In Serein


1-4-1 I Stand Accused

Part 4 – The Judgement


 

Chapter 4/1 – I Stand Accused

 

I lay in the dark with Lucian clearly by my side, and of course we couldn’t help but link more deeply in the absence of any other thing but our fears for each other and ourselves to occupy our minds.

He tried to soothe me but was very unsure about how to do this. This very uncertainty made the soothing less than soothing and increased my nervousness in fact, yet I did not want him to think he failed. He just needed a little more practice.

I was considering how to provide him with the necessary insights and experiences when a painfully bright light exploded all around me and I found myself ...

Standing in a place that was not a place, a place where there was brightness ahead, brightness throbbing with presences that were even brighter still, and hostile.

Lucian was by my left hand side, and the two of us were in our usual bodies with some slight changes. Lucian seemed somewhat younger, tense as a bow, and my Serein robe had turned to a matching black again. We stood in dark shadow which made an uncompromising boundary about a step in front of us both to the golden white brightness.

The whirling of brightness organised itself and began to form into a deep group of beings, standing in a wide sweeping arc, focussed on us.

I began to feel a pressure in my head and my eyes began to water from trying to make out more than vaguely human like shapes in that brightness, and automatically I reached for Lucian, first with my hand and then with my mind. We held hands and stepped into time with each other.

Lucian, I am afraid.

I am here. Just be silent and observe. I will speak for us both.

Grateful, silent acknowledgement.

The pressure in my head began to pulse higher and finally, there was speech, coming from not one but from many.

“Lord of Darkness, you stand accused.”

Lucian responded evenly, “I stand accused.”

The voice continued, “You stand accused of willful disobedience to the holy laws of the High Council in the matter of the execution of your duty.”

“I stand accused.”

“You stand accused of engaging willfully in a course of action that lead to the premature alleviation of Dareon De Catra Al Actra Machet, third son of Sandhein De Santradores Ta Catra Delian.”

“I stand accused.”

There was a moments silence, just the heavy humming and pressure from the assembled Serein on the other side of the shadow divide.

“Commoner Isca, Fourth Apprentice To The Lord Of Darkness, you stand accused.”

To be addressed such nearly caused me to reel and I would have fallen if Lucian had not steadied me in all ways. He nudged me and I concentrated as best I could to keep my reply steady like he had done,

“I stand accused.”

I had underestimated the resonance which existed in this strange realm, and my reply was overly loud, ringing out with far too much force and causing a cresting in the assembled crowd.

When it had receded, the voice continued.

“You stand accused of disrespect to a member of the Serein Council.”

“I stand accused.” This time, I found a better level and my answer rang out clear and steady. I could feel Lucian’s pride in me and his respect and his approval and I needed it.

“You stand accused of attacking a member of the Serein Council with intent to injure.”

“I stand accused.”

“You stand accused of willfully and unlawfully removing a holy stone from Meyon Heights and to warping the holy stone to your own unauthorised purposes.”

“I stand accused.”

“You stand accused of engaging in unauthorised acts of random healing in the absence of training, supervision and authority.”

“I stand accused.”

“You stand accused of engaging willfully in a course of action that lead to the premature alleviation of Dareon De Catra Al Actra Machet, third son of Sandhein De Santradores Ta Catra Delian.”

But by the stars, this was so unfair! How could they accuse me of that? Willfully? Lucian gave me a sharp nudge and resistantly, I said the words again, reluctantly,

“I stand accused.”

When the last echo of  my statement had died away, the voice crested and stated:

“Your judgement will commence separately.”

Lucian spoke up and his tone was amazing. It vibrated through me from head to foot and caused the circle of Serein in the light to recede for a moment before they recovered their balance and flooded back into their original positions:

“I stand with my apprentice and my lover, the Lady Isca.”

Consternation was all around us, disbelief, the voice breaking up into separate components momentarily, before regaining composure and like a rolling thunderclap that nearly brought me to my knees came the voice:

“Your judgement will commence separately.”

Lucian tightened the grip on my hand as I did in return, and both of us sought to link more strongly, which resulted in me nestling in and around him, holding on tightly.

