Exalted: Northern Skies
“No, Zastruga he says quietly, not raising his head from where he sits perched over his beloved magitech project that he had been devoted to for centuries now. His long red hair hangs in a careless disarray of braids and loose tendrils over his chest and back – the flesh bared down to his waist, revealing the network of scars caused by his own experimentation.
He has never raised his voice to you. He never has been cruel. Yet, you finally think that he is just as mad as the other Sun Chosen. His hands work to craft to life something so terrible that your heart feels conflicted at loving the one who has been helping to create it.
“Please,” you beg again. “Please, don’t do this, Davros. Don’t bring about more destruction, more death.”
The argument is an old one that is always repeated. Though it often ends with your screams of anger, Davros, older than you by many decades, simply answers with calm refusal. You once thought it was simply the patience of an elder toward his younger mate. You now begin to think it is detached coldness.
He seems to sense there is a new shift in your thoughts and finally looks your way.
“Kan-Hur would have it completed even if I resigned from the project.” he offers, as if that alone held all the layers of explanation you needed to decipher his motivations. “Many would be honored to take my place and serve him in this endeavor.”
“At least it would mean YOU wouldn’t have a hand in its creation!” you scream.
“Precisely. That is the entire point of why I must finish this.”
You have not cried since Luna choose you as one of her Stewards, but tears of frustration blur your vision as you feel the division between him and you widening. He has never understood why you favored diplomacy and peaceful negotiations, his love and obsession for his craft had always directed his vision and shaped his choices.
You, who hardly ever misses the notice of anything, do not realize he has risen and come to stand before you until he takes one of your hands in his. He raises his other hand toward your face, but then drops it at his side a moment before it would touch your tear-stained cheek.
“I know what’s important, Zastruga.” he says.
“No, you don’t,” you reply, and when you break away to run from him you don’t even spare a final glance behind, and he does not give chase after you.
It’s the last thing you ever say to him, because a month later Meru burns, the Western Directional Titan implodes along with the land around it, and in growing horror or delight the Stewards realize the Solars aren’t coming back.
Decades pass, eventually turning into centuries, and still they don’t return. One day you enter a battle that you know you will lose.
Your wounds are many and your legs give way from beneath you. Despite your approaching death you gaze with satisfaction at the battlefield around you – littered with the corpses of fae that have fallen by your hand. Gone are the days when you once thought conflict could be resolved with clever words, with reason and diplomacy.
You have quickly learned the world is full of monsters beyond reason, and never again will you hesitate and abandon what you’ve sworn to protect even if it means tearing all those that oppose you to bloodied shreds. Never again will you fail in your most sacred duty to those under your care.
“I should have been there,” is a centuries old regret that haunts you even now, even though your brethren tell you that all those who confronted the traitors at their mates’ sides died alongside them.
An unnatural cry echoes across the battlefield and you see a Wyld-twisted Behemoth emerge from the nearby forest as if taking shape from the very shadows of the trees themselves. Its shape is constantly changing, and it lumbers with a form that is undefined, yet horrifying. You cannot identify exactly what it is, you know one thing for sure: It is coming for you next, for you are one of the last remaining defenders that stand between it and Creation.
You say his name- you think you owe it to Davros for it to be the last thing you say in life – and charge to meet your foe.
The end does not come quite as you expect it to.
You hear, at first, what sounds like thunder, though there is not a cloud in the sky. Before you, the Behemoth is suddenly consumed by streaks of essence lightning falling from the sky and the creature bursts into a thousand flaming embers before it can even cry out a final death scream.
You look up, and just for a moment, catch a glimpse of familiar gleaming metal before it vanishes and the sky is once again clear.
Afterwards, you try to search for it, but can never find it when you want to. Yet sometimes, when your anima banner is flaring, on the brink of losing an impossible battle, when you scream in defiance to those who would slay you, it appears; there for a brief moment, saving you from death. You find yourself taking on greater challenges, growing stronger and stronger in the process, just for the chance of catching sight of it again. When it is near, you think you can feel an echo of his presence.
Though the fae and all enemies of Creation learn to avoid your territory, and the people of your land live the peaceful kind of lives you once dreamed of; you live with the regret of realizing that he had understood what was important all along.