Story — Day of Reckoning

Tread lightly. Do not give them reason to fear you before you are ready. This makes the task much more difficult.

Cyntheras passed through the halls with a nonchalant grace. Unlike the rest of her kind, she wore no thin, wispy robes that trailed behind her. Her clothes were far more form fitting and utilitarian. She was Darkkind, and yet was something else entirely. She held no whimsical pact between her kind and the people of Vasrand. No, she was a tool to be used. And her day had come.

The corridor of polished stone echoed with the sound of hushed voices and hurried footsteps. Hallowed ground. A place of peace where anyone could seek refuge without discrimination or malicious intent. It was also a place of politics, where the two sects of Vasrand met to discuss their differences. Darkkind rarely visited.

As she walked down the aisle, people slowed and evaded her, giving the Darkkind a wide berth. Her identity was easily perceived, of course. Veins of dark purple ran up and down her unusually gray skin like lightning. A consequence of the Skyshard’s corruption that nobody else dared contract, even for all the power it bestowed. People would only approach under a Darkkind’s direct command, and even then it took sheer courage.

The only exceptions were the thralls. The bodies of the dead upraised to follow their master’s bidding. Cyntheras sneered as a few of them passed right by her, unconcerned for their own personal safety as they stepped within arm’s reach of the Darkkind. Her rage overwhelmed her for a moment, and she grabbed one by its head just as it got close enough. “You use the Hallowed Source,” she hissed. “Perhaps you could use some more?” Pouring the Skyshard’s energy into the thrall, it started to glow purple, a dull haze emanating from each orifice until the upright corpse exploded from the raw power.

Focus. You have a task to complete. Letting your anger get the best of you impedes our goal.

She exhaled slowly to calm down. She would find release soon. Patience.

After another minute she found herself at the end of the great hallway. Two huge doors barred her way from inside the main meeting house. Debating over what should be done about the growing threat of non-human magic use. This wasn’t a concern for the Darkkind, of course. Interruptions weren’t allowed while a meeting was in session, but petty rules such as this were beneath her.

She pushed the doors open, deliberately using her hands rather than using the Skyshard’s power to push them. Don’t make them afraid.

The room was shaped like an amphitheater, with rows of desks and chairs descending as they all faced a singular podium. The room was filled to about half capacity, meaning nearly eighty council members were present today. The meeting halted abruptly at her entrance, the man speaking at a podium stopping mid-word as soon as he recognized the intruder. “L-Lady Darkkind!” he stammered. “To what do we owe this pleasure?” No doubt these men were surprised to see her. They didn’t often deign to trifle in politics.

Cyntheras didn’t reply. Instead, she closed the doors behind her. All eyes were on her. She reveled in the growing apprehension. She extended her palms to the handles, and ethereal chains curled out from her hands and twisted their way around them, interlocking and weaving around the bars, firmly locking the two doors in place.

The mood of the room darkened. She barely stifled a grin as she watched the concern grow heavy in their faces. Savor this day, but don’t let it get in the way of the plans.

“Their fates are sealed,” she whispered in reply. “The reckoning is come.”

“Lady Darkkind?” the speaker at the podium asked. “I’m afraid I must ask your purpose here. We were in the middle of discussing important matters.”

She paced into the room, descending the long steps of the center aisle. The men in each row stiffened as she walked past them, relaxing slightly as she continued down.

There was a hushed whisper from behind her, and Cyntheras spun immediately to address the transgressor. As soon as the two made eye contact, his terror redoubled.

“Words spoken among a vessel of the Skyshard must be addressed to the vessel,” Cyntheras seethed. “Surely you are aware of this.” She took one stride back up the stairwell.

Panic visibly coursed through the man as he watched her approach him. “I merely joked that you could save us from this boring meeting!” he pleaded, giving a nervous chuckle to ease the tension.

“Lying in the presence of a vessel,” she chided. “That makes two sins.” An extended finger trailed along the wooden desk before him. In its path, purple cracks cascaded down its surface. She leaned in close to him, and he reflexively backed away, sweating profusely.

“Your punishment is death. And may you serve your god better Elsewhere.” She caressed his cheek with the back of her hand. Immediately, purple veins of lightning sprang from the point of contact. He screamed in agony as the corruption spread down his body. Relishing in his pain, Cyntheras placed a hand on his chest, feeling his heart beat faster and faster. Her hand clenched into a fist in bliss, digging her nails into his skin until finally, his heart erupted, and the man slumped from his chair. She released him, letting him fall to the floor. A relatively slow death for him, since he was so evil. Her sisters were getting lazy if one such as him was allowed to roam the streets.

Do not lose focus, vessel. Remember, you are a tool and nothing else.

Cyntheras nodded to herself, appreciating her handiwork one more time, before returning to the main stairway. A hint of a smile pervaded her countenance. She could all but taste the horror and fear in the room.

“You inquire upon my purpose, mortal,” she stated, loud enough for the entire meeting house to hear. “A sensible request.”

She let those words fester in their minds as she reached the center of the room to the man in the podium.

“Allow me to clarify the reason for my presence here.” She pulled a knife from one side, it’s blade gleamed purple and black. “We are all tools for the Skyshard, you see. Some are more… directly applied than others.” She pointed the dagger towards her victim. “And some are less useful than others.”

Cyntheras approached the man at the podium, gliding around the wooden fixture. Leaning in close, she planted her lips against his. Delicious shock and fear coursed through him. After a moment, pain joined the two. Still kissing him, she plunged the dagger into his back. There was nothing she took more pleasure in than to bask in another’s anguish. She twisted the blade, and soon he collapsed to the floor, dead.

“The Skyshard has deemed you all unworthy of service, you see,” she continued, wiping the blood off the dagger with her thumb. Pushing the body away with one foot, she stood behind the podium and addressed the rest of the council. “This is the day of reckoning. I encourage you all to fight back. I want this to take as long as possible.”

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