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After all of these years, after how close they had become, he didn't want to kill her.
A cold emptiness lined her blue iris, emptiness as cold and desolate as the landscape surrounding her. Her pupils were dilated in anger, anger as black as the moonless night overshadowing her in the winter sky overhead. Though her eyes were as blue as the dark ice in the mountains around them, they burned like dying embers in the heart of the one she stared into. Then she simply walked away, her raven hair helping to welcome her into the folds of night before she disappeared.
Her lover stood there, cast in strange shadows from the nearby skeletal trees, clutching his broken heart within the fabric of his soul. Before this night, his eyes had been as green as the mountain valleys in the fresh of spring, but now they were as dull as a wilted rose. His every moment with her had left footprints upon his waking and dreaming mind. He would never be the same again.
To make matters worse, she wasn't simply walking out of his life; she was walking out on her country. He could no longer run after her and try to work things out like normal lovers. His loyalty to his country came first, and he was to treat her as a traitor if he ever saw her again'
Armored tanks, the taste of salted pork, the scent of gunpowder, and curling black smoke composed the senses of that night. A man, a fully fledged general now, adjusted his armor in a Dragnessian camp two miles west of an Umusterran fortress. Soldiers, generals, scouts, and magickers wove in and out of the night near him, creating a chorus of chaos in camp. Pausing, the man let his green eyes ponder upon the blue flames of the campfire, which always reminded him of that night five years back, when his lover's blue, fiery eyes bored a hole into his soul'
'You alright, Facio? Looks to me like you have your head in the clouds again.'
Facio's green eyes snapped fully open. He realized without care that he had been inattentive when it was his turn to relieve the sentry of his shift. 'Sorry, Custus, I'll be right there.'
Custus sighed and stepped into the flickering firelight. He was a tall man, with an encroaching black beard which swallowed up half of his face'quite a contrast to Facio's smooth chin. 'It's her that's bothering you, isn't it? Don't lie to me; I was there with you five years ago.'
Facio sighed, his withering gaze returning to the fiendish flames. After a length of time where it seemed as though neither man would speak, Facio himself decided to break the silence. 'Why are we fighting?'
Custus looked taken aback, and then ensued with a response which almost broke into a passionate shout. 'Don't you remember what you fight for, man? You're not fully awake, surely! Don't let the general catch you''
'Custus! No, I know I fight for my homeland but I'I phrased the question poorly. Forgive me, but why is Dragnessia fighting Umusterra? If it's a mere squabble over land like last time then there's no point in''
'A mere squabble over land? Facio, if I had known the day would come when you would question this'I would not have stuck it out with you after all of these years! War's no peasant thing, man, but it's a necessary one to be sure! Umusterra has taken over many small countries surrounding it and has forced them to pay homage to it! This is a clear violation of the human rights listed in the Pax Pacis Treaty! This is why we fight. We fight for our homeland, yes, but we're also fighting for the homelands and future of others.'
'Why did she join them then?'
Custus shook his head soberly. 'Some only think of the power'Facio, get some sleep. I want you to be rested for tomorrow's raid on the Umusterran fortress. I'll take your watch this time, but just promise me that blue-eyed witch Venia will stay far from your dreams this night! Next time, if not from you, then she'll receive no mercy from me! She doesn't deserve it!'
Facio stared through the shadowy film of smoke which wafted in the air above him, obscuring the summer stars, before wording a silent, 'She will.'
'I curse you, curse you wench! You hear me? You will die a most horrible death!' The old magicker began to walk away, before she turned around and spat sarcastically through pointed fangs, 'That is, unless someone loves you enough to take the curse upon themselves. Fat chance of that ever happening.'
