“Dearest Edda, beloved daughter. I would offer you words of wisdom or comfort, but after a lifetime of ink I find my hands have finally taken leave of me. I have written of good and evil for many years, seeking truths, but in the end I have no answers to offer. All I have, my heart, is a prayer. That you be kind. That you leave the world a little better than you found it and teach your children to do the same. And maybe, just maybe, one day we will be what we pretend we are.”
– Last will and testament of King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand
Wekesa had fought three wars in his lifetime, and had slowly come to realize that the Tenth Crusade was nothing like the others.
There’d been so many skirmishes over the years he could hardly recall all of them, so many faces and names and defiant – or accusatory, or castigating, or a hundred different tones only ever hiding the same fear – speeches. Enough dead heroes to make a mansion of the corpses. There was no glory in it, Warlock had known from the start. How many of those young men and women had soft faces, barely into adolescence? Those fights had not been part of a war, though Amadeus fancied otherwise when he murmured of his old argument with the Heavens. It’d been… ratcatching, Wekesa often thought. Trapping and killing vermin before they could grow to be a true problem. Even using the word execution would have implied a sentence, an act of judgement. There’d been none, though. Nothing behind the slaying save the decision never to allow those rats to grow and spread. It sometimes amused Warlock that for all his old friend’s talk of the fundamental disparity between the lot of heroes and villains, when given the opportunity to deal out the same treatment he’d not hesitated for a moment.
It was not a deep argument, he knew. The differences were many. Amadeus’ high-minded distaste was for a perceived imbalance between what heroes and villains as a whole were allowed to achieve by their stories, not particular cases, and the Black Knight would likely argue that even similar actions would have different meanings when carried out by mortals instead of Gods. Wekesa could and had appreciated, even when they’d first met, that Amadeus was driven by what could be called a philosophical principle rather than mere lust for power. It’d been a refreshing change, after the then-Apprentice’s years spent rubbing elbows with the nobility of the Empire. It was a deplorably limited understanding of the world, perhaps, but a notch above what any of their contemporaries had been able to contemplate. In the end, though, it was still missing the forest for the trees. Seeking redress for scales uneven was still putting stock in the scale itself, when it was that thing’s very existence that should be questioned. There was no fixing Creation, Wekesa suspected.
And if by some miracle it was, the Gods would promptly break it again.
And so Warlock had put his energies where they rightly belonged: his research, his family and his friends. Disappearing into some remote locale to study in peace would have been short-sighted, unfortunately. An old monster alone in the mountains, meddling in things man was not meant to know? He would have been the proving grounds of a dozen heroes. Besides, keeping strong ties to Alaya and Amadeus’ empire had secured to old libraries and a steady source of income and materials. If that meant occasionally making an appearance at court, disciplining a few ambitious sorts and smothering nascent heroism when it sprouted? Well, it was a decent bargain. He did not regret making it, not even now. There’d been some frictions before the understanding was properly reached, of course. Amadeus had wanted him to found some sort of mage academy that’d supplant the teaching cadres of the High Lords, and not quite understood why Wekesa had refused. He’d tried to lower the years Warlock would have spent as headmaster of the institution, before Wekesa flatly told him there was nothing to compromise over. Warlock had helped to create this ‘modern empire’ of theirs because it mattered to them, not because he himself particularly cared about the state of Praes. The country could be an empty desert and it wouldn’t matter to him.
He’d fought the wars that saw them rise on personal grounds, not principled ones.
It was the worst argument they’d ever had and for that Wekesa blamed Hye, who’d left before the Conquest even ended, and managed to both cut Amadeus to the bone and leave him twice in love as before with the same sentence when she walked away. The wound had never entirely healed, and Warlock had ended up paying the price in a deadbeat Ranger’s stead. Typical of her, really. She never stuck around for the parts that weren’t thrilling, the sometimes tedious spadework of building and maintaining relationships. Tikoloshe had noted it was almost mythically hypocritical of him to blame someone for having bonds only on their own terms, but his husband was wrong. He’d put in the work, afterwards, to clean up the mess between himself and his oldest friend in the world. Hye, on the other hand, simply made do with visitations every few years that Amadeus came back from split halfway between longing and chagrin. Wekesa’s long-standing reservations about that arrangement had been the tide that carried him closer to Alaya, as it happened.
