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[Short Story] The Fall

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[align=center]hFaMoGUsdEw [/align]

[align=center]Theme Song of The Fall[/align]

[align=center]Title: You Said[/align]

[align=center]Artist: Eurielle[/align]

[align=center]To set the video to repeat: Once you hit play. Right Click. Select 'Loop'[/align]


[align=center]The Fall: Alyria Winchester Arrives at Limsa Lominsa[/align]



[align=center]~ * ~ * ~ The Night of the Raid on Praetorium ~ * ~ * ~[/align]


This marks me as one of the most hapless people in all the empire doesn’t it?



Alyria wasn’t sure what she was more surprised by. Was it how nonchalant the the thought sounded inside her mind? Or was it the retreating face of her former love staring back at her as she descended towards Eorzea from the tall walls of The Praetorium? Even now you don’t take your eyes off me. She almost chuckled as a few strands of loose hair tickled the tip of her nose while they danced in the air passing her by.



The Eorzean Alliance was raiding tonight, but despite the massive explosions and Gaius making preparations to activate the Ultima Weapon the world was strangely quiet to her as she fell. Blood muted the screams of battle in her ears and the pain in her abdomen where the sword had run her through began to pulse in perfect rhythm with her heartbeat. And that, was the only reminder that she still had one at all. I welcome my death. A melancholy smile creeped its way onto her lips as she pushed her head back against the cushion of air pushing against her. Its strange how even now I feel as if I’m being held. Carried delicately by a love as I’m ushered into this next journey. Her eyes closed softly and in these final moments she relished in the flashes from her past that played behind her eyelids.



[align=center]~ * ~ * ~ 10 Years Before the raid on Praetorium~ * ~ * ~[/align]



The sick was at her throat now. Alyria knew that sneaking that extra baked biscuit at breakfast was going to be her downfall during the morning exercise routine. But she pressed on, swallowing the stinging liquid that creeped its way up from her stomach with each passing step. Only a half mile now. Two thousand feet. She continued to push on. One thousand. Her breath began to quicken as did her feet when she turned the final corner and the finish line came into view. Five hundred. The instructor was standing under a tree by the side of the course, a strange sight in this citadel of training, and observed each recruit as they ran past the final stretch. One hundred. She skipped a step in preparation for finishing at a full sprint. Her eyes remained dead ahead focused on her goal and paid no heed to the figures that followed behind her. Fifty. Fourty. Twenty. Ten. If there was any time in Garlemald’s history that a land bound race could fly Alyria swore it was now. She soared over the finish line of the early morning marathon and cheered as she turned to see her comrades follow her then to her instructor who only responded with an approving nod and a lingering look before returning to his observations. She was the first to cross.



[align=center]~ * ~ * ~ 9 Years Before the raid on Praetorium ~ * ~ * ~[/align]



Her stomach flipped with excitement inside her. A common sensation lately since her graduation from the “academy” as she liked to call it. Alyria could finally be of service to her country. Helping to bring the sophistication of the Empire to the other realms of the uncivilized world. Why can’t they understand that we are only here to help? Our technology is far superior and progressive than anything they have ever seen! Why such resistance? Shaking the thought from her mind she concentrated on the battle before her. Swinging her greataxe with the grace of a ballerina as she twirled through the battlefield.



"Alyria behind you!"



A shout from her past instructor alerted her to a beast stalking her from a blind spot. He was her commander now, a promotion he received after proving himself in a battle near the end of their training. She really missed his presence during the exercises while he was gone. He had a way of rallying the corp, especially her, to fight harder and strive for greater goals that ever imagined.



Her great axe came down true on her enemy, splitting his skull in two. The body twitched as the nerves in the body ceased to receive their instruction from the head. A phenomenon that always intrigued her, but she never really paid much attention to because as soon as one enemy was defeated there were always ten more waiting to flank you in your weakened state.



"Well done. You are truly becoming poetry in motion on the battlefield. Always a privilege to watch your back as you strike down the enemy."



Turning away slightly to hide the rosy tint on her cheeks and the ridiculous smile forcing it way to her lips she nodded.



"Of course commander. But, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to have you fight alongside the front? To help push the advance forward?"



Alyia’s eyes remained fixed on the Commander as she swiped her axe to the side, slicing a charging enemy’s head clean from his shoulders. Her question was innocent and logical enough, but the response left her dumbfounded and with more butterflies in her stomach than any battle could ever conjure.



"I suppose I could. But I must prefer watching you from behind with the sun outlining your silhouette in a halo of combat and beauty."



After that he returned his attention to the battle and nothing more was said between them for the remainder of the confrontation. However, her attention was no longer fixated on the precision of her strikes but what that statement possibly meant.



[align=center]~ * ~ * ~ 5 Years Before the raid on Praetorium Began ~ * ~ * ~ [/align]



Time seemed to slow around them. With each kiss and embrace that tangled them closer together Alyria could feel herself being pushed further over the edge. Pressed against her was a man who had held so many titles - instructor, commander, interest, and now lover. Many nights were spent like this, wrapped up in the scent of each other as they exerted all of the energy they had bottled up during the day. Tensions were high in Garlemald since the empire’s defeat in the Battle of Carteneau against the Eorzean Alliance so there was enough friction and energy to go on for hours.



This night after the man at her side had long since exhausted himself and drifted into a quiet slumber she remained awake, staring at the ceiling as she contemplated the reasons behind such a powerful foe and why they put up a fight.



"We only want to make their lives better. Don’t we?"



