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y_c_reverse in yaoi_challenge

Legions (Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Alloces/Berith)

Title: Legions
Fandom: Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Pairing/Character: Alloces/Berith
Author: Blinks Midnight
Recipient: Keteb
Rating: R
Warnings: Very mild xeno, a bit of violence, some blood.
Summary: In the Wilderness of War, everything comes back around.



Its darkness was formed,
in pure contradiction,
from legions of light.
--Rainer Maria Rilke



Four and twenty nights of peace had given way to four and twenty days of strained truces and rattled sabers, uneasy watches, fires in the night. Then came battle, as inevitable as dawn, which rose for the twice-dozenth time over the corpse-mire no lord claimed for his own. Grand Dukes they had in plenty, Marquis and Earls, but they had no use for borders or strongholds when a wilderness would suffice.

Across the trampled plain, the hosts of the fallen fought with grim fury, deathless but not invulnerable. Screams and shrieks and raucous cries rose above the clash of blade and the drumming of hooves as a cavalry of red horsemen followed their master Berith into the fray. Split-hooved and fire-eyed, Berith's steeds charged through spear walls and into thickets of swords, trampling everything in their path, fierce and tireless.

"Onward to Halphas!" Berith urged them on with an exultant cry, eyes as gold as his crown lit with the anticipation of triumph. "To Halphas!"

Halphas, should Berith draw near enough to close with his rival, would leave the field this day in pieces.

Half an army distant, Alloces pulled his sword from the body of a fallen enemy and paused, lifting his great beast head to taste the wind, lips skinning back from sharp fangs. Lion-headed, maned like the sun, he could smell the slightest shift in the fortunes of war, and what he scented now brought a growl rumbling up from deep inside his chest.

He didn't pause to rally his forces; those hungry for new prey would follow whether he willed it or not, and those whose bloodthirst was sated would remain to tease the fallen to screaming new life. His own horse awaited him, and as he swung into the saddle, the red danced under him, its mad eyes rolling as he turned its head towards its kin and sent it racing in chase of Berith.

Swords bit at his horse's flanks as he broke through enemy lines, and a green-fletched arrow grazed his armor as he rode too close to ancient Dantalion's camp, though Leraje was nowhere to be seen. Alloces' growl redoubled, but he could settle with Dantalion's would-be lover another time. Berith's fate, unlike Leraje's, wouldn't wait on his convenience.

"Halphas!" he heard Berith howl in challenge, daring the Earl to appear.

The fool, Alloces thought, muzzle wrinkling in a snarl. He was nearly resigned to the way Berith lost all sense when it came to Halphas, went as mad as his horses and as blind to danger, but not resigned enough to collect the pieces of his friend for a slow reintegration through four and twenty nights of peace should Berith lose.

Halphas didn't appear from behind a knot of soldiers, didn't rise from the field at all. He descended, black wings churning the air as he dropped to earth like a stooping hawk, brass claws flashing as they spread in a fan of knives aimed at Berith's heart.

Driving his spurs into his horse's sides, Alloces bellowed a roar as his mount shouldered Berith's out of the way, thrusting his sword up as Halphas' talons came down. The shock as Halphas' claws raked his armor nearly unhorsed him, but he clung grimly to the saddle and slashed again at Berith's enemy, Halphas the vulture, Halphas who still had his wings if not his old form. Perhaps, Alloces found himself thinking yet again, as predictable as their never-ending cycle of war, he had hate enough to see Halphas mangled for more than Berith's sake.

"He's mine!" Berith cried, nothing but madness in his eyes, and Alloces flattened his ears with a growl as Halphas' wings thrashed the air, torn between two threats.

"Take him, then," Alloces snarled, backing his horse away from the fight step by unwilling step, its huge hooves flinging clots of wet, red mud as it fought the bit. All around him the clamor of battle redoubled as his legions caught up to him, tearing into the combined hosts of Halphas and Ose and breaking their uneasy alliance as the most cowardly turned to flee.

He could smell it as the tide of battle shifted again, Berith pulling Halphas down out of the sky, tearing off his wings before tearing him apart. Alloces said nothing, did nothing, merely sat his horse and watched, ready to guard Berith's back should anyone think to avenge Halphas or think Berith easy prey while he remained distracted. Only when his foot soldiers and Beriths' restless cavalry claimed victory over their quarter of the field did Alloces dismount, walking slowly to where his friend knelt with bloody hands and a fistful of feathers as black as Dis.

"Berith," he said, his voice as soft as he could make it, though the growl could never be masked. "Come away, Berith. The sun's setting." Four and twenty days they were given to fight, and four and twenty days to heal, and the demon who neglected that courtesy would be shunned by all when next they gathered in the wilderness.

"Not yet," Berith murmured, pulling one of Halphas' wings into his lap with a strange, fixed smile. "It's still light enough yet."

"Berith."

"He blinded me once," Berith said quietly, almost to himself, running his fingers through black feathers. "It's what vultures do, I suppose."

"I know."

"But he was very beautiful then, after all."

"I know," Alloces repeated, keeping the fangs from his voice with an effort. It seemed to him sometimes that they never left this place, that he would spend the rest of eternity standing at his friend's back, watching clever hands caress the corpse of the creature Berith had fallen for--for whose sake he had fallen--long ago. He'd never seen what Berith had in Halphas, had found his beauty quite ordinary for what they had been, nothing to make an angel or a demon lose their wits. All he'd ever known of madness he'd learned in war and Berith's company.

But Berith's company was in itself a kind of madness, and Alloces had found he was comfortable there, comfortable enough to sink to his knees at Berith's back and wrap his arms around his friend's broad shoulders. Berith didn't tense, though he made a faint sound of protest that died as Alloces nuzzled into his neck. He wondered sometimes what Berith made of his fur and his fangs, the coals of his eyes, but as he began to groom the blood from Berith's skin with coarse swipes of his tongue, he thought from the way Berith sagged back against him that perhaps it didn't matter at all.

"Come away," he said again in a hushed purr, lapping delicately at Berith's throat as the wet, reeking mud beneath them seeped in through the chinks of his armor, soaking his knees. He'd get up with Halphas' feathers plastered to his legs, but he didn't care; he already knew the taste of Halphas' blood better than his own, better even than Berith's. "What's done is done."

"Never done," Berith said absently, as if any of them could forget, but they were both whole this time, and for the next four and twenty days of peace, Berith was his. And his alone.

Comments

(Anonymous)

asdjhg,afgkkjlhgaf!!!!

This is -- holy crap, this is beautiful. It. WAR FIC. The background you've developed for them! The ritual period of battle and healing! The ways that all the others appear! The UTTERLY DOOMED TRIANGLE that Berith probably doesn't even KNOW for what it is!

I think I might be in love with Alloces a little.

And you a lot.

- Keteb
whaaaaaaaaat. :D :D :D :D You make me want to fire up covenant again. So many good sources of inspiration there.

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