When they’d first met her in the Green Stretch all those years ago he’d not been as close as Amadeus to the woman who became Malicia: he and Sabah had shared the seat of designated third wheel as those two strange youths gravitated around each other, everything else falling to the wayside of their long conversations. Still, he’d found he well-educated for a peasant – her mother had been a tutor to a minor noble line, once – and as charming as she was intelligent. He’d considered her a close acquaintance, and been quite infuriated to hear she’d been unceremoniously abducted by the Sentinels because the waste of skin holding the Tower was hungry for seraglio beauties. It would be years before they met again, after bloodily climbing the ladder of influence, and when Wekesa next saw Alaya there were only shards of the girl she’d once been remaining. He’d grieved for that, but the woman she’d become had been fascinating. Broken, perhaps, but all the more brilliant for it. But there’d been a war on, soon enough, and though they’d fought for her claim his reasons for supporting it had been largely selfish. If Amadeus had been the one aiming for the throne, there would have been decades of war instead of years.
Praesi would have been violently disgusted at the notion of a Duni claiming the Tower, much less one inclined to eradicate the aristocracy.
In the years that followed, however, his opinion had shifted. Alaya was undeniably more fit to rule. She was Praesi in a way none of them were, understood the people she reigned over where Amadeus would have messily carved away at them until they were more to his liking. And though Malicia used the Calamities, she did so sparingly: she preferred to rule on her own merits, without other Named propping up her crown. She asked little of them save friendship and the rare favour. It was an ideal arrangement, in his eyes, and he’d frankly told her as much. The confluence in their opinions had only grown as the years passed, and while Amadeus busied himself with his Callowan projects Wekesa had spent long stretches in Ater for his research. Seen the harsh demands authority made of Alaya, and admitted to himself that Black would not have weathered them so well. The Tower… it magnified what you were. Your virtues, but also your flaws. Malicia had mastered hers, but the same influence would have made something ugly of Amadeus. Perverted his best qualities. Scribe disagreed, of course, but Eudokia had stark blinders. She’d only ever seen herself as a tool, Amadeus as worthy to use her, and so to use everyone else. There was no place for nuance in that perspective. That Sabah had never weighed in on the matter had been telling, he’d thought.
She was ever only so circumspect when coddling one of them.
And now Sabah was dead. Killed by some murderous vagrant from the Dominion at the behest of the Wandering Bard. Wekesa had wept for it, after. For the loss of such a beloved friend, for the hole she would leave in all of them with her absence. It’d not been the same since. Amadeus had become reckless while telling himself it was calculated risk, burning one bridge after another until it’d left him stranded in the middle of fucking Procer with heroic wolves baying at his heels. Alaya had been forced to become increasingly heavy-handed to keep it all from falling apart while simultaneously the particulars of the Woe prevented her from dealing with them as she legitimately should. Warlock had made it clear that Masego was off-limits, of course, but was increasingly coming to sympathize with her situation. Wekesa and Amadeus had dropped a mess into her lap and then heavily restricted her means to deal with threats not of her own making. It was unfair, and the private admission of that had done much to reconcile Warlock with the necessity of putting his son under house arrest for a few years.
As for the Black Queen, well, Warlock had washed his hands clean of that. He’d help Alaya deal with the aftermath by making it clear to Amadeus that Catherine Foundling had been dead for over a year now, but he wouldn’t have the imitation’s blood on his hands when his old friend returned. He could hardly serve as a mediator if he’d taken part in the matter in need of mediation.
It’d all grown so complicated, hadn’t it? This war was so different from all the others. The civil strife that had seen Alaya rise to the throne, the Conquest itself – they’d been of the same mould, in a way. They’d all been young or in their prime, and still making their mark on Creation. But now that mark was made, and they were being forced to defend it. They’d spread out too far, Wekesa often thought. Sabah had died thousands of mile away from the Wasteland, fighting over some League shithole they’d never seen before and likely never would again. Amadeus had been caught in Proceran heartlands while prosecuting a war that should have been the Black Queen’s by right. That there was a Black Queen at all was a reminder of how badly the Callowan situation had been blundered over, and for all that Wekesa sympathized with Alaya she’d hardly handled the Wasteland better. Akua Sahelian should have been abducted year ago, every bit of knowledge wrung out of her mind before she was butchered so thoroughly not even devils would be able to get their due from her. If Malicia had needed a doomsday weapon she should have asked him, not tried to get clever in house already visibly on fire.
