Warning：metion of torture, dark world view and grey moral, viewer discretion is advised.
"He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her."
"Let her be chained in this sacred Enochian circle, let the sun burns her skin and the moon freezes her flesh, let her find no peace in light nor darkness. Let her eyes of bewitchment made blind, let her words of temptation made mute, let her heart of blackness pierced by this holy silver blade. May the punishment so justly passed onto her makes atonement for her sins."
Thus was her sentence. Yes, Asuriel remembered, she was there, in the Sanctum, to witness the trial of the black-haired Lylthian. She knew the tale, the most powerful of the Old Bloods have pure black or white hair. The Yaldah can only saw her back from where she was standing. A figure not much taller, nor shorter, nor different from herself. Bound by chains, covered by sackcloth, ash in her hair, dirt on her feet. A single darkness amidst the light.
Then the first stone was cast...
From that day on, she was kept there, in the circle, in the innermost chamber of the Sanctum, being guarded by the most elite of Paladins. The order was clear, see no evil, talk no evil, hear no evil. No food nor drinks were offered to her. For the first several weeks, screams can be heard from time to time, then it faded into moans, then nothing, only rattles of chains and a low wet dripping sound. Envoys of the Sedeses can be occasionally seen in with empty vials and out carrying ones filled with...red liquid. Just words of mouths and rumours of the streets, Lylthian blood, philosopher's stone, they were ingredients for the Elixir of Immortality...
Asuriel herself was seldom allowed to that quarter, she was not among the most devoted, nor the most powerful of her people. The first time the Yaldah passed her prison as a maid. She was sent there for the moulded walls and muddy floors, yes, she remembered, for no one else would soil their hands and bend their knees. Asuriel scrubbed the rough surface of the floor b.ricks, her mop outlined each rune carving on the wall. As her hand made contact with the cold stone, Asuriel heard a whisper, "Water...". That voice was hoarse and b.roken, torn and ripped, she'd imagine a pair of chapped lips. Yes, she remembered the chills that whisper sent down her spine. Being frightened, the Yaldah quickly turned away.
The second time Asuriel was sent to b.ring food for the guards, b.read and jugs of clean water. She placed the basket on one of the celestial lion statues on each side of the gate and poured the guards their drink. "Water...", came the whisper again, fainter and drier than the first time. Asuriel jerked her hand off the stone wall, water spilled out of the cup, scold came out of the guards' mouths, she walked away.
The third time she came, for a reason unknown to herself. She held a goblet of wine, perhaps a diversion for one of the Sedeses. The guards were absent. Asuriel passed the runed gate, inside the inner chamber she saw her, kneeling in her prison of golden circle. The prisoner herself was the sheath to a silver sword, shackled by black chains, face hidden under an iron mask. "Water...", came the whisper again, Asuriel tipped the cup, one drop dripped into the crack of the iron mask.
"One drop to the dry lips surpasses a cup overflow in a banquet, you have my thanks, Sister." Asuriel froze for a moment, she heard her voice. She cannot see through the iron mask, she cannot see her lips moving, but her voice was clear, directly printed into her mind. "You should not linger, Sister, go back, before the guards return."
Asuriel did not know what was on her mind at that moment. Perhaps curiosity, or that primordial urge that had always been there since the ancestors of men bite into the forbidden fruit, that urge to b.reak rules. She spoke to her.
"How do you know? I am not your guard?" Asked the Yaldah.
"I see you."
"Liar, you cannot see me, you have been made blind."
"Perhaps, but there are many ways to see."
"What do you mean?"
"It is said that in the beginning, from the darkness of the cosmos came flocks of moths. They wandered the vast sea of space, floated beyond the illusion we call time. Born of the darkness they were, destined and doomed to seek light. The moths were drawn to Gaia's light, yes that first light, it still burns on in Morrigans' lanterns. They made their home on Gaia's tree and thus came the souls of the living. They were not made, thus cannot be unmade, they were there as they are and will be, from one live to another (Law of conservation of energy, rings a bell?). One soul attract to another, one soul repels another, one soul makes another, one soul undo another. Such as the way it is, Sister."
"What is the meaning of this? Soulless monster."
"Soulless, yes...each moth is the light seeker and the light, they see each other in the dark."
"What is it, why talk in riddles?"
"Do you hate me?"
"I loath thee, blood-drinker."
"For what reason?"
