Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Name of Poison

I found work deep within the bowels of the Tower. I worked with Dran. With the True Name of air, I moves waves of his poisons over Koteph's armies. Even at a great distance, I could feel their lungs swelling, failing. I could feel the breathing stop as men and monsters succumbed to the work of The Poisoner.
I expected it to be satisfying. They had poisoned my sister, and now I was poisoning them. But it wasn't satisfying at all. I just didn't find killing an enjoyable activity. I suppose that might be a good thing.
I was with Dran, watching him work, thinking of ways I could increase the efficiency of his creations, when I began to hear screams fill the air. I heard crashing and tearing in the distance. I walked toward the window, hoping I wouldn't see Koteph storming the lower levels of the Tower.
I didn't see Koteph storming the lower levels of the Tower.

Dragoneyes was standing in the middle of Koteph's army. A flock of monsters was struggling to fly away from him. Dragoneyes used the True Name of air, and sucked them in closer. Even across all that distance, my magic let me hear their cries. It let me smell the scent of their flesh as Dragoneyes ripped it apart with metal hooks. "What is happening out there?"
Marius joined me. The student strained his eyes so see what happened. Dran joined his partner. "What is he doing?" Marius asked.
"I assume he is destroying the same creatures that injured Cassinder," Dran answered.
"No. From what I can see, he is tearing them apart. He seems to be discarding most the the body, but examining part of it. I suspect he is studying their poison. Attempting to find its True Name, so that he can save his love."
"That wouldn't work," I said. "For something made from a living thing, the True Name would be too complicated."
"Didn't he once use the True Name of flesh? Isn't that how he healed your sister after our first battle with Koteph?"
"The laws of ordinary mages don't apply to him, and he knows it."

When next I saw Dragoneyes, he looked strange. His clothing, his metal armor, his rings and his swords, all of them looked brilliant. Clean and whole, as if he had just put on his outfit for the first time. He knew the True Names of cloth and iron, so his clothing would always look the way he wished. But he couldn't keep the blood and gore off of his hands, out of his hair. His skin was covered in the reeking fluid. Beads of water were moving over his body, slowly soaking up the monstrous fluid, but blood was still oozing over his flesh. "I failed," he said. "I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't powerful enough. Your sister will die because my eyes were clouded today, because they didn't see as they should."
I didn't know if that was prophecy or just pessimism. I was afraid to ask. "Did you get a small sample of the venom? Perhaps with more time-"
"No, the venom degrades. There is no point in saving a vial of it. If I ever want to see it again, I will need to kill more of Koteph's beasts."
Dragoneyes saw the question forming inside of me.
"Koteph knows what I want now. He has sent the monsters I need far off. If I go to hunt them again, I will need to abandon the Tower."
"You can't do that." Even I knew that my sister's life wasn't more valuable than the Green Tower. "You wouldn't do that, would you?"
"I know my duty, Amniel. No matter how much I care for your sister, I cannot risk the world for a chance to save her life."

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