At the foot of the mountain pass the snow was just beginning to show, a stark contrast to the wintry peaks that spread out beyond the eye’s view. The southern pass’ serenity had been broken by howls of bloodshed only hours before, and now stood mostly still.
Only the whipping of a tattered cloak in the wind against the ritualistically unblotted armor of Prince Arunset interrupted the quiet scene, juxtaposed by a wry smile that spoke volumes against the silence it held. He stared down at his sister, Anat-Samun, frothed in anger and marred by shame. Her wounds had already begun to re-knit and restore her porcelain features, but the scar that ran through her pride would never heal. She caught a glimpse of the rotted flesh on her brother’s skeletal face contorted into some mockery of happiness, and spat at his feet.
“You knew of this trap, of the monster that hoveled near that tower, and yet you said nothing!” she snarled. Arunset’s hollow eyes glowed brighter, but the smile did not wane; nor did he make any attempt to deny his sister’s accusations. “Your treachery will not go unpunished, brother.”
“Dear sister,” Arunset croaked, his broken lungs rasping and jagged where his sister’s words were cruel eat sweet, “You would not be swayed. War, you said, was but a game like any.” Anat-Samun wrinkled her face and turned away.
“Where are the pawns on your board?” Arunset boasted. Anat-Samun had taken one liche that was loyal to her cause and but a handful of personal guard. The rest she had summoned with her darkened magic.” All alone, as was always your way sister.”“If not for the spirits of my servants, perverted souls as you may have made them, you would remain face-down in the snow.” Arunset turned away from his kin, facing out toward the swamps in the distance where he had left most of his force.
“You have so much hatred for true power, dear brother. That is what held you back. You could have had forever, you could have been embraced.” Anat-Samun stood, and glided effortlessly to her brother’s side. She let her fingers twirl about his ancient hair.
“Be not a fool, sister. The only thing I hate is weakness, and it was your weakness that dealt you the truest of lessons this day. Pride, as Usirian teaches, always comes before your fall.”Arunset turned, letting his wry smile return.
For the first time since their unholy reunion, Anat-Samun cracked. She bore fang and teeth, cursed at her brother, and stormed back toward the southern swamps. She might have lost the tower of knowledge she had sought to control, but Arunset could feel nothing but the warmth of victory.