- The Sisters
An accounting of the Thertian raid on Wincaster, and the events that followed. Written by High Bishop of Wincaster, 376 D.A.
Our magnificent capital Wincaster was once a wonder to behold. Newcomers were always in awe of the city and the sheer number of people within its limits. People of all walks of life were drawn to the hub of our nation, whether by the exalted cathedral of our Lord, or by the promise of safety from outlander raiders. Whether that safety came from our massive city walls, our elevated position at the heart of the Vanguards, or the five legions of soldiers that constantly patrolled the region, it mattered not. Safety was safety, in whatever form. In such a place, no-one would take notice of two young sisters who were, by all accounts, normal to the casual observer. Never could anyone have actually guessed the power and courage that they held, secreted away from the rest of the world behind their gentle appearances..
Yesterday when the alarm bell rang out, the women, children, and elderly of the city rushed to the cathedral to take shelter amongst the disciples and clergy, just as they always had in previous times. The sisters of whom I speak were among those seeking shelter and stood with countless others within the cathedralís stone and timber walls. Once everyone was inside, we barred the doors and many began praying for our guards and soldiers to drive off the raiders, as they had done so many times before. It had been months since the last attack, and most of us believed that the raiders had finally suffered enough casualties that they had given up on sacking our city. Others believed it was the completion of the massive outer curtain wall that had dissuaded them from returning. Clearly, we were wrong.
This time the raiders came under a united flag for the first time, surely a product of one clan rising to dominance. Whatever the exact cause of the unification, the effect was clear. The heathens were no longer a mindless rabble but a well-oiled war machine with discipline and tactics. They came in droves and washed over our outlying defenses as waves crash over the sand of a beach. And yet our walls held against their catapults and siege engines, and even the massive gatehouse was unscathed by their battering rams. As the engines proved ineffective, a single horn could be heard, one which signaled every northman to fall into a formation which we had never seen before. It resembled a massive turtle, their shields forming its impenetrable shell, rendering them invulnerable to our archers. For what seemed like hours they remained motionless in that formation with nary a gap large enough to allow air to breathe, let alone an arrow to penetrate. Still the rain of arrows continued, our commander unwilling to give them a moment to rest. Suddenly there was movement amidst the shields, as a pathway opened. A small group of unarmored individuals emerged from the center of the sea of raised shields. They were not carrying a flag of peace, and so our archers continued to unleash volley after volley, yet not a single arrow ever found its mark and the small group advanced slowly towards the walls unscathed.
From the great hall of the cathedral, standing atop the highest point of the hill on which the city was founded, where it was closest to our Lord, we had an amazing view of all that took place. The battlefield seemed so distant, so unreal, yet peering through the windows we knew how close and sincere the situation was. We watched as the group came to a halt, raised their arms, and made motions towards the wall. The ground under our great cathedral shook as rocks tore from the very earth about their feet and slammed into the walls and gatehouse. Boulder after boulder crashed into the walls until they finally gave way. Our brave soldiers rushed into formation to defend the breach only to be met by a hail of fire from the sky as the magi again motioned with their arms. We watched in horror as hundreds, maybe thousands, of our guards writhed on the ground in agony, burning in a slow and tortuous death, while others ran to find water to douse the flames, or for their very lives in fear. Amidst the chaos another horn could be heard.
Answering the hornís call, the raiders marched for the breach in the wall, pausing from their formation and perfect march only to end the lives of those beneath their feet. Mere moments later, their formation broke and they charged in all directions, slaying any remaining resistance. It was then that the true horror of the situation washed over us within the cathedral. The prayers that had been quiet and private only moments before became a public clamor for salvation, a plea for divine aid from our Father in our time of need. The prayers only grew louder as the situation became worse, such that one could think of naught but the prayer. Through the windows we could see their men ransacking our homes, pillaging our stores and shops and putting structures and people alike to the torch. Gasps of horror rose as they dragged women and children from their hiding places and bound them in chains before dragging them out of the city. They continued up the winding roads towards the cathedral, every passing moment bringing them closer to our barred doors. Terror gripped many within the cathedral. Men, women and children alike wept uncontrollably.
It was then that the disciples assembled, calling for the favor of our Father and preparing to unleash His wrath. Seeing the disciples preparing to call on magic, the sisters must have been inspired, or perhaps they simply sensed how dire the situation truly was. They stepped forward and, without fear of persecution for being practiced magi, offered their aid in defending the cathedral beside the disciples. The crowd was audibly displeased at having magi amongst them, but none dared speak out directly, and I knew better than to waste our disciplesí efforts on seizing them given the circumstances. Silence fell over the crowd as the senior disciple raised his hand to protest. He spoke with a deep and confident tone full of conviction in his beliefs, as any disciple would be expected to do, as he explained that if we resorted to commanding magic as the heathens had, we were already lost in our Fatherís eyes, both in this world and eternally.
