I knelt before Safaro, as I swore I would never do when we were children, and accepted his chain, then watched as his pride swelled, eclipsing any possibility that he would discover my plan. Blind purpose and certain victory propelled him forward without the slightest concern for why a woman who had defied him every day of her life would have surrendered so easily. I bowed my head and followed him, prepared to betray everything I knew to preserve the hope of what we could become.
Like a slave, he brought me dutifully to his master. We snuck past the gates of Elan to the Hir who sat outside the battlefield on a tall, white horambus that was draped in blood-red velvet. The Hir spared only a second to regard me with contempt before sending me with Safaro to the center of the battle where our right to exist would be decided.
All around me, from every corner of our world, the people of Yet fought against the tyranny of the Hir. Closing my eyes, I could smell their desire to live, to protect their loved ones, and see them survive past this day as if the earth itself was calling out to me. Once again I looked to Safaro for any sign of the boy I loved, but he was nowhere to be found. He knew, as I did, that while their resolve was as hard as iron, the people of Yet were not warriors. Worse, we’d only had months to prepare. From the power-crazed look in his eyes as he surveyed the battle, I knew that the Hir had been planning the expansion of his Kingdom his entire life.
The final battle came to our doorstep just outside the city of Elan where our defenses had held as fiercely as they could, but it was only a matter of time. The people of Elan, the peoples of Yet, had given no ground easily with mounting casualties on both sides, but the Hir had too much of everything we lacked: weapons, men, strategy, and now the most powerful Amasiti at his beck and call.
With me at their side, they pressed forward. The poison chain connected my will to Safaro’s, so that the power between us acted as one, except only I understood the true meaning behind the Hir’s command to create an earthquake that would swallow his enemies. Safaro could wield my power, but only I could give it the purpose that would call it into being.
I knew what the Hir’s soul was meant to be. His greatest enemies were not in front of him; he was surrounded by them, masking the truth of his insanity behind greed and false adulation.
And so, when I spread my hands wide and bellowed across the sky “I am the Sorcerer of Elan, now and always,” I did what I was meant to do: create.
The boats of Elan were just out of range, harboring the men, women, and children who were unable to fight. Only the strongest were allowed to keep the front. It would be difficult for them to escape, but they had a better chance than anyone who was not privy to my plan.
I felt the fissure crack open far beneath me, then bubble up and break with a diagonal energy just 100 feet from where I stood. The fissure would only hold for a few minutes, announcing itself as a warning of things to come so that my people would have some time to retreat before the fault folded back on itself and consumed everything standing.
Safaro watched with satisfaction as the people of Yet began to run. He did not understand until he watched them forego the high ground of Elan and run into the sea. He rushed forward just as the fissure we created together broke open into a chasm that pulled the dirt right out from under the Hir’s army.
The people of Yet scattered as the depths swallowed the Hir’s front line. As soon as the last of my people were safe, I took it all. The land that held Elan to the shore of Yet fell away, allowing the water to rise up, pounding out new territory as it ripped through the battlefield. But it was not enough.
It was only then that I understood that creation and destruction are often the same thing. As the sea claimed its prize, I opened up the foundation of Elan itself—breaking it from the bottom like an egg.
The power of the sea did the rest, opening her arms to the island in an eternal embrace that left only the tip of the land visible, with the children I had left there clinging to ancient trees.
Fear, terror, and isolation had burned through their innocence, but in exchange I had given them something else—a chance to survive and create something new, to evolve into sorcerers who were also warriors.
As Safaro twisted the poison chain around my neck, I imagined I could see the eyes of all those Amasiti children and hoped only for their forgiveness.
And in the burning light of my death, I ascended to the withering screams of the Hir, Safaro, and all his murderous men and was at peace.
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