I found him gazing at the small cistern.
The water in the basin waited, clear, calm, powerful. The polished stone of its base as smooth and dark as the shadows that surrounded it, the charred and broken bones trapped within its perfection feeding its power.
The water would speak. Would foretell that which was to be. Would show this man, this Tall Priest, my beloved, the nightmare that awaited him.
It must not.
He circled it once, twice, three times, the ritual begun.
“Please,” I implored him, “don’t.”
I stepped toward him.
A blade came from his sleeve then, the metal at his wrist, his slender arm over the shimmering basin.
“The Gods wish to take me from you,” he said. “And for what?”
“The Darkness,” I whispered.
He paused, his eyes on mine.
“The Darkness,” he repeated.
“It knows my heart.”
“And is your heart so easily bought?”
I couldn’t respond.
“Tell me,” he continued, “what does your heart say?”
The words on my tongue, the ramifications of my choice clear, I hesitated.
This man, my beloved? A man who shared my secrets, my laughter, my terrors and worries and dread. My happiness.
Or power. Life everlasting. The chance to rule for countless generations and sit for an eternity with the Gods.
My heart wept as my head, my ambition, my greed, spoke.
“You must go.”
“Then let the Gods tell me themselves,” he said as he sliced his wrist, the drip, drip, drip of the blood staining the clear water.