Between Dran's pillars of poison and Dragoneyes' pillars of fire, Koteph's supply off monsters was beginning to dwindle. The shade was relying more and more upon his Etoran allies. And describing them as allies would be extremely generous.
"I could remove their entire army," Dragoneyes said. "I could do it right now. Their army is made of men, men know fear. If they saw the extent of my power. If they saw me tear the flesh from a thousand men's bones, the would fear me, and they would leave."
"If you do that, you leave the Tower vulnerable to attack."
"It is a risk I am willing to take."
That was touching, seeing as Dragoneyes wouldn't be one of the people at risk. "Are you sure that is why you are doing this?"
"What are you implying, Amniel?"
What was I implying? I didn't know. I just found Dragoneyes' behavior suspicious. Dran would know what to say. He would have his suspicions, and would voice them, and they would prove themselves correct. But suspicion did not come so naturally to me. It required effort.
What could be Dragoneyes' motivation? What did he want? What could he be after? My sister. He wanted to save her. "You want to fight humans so you can kill them. You want to learn the True Name of flesh."
Dragoneyes sighed. "I do."
"You can't do this, Dragoneyes. You have a responsibility. If you let your love for my sister cloud your judgment, you might destroy every person alive. This is bigger than Cassinder."
"Yes, Amniel, it is. Do you think I will stop after I save your sister? I will use that power to shred Koteph, and all of my other enemies. I will heal the sick and the crippled. I will make the hungry full again. I will be able to stop men from aging. Think of all the pain and suffering in the world. I will be able to stop so much of it. That is the power I want. And yes, it is bigger than Cassinder."
I didn't have a response to that. Dragoneyes didn't give me a chance to think of one.
Dragoneyes stood in the middle of the camp. Some brave souls stuck at him with swords. But nothing made of iron nor bronze nor steel could harm Dragoneyes for he knew their True Names. Some men threw rocks at the mage. But he knew the True Name of stone as well. One person came at Dragoneyes with a torch. He didn't blink. Fire had been the first True Name he had learned. Dragoneyes calmy dismembered the men attacking him. He sliced them to bits with their own swords. He laid their flesh out upon the dirt, examining it. More men came. They were added to the pile.
But when Dragoneyes looked at the bleeding spread of ruined human bodies, he did not see a True Name. He did not see salvation for Cassinder, or for the countless others who needed his help. He sent out a wave of flame, and consigned the flesh to oblivion. With a word, he lifted up the ground beneath him, flying into the sky, and crashing into the ground some distance away. He began his work again.
He did it seven times. Seven times Dragoneyes landed in the midst of the Etoran army. Seven piles of men shorn apart by their own blades, for the mage to study. Seven times he looked into the flesh, and didn't see the one thing he wanted.
The seventh time, he looked up, and saw a man fleeing in the difference. A man who stood out among the crowds. He had a power to him. Not the magical power that Dragoneyes had seen so many times before. This was a different shade of power. Dragoneyes was looking at the Etoran Emperor.
"Surrender," Dragoneyes ordered the crowned man before him.
"I will not." The man was kept a calm exterior. He knew the power of the man before him. But he knew surrender was not a option. Not with the current state of the world.
"You fight because you are afraid of Koteph. You think he will kill you if you resist him. Rest assured that I will kill you if you don't."
Dragoneyes saw the fear buried inside the Emperor. He had seen Dragoneyes' work. He had seen what the mage was capable of. Dragoneyes saw the word forming in the Emperor's mind. Destroyer.