Soaralis Legends & Lore Assassins

                                                             Assassins

 

 

“I have nothing left to give…” he began.

“Oh, but you do,” she stepped into his awaiting arms and kissed him.

Tymuth gasped in disbelief as all his dreams coalesced into one surrealistic moment, and then it was over.  The dream was shattered as reality came down upon him like a jackhammer.  She didn’t love him; she would never love him, or anyone else.  She was his worst nightmare made real.  He pushed himself away form her, and for the first time he could see the glint of pure evil in her dark eyes.

“What’s the matter Tymuth, my lips too hot for you now?”  She said coyly, “Come on, you still have so much more to give…”

With uncanny speed she reached out and jerked him back into her awaiting arms and locked her lips onto his.  The night air seemed to grow even darker as tiny sparks of light wove in and out of Tymuth’s face.  He pushed, pulled, kicked and grappled with his nightmare, but it would not dissipate.  The skin on his face began to converge, wrinkle and twist, his body began to jerk like an epileptic, and his mind grew hazed.  Suddenly her lips drew away from his, and for a moment, he knew respite.

“Now, you have nothing left to give,” she said, with a satisfied grin etched across her face.  “Goodbye Tymuth,” she turned to walk away, leaving him frail and weak, teetering at the edge of the blacktop roof.  “Oh, one more thing, Tym,” she said, as she turned to face him, “Say hello to your brother for me, would you?”

Tymuth’s face construed into a confused expression, “Jahk’s dead…” he started.

“And so are you,” her head tilted down slightly as she lifted her hand and blew him a kiss.

“Nooo!” he screamed, just as a howling gust of wind filled with the smell of fresh roses lifted him off the roof top and left him to plummet six stories to a splattering death.

 

“In my machine, I have seen a bed of roses as black as night.  They are like whispers on the wind.  The smell of destiny is everywhere, swaying with the breeze on a fiery wind… and they fight.”

— Sir Demetrius Marcus of Lyria, first of the Lords of Light.

 

 

Contents

Execution. 1

Contents. 3

THE BOOK OF MLYN.. 4

Prolegomenon. 4

Chapter One.. 7

Captured.. 7


THE BOOK OF MLYN

Prolegomenon

From the Book of Mlyn: All was nothing, and from nothing, within nothing, because of nothing was the One God.  God said, “Let my spirit have harmony,” and existence appeared.  God was pleased with it and divided existence until it became realities.  Soon, his spirit became dissatisfied for there was no balance within the harmony, and so God created light, and with the creation of light, came darkness.  Still his spirit was not content.  So, God said, “Let there be Celestials to govern the heavens,” and the Council of Light was formed.

Time passed, and still God wanted more: “Children, to follow the path into the light, as I have.”  The first created in the One God’s image was man, and from man’s rib came woman.  As a gift to the first man, the Council of light bestowed upon him Kalika Liyae, but man was neither strong nor wise enough to appreciate wild magic in its purest.  It soon became apparent to the Council that the Liyae was more of a nuisance and at times a hindrance rather than a blessing for the flesh creations of the One God.  Therefore, the Council met in secret to discuss a solution.  They all agreed that stripping them of the Liyae would not be fare, since it was not their fault that they were such inferior creatures.  The Council then created a second gift, Kalika Thane.  With the Thane, man could direct and control the Liyae.

For a time, all was well in Heaven.  Man and woman were content with their lives and the Council was content with the Heavens…until the Prince of Morning with his many followers turned against the One God.  The One God banished the Prince and all his followers from Heaven’s Light.  The leader of the rebels was thereafter named ‘the Fallen One’.  In a fit of rage and spite, the Fallen One awakened the full potential in the children of the One God, and because they were created in the One God’s image, they became godlike.  So began the TIME OF CHAOS, and it lasted twenty thousand years.

