Even before the enchantment of levitation were cast upon Skylah, she felt no heavier than a newborn foal. The body within Brianna's arms was exceptionally frail, with bones protruding sharply beneath the sickly pale flesh that threatened to break through at the slightest jostle. Dark smudges ringed her sunken eyes and there were fresh bruises upon her gaunt cheeks. Around the hollow of her neck dried blood clung to the raw, ragged, and swollen skin, telling the story of her most recent terror. Shadowed sorrow arose to strangle Brianna's heart as she gazed down upon her younger sister, causing a deep ache to radiate painfully throughout her chest. “We're almost home,” she whispered to the unconscious priestess held tight in her grasp.
The armored gryphon screeched thrice as Mackinzie Manor peaked above the canopies of the ominous trees, each call held just a tinge longer than the one before it. All along the estate wall archers lowered their bows in recognition of the incoming rider, allowing the gryphon to land unhindered. It's cries and flourishing wings fell to a deafening silence as Brianna dismounted hurriedly before the main house. In truth, she could feel little else, save for the weight within her arms; a fading husk which entombed her once vivacious sibling. A numbness overtook her steps, as if she never touched the stone beneath her, and yet she walked onward in haste with a single-minded determination, through the lavish double doors and into the haven of their home. Her personal infirmary was not far now, she need only push through the haze.
Voices distant and movements dim congregated about her person, adding to the blur that fringed just upon the edge of her vision. Distorted faces passed the Priestess and what felt like fingertips brushed along her sleeves, grabbing at her. Anxiety began to rise up as the babble around her grew louder, the crowd more urgent. She wanted to lash out at them, scream at them to leave her be! Quite suddenly, there was a firm grip upon her elbow and she was being ushered down a long familiar hallway. A distinct voice commanded the noise, sundering it completely. Though Brianna could not make out the words over the rush of blood in her ears, she instinctively knew it to be Violet, perhaps rapping out orders to lend room and make way among the bustle of servants which had appeared. Bending to the head housekeeper's will, the haze dispersed in the woman's unstoppable wake. The door of Brianna's infirmary was opened before her by the same hand which had cloven the sea of people, to which the same firmly shut the barrier closed behind her. Silence reigned once more and the world slowly materialized beyond Skylah's form. They were alone.
Brianna composed herself as she moved to lay Skylah upon the plush bedding, forcing herself to come to task. She could not afford a lack of concentration now, nor an over abundance of focus upon the torrent of emotion which shoved to spill out of her whenever she glanced down at here sister's disposition. The fire within her abdomen flared violently, roiling alongside worried pain but she managed, only by thoughts of seeing Skylah healed, to quell the inferno. She would bend forth all of her will to nourish her sister to health again. She would do nothing else, for nothing else mattered in this moment. Skylah needed her and she would damn well be there for her this time.
Here beneath the well lit surgery, the injuries inflicted upon her sister were sharp and clear, striking in their brutality. She had hastily tended the gunshot wound at the site of the battle for stable transporting but it needed further ministering. Thank the Light, it was not too serious and the sniper had assuredly missed their mark. The bullet had gone straight through her shoulder, hitting no vital arteries. As Brianna began to tenderly cut the soiled cloth away from the wound, Skylah came to. Her eyes fluttered open briefly, only to shut tight against the overhead candles that shone brightly into them. Groaning weakly, she attempted to reach her hand out but Brianna grasped it delicately, guiding it back down to rest upon the bed as she caressed Skylah's emaciated cheek with the edge of her thumb. “Shh, you are safe now, Skyjade,” she consoled her sibling gingerly. “Just rest now, my dear. I shall take care of you.”
The arid raspy voice that escaped Skylah was almost unrecognizable. “...th... thank you. I... I kn... knew you would come.” She had to swallow several times before the sentence finally emerged and it broke Brianna's heart to witness the difficulty experienced in merely speaking. The older sibling bent forward, placing a kiss upon Skylah's filthy forehead as she whispered against her skin. “Always.” Though Skylah's breaths were shallow and feeble, a serene daze washed over her features as she relaxed against the soft downy of the bedding beneath her. Brianna worked quickly, falling into an accustomed routine as she saw the bullet wound cleansed properly and healed with the grace of the Light she called upon. Beneath her glowing palms, tendons and tissues knitted together magnetically as the edges of the once torn flesh grew towards each other with seamless perfection. She had regrettably been unable to prevent this injury but she would make sure no discomfort was felt by her hand. The priestess was a master manipulator of pain, capable of inflicting it or suppressing it at the whim of her heart. A small incantation of the latter made sure that any potential pain from Brianna's work would never lay claim to her younger sister.
