In the feet that ran, the hands that reached, and the eyes that watered, there was no tear shed for the death of The Banewreaker, and those who might have shed a tear were strewn upon the ground where she walked, the blood from their slain bodies staining the white of her gown.
A great and terrible sadness, laced with a doubt which would poison all her remaining years, ached through her bones, warring with want to pull her to the ground, so that she might acknowledge a deep secret.
That she, like he had whispered her mother had done so long ago in her death at child birth, longed fully to plead for death in the sight of her own tragic immortality.
But there was no Sower to offer a first or last prayer to now.
She had killed him.
Her perfect, if terrifying, Shaper host.
Open handed and unarmed, asking her quietly, with powerful red eyes, so full of tender madness and arcane sadness that they alone threatened to rend from her heart the sanity which she'd driven forth. Let the men, and elves, and dwarves, cheer for the blessing which had fallen from her lips to her betrothed and soon to be liege.
For she had learned in Darkhaven of the mystical and hypocritical existence of truth which had her trapped as a moth to a flame, like the sorrow-bells that she swore she could hear ringing even now.
Arihala's race of human children, due to Satoris's Blessing, were formed in a passion unlike their cousins the Ellyl, who were formed in the exacting intellect of Shaper-First-Born. Bright, blood running, loin stirring passion was found rash, chaotic, untrustworthy and fool hardy to a race who had watched men love, breed, fight and die in scores within just a flicker of their eye.
When those of Rivenlost loved, and they did as often in their lives tough seldom in men's lives, when they did it was a bond which lasted for centuries. It was begotten of something beyond what mortal men might call love, born of traits within time honed skills of subtly and stasis in the ever moving well.
He was a good man; her husband. Aracus Altorus. Bold and brash, every inch the hero whom Malthus had carefully sculpted from infancy, and a pristine specimen of whom both The Fair and The Sower would be proud. He was an even better king.
And Cerelinde loved him with a passion she'd never known she possessed.
True and strong; tinged only by her knowledge of the millennia's she would mourn him. Their's was a bonding truer than any had cause to chart and their reign brought their races together with complicate subtle understanding of all the pains involved with undoing the past misdeeds.
That which was born of the mixing of Arihala's and Haomane's children, once known only as Misbegotten, but conveniently forgotten for this New World, was now heralded as miracle procured through prophesy.
In her first child's tears, which this union had blessed by letting him cry freely as the cold air of the Kingdom of the West assailed the wet naked figure, Cerelinde heard the echo of Satoris death-cry.
The women of Rivenlost were seldom fighters, but Queen Cerelinde, of Rivenlost and the Great Kingdom of the West, would forever be remembered as the hero who had ridden Ulrat of scourge Shaper. She let them carry on and tell the legends as they liked. When they were long dead and this game only the faintest memory sung in children's posy riddles she would still remember the way Satoris's hand had been held out to her and the way Godslayer had slid into his chest.
Would remember always they he never lifted a finger, no less a hand, against her in all her captivity.
And she rejoiced, silently, in a fashion she would never share�"with Aracus, with Malthus, with any of her brethren�"that her children bore the gift of Satoris. They would run and love and quicken and, though they would live years longer than men still for Haomane's blood in their veins, die in the same rhythm as the planet all around them.
Haomane, their hard-handed absent father, in his maniacal whimsy to trap and eradicate his wayward brother, had given his race without caring now that which Satoris had offered once only to be denied before The Sundering.
The Ellyl would now own mortality more and more with each mingling, until their years and multitude would be that with man's.
The Sound of Orinin's Horn blowing through a world made whole.
When her children were born it was Ushahin-who-walks-between that Cerelinde looked forward to seeing, more than her husband, and in some instances more than her child, and for those still moments she understood horribly The King Slayer's wife more than she had imagined she might. He came to her in the shadows, of life and death, of light and dark, or right and wrong, and they beheld each other the only way two people who have been sundered by their situations might.
Somewhere beyond contempt and affection.
A place where they were the only two left, to share a black island which had been burned and ground away to nothing more than an echo, the truth and the lies which no one else would ever know.
He bore ever forth Godslayer and the raven with the errant tuft of feathers. His eyes mismatched, face distorted, even as he wove a dream for each child their first night, but his hands the perfect graceful beauty of her own people.
The first time they'd talked haltingly for hours, it being the first time they'd seen each other since the room of her act and his, and she'd woken in her bed to find Aracus wiping away her tears, telling her all women cried after their first child. She had let him comfort her, cooing softly in the fashion of mortal lovers moved to comfort their beloved, the cold crenulated colors of her eyes hidden in the darkness of their room and his shoulder.
Sometimes when he came they spoke of absolutely nothing but stood together on the trellis outside the new born's room, watching the moon and avoiding looking to Meronin's sea where they had been Sundered. Unmoved to exchange, but unable to face the world where each other did not exist and thus everything that had been found was truly lost, where nothing had been learned in the exploration of the morality of those who'd claimed to be good and those who'd accepted being called evil.
The years passed like grains of sand through her hand, and when Aracus had died, she cried tears of sorrow felt for an entire world. He had been the great king whispered in prophesy and proven in deed. A husband of unswerving devotion and a father of infinite patience, to his children and his people.
And tears, through their sorrow, of blessed relief. Though they had loved, deeply and completely, mortality has driven the wedge all knew would come as the aging, and then dying, king still bore on one arm a wife who looked exactly as flawless, as beautiful, and as unchanged in age as the moment he had brought her back for the second marriage ceremony and on the other a children who resembled both her beauty and agelessness even with his coloring.
In her tears for Aracus, she found the truths, if not the tears, that she had never shed for Tanaros. He had never loved her with a depth like Aracus, but she could not make herself believe that Aracus had ever know and understood her as completely in true loyalty to who she was as Tanaros had in the moment he had asked about dancing at her wedding.
She mourned the hole within her that would never be filled with the passing of Arihala's child-king, the man who had dominated her heart, and would forever echo through her endless time to follow. She would be first grandmother and then great and greater, until one day she would simply be The Lady of the Ellyl again, who was always on the council and relative, slowly more and more distant for the crown's bloodline.
And none of this bothered her.
Because the death of Aracus was the end of her marriage, and the end of her marriage meant the end of her involvement in the prophesy which had pulverized all of her carefully constructed world long ago. So that in her tears for the one whom she had loved in all of Arihala's wild passion, and the one whom she'd never allowed herself to love in Haomane's fashion, she found tears for a life's time that had been beyond her control, even if it was only the blink of a mortal life.
Tinged with the Kingdom of the West's sorrow, tears of freedom, at once as terrifying and awesome as the prophesy had been on first hearing, slipped down her cheeks contemplating a land of unwritten future that was filled with just as many pitfalls and diamonds as every other had been.