Dolwyn put another log on the fire back in town, stoking the embers until the log began to sizzle. He had a mind to retire to Ataraxia, buy a room right in town, hang up his cleric’s cloak, and take up being a fisherman. And why not? Sure beat the Khyber out of following the blasted elf monk around, throwing a heal here, a bless there just so the redhead could kill all the undead she felt like.

He glanced over at the monk, her thin body wrapped in only in a thin blanket to keep out the cold sea wind. She was definitely not your usual elf, he reminded himself. She could flash out those little shuriken with incredible speed from just about any position, her accuracy unquestionable. She loved her Silver Bow, and made a practice out of using it as her primary weapon. In a fight, the elf was unbeatable it seemed, shrugging off magic spells and deadly sword strokes with ease. Next to her, what was he? Just a tired old dwarf ready to spend the rest of his days listening to the ocean and hunting troll when he got the itch.

“You will not move,” the voice said, accompanying a frigid hand that grabbed him by the throat from behind. He nodded, forcing himself to relax, soften, go void—just like the monk taught him.

A second hand, fingers thin and cold, wrapped around his mouth, forbidding any evocations to the gods he might wish to make. There would be no pleas for help, Isobel thought, no ruination of the ambush, and no mercy.

Isobel nodded her chin, a motion that placed her skeletal guard in motion, a rickety pile of bone  on bone, a dragging of an overly heavy blade. It knew her intentions. The sleeper. Its blade. Death. Its eyes glowed with green glee.

Dolwyn flinched when Kailifae moved because he had never grown used to her supernal agility and otherworldly speed. In less than a blink, Kailifae vacated her blanket, rolled into the shadows, and flipped five ice-enchanted shuriken into the bony body of her tormentor. It swayed as if deciding the next moved, bony hands swatting at the icy steel embedded in its ribs.

“No more or I kill the cleric,” Isobel said, her eyes two embers in the darkness.

“What do you want?” Kailifae asked, throwing her voice, intending it to come from behind Isobel, but the woman—the vampyre—didn’t buy it.

“No,” Isobel chuckled, “I am at your service. What is it that you want?”

Silence as the monk thought of a reasonable excuse for chasing the vampyre. She was quick, but not quick enough to lie to an undead creature like Isobel. “You lied to me,” Kailifae said at last. “Back in the graveyard, you lied to us.”

“Of course,” Isobel said, sliding a gleaming knife under the dwarf’s throat. She retrieved her right hand, the dwarf would say nothing with cold steel on his throat. And if he did make that mistake, well then, Khyber would have a new soul tonight.

“Alright then,” Kailifae said, stepping into the light of the dying embers. “I’ll come to you.”

“Close enough, monk,” Isobel hissed, her eyes dilating with wrath. “I see you. Now sit down right where you stand, and this whole excursion can turn into a warm little hello and how-do-you-do meet up.”

Kailifae collapsed like a drunkard, propping herself on her left elbow, just like “Lohan Considers the Stars,” a planking position she trained earlier in her life with her sifu. The thing was, this was a coiled position, a position providing her the advantage should emergency demand.

“That’s a good monk,” Isobel smiled, releasing the dwarf. “Tell your pet that if I blink, he will not live long enough to ask his gods for deliverance.”

“I understand,” Dolwyn said bravely, understanding exactly where the chips of fortune had stacked themselves.

“That’s a good dwarf,” Isobel said, retracting her hands, her arms, herself back into the green healing aura of her body. “Now, tell me. Why do you want to kill me? Because I awoke under the moon against my will? Because your gods say I have no right to stride amongst the living?” Her skeleton slave registered the anger, and with creaking joints, bone on bone, strode to her side, standing behind her, its green eyes staring at the horizon, as if it knew how to study the movement of the stars above.

“You are an abomination,” Kailifae said, “a thing that should not be. You walk amongst us only to feed upon us–”

“–and do you not do the same with your cattle? Your chickens? Your vegetables? How is it my demand for your life aura is condemned? What saint has decreed this?”

“Well,” Dolwyn started, too dumb to remain silent, “there’s the reading of the Silver Text, especially verse five that demands: “all will believe in the right to thrive rightly.”

“And do not I thrive…rightly?” Isobel challenged, her red eyes the only shapes visible in her state of perfect darkness.

“Well,” Dolwyn stumbled.

“The point is…you lied,” Kailifae pressed.

“And I suppose you have never lied? Or is it that I—a more intelligent life form—got the drop on those who supposed themselves above skeletons, ghouls, wraiths?”

Kailfae looked at the stars and laughed. The thing was right. Ever since leaving her sifu to pursue the perfection of the Jin Gong, she had become lost in her own philosophies, her own myths, and Dolwyn had been a large part of that too. What he saw in her was a godlike being, and that had been most intoxicating, had it not?

“I see you have no answer,” Isobel mocked, “so I press the question: What if I said I did not really exist. Not in the way you see it anyway.”

“Not exist?” Kailfae started, suddenly aware she had been goaded into a fall. In truth, the vampyre had a point, for even if you stared straight at her, Isobel was nothing but two embers in a whirling gyre of mist.

“Yesssssssss,” Isobel said, “I am only these fiery orbits and a smidgen of desire; ergo, why desire my extinction when I barely make an impression in this wide world?”

Dolwyn gawked, stumbling for an answer in this scripture, but he knew before he looked, the vampyre, this Nothingness had them. Why? Why deny hunger? Why deny need? If I went without wine and a chicken leg or two, would I not collapse soon enough?

“He understands,” Isobel chided, “even if you, the follower of the dark Jin Gong arts do not.”

“Enough of this philosophy,” Kailifae stood suddenly, a move so quick and supernal that even Isobel blinked at its polish. “Go. Follow your dark interests, but beware, come again across my path and neither I, nor the dwarf,shall blink your existence again. Now leave us to our sleep and we shall do the same, or else we both go into the void tonight.”

“So be it…monk.” Isobel chuckled, a sound that was more of a gloat than an act of humor. With a nod, she had her slave in tow, vanishing into the inky night.

After a few moments, Dolwyn moved. He was hungry. Famished even. He didn’t want to talk, but he did want to eat a goodly portion of cold chicken and toss back a quantity of good wine. He did not look at Kailifae, for there was a question in him, a question that only smelted out confusion, embarrassment, bewilderment.

Kailifae left her partner to his desires, walking out in the sea-brine and the inky cloak of night to confide in the stars. What path now? What direction? Where do I belong in this world? And of course, neither the stars, neither the lunar bodies, nor the sea could answer her.

But she did find respite in the sound of the ocean and its rhythmic beating against the shores of her life.


3 Responses to “Transcendence”

  1. Ok, thanks again:)
    This will be the last for a couple weeks; I promise:)

  2. Update: I had a few bugs to vanquish this morning. It should read smoother now.

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