currently playing on my laptop: Now We Are Free by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard
My fingers dug at the twined fibers that blocked air and blood. One finger, two, under the garrote. The Rope and Knife laughed and worked their instruments, orchestrated by Ro. A hot trickle of blood poured down my chest. My scar was open and screaming. Black spots marred my view of her hand and the mist.
In the last blooms of that other place, the stranger’s fingers undulated, spread wide, and gathered into a neat fist. But it did nothing to rescue me.
The world grayed at the edges, the grasses faded, Ro’s tirade turned to dust, and I was only the last beats of my heart in my bursting head.
I tried again with the garrote. My fingers pushed, and a small space opened between my skin and the twine. Color leached into the garden and the Knife pressed deeper into me. My fingers slipped in the blood. I lost my hold. I was losing my life.
She had left me to die. She had no reason to save me. She was above me, beyond me, unreachable as peace.
I’d been an eldest son once, steeped in education, imbued with influence. In halls not so different from the Gilded’s, I’d meted out justice in my windier, wilder corner of the world.
The first thing the Gilded took from us were our family marks, the lines and swirls cut into our skin and embedded with the green stone that only grew in our mountains. Mine had been three lines and one large circle.
Now, it was blackened mess on my forearm.
Eventually, the Gilded took it all. Marks, homes, sisters, brothers, cattle, purpose, and dignity. We were slates wiped clean, with gouges to prove the thoroughness of the cleaning.
Black and white drummed over me, nothing else to see, to hear, to feel.
Until the Rope slackened his hold. Air rushed in. Blood smiled into my veins.
I opened my eyes. Her face appeared.
The mist exploded around her, blasting us with cold and pinpricks of her home’s essence, blowing us back. Her fingers gripped mine and life dove into my heart, lifting me to my feet and my eyes to to hers.
“It is enough,” she said and pulled me into her indigo world.