The building was coming down all about her as Sephianna danced between the fire. The pews of the monastery had become aisles of flame, towering above, licking at the ashen clouds that hung heavy near the ceiling. What used to be the altar had been reduced to a burning pyre in the centre of the room and around it were several charred corpses huddled in a desperate pile, their black arms still clutching one another, faces buried in one anothers shoulders. Sephianna wished her sense of smell wasn’t so adept as the stench of burnt flesh filled her nostrils. Her tears evaporated on her cheeks as quickly as they had been birthed and underneath her breath she said a small prayer.

  The building groaned loudly above her, its tired frame buckling and splintering under the pressure from above and the intense heat below. She darted to the steps at the side of the room, narrowly avoiding slats of falling timber, a mere prologue of what was surely to follow. As she hurried down the stone passageway she felt the radiating heat leave her, replaced by the cool walls and relatively fresh air. She crept further down, into the earth and through the narrow passageways dug within the hillside. The fire was behind her and the smoke hadn’t reached the catacombs yet but she felt far from safe. The cry for help was clearer now, choked and wet.

  She arrived at the foot of the stairs at speed and jogged into the tombs, looking around hastily for the survivor. She followed the intermittent sounds through the east wing and into the familiar site of her parent’s graves. There, amidst the large stone coffins in the cubicula, lay Eric. He was bloodied and beaten and a deep wound in his side poured lurching rivulets of crimson upon his dark robes. He was holding it feebly, clutching at the torn fabric and ripped skin and trying to keep his guts from spilling out. When he saw Sephianna he tried to say something but his mouth frothed red instead, blood bubbling over his lips. She quieted him quickly and moved his hands away from his side. His piercing eyes stared out from his broken face, watching her as she realized his wound was fatal.

  “Oh, Eric,” she managed to say, replacing his hands and taking his face in her own palms. She rested her forehead against his and wept quietly, “Oh papa,”
  “Now is not the time for tears, child,” he wheezed. His chest sucked in ragged breaths and despite Sephianna’s protests he continued, “do not rush foolhardy into vengeance”
  “How can you ask this of me?” She bleated.
  “Revenge is a pact, a pact between you and the blood you spill that you may never undo,” he said, struggling with every word, “they came for a treasure I will die having protected. A great power rests beneath your mothers grave, Sephianna. A power meant for you and you alone. A power- a power-”
  Sephianna could feel him leaving her, leaving his body, great gulps of lifeforce pouring from his wounds in great waves.
  “Papa no,” Sephianna sobbed, “don’t, you can’t, not you,”
  “A power for good, child,” he grunted finally, “should you-… choose”  
  He choked out his last words through a spasm that rippled throughout his frame and that was all. She felt him in his entirety leave the body, draining entirely in an instant and leaving nothing but a shell of a corpse, the only physical signs of departure being a slight sagging of the shoulders. His eyes stared through her now, into the ether that only the dead are privy to. She did not shake him, did not try to rouse him from his eternal rest, but broke inside of herself and mourned her loss, her second father gone before their time together had been truly fulfilled.

  Sephianna rose, her skin sparking and numb and once. She grit her teeth. An entirely unexpected determination rushed through her. From the stairs there was a great and muted boom as the monastery collapsed, and – a second later – a bellow of wind tore down the corridors and into the tomb, hot and humid, choking and reeking of death. It was time to act.


~ by Joseph Blame on September 29, 2010.

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