Twenty

Twenty

A Chapter by Isemay

“Imos.” Hevtos stepped out from his threshold cautiously. “Why have you come?”


“What do you have that Syreilla could steal?” His nephew looked smug. “I spoke with her. You and my brother have been making plans and I suspect she’s just a distraction. She didn’t steal from me, but he never made such a promise.”


“I have made no plans with Odos.” He scowled and remembered the Rook’s lie about the shard. “I have a large realm to maintain, do you believe I do it without storing any of my power? My brother has denied me-”


“I do, you never needed such a thing-”


“Imos. I wanted a word with you.” Odos appeared with a scowl. “You’ve been chasing my fledglings.”


“They’re wasted on you. Your fledglings have a great deal of promise and you turn them all into thieves and wastrels! I can make them into something greater.”


“You’d crush them. They need kindness and gentle treatment.”


“Something you denied to my Golden Rook.” Hevtos gave him a stern frown, “You allowed her to be harmed.”


“I was absent. I leave them to their mothers as young children but since my Rook I’ve started looking in on them more.” He inclined his head slightly.


“That does not absolve you. Children should be protected.”


Your Golden Rook.” Imos folded his arms, “I suspected she still served you. Give me back my stone or I’ll hunt her into the ground as I hunt all of your priests and worshippers. She lacks the power to protect herself and you have none to spare for her.”


“She loves you and trusts you, brother.” Odos’ eyes hardened.


“Drive her back to me and I will give her what she has earned. She has a great deal to atone for as well.” Hevtos smiled faintly. “She did not steal it from you, but she delivered your stone to me.”


“If she didn’t steal it how did she get it?” Imos turned to glare at his brother.


“Didn’t you hear her say she knows some of your priests would murder their own mothers for the right price? She knew who to pay to get it. My little rook is clever enough to get around her promises.”


“I don’t believe you. You’re clever, brother, but I’ve learned to see through your misdirections. You’re using her, both of you. If you align yourself with him I will do to you what I’ve done to him without hesitation. Most despise you, anyway.”


“Father won’t allow you to and I’ve made no plans with nor have I made an alliance with our uncle.”


“My White Hand will find the truth. I have sent the best of them to observe her. I will know who she serves soon and if she serves our uncle I will crush your little rook.”


Odos stepped back with a scowl and vanished.


“She is your niece.” 


“She is a thief and a liar. If my brother hadn’t ruined her she could have been so much more.”


“My Golden Rook is impressive but she is restless, she has spent decades railing against her confinement and roaming my halls without permission. Drive her back to me and she will have no choice but to accept her confinement.”


“She escaped and you want her returned?” Imos studied him carefully.


“Her skills are beyond compare. I want her service, but I require her to be more obedient.”


“She delivered my stone to you…” 


“She asked for permission to call upon Vezar Edra. They are… attached.”


It was difficult not to show his smugness at his nephew’s consternation. It was clear Imos was trying to decide if the half-truths could be trusted.


“I tried to salvage Vezar and failed. Hammersworn… If you give my stone back to me I will try again with the Rook. I will hunt her and crush her otherwise.”


“Drive her back to me and she will serve once more.”


“You care nothing for her?” Imos studied him coolly.


“I care for the tasks I set her to.” 


His nephew’s attention was pulled away. It was rude to remain here, an unwelcome and uninvited guest, occupying his realm as he dealt with something else but he’d come to expect nothing less. He waited impatiently but kept his outward demeanor impassive and imperturbable.


The door was pulled open and a man was shoved through falling to his knees followed by a figure with a blistering and peeling face. “What is-” The moment he realized it was Syreilla he lifted his hand and dispersed the spell, healing the worsening wound with intent, not requiring a word to be spoken on his doorstep though the cost was greater than if he had taken her inside.


“You cannot be so angry with her if you heal her.” His nephew smiled smugly, “I suspected-”


“We are going to have words, Uncle.” The furious half-elf cut him off and kicked the man grovelling before her. “You had Syreilla Hammersworn murdered. YOU told her murderers they’d be out of Uncle Hevtos’ reach, and mine. No matter how angry Uncle Hevtos may get with me he wouldn’t harm me or try to murder me. And, I suspect, he’ll see justice done for Hammersworn and not lie to my face!”


“I did not lie. I would see justice done.” Imos glared at the tattooed man. “I used this wretched creature as a tool for justice.”


