The warrior tidied the last of her belongings into a small box (she’d never been one for possessions so it hadn’t take long) and looked over her old room one last time. She hadn’t moved since she came to the white city all those years ago and the stone walls felt comforting and almost warm with the sun streaming in from the high window. She left a note on the box addressed to Finch Tyrell. He’d know what to do with it all.

She picked up a leather thong from her besides and slipped it round her neck – a fragment of red painted wood hung from the end, a reminder of vanquished foes and lost friends, Belor’s shield shattered by her blow. The fifth chain pulsed in her mind and she could hear the muffled roar of the caged beast at the back of her thoughts trying to push its self forward. She steadied herself against the table as its cry made her sway. Its physical presence might be a thousand leagues away but it was forever bound to her no matter how far she travelled.

Yana dressed in the freshly pressed linins that had been left out for her. She smiled, she’d never bothered pressing things before, it never seemed important. It had always been the housekeepers of the brethren who had insisted on pressing her tunics and dress robes rather than her. She remembered the looks on their faces when she had suggested, on the couple of occasions she had been summoned there, going to gubernatorial palace to report to Lady de Courcie in rumpled garb. It didn’t matter who you were, the housekeepers held a lot of sway here.

The Housekeepers hadn’t spoken to her for some time though, not since the last time she had returned from the east, with skin shimmering silver drawing every eye her way. She’d been used to attention before, she did have something of a reputation after all, but there was fear and disgust in their gaze now where before there was not. It hadn’t helped when Bartholomew had come asking for her hand – those sort of rumours are never kind to their target… “At least that’s one thing I won’t have to worry about now.” She half muttered to herself.

But today, today she’d said nothing to them, but they’d pressed them anyway. The housekeeper had handed them to her with a sad smile. She wondered if Finch had spoken to the older woman at all.

She braided the chains into her hair – iron, silk and gold. She kept the silver free though, and slipped it into a pocket.
She left her armour on the stand in her room – perhaps someone would return it to the armoury for the next adventurer to go out in. It had always served her well and she hoped it would do the same for someone else. She could take it down herself but she didn’t feel like facing the quarter master. If the housekeeper was anything to go by then she might just see pity in his face and she couldn’t bear that. The damaged set she’d worn in the east had been returned to Beornwulf with complements but still somewhat battered. He might have proved himself this time but he had still had brethren blood on his hands in her eyes and she hadn’t yet forgiven him, one service filled does not bring back the dead.

She took up her staff from besides the door, she never went anywhere without it even today, and headed towards the central chambers of the brethren.

The sun shone brightly and she found herself taking it all in more vividly than she had ever done so before. She smelt cooking on the wind and closed her eyes. She was back in the western forest listening to two young nobles bicker over burnt wolf hide. She smiled sadly, that time was past and those people were gone, it was better to forget perhaps as she shook her head free of the memories of the past. She wondered if she’d still be able to feel the sun on her skin after…

“Finch. You’re coming then?”
“Of course.”
She nodded in ascent and continued on towards the inner cloisters and the chambers at the bottom of the complex.
“Finch. I need to ask you a favour.”
“What is it?”
“Will you help me?”
“With what?” There was a look of suspicion on his face.
“With the ritual. Will you help me?”
“I…” He hesitated, knowing what helping meant.
“I need you.”
He nodded silently.

They stepped into a large dark chamber, rough hewn from the rock under the city. The centre where they moved to stand was lit by candles but the edges of the room were hidden in shadow.

The grand master of the brethren had given her a dagger before she entered the room. It felt solid in her hands and was no more ornate than the first hunting knife she had even held but this knife somehow had more weight to it. She balanced it gently in her hands. Its edge was sharp and despite its age and unknown uses there was no sign of tarnish on its blade. Finch stood in front of her, traditionally there to ensure the focus of the ritual didn’t change their minds at the last moment. In this case she wasn’t sure Finch could have stopped her if she’d really decided to leave but she wasn’t going to, it was too late for that. She had always done her duty.

Her duty… her duty had taken her to the far west to confront namers and to the city of chains to rebind bound ones. Her duty had seen her escort Rebecca De Courcie safely to ensure her brother’s eternal rest. Her duty had had her follow Toquel and his band into battle to rebind He Who Walks Wilderness. It disgusted her now to think that had included both Belor and Selena in their turn, for all the ruination they had caused later.

