Chapter 29 - Book of Fates



The Fates decided the knight will attack Dawn. See the results here.


You chose to attack… Dawn? I am aghast, my dear Fates! I am astonished! I would never have guessed this of you.


Sike! I always knew you would end up like this, you rotten, manipulative, monsters.



***

“EAT IT ALL!” cries the demon and the Eternal Knight surges violently towards Dawn, pulled by the thrashing arm, his control over the armor relinquished under the monster’s overpowering will.


As the connection between Ren’s body and mind separate, time slows down, then grinds to a halt. The scene unfolds around him like a painting, each detail frozen in a tragic tableau:


Dust raised by his heavy boots glints in the moonlight pouring in from the window of Compie’s laboratory. The sparkle of abyssal magic emanating from the demonic arm swirls and pulsates, unearthly and beautiful. Tears fall down Dawn’s face like droplets of dew in the morning sun. Demon muscle and tendon strain in fury as the claws seek out the girl’s throat with the terrifying power of a hungry viper. The Handmaiden is raising her sword, but she won’t be fast enough to stop the attack. She won’t be fast enough to stop the demon-arm. To stop him. Nothing will be. His last sight of Dawn will be her weeping eyes, pools of endless sorrow.


As was his first.


A seed of memory, long buried, grows in Ren’s mind.


The sensation expands and unfolds, enveloping Ren. Memory overwhelms the Eternal Knight. Ren gives into the memory. He is walking down a secret tunnel under the capital, following and protecting his brother, the emperor of Ritain. They’re led by Cato, an imperial sentinel.


“Sentinel Cato,” the Emperor says, long cape draped over his left arm, keeping it away from the damp walls and puddles of rank water gathered on the ground, “the only reason I agreed to this meeting was because my brother assured me that you had something of significant value for me to see. Make note that my time is not to be wasted.”


“I see you share your brother’s optimism,” Sentinel Cato says without a hint of fear. She walks with military briskness and confidence, her countenance just respectful enough toward the emperor. “Don’t worry, my lord, I’m not naive. I know the continuation of my experiments hinges on positive results. I always repay the hand that feeds me.”


“Then get to the point,” the Emperor orders.


“They say your brother is the heartless one,” Cato laughs. Ren sees the emperor’s cheeks flush. “Relax, my lord,” she continues. “In a moment you’ll see that with my help, the war in Kaspia is as good as won. Here,” she unlocks a door and opens it, “let me present the key to victory.”


They follow her in. In the middle of the room stands a ceremonial marble table surrounded by burning candles. On the stone slab lies a pink-haired elven girl, sobbing in terror, her gasps echoing off the dungeon walls. She is naked, shivering in the cold, her hands and feet tied with leather ropes. Blood drips down her forehead. Next to her head lies a dark dagger.


“She can’t hear us,” Cato says. “She’s in a magically induced trance, courtesy of the queen mother. She’s crying because she’s witnessing the nightmares of what would happen if she ever betrayed the empire.”


The emperor looks at the elven girl, repulsed. “Sentinel Cato, explain why I am looking at this creature.”


“My lord, I am proud to present to you my greatest invention to date: a weaponized elf. She was voluntarily lent to me by her noble parents. For three years I have infused her with dragon-powers, extracted from the fossilized eggs recovered on our campaigns. For three years, I have cut her forehead and channelled the dragon-magic, fusing it to her as her own. When unleashed, she will bring down cities, if not continents.”


“Impossible,” the emperor says. “No one has survived a connection with more than one dragon egg. The magic is too strong.”


“I am happy to report that the key to magical malleability lies in the elven blood, my lord. Unlike humans, these lowly creatures seem to be surprisingly… adaptable to magical injections. Of course, it remains to be seen how long she will survive once she starts using her magic, but that is why I ask your permission to take the experiment to the next stage and unleash her powers against your enemies in Kaspia. I believe we will gain valuable data on her destructive potential and longevity.”


“What safeguards do you have in place if she turns on you? I do not want a weaponized elf running rampant among my troops.”


“Have no worries, my lord. As you can see she has been carefully manipulated to be the most loyal soldier of the empire. Even the thought of turning against us will bring on the most painful convulsions and mental strain. Additionally, she has been conditioned to believe her family’s well being depends on her success as a battle mage.”


“Your experiments are as terrifying as your reputation suggests,” says the Emperor appreciatively. “You have my approval to continue the experiment in Kaspia. I have one condition though. My brother will accompany you on your travels. You will leave immediately and return with Kaspia in hand.”


“As you say, my lord,” says Cato. “There is but one thing more.”


“Yes?” asks the Emperor, pausing in the act of leaving.


“A name,” says Cato. “For my little… experiment. It would be a blessing from you.”


The Emperor’s smile is droll. “What do I care? Call her Bob. No… wait.” With a cruel gleam in his eye, the Emperor turns to Ren. “You were right to bring this to my attention brother. Your blessing is appropriate to such a creature. What shall she be called?”


To a great and magnificent storyteller such as myself, the concept of time is hardly linear. Like a seasoned hunter, I can pull out whatever little sagas get caught in my sneaky little traps, and cook a tasty meal out of them. But it helps to have you Fates aiding me.


So without further ado, what did the Eternal Knight suggest as the elf girl’s name?


Option 1: The Eternal Knight is inspired by the Emperor. The elf girl should be named Bob.


Option 2: The Eternal Knight is inspired by Cato. The elf girl should be named Experiment.


Option 3: The Eternal Knight is hit by a sudden inspiration. The elf girl should be named Dawn.


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Author's note:

This week we have a big announcement to make: we're moving countries again. Silver accepted a job offer in Barcelona, Spain, and we'll be moving at the end of March. This means that a big disruption in our routines and lives is coming our way and that will make Book of Fates releases impossible for the unforeseeable future.


Our conclusion is this: we'd like to wrap up Book of Fates within the next month. We'll need your help with that, dear Fates. Your final task is to make the last rounds of voting as grand or chaotic -- depending on your preferences -- as you can. Don't be afraid of the consequences! Let's go out with a bang!


See you next week!

Love,

Kaya & Silver





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