Tervud slipped away. Once he was a few dozen yards from the spiral home, he burst off into the night. Somehow, he knew he’d never need to catch his breath again. He felt only slightly faster than usual, but from the seemingly-motionless night bugs he dodged, knew his feeling deceived him. His steps cratered ground, echoing back at him from the trees all around. Despise the night dimness, he saw all their colors clearly; some part of his new senses needed no light to see things for what they were. A churned-earth wake threw out dust and pebbles behind him. The wind, strangely, seemed to part open before it ever met him.
–We should consider this,– Sonderhau said. –There must be bloodshed, I agree. Lord Ashir’s life is forfeit, and this court sorceress too. Then there are the faces from Malija’s memories. Most of them are clear enough to rely on.–
–Crash the fortress to shards.– Reckoner said. –Its masters built it upon broken innocents.– The sword paused, considering. –But only when we conclude our executions. Enclosing walls ease slag-shifting.–
–Executions.– Tervud scoffed. –Executions are for men. The things we must kill aren’t men.–
–STOP!– Sonderhau barked, and Tervud did. His dirt-wake caught up with them, showering them in dust and pebbles. A few skittered into the night ahead.
–You’re going at this with the wrong mind, brother,– the sword said, –denying the humanity of your enemies. Draw us and practice; you must find peace before you summon anger. Warriors of Her children use fury, not rage.–
—But they are inhuman!– Tervud insisted. Even so, he eased both swords from their sheathes and slid his left foot back and out, setting Sonderhau point-out before himself with Reckoner held overhead, hand around its grip’s underside so its blunt side faced up.
–No. They are deeply, deeply human. Moreso now than you. If you must deny their personhood to kill them, you’re not doing justice.– Sonderhau paused. Tervud launched into flow drills; a full lunging thrust with Sonderhau, then a sweeping crossover lunge and hissing left down-stroke with Reckoner, another crossover into a right uppercut with Sonderhau.
The unified force of swords and body, the subtle tug of wind passing over their blades, the steady rhythm of footsteps and breathing: all came together, emptying his mind. –How do you suppose these filth, who are undeniably filth, rationalized their rapings? They made Malija less than she was. They dehumanized her. This is not our way, brother. We are stronger than humans. We are better.–
—You stop us halfway to justice for philosophy?– Tervud demanded. He put the anger into deflection drills, swatting to one side with the lead sword and following immediately with a thrust or cut to an imagined enemy.
–If you wanted me to do otherwise, you shouldn’t have named me Sonderhau.– the sword countered. –You can create illusory foes to fight, by the way. Simply will it so.– Tervud promptly summoned a shadow-wreathed, red-eyed clone of himself, which forced Sonderhau to snicker.
–Compassion for the wicked comes from disregard for the innocent,– Reckoner broke in. –These dredge broke the cardinal laws. Only three irreversible sins exist: murder, rape, and slavery. These sins, and these alone, demand death. These vermin committed all three. Knowing their true vileness, a warrior must fill himself with its hatefulness until he sees their sapience, yet still hears justice bid their oblivion.–