What has come before: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17


~~~ Tereil, the fallen ~~~

Tereil mentally acknowledged the priest’s flight, no hint of emotion marring his hawk like features, his eyes not bothering to follow the man’s retreat. To the passing observer the angel would appear as a statue except for the gentle rustling of his rich brown hair in the late day breeze. Minutes slipped by unnoticed, his thoughts again turned inward to the losses he had so recently suffered, a steady stream of tears trickling down his cheek. As they reached his chin the tiny droplets pooled, swelled, and then fell to the ground like miniature diamonds, splashing on the blood-soaked soil below.

A ragged sigh tore from his throat as he ripped himself from his morbid reverie, his bone wings unfolding to their full width.

“Isonia is unnecessary,” he said aloud, needing the grim silence to be broken, if only momentarily, “my path has diverged from that of the Gods. I cannot afford to dwell on the past, for it is gone and buried, a casualty of the ceaseless procession of time.”

He tentatively pumped his wings, the naked appendages uselessly swishing through the air, his feet remaining solidly on the ground. He had feared that being cast out of the Order of Angels would have robbed him of his divine powers, and apparently his guess was correct.

“No matter,” he grimaced, walking towards a nearby outcropping, “it was to be expected.” His words flowed forth like honeyed sorrow, soft and gentle, yet laced with all the sadness of a dirge. “Mortal blood flows through these veins now, no more powerful than that of a common shepherd,” Tereil continued, turning his palms upwards and gazing at the network of scars that crisscrossed his forearms. Angel restoration was potent, and even the gravest of wounds would heal without leaving the faintest blemish; the presence of lasting lacerations indicated that his powers had been torn from him as he was cast down by Isonia.

“No longer am I driven by the whims of the three, their squabbles are none of my concern,” he said, a steely affirmation touching his voice as he walked up the incline and out of the immediate vicinity of the cave.

The setting sun lit up the evening sky, the sprawling cloudscape taking on an orange fiery pigment as if the heavens themselves had been engulfed by an inferno. The molten orb was reflected in Tereil’s golden orbs as he stared, unblinking, at the celestial spectacle. “My destiny is mine, and mine alone, like that of every other being that flounders through life here on Tonan. I live and die by my ideals, for no purpose except that which I give myself. I am futile. I am extraneous. I am mortal. My life can be one of glorious accomplishments or hideous debauchery; either choice is inconsequential and yet monumental.”

He drew a deep breath, the cool evening air filling his lungs, soothing his throat that was ragged from weeks of incomprehensible screaming nightmares.

“The Gods do not care for me except as an expendable chip in their foolish game of souls, nor do they care about anyone: not the commoners, not their champions, not even their devout priests. A mortal life is absurd and meaningless; the greatest mystery is why we even bother to try.”

Had Meine, or any other rational being, been present as Tereil spoke they would have been wrapped up in the anguish that exuded from him. Isonia had stripped him of his angelic powers, hoping to render him harmless and impotent, however the resulting cloud of despair that rushed to fill the void left in his soul had manifested into a palpable wreath around him. Weeks of catastrophic introspection had convinced the angel that mortal life was unnecessary and futile.

As the sun slipped further down the horizon, Tereil walked away from the cave entrance that led to Syraph Keep, picking his way through the rocks of the mountain trail. A source of great power lay nearby, he could taste it in the air, and it would not do to be taken by surprise if it turned out to be hostile. He was well aware that he could break his neck in a fall by walking these unknown paths in the dead of night, but that prospect did not concern him.

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