1 Prologue: The Profanity

14th of Greenbirth, 4A:2491

"He said to me: 'You shall wilt and wither, your spirit and blood, drained until your lips cannot part to sing the wretched songs of Lhë. And the dusk shall come green as promised. And the Glim One will breathe until all kinglands are scorched and burnt bare. It has long been promised. It has long been promised...'" the daze of fatigue trailed her voice, and each movement was as weighty as its predecessor.

"Mother... take your time."

His face held the grimace of a grown man, but having just welcomed his ninth spring, he was only but a frowning child. Nilus gazed past the wind-waltzing of springtime wisps to see how his mother was keeping up with his strides. The woman staggered along the trodden path; her limbs moved in weakened motion but still she hummed a sweet song for him.

The sun hung in the noontide, atop the meadowlands and pastures of Elynire, and all around them bloomed an audience of wildflowers; the world seemed more alive whenever she crafted melodies.

"Do not worry, my little one, the fresh air is what I needed," she spoke between deep breaths. The woman was beautiful, even in sickness. Eyes of sky-azure and hair like falling flame, a glimmered smile for each word and the majesty of a monarch. Even the trees bowed in her presence.

"Please ma, try not to push yourself," the kind boy said. "Father asked me not to let you, and I promised him." The silver of Nilus' eyes glistened with his worries, and her fingers came to pinch his rosy cheek teasingly.

"You are much too young to stare with such worry, Nilus. Rest and enjoy this beautiful day with me?"

The boy hesitated at first, but nodded. "Of course, ma…" He then gently took her reaching hand and held onto it with a delicate, loving hold.

"Tell me of your dreams, my darling boy. I love hearing of them." Alva said, smiling down at her son. Nilus led them into the shade of an ancient oak's twisting branches, where he knelt atop the earth and swept away the twigs and stones so that his stricken mother could take her rest with comfort.

"The same one from before keeps coming to me, more so these past few nights. The skies become green and a red-winged creature sets ablaze the land!" He made whooshing sounds to bring spirit to his tale, and waved his arms all about him to imitate the beast's crimson wings.

"And a man like father was there! Stood like this with his Ulyri sword," Nilus said, puffing out his chest and causing Alva to chortle at his imitation.

"Just like my dearest Uilleam!" She said.

"Aye! Just like pa! I swore it was him at first, but his beard was like that of fire! And his eyes —" The boy paused. "They were as dark as Alasdair's whenever he becomes cross or saddened… like the greying of a storm…"

Drawing quietly, Nilus settled by the oaken roots, where he laid his head atop his mother's bosom and sealed his eyes to the faintness of her heart.

"You're dying, aren't you? Alasdair says so, and he's hardly ever right! But... Pa, he hasn't been sleeping much at all. I hear him in the night… Weeping and drinking." His father had become eerily restless, as if he sensed something dreadful was looming.

"I-I…" Alva failed to conjure her words, knowing Nilus could easily perceive a lie.

"Be the light for your brother, Nilus. I know he is older and braver, but you… you are wiser and kinder. He is far too sensitive for this world, much like your father." Alva pulled her child into a tight embrace.

"I will always guide him. I swear it to the Creator and to you. You don't have to worry… you never have to worry…" The patter of what Nilus thought was rain began its cascade down his mother's pallid cheeks to fall atop his curls of flame. He turned his gaze upwards to find the sky unclouded and pure.

"Are you frightened, ma?" Nilus whispered as he snuggled against her, careful as not to harm her fragility. "Because I am…" he admitted.

Alva laid a sweet kiss atop the crown of his head. "No, my little one, I am not frightened. But I am seized by both fury and grief too grand to be true at times. I have pleaded in prayer and song for our Creator's mercy, but even His blessings cannot keep the darkness at bay. But He has allowed me to endure longer than permitted so that I may be with you a little longer…" Her thumb tenderly swept his tears.

"I love you… as I shall for always…" Alva whispered in her weakness.

