Author’s Note: Hi again! It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything in this universe, but the characters have been with me all this time. This is a scene I wrote today. As with most everything I’ve written in this story, it takes place right in the middle of everything, so it’s a bit difficult to come in as a reader, having no idea who anyone is. The only really important things to know, here, are that Lucas is our main character, a prince with the power of Fire Magick. The Libra are a race of people who look a bit like humans crossed with cats, this isn’t an entirely knew concept, but I really like it, and I’ve always enjoyed the idea of people having tails. Right now in my mind they look a lot like the Miqo’te from Final Fantasy XIV, or maybe Rei from the Breath of Fire series. The Lufian Witches are a sect of humans who follow the teachings of their goddess Lufia, and who are reflective of real world Pagans, though with a bit more Magick power. Sanrin is a leader among the Libra, and Ioan is a friend to both Lucas and Sanrin, he’s something of an outcast and a maverick among his people. This scene takes place right in the middle of things, but I hope it isn’t too jarring. Enjoy!
“There was no standing against the combined might of Alexandria and the Church in Augustine, so the king at the time, Magnus Cornelius, who was a supporter of the Lufian’s way of life, was faced with the choice of joining in the genocide of an entire people, or fighting a war with Alexandria he could not possibly win and have his entire army killed. So, the king abandoned Dulhan, abdicating the throne and is rumoured to have disappeared into the Mist Lands of the north, where he was never heard from again. This led to an internal struggle for the crown of Dulhan, and the throne was eventually assumed by Revlan Cornelius, the second cousin of King Magnus, whose son sits on the throne today.”
“That’s a fascinating history lesson you’re giving him,” a voice called as a figure leaped from the shadows of the rock face and landed squarely in front of Sanrin. The figure’s black ears twitched and his tail flicked as he stood up straight, “But you should probably get to the point.”
“Hello, Ioan,” said Sanrin calmly.
“Ioan,” breathed Lucas in surprise, “Where have you been? How did you-“
“I’ve found my way out of worse situations,” interrupted Ioan with a grin and a wink. “So,” he said, crossing his arms and turning to Sanrin, tail swishing confidently behind him, “You going to get to the war or keep talking internal Dulhanese politics? Because frankly, that part is boring.”
Sanrin sighed and shook his head knowingly, as though he had had this conversation with Ioan before, “One must understand the past to know which path they should walk today,” he said, “Lucas must know the whole story, not just the information that pertains to our people.”
Ioan rolled his eyes, “Well get to the mass murder already,” he said.
Sanrin sighed again, and turned to look at Lucas, “As Ioan has so eloquently pointed out, the war began in earnest when Dulhan joined Alexandria in their religious quest to rid the world of the Lufians, claiming their Magick to be an abomination against the Angel of God. It was at this point that the Libra stepped in.”
“To their eternal regret,” said Ioan.
“We don’t regret it, even now,” replied Sanrin calmly.
“Well it didn’t turn out well for us.”
“What happened?” asked Lucas.
“Take a look,” said Ioan darkly.
They continued walking and crested the hill. Below them lay a deep valley, surrounded by cliffs, with paths leading down into a massive lush vale, dotted everywhere with large, grey stones.
“What’s that?” asked Lucas.
“Can’t you guess?” replied Ioan cheekily.
“It’s a graveyard,” said Sanrin somberly.
Lucas eyes opened wide. The valley looked like it could be a mile wide, and the stones of all shapes and sizes jutted out from every corner. “It’s so… big…” he said, unable to think of an appropriate word.
“Aye,” said Ioan with his eyebrows raised.
“The Libra,” said Sanrin, “Stepped in to defend the Lufians, who were not warriors and who possessed no real offensive power with which to defend against an army. Their Magick has always been a peaceful Craft, a philosophy based in reverence for nature and a desire to become one with it. This is a value the Libra have always understood and respected. Though the Lufian Witches were human, they were like us, and we chose to defend them.”
“Not all of us, I might point out,” said Ioan.
“No,” agreed Sanrin, “Not all. There was much debate among the Libra, but there was little time, and it was before either my time or yours, Ioan, so we can’t know exactly what transpired. What we do know is that enough of the Chieftans among the tribes agreed to help the Lufians, and the war began.”
“It wasn’t much of a war,” said Ioan bitterly.
Lucas stared out at the massive graveyard. “The stones,” he said,” It looks like they’re all blank. There aren’t names or anything written ont hem.”
“That’s because this is a mass grave, little human,” said Sanrin, “There are hundreds upon hundreds of Libra sleeping side by side beneath the ground, and the stones may mark individaul places where certain important members of our tribes are buried, but only their families know which stone is which, and truly no one can say who is buried where. This is the central gravesite, where my ancestors brought their dead in the war to bury them with proper ceremonies, but the bones of the Libra inhabit all of the Hrothgar Plains. Their bodies lie within the ground, the mountains, the caves, our bodies and spirits are everywhere. There are other gravesites, but this is the holiest of them, the most respected by our people.”
