And darkness falls thereafter...

Fraeia stares into the Matriarch's eyes. Their brain runs through every possibility and each looks less favorable then last. There may not be a way out of this. We shouldn't have come, they think. It was a bad idea, but curiosity got the better of them.   This won't end well. There's no way out of this that doesn't end in bloodshed and here they are without a weapon. They shouldn't have needed them.   Fraeia's eyes scan the room and just as predicted, there isn't a weapon in sight, not even a chair to pick up and throw. Fraeia works the problem in their mind, taking the precious little time they have to assess their odds of success. The matriarch carries a Dobha. That puts us at quite a disadvantage.   Even if they make it back to the ship, they'd never make it off the planet, and that assumes they haven't locked down the drydock.   "We must keep her safe." Gibraltar's words repeat like a mantra in Fraeia's mind. Why? How would I even do it, and at what cost?   This train of thought suddenly comes to a screeching halt. Am I really thinking of slaughtering my own kind in hopes of furthering a lost cause? I'd be exiled, labeled a breaker of chains, and that's assuming we survive.   Maybe there is another way out. Diplomacy? Maybe we could run to the surface and seek refuge. We could escape using stealth and the chaos of the vigil to our advantage...
       
I take a cautious step forward and Fraeia holds out their hand to stop me before speaking. "We're leaving."   The matriarch smiles, but it's far from sincere. It's out of amusement more than anything. "Not an option. Please, let me explain."   "There's no need."   I look at Fraeia, and the fear is gone. They're in deep thought, the mind of a soldier at work.   "You know better." The matriarch shakes their head and inches forward with intimidating grace. The way they take each step feels almost predatory, as of choosing the best place to prepare a first strike.   Fraeia sees it too. "Not another step."   The matriarch stifles a smile. "Or what? You can't kill me."   "I can try." I see the corner of Fraeia mouth twitch, the slightest bit of movement that would have been a wide grin if they hadn't buried it under a cold and calculated expression.   With no way of understanding the situation, the anxiety builds, my chest tightening. With that single expression, it all fades away. They don't know yet. Like Yur, Matriarchs are immortal. They are only threatened by those who have also reached Somnihein. The matriarch has yet to realize how wrong they are.   "Is that a risk you're willing to take?" Fraeia's words come out with confidence, the closest thing to a fair warning they can give without showing their hand.   The matriarch pauses, but only for the briefest period of time. Blink at the wrong time and you'd have missed it. "Even if you could…"   Fraeia cuts them off, "I'd be branded for eternity, yes. Why do you seek to persuade me? Do you fear death?"   Thilaela gives a soft gasp, one I barely manage to hear. Why? Was that a bad choice of words? All eyes are glued to the battle of wits before us. I've almost forgotten just how scared I am.
 
Freaia's mind races, processing every piece of raw data it can find. The matriarch is stalling. They're taking their time. They could have attacked by now. They're more than close enough to land a killing blow. What are they waiting for? Do they know I've reached Somnihein as well? Do they realize how close to death they are? Is death what they want?   In moments it becomes clear. They're waiting for one of two things. Either they've sent for reinforcements or they're waiting for me to let my guard down and take advantage of the opening...
 
The matriarch tilts their head. "Taunting me will get you nowhere. It is unwise to insult a matriarch, soldier."   "And yet, here I stand. I am unharmed." Fraeia raises their chin, glaring at the matriarch with rebellious pride. Did something happen. Have they realized something I failed to catch? "Will my lips fall from my face? Will the gods strike me down for protecting those who don't even realize what danger they're in?"   The matriarch's smile fades. "Danger? We only want to study her." They take a deep breath, carefully choosing their words. "Gibraltar is more of a threat than you know. The other entity you mentioned, Nergal, is equally problematic. The human will not be harmed, I assure you."   "You don't know that." Fraeia replies.   "And you do?"   Fraeia nods. "I've seen how we study things we don't understand, yes. Humans are fragile, and Amber's mind is already strained as it is."   That took me a second to process. I don't know why, but the comment hurt more than I'll ever admit. I'm not broken. I speak, the tone passing through all stages of grief in a single word, "Fray…"   Their head hangs low, but only for a moment. "We have laws against such forms of study on intelligent life. It's too invasive, too traumatic."   The hurt builds, and I'm not sure how to handle it. I'm angry, moments away from making a huge mistake.   The matriarch glares back at Fraeia, an air of authority radiating from them as they realize diplomacy is no longer an option. "Be that as it may…"   "You were told no," I scream.   Fraeia turns, startled by the sound. "Amber-"   Before they finish, the matriarch lunges forward. They stand a few feet from the door, but in the passing of a single moment, I see a flash of motion. They disappear, reappearing inches from Fraeia with a small blade raised and ready to strike.   The blade plunges deep into Fraeia's chest before they can react. shout out as if it could change the fact. Tears fall as Fraeia clutches the wound and drips to their knees.   I see movement in my peripheral vision, Thilaela and the other doctors seizing the opportunity and reaching out for me. "No. Don't touch me." I scream out when their hands grab hold of my arms and shoulders, "Please, no. Stop. Help them." I flail about, thrashing my head back. It collides with Thelaela's face and I feel their hand grab the back of my head. They force it down, the feel of their skin like sandpaper as their fingers grip the back of my neck.   "Help, me," I scream, my eyes fixed to Fraeia's body as it falls to the ground. "Fraeia, please. Help me. Get up."   I feel the poke of a needle, the rush as a sedative enters my bloodstream. The last thing I see is the matriarch dropping to the floor. They raise the knife and let it fall. The blade pierces Fraeia's heart, and darkness falls thereafter…
   
 
a note from the author
Hey there... now let's be calm about this. Let's think for a moment. Take a deep breath. We will get through this together. Maybe you've missed something? Yes! That has to be it, right?You've forgotten a key detail, some element of plot seeded early on that doesn't add up with what was just shown. Then again... maybe its denial? We all react to death differently, don't we?

Comments

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Feb 21, 2022 20:21

I'm in stage 1, denial. I'll get back to you when I reach anger and scapegoating.

Feb 21, 2022 21:34 by Bart Weergang

Okay I've had dinner, and read it again. now I will just wait for the next episode, and try to tame the ideas racing trough my head.

Feb 22, 2022 14:59

I love your author notes.


Graylion - Nexus   Roleplaying
not Ruleplaying
not Rollplaying
Feb 24, 2022 08:51 by TC

Bro what the ***

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jun 3, 2022 23:07 by Grace Gittel Lewis
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