"For thou art evil"
"What defies evil, deeds or purpose? For deeds I have no defense for myself. I was a weapon foraged for war. I was the sword of the Old Queens and Gods, I was their scourge, their rage and wrath. I was the sword of men, the instrument of House Innocenti, of their ambition and desire. I am now the sword of myself, and I choose to be sheathed. I accept my sentence willingly, I alone allowed this rightless judgment passed on to me. I have sins to atone, mistakes to amend. Yet what deeds have you done? You have killed as I have, for that you have been forever marked by the Sages' blood. How many have died on your behalf, willingly, eagerly. Our hands are stained with blood, our paths paved by bones, ashes and lies. By what right do you justify your deeds?"
"By my purpose, blood-drinker, our purpose." Asuriel stared into the two dark holes of the mask. "By the wounds you have torn on the skin of our mother, by the chaos you planted in the hearts of men, and our endless battles that sprouted from it. By your dregs that have tainted the world and our will to cleanse and to heal."
"Thou spoke of the nature of this world, not our legacy, barely the dregs of the Serpent-eyed, whom my Mothers had fought yet your Fathers made alliance with."
"Lies!!" Shouted the Yaldah.
"As water will find its way downwards, men will rise upwards, namely those who were once been enslaved." Isn’t it sweet? To remain calm at your opponent’s fury? "If given the chance, they will not go back to the sand and ashes from whence they rose, they know how it feels. The pyramid reversed, the deck rearranged, victims became abusers, as it goes on and on in a circle. You have seen how we ruled, but failed to understand how we fell. We all failed to understand one thing, when the Old Gods left this world, they had left it to Men. My Mother had seen it, she chose to submit to the will of the Fate. But the queen before her chose to fight. Was she not a hero in her own way? We had suffered the consequence, our time had ended. Yet you wish to take after us, to craft this world into a perfect order, but whose order? "
"But what have men done? They again lock themselves in endless battles. Kings and Sultans wage war on this land, people suffer."
"Ah yes. Remain wary of the frailty of men. Their wills are weak, minds young (Bloodborne quote). Shepherds of men, tell me, if it is men's welfare that concerns you, why send them to battle? Why turn them against your enemies? Why praise those who slay for you and condemn those who reject your way?"
Asuriel realised what she had done, she talked to her, she let the evil spoke, she had heard her words and the worst of it, they made sense...
"Your ancestors before you have seen how we ruled. They have seen the towers and palaces men built for us, they have seen the pearls and silver men mined for us, the swords and shield men crafted for us and wielded on our behalf. You have seen their strength and tried to take it for your own. You hate me for the reason of your own wish to rise, to expand, to exploit the resources to their full potential. I am your resource, the Sages were your resources, we are both your prices and hinder-stones. We, you fellow Nephilians who share the blood of the Old Gods, are all your resources and competitors. In the end, it is the one true nature of all living beings, to survive and prosper."
Asuriel fell to utter silence, what can she say?
"One final piece of advise." The prisoner continued, "Immortality does not existent. One who was born must die, one who begins must end. Stars will expire, space will crumble, even gods will parish. Such is the law and will of the ever-spinning wheel. It is by their plan, that the Sages died by your hands, for their dabbling in the forbidden. And now you wish to follow their footsteps."
"So it is true, you seek the weakness of minds, you make them doubt." Asuriel said.
"No, sister, I seek the reason of minds, I make them think."
Only Asuriel knew, words do not shatter faith, deeds do. And hers was crumbled many years ago on that stormy night, when the b.rown-haired Lylthian and his violet-eyed half-Fae wife recovered a frozen Yaldah from the snows, and offered her food and shelter. Yes, she saw love in their eyes. There shattered her sense of superiority. If love comes from souls, can demons love each other, in the depth of Abyss (Anne Rice quote), can they love each other? Perhaps there was not much difference after all.
Then the iron mask fell, a face manifested, not their prisoner's, but a woman's. A face she knew and will never forget. It was a woman of violet eyes and dark gold hair, of striking and otherworldly beauty. But it was no more, her violet eyes were taken by two black holes, tears of blood welled out of her empty sockets. Her hair of dark gold was coagulated, covered in dry blood, its dark red almost drained out the teal streaks of her Fae legacy.
"Where is Sara? Where is my daughter? Give her back, give her back to me!!!"
Oh, ghost of old, you have come for my life. Asuriel thought.
"Magda, oh forgive me Magda."
"Give her back Asusriel!!! You betrayed her, you betrayed me! You sold her for your place in the Order, you sacrificed her for your future! She is your coming-home tribute, a token of your loyalty, a paving stone to trust and glory! Your fab.ricated such story of Louise Bonnaire and his account, you give her back, you give her back to me!"