And the damned fire had only spread since. Wekesa was not pleased he had to intervene, but who else was left? It’d have to be him. The Ashurans would be broken here, and afterwards he’d free Alaya’s hands to deal with the rest of the situation. Feelings would get hurts, cities would burn, but in the end the only people involved who mattered to him were pragmatists. There would be eternity to get over this little scuffle, as his friends had all the others before them.
It was a month full of long silences that passed before the Ashuran war fleet finally arrived. His son and husband remained at odds, though thankfully neither were the kind of men to trade barbs or seek out screaming matches. The work proceeded at a faster pace now that conversation had effectively died out. Wekesa occasionally felt a pang of regret at turning what was one of the greatest achievements of Praesi sorcery – in his own chosen field of study, to boot! – into what was effectively a pack of munitions, but he could think of no other way. Shatha’s Maze had been the main sea defence of the city for too long. There’d been centuries of opportunity for the Thalassocracy to study it, and though last time they’d struck at Thalassina it had been treachery that’d been their means of passing it that did not mean the Maze was unbreakable. That pack of greedy sailors wouldn’t be risking an assault at all, if that were the case, and Alaya was certain that they were coming. She still had agents in Ashuran ranks, though entire swaths of her network had been purged before the Thalassocracy declared war.
The ships came under cover of night.
That much had been expected. With scrying being blocked off, it was now watchtowers that served as the city’s first line of defence. Considering the nature of Ashuran sorcery, sailing at night even in treacherous waters was hardly difficult and afforded some element of surprise. What had not been expected was that the fleet moved under illusory cover as well. Some kind of sea mirage, Warlock found out, closer to natural phenomenon that Praesi illusions or fae glamour. Much harder to detect than either, though also likely much more difficult to maintain. That bought the invaders two days of unseen advance before they were caught out by a Thalassinan mage attempting to scry the weather ahead of their fleet and finding it impossible to do so. It alarmed High Lord Idriss enough that the man ordered a ritual strike at the area, calling down lightning from the sky, and though the sorcery impacted Ashuran defences harmlessly it did shatter the mirage. Ashur had stolen the initiative, and there was barely a day and a half to organize before they were on the city.
The work on the Maze was mostly finished, but not entirely. It would have to prove sufficient. Mass rituals by High Lord Idriss’ mages lent a finishing touch to the trap while allowing Warlock and his son to remain at full strength. Masego’s perch out in the corals was fully accommodated with defensive wards and the few creature comforts his son had requested, and he left for it half a day before the Ashurans arrived. The solemnity of the parting ease the tensions between them some, though not as much as Wekesa would have liked.
“I’d still be more comfortable with your father taking the position,” Tikoloshe admitted, smoothing away nonexistent wrinkles on their son’s robes.
“I see no need to revisit the matter,” Masego bluntly replied.
Wekesa discretely shook his head while meeting his husband’s eyes. Now was not the time.
“Be careful,” Warlock said. “They might be meddlers but there are a great many of them. If it gets out of hand, I’d rather you retreat and we fight over the city itself.”
“I’ve no intention of risking my life for Thalassina, I assure you,” Masego said.
He nodded in approval. In this, at least, he had his priorities straight. Wekesa hesitated, then pulled his son into a tight embrace. Masego stiffened but eventually returned it, their clutch on each other growing tight. There were no guarantees, in war. They both knew that all too well.
“Come back to us,” Warlock whispered.
“I will,” Masego whispered back, voice little more than croak. “You two stay safe as well. I know you’ll have walls in between, but rituals-”
“-are never a toy, always dangerous,” Wekesa finished softly.
One of the first lessons he’d taught his son. Magic was beautiful and wondrous, but it should never be taken lightly. Great mages had believed themselves to have mastered their powers fully, and always paid for that presumption. There were no exceptions. They released each other and Tikoloshe kissed both their son’s cheeks, fingers lingering on his shoulder. Masego was so thin, now.
“We’ll have a family supper tonight,” ‘Loshe said. “Just us. It’s been too long.”
Masego nodded before heading out for the docks, where a ship would await him. They both watched him leave, standing together.
“He will not be that tender with us again for a very long time,” Tikoloshe murmured.
Wekesa grimaced, but did not deny it. After today they’d have to bind his powers and take him into custody. He would not forgive them that for a very long time.