The children of the first man and woman who became godlike, factioned themselves off into three sects: Order, Chaos and Neutrality.  The gods of Neutrality, the first twins born to the first man and woman, wielded the gifts of the Celestials, Kalika Liyae and Kalika Thane.  It soon became apparent to the gods of Neutrality that the war between the gods would never end, unless they intervened.  Therefore, the gods of Neutrality leant to the gods of Order, the gifts of the Celestials.  With the power of both Kalika Liyae and Kalika Thane, the gods of Order, who followed the word of the One God, banished the gods of Chaos, who followed the words of the Fallen One, into the VOID OF STASIS, where they must spend eternity frozen as they were.  Because of the awesome magnitude of the spell, Terra Eden was split into two separate planes of existence.  The element Maghecim was stripped away from Terra Eden by the Ctyr of its twin planet, which was later, named Soaralis.  From that moment forth, Terra Eden became known as Terra Prime or Earth as its natives call it, and both worlds were cast from Heavens Light.  Kalika Liyae and Kalika Thane were transmogrified and lost from the hands of the gods.  More than half of the remaining gods of Order were themselves confined to the elements of their power, while the rest lost everything and became mortal.  These mortals formed the many races upon both Soaralis and Terra Prime, thus creating the TIME OF RAINS.

Somehow, the Fallen One and his rebel Celestials managed to elude the sleep of eternity.  Still, because of the pure strength of the spell, no evil or chaotic entity existing prior to the spells effect could coexist in the physical realm of reality, at least not without the express permission of a being from that physical realm.  For the time being, the Fallen One was thwarted.


Prologue

 

 

 

J’Darm, the ebon city it was called.  Whether because it lay in the center of the near impenetrable Black Jungles far north of civilized Hawklar or because it was once a province of the dark elves of Mt. Skaine, a mountain which rose like jagged teeth north and near the edge of the Black Jungles and south of the treacherous and nearly barren Dark Lands which was home to Serpentria and its near extinct citizens.  Or perhaps it was because J’Darm was near ruins, its streets overgrown with poisonous herbs, plants and trees, its fallen buildings littered with deadly fungus, or even because J’Darm was unkempt and filled with people of dark intent.  Whatever the reason, J’Darm was the centrifugal point of the mysterious guild of Assassins known only as the Census.  Members of the Census were trained in groups of five, and each wore a mask that covered all but their eyes and mouth that none may know the other.  Once inducted into the Census, there would be no other life…ever.  Those who could not perform their duties, where assigned as teachers, and those who could not teach were made to do other things about the guild, and those who could not do these things were put upon as live targets for the students to practice upon.  Yet despite their rigid code of conduct, there are always those who would challenge, those who think of themselves as special, exceptions to the rules… it is upon them the most horrid of illusions are placed… the illusion of freedom.

Outside, the city had begun to spring into life, though the streets still held the air of quiet solemnity.  He carried a black telka skin handbag and walked unnoticed and anonymous across Devil’s Square, occasionally growling under his breath as he wove his way through a gathering throng.  After passing several buildings, he would cut across the alleyways to intersecting side streets and double back, repeating this maneuver several times before he was satisfied that he was not being followed.

Soon he arrived in an area of J’Darm that had once been the center of a great battle between the Kyndred and the Gargyn.  This area of the city had never been rebuilt, a reminder of times long since passed, and a warning.  The clusters of high-rise buildings were in a sad state.  Most were crumbling and half built, others had huge pieces missing or chunks torn from their sides.

He skirted his way across the broken cobble common and entered one of the dilapidated buildings.  He stood within the shadows of the building’s interior for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the dark.  There were many people lying about, half covered in various articles of makeshift protection.  The smell of urine, defecation and alcohol permeated through the stagnant air, for a brief moment he felt sympathy for these lost souls… but only for a moment, for they were not true people… they were the Gargyn, animals that took on the form of humans to survive.  As softly as he could, he made his way across the room to the hallways that lead to an even darker room.  With extreme caution he navigated through the room until he reached a staircase.  He went up.  There was a single scarred door at the top of the stairs towards the end of the landing. He rapped upon it three times.  A dark haired female in her late twenties immediately opened the door.  She wore little more than a light bodice, but each of her limbs was wrapped in an arsenal of assorted throwing daggers.

“About damn time you showed up!” she barked, but he made no response, walking past her and into the main room.  He scanned the room with a practiced eye before moving to inspect the other connecting rooms.  After satisfying his cautious nature, he spoke to the female.

“Don’t play games with me, bitch!  If this operation turns sour, I’ll kill you, your family and all your friends before I vanish without a trace, you got that!”

She glared at him through slits of hatred.  “You just do what we pay you to do, and no one will have to vanish without a trace.” There was an unconcealed veil of threat in her voice.  “Is everything ready on your end?”