"No, Magda, no! That is not true, not a single word!" Asuriel fell on her knees, she clung to the woman's blood-stained gown, wept as Gretchen wept at the feet of Mater Dolorosa (Faust Part 1). "Magda, I swear on the sky above us, the earth beneath us and the blood of the old gods that flows in our veins, I'd rather die than harm her! The Cloaks, our shadow and black hands, tracked down the old castle, they found the accounts there, I do not know how or why."
"My daughter, give her back, give her back!" The woman screamed at the top of her lungs, so much as she screamed when she gave birth to the child some three hundred years ago.
"Forgive me Magda, forgive me." Asuriel covered her face, she knelt there, muttering again and again, "I am so sorry..."
Asuriel felt the darkness closing in, the heavy, cold walls of obsidian collapsed onto themselves. She was in the center of a tornado, of mingled realities and distorted memories. She was alone and naked in this boundless darkness, powerless, helpless.
"So you speak the truth, Sister." Asuriel went stiff, that voice, she knew that voice, that voice that spoke to her, that voice that had been printed deeply into the folds of her cereb.ral globe. Asuriel raised her head, it was her, she who held the darkness of this dream in one hand. A noble daughter of the night, stars crowned her b.row, night sky claded her limbs.
"Hello, Sister, we meet again."
"Is she safe?"
"You have seen her, you have helped her, she is safe."
Asuriel gave a b.rief nod. She spoke the truth, as it is, Lylthians kept their words.
"I am sorry to have to do this to you. You after all are the nominal commissioner of the assassination, I will not risk any suspicion."
"You do what you want, dark one, you owe me no apology."
"The same can be said to you, Yaldah. I was your prisoner, I suffered at your hands. But the time was different, we are and forever will be each other's lamb and lion."
"Lamb and lion do not walk side by side, it is the way it is. He who defies the law will sallow the bitter fruit. Still I wish to see her, one glance will be enough. I am prepared for my sacrifice, it is my retribution. I am ready, but are you prepared for yours?"
"Your wish will be granted, Sister, as a token of my sincerity. As for my retribution, I am living it."
With a blink of eyes Asuriel returned to their old castle in the Carpathian, among the snow and pine trees. It was winter, fire of golden red roared in the fireplace, sending the pleasant smell of pine and apple wood into the air. They sat within the radius of the fireplace's warmth, Sara on a fur blanket on the stone floor, she herself on a chair, a book opened on her laps to a random page.
"Constance, read me another story."
A young girl bloomed the sweetest smile at her. Little Sara, why must you grew up? Why must you explored the castle, why must you found your mother's wardrobe trunk and put on her old gown.
"Ridiculous." That was her comment to the girl ready to bloom into adulthood. That day will come, that inevitable day of their parting. A young woman cried her heart out at Asuriel's fainted death bed. "I am sorry my sweet girl, you will have to learn to face this world alone."
Asuriel closed her eyes and drew her last b.reath. But it was not the end, far from it. Asuriel ran down the darkened corridor, doors on each side of walls seemed to extend to infinity. Asuriel was running, from what? Her instinct told her to run. Her heart was pounding, it was catching up, but what? Asuriel saw light seeped in between a door and its frame, she lunged herself at it, the door flung open. Inside was an apartment room, with a French window opened to a vast orange light of a setting-sun. In his em( )ace stood a silhouette, the one he can never touch.
"Constance, is that you?"
"Sara, Sara, my sweet little girl, I am sorry, I am so sorry..." Asuriel reached out to that silhouette, she clinched tighter to her ward, as if she will vanish, melt into the light, if she let go for a blink of eyes.
"Constance, I'm so sacred, I'm all alone. Help me Constance, help me!"
"Sara, I am here, hold me, hold my hands, nothing will harm you, not whilst I'm here!" Asuriel stroke her soft chestnut hair, her chin rest on the top of Sara’s head. Her sweet girl, the tears of her eyes of violet stars b.roke Asuriel's heart.
"Why did these happened to me, Constance, why do they tear my world apart?"
"I am sorry, Sara, I shouldn’t have left you, I am sorry."
The window shattered, the sun b.roken, the floor deformed into a cliff and Sara was standing on the edge of it. Behind her, a bottomless abyss awaited to devour another sacrifice. Sara fell backwards into its dark jaw.
Asuriel shot her eyes wide open, panting, another nightmare. Sleep no longer means rest and peace, those nightmares of converged illusions and realities, of truth and lies intertwine, those were her personal torture. The Sedeses came to her, they said words of comfort but deep in their eyes, Asuriel saw satisfaction. Yes, that was the plan, a forsaken pawn who bore the blame.
But it matters not, nothing matters...