Venia sat sobbing upon the ground where the magicker had thrown her. Blue eyes being evil'what a stupid superstition among the magickers! What started out as hurt quickly darkened to resentment. Why did she have to constantly be teased or even cursed by magickers for her eye's sake? This wasn't the first time some random magicker had stopped her by the roadside. If only she could change her eye color'
She reached down to recover the spilled contents of her bag, only for her hand to bump against someone else's. Could it be? She had known someone else had been watching on the roadside, but many had in the past as well, and none had ever tried to help her before. Looking up, her blue eyes fell across the lovely sight of someone actually trying to help her! Tears boiled over in her eyes, tears which were meant for joy but were quickly taken by the friendly stranger to be tears of hurt.
'Hey, there now, it's okay. That old hag has a reputation of being cantankerous to everyone. Here.' With those caring, young, strong words, the stranger began to hand the girl's sack back to her. The stranger paused, his green eyes sweeping over the contents within the sack. 'You write music? Do you want to be a musician when you grow up?'
At first Venia couldn't respond for the joy of the sheer kindness being shown her. Then, she finally squeaked out, 'Yes, yes! I've always loved music. I want to play in Dragnessia's capital one day, if not all over the world.'
'Really? I'm a scout in the Dragnessian army. One day I'm going to serve on the front lines and protect this country, just like my father did.' It was then that the stranger actually looked into her eyes. He had been looking down until that point. Venia shuddered, afraid that he would balk his attempt to help her before running off. Everyone else did. She supposed she should be used to it by now.
The stranger didn't run, however. He continued to stare into her eyes, as though lost in their depths, until Venia finally looked down. 'You know, I've heard the most horrible things about the blue-eyed race, and yet, as I stare into your eyes, I see simple emotion as human as anyone with brown or green eyes.' The stranger then continued to help Venia to her feet. She flet his strength supporting her all the way.
'Thank you, sir. M-may I enquire of a name?' Venia didn't know what to do at that point. She waited there, staring at the cobbled ground as she waited for the stranger to reply.
'Facio. What's yours?'
'Well, Venia, I'd love to hear some of your music sometime.'
From then on, life passed like a rhythmic song. The two met every day, quite by coincidence, or at least that was the official story. Eventually they looked forward to their daily meeting, in a different way than before. Venia would occasionally bring her lyre and play the music she had written, and Facio would tell the tales he had heard from active soldiers in distant lands.
'What are you going to name that piece, Venia?'
'I'm not quite sure yet, why?'
'I like it.'
Ever since those days, for the sake of his memory, if for nothing else, she had not let her lyre out of sight, or the unnamed song he loved stray from her memory.
Venia stood sobbing on the rampart of the Umusterran fortress. She remembered with a heartrending type of happiness her days of purity and happiness with Facio. Five years ago he had confessed his love for her and had asked her to marry him. It was then that she with horror had remembered the curse, and the several similar curses lain upon her throughout her lifetime. She knew Facio would do anything for her, absolutely anything. He would forgive her of absolutely anything, except one thing. He would never forgive her for betraying Dragnessia, the land his forefathers had served for generations.
Now there was a whisper on the breeze and a gossiped chance in the fortress that she would meet her past lover tomorrow, tomorrow in battle. 'Please, Facio, turn back! I don't want to kill you! I left you so that I wouldn't have to!'
Venia had also heard of other rumors whispered upon the breeze, which were yet a fleeting hope. Standing there on the rampart, she resolved her decision about the past and future.
Clouds banked the horizon, clouds as dark and foreboding as a distant shore. A chilled wind buffeted the scant patches of grass outside of the Umusterran fortress, which stood blacker against the gray light of the cloud-cloaked day than the encroaching clouds themselves. What dull, amber light shone through the approaching clouds glinted cruelly off of the armored tanks and rifles of the two opposing armies.
'This was supposed to be a raid, not a battle! How did they know?' Custus stood in the ranks of the front lines, stroking his bristling black beard.
Facio came up behind him, the same daunted look overtaking his green eyes. 'Who knows? Now, however, we have to improvise. Our small forces are only strong enough to withstand a secret raid, not the blunt of an Umusterran attack in broad daylight.'
'They would have expected us during the night, you know. That's why we had to attack during the day.'
