Second Interlude: Requiems

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Doom! Doom to all who walk
The stone paths of the fair city!
They shall share the portion with the brick,
And their blood shall anoint the flagstones!

-Excerpt of a nameless book of prophecies.

***

Another Age

***

The words had seen to drain out of him. He had scribbled down the letter in a fugue-like state, and when the ink dried on the page, all of the force that had moved him had vanished. He felt drained, empty, a shell of what he once was.

In that moment, he knew he had done what he had been made for. He could die now, and everything that had to have happened had happened. All in his life was complete.

Marcus Anderus waited for the ink to dry, every second an age. He had seen a vision, yes. A dream, too accurate go be his fevered imagination tormenting him. The vision still haunted him, every scream burned into his brain, every image seared into the foundation of his mind.

He had seen his own death, his own demise. A moonlit cliff, overlooking a beautiful lake. He would fall, and be dashed on the rocks below. He would fall, and everything would be over in a moment. He would fall, and feel the wind rush by him as he traveled to his final destination.

He had felt his death.

He tossed sand on the parchment, waiting for the grains to soak up the ink. Doing that to the next page, and the page after that, he waited. Waiting for ink to dry was definitely less than thrilling.

His heart beat heavy, in the absence of some distraction like the letter had been. He knew, in the deepest part of his being, in the core of his person, that tonight was to be his last night alive.

Before, he would have scoffed at such a thought; it was a lingering dream at best, a delusion at worst. But that man had died in the fire that had claimed his city. That man, who wasn't a skeptic as much as a fervent doubter for the sake of doubt, had seen the face of truth, seen what his hands had made. He had died then.

Him, Marcus, a person of faith? It was unthinkable! He, the Captain of the Guard, the man with enough arrogance and audacity to ridicule a king for his faith, was an equal believer? It was laughable, and the irony of the situation was not lost on him.

But he could not laugh. The strongest of faiths were oft born of suffering and tribulation, and his was no different. He had seen his home sacked -no, razed- and those who had claimed to be salvation become the instruments of this destruction.

Faith in himself was shattered. Faith in fellow man was equally destroyed. For if fellow man could trust those...things, those abominations, he was doomed to end his race. And now, in hindsight, the signs were clear, so clear only the willfully blind could not see.

Marcus snapped out of his thoughts. He grabbed the letter, rolled the three pages up into a roll, and used a few threads yanked off of his uniform to tie them shut. And then he pulled out the bottle.

It was pure, crystal clear, and felt like glass. Of course, this was of alchemy crafted. Powdered diamonds, steel and titanium, and bone shards. All were part of the mysterious recipe to make the nigh-unbreakable glass. The cork, likewise, was enhanced to hermetically seal and preserve the contents, and the mage circle inscribed on the bottom was designed to slow the effects of time and decay.

He stuffed the letter inside the bottle, pushing the stopper in, making sure the seal wasn't broken. Wrapping the bottle in paper, concealing it, he rose from the writing desk. Fortunately, this inn had a better, more furnished room than the last place he stayed.

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