Sanrin crossed his arms. His white ears shivered a little against the wind, and his tail stiffened. “It is harrowing to see, but it is the truth. We stood against the armies of Alexandria, and Dulhan, and Augustine, and we fought to protect the witches. Many among their number fought alongside us, brave women and men who put down their books of spells, abandoned their peaceful ways and took up swords to battle. But they were untrained in the arts of war, and the Libra are hunters, we kill for food and clothing and shelter, we do not practice war as sport the way humans do. We were outnumbered, outclassed, and outmatched. Our people fell, and so did the Lufians.”
“So the Lufians…” asked Lucas, “They’re all dead?”
“It is difficult to say,” replied Sanrin, staring out across the valley, “I am told that there was a great effort to hide the Lufians using Magick, to take them to secret villages and keep them concealed. The greatest of these was the city of Madeena, which lay in the vast forest land to the east, but during the war the forest was enchanted, and even to this day very few have entered the forest and made it back out.”
“Or when they do, they enter on one end of the continent and are deposited on another,” said Ioan. “The eastern forests are said to be the home of the Faeries, though few have ever even claimed to have seen Faeries, and I’ve certainly never met one.”
“The problem was,” continued Sanrin, “The eastern forest and the bastion of Madeena was too far away. We Libra tried to get the Lufians there but we were cut off at every turn. It was an out and out slaughter of both our people. The armies of Alexandria and Dulhan, and the soldiers of Augustine, they didn’t care who they cut down, human or Libra, we were all idolators and heathens to them. They saw us as tools of some unseen devil, armies of darkness. All we ever wanted was to live in peace in the land that was rightfully ours, and we even accepted the Lufians who were human and who did not belong here, because they respected our land and our people. Some of the Lufians were evacuated to the eastern forests, and maybe in those twisting vines and hidden paths they found sanctuary, but most of us, the Libra and the Lufians, were killed before we made it that far.”
“But the Lufians are almost entirely gone, now,” interjected Lucas, “And the Libra still survive, there are still enough of you to constitute your own people.”
“There are probably just as many Lufian in the world as there are Libra,” said Sanrin, “But they look like every other human, so they either hid their faith or abandoned it entirely. Some Lufians defected to the enemy and helped slaughter their own people. Very, very rarely did a Libra ever do such a thing, and if he attempted to he’d have been cut down just for having ears and a tail different from those of humans. The Lufians went into hiding, but they could hide in plain sight. The Libra had no such luxury, because we were unfortunate enough to simply LOOK different than the humans.”
“They think we’re animals,” said Ioan to Lucas, “Humans have always talked about the Libra as THINGS, not people. They think of us as some kind of animal-human hybrid, when in truth there’s no human in us at all. It’s rare that a Libra can even mate with a human, and believe me, there were plenty of romances between Lufians and Libra during the war.”
“You said the war was before your time, Sanrin,” said Lucas.
“It was,” agreed Sanrin, “But I was born when the war was just ending, so as a child I never stayed in one place long, my tribe was constantly on the move. Now there are a few safe havens for our people, the three great powers who were fighting us were fighting an IDEA, the idea of Lufia and Libra spirituality, they were trying to eradicate the notion that someone could worship someone other than their Angel. As soon as the Lufians were eliminated, or as I should properly say it, as soon as the dissenting HUMANS were eliminated, they considered the war over. The Libra didn’t even merit a war, they were happy to kill us if we stood against them in favor of the Lufians, but we were always savage wild folk to them, and they weren’t interested in converting us. They didn’t want Angel-worshipping Libra walking down their streets. That, perhaps, shows the truth of it.”
“They didn’t care really about Angelism,” Ioan picked up, “They just wanted to make sure that humans knew where the power was. It was all to keep the structure intact: follow your kings, follow your Angel, follow your leaders, and do not step out of line. Once they were done with effectively destroying the Lufian faith, they were done with the war. They’ve always held animosity toward the Libra just for being different from them, but Hrothgar was our land before it was theirs. They think themselves kings, but they’re only kings over other humans.”
“Peace, little cub,” said Sanrin.
“This,” Sanrin stretched his hand out to show the valley, “This is what your people did. You were not part of it, but they are your people, and you are their prince.”
“But I’m not really the prince,” said Lucas, “My father is Varner, not the king, and the prince has no power in Alexandria.”
“You can change that,” said Sanrin,” Not only are you of royal birth, but you have Magick within you. You can bring about a new age where humans live in peace with the Libra, and what’s left of the Lufians. Your friend is a witch, is she not?”
