1. round and round, you have to go and shoot me down
15 March 1601
From the corner of her right eye, Beren watched the man who would be killing her. A little taller than her, his brown eyes were focused and his face calm as he patiently listened to the instructor speaking. From where she stood, she could see the bulge in his clothes, betraying the presence of a sword he had spent years mastering the handling — a sword designed to kill her.
A foreign voice whispered in the back of her mind to kill him before he could get the chance to bury the weapon in her heart.
With a sigh, Beren drew her attention back to the other side of the old wooden desk where the instructor was standing.
"You both graduated ahead of schedule with remarkable scores both in theoretical and practical. In fact," a smile ghosted over the lips of the instructor, "These are the best scores the academy has had in four decades. It has been decided by the Council to pair you up and send you to the field immediately."
The five minutes mark passed and Beren shifted on her foot, wincing slightly at the dull pain that appeared in her lower back. The instructor noticed her movement and stopped his speech to stare at her, a reproachful look in his eyes. Beren stared back as if nothing had happened. She had never been able to stay still for long. The old man frowned at her one last time and resumed.
"You will receive the rank of captain in the fourth brigade. You both know what your jobs are and what is at stake. The Council, as well as myself, have high ambitions for the two of you. Do not disappoint us." His shoulders relaxed a little and he dropped the severe face. "I'll leave you alone for a bit, you can get to know each other. Report to your barracks once you're done and wait for further orders."
He made his way outside of the room but stopped at the door. He looked back at them, a veil of nostalgia covering his grey eyes. "I'm very proud of you two."
Beren held back a blink of surprise. The old commander had never been the sentimental type. He had been a severe and fair teacher, always pushing his students to the best of their capacities. Although she had no particular affection for the man, she had enjoyed his lessons more than the rest.
"Thank you, sir." A voice spoke next to her.
Beren glanced at her would-be Executioner. For all she could tell, his gratitude seemed sincere as he thanked their instructor, his eyes shining wholeheartedly. She cursed her luck for having paired her with a naive idealist.
Not feeling as expressive as him, Beren settled for a courteous nod that the commander returned. He opened his mouth, his mustache twitching as if he wanted to add something but changed his mind. He nodded at them one last time and exited the room. Beren and her Executioner waited a moment, both watching the door to make sure he wasn't coming back.
When it became clear that the commander had left, Beren gratefully dropped the military posture. She stretched her sore arms with an exasperated sigh. She hated staying still. She walked to the desk and sat on the commander's chair, which if anyone caught her doing this, she would be good for a month a disciplinary sanction. Going even further, she propped her feet on the desk, settling comfortably under her hangman's inscrutable gaze. She met his brown eyes and quirked a defying eyebrow. He quirked one right back at her.
She smiled and handed him her hand. "Beren Ran Heriotza. Pleased to meet you."
He mimicked her smile — Beren noticed the look in his eyes wasn't matching his friendly appearance — and approached the desk, reaching his hand out to shake hers. In the time it took her to bat her eye, he had shoved her feet off the desk with an expert move of his hand and forced her to sit down properly. She glared at him and he simply shook her hand that was still hanging in the air.
He hadn't finished his training ahead of time and with the honours for nothing.
"Diakiosyni Telos." He presented himself with an insufferable smirk. "Please learn to sit properly. I would hate to see you get fired on our first day."
Something in his tone told her he wasn't completely against the idea of her getting fired. Beren ignored it and narrowed her eye at him. "Diakiosyni Telos ? The Hand That Will Be Your Fall ?"
His eyes shone amusedly. "According to some translations, yes. What does your name mean ?"
The corner of her mouth turned up. "She Who Will Survive."
His assured smile faltered. Diakiosyni studied her, irritation in his eyes as his jaws tensed for a brief instant before relaxing.
He sat on the desk and looked down at her. "Seems our parents had a certain sense of humor in naming us."
Beren put her feet back on the desk, leaning back on her chair. She grinned defiantly, glad she had been able to set him off. "Just need to wait and see which ones were right and which ones were wrong."
He hummed in agreement and a rather uncomfortable silence doomed the room. Beren did nothing to escape it.
Diakiosyni gave up first. "And where do you come from, She Who Will Survive ?"
She scoffed. "You're taking that whole 'get to know each other' very seriously aren't you ?"
