The blue sand and stone was warm beneath my bare feet, the dress Elethor had given me so long ago fluttered around my calves as the hot winds of the abyss scoured the battlefield surrounding one of the Siel Fortresses. Feathers ruffled in the strong breeze, black and white alike, broken armor and weapons studded the ground and there were so many daeva’s locked in death… final death… true death, their eyes staring sightless and frightened into the aether, their mouths locked into eternal screams. I put my hands over my mouth and doubled over, the tears streaming down my cheeks. Aion laid His hand upon my back, the barest hint of His mouth set in a grim line beneath His cowl.
“Walk with me child that you may better understand what it is I have asked of you.” He murmured. I straightened and walked beside Him and listened as He spoke. “I have asked you to love them both and you have admirably, but I believe you have misunderstood exactly what it is I have asked of you and so I must show you. I am very sorry it has come to this my child but I need you to look into your heart and see… really see what it is I have asked of you.”
I looked down into the many faces of the Fallen, Elyos and Asmodian alike and felt a horror that chilled me to my very core. It was a cold that would not be fixed by sitting fireside or by wrapping me in a blanket and as I walked beside Aion I grew numb from my crown to my toes.
“Father,” I asked. “Why do you show me this?”
“Because you need to see my child, I need you to understand and words will simply not express…”
He raised His arm and swept it outwards to engulf the entire grisly scene, where nothing stirred and all was still despite the wind… A small movement caught my eye and I watched as a ball, no a sphere of some kind rolled towards me, bouncing and jumping across the stone and dirt a lovely pale green and somehow familiar to me... My eyes widened and I followed its trail back to where it had come from, the scream climbing in my throat and sticking there as I forced it down with denial. I ran forward and dropped to my knees.
He lay so still and so silent, dark wings broken and spread beneath him, the front of his robes stained dark and wet with blood, his crystalline eyes staring empty and lost and as I brought him into my lap the scream spilled along with my tears and the sound of my anguish rent the air. My Elethor, my love was so still in his final death in my arms and I screamed and I cried and I looked at my Father and I demanded of him…
“Why!? Why? Why? Why?!! I have done everything you have asked of me! Why Father why!?” I bent double over my lover’s body and pulled as much of him to me as I could, his skin as waxy and cold beneath my palms, his lips so still beneath my lips as I kissed him. I pressed my forehead to his and wept while my Father, my Aion stood by passively and watched.
“I ask you to look at those around your lover and think child! Think! Look with more than just your eyes! LOOK!” and His last command cracked the air with thunder and I did as He bade me and I wished I hadn’t. The faces around my dead love were people I knew too, Toxemia, Ailsie, their white wings stained crimson and over there was Dark, his beloved Dracia pinned to his chest, through her back by a great sword… fallen after her beloved, killed while she wept over his still form as I wept over my Elethor now. I looked up at my Father so imposing now than He had ever been before and though my grief was a crippling thing I thought furiously on what it was all supposed to mean and when I felt the dawning cross my face the awful scene began to fade, Elethor in my arms began to fade and I screamed long and mournful and tried to gather him to me and I continued to scream as I woke in my tent so very far away from the grisly scene in Theobomos I woke screaming loud and long and clear the camp coming to life around me.
“Sirona!?” I heard a man shout. “Sirona! It’s Sirona! What’s wrong!?”
My tent unsealed its self and Jexius shouldered his way in first followed closely by Leogetz, his twin blades drawn. I waved them off tiredly, and pushed myself up on my cot.
“A dream,” I told them. “It was just a dream.” I swallowed hard as Leo sheathed his blades and Jex dropped his shoulders tipping his head all the way back and sighing loudly.
“You all right?” Leo asked, brows furrowed. I nodded, and put my feet solidly on the ground sitting on the edge of my cot gulping air furiously into my lungs, my hands shaking furiously I gripped the cot’s edge to hide it.
“I’m fine now, just a dream, a very bad dream.” I told them and heard from outside the tent Chiiro say…
“Did she just say she had a bad dream? Is that what all of this is about?” there were noises of assent and discontent being made all around.
“I’m sorry.” I bowed my head. “They don’t happen often; I thought I was over them…” I remembered the nightmares I had after returning from my torture, they had faded and I was hoping that this would be an accepted answer and that I would not have to explain myself further.
Jexius looked at my feet and Leogetz followed his gaze. I let them look for a moment and tucked them back out of sight beneath the cot, pursing my lips and trying to appear suddenly self conscious of the scars. I was self conscious, of course… but not over the scars. Leogetz backed out of the tent and Jexius followed, grumbling loud enough for the rest of the party to hear…
“No one here questions Sirona’s healing abilities, and if they do they need to take it up the chain of command not with muttered comments. Now all of you, go back to sleep we have only a few more hour until we move out.” She considered my appraisingly for a moment or two more… the sandstorm had ended and it was silent except for the grumbling men and women outside and the snap of canvas as tent flaps closed.
“You are all right yes?” she asked me.
“Yes. I’m fine; I’m not sure what… Maybe I should forgo rations late at night before lights out.” I said feebly. She smiled sharply at me and left my tent. I lay back down and contemplated what I had been shown and prayed that it was just a dream and not indeed a vision.
Love them both.
I had loved both men… but now I understood. How short sighted I have been. I thought to myself… I closed my eyes and tried to sleep and prayed that Elethor was safe.
Love them both.
Not both men.
Love them both…
I closed my eyes and let the tension ease from my shoulders and wondered, how was I supposed to love not only the man but the race that had become an enemy to my people almost as much as the Balaur had?
Love them both.
I thought about Elethor, and Dark, and Dracia and the others of his people I had seen and met in his Legion’s house… and they all were indeed just people.
Love them both.
I thought about Aalairius, Toxemia and Ailsie and the people outside this very tent and thought to myself… What if the roles were reversed, would they be so very different? I sighed and rolled my shoulders.
Love them both.
I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep and I realized that for better or worse, I could, would and did love them. We were all Atreian’s after all. Weren’t we?
Oh Aion, I hope that I can do what you wish of me…