Ending All The Time

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harunokaze's avatar
By harunokaze
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Literature Text

It was dark when he came in. It had often been dark, of late. Of late and longer than that. If Cheshire were to be completely honest, he would be forced to admit that it had been something over a hundred years since he'd last seen Melisane's tower in anything brighter than twilit misery.

But this was not twilight. This was not even midnight, where one might still hope to see stars. The dark was absolute, and Cheshire, who might have seen if a candle burned two rooms away, had to rely on his other senses to find her.

Melisane was in the tower's only lit room, her frail form bent over a spread of cards that glowed with a pale grayish light.

"Mistress, I have been to speak with the queen." There'd been a time when he had been less formal with her. There'd been a time when she had loved him. A time, even, when her eyes had lit in his presence, when he had made her laugh. And how many centuries ago was that? Half a hundred? Perhaps more.

"She told you no," said Melisane. Her voice chilled him. He could still be chilled. When she'd sent him to the queen, it had been with something like fervor; she'd clutched his hands and begged him to be quick. And he, who had never seen her frantic, had rushed from the tower, ready to throw himself on the queen's mercy with no fear of her infamously creative temper.

And for what gain? None. But they had both known that.

"She told me no." He stepped toward her. Stopped. He could not, just then, bring himself to be too near her. He was almost afraid of her. The hollow of her voice.

"I have done something, Cheshire. I have done something, and for what little time they have, all of Faerie shall call me traitor. All of Faerie, Cheshire. For once in agreement, on this little act of mine." She giggled then, a sharp, brittle sound.

"Mistress." And now he did step over, laid his hand on her shoulder. She didn't shrug him away, but nor did she look up from the cards.

"You should know something. You at least, if none other. It is gone, Cheshire. I have searched every possible future but the chance we sought, the peace we followed, is gone. Since the Battle of Summer's End there has been no sign of it. Such a pretty future. Can you imagine? Faerie at peace again. The return of the old ways. I have begged, pleaded, lied, done all I could so that we might have some chance at it."

"Of course you have, Mistress." He kept his voice sweet, trying to calm her. She was beginning to shout.

"It is lost." A whisper. "Gone since Summer's End. The one chance we had, destroyed. Half a millennium of work, ruined. Cheshire, listen to me. I had no choice. There will never be peace. We would have fought until we destroyed everything. Our side of the Veil, and the other."

It did not occur to him to doubt her. Questioning was in his nature, but Melisane was the best Weaver in either court. Everyone knew that. If she saw no path to peace, then no such path existed, or would exist.

It was not an easy thing to hear. Six hundred years, and he'd worked as hard as she to bring it to pass. No chance at peace. He could still remember Faerie before the war, though barely. Such beauty. Never again.

"What do we do now?"

Laughter again, brittle and sweet, like something beautiful dying.

"Oh, Cheshire. I'm afraid it is too late for us to do anything. I have already done it." She spoke lightly, as if the words were of no particular note to her. But Cheshire, who had never known Melisane to be light about anything, winced.

"Mistress, what did you do?" He tried to keep his own tone casual, but even he could hear the fear along the edges of it. His ears were pressed flat against his skull, the fur at his neck standing at end.

"Do you remember the pretty one, Cheshire? I sent it all to her."

Nonsense, now, on top of mystery. Melisane was an old woman. While she was usually quite lucid, there were times when her attention drifted. Now, it could not be afforded. He shook her, though gently. He could not have hurt his mistress, even had he wanted to.

"Mistress, Katherine is dead. She has been dead for forty years, now." Pretty, yes. And capable, for some short time, of coaxing Melisane into a smile. But Katherine had not adjusted well to life in Faerie. Some mortals simply never accepted the loss of the life behind them.

"Well, of course. Mortals, they are so fragile. But, you see, that is why it had to be them. They do not hate like us. They do not have the time."

It was something he had told her once. He found himself wishing he had not. "They kill each other too, Mistress."

She shook her head sharply, a dismissal. "They are not like us. We live too long. How long has it been, since the start of this war? How many of the great mages are left?"

He didn't answer her. She knew the answers. "Mistress, what have you done?"

"Taken away the weapons. It had to stop. Before we destroyed everything. Both sides of the Veil. Before pretty Katherine's people died along with our own. I am sending it to them. Perhaps they will better know how to deal with it."

"Melisane," he said her name, said it softly, as if it were a thousand years ago. And she looked at him, her eyes full of tears. "What have you done?"

"Ended it. Ended all of it. It was not even hard, Cheshire. It was only that no one thought to do it before." Her fingers balled to fists, disturbing the pattern of cards beneath them. "We have twisted it. It was never meant to be a weapon. So I have taken it away. From everyone."

"You sent the magic across the Veil."

"Yes." She said the word like she relished it.

It was too much to argue with. There was nothing to be said that she wouldn't have already considered. That she would die, that faerie would die. That only some few, mostly Changelings like himself, could survive without magic. He could not tell her, because she knew.

She had killed them all. Their entire word. And after almost two thousand years of war, of deaths and loses and greater, crueler weapons, he could not even find the horror in it. He no longer knew how to be horrified.

"Cheshire." Almost pleading, the way she said it. As if she had to plead with him. As if he could do else but listen. "You must see to it. See that it goes well for them. There may be some-. Look after things. It has been too long since the mortals knew magic."

"How long? Melisane, how long?"

"Oh, minutes, my dear. Minutes." She let her head rest against his arm. "You will look after things? Katherine. Such a pretty girl. Delicate. She will take looking after."

He stroked her hair. Golden, even now. Even after so much time, even after this. "Yes, Mistress." He managed, through the tears, "I will look after it. Katherine will—I will look after her as best I can."
Another scene that pertains to my 'Weaver' project. This one actually is relevant, although it won't appear in the novel proper. I wrote it mostly so that I'd know exactly how things went down. I don't know that it'll make sense to anyone, but, still, I wanted to share
© 2010 - 2021 harunokaze
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thousandshining's avatar
This is superb even without context. Your writing voice is delightful. :>
harunokaze's avatar
Thank you for the kind compliment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's nice to have a chance, once in awhile, to write dramatic moments.
thousandshining's avatar
The more you enjoy yourself, the more we in your audience will. :>