He nodded, tossing her the telka skin handbag, as he crossed over to the window, looking down onto the streets, careful not to disturb the curtains.  The girl watched him while she inspected the bag.

“You got the other parts?” The man asked.

“Under the table in a secret compartment…”

He kicked the table to one side, lifted the dusty rug beneath and pulled a grip set in one of the floorboards.  Inside he found a small telka bag identical to the one he had tossed to the girl.  In the bag, his deep brown eyes glittered as they fell upon the remaining parts that contrived the thing that he desired.

“It’s the only one of its kind,” she said, as he inspected the contraption.  “It was made by an Elyon in Jorune; Jahk Tynker I believe his name is or was… he’s dead now.”

The man took the one piece he had, the ones he’d found in the compartment and fitted them together.

“What was it the Elyon called this thing again?” he asked the woman, as he placed pointed crystal cylinders into a rectangular cartridge.

“A ryfelgahn,” she said.

He grimaced as he placed the cartridge into an empty shaft at the butt end of the weapon.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, as he twisted the pieces like an intricate puzzle.  It went from looking like a complex spear to a hand held crossbow without the string. “I believe he said gun, my dear… a rifle gun.” He pointed the end result at the woman.

Her mouth grew wide as she watched him aim it straight between her eyes.

Thunk.  Thunk… thunk, was the only sound that emitted from the weapon as he pulled the trigger.  He watched with amused fascination as she was thrown backwards by the force of the propellants and her head exploded in an ichor grey mess.

“I like the sound of that,” he smiled, “I like it a lot.”

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

 

He sits there, alone.

A light breeze rose and fell, filling the night air with the smell of fresh flora and awakening newly budded memories.  He prays for a better way, an answer to the ongoing tug-a-war of emotions within him, which can no longer be denied, but there can be no easy way out, at least not in the affairs of the heart.

So here he sits, alone.

She was like an oasis in the center of a barren desert, he tries to find fault in her, but to do such a thing would be to deny the birth of a child…blasphemy.  If only there was an easy way out…

“No,” he whispers harshly, knowing in his soul that she wouldn’t allow it to end so swiftly, and even if he could, the act in itself would scourge him of the comforts of her sweet caress.

Now he finds himself, sitting here…lost and alone.

“What are you doing out here, Tymuth?”  The voice that grew from the dark was as sweet as honey.

Tymuth swirled.  Coming face to face with his every desire.

“I watch you in my mind and worlds appear…” he began, as he lifted himself from a blackened, spongy surface.  “I see us together in a home of our own, lying in a bed, holding each other tenderly.  I see your face close to mine, our lips so close that we can feel the breath from the other rushing into our lungs.  I can see our bodies interlocked in mosaics of pure passion…”

“Tymuth, stop this foolish talk, you know that can never be,” she explained, in a wispy voice.

“Why not?”  He screamed, “Every moment I think of you!  You are the first light, the first sound, and the first touch!  You are everything to me, and nothing.  I love you, with all my heart and soul; with all that I have to give…I honestly love you!”

“All that you have to give?”  She gave him a coquettish smile.  “You have yet to give me everything…”

Tymuth lifted his arms, reaching out to her even as he edged backwards.

“I have nothing left to give…” he began.

“Oh, but you do,” she stepped into his awaiting arms and kissed him.

Tymuth gasped in disbelief as all his dreams coalesced into one surrealistic moment, and then it was over.  The dream was shattered as reality came down upon him like a jackhammer.  She didn’t love him; she would never love him, or anyone else.  She was his worst nightmare made real.  He pushed himself away from her, and for the first time he could see the glint of pure evil in her dark eyes.

“What’s the matter Tymuth, are my lips too hot for you now?”  She said coyly, “Come on, you still have something left to give me…”

With uncanny speed she reached out and jerked him back into her awaiting arms and locked her lips onto his.  The night air seemed to grow even darker as tiny sparks of light wove in and out of Tymuth’s face.  He pushed, pulled, kicked and grappled with his nightmare, but it would not dissipate.  The skin on his face began to converge, wrinkle and twist, his body began to jerk like an epileptic, and his mind grew hazed.  Suddenly her lips drew away from his, and for a moment, he knew respite.

