Exalted: Northern Skies
Chains that Bind
Zastruga is crying; a wretched, pain filled sound of mourning that echoes in the great halls of the Sunstorm Sky Cathedral. In your mind you imagine what her throat would look split wide open and yearn for the beautiful silence that would follow.
Glory of Mercy is as beautiful in death as she was in life and everyone gathers around where she lay on her orichalcum pyre. Flowers have been strewn around her, tangling in her long golden hair. Her amber eyes are closed, and her dark brown skin still seems as if it would be warm to touch. Red Sky at Night is kneeling at her side and grasping tightly on to her hand. With his usual inclination toward theatrics , he is weeping as if he might also die; wailing in anguish over his confidante, everyone’s precious little sister. The sight annoys you and you begin to wonder if his blood would be as red as his hair and as lovely when spread across his back.
The oaf Relentless Tempest keeps looking away and blinking awkwardly as if it were the light bothering his eyes rather than unshed tears. You could force those tears from his eyes, you think, and many more if you could only part him from his best friend long enough.
Only the eldest, Davros, seems unaffected by the misery that chokes the Cathedral. He is the calm in the middle of this storm. He stands dutifully at Zastruga’s side she alternates between sobbing and lecturing him for his coldness, but rather than sparing a glance to his fallen circlemate or his grieving Steward his gaze is steadily fixed on you.
Away from them all, leaning in a darkened archway, you stare back.
He knows. His arm wraps protectively around his mate’s shoulders in a gesture that she thinks is comfort but is in reality a warning, a message to you.
You had left your face mask pulled down and he had seen you mouthing all your imaginings. It is a pity they are all fixated on the corpse because you have never before seen Davros look angry. It is a wondrous sight that surely they would all regret having missed.
He knows – none hold the chains of the monster now.
Never harm the Circle; we are family to each other.
Redemption has died with her and you blame them all for her loss. You grin at him, wide and predatory before stepping back and vanishing into the shadows.
In the pre-dawn stillness you murmur your sins into the silken sheets of her bed and Glory of Mercy listens to every one. She tells you you’re not the monster they think you are. Her words are your penance and law. She is your absolution: it is only near her that you feel cleansed of all darkness.
“What they think of you is wrong. But never harm the Circle; we are family to each other,” she says.
Glory of Mercy’s Steward – or what remains of him – is soon found strung up in barely recognizable pieces over his Solar’s grave. No one can prove who did it, but everyone knows. You think it fitting that the Lunar pay for the life he failed to protect, and the thought reminds you of someone you’d forgotten: your own Steward, Blood Promise.
The sun in your life has been stolen from you but your moon remains. You’ll never let anyone that belongs to you ever leave your side again. You hunt her down using Sun and Moon Method and with the same power, bind her to you in the most unbreakable of ways.
Luna can see in the dark, and so can your Steward. Though she remains beside you, she tells you that you are cruel for making her a witness to your crimes.
Be kind to your Steward.
It would be kind to cut out her eyes, you think.
“You’re always at my side like a shadow,” Glory of Mercy teases. “Are you pretending to be my Steward?”
“I cannot help it,” you say, and dare to kiss her wrist. “They say you hold my chains.”
“No one belongs in chains,” she says. “No one deserves to suffer like that. One should choose to be at someone’s side because of love, not bondage. That’s why we must always be kind to our Stewards. It’s what they deserve.”
Meru is burning.
You laugh madly as you stand at the opened gates, blood whirling in a wide arcs as you dance and slice your daggers into the Dragonblooded warriors swarming in, delighting in the destruction, delighting in the chaos. They fall as easily as blades of grass but you realize that for as many that have fallen, many more are coming. Around you lay bodies in orichalcum and moonsilver and jade and blood and fire extends as far as you can see.
It’s the most beautiful thing you have ever seen; all these sinners being purged.
Never forget the sunlight.
You know the end is coming and it’s alright with you. If her sun must set, then so would they all. All that keeps you standing now is the desire to breath in all their purified ashes and to make sure that —
“I remember the day you Exalted,” Glory of Mercy says, holding your face tenderly. When she touches you the red haze clears from your mind and you can think without sin again. “You’re still that man, I know it. No matter what they have you do, no matter how darkened your hand are with blood, the Unconquered Sun chose YOU that day and you are his chosen, his hero. Never forget the sunlight.”
Only in her presence can you believe that dream.
“Don’t worry,” says Blood Promise as she pulls her knife from your corpse. You had left an opening to her because you had been circling around her, protecting her from harm in your own twisted way; your precious possession. “Next time will be different. I promise.”