He shifted.

The bitter drink in his hand, the metal goblet cold against his over-hot skin, sloshed forlorn droplets to the battered, grime-covered stone floor.  The runes that had so artfully been etched into that floor centuries ago, once glowing with a power so far beyond comprehension as to be almost laughable, had long since been worn away, chipped and lost.

Despite the lack of clarity in the ancient runes at his feet, despite the sloshed drink, its pungent-yet-sweet bouquet almost tangibly visible in the cold air, the thing before him writhed in agony and begged, in myriad languages that had not been heard by the ears of man for more than three hundred years, to be released.

He sipped from the bitter drink, its sweet kick of an odor filling his nose, threatening to close his throat.

What would you have of us? The myriad voices asked in countless tongues, each playing on the back of his skull, threatening to overturn the ambient glow of the bitter drink.

“Forgiveness,” was his simple response, his voice barely audible in the frigid air.  The tightening creak of the leather gauntlet gripping the hilt of the ceremonial blade, sheathed at his hip, echoed just beneath that single utterance.  He forced himself to relax.  He forced himself to quell the fear he felt for the thing before him—a thing so far removed from physical reality that it could scarcely take a form that even light would embrace.

He forced himself to quell the fear of the desolate path that he had chosen to walk.

Forgiveness! Its voices were metal-sheathed claws raking his spine.


We do not understand!

“I know.”

The ceremonial blade slipped from its scabbard with a single flourish—he was proud of that move, something he had spent hours, days drilling.  There was nothing, his old masters had said to him time and again, like an elegant first draw to cause the blood of your opponents to freeze.

The thing before him, maddeningly unseen, screamed, its ravaged voices a dissonance that made the most destructive, howling storm seem nothing more than a mewling kitten.  The blade, now glowing, rent the air and he felt its imbued metal bite deep into the unseen, insane thing, the thing that called nightmares paradise, death and destruction simple playthings.

He swung again and again, his goblet and its sickeningly sweet contents all but forgotten, the liquid spilling to the cracked and worn stones beneath his feet.   The blade began to burn bright red and the invisible, molten life force of the thing ran down to the ornate hilt, splattered around the nearly empty room, its traces leaving smoldering pocks in the stone.

When he was finished, his breath a collection of gasps, his sword-arm useless from fatigue, the blade itself a melted hunk of unrecognizable matter, the thing, still unseen, dead at his feet, he staggered backwards.  He raised the nearly forgotten goblet to his lips.  For a moment, he was stunned to find the goblet empty before remembering its lost contents on the stone floor.

He dropped the empty, battered goblet—it clattered and rang on the chipped, pocked stone.  He dropped the useless blade next to it.  He turned and slowly made his way from the room, his booted heels loud in the sudden silence—a silence that was itself almost as loud as the myriad, ancient voices that had been silenced, forever, by his hand.

Forgiveness was all he had asked and he knew that the thing had not understood.  For how could it, locked away by an ancient mage’s curse, locked away from its only home, its only family, its only chance of sanity, locked away for hundreds of years, vanquished to a place of such desolation that its own humanity had long been forgotten—how could such a thing have ever dreamed that the one man sent to free it, return it to its rightful place on the throne of a morally bankrupt empire, whose very remaining hopes and dreams had rested on the saving grace of a ceremonial blade, would, instead, elect to destroy that dream, shatter the prophecy and doom an entire world to complete and utter, destruction.

~ by liberdementia on March 6, 2009.

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