Rage boiled inside Luqa as the skald reiterated what he had said in the tavern. A ritual of Jorg? The inquisitor lied to my face. I came before him, I offered to swear to whatever he asked to keep a secret, I begged him for the truth of the matter, and he lied to my face and said the ritual was not of the old Gods. What else was a lie then? Obviously his claim that Rolf’s lionization wasn’t manipulative couldn’t be trusted.
“So you let him die for no reason then?”
Luqa’s blood ran cold. I wasn’t sure if it was from the unexpected comment from the Djinn in my mind, or because the Djinn was absolutely correct. The main thing that had kept me from performing the ritual of Sveas was the reassurance that there was another way. But Jorg, Sveas? What was the difference? None that I could see. Rage.
“You know, perhaps I can help?”
Luqa needed to meditate. “Over here Luqa!”, but father asher was calling him back to his duties. I was still supposed to be guarding the inquisitor, despite the jaunt into the woods. No meditation, no breath, no water. Only rage.
“You only have to ask me, i’ll take care of your problems, just let me free Luqa”
Luqa gritted his teeth, subconsciously going into a combat stance. “Point your damn spear upward Sharaqyn!” Captain Sinclair’s harsh words snapped me back to the present as i apologize and move away from the cappacian.
“Fine, then this one’s on me. Don’t say i’m not looking out for you young master”
Luqa barely had time to process the Djinn’s words before he saw the deer. Then the captain and the inquisitor saw the deer. Rage. Did he give in to what the Djinn obviously wanted? What did the Djinn gain? Time seemed to stretch infinitely, why was Asher’s back still turned? What was so mesmerizing about a damn deer in the woods?
“Or don’t take the shot i guess, if you really want to be alive for nothing…”
The flash of steel. a cry of pain. Blood. The purest cycle of time, spilling out onto the ground, again.
“Let me help quiet your mind at least”, Striga was obviously a hardened individual. It was unclear whether that was something to do with their personality, their scar, or simply the world around them. But that just made it all the more touching when they moved to join me on the floor, forsaking the much more comfortable chair to be eye level with a criminal. “When you think of home, what comes to mind?” I wasn’t sure, then, somewhere deep inside, I heard the soft burbling laugh of my mother, long forgotten from ages past. “My mother” i managed to choke out. “Ok, then just focus on my voice. Close your eyes. Imagine home, a quiet desert in winter, soft and smeared like pastels.” I closed my eyes, and tried to quiet my heart. The rage was gone, the fear of death was gone. I was left empty. “Think of an oasis, there is no wind, the water is still, the trees don’t move. Just you and your mother, in perfect calm” Try as i might, the peace would not come. When I closed my eyes, I just saw the disappointed face of Sister Solace telling me that she would execute me in the morning. No apology, no chastisement. She had already shut him out of her heart. “Just hold that love and peace in your heart. Breath.”
When striga told Luqa to breath, it all clicked. I looked back into their eyes. “Breath. Blood. Heart.” the tears were bursting forth as I spoke at this point, what had I done? “The purest cycle. Each breath, each heartbeat, a new circle” I had to break it. My breath was about to end, but if my cycle was ending, then there was another cycle that too should end.
A flash of steel.
A cry of pain.
Blood, my cycle this time, pouring out onto the ground.
“Djinn. Reveal the inquisitor’s true nature, and your wish is granted”
The cycle ends