Sepherina sank to her knees amongst the jumble of moldering gravestones, the driving Autumn rain plastering her clothes to her body as she turned her head upwards to the heavens and howled. Behind her the church seemed to loom out of the night, the raindrops hammering against the stained glass windows as the petulant westerly winds howled through the rafters, snatching her anguished cries from her mouth and hurling them upwards into an uncaring sky.

Cradled in her arms was the body of a child, its head sagging at an unnatural angle, its wide eyes glassy and lifeless. Blood ran from its tiny broken body, mingling with the rainwater to stain the ground a weak diluted shade of crimson.

Trembling in the darkness, Sepherina laid the child down to rest and rose on unsteady legs. She felt hollowed out, distant, as if all that remained of her had receded with her grief into some quiet, unoccupied corner of the world. What would Kristoph think of her now as she fumbled through the darkness, accumulating nothing but the sins of a dozen lifetimes? Alone at last she gave way to the tears that welled up inside her as the greater part of her body that was water fought to return to the sea.

Behind her, concealed from sight by the verdant foliage that erupted into life around the edges of the churchyard, a score of shadowy figures held a conference in the undergrowth.

“Is that her?”
“I… think so. She seems… smaller than expected. Weaker.”
“It is her. Do not be deceived. We have taken the child from her, she will be… upset. There can be no mistakes...”
“Of course my Lady. It will be as you say…”

Sepherina did not move save for the metronomic rise and fall of her chest. Somewhere in the back of her mind as the tears flowed, she raged in the darkness, howling her fury, her pain and her anguish against the walls of her sanity. Unmoving, her body seemed to have shut down, but as the assassins burst from the undergrowth, charging towards her exposed back on silent feet, their wicked hooked blades held high, long hair streaming out behind them in the gentle evening breeze she smiled a wicked, godless smile. Turning smoothly, she dropped to one knee, her hands held in front of her as bolts of darkness lanced from her fingers. They fell in mid air as they leapt towards her, their bodies fading into vapor as the forbidden magic tore their screaming souls from their bodies. She danced among them, silently, seeming to flow through the shadows as death trailed behind her. She was the darkness and the light, the shadow and the flame. The power ran through her veins like a forest fire, flickering at the corner of her vision, consuming her emotions, her guilt, her love, her life, stripping everything away until all that remained was the rage, and the darkness.

As the last body faded screaming into the night, Sepherina finally felt her tears tracing their way down her cheeks to tumble mournfully to the ground as the darkness cackled happily somewhere in the recesses of her mind. She closed her eyes one last time on the tiny body that lay untouched on the forest floor. There was no turning back, not now. It was such a quiet thing to fall…

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