Sunday, September 13, 2015

What They See

"To think. I had such a magnificent power. And I just let it slip away."
"Terrible," Dran said. "Bashra Dragoneyes, utterly bereft of magnificent power. How many True Names do you know?"
"Sixteen. But this one was different."
"All of them are different. The True Name of fire allows you to turn your enemies to ash. The True Name of gold let's you buy us new horses whenever you want. The True Name of stone allows you to erect impenetrable barriers."
I disagreed. "All of those names have been known to hundreds of people throughout history. I can't think of a single case where someone called upon the True Name of flesh."
Dran thought back. "I think I read a story where an elf did it."
"Stories about elves are very rarely true."
As the three of us discussed history and magical theory, Cassinder rode in silence. She ran here fingers over her leg. It wasn't perfect. There were still scars, and bumps. Every now and then, she would look up at Dragoneyes. Very quickly, she would look back down again.
"The thing to remember," Dran said, "is that, in nearly all cases, it takes time for a True Name to be bully integrated into a mind. There is usually a period of weeks or months between when one first uses a True Name and when one can be said to fully know it."
"I'm not sure that's relevant," I pointed out. "Dragoneyes clearly acquires these names by a different process than the rest of us."
"He acquirers them by a faster process. And now, now that he's hit a bump in the road, you two are assuming that his power is gone, and that he will never again wield the True Name of flesh. I say you are a bit premature. How long did you spend watching leaves in the wind?"
"Six hours a day for two months."
"Exactly. Give it some time. Invest some effort."
Cassinder looked to the future. She saw Dragoneyes failing. She saw the result of that failure. A field of men, bleeding to death in a field of swords. Helpless bodies flung from the Green Tower. Innocents slaughtered by a power from beyond their comprehension.
"I think you are too optimistic," I said.
"Perhaps I'll take off my rose-tinted glasses one day," laughed the son of Phorius Terrorslayer.

Cassinder wept in the night. It was her fault. All of it. She was a killer. She knew what would come from her actions. But she did it anyway. Her fingernails dug into her flesh. She barely felt the pain. It was nothing compared to the pain that young Etoran boy would feel in six months, or what the old man in the Commonwealth had felt two years ago.
She heard a sound. No. No. She knew who it was. He couldn't come. She could feel him watching here, seeing right through her tent. He walked in, the cloth parting and reforming behind him.
"Are you alright?"
"Go to sleep."
He see the blood streaming from her palm. "You are hurt."
"I am fine."
Dragoneyes held the girl's hand. He looked at the wound. He could see so much, as he stared deep into the torn flesh. But not the True Name. That power was still gone.
So Dragoneyes used the True Name of cloth. He made a bandage and wrapped it tightly around Cassinder's hand.
"I do not need your help. Leave."
Dragoneyes looked into Cassinder's eyes. He saw the meaning behind her words. "What are you afraid of?"
Cassinder was silent.
"I wouldn't hurt you. You know that. And you know there is no man in the world who could harm you with me here to protect you. So what are you afraid of?"
"I see so much.  So much from the future and past. I am not twenty years old, but I have lived a hundred lives. But..."
"But what?"
"But it isn't enough. What is a hundred lives in a world that contains millions? There is so much I haven't seen. So much I don't know. I know where I will be five days from now. Three days from now... it is a mystery. I know where I am going, but not how I get there. But I suspect. I suspect that..."
"You suspect that my presence here will have negative consequences."
"I too see more than most mortal men. I can see memories etched on the inside of a man's skull. I can see the path the stars will take in the sky. I see the interior of my hand, and back of my head. I can see how water flows beneath the ground, and I can see the minerals it contains. But I cannot see anything bad coming from me staying here with you."
In retrospect, that was a bit short-sighted of him.

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