Rivek lay on his side to gather the wind that had been knocked out of him. The falling debris left scratches on his arms and shoulders, but otherwise he was fine. He wiped his eyes as the dust cleared. The roof had caved in, pouring a jagged ring of light onto the floor. He clawed through the rubble to his knees.
Kai knelt in the pool of brightness, brushing plaster from his emerald coat as he dug through the ruins. Mirab stood in shadow behind him, freeing her bow from a pile of shattered bricks. She turned toward the door when she caught the sound of footsteps in the stairwell below. “We have to move.”
“Wait.” Kai’s ruddy face flushed. He kept digging. “Rile is stuck.”
A hunk of stone had pinned the white-haired boy to the ground, crushing his legs. The large hole in his shirt revealed a bruise that would quickly grow to overtake his abdomen. Mirab and Rivek exchanged glances. Both knew how acid-blooded mage handled internal bleeding: with a sure and painful death.
Mirab motioned at Rivek to take out his knife. “We do this the Alisian way.”
Rivek threw his bow over his shoulder and took out his knife. Mirab took Kai’s head in her arms and pressed his face against her chest, so he wouldn’t have to witness Alisian mercy.
Tears streamed down Rile’s cheeks, and his chest heaved with every breath. Rivek placed the tip of the blade over the boy’s chest and bit his lip. His hand trembled. Hunting animals was one thing, and so was shooting a man from afar with a bow. Pushing his blade into a human heart felt so much more real.
The footsteps were closer now. Rivek could hear them at the other end of the hallway. Mirab glared at him and took out her own dagger. She let go of Kai to approach the dying boy. Rivek moved aside and sheathed his blade. Some hunter he was. Mirab took Rile’s hand and whispered in her low, maternal voice, “Are you in pain?”
Rile whined weakly.
“Then rest.” Mirab kissed the boy on the forehead and whispered the Lady’s Prayer into his ear. The boy closed his eyes. In one smooth motion, she slipped the dagger between his ribs and held it in place until he stopped moving. She stood, wiped the blade on her boot, and turned to Rivek. “We must move on.”
. - 088/100 Themes.
Alisians have two major gods: the Lord governs life, and the Lady governs death. These tenets of duality lead them to treat human death as part of a natural cycle: you borrow life from the Lord, so you must pay it back to the Lady. By viewing life almost as a spiritual transaction, they treat death as something that should not be feared. It’s just business. This is part of why they are so good at the Black Trades, which include assassination and sellswording.
There are minor gods, but they are not relevant at the moment, and I don’t want to type too much.More Art/Writing Featuring These Characters:
Rivek Ailinar, Mirab Ailinar, Kai Voluska, and Rile belong to Grace Fong,