I call 8th Joras to me. “Come with me, Mahid. I want to speak to you privately." In the depths of the cavern I turn to him and say. “Take all your clothes off. I want you.” It’s Jitz so he is allowed to show his surprise.
“I never thought… of course Spark of the Sun’s Ray…” I stand very close to him. I can hear his breathing. I can almost see his heart beginning to beat faster. As he pulls his shirt up over his head, blocking his sight, binding his arms… as the shirt bared his abdomen and bottom of his ribs, I drive the knife into his heart. The precise angle taught me by 2nd Amitzas. Blood pours over my hand and I can feel the knife quiver as his heart clenches one last time, spasming around the steel.
I pull out the knife and let him fall without uncovering his face. I wipe my hand and arm off on his shirt and go call the next Mahid I can find. I manage to kill a full ten of them like that before I get tired of it. My hand is tired of feeling the suck of meat and blood. I lick the knife and go back to plunder the dart tubes from the ones wearing them.
I wander into the kitchen where one of the Boras’s is cutting up a doe. He has no bone-saw, nor cleavers so he is to-the-elbows red, arms buried to the shoulders in the belly of the split-open deer. I have an excuse for all the red that must be on me by now.
“Spark,” he says absently and then gurgles as I come up beside him pick up one of his knives and push it into the side of his neck, cutting it across that way. He slides to the floor, into the pool of muck under the carcass, thrashing, strangling on the metal in his neck. I watch until he goes still, his eyes confused on me, finally going blank and flat, seeing nothing any longer. I pull the knife out of his neck, the dead meat not fighting against its parting as hard as live flesh does. His head rolls away from me, three-quarters severed now. It’s a good knife in my hand.
I’ve snapped I think. I’ve gone completely mad. This is what it feels like just to go berserk. Huh. Interesting. No emotion at all. Nothing. This is wonderful. It doesn’t hurt.
I take no chances with 2nd Amitzas. I wait until he is close enough, facing away from me. I put the tube to my lips and blow, watch the red vanes of the dart sprout out of the back of his neck like a rosebud right next to his club of white-blond hair. His glove starts to come up to touch, but doesn’t make it past his shoulder height before he falls like a tree. I’m sorry I don’t get to see his face as he dies, as he realizes he is dead but that would be self indulgent.
Click. Click. Click. As other Mahid see 2nd Amitzas’s body and run up to check it, the darts slide into the tube with that metallic click that tells my fingers they are seated properly. Huff. Huff. Huff.
Now there are four bodies on the ground. Shall I kill the women too? Hmm. It is a problem to consider. I leave the empty blow tube on the ground and walk out openly. There is shouting. Other Mahid are shouting at me to get down, we are under attack. I feign not to hear them. They run out and surround me. Ah. Five more. I let them hustle me to ‘safety’ from our ‘attackers’. No one else falls and they are confused.
We are in a jumble of rocks near the cave entrance, two Mahid putting themselves between me and the open space, cramming me behind them to protect me. By hand. One in each hand actually, I stick a dart into their backs and they crumple. I run, dodging, crying that Boras and Joras are down.
Why haven’t they noticed yet that it is their own darts killing them? Have they not stopped to look? Things get hazy around then. Blood. Bodies falling. I have the vague notion that someone finally realized it was me killing them.
I’ve lost count. That’s bad. Sort of. I think. I have a sword in my fist now. And the last Mahid on his feet is 10th Iakobas. Yes. That was right. It was my plan to find the oldest ones first. The ones most rigid and least likely to understand my treachery. Also the most dangerous. They were better than I in a stand-up, face to face fight so I had to fool them, hit them with darts, take them in the back.
I’ve sparred with him. I know his moves and he mine. He’s shaking. He should not attack me. He is sworn to me. I smile at him. “Iakobas. Your life is mine. What are the Maxims?”
He stutters, stammers the first Maxim. “I am Mahid; my will is the will of the Imperator.”
“There is no Imperator on the Crystal Throne other than the barbarian. My Father is dead. Who is next in line?”
“You are, Spark of the Sun’s—“ Mid-sentence I strike and he blocks me but late so my sword drives his own edge into the side of his head. He moves to strike back and stops, confused. “I require your life, Mahid. Obey.”
“Spark of the—“ I lunge and he turns but not enough, not fast enough and my point catches him in the gut, slicing through his clothing and flesh but he strikes back even as I pull my blade out. His strike is weak but slashes into the bottom of my abdomen and the top of my thigh. Oh. That should hurt. Why doesn't that hurt more than a cramp?
He stands, more shaken by having hurt me than his own hurt it seems. I smash my sword around and into his head and he goes down. I hit him twice more before he stops moving. Ow. I think it hurts some.
I stand for a while, watching the bright, spreading blood on the ground. Then I drop the sword in a way that would have had 2nd Amitzas beating me with his corrector.
The meadow is so pleasant. The horses are hobbled and clustered by the little stream. The sun shines hard on my head. That feels nice. I wander into the middle of the meadow. My knees hit the ground without my noticing I’d stumbled.
I half collapse, falling backwards. It feels good to lie and look at the sky. It’s a nice blue. I’ll take that thought with me, where ever I am going. Will my memories like that be taken away in Hayel? I hope not.
There is a vast bird circling against the blue and now against the whisps of cloud. Two. Now three. Ah. The birds have smelled the carrion I’ve made. So far away they are beautiful. Peaceful. I let my heavy eyelids drift closed. I’m amazed I made it this far. But they didn’t want to kill or hurt me. I’m Spark of the Sun’s Ray.
It is very peaceful and quiet and I can hear and feel my chest rising and falling softly. I cannot be dead yet for I still have breath. I still have air. What a blessing.