Up passed the river of fire that was her hair, to once ruddy cheeks now sallow and waxen; Nilus noticed how peaceful his mother appeared as her eyes gave into their heaviness. The swaying blossoms all around, once majestic in springtime hues of pinks and blues, fell to wilt in disgusting greys of rot; and as the colour washed from Alva, as too had it washed from the land. A brandishing of decay flooded throughout the meadow; its once emerald ocean of hills and patchwork of pastels laid blighted and barren.

Nilus heard it. The deafening silence of death. The fragility of life as it left his mother's bones; the frailty of his heart breaking and sinking into a void of disbelief. And he wailed loudly to the world and to the Creator. And he begged her spirit to return from the Afar a hundred times or more.

"NO! NO! CREATOR, PLEASE!?"

The boy tried imploring the Mystai and spoke the four arms of Villir, words the woman herself had taught to him.

"Ei'in!" Nothing.

"Tvir!" Nothing.

"D'irlla!" Nothing.

"Jor!" NOTHING!

Death itself rejected the power of his Will, and the radiant cobalt of his glowing palms did ought to spring her back to life. His reach could not grasp her fleeting spirit. The words he spoke did not yield life-giving properties within their cadence.

"MA!" he screamed until his voice fractured in sobs. How quickly her flesh came stained by the veil of quietus. He pummelled his fist into the ground until his knuckles ran with crimson, and his powerlessness birthed only anguish and frustration.

"Please! Please!" Frantic. He kept to the futility of his begging and weeping but she would not awaken.

"Creator! I will do it! If you refuse to bring her back I will speak the name of Hessi!" Nilus was hesitant but willing. Blood trickled from grazed flesh, curdling with the earth atop his hands.

"PLEASE!" His begging would only be answered by the unseeable shadow, and he went to speak the Oath of Night. He would act in sin by speaking a name no living creature should dare.

"I beseech the Bristled-Idol by a name that is eternal, ripened red and born from a moonless abyss. I ignite old Hessi with darkness. Your olden name, the symphony and the profanity…" all things grew to stillness in anticipation. A noble sacrifice was to be made. What would he offer atop the altar of despair?

"B'ha—"

A swift hand cupped his mouth to keep sealed his tongue, and at the sight of Alasdair, Nilus threw himself into the arms of his brother. With dirtied fingers clinging to fabric, Nilus' lament came without resistance.

"Nilus… She… Ma wouldn't want you to do that…" the older boy whispered. "'Never speak such profanity, don't ever sin or give yourself to evil so willingly.' those were her words to us. We promised to never sin against the world. Remember? 'We cannot purify evil with evil,' you told me that."

"A-Alasdair!" he cried and he cried and he cried, trembling with sorrow.

"I-I'll stay with her. You must get father, alright? We were hunting the burflaks by Tirrin's farm."

Nilus dithered at his older brother's behest, but Alasdair insisted with a reassuring nod, and the younger boy hastened to their father.

The noonflare flowers had grown from Alva, and Alasdair knew then what had truly killed her. Only through the greatest sin could the noonflare bloom — or so his father had taught him.

"Gore-speech…" He spoke to himself, as the flowers of sin came in black bouquets, siphoning the quintessence of life to bloom with impiety. He dared not to touch a single one, for a great evil lived within each. But no ordinary gore-speech could conjure such wicked blooms. It was a curse beyond his understanding.

Impure with blighted intention, it sunk deep below flesh and seared into the spirit. The curse was made in a rancid bind, devouring greedily and taking until nothing remained but fell and bone. Her skin peeled in folds of dust, and Alasdair never wept a single tear as the blood from her veins leaked black with a soured stench, for a hatred without measurable weight came to him before any desolation.

The ancient, nameless oak against which his mother rested fell from its eternity, and Alasdair stood watching the leaves crumble away. And all the creatures fled their abode, away from the boutade of taint.

He was glad Nilus sought their father instead of witnessing their mother wilt into nothingness; she deserved more in death, just as she did in life.

By the time Nilus would return, nothing of their mother should remain but bones too brittle to carry and the blooming black petals of the godless noonflare.

It had long been promised...

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