Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The City of Eriat

We entered the town of Eriat. This city was firmly out of my dominion. The White Tower was just another spectacle that existed somewhere below the horizon. If they knew of me at all, I was a distant figure, on the same level as the King of Kollun.
"How does it feel," Dragoneyes asked, "to set foot in a town you don't own?"
"I assume you would know, never having owned so much as a fallow field in the country."
Dragoneyes didn't react to my witty response. He was busy examining his sleeve.
"Something wrong with your shirt? Sorry, my shirt that I'm lending to you?"
"When did your sleeves become so interesting?"
"I'll talk in a second."
"What could you possibly be doing?"
"I almost had it," he snapped. "The True Name of cloth. It's gone now. I'm sure it will come back to me, but it will come back faster if you shut up, and quit obliterating my thought with your annoying voice asking trivial questions!"
I decided to be quiet. Cassinder didn't. "The Destroyer," she whispered. "He grows more powerful."
"I see."
I evidently didn't see to her satisfaction. Cassinder got off her horse and started spreading the word to the good citizens of Eriat. "The Destroyer. We need to stop him." She ran through the streets. I chased after her. Dragoneyes continued to ponder his pants.
I ran in pursuit of my sister. But it was hopeless. I wasn't exactly an expert at running. Turns out that spending most of your waking hours reading and experimenting didn't make me a paragon of physical fitness.
So my younger sister raced through the town. She accosted a stranger. I later learned his name was Lerren. "Stop him," she demanded. "Stop him!"
Lerren assumed Cassinder was being chased by some sort of criminal. "Slow down. Who is chasing you?"
"Horrors. Blood! Death! He killed them all! They never threatened him, and he tore them apart."
"What are you talking about?"
"He burned a city to the ground. A camp of refugees, washed away in a flood."
Lerren began to back away.
"You don't care! You won't try to stop him. I knew you were cold, uncaring, like the rest of them. I tried to persuade you. I did! But I can't stop the Destroyer. I need help. Somebody help me!"
At this point, I showed up. "Cassinder! Are you okay?"
"He's still there! Why won't he leave me alone?"
I think Lerren misunderstood who Cassinder was talking about. "Are you hurting this girl?"
"No, quite the opposite. I'm her brother."
"Hell of a good job you're doing."
"I'm sorry. How are you doing protecting your clairvoyant loved ones from terrible visions of the beyond?"
"All I know is, my daughter doesn't run through town crying."
I was about to do say something foolish when Dragoneyes showed up and said something even more foolish. "Go away, Lerren. Otherwise, you'll be the one running through the town.
"Are you threatening me?"
"Yes. Cassinder's problems are not your business. Leave now."
The two of them were busy staring each other down, when Cassinder bolted. Even before I had started to give chase, she disappeared completely.
"What was that," I asked.
"Quick bit of sorcery on her part," Dragoneyes responded. "Don't worry, I see her."
Powerful as Dragoneyes was, I was doubtful of his ability to move fast. It turns out those doubts were mistaken. He didn't invoke his power as a mage. He was just more fit than me.
Cassinder reappeared, flying through the air. She was propelling herself with the might of her own sorcery. I didn't even know that was possible.
"You're in the air," I said to her. "Now I can help you."
I spoke a fragment of a Name. I called forth a great gust of wind. My sister's sorcery couldn't function against such a headwind. She was held in place, prevented from getting any further away from us. I steeled myself, and invoked the Name again. The air before me hardened, and I walked on a staircase of air, climbing into the sky.
I caught ahold of Cassinder. "Did I hurt you?" It occurred to me that going head-to-head with a sorcerous gale couldn't be a fun experience.
"He's chasing me," she said. "The Destroyer. He knows I see him, and he wants me quiet."
"The Destroyer is not trying to kill you." Presumably. "And nobody is chasing you. And there is Dragoneyes." Finally. Standing in the sky on hardened air is difficult. I welcomed his nice, solid spire of stone.
"We finally show up someplace where you aren't a famous sorcerer. And within half an hour of entering the town, we're local celebrities." He turned his attention to Cassinder. "You okay?"
"For now."

Dragoneyes was out drinking. He was curious. How would his new senses function while drunk. He had heard many mages say that True Names came more easily when inebriated. That didn't ring true, but, again, Dragoneyes was curious.
A stranger came up to him. "Were you the one who tore up the market a few hours ago?"
"I really need to get some clothes that aren't a wizardly white."
"Mind if I drink with you?"
"Not in the least."
"The two of them drank a while, and chatted about trivialities. The stranger had some pretty negative opinions about the Etoran Empire. "There they go, expanding into the Little Lands as if nobody but them had any right to self-sovereignty."
"Look on the bright side. At least they've stopped making war with Irin."
"Only because they know that Irin has powerful sorcerers, who would be a trouble to conquer and a trouble to execute once defeated."
The conversation wore on some more. Dragoneyes cleared his throat. "I actually have a problem you might be able to help me with."
"Come with me. I'll show you."
The two of them left the bar. "I don't see a problem."
"I do. I see a shade who thought he could poison me. Want to plead for your life, or should I kill you now?"
Dran didn't actually respond. Instead, he invoked the True Name of ice, and began to encase Dragoneyes in a frozen block.
"You aren't the only one who knows that Name." Dragoneyes began muttering icy syllables. The block's progress slowed. Dragoneyes concentrated. This was his ultimate test as a master of ice. He drew upon his full command of the True Name. The ice continued to advance.
Dran, too was calling upon every ounce of will in his body, forcing the ice to push forward. This was his only chance. He could freeze Dragoneyes. Administer poisons into his cooled body. He could succeed.
Dragoneyes saw the outlines of the plan forming in Dran's skull. All the more reason not to be frozen. He redoubled his efforts.
Dranarius let out a harsh chant. "I.. will... defeat you."
"Whatever." He drew upon the True Name of fire, and the ice became so much warm water. Dran's frozen daggers bounced off stone barriers. A sword materialized in Dragoneyes' hand. He pointed his weapon at the shade.
 Dran knew that he was beaten. "How did you know I was a shade?"
"I see everything." Dragoneyes looked harder at his defeated assailant. "Interesting. I see the internal conflict, human fighting spirit for control. Perhaps I can find a way to shift that balance."
"I doubt it."
"Well aren't you smarmy for someone I could incinerate, eviscerate, drown, or pummel to death?"
"Am I wrong? I don't hear any bright ideas."
"That may be the case. But I know someone who specializes in bright ideas regarding esoteric magical phenomena. His name is Amniel."

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