"We're going to be spending the rest of your life together, might as well start somewhere." He replied with a shrug. "And it was an order from our commanding officer. You're not going to disobey an order, are you ?" He gestured at her legs with a disapproving frown.
Beren didn't need the reminder that he was going to follow her everywhere she went until the day she would snap and he would have to kill her. She had been alone for the last seven years and she wouldn't have minded keeping it that way. But Diakiosyni was right, they would be spending a lot of time together, there was no reason to start on the wrong foot.
She sighed. "I'm from the Rawni Desert."
He frowned. "The whole desert ?"
Beren clarified with a half-truth. "My parents never settled down long enough in any of the towns. We moved a lot. And you ? Where do you come from, Hand That Will Be My Fall ?"
"I grew up in Rurtak. Any siblings ?"
"Why do you care ? Plan on apologizing to them once you've murdered me ?"
The accusation slipped out of her mouth before she could stop it. For a moment, she had forgotten she was supposed to be fine with it.
Diakiosyni raised his hands in defense, though he didn't seem offended by her words . "Hey you knew what you were signing up for when you became a Vessel. I'll only be doing my job."
She said nothing about how that job made her stomach clench in disgust. Executioner. He would kill her someday and be acclaimed. What a sick job it was.
"Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it." Beren mumbled, adjusting the blindfold over her left eye.
He laughed softly. "Not thrilled to be sacrificed for the greater good I see."
She tilted her head and scrunched her nose. "I'm just not a fan of dying at your Executioner's hands. I'd much prefer to go in a big final, fighting thousands of enemies and dramatically succumbing to my wounds."
"Don't we all."
They shared a smile.
"I have a little brother." She finally answered him after another silence. "He's studying at the Fortress."
"Wants to be a smith ?"
"I'm an only child." He said softly, looking away. Beren cocked her head to him when she heard the hurt in his voice and he offered her a faint smile. "I would tell you the story but I'm afraid it's just a sad and boring one."
She examined him thoroughly. This was the man who would end her life. He was also the man who would share her life for the rest of her years on this earth. She had accepted that fact when she had accepted to become a Vessel. She had tied her destiny to him, without knowing the outcome.
She spoke softly. "All stories are sad and boring in the end."
His eyes brightened and he looked at her before giving a little nod of understandment, his attention dropping for an instant. Letting power flow through her, she kicked him off the desk, sending him flying across the room. He hit the ground with his back heavily, coughing his lungs out. She jumped in the air, way higher than anyone should be able to, landing above him, one leg on each side. Dark tendrils of power came from under the blindfold that covered her left eye, wrapping loosely around her.
He made a move to stand but she projected her power and the tendrils wrapped around his torso, pushing him down to the ground. He growled in discomfort.
"Diakiosyni Telos." She said and he stopped wrestling to look at her. "I plan to end a war that has been going on for centuries. To do that, I first need to climb the army ranks. Will you accompany me ?"
Beren couldn't help the weird feeling inside of her as she repeated what her teachers had told her. It just felt wrong. She couldn't care less about the war but what else was she supposed to do ? She was trapped in this role till the day she would die. But then she remembered her mother, what she hadn't been able to accomplish, and Beren chased her uneasiness away, forcing herself to care again.
He stayed silent for a moment, simply looking at her while his chest heaved under the pressure. Then he spoke.
She nodded and released him. He let his head fall back, groaning loudly as he tried to catch his breath. She continued her speech again and he turned his head to her.
"I have a goal and I will do everything to achieve it. I don't plan to hold back my powers just to gain a few years of life. This means that one day, I will lose the fight to my powers and they'll consume me entirely. I'll snap and start destroying everything and everyone that crosses my path."
She paused, realizing that her breath was becoming shaky as she spoke. Diakiosyni was looking at her, a softness in his eyes that she first found deconcerting but it helped her calm down. She extended her hand out to him and when she talked again, her voice was assured.
"Will you kill me if I do ?"
He took her hand and she helped him up his feet. He studied her one last time before bowing. His expression was severe, his chestnut brown hair falling over his creased brow. When he looked back at her, the rage and resolve that shone in his eyes almost made her take a step back.
Thank you so much for reading the first chapter of my story, you're the best :D
Some information : this story is 19 chapter long, they're all written already and i'll uptade once a week on Thursdays !
I wish a great day to everyone, bye !