The Fated Meeting

by Geoffrey Matthews

The church stood dark and mostly abandoned, much like churches to Kira stood across the lands of Nora. The woman kneeling in front of the altar didn't miss the irony even as she muttered her prayer to the Goddess of Light. The unkempt state of the church brought to mind the reason she was here; she was to meet the man she had been hunting for the better part of a decade now. This was his church, his city, his responsibility and he had abandoned them all. She had to wonder if the man she'd pinned her hopes on had abandoned the Light itself. The thought made her reach over to silently run a hand along the longbow that rested near her left hand. What had started as a search for a savior had become a quest for answers from a man who had caused the death of untold people; if not through his hands directly then through his shirking of responsibility.

As the woman finished her prayer the sound of an airship approaching could be heard from outside, almost as if the world were moving to some divine will. The silence that had gripped the town was shattered in an instant; replaced by the sounds of boots scuffling on a wooden deck and the shouts of the crew getting the ship prepared for disembarking. The woman figured that by this point some of them had begun to notice the townspeople milling about mindlessly as if they were some sort of walking corpses. Some part of her figured that the man she was waiting for already knew what to expect and the bite of cynicism had her wondering if he had bothered to warn the crew about the mindless townsfolk. Perhaps she was giving the man slightly too little credit. The thought didn't comfort her any.

“It's about time you got here,” the woman said quietly as the small door to the church was quietly opened and closed. She didn't have to look back to see the man with the brilliant white robes and the ornate silver half-mask of a dragon's head. Who else could it be? He had to come, if not for her then for the death of his friend. If not for that, then perhaps just to appease fate. Diviners were strange that way.

“You'll have to forgive the delay. While it seems you were expecting me, I cannot say I was expecting you, Lady d'Roux.” The man hid a smirk, though the comment didn't have as much mirth as his expression would indicate. The woman at the altar decided she was rather unamused by his levity. “Since you're here though, I don't suppose you could…” The woman had decided at about that point that she was already quite tired of hearing the man speak. The melodious tone of his voice had been more grating to her ears than she had quite expected.

“Delay?” The question came out with enough venom to slay one of the dragons that man was so fond of, “Have you seen what they did to Calori?”

“Of course I have, the shadow cults…”

“The shadow cults opened a giant bridge to the moon and unleashed a horde of demons that destroyed one of the largest cities in Nora. And you weren't there to stop them. Did you see that coming, Master of Divination?” The title was all but spat out upon the altar; the woman refused to turn her head and fully acknowledge the man.

“Certain things had to be done for the greater good”

“The greater good? Is that the same greater good that you were serving when your associates summoned up a giant beast to ravage a town?”

“That was not my doing. The Master of Nine…”

“If you hadn't been so horrible at doing your job the situation would never have occurred.”

The woman's words hit the heart of the man in a much more painful way than any of her arrows might. “Avatar of Magic, chosen of Yunis and Helos. Child of Light. And you run away and leave thousands to die because of the greater good.”

The man found himself taking a slight step back as if to retreat from the onslaught, though it did little good. He couldn't deny some of truth in the woman's words.

“Those titles do come with some responsibility you know. Sometimes I have things I have to do. I try and prevent all the suffering I'm able to,” the man was growing exhausted of the conversation already. He had so many other things he needed to accomplish this day and getting berated by the woman was not on his list. “I am not a perfect being, divine ancestry or no. Speaking of which you have something I need in regards to that.”

“You haven't tried to prevent any real amount of suffering. I don't see you on the front lines stopping battles. I don't see you using your gift of foresight to prevent the tragedies of this war. You want something from me? Earn it! Right now the only thing you've earned from me is contempt.” The woman rose to her feet, facing the blind mage that stood near the entrance. “You don't even deserve to be in this holy place. Get out.”

“That's quite enough, Nikki. Even if this weren't his home, you have no right to tell anyone to leave this place. You should be ashamed of even saying such. This church is meant to be a haven to anyone who needs it,” spoke out a masculine voice from one of the shadowed corners in the back of the church. Lighting a single candle, the middle aged human made his way to the irate archmage. “Please forgive her for the outburst. She has seen far too many people suffer up close. More than any person should need to in one lifetime. You've come here for this, take it.” A bracelet of flowers was slid from the man's arm and offered up to the silver-masked man. The flowers were ancient but had never wilted, and would never lose their petals. “The bracelet of St. Annabelle. You intend to find Kira with it. I wish you luck.”

“Lucas! You can't! He's done nothing to earn it. He'll just vanish with it and…” came the cry of despair from the woman. She approached the pair, forced to stop by a cold gaze from her companion.

“He doesn't have to earn it. He just has to need it. You know that as well as I, even if you don't wish to see it now. Besides he's right. Not everyone can deal with the little things, there has to be someone who is willing to put aside the everyday to deal with the grand picture. You and I can handle the small things. Let him do what only he can. We might be powerful but we don't have the resources or the magical prowess that he commands. As for you, Master Ke'vadar, don't disappoint us. We've been searching for years to give you that bracelet.” The man gave a low bow and made his way out of the church, leaving the woman and archmage behind to stare at each other for a moment in silence.

“I will do my best not to…”

“I don't care. Do what you need to do. I'll trust Lucas on this.” The woman retrieved her bow and brushed past the man, forcing her way through the doors her companion had just left behind. “If you'll excuse me, I've got some small things to take care of out there.”

Ke'vadar stood there in the darkened church his hand clutched around the small bracelet of flowers in his hand. The woman had reopened old wounds, and brought to light a part of his life that he wasn't overly fond of. A few moments of silent reflection were spared, but outside his own companions were fighting to undo another of his errors. The silver mask was removed a moment, a rare thing for the cursed mage to allow a few tears to fall silently to the ground. Once the mask was on again the mage steeled himself once more and made his way outside into the sun. He could bear the judgments of others. He had to. Atonement and grief would have to wait; he had a Goddess to bring back and nothing could distract him from that.

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