“Now, I have everything you have to give,” she said, with a satisfied grin etched across her face.  “Goodbye Tymuth,” she turned to walk away, leaving him frail and weak, teetering at the edge of the blacktop roof.  “Oh, one more thing, Tym,” she said, as she turned to face him, “Say hello to your brother for me, would you?”

Tymuth’s face construed into a confused expression, “Jahk’s dead…” he started.

“And so are you,” her head tilted down slightly as she lifted her hand and blew him a kiss.

“Nooo!” he screamed, just as a howling gust of wind filled with the smell of fresh roses lifted him off the roof top and left him to plummet six stories to a splattering death.

 

 

Chapter One

 

Captured

It was a perfect day.  The sun was warm, the feel of the air rushing against him and through each separate feather of his wings, simply exhilarating.  He was free.  No longer bound by the will of the gods or fate or destiny.  There was only the blue sky and pretty soon the open sea.  He planned on riding the thermals along the western coast south towards Cheglaklo forest, and then southeast over the White Jungle and finally to set up a new farm in the Sylva grasslands.  His original plan was to fly across the Aubacian, but once he saw how vast the ocean was, he quickly changed his mind, it went against his common sense to fly over water with no place to rest, land or eat.

For the first time in a long while he felt in control of his life, no strings, no catches, no hang-ups.  No one to save, no one to answer to, and no one knew where he was or where he was going.  It was absolutely perfect.

“Ahhh!”  The scream that came out of his mouth was a polyphonic mixture between a bird of prey and a human’s cry of pain.  Something had torn into his body, lodging itself on the left side of his chest and protruding just underneath his shoulder blade.  His tiny heart rammed inside his little chest as he found himself spiraling towards the earth.  He could feel his heart in his ears, a frantic rhythm accompanied by the quiet rush of his descent.  Round and round he plummeted, seeing sky then earth repeatedly… it was almost magical, like a hypnotic song death would sing.  A fire grew in his chest, and just before he slammed through the roof of a dense wooded area, a flame of deep green and brightest yellow consumed him.

*                                  *                                  *

His name is ‘Blackey’ Zimmerman Lamke, and he is an assassin.  During his down time, he usually acquires work as a bounty hunter, now was one of those times.  His latest bounty was someone he knew, or thought he knew.  Each dak brought new surprises for Blackey, and the latest had him wondering just who his target really was.  When first he met the boy, he was a mere storyteller, the supposed master of an unfortunate thief who went by the handle ‘the Jester’.  Blackey laughed at that.  Going back in his mind, he really couldn’t see how Ruehn ‘the Jester’ Kursn could have pulled off the greatest heist in history without some kind of aide.  There was no doubt that he had the training and the means, but he was an idiot.  Still, his investigation proved that Ruehn had succeeded in making a fool out of the guild of thieves completely alone.  Blackey laughed again as he recalled Ruehn’s last words, declaring Jhef as the real thief.  Now, after tracking the exploits of the half elf, Blackey was convinced that Ruehn spoke true.  Still, Jhef was not the type to steal for personal gain, so Blackey was inclined to believe that Ruehn somehow forced Jhef to pull off the job for him.  In effect, the true guilty party was indeed punished.  Nevertheless, Blackey did not like being fooled, and Jhef of Hawklar was a very slippery weasel… well, at the moment he was not a weasel, as he soared high above the trees in the form of a Shadow Hawn.

“Only business,” muttered Blackey, as he pulled an arrow from his quiver and nocked it on the string of his composite bow.  “The wizards at Maghecim are highly interested in you…” He took aim, there was a quick slap and a snap once he’d released the arrow, followed by a swish as the arrow cut through the air.

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

 

Imagine a world with neither up nor down.  No lights, no movement, no sense of taste or feeling.  There is only sound.  A universe of octaves and harmonics: short, long, sharps, flats, scaled, fast, slow.   To this world Jhef found himself in, flowing from majors to minors, from chromatic intervals to transpositions and diminishes.  In this world there was pain and joy, laughter and sorrow, every emotion was represented as a sound, every sound affected everything it mingled with.  He lived a lifetime in Ionian scales to Dorian down to Phrygian and Lydian.  He swam in a sea of Mixolydian G’s and Aeolian A’s, until he came to rest in the suppressed key of C.

