Excerpt

Posted on September 2, 2016

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The Greysoul’s will, the Greysoul’s presence, fills the room.  In twenty-thousand years, he has never turned the full weight of what he is on someone.  He does now.

Ajbars desperately throws attack after attack.  Anton deflects the first two with a wave of his hand.  The third he stops with a small act of will.  He pauses to examine it, absently filling the room with swirling shadows that can bite and tear.  He ignores the whirling form of Ajbars desperately defending himself and examines the bit of the killer’s will he holds in his hand.  His vision shifts, shifts again.  There are pieces of a thousand souls in this, all crying for release.  None of them are Maria.  Anton nods.  He will give them their release.

He flicks his wrist and sends Ajbars attack hurtling back.  It shatters his shield and staggers him.  Anton surges into the gap, physically and mentally.  A blow to the man’s chin staggers him.  A spear of Anton’s will slams into his mind and paralyzes him.  There is a brief, silent clash and Ajbars is helpless, a victim of the same coercion he applies so often.

The Greysoul regards him with cold eyes.  Much as he would regard a bug smeared on the bottom of his shoe.  “My daughter’s soul.  You didn’t take it.  Where is it?”

The man held helpless stares at him, then laughs.  The Greysoul reaches out with another flicker of his will, takes hold of something in Ajbars, and twists.  The laughter becomes screams.  Anton doesn’t relent until boredom sets in.  He waits while the sobbing recedes.  “Where is my daughter’s soul?”

Ajbars tries to shake his head.  The Greysoul allows him to move fractionally.  It’s a mistake.  Ajbars will surges and Anton’s hold on him shatters.  There is a blast of energy that Anton deflects and Ajbars is lunging at him with a knife.  There is a brief struggle, Anton is cut across his left arm and swears.  His hands flash and the knife is his.  He tosses it aside and strikes Ajbars four times in rapid succession.  Maria’s killer staggers and Anton’s will slams into him, paralyzing him again.  No more mistakes.

Anton gestures, speaks words in a dead language and the sound of cracking bones fills the air as Ajbars’ body obeys his commands in the most violent and destructive ways possible.  Anton doesn’t relent until Ajbars is a twisted scarecrow of crooked limbs, suspended by locked muscles and malignant will.

Ajbars coughs blood.  If not for Anton’s will, he would already be in shock.  The pain must be indescribable.  He coughs again.  “Do what you will, Greysoul.  Your daughter is lost to you.  No man can know her destination.  Her soul is hidden.  Not even you can find it.”

“You underestimate my reach.”  Anton tilts his head.  Then something like a smile crosses his lips.  “You think you go to your reward.  Don’t bother to deny it.  I can read it from your soul.  I think I’ll do something about that.”  The words bubble to the surface.  They are similar to what Ajbars used on Maria, but older, deeper.  As Anton begins to speak them he releases his hold on Ajbars.  The broken man crumbles to the ground, screaming.  Part of Anton relishes those screams.  He approaches the heap of flesh, spitting words not meant for a mortal throat.  The act of speaking them damages him, tears him.  Blood flecks his lips.  He crouches next to Ajbars, still chanting the bloody words.  He reaches out with the tip of a finger and draws a pattern on the flesh of the man’s forehead.  Where his finger touches the skin chars and flakes away.  The tip of Anton’s finger blisters.  Through it all, Ajbars never stops screaming.

One last burning line and one last syllable and Anton falls silent.

Ajbars is screaming.

Anton caresses him with his will and paralyzes his throat. The screaming stops.

“You think death is an escape,” he whispers. “You think the realm waiting for you will welcome you, Ajbars.” He shakes his head. “I’m casting you into the afterlife with no name, no identity. Only the weight of your deeds. The lords of the afterlife will not know you, but they will know what you’ve done.”

Ajbars eyes widen.  He may try struggling.  The Greysoul watches for a moment.  Then he reaches out for the last time with his will, and shreds Ajbars brain in his skull.

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