With a scuffle, a robed figure broke into the room and hurled a bolt of lighting at Tervud. It swerved around him and blasted Felasa’s corpse.
“That would not have worked when I was an Adherent, and it certainly won’t now,” Tervud said. The figure, a pale blond woman, froze. “If you wish to heal his Lordship,” Tervud said, “you’re welcome to try.” The court sorceress pushed past Tervud and dropped to her knees. She put Ashir’s arms back against his shoulders, grimaced, placed his manhood in its ragged home, and laid her hands on him. Tervud felt something stirring in the room.
So, he thought, that’s how the Current feels. Power like a wall pushed against him. Tervud was stronger now than walls, and did not move. The mage strained and began breathing heavily, but Ashir’s wounds did not heal. His skin rippled and the crimson torrents redoubled, hammering out to either side and up in a horrid, splattering torrent from his ruined groin. Steam rose from the open flesh, blood boiled, the lord howled, but Ashir’s wounds did not heal. The mage’s own skin split open along her arms and face like well-cooked roast peeling from the bone, but Ashir’s wounds did not heal. She staggered back; the lord shuddered and died.
“What did you do?!” she demanded, feeling her own wounds. She tried to stand, but collapsed to her knees before Tervud.
“I did not mention that the wounds my blades inflict cannot be healed,” Tervud said. He knew not where the knowledge came from, but he saw its truth. “If we cleave a tree, its trunk will stay split forever, though the tree still grows around it, and rot will slay it in time. If we cleave a sword, it cannot be reforged, and will rust to nothing. If we cleave rock, no mortar will bind it, and it will crumble to dust in a few months. Cleave flesh, and it will bleed life until it has none left.” He raised Sonderhau to his shoulder.
“In truth, this isn’t justice,” he said. “This is mercy. To do justice, we’d have to turn your own powers against you for day upon day, deprive you of sleep, and torture your body until your soul broke. We could give you justice.” Sonderhau split air and flesh again; the blond head tumbled to the floor and rolled into the new-spilled filth between Ashir’s legs. “Fortunately,” Tervud said, “there are too many wicked to cleave for us to spend such time on these.”
He turned and left in silence, but did not sheathe his brothers. There were many faces left from Malija’s memories, and many more in the fortress who might have other crimes. After that? Canno.
(Author’s Notes: this story takes place on my high fantasy world, Canno. For background on how the world got where it is in this story, and what all this warstock-peacestock palaver means, here are a couple of enjoyable grim lore entries:
The Loar War — Nothing spoils a fantasy utopia like extraterrestial invasion.
Cannoan Humans — Humanity handled near annihilation relatively well, which is to say, still badly.
Obviously, credit for the word “sonder” goes to John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. This story would never have happened without his linguistic inventiveness, and the sword-name it inspired.)