The sound of battle flooded the courtyard as the first wave of the Grey Hand’s assault broke the through the outer wall.
Though only a squire, Impertious was no stranger to combat. Every day of the last few weeks had been rife with skirmishes. The Imperial Guard had hounded their small group of knights and alchemists at every turn. By the time they had reached the Seven Eyes, every member of their group was bloodletted and battle worn and Impertious, despite his young age, had left a crimson trail in his wake.
Impertious gripped his sword tightly and redied himself. He did not have to wait long.
A mountain clad in armor and wielding a blood soaked mace came charging through the fray. Impertious planted his feat and raised his sword to deflect the incoming blow. The mace came down like a boulder falling from a cliff.
The impact rent the sword from his hands, sending it to clatter impotently upon the stones of the courtyard. But the blow was deflected.
Impertious’ right hand reached to his belt. As the mountain reared back to deliver the final blow, Impertious charged his attacker.
The mountain lowered its weight and launched forward.
Impertious did not hear the impact as the steel-clad shoulder of the mountain rushed forward to meet his his chin. Neither did the mountain notice the dagger that slid between a gap in the side of its iron shell.
The mountain’s shadow eclipsed Impertious. Everything went black.
Impertious was falling. Through an infinite darkness he fell.
His hands grasped at emptiness and found nothing.
A single source of light flickered into existence. Polarix, the eternal eye, the constant star. It flickered silently, hanging judgmentally overhead; the white light of its apathetic gaze missing no detail.
Impertious continued to fall through the nothing.
Below him stood a familiar figure on a platform of alabaster. Grand Alchemist Alister, hidden under enveloping robes of white that gleamed under the star’s light, extended a single white-gloved hand. Impertious grabbed the hand as he fell.
He stopped falling. The glove felt cold against his hand. Alister leaned forward; face hidden under robes. From Allister’s lips came a whisper carried on the light of star.
The door is unbarred, you must walk the path of light.
Impertious stood upon the alabaster looking down. Alister fell through the void. A silver rope round around Impertious’ waist, the other end in Alister’s hand. The rope grew taught; they fell together as the star watched silently. Two figures twisting through the void.
Alister’s hood fell back, the youthful features of her face, surrounded by silvery hair and bathed in the starlight. Impertious found himself unable to look away. Perhaps it was because the face bespoke of an otherworldly beauty an almost extraterrestrial symmetry and proudness of features, or perhaps it was because he had so rarely seen it as Alister had always kept it hidden behind shadows and robes.
Staring into the silver pools of her eyes, he saw figure standing tall. A man, Lectus, the head knight, Impertious’ knight, stood tall with his hands upon his sword. His long hair fell about him energetically and a grey hand closed about his throat. He watched sullenly as Impertious fell.
Feeling shame, Impertious averted his eyes.
Below there was a light, growing brighter. A thousand swords rose up from the darkness. A thousand swords came together into one; the light grew to a blinding radiance. The starlight carried the sound of laughter.
Together, the alchemist and the squire fell through the void as the thousand-sword rose up to meet them.
Impertious awoke, covered in sweat.
To be continued …