Disclaimer:  All concepts relating to the world of Velgarth, and kingdom of Valdemar, are the sole property of the author Mecedes Lackey.    

The song is My Immortal by Evanesence.

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Nothing Immortal.

The air is cold and crisp and clear and it chills my throat as I breathe slowly in and out.  Icy little fingers of the wind pick at my hair and caress my face and body.

The sun has almost set; the blazing glory of its fiery last stand marking its fall from the sky.  Orange light washes over and around me and I shut my eyes against the dying light and turn my head away, instead staring at the darkly growing shadows underneath the wrought iron grey-black of the tangled and wild forest all around me.  I’m in a small clearing in the untamed woodland, at the summit of a steep hill and from here I can see the shadowy night creeping effortlessly across the land.

I’m waiting.

It won’t be long now.

I’m so tired of being here,
Suppressed by all of my childish fears,

I used to have nightmares about this place, about being here— feeling like this.  Screaming nightmares that would fling me into wakefulness and leave me trembling and shaking.  I think I was once told that it was the actions of a vestigial Gift of Foresight.  Someone important told me that— I… can’t remember who.

Whoever they were, they lied.

It’s not a Gift, it never was a Gift; it’s a curse.

That realisation has crept upon me slowly.  I think, subconsciously, I always suspected the truth about matters.  But it’s taken this dark cathedral of nature and the gentle caress of the winter wind to crystallize the thought within me.

Foresight never was a gift…

The trees around the edge of the clearing look battered and bruised; their foliage torn and branches snapped, dead white of new wood exposed to the uncaring elements.

The sky is turning a rich, full plum colour— fading to deep orange on my left, and too a depthless indigo colour on my right and the few clouds that are still scattered across it’s vast inverted dome look like flames, burning bright in the darkness.

I remember something about flames… a fire…?  I don’t know, if I try to focus on the wispy memory then it flashes from my grasp like a sleek silver fish.

Some of the shadows around me are… wrong…

I feel incomplete and I don’t know why.

And if you have to leave,
I wish that you would just leave,
Because your presence still lingers here,
And it won’t leave me alone,

I do remember a fire… long ago it was.  I was— different— somehow and you… you weren’t you, not at all, but I still loved you more than anything—  I know that’s right, deep in my soul I’ve caught that slippery fish.

—I think—

I think that it will be a beautiful night tonight.

I think that it is very quiet in this forest; not even the birds are singing, not even insects… not anything, just silence and the wind.

I think that I— we— won’t have long to wait now.

I think of flames—

I think that I died in that fire, a long time ago.

But that can’t be right, can it?  I’m here; I’m standing right here and you—this you—are standing with me…

…aren’t you?

These wounds won’t seem to heal,
This pain is just too real,
There’s just too much that time cannot erase,

I did—oh, gods— I did die in a fire and I left you behind and it hurt so much.  But… that was my last life, my past life; a long time ago that lives only in the country of dreams and my mind, but not yours…

Because… why?

I know the answer to this, my love, I do… because of the choices we made, that is why I remember flames and you remember nothing at all.

I remember heat and light and burning pain and sounds beyond hearing and—

—and you don’t.  I envy you that, but the choices we make are what define us and they cannot be undone.  We both chose similar, you know… or rather, you don’t, you can’t… we both chose to come back.  Live again, find each other; it seemed a good idea, didn’t it?

I picked the knowledge and you picked the ignorance and both of us picked the Choosing once more.

I never regretted my Choice— how could I?— and I never regretted picking this life… except… maybe I do now?  I don’t know, I’m so uncertain and I don’t know why and—

—you're still silent.  I can’t hear you.  Where are you?


When you cried I’d wipe away all of your tears,
When you’d scream I’d fight away all of your fears,
And I’ve held your hand throughout all of these years,
But you still have all of me,

I remember when you found me; it was a cold and blustery day in autumn and you had come along to help your father.  He was a blacksmith and it was the second day of his visit to the Palace and the stables to check and shoe any and all of the horses— workers, hunters, riding beasts and so on— that needed seeing to.

You were taking a breather— I think your father and the other grooms and stable hands helping him had unanimously decided that it was time for their midday meal— and you had gone for a walk, I think, which ended you up by Companion’s Field, staring out at the rolling green expanse of my home.

From the very moment that I saw you; I knew.  It hit me full on and from a standing start.  I hadn’t even known I was missing you— apart from in abstract dreams that I never remembered— until then.

I stood and stared unashamedly at you from a distance as the playful wind toyed with my mane and tail.  Your hair was black and your skin was pale and you were bundled up in brown leather clothes that looked well worn from a distance.