“Do it for her, then. For the children she will someday bear, and for what remains of my people. I ask you on behalf of the Libra and the people of the Green Word: change this continent. We are secluded from the Eastern Continent by impassible storms, and on the west are only rocky crags that no ship can manuever. To the north is endless mist, and to the south are waters from whence no has returned. All that the humans, the Libra, and the Lufians have, is this continent. If we all continue to kill one another, eventually there will be no one left to rule.”
“A lot of Libra would disagree with what you’re saying,” said Ioan with his arms crossed and a look of defiance in his eyes. “Many Libra want revenge.”
“And revenge will do nothing but spill more blood into the soil, and the trees will grow with the hatred of the dead running through their roots,” said Sanrin.
Ioan rolled his eyes, “Always waxing philosophical, you. But I agree anyway. There’s nothing that another war would accomplish. The Libra couldn’t win it anyway.”
“But there are many who want another war,” said Sanrin to Lucas, “As Ioan has said, many of my people thirst for vengeance. In time, their thirst can be replaced with a longing for peace, and it is my duty to change their minds, not yours. But you have a far heavier task: to change the minds of the humans.”
“I was never appointed for any task,” said Lucas, “I’m not some hero destined to change humanity.”
“I believe that you are something of the sort,” said Sanrin, “The gods saw fit to give you the gift of Magick, among all people. And your power is far greater than any Lufian witch, or any Libra sorcerer, few in number though they both may be.”
“My Magick is something that none of us understand,” said Lucas, “The fire listens to my call, but I dont’ have infinite power. I can’t change the whole world alone, even if I wanted to.” He paused, “And I don’t,” he finished.
Sanrin lowered his head, “Then perhaps it was a waste to show you this sacred place.”
Lucas reached out a hand and touched Sanrin’s shoulder. This felt like a bold move to him, and Sanrin flinched slightly, even Ioan raised his eyebrows. “It’s not that I don’t want to help,” said Lucas, “It’s just that I don’t think I can.”
Sanrin smiled gently. “You are young, and small, and weak,” he said.
Lucas felt his stomach drop.
“But,” Sanrin continued, “You will not always be young, not always so small, and not always so weak. You have gathered around you a remarkable number of wanderers and castaways. Bronwen is a ferocious warrior, Imogen is perhaps the last of all her people, and your friends from Alexandria are brave young men. Even Ioan has taken a liking to you, and he doesn’t like many people.”
“Hey!” Ioan interjected, seeming somewhat embarrassed.
Sanrin grinned a little more and shook his head, then placed a hand on Lucas’ shoulder, “Little human, right now you are afraid. You are overwhelmed, and believe me when I say that I know the idea of leading anyone is overwhelming. You are troubled, and you want only to find your own happiness. But you have been given an opportunity, and it is the opportunity more than the gift of Magick that is truly your blessing. You may yet find that you have the power to change things. The Angelist Church is a mammoth creature, and it has many horns and teeth. One man alone cannot fight it, nor even an army, as we’ve seen. But given the right circumstance, someone may be able to destroy the beast from within.”
“How?” asked Lucas.
Sanrin removed his hand and placed a clawed finger to his chin, thinking. “I suppose, if I were in your position, I might allow the beast to swallow me, and then drive my claws into it’s heart.”
“And what does THAT mean?” Ioan asked petulantly.
“Augustine is a holy city,” said Sanrin, “But it isn’t ruled by clergyman or priests or nuns, it’s ruled by an IDEA. Angelism is a concept. Bring down the people’s faith, and you bring down the church. Without the church, Alexandria is one lone nation with no faith to strengthen it’s army, and Elliot Varner is an unelected ruler who waits to be deposed by revolution.”
“That’s a pretty lofty goal,” said Lucas.
“I cannot say how it will go,” said Sanrin, “But I believe you and your allies have the potential to change everything. Think on what you’ve seen and heard here, and remember it during your travels. I have offered what wisdom I can, and now your choice is your own. We all must make our own choices,” Sanrin glanced at Ioan as he uttered the final sentence.
Ioan shook his head.
Sanrin turned and walked past Lucas, back the way they came. “Stay here for a while,” he said, “Both of you. I want the two of you to think about where you’ve been, and where you will go. Go down into the Holy Place and let the spirits of the Libra give you their wisdom. I will wait for you at the entrance. Think, while you have leisure to do it, and rest your spirits. This is a place of rest and thoughtfulness, use it to your advantage.”
Sanrin walked off down the trail, and left Lucas standing alone with Ioan. Lucas glanced at Ioan, and
Ioan just shrugged. Without a word, they set off down the steep path into the valley, into the Holy Place, into the mass grave of the Libra.