She took the silver chain from her pocket and moved to tie it round her neck. Her hands trembled and she cursed her weakness as the fine silver thread dropped from her fingers. After all she had done, why was she scared now? She who had seen such great warriors fall, had killed so many and faced death so often. She was not afraid! But still her hands shook. Finch bent down and picked up the silver chain, lifted it carefully to her neck and bound it there.
“It’s ok Yana.”
“I know!” she snapped before repeating quietly, “I know. I’m sorry.”
Finch looked at her carefully. He had never seen her like this before. To see the hard edge of his comrade falter… She was doing her duty just as they all would do if and when they were called to it. He wondered what it would be like when his turn came to take up the call.

Other ranking members of the cloistered brethren filed in and surrounded them in the dark. They began to chant. Each focused on their silver chains, linking it to their neighbours – a net formed above them, surrounding the pair in the middle of the room to prevent any… accidents.

“Are you sure about this? You can change your mind…”
“No I can’t. And you know it. It’s this or the flame and I… I don’t want to be forgotten.”
He nodded and placed his hand over hers on the knife that she held to her chest, the other rested on her shoulder.
“On three,” He murmured. “One…”
“Two” She whispered then together…


She sags as the knife bites deep but she doesn’t cry out. Finch catches her as she falls forward and gently lowers her to the ground. She gasps and can hear the blood gargling at the back of her throat as it fills her lungs.
“Yana” He kneels beside her and draws her up to rest against him, her head leaning against his shoulder.
“It’s ok… its…agh… it hurts Finch… it hurts, so much.” She feels like a young girl again, powerless and afraid.
“It’s ok. I’m here…”
She smiles weakly and grips onto his hand. “I’ve… I’ve had worse than this but nothing… nothing felt so cold.” The blood continues to pour from the wound staining the clean linins she was so pleased with earlier. She shivers violently against Finch’s grasp.
“Keep watching Finch, keep watching. Keep them safe and make sure the white city remembers that it’s… it’s us crossroad’s stock that keeps saving it so often.” She coughs and blood stains her lips, her grip on his hand loosening. The blood continues to flow at an alarming rate, the floor now stained with an increasing pool of red.
“I will… I won’t let them forget you, Yana, I promise.” He utters the words but is not sure she even hears as her body goes limp in his arms.


The silver net of chains flared and the atmosphere began to change. Suddenly the place felt oppressive, close. In his mind Finch thought he could feel Yana’s chain of thought snap… There was a rumbling and a roar on the edge of hearing that Finch recognised only too well. The creature! The ritual had failed and now it was free! He moved to grab his staff but cursed as he remembered he had left it in his room, his hand instead found Yana’s old staff lying next to the lifeless form of its former owner… his friend.

The roar grew louder until it filled the cavern. The silver net above him shone stronger and brighter until it hurt to look at, until he wished he could bind his own eyes and ears against the light and the din. His legs tensed ready to move when just as suddenly all went dark and quiet and still.

He looked down. Around Yana’s neck the silver chain he had placed there was glowing gently. He leaned closer, and pressed his ear to the chain. He could hear the enraged dull cry of the name creature, the god eater and when he focused he could feel Yana’s chain of thought – returned and whole – close to his own. He could feel it bound around the beast as clearly as he could feel his own free in his mind, but her chest was still and her heart did not beat.

The others filed out of the cavern leaving the two alone. He took the knife from her chest and laid it down on the floor. He stayed, kneeling in the pool that surrounded them still holding onto the body of his friend, unsure quite what to do. Time passed, he wasn’t sure how long, and Yana’s skin cooled and paled until all semblance of life left it. All that was left was the metallic sheen named to it; ‘Dangerously Beautiful’ in her own way. Finch wondered what happened next, whether he should clean up the body now covered in blood or whether someone would come to take it away…

Yana’s eyes snapped open. They were completely silver.
“Did… did it work?” Her voice sounded grated and harsh.
“I think so.”
“Then I’m…”
“Dead… yes.”
“Hmm…somehow I thought it would be different… Although I’m not entirely sure how.” He helped her to her feet, her gasp was as strong as ever but her touch was chilled and her skin felt… wrong somehow. “So…. now I guess it’s just a matter of waiting.”
“You’ve got a long wait.”
“I know.”
“I hope you brought a good book?”

misc/fiction/retirement.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/06 22:48 by elliew
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