Sunset

She washes her clothing, scrubbing at the blood that stains them.

“Stop playing and kill me! Kill me!”

She wrings out her clothes and lays them aside, cleansed of blood and gore.

“You were meant to end me!”

She spends her time in the natural hot spring, scrubbing thoroughly before rinsing off.

“I was meant to die!”

She steps out of the steaming pool, water streaming down her legs and leaving deluges on the tiles. She looks back into the reddened spring, watching the bubbles as they form and pop upon the surface.  Her hair clings to her back, to her chest, to her face, in a wet touch that she welcomes as she reaches for a towel. She can still smell the iron scent of the beast’s blood; she can still smell the odor of its evacuations; she can still smell the rawness of its stink, the meat upon its breath. She can feel the warmth of its life heat; she can taste the foulness of the tendons – the ones her sword ripped through and tore out from its legs.

All of a sudden she feels sick, and retches. Her heaves echo in the chamber, reverberating off the walls and filling her ears. The sounds make her sicker, and she vomits.

A guard, having heard the noises from down the hall, peeks her head in, and then peeks back out; she has had bad courses before. She maybe even feels pity for the young Grand Master. The pains can be unbearable at that age.

As the guard returns to her rounds, the girl within the chamber washes herself again before dressing in spare clothes; humble linens – garb for a farmer’s daughter. They will do. She makes her way up the staircase and into her quarters. She settles herself before her bed and kneels to pray. Matina has long passed, but she cares naught. She prays for Sir Astartes. She prays that he finds the strength to live for himself again. To live for Sister dul Cybinese. To live for Vlora.

She prays that whatever darkness remains within the man be vanquished by his faith and devotion to the Lord.

She prays for the Lord le Pajari’s soul, so that it might find the peace it so long needed. She prays for the people of Saint Helriem’s Isle, who shall receive word of their Baron’s cleansing before the month’s end. She prays for the mage that summoned the demon; to have managed such a feat would have damaged the already-tainted soul greatly. She prays for the Grand Inquisitor; she prays for the Lord Earl Marshal; she prays for Vlora…

After a while, she realizes that she knows not what her prayers mean anymore. They all blend together into one steady stream of thought, a perpetually growing list in need of holy guidance. The Lady dul Baildana had chided her for expecting prayers alone to achieve anything; a Davite must take action, and use the Lord’s blessing as a harbinger for righteous deeds. She feels a fear that rises from uncertainty. She tries to smile, but she cannot bring her lips to budge. She tries laughing, and that works. She laughs until she cannot stop. Her face turns red, her breathing grows labored, and her body becomes weary.

She collapses on her bed, holding her mother’s portrait close to chest, and prays for Sunshine before her eyes close.

On the new day, she visits Davren and picks out a colt. The stablemaster praises her choice, and she smiles true for the first time since the demon’s attack.

She has named her new horse Sunset. She buries her face into his mane after she leads him from the stables.

She climbs into the saddle and goes for a morning ride.

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