The lone knight marched amidst the flicker of flames and clash of steel. The day had peaked, but only a sickly grey haunted the battlefield; the skies threatened to let loose a miasma of destruction as light exploding and roared from the monstrous clouds of black, and no sight of the sun could break through. His armour that clung as naturally to him as his own skin left treads in the ashen ground, as one by one his brethren began to fall, and die.
He held neither a blade nor a shield, but his hands were drenched in blood that did not belong to him. His armour was scorched and smouldering, and he had long since abandoned his helmet; he wore his face with no emotion, and a sickly scarlet fluid trickled down his brow and met with the sweat and dust that coated him.
She hung in his arms, draped in a blood-stained cloth that covered her body. She was cold, soft, and still. The long wisps of white hair curled towards the ground and blew in the wind with a grace that was unwelcome to that place, the pale of her skin only visibly through the arm that hung free from the cloth, yet more blood running along her frozen fingertips and falling to the ground.
Each step upwards towards the tainted temple tested his will and strength that was fleeting with each moment; his body shook and quivered as his vision blurred and spiralled. With each step, the battle behind grew fainter, and before long, he stood atop the hundred steps, before the once grand pillars that laid before the place of sacred worship, turned into a place of cursed torment from the Gods. Its doors lay broken and its path littered with the bodies of the fallen priests and priestesses that had inhabited this place.
He finally laid her body upon the alter, removing the thin cloth that covered her. She was beyond pale, and her eyes were still. He fell to his knees, as his eyes once more fell to the wound that had been inflicted upon her. Her veins pulsed a sickening black that had spread through most of her form. Her heart could still be seen beating ever so slowly, and the blood that dripped from her eyes and nose had darkened.
His steel cloaked hands clutched the bed of the alter, and his clenched jaw tilted upwards towards the sky. The roof lay open and cracked, the greying sky lurking overhead. He hoped some eyes looked back upon him, but he had never been a man of faith and it seemed that only in his time of desperation did he deem it time to start.
“We cannot heal her, Alcaeus. Our gifts are not reserved for ones of such taint.”
He didn’t know whether the voice resided merely within his own mind, or whether it whispered through his ear from above.
“Heal her, or I swear that I will not rest until-“
“Your threats are like flickering flames in the wind, Alcaeus. We do not fear the damned. Leave this cursed place and seek repentance whilst you can. Perhaps your soul can be saved. The Witch will die, this you must accept.”
He’d kneeled besides her for what felt like an age, as the sun raised and set over the city of diamond and gold. Each day the sun grey paler, and with it, the nights held for longer. Soon, all would be shrouded within a thick veil of the abyss, and even her light, as blinding as it once was, would fade to nothingness.
But he wouldn’t leave her. He couldn’t. His heart bound him to her a long time ago, and the thought of leaving her side was a far worse fate than any life he could have without her. She was everything to him, and were it enough to sustain her, he would have gladly given his own light to fuel hers, if only for a moment. But he could not, for his will could not defy her own wishes. She accepted her fate and welcomed it, and all the protests and argument he could muster would not change her mind. She was as stubborn as she was fair and beautiful, as she always had been. In a way, he was glad that she did not change even in her final moments; she was a single constant of righteousness. But that didn’t mean he had to like her fate, or what it meant for him. But he had to honour it, for her.
He prayed, but to whom, he was not aware. The Gods had abandoned this place long ago, leaving only their youngest daughter behind, whom now paid the price for their audacity. Isabella, a fairer Goddess to Mankind than they ever deserved, would die here, with Isaac at her side. He was sword to protect her, and in all the millennia’s, he had no faltered in that task, nor did he plan to begin.
The chanting of the burning halls grew louder, the heretics destroying the foundations of a city older than they could comprehend. Their stinted lives left them wallowed in ignorance that had spread for generations. With each coming generation, their faith had grew thinner, their self-importance and pride mustering into fits of rage against those whom had guided them.
“My dearest Isaac, you should depart from these halls. The darkness is coming, and you must carry the light of these halls.” Her voice ran through his mind, her lips unmoving. He ran a steeled hand over her porcelain skin, letting the fading wisps of sheering white hair fall over his fingers. Her eyes kept on his, and her smile remained. She didn’t have long left now, and to beings whom had existed since the dawn of time, even another day would be too little.
“Isabella, if you are to stay in this place, then so am I. It is the way it as always been, and the way it shall be. I will not leave you, not now, and certainly not in death. I am here.” He took her hand in his. It was cold, so cold that he could feel it through the dragon-plated steel that covered his body. A tear ran down her cheek, and he knew that she wept for him. Entire ages would pass after her departure from this existence, and he would remain in place, waiting for the day that he could follow into the unknown. Where did immortal beings go when they ceased to be?
The grand doors to the hall flew open, and the mortals rushed inside. They were ever so little in such a grand place, barely large enough to reach but a fraction of the doors height. Isaac would tower over them like a column, as would all the Gods that once filled this place. But he had yet to move. He kept his unmoving gaze on hers, and felt the first tear in all of his existence to trickle down his cheek. He had never experienced loss like this before.
A look of worry shot across the Goddess face as she saw the intruders, numbered many. Brandishing swords and bows and hooks and ropes, they sought the blood of the Goddess for their own. They sought to take her from these halls, to keep her chained and bound to their whims. They demanded revenge for the horrors that descended upon them with the coming darkness, a darkness of their own creation. They brought not the desire for faith, but the desire for blood. Isaac would not allow that to happen.
The blade that he had held over her chest felt too heavy now. She took his hand, holding the blade too. The mortals could not be allowed the power of the Gods. It came with a pain unimaginable that he was to be the one to cease her light. But like always, he respected her wishes.
It slid inside with ease, with no resistance. The blade pierced her heart swiftly, and he prayed that she felt no pain in her final moments. She smiled, as her body crumbled to the dust from which it had come, and blew with the wind, leaving him alone. He wasn’t sure how long he remained there, unmoving, before the mortals reached his towering body.
He had been just, in life. Fearless, righteous, and unbending. He harboured no ill-will to any, but as he closed the grilled visor of his helmet, stood from his kneel and drew the blade that was longer than any man, he felt a hatred he had never felt before.
With the zeal of a man whom had naught but to lose, Isaac readied himself for his final battle, before the darkness claimed him too. An eternity of none-existence was more favourable than but a minute without his fair Isabella.
He soon fell to the hordes of mortals, and watched with his last ancient breath as the darkness reined from the skies and claimed them all to this place, to be tormented and pained forever. Death came not for Isaac, however, as the darkness claimed him, too. His last thought was that if Isabella would see the corruption that darkness would make of him, if she’d ever look upon him again.