We stood, me trembling and my heart beating so hard at the side of my throat that I thought blood would fly through the skin, Lucian clear and unconcerned at the top level, for what seemed to be an eternity, until the voice roared out again.

“The judgement has been made.”

“Commoner Isca, Fourth Apprentice Of The Lord Of Darkness, step forward.”

Lucian! I wailed in my mind as an invisible force began to drag me forward, towards the light. We tried to hold on but the pull was overwhelming and finally, our hands were forced from each other and our minds torn from the link.

I was alone inside myself and being dragged forward. As I crossed the border, a shadow drop detached itself, just big enough to encompass me and moved with me until the forward movement stopped and I found myself on a small shadow island, surrounded by the Serein and Lucian stranded and all alone in the shadow behind me. I could not reach him, but I turned and I could see him. He raised a fist and his shout reverberated all around the space, rocking the Serein once more:

“Stop! I demand the right to take my apprentices burdens as my own.”

“Oh no, Lucian,” I whispered, tried to move towards him. Instantly, something wrapped tightly around me, bound me, made me sink to my knees. “Oh no, you promised not to do that!”

The voice spoke, authoritatively.

“You cannot take on what was committed prior to the apprenticeship.”

“She cannot be held responsible for Dareon’s death. Judge me for I was her master and the power lay with me.”

Consideration, silence. I shook my head and hot tears were in my eyes. I tried to shout but there was no resonance, no sound beyond the merest whisper, “Lucian please don’t, please don’t. Please, please …”

The voice spoke: “So it shall be. For the crimes committed, the commoner Isca is will be purged.”

Lucian yelled, “No! That is …” but a huge discharge of energy knocked him backwards.

“Silence! The commoner Isca has been judged.”

Lucian was struggling against invisible bonds that were slowly forcing him to his knees. He was trying to say something but could not and I felt a helplessness and pain that were beyond me yet I could not turn my eyes away from him.

“Lord of Darkness, you have seriously failed in your duties, and you have committed the ultimate crime. This council has been observing you for a long time, and noted your dereliction of duty. You have become a liability and a danger to this council and all this council is controlling.

"Your sentence cannot be any other than that of the binding beyond death.

"The Lord Of Darkness has been judged.”

Lucian did no longer struggle against his bonds, but knelt, with his head upright, and his back straight, his eyes on mine. Through the horror and the helplessness and utter desperation, I could hear his voice in my mind, remembered, and he said once more:

“It is the hardest thing of all, the one thing that will show if you have the one true courage. To know that you have failed, that your best efforts have been defeated, to not be able to stand it, to not be able to go on and yet to go on nonetheless.”

I shook my head no, no, I don’t have that kind of courage. I can’t stand it Lucian. I can’t stand it. Oh Lucian, please, dear creator, please help us, please help him, help him. I don’t understand this judgement nor what the binding beyond death means but please help him, I cannot bear to see him like this.

And then to my horror I saw that the shadow borderland began to recede, moving towards him slowly and steadily, and I knew it mustn’t touch him or it would hurt him, burn him, he cannot survive in this light, oh dear creator make it stop oh dear God please, no …

Lucian’s eyes were still on mine and I knew he needed me now more than ever he had needed anyone. I couldn’t stop crying but I straightened out and stood up in my small protective shadow circle and held my hands out to him in a gesture of blessing and love, and although I could no longer feel him, I knew it made him happy to see that I could be brave and have courage in this moment.

The shadow reached his knees and receded across his face. Where the light struck him, his skin began to turn pink, then red, then bubble and tear apart and then he started to scream and shake. The invisible bonds dropped away and he fell to the ground, clawing at his face and eyes, his hair beginning to burn and turn black,  … and me, I was hearing my one true love screaming and my terror and horror and love and anger and hate and despair all became one, mixed, aligned, and a force was born that built like the power of ancient volcanoes, build and build until it exploded outwards with such red black fury that it shattered through my bonds and I was free to rush forward, out into the light, to him and I threw myself across his writhing, charring remnants and wrapped myself around him tight and formed a vortex around us  there and then and through it, we fell, fell, fell …