The rags that Skylah wore were stained with dirt, blood, and all manner of bodily filth; and the smell was unimaginable. “Let us get you out of these dreadful clothes, hm?” Skylah murmured a soft “...yes... please” as she attempted to push herself up with one shaky arm. Brianna immediately moved to halt the motion, pressing Skylah gently back against the pillow. “Don't move, love. I shall see to it. Just relax, shhh, there there.” With tender affection, she smoothed the tangled hair from Skylah's face before moving to pick up the scissors that rested upon the surgical tray nearby.
Terror wavered in Skylah's azure gaze, locking onto the instrument in Brianna's hand. A small whimper passed her lips as she recoiled, trying to sink further into the comforter. There was a detached distance in Skylah's eyes as she saw not what was before her but some other horror past known. The sight froze Brianna, scissors suspended mid-motion, as she realized the extent of the damage caused at the Grim's behest. Slowly, she lowered the scissors and backed up a pace. It was critical that she allowed Skylah to regain the control those monstrosities ripped from her so heinously. She must be made to feel that all decisions were hers. “I am not going to hurt you, Sky. I only wish to cut those rags away. Would that be alright?” The comforting sound of her voice lured Skylah back to the present and her bright eyes refocused upon her sister's face, no longer frightened but no less skittish. With a slow nod, she lent permission to see the soiled rags removed and Brianna began cutting with deliberate leisure, careful not to allow the tips of the scissors to so much as graze Skylah's skin. Within moments, the tainted garment was removed and tossed disgustedly into the grand hearth near them. The flames licked eagerly at their gift, engulfing it quickly and flaring in appreciation. The infirmary was quite comfortable and exceptionally warm thanks to the hearths continued obedience, yet Brianna reached for a light blanket nonetheless, wishing to preserve Skylah's modesty.
Fresh cloths were brought to the bedside and sat near the glass basin of warm water. Brianna began to bathe Skylah delicately as she murmured soothing phrases intermittently; and the younger woman began to drift in and out of sleep, falling silent. The blanket was peeled back to expose a small area of flesh to be cleaned before being covered once more and another area was moved to, repeating the process all over her sister's malnourished frame. There were a number of lacerations, contusions, and puncture marks that required tending along the way, each one giving new rise to the rampage that quietly built inside of Brianna. However, she could never have anticipated the immense fury that instantaneously consumed her in one swift blaze as she moved the blanket away from Skylah's inner thigh. There along the curve of soft flesh were five large bruises, akin to fingertips and in much the same pattern as a grabbing hand. The bruises were an ugly yellow, close to fading but she could see the intent behind them clearly enough and it blackened her gaze. She staggered forward, bracing herself against the edge of the bed as bright dots of light swam around the borders of her vision. Bile rose up belligerently, burning her esophagus with imagined scenes of violence and endured violation. Those fucking bastards!
Her mind began to reject the possibility, grasping desperately at any other excuse for those particular bruises to be in that particular area but it was rather useless. Oh gods, no. Please no. Not this, please not this.
Hot tears brimmed her dark eyes, spilling down her cheeks as she turned her head hastily away to wipe them from sight before Skylah noticed. It would do her sister no good to see her crying. She should be a pillar of strength to hold tight to, to shield her and protect her. Brianna stole a glance at Skylah but the woman remained resting, and the Priestess was silently thankful. She turned from the bedside quietly, having finished her ministering, and took the time needed to regather herself while she looked through the selection of robes hanging within the stately armoire.
