Chapter 1:

A Dance of Apathy

A Dance of Angels

Inside a dark tent, a woman was elegantly practicing her swordplay. The sword itself was light and made for dueling in individual combat. The ornate silver handle had her bandaged hand wrapped around it. The blade was similar in style to a rapier, glowing a whitish blue, which looked like flowing waves of flame. As she danced back and forth, her light gray hair, almost white, moved alongside her. A dark brown robe, almost black, was loosely resting on her body. Around her waist was a brown belt. Bright yellow eyes reflected in her blade, these were usually behind a thin blindfold. A medallion showing the Martyred Lady’s symbol laid upon her neck.

As she practiced her movements, a woman opened the tent, allowing the fire from outside to leak in. It did not stop Lady Iris, whose blade seemed to consume the light within itself. The lady who entered wore the standard garbs of the Coven of the Martyred Lady. A robe of dark brown, almost black, and a simple hemp belt. A pendant, simpler in appearance than Iris’s was upon her neck. She bowed, “Lady Iris, the Archimandrite requests your appearance at the council..”

Iris made a final movement that was followed by the small wave of color that danced off the blade. It held both the appearance of fire and water, a strange combination to be certain. The servant maiden’s eyes grew wide, the colors reflected in her eyes. Iris sheathed the sword and put her blindfold over her bright glowing yellow eyes.

“Upon my return prepare a pitcher of water, I wish to wash.”

The servant maiden kept her head down as Iris walked past. Her presence was hardly acknowledged, Iris meant no offensive by it, as it was her nature.

Upon entering the camp it was large in size, various maidens were moving around, preparing for the upcoming battle. It had been a short campaign, upon which they really only committed heavy to this final battle. As they had stayed neutral up until a few weeks ago. The central command tent was the largest of all. Once entering the center was taken up by a large oak table. Smaller tables sat on the outskirts as well as small chairs surrounded them. Different high ranking battle-maidens and ladies stood around it. Upon the table a large cloth map, with various battle plans drawn on it. 

Behind this a wooden throne with silver decorations on the sides. Lady Archimandrite Grace sat upon it. She was discussing something with a fellow maiden. The Archimandrite of the Coven was second in command behind the Mother Superior. Her beauty reflected this as she was of angelic-blood like Iris. Although her face was hidden behind a white mask that was in the design of the Martyred Lady. She had on her battle regalia, with chain-mail underneath the white and dark brown cloth. The symbol of the coven was on the center, alongside silver and brown accents along the rim. A veil was draped over the mask and underneath her simple sliver helm. This hid her face and hair completely, although Iris had seen it before, as she was kin. In this they had a shared fate.

“Lady Iris, how are you on this night, are you prepared?” The Archimandrite of the Coven approached with elegance, rising from her seat. She spoke with gentleness and politeness. It was the peak of attainment in terms of angelic customs. As close as those tainted with human blood could achieve.

“I am prepared, my Archimandrite, for it will take little to achieve victory.” Iris could tell the Archimandrite was raising her eyebrow under the mask.

“So prepared that you missed our council of the upcoming battle?”

“My Archimandr-,” she was cut off.

“Lady Iris, you’ve been my ward for how long?”

“Four years my Archi-,” the Archimandrite eyed her cautiously, “My Lady Grace.”

The Lady Archimandrite Grace's eyes portrayed a smile, “Always the polite one, such is our customs.”

She motioned towards the table, “Please join me by my side, you will be attached to Lady Elizabeth for the capture of the City of Toric.”

As Lady Grace began to explain what she had missed at the council meeting, Iris’s mind drifted. She cared little for the tactics, only the dueling, upon which she politely waited for her lady to finish her speech.

“As you see Lady Iris, it is my hope you command alongside your maidens, rather than relying on another to do so.”

“And what of strong opponents? I seek to duel them.”

Lady Grace shook her head, “Did you not listen child, your role is to support Lady Elizabeth. Act as her shield, not the sword.”

Iris looked at Lady Elizabeth, who was seated eating a bowl of stew at a corner table. The table was large, like everything in the tent, and around her sat her entourage. The Lady Abbess Elizabeth stood at a modest height, and was third in command behind the Lady Archimandrite Grace. Her robe was long and was a dark bluish brown. Underneath the robe was a black undershirt and her robe collar was trimmed with silver. Upon her neck sat a number of pendants. She had blackish gray hair, which was short, and was tied back into a loose bun. Her belt was of light hemp and tied to it was a small leather bound tome. It was carved with various words from the angelic-language upon which only those touched by the heavens could understand. A mask of similar but not as skillful design as the Lady Grace was resting on top of her head.

Her pale blue eyes had a hint of yellow and they darted to meet those of Iris. She curtly nodded and returned to her meal. Lady Grace put a hand on the shoulder of Iris, “You have worked well with her, but she is at her wits end with your rash behavior.”

“I know my lady, I find directing the battle-maidens tiresome. Why should I pay them mind when they can’t keep up?”

Lady Grace eyed Iris with patience and virtue. “Your dueling skills are remarkable Iris, but you must lead. Our apathetic nature is part of our gift to make rational decisions.”

“So why must I-”

“You must lead. Those with only skill are destined to be alone.”

Iris thought about this, would it really matter if she and her sisters were alone. They didn’t need those without their gifts. Much less those unable to even accept the blood of angels.

“We are not pure, let me remind you Iris, and yet we learned. We fought and trained our way to the top. Think about that, your talent and practice are what allowed you to start your ascension.”

“Yes my lady.”

“Now go eat, we thankfully still have enough meat for the stew.”

“Yes my lady.” Iris bowed and made her way to the pot that was brought into the command tent. Upon getting her stew, Lady Elizabeth motioned for her to take a seat.