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

Blackey shook his head, it was almost too easy, and then again a well-executed plan usually does appear that way.  He guided his horse with tiny gestures of his heels, taking in deep breaths, enjoying the cool air, the warm sun, listening to the buzzing of insects the chirping of birds.  When he came upon Jhef, he was not surprised by what he saw.  The half-elf had regained his form but he was completely naked.  His body was in an awkward position, with hips to the side, his left leg over his right while his back lay flat on the ground.  Jhef’s right arm lay over his belly while his left looked dislocated from the shoulder in a very painful looking angle.  His poisoned arrow looked unbroken from the angle he approached from.  At Jhef’s chest was a green gem.  It pulsed with a dark green light while its center flared like a tiny sun.  Blackey dismounted from his horse and drew his sword.

“Well, well… what have we here,” said Blackey.  He was slightly taken aback by the steady humming that emitted from Jhef’s body.  “Constantly full of tricks aren’t you.”  He stabbed at the gem with his sword and yelled in surprise as a flash of verdant light and searing heat flared up, his sword began to ring and then shattered, when his eyes cleared, the gem was gone, the humming was gone, replaced by a star shaped tattoo in the center of Jhef’s chest.  “Dammit,” he kicked Jhef’s foot.  “That was my favorite sword.  I was going to be gentle,” he said, as reached towards his arrow.  “But now,” he yanked the arrow out.  “Forget it!”

“Ahh!”  Jhef screamed into consciousness.

Blackey jumped backwards, startled by Jhef’s abrupt arrival into consciousness, but quickly recovered.  From a pouch at his back he removed Mythril iron hand and leg cuffs.  He took out a needle filled with equal parts morkitsch and a few other anesthetizing agents and injected Jhef with it.  “You are far too slippery to take chances with,” Blackey said, “I don’t know where your clothes went to, or your armor or your weapons, or even that necklace you wore, but you won’t be conscious while in my custody.”  He went to his horse and pulled free a blanket then wrapped Jhef in it.  “I can retire after claiming your bounty,” huffed Blackey as he draped Jhef over his horse.  “But hopefully you’ll escape from Maghecim, and I will have to capture you again.”  He laughed.  “Because after hunting you down, nothing will ever be the equal.”

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

“Xynthril, through and through.  There will be no escape for that half Drow!” came a voice from the crowd.

“Who is he?”  Someone asked.

“What did he do?”  Asked another.

But there were no answers forthcoming.  The cage of magic metal was barely large enough for its single occupant.  His hair was in disarray and blood still trickled from the poisoned wound at his chest.  Someone from the growing crowd yelled; “Drow dung!” just as a fist-sized stone tore a gash behind the prisoners left ear.  Bound, as he was, wrists drawn taut behind him in Xynthril cuffs connected by a chain of Mythril to his shackled feet, he still had the audacity to instantly identify the young man responsible.

As their eyes met, a cold chill engulfed the human boy, and for the first time in his simple life, the youth knew true fear.  “Light and darkness,” the youth prayed as he withdrew from the crowd, “don’t ever let that one escape.”

Four white mages kept pace beside the floating cage, their eyes weary of every move their charge made.  The half Drow was not very threatening in appearance, especially so since he was so severely chained and it was obvious that he’d gone through hell and back, not to mention that he still looked no more than twenty-three somars.  His eyes, when the light hit them just so, sparkled brilliant sienna brown.  Though his skin was dark, it was no darker than a man who had spent his life in the sun.  His face was beautiful even with the many cuts and bruises that marked him.  A light mustache and beard as dark as night masked much of the cuts, abrasions and caked blood, but careful scrutiny could still identify the scar at his chin and the pain etched across his face.  He was naked, but he sat proudly.  He was more like an outcast prince than the demonic assassin he was supposed to be, but one look into his eyes and the questions were stifled.  Whatever he was, the fires that burned within his soul seemed to leap out and freeze whoever was misfortunate enough to gaze into them.