From behind her came the dreamy voice of Skylah. “Is this real?” With a deep breath to steady the ache that throbbed hollow in her chest, Brianna turned around and put a soft smile on her face. “Aye. You are here, with me, in our grand estate. There are archers and guards lining the ramparts and Rorrek watches the gates himself. You are safe. No one will hurt you here.” This seemed to immensely comfort the frail Priestess as her chapped lips curved into a faint grin. “You're my angel, Bri. You saved me.” Not soon enough, not nearly soon enough.
Her thoughts berated her, cursing her for the atrocities wreaked upon her sister but outwardly she merely held her smile in place. “I am no angel. Your demon, perhaps?” This surprisingly elicited a weak breathy laugh from Skylah, taking Brianna aback. “Not all angels are of the Light, Bri.” She could not argue there. Briefly, she turned back to the armoire to retrieve a light blue silk robe, embroidered intricately with vines and blossoms all along the neckline before closing the closet and making her way back to Skylah. “Then I shall be your angel of darkness and pleased to do so.” Holding the robe up before her she asked invitingly, “What do you think of this? Shall we try it on?” Skylah eyed the robe for a second before nodding with approval. “Aye, I quite like it.” Brianna placed an arm beneath Skylah's back, lifting her tenderly into a sitting position before guiding the silk garment over her arms. It pained her to see the maimed wrist poke through the sleeve, they would need to speak of it soon and the seared flesh needed her attention. She opened her mouth to say as much, may as well get it over with
, but halted as she noticed Skylah peering down at her skeletal frame; a look of disgust and hopelessness on her thin face. Brianna did not need to read her mind to understand what she was thinking, it was written in the pinch of her nose and the grimace of her lips. She spoke with genuine promise, attempting to pull her sister from those darker thoughts. “Violet will have you as fat as a winter sow before long. She's probably downstairs now, working the kitchen staff to the bone.” She smoothed the robe down, laying Skylah back against the pillow as she smiled softly. The comment was successful and Skylah chuckled faintly, though it never reached her eyes which remained dark with concern. “Bri, how long was I gone?” Shadows lurked in the older siblings gaze, regarding Skylah quietly for a moment. “Almost two months.”
“I... lost track of time. Or maybe I wanted to forget.” And who could blame you.
Brianna moved to tuck the blanket snugly around Skylah before perching upon the edge of the bed and gazing down at her sister lovingly. She pushed a frizzy strand of auburn hair behind Skylah's ear before cupping her sunken cheek. For a long time, they merely stared at each other, searching the familiar depths with words unspoken; though eventually, Brianna sighed. “Do you want to forget now? I can take the memories from you... if you wish.” She could do it easily enough, being quite adept at conjurations of the mind. “No.” Skylah shook her head firmly. “No, I want to remember the world as it is. I will no longer hide behind false ideals.” Her eyes grew cold and detached, envisioning the faces of her captors. “And I wish to remember who it is that I will kill.” The answer did not surprise Brianna in the slightest, in fact, resignation had already lined her brow as if expected. She merely nodded in complete understanding. “Revenge shall be had, I promise you this. I have my own to exact as well, mind.” Skylah closed her eyes and sunk further into the pillow, quite suddenly feeling too exhausted to continue the conversation and they both fell into a comfortable silence; left to muse privately on their vengeance.
Delicately, Brianna moved to tend the seared wrist. It had been cauterized but such had been done so sloppily and with no consideration for the nerves. It was also in bad need of debridement but so far there were no signs of infection and Brianna said a grateful prayer. Plucking the scalpel from the tray, she began to remove any sign of dead tissues with gentle care, though in truth, Skylah would feel nothing regardless of whether she were careful or not. If she knew what Brianna was doing, she gave no notice of it; merely laying there with her eyes closed, though Brianna could tell from the fall of her breath that she was not asleep.