Before the sisters could argue, the disciples had already unbarred the doors and marched to face the overwhelming odds, confident in their faith and our Lordís protection. We barred the doors behind them even as we prayed and wept for their souls. Moments later we heard the faint sounds of battle followed by the painful screams of our disciples as they were overrun, then, bitter silence.
As the pounding on the doors began, so too did the whimpering and cries of children and their frightened mothers. The raiders began smashing the windows, trying to get in any way they could. Just as all hope seemed lost, together the sisters spoke to the crowd. They assured us all that we would come to no harm, even as many scoffed at them in disbelief. They ignored the insults and doubt, and turned to face the doors just as they splintered and burst open revealing the horde.
In an instant the cathedralís hall erupted with a flash of energy. Surges of wind knocked the raiders back from the windows and doorway as the sisters motioned with their arms, weaving the strands of the magical fabric. Normally displaying control over magic in our city, or even the kingdomís lands, was punishable by death, but no-one moved to stop them. It was universally understood at that moment by all present that these young women were all that stood between us and a gruesome death, or worse. After a moment, the winds stopped and a quiet hum could be heard. The sisters stood motionless like statues, yet straining against what appeared to be a tremendous weight. The northmen beat on the invisible sphere that had formed around us all, shouting words that were largely inaudible through the barrier. When the raiders realized they could not breach the barrier, they instead set the cathedral on fire. The inferno was intense, surely enough to have killed us all had we not been secure inside the sistersí warding. I watched as all that I knew failed to protect my people and burnt around me. Instead, we were saved by those that, under any other circumstances, we would have heartlessly slain for fear of the corruption that came from their power. The barrier held, even against the magi who had destroyed our walls earlier.
For three days and sleepless nights the sisters stood vigil, motionless, with their eyes closed, teeth clenched, hands grasping at unseen objects, refusing to let go. By then, a majority of the raider army had left, with Wincasterís valuables and hundreds of captives in tow. They left only a few hundred soldiers to finish razing the city and watch over us, waiting for the moment the barrier would yield so they could slay us all, or worse. That moment never came. Despite signs of extreme fatigue and sheer agony, the sisters refused to let the barrier fail. Slowly, though, it began to weaken. We could feel the gentle breeze, smell the smoke and death from our city, and hear the occasional scream as another victim was found. It was nearly noon on the fourth day when we heard a familiar and uplifting sound. The beautiful sound of trumpets and drums came through the wavering barrier and we knew that our salvation had come. The 3rd Legion, our largest and most experienced, had returned from their patrols early. Perhaps they had seen the smoke, or maybe someone escaped and took word to them. Whatever the cause, the sight of their banner was a great relief to us all. Our relief turned to elation as the remaining northmen fled as more than sixty thousand of our soldiers poured into the city.
The hum of the barrier ceased entirely and the sisters both fell to the ground. Several of us rushed to offer aid. With help from the soldiers, we set up a medical camp just outside the smoldering ruins of the cathedral, and I did not leave the sisters. I stayed with them for days until they finally awoke from their slumber, weak and drained. The guards at the door began to approach them, having seen the sisters regain consciousness. They were about to shackle them and bring them before the commander of the legion for questioning and inevitable execution. I stood and raised my hand to motion the guards to hold. As High Bishop, I alone had the power to return the favor they had done me and so many others. I informed the guards that they were no longer magi, that the extended connection to the weave had riven them, and that punishing them now would be no different than slaying innocent civilians.
I have no idea whether they were actually permanently riven or not, and Lord forgive me for not upholding His law, but I could not bring myself to let such brave and selfless people be executed for an act of kindness. In the days that followed, I set in motion changes to our church and the interpretation of our Lordís laws regarding magi, having seen first-hand that good can come from controlling magic directly. I visited the sisters several times in their home to thank them for their actions and learned their names as well as a great deal about them. I vowed that they and their selfless actions would never be forgotten by our people. Upholding that vow, I have ordered the moons be renamed in their honor, and commissioned statues of them to be constructed at the center of our city, directly under the gaze of our Fatherís statue. For they are His children as well, regardless of their connection to magic.
The bright blue moon was named after Clyssia for her piercing blue eyes, and her statue resembles her perfectly, with her long straight flowing hair swept back by the wind, forever frozen for all to gaze upon her, as she was the night she saved so many. The steel gray moon was renamed after her sister, Amil'lea-jade for her big gray eyes. Her statue is amazingly like her, with exceptional detail in her curly locks of hair. They both are raising their hands together towards our Father in a gesture of peace and eagerness to protect His people. Both statues were created with the sisters wearing a discipleís robes, to symbolize that no matter how the strands of the void were controlled, that they should always serve our Lord.
I know not if the sisters ever saw the statues finished. They left the city without notice and none, not even I, know where they have gone. I also do not know if my actions will earn me the right to stand beside my Father when my essence leaves my body, or if I have forever insulted Him and instead ensured my own descent into oblivion. Though I believe that saving the lives of thousands, His high bishop, and the royal familyís only son is certainly worth the respect I have given them. I only hope that my Father sees my actions as worthy as I have seen theirs.
High Bishop Gaelbron of Wincaster