An account of the Dance of Lumin Tiqq, the Lightening Lords, by Ste'Bal. Discovered in the ruins of Bat'Arus.

I waited in the darkness of the escape passage, listening to the sounds of battle without, the screams of pain and blood lust, the clashing of steel, body, magic and mind. Even through these thick walls of Alud'Medeg, the sounds were inescapable. Phantom whispers. Worst still are the thoughts spilling from those killing, and those dying. The terror, the lust, the rage, the regret, and all the emotions that came with death, and dealing out death, besieging my mind.

I entered the Blood Trance, diving into my essence, shutting off my mind from the world, and waited for my brother in all but name, for the one person, whom I loved most in the world other than my Queen.

Eons seems to pass before there was a flicker of flames, licking the rough wall of the narrow passage, followed by the clutter of stones, as they are crushed by steel boots. I listened to the rhyme of the steps. There was only one man.

Softly, I called out: “Well met brother.”

The man's stride did not break as he came closer.

“Little tari, let me pass.” Rar'Liq said as he came to a stop a mere meter away. A distance his sword can easily strike across, bring death up on me.

“No Rar'Liq. Lay down your arms brother, and join us, she will forgive you.” I said with all the courage and defiance I can muster.

“No, its too late for that”, my brother replies with regret. “It has gone too far for that. Hundreds have already died today because of my actions, and millions more will die if she escapes! Civil wars will break lose over the realms, and we need to stand united against the Fuk'Pudi! I do this not out of spite little tari, its for the best of the realms!”

I shook my head.

“I'll not let you pass brother. On my honor as a Lord under the Queen, for my love for Jeq'Wer, I can not let you pass. Please brother! Lay down your arms and join us! She will still forgive you! She will unite the realms against the Fuk'Pudi! Don't ask me to choose brother, you can not win.”

Rar'Liq cast his glance towards the ground, a gesture I knew all too well. A small shiver slid down Rar'Liq. When it was gone, it left behind ice and steel.

“Little tari, we are brothers in all but name, it will be ill for both us to spill each other's blood. Let me pass. We have never crossed blades outside the training grounds, don't force it now.”

“No.”

I stood there, looking at the man I call brother, in his deepest Blood Trance. For the first time, I felt afraid of Rar'Liq.

“So be it little tari, Lets dance you and I.” Rar'Liq wedged the torch in a crevice, and drew his sword.

And the battle was declared.

I drew my own sword in response, lifted it in the traditional salute.

“For honor and love.” I whispered.

“For realm and people.” came the counter reason.

And we clashed. Rar'Liq effortlessly penetrated my defenses time and again. Yet each time I managed somehow to construct a hasty defense and block the killing stroke. Back and forth, stroke and counter stroke, in a dance our Blade Masters would have admired. Then suddenly, Rar'Liq's stance faltered. Instead of fighting a warrior who carried the rank of a Lord, I found myself fighting a lumior, who has just picked up steel for the first time. Yet even then, it took all my prowess to deliver the stroke that penetrated Rar'Liq's defense, and lanced him through the his left liver.

I wasn't until I saw the blood of my brother on my blade as I withdrew it, did I look up and notice the glimmer of wetness on Rar'Liq's face. I dropped my blade, and stepped hastily forth to hug my brother, just as his hand released his sword, and he knees buckled. I lowered him to the ground as gently as I could.

The man they call Lord of the Desert behind his back, shed tears for the first time in I can remember..

“Well done little tari, well done. I am sorry it came to that, I am so sorry. I should have listened when you warned me of the Lords, and I should repent... I am so sorry... Is that Jeq'Wer behind you little trai?” Rar'Liq croaked, looking beyond my shoulder.

I followed his gaze. There was nothing but the cold empty darkness.

“Yes she is Rar, she is.”

“Will you ask her to forgive me? Please... “

“She does brother. You were always a loyal friend. She forgives you. Now live! Live so you can serve her!”

“No little tari, its too late. It’s only fitting for a traitor to die. Give her...”

“No!” I interrupted. “You are not traitor Rar! You were a fool! But not a traitor! Please liv...” I stopped as he placed his finger on my lips.

“Don't interrupt little tari, its rude.”
He gently moves the finger upwards and wipes away my tears. With a smile, he whispered: “You cry too much little tari... its a good thing, it takes a lot off your heart... Now please give Jeq'Wer my gratitude and my apologies. You were always better with words. She is a good Queen... a little soft, but a good queen never the less... “

Just was I was about to reply, a ghost of a grin made its presence felt on Rar'Liq's face.

“Remember the time when we were stole the pies from the court kitchen little tari? Remember how we ate the filling, and replaced it with mud, then put it back? Then the cook served it to the Barrack Masters?”

“I remember brother, the fight afterward had us in stitches.” I recalled with faint amusement.

Rar'Liq tries to laugh, bring only blood to his mouth.

“I'll be right little tari, I'll sleep for a little while, but I'll be right. I had worst. You run along and tell mum not to worry... I'll join you for dinner in a little while... promise...”

And with that, Rar'Liq let out his last breath, and his hold on life.

I knew not for how long I held on to his body, crying for the losses of the day. In one day, the Court of Queen Jeq'Wer was destroyed, the Lords of the Seven has over thrown the last true Court, and reign over the 7 realms at last with total power. And my pillar in life has crumbled, leached of strength by lies and deceptions.

I picked up his sword, sheathed my own, and made my way down the tunnel, collapsing the it behind me with small bursts of magic, giving my brother the burial as be fitting him: Warrior Lord of the West Realms, the best Blade Dancer in history, and my brother in all but name.