In Koteph's camp, things were coming to a head. The Giants were demanding to meet with Koteph, to arrange a move to greener pastures. Koteph was busy. Although his body remained in the Black Tower, watched over by palemen and protective spells, his mind was, quite literally, wandering. He journeyed through the realm of spirits. He hunted them down, captured and enslaved them. Some were malevolent, some had been friends to humans. Perhaps if they were to organize and band together against him, they could triumph. But the idea of organizing was a strictly human one. Only men, and the other creatures of the material world, were capable of such a thing. Spirits, especially those with little exposure to the world of men, were not.
Koteph did not tire. His body was not capable of such a thing. He was a creature made of bones and screaming spirits, held together by his own magical power. He was awake, he was focused, and he was enjoying himself. He was hundreds of times more powerful than any other shade in history. He could cross a continent with a single step. He could call storms and reverse the flow of rivers. He felt confident that, given adequate motivation, he could reduce a mountain to rubble.
On his corpselike face, a smile formed.
Meanwhile, the Giants were having another meeting. This meeting hadn't been called by Gurgal Stonecrusher. It was the upstart, the firebrand, Durd, who had ordered the convocation, without Gurgal's knowledge. "It has been days," Durd complained. "And Koteph has done nothing. And Gurgal has done nothing." There was a smattering of boos. Many of the Giants knew better than to boo Gurgal. And they all knew better than to boo Koteph.
"Now, we face a question. Will we do nothing? Or will we go, and force the Sassiles to give us our food." There was a general consensus that this was a good idea.
Gurg continued riling the crowd. He railed against all those who had wronged them, past and present. The Gaints cheered him.
Giants are not very sneaky. They aren't very secretive. So the Sassiles had plenty of warning that a gigantic mob was tromping towards them. The began to mount their own defense.
Other creatures of Koteph's army began to congregate. The Stoneflows and Touchkills seemed to side with the Sassiles. But many of the stranger creatures sympathized more with the Giants. One of a kind creations of Ochekol'kan. Bleos, the tentacled beast. The Slooo, a creature of water. Ghakshaksh, An amorphous blob with hundreds of mouths. He did not appreciate the food shortage.
The two armies were arrayed on the same field. They were waiting for the slightest excuse to start killing each other. Even the smallest disturbance would ignite conflict.
At this point, Koteph entered the situation in an explosive flash.
Koteph paralyzed the monsters all of them. The thousands of Giants and Sassiles and Stoneflows and other beings. He held them in place with his sorcerous power.
"This violence is pathetic," he snarled. His voice was amplified. It sounded strange and terrifying. It gave the distinct impression of being a very loud sound spoken a great distance away. "Go back to your duties. And rest assured I will punish those responsible."
Koteph addressed the different groups specifically. He told the Giants to go back to their forges. He put he Stoneflows in charge of foraging. The Sassiles were to resume training exercises.
Tlon needed a new tactic. He had tried to breed resentment between the different factions. In his role as Durd, he had nearly succeeded. But now, Koteph had struck fear and loyalty back into his troops. Tlon would need to start over. And now, he knew that Koteph could end tensions with a wave of his magical hand.
Tlon considered leaving. He had done his part. He had tried and failed. If he told enough people about this, he would become a footnote in some fat history manuscript. What more could anyone expect? Tlon could retire to the woods now, and nobody would bother him for another thousand years.
But as much as he wished it, the Formchanger knew that wasn't possible. He had seen Koteph's powers first hand. The shade was a serious threat to the world. And if he failed, if he were killed by the Archmage or Dragoneyes, that would mean that a very powerful man would hold a grudge against Tlon for not doing more. So Tlon would need to continue his work and sabotage.
Would could he do? Well, he was a shapeshifter. Maybe he could shift into a shape Koteph would trust, ask him some questions, give him some bad advice, or try to kill him. That would make a for a fun couple of days.