“But why? Why would you kill someone who loved you and trusted you? Your own-”


“She was only the mortal half of my brother’s child, not the divine, and I pleaded with her to cease her thieving. She could have been more but she made it clear that she was unsalvageable. It would have been wrong to allow her to continue living to continue enjoying the fruits of her misdeeds. When she began asking about being released to the dwarven gods in death I knew that she was seeking a way out of even that punishment. It had to be done.”


The look of hurt and betrayal on Syreilla’s face made his heart ache and he nearly opened his mouth to console her but her eyes hardened in an instant and a look he remembered well from his brother’s face took its place.


“If there is a way to kill a god, Uncle, you should hope I never find it.” Her voice was the stillness after a man’s last breath. “Hope that I will content myself with the burning of your temples and silencing your name on men’s lips.”


“I once said that to my Uncle.” Imos smiled faintly, “I failed, as will you.”


“No, Uncle. You were meant to be the god of justice, of righteousness. The god they turn to put things right. Why should they believe in you if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do? If you aren’t what you were meant to be?”


Hevtos saw the flame in her eyes so like his brother’s as she spoke, “The god of death has never shirked his duty. His hand is felt and they believe even if they’ve been taught to fear his name. The more you protested that he was evil, that he was monstrous, that he punished and was cruel, the more you told them that he was there and he was always going to be there no matter if his name was spoken or not.


“I’m going to burn your temples Uncle and I’m going to give them something else to believe in. I will find a replacement for you and those who remember you will remember you as a god of hypocrisy and failure. Your fat priests and thin, hungry parishioners will be what they remember and they will be glad that you are gone.”


Imos must have seen it as well. He left without a word.


“My Golden Rook…” He wondered if she knew what she was doing. “You can only burn his temples if his priests are dead or if those within forsake him. There are rules.”


“Can I walk in and terrify them?”


“That is how it used to be done. Come here a moment?” The thought of his Golden Rook striking fear in the hearts of Imos’ priests made him wish he could go with her, but, noticing the gem wrapped around her hand, perhaps he could offer some small help.


“Uncle?” Syreilla trotted over with a trusting, slightly baffled look on her face. 


He touched the stone with a smile, putting what he could spare into it, “Odos should lend you more than this, send him to speak with me.” He would have his nephew give more to the girl as atonement. “I will lend you some of my strength if you should need it. Be wary, the power you draw from is limited, you’re not as vulnerable as a mortal but you can be harmed and forced back to me.”


“I have this, Uncle. I can pull power from it.” She took out a lump of metal that radiated a sticky, malicious energy. “It was what Olthon intended to use to kill Vezar. That mage tried to use it against me.”


Hevtos took it from her feeling its purpose, to ensnare and enslave, not to slay. “If he had known how to use it properly… this is a dangerous thing. Too dangerous for you to take back with you.”


“Then keep it, Uncle. It’s why I wanted you to keep Vezar back. I didn’t want to risk him.” 


He touched her cheek tenderly and earned a warm smile. For an instant she was someone else. The sweet, gentle girl was gone in a blink and in front of him stood the Rook with all her mischief and deceit.


“I should go, I have a temple to burn and I think I can get another stone without stealing it. The temples in Withia are close together… I’ll need to put out the fire so that the city doesn’t burn and I think I can con the god of wine, women, and song’s priests into paying me to do it.”


“If Odos believes I will ever return you, he is a fool.”


She grinned and vanished through the door. Smiling after her, he looked down at the one whom she’d called a mage. The tattoos on his skin were intended to be wards. He’d intended to be protected on his death, his last breath would have activated them.


“My Golden Rook saved herself the labor of bringing you later. I have a place for you.” Tilting the man’s face up he saw his name and spoke it, “Igron Edali it is time for you to receive all you have earned in life.” Hevtos touched the piece of metal to the mage’s forehead and loosed the power, burning the body away until the metal was empty and useless and only a spectre knelt in the ash in front of him. 


The shade rose and went inside without resistance.



© 2021 Isemay


Author's Note

Isemay
I was considering combining this with Chapter 17, thoughts about doing so would be deeply appreciated!

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Added on January 30, 2021
Last Updated on January 30, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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Isemay
Isemay

Germany



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Spent some time away from here but I've come back to peek in and post again! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review hone.. more..

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A Chapter by Isemay


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A Chapter by Isemay


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A Chapter by Isemay