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So this is the bit I intended from the beginning...
Again, it's rushed, it needs work, but that will come next week. The horrid thing is feeling like I should be on holiday already, what with having had our Christmas parties, but no. I hope I remember that at 6am tomorrow...

Warda felt sick to her stomach. She and Sammi stood and exchanged worried looks, then Warda glanced quickly down and up again with her eyes. Sammi nodded. Sayshari Rardi had set up an awful wailing, but of course no one moved to comfort her. The General and the High Priestess were being professional and keeping their composure, but it was still clear Asadina had been put out by this sudden show of disregard. To help himself retain composure he turned his attention to Utaba.


“And as for you, I suppose Salma let you out, did she? Foolish woman. Knew you’d gone soft on the girl, I suppose. Well, much good may it do you. Salma is dead. That is the price of betrayal.”


He sounded at once resigned and defiant. Ibakafir started laughing again, while Warda tried to hold Sammi’s eyes with hers. Their violet was wavering, this was not the time for her to find out anything more. They had to act soon.


Utaba’s fangs were bared as he gritted his teeth, tensed and ready, but unsure of what to do. Ibakafir’s shadow was bearing down on him, making him feel young and weak. He turned his attention to General Asadina instead. At least he knew something of him.


“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said, “There was a lot about the compassion of Vistara that you could never understand. That’s why the prophecy of love confused you. Prophecies are like destinies, a little of what must be, a little of what could be. We make them what they are.”


“More poetry,” spat the General, “it did you no good before, and it will do you no good now. I will take your darling Samatra back to the house where she belongs. You will never see her again.”


Utaba let out a terrible cry, full of pain and anger. Suddenly a whirling sandstorm encircled the Depths, Warda and Sammi. Everyone else, even Ibakafir was flung back by its force. The dark angel slammed into the stone walls and slumped to the floor. He began rubbing his sore patches, then prowled, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a cat, sometimes as something fearsome, in-between and made entirely of shadow with gleaming silver eyes and teeth. It took the humans a bit longer to recover. Rardi didn’t get back onto her feet, but sat sobbing. The soldiers and the General stood alert, while the High Priestess edged closer to the door. They were all waiting to see a gap in Utaba the sandstorm, some way of stopping him, breaking in, and finding out what was happening inside.




The eye of the storm was beautifully peaceful. Sammi’s tears were flowing freely down her cheeks, but neither made any sound. It felt as though they were somewhere new. The lights from outside danced and flickered whenever they were able to cut through the swirling wall of sand. There was no more shouting nor sounds of anguish. After a long while of standing, just appreciating the silence, Warda said gently, “What do we do now?”


Sammi wiped her cheeks on her blue sleeves. “There was another part to the prophecy,” she said,


“And she who is loved by an angel,

She who has been forsaken,

Will be placed on that day upon the stone,

For the path to be lit, for the child of the moon.”


She sighed before she looked up again. “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty forsaken right now. And you heard what father said about Utaba. Salma ... she was my mother, wasn’t she?”


Warda just nodded. She didn’t think Sammi was right at all, but then, as Utaba had said, “We make them what they are.” She could find out easily enough. And perhaps the choice had never been Sammi’s to make.


“I don’t know what will happen. I’m scared,” Sammi said, in a very small voice, not like Sammi at all. She was only a child. There was no choice.


Warda placed her hands on the stones.




They, it, whatever was there didn’t wait this time. All the Magic, all the waiting, ancient power, rushed up through her fingertips and into her. She watched as Haymutah-teni, young, beautiful, broken, saw her ungrateful, shallow lover and his new love. She felt the tearing of a demi-goddess’ heart and it almost ripped her in two. She felt the loneliness of the woman who nurtured hundreds, thousands of beings, a handful of whom thanked her, whom she could never actually touch. Watching them live and die, watching their souls travel ever upwards, never to her. No one ever came to stay with her. The clamouring of the Ancestors who constructed the Great Temples rattled in her head. They wanted recognition; why did no one worship them? Why had they been shut away for so long? They hadn’t built this great work for it to become a prison!


And laced through them all, Magic. It slithered like a snake, it hopped like a moon rat, it fluttered like a moth and sank in claws like a tiger. There was far too much of it, but it can’t just be let go, all those people in that room – that temple – that part of the city, they would all be killed, who knows how far its destruction could reach?


Warda felt very far away. She staggered backwards, and felt the sands of Utaba cut her robes and graze her arms. She clutched her stomach, balling up, terrified that if she let go the whole world would explode. She became aware of Sammi screaming, then Haymutah-teni, but she realised it was coming out of her mouth; “Why wouldn’t you believe me? I loved you for who you were inside! Your poems, your songs! No one can love like a child of the moon, no one could love you like me!”


The Sayshari began wailing even harder, interspersing it with agreements, directed at Ibakafir, “no one could love you like me!”


“Shut up, you fat fool!” he sneered, in his shadow-beast form, turning his attention immediately back to the solidifying Utaba.


Having sensed that Warda was possibly not in full control of herself just now, he was trying to reform to take hold of her and to remove the danger his storm presented to her. General Asadina went to move forward, but when he saw what was behind the sand screen, he kept his distance.


On one side of the Depths of Forever was Warda, bent double, who appeared to be glowing all over but her eyes glowed so strongly there was no sign of humanity there. Utaba had his hands around her waist and was trying to do – well, the General wasn’t sure, but he seemed quite desperate. Sammi was looking up at the figure which now stood over the Depths themselves. Her feet her a small distance above the water but were dripping, still. The rest of her, however seemed completely dry. She was dressed in robes of the oldest style. Gleaming white hung from her shoulders to just above her feet. Her pale arms were bare but displayed an impressive array of bracelets in silver, amethyst, lapis lazuli and sapphire. She wore a collar, as well, decorated with more stones than any dared count. Her hair was weighed down by a net of beads but it fell behind her almost to the floor. It was as thick and black as night. In one hand she held a shining sistrum, hung with tiny silver cymbals. Her smile was that of a patient mother, and as for her eyes; her eyes were ever moving, from full-moon white to dusky purple to the pink of the orbs that still lit the room. The Goddess Vistara stepped as lightly as though there actually was a flight of stairs in front of the well, sat on its edge, and crossed her legs. She moved as though she had all the time in the world, which she did. She shook her sistrum once. Its sound was the sound the stars might make if they were bells, and at once everyone who was not silent, fell silent.


Warda stopped struggling and straightened, her hair dishevelled, her robes torn, her eyes still glowing with a light not of the world. Utaba walked a little way behind her, his head bowed but his eyes trying to look up and watch. Sammi, too, moved from her place by the well and came to stand in front of Vistara. She was fascinated and couldn’t take her face away. 

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(Deleted comment)
Gah! I thought it did! *edits*

Thank you! We've not much more to go now, I'm intrigued to see what people make of the ending!

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