Queen of Daggers- Ch 1

Bit of a rush job, but I am satisfied for now with this story. Will probably bring it more into line with Keys to Twilight later.

The temple had been quiet for most of the day. When there were no examinations or special occasions, it often was, simply forgotten by the people. Still the temple maidens on duty swept and cleaned the temple as they were assigned. The ones on duty always noticed a young woman coming to the temple to pray in the early hours of the morning and just before sunset, when school ended. By her clothes she seemed to be a student of a nearby private school. She only appeared when there was no one around; she never came to the temple for the various festivities.

Today, unusually, the young woman was standing in front of the well in a simple calico dress with a wide sunflower hat. Bowing before the temple, she caught the eye of the youngest temple maiden who was sweeping the leaves in a corner. Waving her over, the girl bowed again before requesting to see the abbess. The maiden looked surprised, but turned away. Before she could take five steps though, the ancient abbess was already coming to see the young woman, supported by one of the older nuns.

“You are early,” the old woman said.

“My Lady bid me come early, to see to your comfort,” the young lady bowed even deeper than before.

“She is courteous as always, even if she does perform a distasteful task,” the crone reached out from the nun’s hand to the girl, who supported the old woman almost effortlessly. “Come, sit with me under the shade. Midori, get us some tea,” the old woman commanded.

“You are not a Child of the Goddess,” the old woman stated a fact as soon as the other nun was out of earshot.

“No. You might be tempted if I was,” the younger girl smiled.

“She knows me too well.”

“The temptation for eternal life and youth is something everyone underestimates the desire for, even if they have lived a long life,” the girl said simply.

“You humans always have something new to discover. That’s why I stayed on for so long,” the abbess’ eyes were beginning to glaze over.

“I am not human,” the girl’s quiet voice forced the old lady awake.

“The Elder Gods and Divine Beings are all gone, child. So are the demons. If you be but a remnant of them you would be better off human,” the old lady laughed bitterly.

“Only to those who do not seek them, Elder Crone. The Lady bid me to ensure your knowledge is not lost,” the girl had held the old woman’s wrist since they sat, but now her grip tightened and her hand turned green.

“By…” the old woman struggled to pull herself away but could not.

The girl’s eyes narrowed and became reptilian with odd irises. It was the only noticeable change on her face, though the hand holding the older woman had turned green and scaly. It was also a firm grip that threatened to break the older woman’s wrist. The older woman’s eyes turned a similar shape against her will, but they were old and unfocused. She had no more fight left in her, as the younger girl siphoned her energy away. The green scales spread from the younger girl to the older woman’s; she sought the woman’s cellular memories.

“No!” the old woman breathed, fighting the intruder, but the girl was already in her mind, digging into her memories.

“You… cannot…” the girl’s face danced before her eyes.

“You have betrayed the service of the one you called Lord. Consider this your punishment,” the girl leaned her face closer till the old lady could smell her breath, “And a gift, Mother,” the look of horror was enough to suffice as the old woman finally expired.

A soft cry accompanied by the crash of delicate cups reminded the young woman that she was not alone. She turned and got to her feet quickly, heading to the stunned woman at a dead run. As she raised her scaled hand (now with sharp claws) to strike, it was deflected by a sword. The holder of the sword had the same sea-blue eyes as she did, with the same golden hair framing her face. The difference was, the girl holding the sword was holding the sharp end and with a single twist, would have cut off her fingers if she had not jumped backwards.

“Maiso!” the other girl identified her.

“So… you are the latest Miakan. How interesting. I did not think you would be this powerful in your current form,” her scaly green hand reverted back to a normal human hand, but her appearance had changed.

She was no longer a blond haired young woman with sea-blue eyes, but an adult woman with grey eyes and short black hair. Her skin was lightly tanned and she seemed to have gained a few inches in height in that short moment. The nun’s reaction was almost predictable and unsurprising.

“Demon!” she made the signs to ward off evil while Maiso laughed.

“You had a demon leading you all these years and you never knew it! What a bunch of jokes you humans are!” she laughed, but ducked almost immediately after as a projectile came towards her. She evaded it, and it made a firm “thunk!” sound as it landed.

It was a smooth pebble with streaks dancing across its surface. Maiso looked at them in shock, as the nun prepared more pebbles. The girl standing in front of her raised her sword and Maiso took the hint. She left the battlefield, willing her essence away. To have casted another illusion like what she had done to impersonate the newest Miakan would have been suicide, especially since the girl was rumoured to have a sister who was an illusionist herself. It was safer to simply run.

“Maiso…” the Miakan whispered the name as the woman faded away.