The half Drow’s face darkened when the walls of Maghecim came into view.  For it marked the completion of his journey and the end of his life.  Maghecim was the largest wizard built city on all of Soaralis.  Though Wizards Wai was undoubtedly the largest training center, and Thabalon the largest learning facility, Maghecim was home to every caste of wizard, be they sorcerer or thaumaturgist, alchemist or shaman.  Beyond Maghecim was a maze of normals, those who had no talent but profited from those who did.  Within, where the outer walls lay, were the less talented.  Towards the center gathered the more powerful wizards, some were even thought to be survivors or even descendants of the famed Soaralian Wizard War.  In its very center lay Gham Castle.

Gham castle was tremendous in size, its towers reaching up to touch the lowest clouds.  The entire castle was molded from earth rock.  Exactly how it was done or what spell used is unknown, for as far as all research into the nature of earth rock ever went, the universal conclusion was always the same, earth rock was proof against magic no matter what the form.  As they approached Maghecim’s outer gates, a brown robed youth made his way through the thickening throng of the curious to the leader of the of the wizards who helped to guide the cage and guard the prisoner within.  They spoke in harsh hissing for a few seconds and then the boy turned away, running in the direction he had come.  The lead wizard turned and gave the half Drow a sorrowful glare.

“I don’t pity you,” he said evenly, “but the death you will undertake is inhumane, even for your kind.”  The wizard turned away.

As they passed through the city gates, huge damathrine crossed bars fell behind him.  Now all hope of escape was washed forever from his heart.

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

He sat at his desk browsing over a list of names given to him by father Dwony.  It was a list comprised of all publicly known outcasts who would or could cause a threat to the New Order.  All those who would not stand for the New Order were deemed heretics and workers of evil.  First and foremost on this recent list was SirJhef of Hawklar.  Research on the lad showed he was reputed to be an orphan from the fabled continent Mehkavudor.  His first appearance in Hawklar was dated around seven or eight somars ago.  He made his living as a storyteller on the streets and was said to be the master of the now crippled thief known as ‘the Jester’.

“A simple life,” he thought.  “What could have caused an ordinary youth to become a blood thirsty assassin?  There were no women in his life… he was never in any serious trouble, or in any official position so no one could’ve blackmailed him.  There is no motive, except that the learning caste of wizards unjustly denied his apprentice access into their order.  Perhaps it ate at him all those somars?  Perhaps he blamed them for his poor and simple life?  Or perhaps he had grown tired of his simple life?  I guess the coin of a fool can never equal to the purse of an assassin.” He mused.

Tanger Empadre pulled back the white cowl of his silken mage robe.  Around his neck he wore a gold chain with a damathrine medallion.  Upon the face of the medallion was a black sun with a blue star rising, a symbol of the New Order.  His mind fell into a somber reverie.  It was forty somars and twenty-eight daks prior that began the New Order.  A strange god visited a single priest accompanied by two white mages a caravan of sayatti and two chests full of tithes.  According to Father Dwony’s own recounting, Kehl, the ashen moon moved across the morning sky and eclipsed the dawning sun.  From the cornea of the eclipse came a bright blue star.  As it approached, their heads began to fill with color and music to a level unprecedented, and then came the voice.  It was calm and understanding, it had the quality of a father with infinite patience.  The voice charged everyone present with a task; Father Downy was to become his prodigy and Supreme Father to all beneath him.  The mage castes were to become disciples to the Supreme Father, and the sayatti present became the Supreme Father’s personal missionaries.  The god called himself Refisul, and before him there would be no other.  To prove his powers he set the sayatti free and bestowed upon them the gifts of sight and healing; in return he only asked for their eyes and their sex.

“This,” the god had said, “that the low know they are not equal, go forth and spread the word.  Make way for my coming.  Those who are not with me, are against, and those who are against must be destroyed.”  The god of the dawning star’s eyes sparkled and with a waving gesture transformed all the tithes into symbols of his eminent New Order.

“Only the chosen shall wear these medallions,” he stated, “make no mistake, or feel my wrath.”  And then the god from the skies vanished with the end of the eclipse, just as quickly and mysteriously as he had come.

Tanger smiled.  This new god wanted something that no other god had attempted since the Dark One, the successful coexistence of religion and magi.  If it could be done, then Refisul would undoubtedly be the most powerful of all the gods.  Tanger was pulled from his thoughts by a soft rap at his oaken door.

“Come in,” he said.

A brown robed youth opened the door, bowed and stepped in.  “First Father,” he said with his head bowed, “the prisoner has arrived.”

“Good, I will go to greet him.”