“Preparations are done,” Warlock said. “The rest we can worry about tomorrow.”
Work mercifully took away his mind from it all, for there was much still left to do. The set-up was not particular complex – Petronian sorcery was a straightforward as the Miezan’s who’d created it – but it was rather laborious. Two-way scrying panels were set up along the city’s outer battlements so that Wekesa would have good overview of the Maze and the Ashurans, then anchored in a crescent moon around him as the last touches were put to the circle of power where he’d direct the rituals from. That the defence was taking place on a High Lord’s dime meant the very finest materials had been acquired for this, obsidian from the Grey Eyries and Callowan limestone mixing with half a dozen other substances that put together could have easily bought a luxurious mansion in Ater. As Warlock sat at the heart of the array, four more circles were initiated. Every practitioner in the city had been pressed into service for the purpose, which was rather simple: they were to release sorcery into their attributed circle, where Wekesa would be able to take it and use it for his own purposes.
The recent labour of activating the wards of Shatha’s Maze had left too many mages exhausted and on the edge of burning out, sadly, which meant that to make up the losses two thousand criminals had to be slain and their life force provided instead. Wekesa disliked using such primitive means, but it could not be denied that the power resulting was pure and plentiful. If they’d had another week it could have been avoided, but as things stood he’d have to make his peace with it. It was late morning when the preparations were complete, and from that point forward Warlock sat with his eyes closed. Keeping mastery of four circles beyond his own while not actively using the power within required a great deal of concentration. Tikoloshe sat next to him, idly paging through a rather lurid Proceran romance, and though his husband remained silent his mere presence was soothing.
The Ashuran war fleet came into sight halfway past Noon Bell, and so finally the battle for Thalassina began.
It was said that the Thalassocracy had more war ships than the rest of Calernia put together, and it was easy to believe that while looking upon their fleet. More than three hundred ships, flying the colours of the Baalite Hegemony with the masked sun of Ashur set on them. It was not even the full muster of Ashuran might, Wekesa knew. There were still ships out raiding, and smaller defense fleet left to anchor in the Ashuran home isle.
“Around third of those are repurposed merchant ships,” Tikoloshe noted, his practiced eye picking up on the signs. “No ballistas on them, they’ll be serving as troop transports.”
“It won’t matter, if they never make shore,” Warlock replied.
Ashur took the offensive, as was only to be expected. By now they’d have realized that Shatha’s Maze had been activated, though they should still be unaware of the… modifications added to it. Wekesa kept the four pools of power close at hand. Two of those, he’d already decided, would be kept in reserve to detonate the Maze. Only one was necessary strictly, speaking, but best to be prudent. The other two were his to shape in answer to Ashuran assaults, however. After that he would have to draw on his own power, which would be difficult. His preferred field of study was useless on water, and his knowledge of Sabrathan sorcery was limited. There would be no turning the spells around here as he had done when duelling the Witch of the Woods. It would have been madness to attempt the same tactics against an army that he’d used against a single Named, regardless. One Gifted he could account for, no matter how talented, but hundreds on hundreds? There were too many variables, even if they resorted to rituals. The waters ahead of the war fleet rippled unnaturally, and Wekesa learned forward.
“So it begins,” the Sovereign of Red Skies murmured.
It was a ritual, that much was obvious. The limitations of their practitioners were fully displayed as massive amounts of sorcery sunk into the waves but moved only sluggishly: Ashuran mages were known used to working in concert.
“Strike?” Tikoloshe said.
Wekesa studied the sea’s surface. The ripples were gaining in strength, but not forward. Splitting to the sides? Ah. He smiled.
“They believe the defence is being directed from the underground facilities on the shore,” he said.
“We never took down the wards on them,” Tikoloshe noted. “There was no reason to.”
“Let them waste their first blow, then,” Warlock said.
It was an interesting working, he had to admit. Tendrils of water rose from the sea and began spinning like gargantuan drills, impacting the shore with thunderous crack and going straight through the rock. Quicker than simple water should, even rotating. A hardening effect, perhaps? He could see no trace of it, but there was only so much he could find out at this distance. If there’d been anyone underground, they would be dead by now. Eventually the Ashurans released their ritual, the water collapsing. It was either drunk by the earth or remained in large puddles, save for the parts that trickled back into the sea.
“And now they see there are no issues with the Maze,” Tikoloshe said. “Meaning it was either never overseen or they struck at nothing.”
