You?re a liar,? his sister hissed.
Val tied his hands together and shook his head. ?No, I swear it. I?ll read, I?ll---I?ll continue work on Pilot?s garden. I won?t leave home. I?ll listen to Judace?s lectures, whatever you want, so you can go out to do whatever it is you want to do without mother chastising you when I slip away from home. Please. I?m begging you.?
Near Marcius, Nazareth flung her blade out towards him, but did not strike, simply pointed him out. ?And on what guarantee? I won?t lie, that is a delicious offer, but up to this point, you?ve yet to keep your word over a simple childrens? game, over the simplest and most meaningless of things. You're a born liar, Valcroix. You were born that way, and you?ll always be that way.?
?I?m begging you.?
Scowling, Nazareth turned her arm around so that the pommel of her weapon faced Marcius, then jerked her arm forward and struck the commander on the side of his head, just north of his temple. After a throaty groan, he fell over, limp and unconscious. Nazareth immediately fell down to her knees, pushed Marcius so that his chest was flat and up, then reached into his leather vest. Pinned to the interior was circular pendant of gold: it was the Bride Arms Regalia, worn by all soldiers devout to the capital. It was a symbol of the very god Nazareth had mocked, Arias. The Brides symbolize him with a half-circle ( representation of the sun, or ?Arias? ) with five arrows launching as-if sunrays. Above the arrows is the crescent moon, an allegorical reference to Arias? defeat of the darkness. Next she marched over to the dead blonde, reached into his vest and snatched his pendant. When she stormed passed Val on her way to collect the three remaining pins, she chirped, ?He?ll live.?
When she had five pendants in total, Nazareth began to untie her scarf. When it was undone, she knelt down and unfolded it. Pinned to the interior, usually secluded from a folding, were thirty-two pendants, just like the ones she?d just taken off Marcius and his men. The ranks were even and all pinned in clean, perfect rows. She spoke as she went to work filing her latest insignias: ?Just know that if you break the promise you just made to me, I?ll spend the rest of my life making you pay for it.? She found him with her eyes. ?I mean it. If you run away, I?ll find you. If you take refuge in the capital, I?ll storm the gates and tear the streets asunder until I find you. If you marry, I?ll kill your wife. If you flee this very world, I?ll run across the stars in search of you. And if you marry a goddess, I?ll spend every day cutting her to bits, just to watch her reassemble so that I can cut her some more.?
Val was sitting crosslegged in the sand a few yards away from Nazareth with his back turned on her. He said nothing.
?A hefty price to pay for the life of one bedamned Bride, Val. What is it about them that fascinates you so??
?It?s nothing about them personally,? he said. ?I just think we owe them a little more than murder. You look at things from only a single angle--that of persecution, because it?s all you know. But you are young. Look at them as a whole: A Dominion lives easily ten-times longer than a Bride; we have a better understanding of all things. Step back even further---you just can?t see.?
?Oh? And what is it I?m not seeing??
?Their lives are so short, that they never see the light of their actions. If a man was born at twilight and was damned to a life of only six hours, he would not even know the sun existed.?
When the fifth pendant was in place, Nazareth smiled and began the careful procedure of folding up her scarf. She said, ?I?ll show them The Sun.?
(Thanks to all who read---this little thread received way more views than I'd anticipated. It may have been hard to follow for you who haven't played with me before or understand the lore and backstory of the characters, so I appreciate all that made it this far. Feel free to PM me with questions or concerns. Thanks. ))