I was blessing the wind seconds later as it snatched away the piece of paper that you were concentrating on and sent it tumbling over the grass towards me— you scrabbled through the fence and pelted after it across the grass— I concentrated on the crackling white shape as it bounced towards me and precisely stamped one silver hoof down on it, pinning to the ground.

I remember that your face was flushed with the effort of running, and that you were breathing quite heavily—

—that your eyes appeared a dark brown—

—that you smelt of horses—

—that the leather of the overalls you were wearing was soft and old and criss-crossed with scratches and scorch marks—

I remember flames…

But above all I remember that I loved you—love you—

:Hello Leitan, Chosen.:  I remember the embarrassment at meeting me suddenly turning to shocked joy.  :My name is Talli.:

You used to captivate me,
By your resonating light,
But now I’m bound by the life you left behind,
Your face, it haunts my once pleasant dreams,
Your voice, it chased away all the sanity in me,

It feels like a dream, our life.  The silver fish of memory are darting around in my mind and I think I’m beginning to lose myself— lose you somehow, and I—


—I still can’t hear you, can’t feel you and some part of me worries at that.  Something is wrong?  Maybe… I don’t know.  All I know is that the stars are coming out and are creating brilliant frozen points of light against the deep velvety black of the night sky.  That the darkened trees around are creaking in the wind as their broken branches rub together and celebrate their death.

My breath steams out of my nose in a cloud of white vapour, dancing around in the chilly atmosphere as I blink slowly and turn my head to look to my left, where you are standing—

—but you’re not there and I feel cold; cold inside my mind, my heart… my soul…

These wounds won’t seems to heal,
This pain is just too real,
There’s just too much that time cannot erase,

The silver fish are slowing, the ice inside me is hampering them, and I am able to better view the flashes of my life reflected in their mirror-like scales and sweeping fins.

I think of running and magic and mocking laughter in the past…

It was a terrible mistake, in the way back when; when I was the other me full of ignorance and you were the other you full of memory, and we were caught out with no chance— no escape—

A Herald, a Companion and a bundle of terrified refugees, liberated from madness born horrors.  We didn’t stand a chance.  Not one.  But we tried, we did.

You were… Rads… and I… I was… Hallin…? And we were both tired and exhausted and scared and when the mage caught up with us we were utterly spent and frustratingly close to the Border, but infinitely far.  You could have made it at a stumbling run, but the people— we couldn’t leave them.  They had no chance, no escape and we— we had a choice.  Just the one.

I told them to run and I challenged him, the mage.  He laughed, I remember that—

—and I lost the short battle and he called down the lightning and—

I remember flames—

When you cried I’d wipe away all of your tears,
When you’d scream I’d fight away all off your fears,
And I’ve held your hand throughout all of these years,
But you still have all of me,

But that’s not right… that’s not now.  I only have those memories because of my choice.  The flames aren’t here and they aren’t now and I’m not Hallin; I’m Talli and you’re Leitan and—

—something is wrong—

—I Chose you and we grew up together and the war which we died in the name of is long over and I didn’t have time for nightmares of a forest clearing at dusk anymore because I had you and you were all mine and I was all yours.

—very wrong—

You had your nightmares but I chased them away, made you safe; kept you safe because I loved you with all of my heart and because there was nothing else I could do.  I helped you catch your dreams as well and I laughed when you laughed and it was all so perfect.

—shadows under the broken trees—

And then you had your Whites and we were triumphantly returning from our Field Circuit and it was even more perfect and I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier than that day; when we arrived back at Haven and you were a Herald.

—starlight glimmers, catching sharp metal edges flung carelessly to the ground—

Why are you silent, Leitan?  Why can’t I hear you, what’s wrong?  The coldness in me is spreading, numbing everything and my vision is beginning to waver, the bright actinic sparkles far above me trembling and wavering together in streaks of writing in a language I don’t understand anymore.

—defines by shadows the crumpled figures; three in a rough collection of furs and fabric—

I’m so cold.

I’ve tried so hard to tell myself that you’re gone,
And though you’re still with me,
I’ve been alone all along.

My throat constricts as I resist the urge to keen with grief.  I don’t know why, I just know that something is wrong.  I can’t hear or feel you and I’m full of ice and shadows and past life dreams of fire and—

—one in stained and torn luminous white—

I’m in my nightmare of the forest and— and— I’m scared…

Memory parts, a fish freezes for a moment and I see a frantic fight between a gang of bad men and a Herald and his Companion mare in a lonely forest clearing and I see death and I see the survivors fleeing—

And I see weapons dulled with thick red blood scattered on the ground—

And I see broken tree branches howling in the wind—

And I see—

I see—

I see you and—

I see me—


And I scream.


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