Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Destroyer Among Men

A horde of monsters had attacked Pire, a town bordering the University. An sizable fraction of Koteph's remaining forces. The sorcerers assigned to defend the town rushed from their beds and watchposts, and began to fight back against Ochekol'kan's creations. I wasn't there, but I heard that a many humans, magical and mundane, gave their lives to stem the incursion. Then Dragoneyes arrived. "Disperse," he ordered in what was no longer an entirely human voice. "I can deal with these monsters." Deal with them he did. He began to shred the creatures alive. He pulled the blood from their bodies. He cracked their skulls and their bones. And, once the other sorcerers had left, Dragoneyes began to do those same things to the men who lay dying in the streets.
He hated it. He hated that he had to become a butcher. But the suffering these humans faced was nothing. It was meaningless, compared to what Dragoneyes would do with the Names of flesh and blood. With the True Names of Life and Death.
He began to see glimpses of the Names. Fragments. He tried to hold on to them, tried to use them. Tried to keep them in his mind so he could use them to save his beloved Cassinder. But Dragoneyes couldn't do it. The Names were too large, too complex.
He turned to another of the bleeding men in the road. A sorcerer. Dragoneyes looked at the man for a moment, to find his given name. "Yoshka," he said. "I regret what I must do to you." Dragoneyes spoke the True Name of iron, and a knife appeared in his hand. He began to cut into Yoshka, examining the man's entrails, hoping to see a Name. Then, he turned around. "You cannot sneak up upon me, Koteph."
Koteph was well enough cloaked that he could walk undetected anywhere in the world except the most carefully guarded portions of the Green Tower. And right behind Dragoneyes. The shade saw no reason to keep maintaining such a draining spell, so he let it unravel, and focused his efforts on sending a beam of magic through Dragoneyes' armor and into the mage's heart.
But Dragoneyes had created his metal suit to withstand such attacks. His knowledge of the True Name of iron was vast and powerful, and even Koteph couldn't cut through such strengthened material.
"I know what you want," Dragoneyes said. "We should be on the same side."
"The same side." Koteph was no longer human enough to laugh. "We can never be on the same side."
"I seek the True Names of flesh and blood. Of life and death. With that, I can grant you the very thing Ochekol'kan promised you. Immortality."
"So Dragoneyes sees into my heart. So he offers me my greatest desire. But he must see it is worthless. To live forever at your mercy. That is nothing. That is worthless. Can you speak your own True Name, Dragoneyes? Can you bind yourself, and swear to never revoke the eternal life you give me? Because until I hear that promised in the True Speech, you are empty."
"Then wait. Let me gain that power, and I will let you live, if it stops the bloodshed."
"Your power grows faster than mine, Dragoneyes. Every day I wait is another advantage you gain over me. This fight cannot continue much longer. And someday, someday soon, it will end with one of us dying."
"Very well."
They fought once more. And it was clear, painfully clear, who was winning. Dragoneyes didn't need to out-wait Koteph. He was already stronger. Koteph's desperate attacks fell flat, as Dragoneyes did ever more damage. It was only at the last moment that Koteph cast a spell and disappeared, beyond Dragoneyes' range of sight. Dragoneyes looked at the fresh set of broken bodies around him. He had work to do.

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