breakfastofchampions: (monster alex)
[personal profile] breakfastofchampions
I wanted to write a short piece about one or more of the Goldenhour characters, and to help inspire me, I asked for a prompt! And I got one.

If anyone else has a thematic prompt that might help me, please let me know in the comments here. It can be an object, idea, phrase, quote, a particular character from the story, a pairing--anything. Feel free to contribute as many as you like! (Oh yes, and if you prefer to ask for characters from another story of mine, that's cool, too.)

Title: By the Sword
Universe: Goldenhour
Character: Alexander Sable
Word count: 542
Warnings: none
Notes: For the prompt "skill", suggested by redvelvetaddict. This is from Alex's PoV, but before things really get started with Bertrand's plot, so his ideas about his future are not indicative of what actually happens to him.



He is not a real knight. He has known that since the day he first became a knight. During the solemn elevation ceremony, before the final ritual, he was separated from the other squires. He was taken away from them, and he never truly joined their number again. The Aetherians did not tell him what he was earlier, when he was raised from page to squire. Of course they didn't. That would have been too honest, too easy. The truths of the knighthood are kept secret from squires, kept secret from almost everyone.

Alex knows them now, although he is not a real knight.

What real knights are is not even human. They are vessels for Aetherian power. They are born and raised to hold that magic that is beyond themselves, to direct it. Yet some people, it seems--not many, no more than a few in each generation of knights--are unable to hold the power. Their bodies reject it.

Such people are called half-knights. Only the full knights and the Aetherians know they exist. They should not exist. What quality is hidden in their flesh and blood that rejects the power of magic when most can be trained to hold it without pain? Not even the Aetherians know what it is about him that sets him apart. He can tell they don't know, because they are interested in him. They ask him questions. They watch him. They cut him open, just a little, and taste his blood. They do not do these things to anyone else, as far as he is aware.

Magic makes him sicken. It drives him to his knees. He cannot even be cured by the paler, gentler form of magic used for healing. If the raw power used in combat were taken into his body, he would die of it. In an instant.

In times of war, knights do not fight like ordinary men. They light up. They blaze with magic. They set the world afire. They are the end of enemies. They purify all that lies before them. Alex has seen the power. He has seen it burn in the eyes of his friends. He has seen them become more--or less--than human. They are transformed by it.

Alex is only himself, with some slight additions. Because he has been made a knight, he has had a great deal of indirect exposure to magic, and he has grown used to that constant, faint queasiness that alerts him to its presence. Half knights reap a few benefits of the power. He would not be even half a knight if he were not bound to the Aether in some way. He is faster than an ordinary man. Stronger. His endurance is greater. But he is still only flesh. He bleeds easily. He can fall.

When the war comes, and war always comes, he will fight against an enemy that has no form and no mercy. He will fight with his two hands and his two swords, like any soldier.

He will die like that.

When he thinks of it, he, a person who smiles rarely, smiles grimly. The idea pleases him. There is no shame in dying like a man, in living by one's own skill.
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