The art of fire obscured itself the same year the blizzards arrived. After years of deaths by exposure, and the near eradication of Matoria’s inhabitants the decision to produce a sacrifice came with perfect clarity. The ancient scrolls asserted the necessity; Bylaws made sure of a fruitful offering; And in the past, the Gods listened. In many, a world sacrifice comes to no avail, for they hold no truth. No other but the sacrificer holds power, they must accept and cherish the opportunity, yet not wish to profit for themselves. One shall not sacrifice another in their stead. A free agent only may speak to the gods. These are the truths that ruled Matoria.

Due to these truths, Matoria enjoyed a reprieve from humanity’s dangerous habits, allowing for a peaceful world unimaginable in other lands. The great submergence of Lorelai occurred over a thousand years ago, protecting the people from themselves. No one knew how long the last sacrifice would protect the lands, but the loss of fire demanded action.  

And so under the Moon of Hiems, the heroine stood, the so-many-greats granddaughter of Lorelai upon the edge of submergence bluff. Her creamy arms weighed down with the wealthiest of gold chains, hugged the seafoam dress that twirled around her bare ankles. Her fiery hair whipped around the somber expression as it peered down towards its final resting place. The commander of services stood off to the side, holding open the gold plated text. Finally, she turned away from her ponderings and rested her eyes on the secret words. The commander extended the book towards her as if he himself was making a great offering. For a moment she thought that the plate would remain blank, that even though she pumped the blood of Lorelai, she would not be found worthy of the sacrifice. But ever so slowly the etching of the spell became darker. “Does your vision hold truth, Kianika?” asked the commander of services. She couldn’t bring herself to speak, for after having read such beautiful language, she couldn’t tarnish the air with her common tongue. So she nodded.  

Stepping closer to the cliff she allowed herself one final glance downward. The sea looked calm as if it wanted to smooth out the waves of her emotions. She knew she was doing right, and she stepped off of submergence bluff. For the briefest of moments the air felt solid, her feet suspended in air, she stood on a moonbeam. And then the air rushed by her, and she began to chant the sacred words in her mind. Even when she broke into the water, feeling the cold prick at her pores, she did not break the word’s rhythm. The golden weights pulled her body until she laid in the water like a bed, looking up at the moon of her homeland. The moon grew darker every minute, and her mind started to cloud. She finished now with the words of sacrifice and concentrated on the meditation she spent six months perfecting.

Her lungs deflated upon themselves, the walls touching, her ribs compressing downwards looking to crush her life. The smile she pasted upon her face looked more like a grimace, but the gods would understand. She made her sacrifice willingly. Her land needed protection, her life for thousands of lives saved. The moon became no larger than a pinpoint, and the struggle lessened. She no longer needed to demand calm from herself, she embodied it. And as her eyes darkened her ears began to hear a melody, the sweetest of voices carried her mind back to many years prior, to when her mother passed away without warning. That night she felt like she would never be able to breathe again, that she needn’t have continued living in a world where a young girl’s mother could vanish in an instant. Her grandmother sang at her bedside for twelve months, showing Kianika that the world still held beauty. Tonight her grandmother must have reached through the worlds to sing her one last lullaby.

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