I decided to write out some fan fiction I’ve been thinking about because of course I need to be more of a fucking nerd. Still, I guess it’s not that bad a thing to spend my time on. Beats sleeping more.
The Ashen One stood before me, her legs struggling to keep her upright. She shakily sat down at the foot of my throne and removed her helmet. She looked up at me, her eyes tired and sorrowful.
The effects of Hollowing had taken their toll.
Her once olive skin had rotted into a sickly black-green. Her violet eyes had dimmed to a dull grey. Her lips were cracked and beneath them lie blackened, broken teeth. Even her hair was not spared by the Hollowing. No longer soft and bold, it had fallen away until only a few clumps of raven strands remained.
“My dear,” I said softly, placing my hand on her head, “thou dost not look well.”
She laughed gently, her voice croaking and weak.
“I’m afraid this is the end for me, Ludleth. You were right. I shouldn’t have listened to Yuria.”
I brought my hand back to my lap. The poor girl below me was struggling to keep herself upright. She was in a worse state than me.
“Ashen One, do not think so lowly of thyself. You and I are alike-”
She put her hand on mine and looked me in the eye.
“No,” she said, “I fell for her promises of power and paid the price. I can go no further. The Hollowing has progressed too far.”
She withdrew her hand and used it to readjust herself before continuing.
“I’ve no strength left to fight it, Ludleth. Soon, I will meet the fate of so many before me. How many like me were fooled into thinking some delusion about becoming a Lord of Hollows?”
A single tear rolled down her cheek, and she wiped it away quickly, to hide from me her fear. I nodded solemnly and took her hand in my own.
“My dear, do not blame thyself. Yuria offers something few would deny: power.”
The Ashen One looked away.
“I was still a fool.”
I felt pity for the girl. To have worked so hard for naught.
“If thou dost believe that thy end has come, I shall what I can to ease you. ‘Tis the least I can do for one such as thee.”
“I knew you would understand,” she whispered.
Her voice was growing fainter, her eyes unable to stay focused.
“What wouldst thou ask of me then?” I asked the fallen champion, “What can this little Lord do to ease thy writhing soul?”
“I want to help those that come after me, Ludleth.”
The Ashen One readjusted herself once more.
“I cannot bring the Lords to their thrones, but I want to aid those who can.”
I looked at her gravely.
“Ashen One, art though asking for what I believe?”
“‘Tis a choice that thou shalt find most final.”
“I know, Ludleth, but if I keep on as I am I will only hinder the ones to follow,” her determination was clear in her voice as she spoke. She looked at me with what little strength remained in her.
“I must do this. Will you help me?”
I could see that she was serious. Her commitment to her duty was admirable.
“I shall,” I told her, nodding slightly, “but thou must understand one thing before I do.”
I looked her in the eye to ensure she understood me.
“If I were to take thine twisted soul and draw from it its potential, I could not be sure the outcome of the transposition.”
I raised my right hand.
“I could bring forth a weapon most powerful, one that would bring the Lords to their knees.”
I raised my left hand.
“However, I might also find naught but a trinket; useless to all. T’would be a sorry fate for you, Champion of Ash.”
I placed my hands back on my lap and tilted my head.
“Couldst thy rest at ease knowing that thy soul’s transposition may help none?”
Her determination had not left her despite my warnings.
“I know the stakes,” she said, keeping my gaze, “but I know too that this is my best chance. By my sacrifice, the fire may be linked once more.”
She smiled widely, her chapped lips parting to reveal blackened teeth.
“You of all people understand doing what must be done, do you not?”
My aging heart tightened, her sad smile look bringing forth feelings I knew all too well.
“I see thou are not to be dissuaded. Very well, Ashen One. I shall do as you ask.”
“Thank you, Ludleth,” she sighed happily, “please use whatever I may give however you see fit.”
The fallen champion turned from me and leant against my throne. She drew a small blade from her hip and tentatively placed it against her breast. I softly placed my hand upon her head to comfort her as best as one like me could.
“Farewell, Ludleth. Thank you.”
She pushed the blade into her heart with one swift motion. A faint gasp and shudder were all that signified her passing. She fell limp moments after, and soon all trace of her began to disappear, leaving where my feet would be a small, dimly glowing gold mass.
The soul of the dear girl.
“Farewell, Champion of Ash.”
I scooped up the soul and stared at it. All that remained of the Unkindled ash was this. A cruel fate for one who had worked so diligently to fulfill her duty.
“I see that the girl succumbed to the curse.”
The raspy voice did not draw my gaze away from the soul in my feeble hands.
“‘Tis always a shame to see the Ash fall so,” said the voice, drawing nearer.
The handmaid of the shrine stood beside me. Her mobility was great for one in such a poorly state as she.
“A fine soul,” she said, drawing nearer, “I only hope that it can be of use.”
I nodded in agreement and brought forth the aging transposing kiln.
“Perhaps her soul might become something great. ‘Twould be a shame for her sacrifice to mean nothing.”
I fed the soul into the kiln, and concentrated. I used those arts once forbidden in my homeland to coalesce the essence of the soul and drew the results from within the kiln.
“My, what a shame!” Laughed the handmaid.
In my hand sat but a single Ember. It pulsed gently in my frail hand, its heat barely noticeable.
“The poor girl gave her all and it meant nothing in the end.”
The handmaid’s mirth was abrasive, ill fitting the situation at hand.
“Alas, she knew what the risks were,” I said, my voice neutral, “Mayhaps this Ember shall comfort the one who will take her place.”
The handmaid laughed dismissively.
“It may. Or it may simply prolong the sanity of the next unfortunate Ash to rise from their slumber.”
She snatched the Ember from my open palm. I did not attempt to retrieve it.
“I’ll keep this safe. I only hope that it is of use to the next one.”
She laughed cruelly as she returned to her chair, placing the Ember within her robe.
“A shame,” I sighed, “but we all have our roles. For some of us, it is as but kindling for those that come after.”
I rubbed the stumps that were once my legs softly before leaning back into my harsh stone throne.
“At least she chose her fate.”