Tanger rose, his silken robe rustling softly about him as he preceded the youth.

“Close the door behind you,” he said sternly; a slight smile crept its way across his face when he heard the oaken door click shut.  “Come along now boy, we haven’t got all dak.”

 

Outside the chapel building, awaited four white magi and their charge.  Tanger took the stairs down to the chapel streets at a slow and leisurely pace.  He felt it was his duty to instill patience into the hearts of every restless soul.

“Refisul be praised, First Father, we have captured the heretic.”

Tanger smiled softly, sucking in a deep breath and releasing it slowly.  “Nevit, I can see that you have.”

Nevit dropped to one knee, grabbed the First Father by the hand and apologized.

“Now, let me have a look at this heretic.”

In the past thirty somars, Tanger had tortured, maimed and killed thousands of heretics, all were justifiable, and all were evil.  But this young man, to his trained senses, seemed beyond mere heresy.  He was a black wall, impossible to read.  Aside from the fury within the youth’s dark sienna eyes, Tanger could detect no sign of the evil, which he was so use to purging… and to Tanger that posed the greatest evil of all.

“You are Sir Jhef of Hawklar.”  It was not a question.

Jhef nodded.

“My son, I am Tanger Empadre, a servant of the true god.  It is my duty to convert and purge Soaralis of all those who stand against Refisul.”

“I am no threat to the gods.” Jhef said calmly.

Tanger sneered, “Dear boy, if you are not for us, then you are against us.  There are no shades of grey.”

“Aren’t there?” answered Jhef defiantly.

“You see your tongue is swollen with the vileness of decay.  You are misguided, but know this… Refisul is a merciful god.  He will allow you a chance to repent, to join his cause.  But know you this, you must still be punished for the assassination of the old mage supreme.”

“I didn’t kill the old fool…” Jhef said with a sigh.

“Be as it may, you were the only one present and your presence was unaccounted for.  You committed a crime.  You must pay.”

Jhef turned his head and snorted, “You think your god is just?  What kind of god promotes death?  Not a just god.  What kind of god justifies torture?  Not a good god.  This Refisul whom you worship is no god at all.  I say he is the Fallen One and once he has enough blind followers he will destroy this world and all of existence in an effort to overthrow the one true God.”

Tanger looked at Nevit and the other three wizards and shook his head.  There would be no conversion for THAT poor soul; still it was not his way to so swiftly condemn a lost soul.  Tanger resolved himself to try again.

“Sir Jhef, if you would wish to spare your life, then I suggest you heed what I say carefully, you must prove to me and the priests of Refisul that you are not hostile to our cause.  You must renounce your God and except ours with open arms, then and only then will the church forgive you of your evils and thus, allowing us to absolve you of your past crimes.”

Jhef shook his head, sighing at the same time.  He knew what he was about to say would seal his doom, but he was not the type who easily turned away from what he truly believed.

“Listen to me, mage-priest, you follow a false god.  You are leading the foolish and the lost into a realm of chaos.  It’s not too late to stop the evil you have caused.  What you are doing is wrong, what god uses force to implement his will?  What god destroys more than he creates?  Not a true god, for there is only one, and you are defying him.”

“There is no hope for you half Drow; your fate is now sealed.  You will be sacrificed to Refisul at dawn.”

Jhef’s eyes went wide.  “Have you lost our sanity man?  Human sacrifices are the mark and trade of the Fallen One!”

“Silence, heretic!  I will not listen to your blasphemy any longer; there is no repentance in your heart.  You are eternally damned.”  The mage-priest turned to Nevit.  “Take him to the Red Chambers; he will not escape from there.”

“Yes, First Father,” all four white magicians bowed, then hastily lead their prisoner away.

*                                  *                                  *

Dawn came quite too soon as Jhef found himself being lead from the confines of his chambers into the castle common.  There before him awaited a huge crowd, Tanger, and a hooded executioner.  The crowd watched in awe as the prisoner was led before the First Father.  The chill of the morning air cut deep into the flesh of all those present.

“You are charged with heresy, SirJhef of Hawklar, the punishment for heresy is death.  You are also charged with the assassination of the Arch Mage Supreme, Cresha, and the sentence for such a crime is death.  But worse of your crimes is almost unspeakable… blasphemy in the highest degree!  The sentence for that is eternal damnation.  What say you to these charges?”  Stated Tanger crisply.

