Such a tiny thing, Ysayle thought as she cradled the crystal in her palm. Like the purest water turned to ice… She squeezed it with all her might and then slowly opened her hand. Turning her gaze to the heavens, she sighed and continued onward.
Across the cracked cobbles and up the ancient steps. When last I walked this path, I was not alone. Through the ancient arch and over fallen stone. The defender, the diplomat, the dragoon…and the dreamer. Past the spinning aetheryte and towards the winding ramp.How far we traveled…and all for naught.
“‘Tis but a shade conjured by thine own fancy.”
Zenith was where it had all come to an end─where her beloved had named her an impostor and a fool. Where her companions had turned their backs on peace.
How desperately we yearn for that which we have lost.
“Hear… Feel… Think…”
She had sought refuge from the snows in the Dravanian forelands, and while wandering those unfamiliar fields had been chanced upon by the great wyrm Hraesvelgr, descended from the heavens to hunt. Or was this too somehow Her design?
Through his memories she had glimpsed the truth behind a thousand-year lie. An eternal requiem sung for his murdered sister. What could I do but speak out? And so, after years of hushed half-heresies, of coded missives and midnight gatherings, she had gained a flock.“Redemption is not beyond us, my friends! Come and hear the truth! Come and hear the Lady Iceheart speak!”
“Spread the truth and cast down those who concealed it. I was so certain that would be enough…”
“Men have ever been fond of lies.”
Ysayle felt Hraesvelgr’s eyes upon her as his voice resounded in her mind, each word a dagger through her heart. She could not bear to look.
“I had to believe…”
She knew not what the Ul’dahn’s intentions were. But we are come too far to turn back now. And so the bargain was struck, and the merchant furnished them with the supplies and the information they required. While the lord commander and his allies celebrated their victory, they would finish what Vishap had begun. And so we did.
Fire and blood. And screams…so many screams. Mine own join the chorus, calling for order, calling for justice…but there is none to be had. Men fight, men run, men die—without reason, without logic. I speak, but they do not listen. I see the girl, no more than ten, hiding amongst the rubble. The wyvern sees her too. I beg. I plead. I pray…
At last, she spoke. “I twisted your memories into a fantasy of mine own creation to further my selfish dreams.”
“Is this why thou art come? To beg forgiveness?”
“No,” she replied, raising her head to meet his gaze. “I am come to atone.”
As I came before, with the ones I thought mine enemies. They who were truer allies than any in the hate-filled Horde…
“I would go to them—to the Warrior of Light and the others. I would aid their cause once more. But I know not whither they have gone…”
The great wyrm regarded her silently for a time. “The dragoon beareth my brood-brother’s eye to Azys Lla…and its twin.”
“So you can sense them,” she said, with a hint of accusation. “I beseech you, then: deliver me to my comrades. Let me join in their fight!”
Hraesvelgr bared his teeth ever so slightly. Was that a smile? “Such power was never meant for man. Yet ever shall he covet it. Hast thou the strength to deny him his desire?”
She felt for the familiar angles in her pouch, drawing comfort from the crystal’s coolness.Such a tiny thing. “I have,” she said at length. “Lend me your wings, Hraesvelgr!”
Scarcely had she uttered the words when she found herself in a mind not her own.
In azure skies we soar, her laughter music to my ears. As I fold my wings and turn into a dive, she clutches me tightly, pressing her face against my back. “Lend me your wings,” she had asked, though they are hers to command. My gentle Shiva—
Ysayle blinked. The great wyrm’s expression was unreadable. He knows. Hraesvelgr lowered his head and she clambered onto his back without a word.
I spread my wings, tense my legs, and push… Yes…I remember…
She tried desperately to forget.
The hours slipped by as the skies grew dark and cloudy. In the distance, a light shone.That light should portend such darkness…
Hraesvelgr’s voice came to her. “He draweth upon the Eye’s power.”
As they drew closer, she could discern a small airship at the center of a mass of swirling aether. The reddish-black maelstrom grew in intensity, accompanied by a rising hum, then suddenly winked out as the sound of breaking glass echoed around the heavens.
“We must hurry!” Ysayle yelled, straining to be heard above the cacophony. “Below them, look!”
A massive Garlean battleship rose from the depths and positioned itself behind the smaller airship. In an instant, the air was thick with cannon fire.
No…not like this. Not like this!
“The time is come to use Hydaelyn’s gift,” she whispered, drawing the crystal from her pouch. “Much blood has been spilled in my name. And for what? For a false cause that I created for want of the warmth of companionship.” She clutched it to her breast and felt the cold seep into her skin. “Saint Shiva…Hraesvelgr… Pray forgive this fool. But even now, I cannot let go of my dream—my dream of a tomorrow in which no child need freeze alone in the snow.”
With a roar, Hraesvelgr bore her high above the battleship. With a breath, Ysayle closed her eyes and let go.
Never again would I harm another, I swore. Never again would death stain my conscience…
Ysayle felt him slip away as she fell and a thousand thousand fires blossomed around her. Slowly, she opened her eyes. “Thank you, Hraesvelgr.” And forgive me.
And then she spoke.
“O goddess born of mine own hopes and dreams. For the last time, I beseech You! Fill this vessel with Your light! Still the hatred within our hearts and bless us with eternal grace!”
The crystal melts into light, and we are whole again. Warm. My mind grows cloudy, my essence faint, but I hold fast to the memories.
In azure skies we soar once more…