“Even if they’d wiped out our mages most the wards would still be working,” Wekesa noted. “That cannot be their strategy whole.”
His statement proved to be correct when ritual began again. It had similar effect on the sea as the previous one, though Warlock noticed the sorcery was going broad instead of sinking deep. Interesting. Not tendrils this time, then.
“They’re going around it,” his husband suddenly said. “They don’t need tides if they can make their own wind, ‘Kesa. They’re going to spread sea over shore and bypass the Maze entirely.”
“They will try,” he shrugged, and reached for the first pool of power.
If the ritual was allowed to proceed and stretched out the waters on both sides it would be difficult to deal with – he’d either have to split the power and pit himself against the enemy on both sides simultaneously from a position of weakness or strike twice, which would waste his entire offensive power. Yet Wekesa still allowed them to pour sorcery into the sea. He had to make every strike count, to letting them get to the point of no return would be more efficient. Eventually he had to make a judgement call, being uncertain of the precise tipping point. Closing his eyes, Warlock shaped the power and released it. It came out as pure kinetic force, angled in a loose triangle and impacting the sea with all the strength he could put out. The dark-skinned man sighed as he opened his eyes and witnessed his work. It would have worked better as a Trismegistan formula, he had to admit. Still, even in this manner the strike was massive enough to begin a tidal wave and send it tumbling towards the Ashuran fleet. While the wave hid the enemy from his sight there must have been panic when the enemy mages realized they had to abandon their ritual after investing so heavily in it.
The backlash ought to kill more than a few.
“Something’s wrong,” Tikoloshe murmured.
Warlock’s brow rose. It was true the enemy were slow on the answer, but that could simply be the result of their mages fearing the backlash. And yet… He adjusted one of the scrying panels. Was part of the Ashuran fleet missing?
“They went into it,” he realized. “Underwater.”
Absurd, unless… The tidal wave slowed. Stopped to a standstill. And then it turned around.
“Merciless Gods,” Wekesa murmured. “Have they been using only half their mages this whole time?”
If that were true they wouldn’t be simple hundreds, they would be thousands. There shouldn’t be that many mages in the whole of Ashur.
“That’s a repurpose of structure, Wekesa,” his husband said. “Slow and horribly sloppy – they brute forced it, I’d wager – but it is. Which they shouldn’t be able to do.”
Sabrathan sorcery wouldn’t be able to handle a ritual that delicate and abstract, the mages would start losing control halfway through.
“Jaquinite,” he said. “That was Jaquinite sorcery. They have Procerans with them.”
Hells and Damnation. The Principate’s mages might be backwoods savages, but they were a lot more flexible than the Ashurans. The scope of rituals available to the opposition hadn’t just doubled, it was… Hard to calculate, and there were more pressing matters.
“They want to tear down the Maze,” Warlock hissed. “And get ships through to assault the remains from both sides.”
Which he could not allow, not when his son was in the middle. The wards around Masego should allow him to survive the tidal wave, but he’d be out there alone and surrounded. He reached for the second pool of power without hesitation. There was no time for subtlety: he made a wall of force and smashed it into the waters. The backlash had him flinching, and he felt his nose start bleeding. Fuck. The mages keeping the wave going weren’t powerful, but they were many. Slowly, his grip on the sorcery began to slip. It’d break, and then…
“Link,” he croaked out, blood in his mouth.
The relief was almost immediate. Thalassina had old wards anchored around it, and linking them to his working had taken the pressure off his will. The city itself groaned, parts of its walls shattering, but his workaround succeeded. While he no longer had control of the power he’d released, he did control the connection his aspect had forged. It was only cut when the tidal wave broke and collapsed back into the sea, and Warlock let out a long breath.
“My turn,” the Sovereign of Red Skies hissed.
He took a third pool of power in hand and let another aspect loose. Ships had been shattered and the Ashuran fleet put in disarray, and that was close enough for his purposes. Imbricate shivered across the length of Creation as he matched the sea to the nine-hundredth and thirty-third hell: the sea of blood. The waters began to turn red, bubbling and rising to a boil. It would not be long before the acidity began eating at the hulls. Halos of light bloomed over the ships, one after another. Tikoloshe shivered.
“Speakers,” the incubus murmured.
