The copyrights of the world of Rathilien and its inhabitants are the of P.C. Hodgell. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of Mark Shakespeare and no financial benefit is sought by the writer of this fanfiction.

Before the Fall, the Kencyrath fought for, and were defeated on, many worlds down the Chain of Creation. Here is what one of those defenders might have thought as the people retreated once again...


Requiem for a Fallen World

by Mark Shakespeare

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Iridescent mist, illuminated by flashes of sickly green lightning, glowed balefully against the dark sky. There were no stars to shine their light on the wet grass, turning black now - there were no more stars at all. No moon, no light whatsoever except from the red flames of the torches the Kendar held aloft.

Soon. It will be soon. These stragglers had better get a move on, otherwise the gates will be shut in their faces.

It wasn't a pleasant thought, what would happen to those left behind on a fallen world. The slide into that state of the fusion of the animate and inanimate, the animal and vegetable, that characterised Perimal Darkling, people become hideous mixtures of human, insect, mammal, bird, or even rock and mud. He had seen it before, in areas where the darkling taint had overcome the natural defenses of Tilai'i.

Tilai'i the Blue, it had once been. The blue sky, the blue rocks and sandy beaches, the flowers and berries and leaves - all shades of blue, from turquoise to violet. A beautiful world, it had been, home to the Kencyrath for fifteen centuries. And they had grown to love this world, so gentle and serene, even its storms seeming less severe than those the singers spoke of their Ancestors encountering on previous worlds.

Blue no more, Tilai'i. The Shadow That Crawls had conquered all but this last outpost, this last bastion of defiance that the Kencyr had raised against it. Even now the Barrier was no more than five miles away from the gates, and steadily advancing, the grass beneath their feet blackening as it did so, the stench of corruption and decay wafting in on the damp, sodden breeze.

Angen shivered despite the thick cloak he wore. Too many friends had already fallen into shadow, to become haunts or twisted caricatures of the people they had once been. Most of them had not been Kencyr - the Three Peoples knew enough to ensure that few of them were taken and warped by the taint of Perimal Darkling - but they had been friends nonetheless. He remembered laughter, song, standing shoulder to shoulder in battle, and gentle caresses in a darkened room.

Irien, oh Irien, if only we had had more time together. But it wasn't to be.

She had been a native of this world, not Kencyr at all, and it hadn't mattered to him. He had loved her. Her laughter, her smile, her beauty and compassion and generosity and fire. He had loved her, and she had loved him with all her heart.

But the shadows had risen, and her land had fallen as so much else had, and she was gone now. He hoped that she was truly dead, but in his dreams he saw her as she was now, monstrous, corrupted - beyond redemption. He woke sometimes, a cry of fear locked in his throat, just as he sometimes imagined her touch on his face as he slept, or her soft voice on the wind -

No, she is gone. Think about something else. Think about our next home, the next threshold world...

He stared at the last stragglers as they made their way under the arch, into the courtyard, towards the sanctuary of the House. How much longer will we have to fight, how long until the Chosen Three come to free us from this hateful duty? How many more worlds to fall into Perimal Darkling, how many more songs lost forever?

Tears stung his eyes as the gates were finally shut, and the Kendar rearguard made their way inside. How long? It has been too long already. Oh Irien, Irien....