T O P H E T
Written on June 25, 2019 (♋)
Author's Notes: There's a lot going on here. I wanted to do a short piece that gave Dycedarg the same narrative treatment that Wiegraf recieves when he makes his pact with Velius, and I also wanted to play around with the actual demon upon which Adrammelech is based and its relationship to child sacrifice, which I think is a fitting property to associate with a patricide who is eventually responsible for the annihilation of his family line. The title derives from a term which came to mean "hell" but that supposedly has its origins in the name of a Biblical location where the worshippers of Baal and Moloch were said to immolate their children as offerings.
Warning for child death and ritual murder.
His sword clattered to the marble floor. His strength became as water, and he sank into the blackness cursing them, his vision rapidly failing as he felt the racing course of his heart spill out into nothing. Dead. He had stood within a hairsbreadth of the crown and they would never know the full weight of that truth--not even Zalbag, eager to stumble after truth as he pretended to be. He was dead and he would let them choke on what truth they had. The rest of it could follow him to the grave.
He could not see the razor's edge of light that shimmered on the grooves of the stone as his blood wet them. Dycedarg was fully convinced there was nothing more to be seen. When the voice spoke, he had no reason to assume it to be anything other than his own fading thoughts.
"Stone bearer, with me now do treat."
He could not reply.
"Your ambition and rage, they call to me. I implore you again: with me now do treat."
The taste of blood stung his lips as he thought uselessly to move them. The black of his vision burned to red as he became suddenly aware again of the pain of his injuries. Before him suddenly stretched a dizzying and endless horizon, and his broken body fell amidst the spires of Lesalia as he imagined that they were all his. He could see across the plains to the domed towers of Viura, and they too were his. The cannaled cities of Romanda, the ancient Valendian polises, every land and fiefdom not yet discovered beyond the crashing oceans--all his--his across the span of space and time. The elders of Yudora bowed to him. The people of places forgotten, of cities that spun in the sky or had long ago crumbled into sand, offered him fealty. They met him with prayers sung like lamentations, and he saw them cast their children into the furnace, weeping beneath the horned bronze idol of something more ancient than the God he had come to despise.
"All these things I will give to you..."
He looked to the horrific expanse of char and bone beneath him, and tried to muster some objection, instinctively trying to find some way even in this most desperate of moments to set his own terms. He thought of the white towers of Igros where he lay, of the fools that hovered above him, of times more keeping with cringing sentimentality and quiet deaths. He thought of the grey-eyed infant growing up across the sea, lucky enough to have had his brothers smothered in their cribs, lucky enough to be his heir without his name. He thought mostly, however, of how desperately, feverishly, and ardently he did not want to die.
"...if with me now you do treat."
He looked to the illumined figure on the hill and took breath, laughing as he was lost in the sterile light of the ash-clouded sun. When their body was reborn into the hall in which he had once fallen, the world seemed unreal to him, as if all the figures around him had been painted on a pane of glass. His benefactor and he spoke with mingled purposes and one tongue, and as his brother and his men burned all around him, no tears fell from his hollow eyes.