When doctors and healers began to converge in the realm of Clandestina, learning of its natural healing magic, its blancræft, the daimons of violent illness and death were forced out. The fée, who respected violence and death as they were volatile in their own way, returned to their plane of Faery. Everything that bound and tames the spirits of death was suddenly gone.
The magic of a realm was innate. While other realms survived without these chains, Clandestina began to crumble.
Plagues descended upon realm. They infected man, beast, and vegetation, bringing famine along with it. Wars sprung up as people tried to hoard the few resources that were left. In trying to keep sickness at bay Death began to thrive.
One last daimon remained, a ker by the name of Mora. As much as she delighted in this, she knew that if it was left unchecked then everything would die, and there would be nothing left. She was the last Keeper of Death, and thus it made her a Protector of Life as well.
A kingdom had formed during this time of war, the four main factions finally brought together under one ruler. This new king, who took the title of Roi, promised to bind together all of the people of Clandestina– the humans, the fée, and even the keres.
He was without a wife. Mora showed herself to him, told him the secrets of the realm, that it not only held magic of healing, but also of violence, and death. She showed him noircræft as well as blancræft, and even nekrocræft, weaving the three together so he could do anything from heal minor injuries to return the dead to life.
The realm began to heal. A second guardian kept much at bay, but when Mora wished to show her magic to more people, to begin to fix more, the roi became possessive.
“You are mine,” he said. “You chose me, out of all men. You will not show anything to anyone else. Make me yours and we will rule together.”
She complied. She continued to teach him until there was only one last test. As she was a Lady of Death, after this, he would be a Lord.
“Take your own life,” she told him. “Kill yourself, come, enter my land and learn what it truly means to be a ker.”
That night they went to bed together. He ingested poison chosen by her own hand and taken with his own, and as they made love he experienced both little and true death.
Mists surrounded him. He was in Akhlys, the place of judgement before ones afterlife. Before him was a throne of limbs and bone, vines growing from the flesh and binding the seat together. Mora sat on the throne in her true form– great black wings like a bat unfurled behind her, her robes stained a many colors of red, her eyes the same crimson.
“And here are you mine,” she said. “Kneel, accept me as your queen, and you too will gain all of my powers.”
And here the roi shook his head, stepping back from her. “No. I am your king. I will not kneel before you.”
Before she could protest, say anything else, he used the cræft she had taught him to return his own soul to his body and left her.
He was alone in bed that morning. Quickly he took from his drawer a small knife and cut into a finger– his blood ran black, like it had ever since he began to learn magic from Mora. So he could still perform the deeds that made him great.
Time passed. Mora did not return to him, but as he had completed her last test, it did not matter. He was a lord of death, capable of even returning himself to life after death! He continued to rule. He finally married. He could not seem to impregnate his wife, but it did not matter as he continued to live on. He aged, true, but far slower than most men, bringing rumors that he had fée blood in him.
Then rumors began to circulate that there were men and women who were beginning to cure ills that should not be curable even with blancræft. A few more even said they could return the dead to life. The roi, now older than any other living being, found himself furious that Mora had betrayed him. He called this ‘necrocræft’ vile, and unnatural, and anyone learning or practicing such magic would be put to death.
They were killed. They had not passed her last test and remained dead.
Plagues sprung up again. Illness took root.
Mora still did not return to him.
It did not take long for the roi to be overthrown, by his own great-great-grandnephew at that. He was accused of practicing the same magic he outlawed, and when his blood ran black it was confirmed. He was sentenced to death.
The day of the hanging he felt his neck snap, but he then hung there, eyes wide, unable to feel or move or breath, yet undying.
He was buried amid silent internal cries that he had not died! He was still alive! But after they shut his eyes by force he could not even open them again.
Mora finally came to him. She appeared in his coffin, pressed up against him, wrapping her arms around him. He felt her breathing, felt her skin moving against his. She stroked his cheek and for the first time in days he could intake some breath. It was ecstasy. His flexed his fingers and slowly moved his arms so that he could hold her in return.
“You are not mine,” she replied into his ear. “And so you shall never enter my domain, never again see my throne, or have your life judged. You chose to return to this and so you may keep it.”
He was alone again. His breath was stuck in his throat, his arms no longer feeling. His eyes were half-open, staring into darkness. He lived. He could not die.
Mora never gave her heart in the same way. She continued to teach in secret, both men and women, her cræft. If rumors amid the people gave false information she let it be. And when her last test came she continued to offer her magic at a price. She hurt when they returned their own lives, but allowed it, still being with them and letting them help her. One day one would take up her offer, but it was not to be for a very long time.