The crowd, hung on every word the mage-priest uttered, turned to the prisoner expectantly.

“I say only this; if standing by what you believe in is a crime, then yes… to those who appose such ideals I am a hardened criminal, but I say to you… those who follow a god into darkness shall know no light.”  Jhef slammed his foot down for more effect; the crowd jerked backwards a pace.

“Heresy!  Blasphemy!”  The mage-priest said coldly.  “You deserve the death of damnation, but once you see the axe known as soulstealer, you will beg for redemption and mercy… and it will be denied!”

“Your threats mean nothing to me, your god means nothing.  If I am to die, then I die knowing I’ve lived a good and just life in the cradle of the One God.  I know I go into the light, can you say the same?”

The mage-priest struck the bound prisoner with the butt end of his wooden staff.  Jhef attempted to dodge, but the cuffs bound behind his back from wrist to ankles prevented him from moving swift enough.  His face lit up with pain as his right cheek and lower lip exploded with hot salty blood.

“My patience has been spent.”  Said the mage-priest.  “You were given ample opportunity to save your immortal soul and you have declined… executioner!”

A huge man wearing only a black loincloth and hood stepped forth.  He carried with him a black wood case formed in the shape of a double bladed axe.

“All here are witness,” cried the mage-priest, “Refisul has shown this man mercy beyond necessity, yet he has chosen eternal damnation!”  There came a static consensus from the crowd.  “Then it follows that such a blackened soul be sent to HELL!”  The mage-pries cried, and the crowd, excited now that they knew what was to come all yelled in agreement.  People shifted about in order to get a better view of the execution.

The executioner opened the case.  A tide of excitement rose through the crowd.  The executioner grabbed the handle of the blackened blade.  As soon as his flesh touched the enchanted grip, the blade began to pulse.

Jhef’s eyes widened, he recognized the enchantment on the axe and knew it for what it was: a chaos blade.

The eyes of the crowd fell from the blade to the blades victim.

Jhef began to hum.

Jhef’s appreciation of sound had infinitely advanced after having his mind retreat into the realms of the Bard’s Stone.  He now had a variable vocal range that far excelled even the most skilled singer.  The melody he now created was instantly potent, agitating Maghecim molecules, causing the very air itself to vibrate in resonance.

The crowd stood: frozen, transfixed by the sheer might of his vocal range.

“Impossible,” whispered the mage priest, “you cannot work magic while chained in Xynthril and Mythril!”

The resonance of his voice seemed to talk to the magic metal that bound him, and they fell away from him like dead weights.

“Executioner!”  Screamed the mage priest.

Jhef rose to his full height, he was naked before a crowd of hundreds, humming, vibrating.  For a moment, he knew freedom… “Transport!” he yelled, just as the chaos axe sliced through his neck.

There came a thunderous crash as the very foundation of Maghecim shook.  Glass shattered, loose items crashed to the quivering earth.  Men, women, children both human and non-human all over Maghecim yelled, screamed and ran for cover.  Only Tanger and the executioner remained, only they lay witness to the twisting and sucking form that was once Jhef of Hawklar.  They watched in mute horror as Jhef’s body melted and shimmered, as his face contorted in an expression of fear and abject pain and terror, as the chaos blade sucked his very essence and cursed him to eternal damnation, and then he was gone.  The executioner dropped his axe and stared at it as though it were a thing of pure evil.  The sonic quake was over, the half Drow was dead, and the crowd slowly returned.

Tanger felt like crying.  He could tell by the look on everyone’s faces that they were confused.  Never in the history of Maghecim executions has anything even remotely similar ever happened.  He knew they thought they had killed an innocent man and that the One God had shown them his wrath.  In that one moment, with his clever words and his righteous attitude Jhef had made himself a martyr, and sown the seeds of doubt into followers of the New Order.  Tanger cursed his luck.  It would have to be his sect, the largest on Soaralis to face the New Orders first major blow.  “Forty somars of hard work,” he thought, as he faced the now quiet crowd.  He tried to convince them all that it was the Drow’s pure evil that caused him to be destroyed so dramatically, he felt their doubt growing… even in him, and he knew that fifteen somars of his struggle had just been washed away.

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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