She looked to her sleeping companion and received no answer, which never bothered her much. This was often an exercise she performed late at night and was more rhetorical in nature anyway. Besides, he had so much more to worry about. Recently promoted, again, he had secured his place in the new push against the Eorzean Alliance and while she while he was much less experienced he had secured a place for her at The Praetorium once it was completed so they could remain fighting by each other’s side. That was romantic in its own way wasn’t it? Even if promising themselves to each other until the afterlife was not an option… according to him. Their wedding day would be each day on the battlefield. Their oath of commitment declared with each strike against their enemies. And their vows shown to each other through the blood they spill with their weapons. That was a true warrior’s marriage and was enough for them. At least, that is what she remembers telling herself each night.



"Yes, this is enough my love."



[align=center]~ * ~ * ~ 1 Hour Before the raid on Praetorium ~ * ~ * ~[/align]



The enemy forces were gathering. That much she could see from her station on the high walls of Praetorium. They are going to raid us tonight. I can feel it. She mused to herself as she heard his footsteps follow up behind her and a soft hand laid upon her shoulder. The only intimate gesture we seem to have time for these days The thought must have been visible on her face because he leaned into her with a whisper.



"When we dispose of these rebels this will all be over and we will make a new home here. Just you and me."



There was something different about the way he spoke since they landed on Eorzea. There was a slithering essence to his words that often made her question the true nature of this mission and the effect it was having on her brethren. Perhaps it was the impending battle? Or maybe the hairs that stood at attention on the back of her neck, but tonight she could not hold her tongue anymore.



"Dispose? We do an awful lot of that. I believed we brought progress and prosperity to the kingdoms we conquered. But lately… it only seems like we bring destruction and despair."



This caused the man to pull away slightly with a tsk of the tongue.



"Perhaps you forget the destruction that these …" He paused looking over the mounting offensive with a disgusted groan before continuing. "inferior people performed five years ago while you were safely wrapped under the covers of my bed."



Alyria new a verbal lashing from him when one was given. And this was meant to be a hard strike at the tender part of her very being, not a reminder of better times -more intimate times- in their homeland.



"But this weapon that I’ve seen. The destruction that is rumored that it could cause. It could destroy this whole area, this continent, the world. Countless of our own people. Do you think that in this case the Empire is wrong? That is is misgui--"



The slap across her face was abrupt and hard. He didn’t take the time to remove his gauntlet before striking her and the metal joined kissed her cheek to leave small punctures that now began to turn red as a slight bit of blood came to the surface.



"You question the Empire?! You question Gaius!? If any other member of our force were here you would be branded a traitor. The Emperor's judgement is absolute and his direction is a gift to our people. You know yourself Legatus Van Baelsar has had Garlean’s executed for less. Especially in times when these rebels have gained so much ground for an unknown reason. Never question it again do you hear me?"



The sick was in her throat again, but this morning she had no breakfast. Rations were thin to keep the company complacent. He had never struck her before. This twisted her stomach into a thousand knots of uprising fear for the man that she knew now stood before her. Long gone was the instructor, the commander, the lover. Now stood a general who only had blind love and loyalty for the Empire and its ruler. Regardless of the dangers that it brought along with it.



"Yes sir. I shan't speak of it again."



He left her then and she stood watch over the wall of Praetorium again. And she flinched as the first echoes of the raid made their way through the halls behind her.



[align=center]~ * ~ * ~ 10 Minutes Before the raid on Praetorium Began ~ * ~ * ~[/align]



The rebels were gaining ground. They had an adventurer with them that quickly became a thing of legend throughout the compound as they made their way through. Alyria’s hands tightened on her axe as she contemplated if this effort was really worth all the lives being destroyed. The echoes of her comrade’s screams made her flinch with each passing moment and tested her resolve to the promise she made earlier. I have to speak up. The Legatus is mad and this weapon will destroy us all.

She made her way down the wall. Each step she took bolstered her confidence as she approached him. Please see reason. Be in there Darian. She was only met by a confused look as he stood in solitary waiting for the battle to make its way to him.



"Alyria? What are you doing? Get back to your post."



Placing a hand on either arm she stood in front of him, placing herself between him and the distant landscape he was meditating on.



"Darian. We have to leave. The Legatus is mad. We have to help stop thi--"



Her eyes became wide from the shock of it all. How quickly he drew his weapon. How easily it found a weak spot in her armor. How his eyes remained unmoved as he plunged his long sword through her belly while holding her close like a long lost lover.



"I told you. Never. Speak. Again."



The tears were coming now. She didn’t see this as a betrayal but the final form of punishment for her treachery. Time slowed as he pushed her back and moved to press his foot against her armor next to where the blade pierced her core. Darian began to pull back to retrieve his weapon from her body and kicked her backwards over the top of the wall.



[align=center]~ * ~ * ~ Falling ~ * ~ * ~[/align]



When the images finished playing through her mind Alyria was finally content with passing into the unknown realm of death. But how much farther was there to fall? Had it been minutes or only a few seconds? Was the air cushioning her more than she realized? Had her descent slowed? Was she falling at all anymore?



She battled to open her eyes. Who wants to see their death coming? But she managed to force them open. She wasn’t falling, instead she was moving sideways. What trickery is this? The blood loss was starting to affect her senses surly.



"You stir. There is hope for you yet."



The voice was muffled and unrecognizable, but it was there. And she could feel the two places of pressure from being cradled in the unknown person’s arms. Are they taking me back to Praetorium? Please… leave me… She looked around and noticed the direction of the battle was behind them to the south.



"Where… where are you taking me?"



She was weak and in the final moments of consciousness she only heard two words.



"Limsa Lominsa."





After Notes from the Author: 



Thank you for reading this short story which was inspired by my new character Alyria Winchester. This was an exercise for me in character development and story writing that I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing. I'm excited to hear what you think, but please go easy on a novice like me. :-D 

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