They were not fighting him, Warlock noted. The imbrication was proceeding without being hindered, and the ships were not unharmed. No, it felt like something else. A prayer? A call, he thought. Slowly, something answered. He saw it in his mind’s eye. It was not a face, it was too featureless for that. Of what it was made he could not tell, but the glare was blinding. Flesh smoking, Wekesa bared his teeth. He would not bow to priestly meddling. If some entity had come to trouble him, it best be prepared for the consequences. The imbrication he took in hand, abandoning the fleet, and lashed around the not-face.
“Come on, you wretched thing,” Warlock grinned nastily. “Let’s see how you fare on my own grounds.”
It sunk into the depths, the radiance slowly drowned by the sea of blood, and he laughed. Laughed until it evaporated in a storm of blood mist, the thing full and untouched. Not a face, he thought again. It was a mask. Heartbreakingly, impossibly perfect. He looked upon the visage of a god, and that god spoke.
His bones creaked, his eyes burned and his teeth shattered. His husband was speaking but his ears were ringing. Blinding light came again, not of the creature’s making. He’d lost control of the last pool of power and it had gone wild, raw sorcery devouring all near it and shattering the ground. The mask’s lips opened to speak once more, a great weight settling on his shoulders.
“Shut up,” Hierophant said.
The thing rocked back.
“Seven pillars hold up the sky,” Hierophant sang, thrumming with power. “Four cardinals, one meridian.”
The pressure vanished and Warlock came back to himself. Through the panel he saw a mask of Light in the sky above the Maze, a terrible radiance surrounding his son. Masego stood alone on his spit of rock, black robes fluttering as he raised his palms. The warded corals around him began melting like snow in summer sun.
“The wheel unbroken, spokes are that not,” Hierophant said, voice resounding across the waters. “Thou shall not leave the circle.”
Wekesa closed his eyes just in time. It’d been only the smallest possible sliver of attention from Above, he realized. It could not be bound, not truly. But the attempted binding had forced it to retreat, and it had made its displeasure known beforehand. It had swatted down his son, shattered the coral and the wards alike. He was in the sea now, floating. Still alive. Warlock tried to rise but could not.
He was dying, and the Ashuran fleet advanced.
“No,” he got out. “Not like this. Not my son.”
Tikoloshe held him up, but his husband could not heal.
“I’ve paid my dues,” Warlock hissed. “A lifetime carrying the banner. I am owed. I am owed, do you hear me?”
It came like a whisper, slithering across his body. Taking away the pain, leaving dull absence behind.
Below remembered, and paid the debt back in full.
Wekesa stood and knew what he must do. He’d been shown. A gurgled word had rows of runes appearing in the air, the most sophisticated binding on Creation, and with fingers like claws he ripped through them. Scattered the runes, broke the contract beyond repair.
“Wekesa?” his husband said.
“Go, Tikoloshe,” he said. “Run. Return home.”
His husband’s face, so handsome and untouched by time even after all these years, creased in a frown.
“No,” the incubus said.
“It will kill you,” Wekesa whispered. “It can’t. I can’t let it. There has never been a devil like you. There may never be again. You are unique.”
“So are you,” Tikoloshe said. “So is he.”
“Run,” Warlock snarled. “I order you.”
“And yet here I am,” the devil said. “I have been myself for a very long time, ‘Kesa.”
“Don’t waste it,” he implored. “After you’re dispersed…”
“What comes back will not be me,” Tikoloshe softly agreed. “A blank slate. Tabula rasa.”
The incubus looked up at the sky.
“I decide this,” he said, tone full of wonder. “Of my own free will.”
His smile was blinding as the sun.
“Isn’t that something?” Tikoloshe murmured.
Wekesa could feel it thinning in his fingers with every passing heartbeat. It would not be granted to him twice. And yet all he could look at was his husband’s eyes.
“I love you,” he said.
“I love you too,” Tikoloshe replied, and threaded their fingers together.
Wekesa looked up at the sun and breathed out. He thought of the others, suddenly. Sorry, old friends. I’ll be going on ahead, so it’ll be up to you to snuff the candles on your way out. I’ll be waiting with Sabah. He reached out for it then, what they’d shown him. The barest glimpse of the godhead, but oh so gloriously full.
“Reflect,” he whispered.
For a moment, for an eternity, Wekesa was unto a god.
He snapped his fingers and the world broke.
Hierophant woke up among a sea of corpses and driftwood.
He screamed, but did not flinch.