Gesrion stood just at the mouth of the cliff; so close that his toes hovered over the edge. One unsteady or unbalanced move and he would be free-falling in empty air, plummeting into the darkness.
The deep chasm watched him with a welcoming stare, trying to lure him into its grasp. The fingers of death brushed his cheeks, tempting him to come just a little bit closer. Only enough for it to wrap its fingers completely around him and snatch him into the binds of hell itself.
Gesrion waited for vertigo to lead him to his untimely demise, but it never came. Each moment it didn’t come, he stepped slightly closer to the open air; until his feet teetered on the lip of the chasm.
He wanted to fall. He wanted so badly to take that last step, to let his corpse be picked up by the Stormeaters and be carried away to their Telnica—but he couldn't. He couldn't bring himself to betray his wife, Taylana, who had suffered so miserably trying to convince him that there was more to life.
Gesrion had had so many negotiations and agreements with the Stormeaters—he couldn't just throw this opportunity away. He'd even signed a contract that had been checked and passed with the Telnica. He was to go to Chasm Seven and let himself be tugged into its depths. And in return, the Stormeaters would welcome him into their cult—into their life in hell. He could forget all of his mistakes, restart life with a new, clean slate.
But he had to leave his wife behind. He wasn't allowed to keep anything from his past life. He couldn't bring himself to betray her like that. He loved her dearly, but he'd been longing for this opportunity for years now.
Gesrion closed his eyes, allowing the gusts to make him sway over the edge, just a touch away from death.
Though a cool breeze rippled through his clothes, they were still damp with perspiration. The wind blew his shaggy, greasy hair into his face; as if trying to push him forward into the unknown darkness.
He opened his eyes, peering down into the chasm. The darkness still stared at him, like a Cremstina in the water, tempting you to trust it, only to get pulled into the water and drowned.
A quiet, barely audible voice came from behind him. Gesrion turned, inches away from fulfilling the agreement. He squinted against the sun's rays, trying to better see the figure approaching him in the distance. It looked like a woman, a Rajabaji woman . . .
Taylana . . . Taylana!
He was about to go to her, but something caught his eye. He squinted even harder, focusing on the blur. When he couldn't see what it was, he threw his hand up over his head, cursing under his breath at the glaring sun. There was something following her. No, there was something chasing her. Taylana was running, waving her arms frantically.
Gesrion stood aghast, unable to move. As she came closer into view, he could see that it was a Stormeater behind her.
No . . . NO, NO, NO!!!
The Stormeater sped up, waiting to strike until Gesrion could clearly see. Gesrion gasped, the breath stopping short in his throat. as the Stormeater rushed through his wife in one swift motion. Her body fell completely limp, skidding to a sudden stop.
"NOOOOOO!!!" Gesrion charged at the Stormeater, screaming his battle cry. Tears welled up in his eyes, flowing down his cheeks uncontrollably as he ran. Black wisps of mist streamed from Taylana's corpse—the Stormeaters' mark of assassination. Everything around him fell into a blur, all focus on the Stormeater. His bellowing voice was nothing more than a mere echo in his head, every sound zoning out. Anger built up inside him, like a raging fire within. The Stormeater grinned it's menacing smile, fiery eyes like torches burning into his soul.
Its flowing black cloak frayed into dark mist at its feet as it rushed towards Gesrion. It made contact with him, wrapping its arms around and knocking the air out of him instead of just ghosting through him, ending it all.
It flew him higher up into the air, stopping over the chasm. He coughed from the blow, gasping for air. The Stormeater grabbed his shirt by the collar, leaving him dangling over the chasm. It held its other hand over me, as if it were going to slit my throat. Its long, spindly fingers brushed my cheek, tracing down under my chin.
"The deal is off," The Stormeater hissed. Though it whispered, its cold, icey words cut through the air in a clear, crisp, evil melody.
Gesrion continued coughing, trying unsuccessfully to give a reply.
"It really is a shame," It said, "I was quite looking forward to our time together."
The Stormeater grinned one last time, hidden deep inside the darkness of the folds and hood of its cloak. It let go of Gesrion's shirt, watching him fall into the chasm's mouth. "You . . . cheated," He managed to whisper, though the Stormeater didn't hear.
The air rushed past his ears. This is what he wanted, wasn't it? Gesrion closed his eyes for the last time. I'm sorry Taylana. The ground approached quickly beneath him. You were good to me.
. . .
Hutvinar woke to the sound of metal on metal—a duel. He groaned loudly. He immediately regretted the action, wincing. He was only left in this bed because of those cursed bouts. He had one too many drinks and got himself into an unfair duel. His opponent had taken advantage of Hutvinar's weakness and landed multiple blows to his ribs.
A maid entered the room with a metal tray. Hutvinar gave nothing more than a glance—He wasn't capable of anything more. She had long brown hair that was pulled up into a pile on top of her head. The maids here usually put their hair into messy buns—it was just easier than leaving it to hang down their back and get in their way. She wore a navy blue dress with a tan apron laid over it.
She stepped to the side of his bed, setting the tray down on a table next to the bed. She looked at Hutvinar, pausing. "What have I told you," She sighed, "you need to stop picking those scabs, Hutvinar." She continued on preparing his breakfast.
"Well, that's no way to speak to a prince!"
Hutvinar gave an exaggerated gasp. "And she speaks this way to a cripple!"
She rolled her eyes, ignoring the comment. She startled as a knock came to the door. "Enter," Hutvinar said before the maid could open it. A slender, pale man entered the room—the messenger. Sweat rolled down his face as he tried to hide his panting.
"You look like you've just seen the Telnica itself! Spit it out, boy."
The man looked at the prince with worried eyes. "Prince Hutvinar," he said quickly between breaths. "Your father, Gesrion. He . . ." He looked around the room wearily. Hutvinar's breathing quickened, his expression growing solemn.
"What is it, boy?" His voice was demanding.
The messenger stuttered. "H-he was found at the bottom of Chasm Seven." He hesitated, then continued when the prince said nothing. "But he wasn't dead. In fact, we was a, er . . . he was a Verban, sir."