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Conquest’s End

by Roland Allnach

Conquest's End synopsis

A world conqueror besieges the castle of the lady of the Thousandfold Gossamer Veils. What place is there for mortal love in the supernaturals’ titanic struggle?

Men of the Jackal and Mantis pull as one to the shouts of their captains, and she, despite all her otherworldly power, is shorn from the sky to plummet downwards with a cry of sorrow, for she knows what awaits her among the dirt and swirling black clouds of clinging ash.

But it is too much for Kyto, and he can no longer sit idle. It is not enough to spur himself forward, he erupts forward, bolting his steed down from the height of his Lord’s hill toward the nearing fall of Lady Luna, and the host parts before and around him, not yet understanding his aim but believing that he, sacker of a thousand cities, wishes to claim the head of this most cherished prize, or perhaps despoil her in a more despicable way, and add her defiling to his titles of lore.

Yet as fair Lady Luna crashes to the cold earth and the captains of the Mantis and Jackal emerge to kill her, Kyto breaks from the host and, in a flash of his blade too fast for any to comprehend, sends both their heads tumbling to the ground. Amid the shower of their blood he dismounts and cuts Lady Luna free, and the sapphire light of her eyes rekindles, and she without pause launches skyward as a comet reborn.

But she has not left noble Kyto alone, for the wake of her gleaming trail casts him as a nest of swirling shadows, so that he appears not as one man but a company of his own brothers, with him reborn at their center. And in fear the host falls back, but they are not to be fooled for long, for as their captains’ bodies fall to the ground the host too falls upon this most unexpected treachery of the sacker of a thousand cities.

They are unwise, though, in their hasty wrath, for they fail to measure Kyto’s fury in full. For though Kyto has always fought as a warrior without equal, he now fights as a man without equal, and none can stand before him, and the vengeance he wreaks upon the foul host is swift and terrible, all the more demoralizing as Lady Luna returns to aid him with a company of Espers about her. And in the confusion and carnage, the carefully ordered work of the Jackal and Mantis dissolves, and the rest of the Espers dart upon the host, the air their own once more, and their wrath an eruption without compare.

So the battle rages, and the Lord heeds such things little but spurs the rest of the host, and the endless reign of their projectiles slacks not, but under the Espers and despite the slaughter they inflict, the assault upon her bastion doubles itself repeatedly. It is too much, and for all the skill of the stoneworks they succumb, and the bastion begins to crumble in places. The smooth stone façade gives way, the crenellated heights are battered down, the stout stones beneath crack and yield with an awful wrenching groan. The host draws back, but it is too late, for without warning the bastion collapses onto the plain, entombing many of the host in the work of their own hate.

But it is more than the collapse of a wall, for when the bastion fails a wind erupts from within, a wind of such force all the catapults and bitter siege engines are shattered as they stand, and none but Kyto and the Lord are able to hold their stance as all others are blown flat to the ground.

And the Espers vault upward in expectation, but Lady Luna holds her place beside Kyto, and though she and he are bound now in their valor and nobility, they have not a moment to share a word or glance, for the tremors of ill portent shake the very earth beneath Kyto’s feet.

And then revealed in the rubble of the bastion is a brilliant light, white but with shifting tones, a twisting dance of ivory hues and at its core a solitary figure, gleaming silver sword in hand, ruby eyes alight with distemper, platinum hair an undulating corona, tapering white veils a shifting sphere of gossamer about her, for it is none other than She of the Thousandfold Gossamer Veils.

She has heeded the call she has so long sought to avoid, and the full radiance of her presence is as nothing that the world has seen, so that even the Espers, even Lady Luna in her twilight luminescence, appear as nothing but twinkling stars in comparison. Such is her brilliance that the host cannot bear her sight, and even as they cringe, cower, and hide, their very eyes boil and bubble from their sockets before their innards roast and burst within their bodies.

Yet Kyto is spared such a fate, for loyal Lady Luna protects him in her own shifting veils in return for his having saved her. And from behind her guard he witnesses what no living thing of the world has yet witnessed, for in the clash of the Lord and Her of the Thousandfold Gossamer Veils all the elements are set upon each other, and the firmament of the world screams in tortured protest, and the battle they fight is not one of hate, but one more against themselves than against each other.

The time has come, the moment encircles them, and they can avoid each other no longer, and yet for all they have wrought, they have no wish to destroy that which they created in their love for each other in the Time Before Time. And that which they created is the world and its countless living things in all their coupled and contrary complexities.

It is the source of the ironic curse laid upon her and him by their Master. For in the Time Before Time it was the Master’s desire to craft a world with himself and her as servants in its making, but in their desire, they had forgone the decree laid upon them, and so the world lacked the perfection of its original intent but perhaps was all the more vital for the intricacies of their differing natures.

But such notions were lost memories, bitter and entombed within him and her, and yet smoldering within them to drive their ruinous confrontation. And as the brightest candle burns all the faster, so too their clash cannot long endure, for the full vent of their powers would break the world they so treasure, and so too they know this, and find their end in the only way they know, in the only way that is left at conquest’s end, and that is to dispel their lives for the sake of what has so troubled and consumed them with longing.

Kyto sees little of it, for she streaks toward the Lord with otherworldly speed, and he spreads his arms defenseless to accept her, yet calls out upon the roiling clouds to summon many bolts of lightning upon him and so too upon her, and even so she does not yield. There they meet upon the bastions’ ruins, and there her sword impales him to pierce his heart, and there his lightning enmeshes them both to consume her with him.

There beside the Sea of Senility the world cracks, and the Three Kingdoms of the mortal world are shorn free to find their own fate at last, and the now orphaned ground of the ethereal realm disintegrates beneath Kyto’s feet. And as he tosses aside his sword to accept his end, glad for what he has done in his last moments, he is stunned to find Lady Luna before him, about him, surrounding him with her many shifting veils, and she smiles upon him, and takes his hands, and her grip is both warm and cold, and though the crumbling of the firmament is a deafening roar, his fear fades as he meets her unearthly gaze. And then she lifts him skyward, and the Sea of Senility speeds beneath with its lazy swells of forgetfulness, and the Tundra’s Tongues sap him not.

His armor is shed and lost, and his memory dims, and his vision fades, and then there is only the enchanting presence of fair Lady Luna, and soon nothing but the endless blue gaze of her sapphire eyes. Then the change comes, and nothing is known to him as he has known it to be, but she speaks his name with the whispers of the Four Winds, and the world and its woes are forgotten.

* * *

What then is the nature of these careless whispers of loss and futility, that all must be divided against itself, and that the world must know no peace, but that mortal men must feel at odds with their mortality, and not know their place, and call until some last desperate moment, and live among the bitter echoes of regret for so much of wearying Time’s span allotted to them, and compel the greater mysteries that linger into the age of the world to hide themselves, and trade off their glory, and barter their pride and their majesty so that restless mortality may find its own way and cause those such as me, Lady Io of the Espers, to forfeit our path to that of dreams and passing fancy?

Kyto, he stands among the grove of cherry trees, their blossoms floating about him on the warm spring breeze. He looks to his hand, his boy-sized hand, and wonders at the longing in his heart, for he feels as if he has stirred from some terrible dream, and he trembles at the ghost of its passing. But then the breeze blows again, and the cherry blossoms rustle in the air, and it comes as a voice to him, and he knows peace within his heart, and solace in the world, and wonder for the many living things of the world.

And laughing, he spreads his arms, and runs between the trees, flying on murmuring winds among shifting blossom clouds beneath a sapphire-blue sky.

Copyright © 2012 by Roland Allnach

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