It was some time later, after Light healing and regenerative salve had been applied and the injury bandaged, that Skylah spoke. “Filora... she did that.” Brianna was in the middle of mixing a potion, slowing stirring the concoction with her brow knitted in concentration. She almost did not hear the comment, Skylah's voice was so very low. “Aye and she will pay for what she has done.” There was no anger in Brianna's tone this time, she simply spoke the truth as she knew it. Filora Livlet would pay, one way or another. The created potion was transferred to a small flask, for easy drinking, and brought to Skylah. “We have plenty of time to decide her fate. For now, you need to rest.” She lifted the flask to her sister's lips. “This will help you sleep. Tomorrow you will feel much better.” It was a rather complex potion, meant to sustain her vitals and replenish the electrolytes missing alongside containing properties for a deep, uninterrupted sleep. Instinctively, Skylah eyed the potion with wary hesitation and Brianna did her best to look outwardly encouraging; while within her stomach twisted in agony. She knew that her sister did not distrust her but the action sliced through her regardless. Gradually, Skylah opened her mouth wide enough for Brianna to tip the appropriate amount within, swallowing it soon after. Her azure eyes peered upwards, affixing to her sister drowsily. “Will you stay with me?” Any agony Brianna had felt melted away as she regarded those inquiring eyes with a gentle nod and a sincere smile. “You could not get rid of me if you tried.” The older Priestess walked around to the other side of the bed, pulling the covers back and sliding in behind her sister to embrace her waifish waist. She nestled close, holding Skylah protectively in her arms. A quick flick of her wrist saw the flames of every candle in the room extinguished and the pair were submerged into the alluring darkness of the infirmary.
Perhaps it was the intimacy of the moment or the sheer relief of feeling safe, but Skylah could no longer hold back the tidal wave of exhausted emotion that crashed over her and she began to sob in small uncontrollable gasps. The grip around her waist tightened as Brianna began to rock slowly, her breath caressing warmly against the nape of Skylah's neck. “Shh, everything is alright, love. You're okay. Everything is going to be just fine.” Her own tears flowed freely now as she bit back the sobs in her throat, willing her voice to steel and remain unwavering. “It's okay, Skyjade.” The situation did feel quite surreal, as if the tiny frame in her grasp would disappear at any moment. She buried her face into the tangled auburn tresses before her, allowing the tears to fall where they would, as she continued to gently hold her sister through the trembling. “I didn't know if you would make it in time. She stood me in that noose all day and through the night. My legs were so weak...” Skylah's voice broke, unable to continue as the weeping grew more desperate. With compassionate tenderness, Brianna slowly began rubbing Skylah's back in small comforting circles. “But we did make it in time and wounded a great many in the process. They fled, like roaches beneath a flame.” Eventually, the younger sibling began to quiet, drawing comfort from Brianna's words and her solid presence; the quivering wore out and the effects of the potion began to blossom throughout her body like the spreading warmth of a rising sun. The last thing she remembered before succumbing to the dreamless sleep was Brianna's distant voice, distorted among the rippling of unconsciousness. “I love you.”
Long after Skylah had fallen asleep, Brianna stood in her chambers with the Knight. “I know what I saw. And I know...” Words failed her, unable to say it aloud. She was raped.
Affixing a hard gaze to him, she set her jaw firmly. “I just know.” She had already described to him the bruises. Five of them, much too large to belong to a Sin'dorei or Forsaken. That left one race, Orcs. “She mentioned an Orc among her captors. Khorvis.” She spoke the name in disgust, the very sound of it stoking the flames of vengeance within. “I have something special in mind for that disgraceful piece of shit.” Another vase flew across the room, propelled by a shadow tendril, and shattered against the wall; the glass shards falling to join those of a picture frame that had met the same fate.
Rorrek seized her hand, drawing her close to him as he held her against his broad chest. “Dalah'felo. Stop this.” His words were not commanding, but soft and pleading instead. Ever so gently, he cupped her chin and lifted her snarling face up to gaze within her eyes. The darkness coalescing there retreated and the signature emerald appeared once more.“Such girding must await until the morrow. Vengeance shall be had and come shall the time be, as with all things. For now must temper we that as our rage, to hone such errant wrath unto weapons keen. Patience shall be our armor until opportune is happenstance eventual. This I promise.” Understanding cooled the rage that fringed in her gaze, ready to take over once more at the slightest permission. He bent forward slightly, pressing his forehead to hers. It was a comforting gesture between the two, used often. She closed her eyes, taking slow deep breaths before whispering against his lips. “Aye, such is true. I will place thoughts of revenge aside for now.” And she meant it. Mostly.