“I see. Have you ever raped, murdered or enslaved anyone?” Tervud asked.
“What?” the sentry asked. His surface thoughts were empty, but that proved nothing. “No, I’ve not–”
“Are you aware of his lordship’s activities?” Tervud asked.
“He gambles sometimes,” the sentry said. The horn blew again, and there was clattering from the courtyard, with shouts of alarm. “Drinks, but what warstock of experience doesn’t?” The sentry shifted and winced at his ruined leg.
“A word of advice?” Tervud said. “Soon enough, I will issue a challenge to the whole of the castle. I strongly suggest you tell any of your friends to throw down your arms. Provided they have no other crimes, I am then permitted to spare them.”
–The causeway, Tervud,– Sonderhau said. –We’d best destroy it first.–
He jumped lightly over the battlements and landed at its foot.
–I’ll need to find a place to climb down. Or should I just walk out and stomp on it? I might be strong enough to–
–Brother,– Reckoner said, sounding amused, –Approach the causeway’s start. Cleave its surface. Our powers hold your answer.–
Tervud, feeling the irony–does the swordsman wield the swords, or the swords him?–sprinted to the causeway and made two horizontal cuts with each sword, holding them parallel to each other.
He slashed right and back again, the scythe-sword’s points biting stone and pulling themselves through. Shearing stone made a torturous scraping howl, at once high pitched and guttural, then with a percussive thwup each cut burst with blue light. Rock exploded up around him and sprayed out into the ravine. Slowly, the causeway fractured and broke in chunks, tumbling down into the ravines.
–Ah, so we can manage propagated cuts,– Sonderhau observed. –I had wondered about that.–
–Now to finish this,– Tervud thought.
He looked through the fortress’ open gates at the guards forming up below. There would be good, or at least redeemable warstock among them. This was simple logic. So rather than plow into their ranks, swords wreaking crimson to all sides, Tervud leapt high again. This time, his leap’s force shattered the outer cliff-face behind him.
–This fortress is not so well-sited as it appears,– Sonderhau noted. –The shear pattern on these rocks is absurd.
Tervud said nothing, watching the rearmost tower swell below. Shouts of alarm from the guards echoed to him, distorted and slow. He felt panic rising through the fortress, and the grim resignation of normal warriors who expected to fight a legend. On his landing, the fortress’ ceiling gave way beneath him, and he crashed into a storage room full of old carpets. An uppercut from Reckoner did for the room’s hinges.
–You will want to accelerate yourself downward,– Sonderhau said. –Gravity becomes much too slow at our speed, we’ll lose precious seconds to it.–
Tervud was clumsy with this new power, like a child suddenly given a strongman’s body, and ruined more than one set of stairs. It occurred to him that being superhuman in a world built for the perfectly average was inconvenient. He followed Felasa’s mind-essence down through the tower. A pair of guards confronted him somewhere on the third floor down, faces from Malija’s memories. From the shock slowly claiming their faces, they’d just heard his cacophonous descent. Tervud bolted past them before their spears took center line.
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