Sunday, March 15, 2015

Written in the Clouds

Dragoneyes and Cassinder were riding back. About to meet back up with me and Dran. Dragoneyes was working with the True Name of cloth. Trying to deepen his understanding. He already knew enough to reshape it. Even create it. But he wanted to see how the fibers bonded together. It taxed his mind. So he was grateful that Cassinder wasn't the talking type.
That's when he realized that Cassinder had been gone for at least half an hour.
"This is embarrassing," he muttered to himself. He had lost her. He could see a man's soul, or the path of a leaf on the wind, but he had lost the person riding next to him.
He wondered what to do. He knew that he should go to Amniel and Dran, ask them to help look. But he was too embarassed. He bargained with himself. "I'll give myself two hours. After that, I'll ask for Amniel and his tracking spells."
Dragoneyes turned his horse around. He slowly retraced his path, looking for all signs of human influence. He saw those signs. Every broken twig, every trampled leaf, shone before him, glowing with something other than light, which nobody save the dragons had ever seen.
He saw all these signs of travelers. And they were all signs of his own passage. He grew anxious. How far back could Cassinder have slipped away from him? Why hadn't he spotted any signs of her? Were his eyes deceiving him? He began to grow fearful. Cassinder was a powerful sorceress. Who knew what she was capable of, how hard finding her could be? Who could say that he and Amniel could even win this silly game of hide and seek?
Dragoneyes cursed his carelessness. He cursed Cassinder for disappearing. He cursed Amniel for doing less to control his sister. He was halfway through cursing the rest of the White Tower household when he finally picked up on Cassinder's trail. Yes!
He followed her. He raced after, trees and branches parting before him. He was going to find her!

As Dragoneyes stalked the countryside looking for Cassinder, a shade was stalking the countryside looking for him. The shade had been created by Koteph. He had been sent off, instructed to destroy Dragoneyes. Koteph hadn't put much effort into this one. He had just taken one of his palemen and bonded it to a spirit. The resulting being didn't even have a name. He had a purpose.

Cassinder was looking at the clouds. That one looked like a rabbit. That one looked like a boot. That one looked like a painting she would see one day. It was a sad painting. Too much blood.
Cassinder waited for the man to find her. She wasn't looking forward to seeing him. She new he was horrible, nasty, and that he would try to hurt her. She couldn't see if he succeeded. But she did know that it was necessary. She knew what would come of this encounter. And  she knew it was worth the price. It was written in the clouds.
She saw the man. He was wearing a cloak. A black cloak. Good people don't wear black cloaks on sunny days.
"You're the sister, aren't you?"
Cassinder didn't answer.
"I was sent after Dragoneyes, not you. He's the one Koteph actually cares about. So here is the plan. I will hurt you. You will feel pain as nobody has ever felt before. Your screams will be so terrified that Dragoneyes will rush to save you. Rush to his death."
"You think you can cause me pain as nobody has ever felt before." Cassinder didn't make eye contact. "You are wrong. I have seen fields of bleeding corpses. Cities with fire falling from the sky."
"Well," the shade said, "prepare for the second worst thing that ever happened to you."
The shade stretched out his hand. Tendrils of magic extended towards Cassinder. She swatted at them. "Go away."
"I don't think I will." He spoke an incantation, binding Cassinder in place.
Cassinder sent a wave of pure sorcery at the shade, nearly knocking him over. "You are powerful," he remarked. "Especially for someone so untrained. But I am a shade." He hardened the air in his hand until it formed a blade. "Now, why don't we have some fun?"
Cassinder did not think she was going to have fun.

Dragoneyes could see it before he got there. He could see the monster cutting into Cassinder. He could see her screaming in pain. Then, another vision came to him. A version of the past where he had noticed Cassinder leaving, stopped her, and protected her from the shade. He swatted the visions away, and ran.
He could see how long it would take. He couldn't see what the shade would do in that time. Seeing into someone's intentions was difficult from a distance.

The shade continued to draw blood from his victim. This was the first time he had ever held a life in his hands. He like watching that life trickle out into the ground. It was intoxicating. He pondered making another cut. He never got to make it.
Dragoneyes emerged from over a hill, screaming the True Name of fire. The shade was reduced to ash.
Within seconds, he was on top of Cassinder. He called forth cloth to bind her wounds. With the knowledge of an expert physician, he applied sutures. "Are you okay," he asked. "Are you okay?"
"You have saved me," was all that Cassinder said.

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