Thanks to @inventrix for the name.
“It’s getting close to time.”
Ellanasia lay comfortably on the slab in the back room of the temple, no companion, now, except the High Priestess of Veignevar. Her family had come and gone. Her courtiers had come and gone. The healers and herb-mongers and attendants, maids and bed-warmers and chroniclers had all stepped in and out in their due time, but now, at the very end of her life, there was time only for Veignevar, and for herself.
“This is going to hurt,” Tabyna warned her. Ellanasia choked on a laugh.
“Everything hurts, most honored one. Everything has hurt for a long time.” The scars from a lifetime of service to the red god ran tracks over her body like a map of her conquests, and every one of them ached with the cold of the coming snows, and the cold of the slab beneath her. “I will welcome the rest.”
“I know you will, Elle.” The Priestess set a kiss on her lips, a thing far more tender than either of them were known for. “I can’t say I’m sad you’re choosing this. I’d miss you.”
Ellanasia smirked, trying not to show how much effort even that cost her, now. “The most complicated ritual in all of the threefold faith, and you’re doing it out of sentimentality.”
“No more than you are, Your Most Exalted Majesty,” her old friend retorted. “I’m doing it out of necessity.”
“Then do it.” She leaned up, struggling, for one more kiss, then set her head on the slab with a thump. “We’re nearly out of time.”
“We are. With Veignevar’s blessing, then, Ellanasia.” The sword slid into her, hurting like nothing she’d ever felt before as it split her ribs and pierced her heart, and then, as the chanting of her priestess slowly faded into whispers, and then into dark silence, the Empress of Callanthe slid into the sword.
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