The moon’s glorious face was partially shrouded in darkest-blue clouds, their lining shone silver as the light fought to get past them. The wind was gently caressing my face.
Staring into the night, the memories of events past cascaded from my mind and into the vast unknown, parading before me in a beautifully grotesque menagerie of crimes and transgressions, passions and confessions.
The band, or what was left of it, made haste into the wilds in a futile attempt to escape the Admiral’s hounds. Sitting there on the promontory as they scurried and made their way past me, disappearing into the trees, my weariness showed flush on my face. My body, no longer the home of vigor and strength; my soul, no more a bastion of steadfast resolve. My former brothers understood and recognized the sheen in my poise. My battle was long over. The clash of wills no longer held sway on me.
The scars decorating my body were manifold. Each one was a poignant memory. Not all of them stemmed from battles; some of them were the marks of love. So many left behind: Lovers, enemies and friends… so many… life had been full and reaped as ably as this incarnation allowed me. Perhaps the Crow of the Eye would carry me gently.
The baying of the Admiral’s dogs and their handlers drew nearer. Their sound was no longer a source of fear, but rather a promise to my ears. The howls came like a lover’s whisper, an oath of touches and intimate caresses to come, the allure of rendering oneself an offering to sweetest slumber. It would not be too long before they were upon the band. There would be much bloodshed, many would struggle, but all would inevitably fall.
To taste the wines of Lucius once more, to kiss the mouth of Enora, to lay again with the maidens of Anar! My mind brought back all the pleasures and offered joy even in revisiting the falls and stumblings of my meaningless life. The wounds, the singing, the dawns, the mourning. The vivid memories of those who came before me, remembered and yearned for as they now felt near, as if they were ready, waiting to embrace me on the other side.
Again the hounds, some hundred meters off, now. Bittersweet was the taste in the mouth of my spirit. Like the palest ale one could ever down. Like the darkest berry one could find in the forests of Mehrr.
They were upon me, the hounds. They stood large and fantastic, like the creatures of myth they once were. Myth, but now alive before me. Myth, but so painfully palpable.
The screams of the stragglers rang throughout as the snapping maws found their marks. They met no resistance, here. They found no fear of death but rather arms outstretched, and a smile as bright and sincere as that of the most mirthful child.
The blood ran easy, fountaining as this body’s thick neck yielded, offering no obstacle to the gnashing teeth and crushing jaws of the hounds of the underworld itself.
They found their mark and the sweet darkness, once afeared, made in itself a home for me.
But was not the moon showing its brightest face that night?