'Well, they were expecting us either way! Did it make any difference what time we decided to show up?'
Custus dropped his eyes briefly. 'No, I suppose not. Look! They're signaling for a meeting!' The two generals signaled to their soldiers to hold off the attack, and then walked boldly and warily through the no-man's land to meet the opposing generals.
As Custus and Facio approached the enemy, Custus coolly searched those present for a familiar face. 'Good, no Venia.'
A general of the Umusterran forces stepped forward, his face covered by a helmet. 'Hail, the proud of Dragnessia!' With these words, the tanks of Umusterra began firing upon the soldiers of Dragnessia. The feeling which twisted in the gut was sickening. It was the feeling of being trapped and outnumbered, with no chance to think through one's actions.
'It's a trap! Men of Dragnessia, to arms!' Custus yelled through his bearded face. He began charging across the no-man's land as fast as his legs would take him.
Facio yelled over his shoulder to Custus. 'Tell the men to attack! Divide up the center force! Confuse their command! Right flank charge!' As Facio himself began to retreat back to his army, which now was stirring in chaos, the two opposing generals cut off his route. Facio only had a split moment to realize the battle was already lost before he himself drew his sword and joined the fate of his men.
Venia charged into the Umusterran army, joined by the rebels of the nations oppressed by the Umusterrans. She had heard the whisper on the breeze of the nearby rebel movement. She had made up her mind not to live in fear of a pointless curse someone else had placed upon her. She was her own person, to live or condemn as she pleased. She wasn't going to condemn the man she had betrayed to save. She pushed her way through the Umusterran and Dragnessian ranks, her lyre stashed away in her soldier's pack, and her blue eyes searching for Facio's green.
Facio lay on the ground, pinned down by one of the Umusterran generals. Air was being forced from his lungs at a rapid rate. His hand grappled uselessly for his sword hilt which lay but a few inches from his fingertips. His vision was darkening.
Then a gunshot rang out louder than the barrage of firepower around him. The general released him. Facio tossed away the leaden weight upon him and grabbed his sword.
He froze. The battle raged on around him, as though he was but a ghost. The Dragnessians somehow were taking the upper-hand over their enemies. None of this mattered to Facio.
The one holding the gun had blue eyes and long raven hair. Those blue eyes were no longer as cold as the icy mountains, but instead were as warm as the tropical oceans. Regret lingered in them, like a cloud being chased away by a hopeful breeze. Those blue eyes were searching for acceptance'forgiveness.
At first all Facio could remember were happy memories with her, memories of pleasure and hope. Anger kept stabbing through those beautiful memories, but was always quickly patched up by the memories of Venia's sweet music. 'Perhaps'perhaps love can transcend even the borders of nations,' Facio mumbled to himself. Still he stood, as one lost in a dream'feeling the surreal feeling, and hearing the distant echoes around him while remaining deaf to them.
Then the dream-like trance was shattered. An Umusterran soldier aimed his riffle at Venia. As the enemy soldier pulled the trigger, Facio leaped into the bullet's path. He was aware that he fell, and he was aware of Venia screaming.
Another gunshot sounded, and the enemy soldier, who had shot Facio, fell by Custus' bullet. Custus stood, watching in shocked silence.
'Facio, I'm so, so sorry! I thought by all of this that I could change the curse!' Venia stood crying over Facio's fallen body.
Facio reached up and stroked Venia's face lovingly and weakly. 'I did this of my own free will. I don't regret any of it. Do you still have your lyre? Play me my song.'
Venia sobbed, but obediently removed her lyre from her soldier's pack and played Facio's song. The melody, though played in a time of tragedy, sounded upbeat. Its very melody transformed the gray day into one of light. Woven into that song were the notes of every feeling Venia had shared with Facio. Venia had woven some of herself into it and some of Facio as well. The sweeping song seemed to sum up their entire story to Custus'two cursed lovers. It was a melody Custus would never forget.
'It was,' Custus reflected, 'music more than fit for Dragnessia's capital.'