"The Third Prayer of the Moon Sorrow begins..."

The Sister's voice became soft, soothing white noise against the background of Mai's mind. She stared down at the blurring words of her prayerbook spread open upon her lap. Her fingertips traced the gold leafing, even as her mind floated elsewhere.

The battle was thick, the coppery scent of blood hung in the air, tainted with something foul, something fel that came from the Legion itself. Mortal aligned with mortal, thigh-deep in bodies, wisps called out from the very deep powers of Nature and Elune and the Great Tree itself. She remembered searching for her brother, searching for him upon the fields, but it was chaos. She threw mending light where she could, the kind of triage that numbed the heart. She held a dying soldier here, pretending to be his love for his final moments of whispered devotion. She said a prayer there, draining her own strength to favor a wounded ally. And still she could not find the one closest to her heart, the one she could not bear to lose.

Circled round by demon legions, they gnashed great, sharp fangs and circled ever-inward. She was braced by a brave, thick-armed orc and an enormous furbolg who gnashed his own teeth with equal fury. His claws spread open and she prepared to imbue her comrades with the powers that coarsed through her veins, thick with her faith in the Goddess. She knew it was only a matter of time until she fell now, but she prayed for her brother's safety, the only being who had known and bore her private hardships.

The orc spun his two-handed axe, haft shoved this way and that with lightning speed. The fel abominations closed in. He sliced clean through the abdomen of one and the neck of another, and she cringed as she heard the laughter even as the abominations gasped their last breath.

"You cannot keep us back forever. You are pathetic and weak-willed. You are the instruments of your own demise."

The furbolg ripped into one from behind, ink-black blood matting its fur and muzzle. The orc spun a graceful dance for a being of his size, barely grunting as his own flesh was torn by supernatural claws, rent by festering black magiks. She tried her best to bend the light into weaves that would mend the wounds well enough to keep the opponents back, but it was not enough. Each spell wrenched something from her, weakened her, and each incantation pulled upon the strength of its intended patient, both weakening him and prolonging his life. It was a double-edged blessing, and she knew that it would not be enough.

The orc fell under the terrible cloven hooves of a winged demon, his laughter triumphant and cold. It stilled her blood. The furbolg reared its head back and began again, fury anew, savagely ripping into first one, then another, suffering massive wounds of his own. It would not be enough to save them.

"Oh Demarion, forgive me for leaving your side, but you must live on to have your family, your mate and your child and all the things you deserve, dear brother! Do not hold my death to your heart and let it take you slowly!"

Her back stung with a slice of talon; she could feel the heat of her blood searing as it pumped over her back. Her vision swam. She saw wisps and knew that it must be the spirits of her people come to take her to the Endless Dreaming. She blinked.

There was a voice, shouting, and a scream of defiance.

She blinked.

Demon fell, toppling like great stone towers pushed aside with a giant's fist. Arrows stuck out from them, bundles of them, in chest in head--


She could hear her own gasping breath, the edges of her vision fuzzy-black as she saw a violet-haired elf bend knee--


Behind her rose a shape so grotesque and fearsome. The woman was familiar and screaming to her and holding her and shouting for Demarion--


She tried to warn, she opened her mouth, and only gurgled something unintelligible. Her breath was a struggle.


Horror of horrors, she fell, the light of her mate's life, even as the wisps overwhelmed the hulking shape. A giant scythe-like claw rent her nearly in half, blood pumping, spraying, her eyes wide in fear and disbelief-- NOOOO!


Blood of her new-sister coating her face, hot and solid and penetrating; it could not be real, could it?


Everything grew blurred, hazy. "Let Darkness come and Light fill me. Oh Demarion, I have twice failed you!"
Her eyes closed.

"And let the light of Elune's grace fill us with peace. Let us hear the sound of the Goddess's voice, and be calmed. It is a balm to wounds of heart, filling us with mercy and joy. And we of the Goddess are the Chosen to hear Her commands, to see them done for the good of our people. Let Her compassion fill us and Her grace shine through us."


Amen, the Priestess thought, silvery-rose eyes filling with unspent tears. It should have been me.

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