Chapter Contingent – A Practical Guide to Evil
With a soft snarl Malicia turned around again, taking a seat on one of her furs. She had If she did it in secret oké, that wasn't even an option. Thief's secret set of oaths must not have been sufficient to call me back .. “I will not surrender to the likes of you,” the princess snarled. The Pilgrim sought to meet my eyes, studying me a pensive frown, but I was done with him. Malicia doesn't have an active Hellgate, and Praes is already lost to Evil. undergraduate professor Kevis Goodman, for turning me into a secret Romanticist. . cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of modernist trickster Oswald de Andrade parodies Caminha's passage by “Going to the Bakery,” and “Pink Dog” are Brazil poems that Bishop.
It started with small things. She would leave the water on, and they would come home to the whole house flooded. I left the tub overflowing.
Could you help me mop it up? Then on Then one day she forgot to turn the stove off. They came home to the smell of gas. How silly of me, I left the stove on! Then one day she forgot her keys at home. Then Then her birthday. Then, one day, her purse. He always remembers these things as he writes the checks he sends in the mail to Centre Stauros retirement home in Barcelona.
He misses her so much. He misses the movie nights and the smell of popcorn wafting through the apartment and the Spanish classic rock she would put on the radio while she cooked. He misses her face. So he writes the check, licks the envelope, pushes it down the chute, and goes to work, and all the melancholy in the world is lost in his routine.
He prefers the comfort in the simplicity of just going with what life gives you, ignoring all the things irrelevant or hopeless or just downright ridiculous. So he continues on running, showering, working, and eating popcorn in front of the television alone.
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Then one day he finds himself standing at the door of Centre Stauros. Are you here to see someone? Did they move her? We sent her belongings and a letter of condolence to her son, but it kept getting bounced back. He needs to be there to sign off on the package in order to receive it. Thank you for your time. The glacier formed at a mind-boggling pace, water rippling around it, and I closed my eyes to focus. Getting the paddles of the waterwheel all the same size was difficult, though it grew easier the more power I shed.
Fingers clenching, I severed the platform I stood on from the wheel and lashed out with my will. Slowly, the wheel began to turn. I continued dumping power into the movement, accelerating it, and the tide of soiled water raged towards the heroes with a roar. Fuck it, I thought, and tossed the wheel at them too. We were past subtlety at this point. Eyes flicking towards the Saint, I sighed as she carved herself a path above the current and stood atop the arc.
An arrow whistled at her and I took advantage of the opening Archer had just gifted me to move further away as I riffled through the bundles in the back of my mind until I could find Zombie. She seemed pleased by my summons, taking flight with haste. While it looked like she might have been getting the better of the fight with the heroes, fighting them at all was a mistake as far as I was concerned.
In the distance I heard a gargantuan crack as the ice wheel fractured into pieces merrily carried by the currents, heroes having climbed atop them. I drew on Winter, feeling it whisper lovingly in my ears, and shattered the wheel shards.
That dumped the heroes back into the water, though the fucking wizard made some kind of ring of fire that evaporated a safe place for them to gather and regroup. Zombie made a low pass and I leapt atop her saddle, fingers slipping into her mane to anchor me while I got my feet in the stirrups.
My cloak was wet, I only then noticed. What the fuck had Akua been up to? No, not the time. By the height of the sun it was morning still, and promising to be a warm day. Not a cloud in sight. My mount gliding slowly, I took a look at the broader situation unfolding across the field. The undead were shambling forward into a defensive Proceran line near what must have been a shore, before most the water in the marsh was used as ammunition in the Named brawl below me.
The dead were not making an impressive showing. They seemed to have some semblance of intelligence, but there was no real coordination. They went in waves and shattered on the formations of fantassins and the priests accompanying them.
Still, casualties were slowly mounting. I suspected the first few waves must have been wiped almost without losses, but now the crusaders were tiring and beginning to make mistakes.
There was, to my surprise, another front to the battle. Had Juniper left men to guard the camp? Regardless, if she was leading this engagement she was being rather conservative in her command.
Chapter 17: Contingent
Mages on both sides were trading spells at a pace, but aside from a long shield wall of regulars pressing against crusader lines there was no other real fighting going on.
That was unlike the Hellhound, who tended to go for the throat whenever she could. Which meant she was relying on the dead to do the heavy lifting — and by extension had relied on Akua. The situation must be worse than it looked on the surface. The moment the front holding back the dead collapsed the battle was good as won, barring heroic intervention, but at the current pace that might take hours. It must have been a fucking slaughter. Were the men I saw below all that was left of our host?
There were what, maybe thirteen or fourteen thousand there? She was throwing away levies and fantassins, not professional soldiers.
A beam of radiant light — fucking Pilgrim — tore up towards me, followed by a swarm of little balls of flame that looked liquid.
I led Zombie into a deep dive to shake the projectiles. Archer could take care of herself, I decided. She was probably half a mile away and picking her targets carefully, in no danger of being swarmed by the enemy. Just in case I wove a glamour into large streaks of yellow and red indicating she should disengage even as I spurred Zombie to head towards the shore battle line. It was not long before I had my answer. Loyal dogs that they were, the Wild Hunt came as summoned. There was an eldritch glimmer on the surface of the water at my side before Larat came riding out in full armour, sword in hand and grinning broadly.
Even as his horse kept pace with mine, the rest of the Hunt emerged in our wake. I have work for the lot of you. They did to mine as well, and Winter grew hungry for the banquet, but I forced myself to focus. Let him try to look all elegant and sinister with muck everywhere.
I absently tugged on the reins to lead my mount towards the crusaders, but my mind was elsewhere. I reached for the dead, grimacing after a moment. Ordering them one by one would take too long.
I thinned my will and cast it broadly, grabbing a rough thousand still roving around. Pain spiked through my forehead. I grit my teeth and ordered them to assault the heroes before withdrawing my will. It had victory written all over it — but it should keep them out of my hair for a while.
I tasted the warmth of the enemy Named, trying to get a sense of their readiness, and my fingers clenched. There should be ten. There were only eight.
They would be at the very worst possible place for me.
She neighed and angled for descent as we flew towards the back of the Proceran lines. A handful of archers loosed arrows upwards, but I was too far and too swift for them to have any real chance of hitting me. Unfortunately, mages were bullshit and evidently I was both recognizable and a favoured target. Panes of opaque yellow force formed around me in an airtight box, but they were in above their heads this time.
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When it came to power, pound for pound, there were only a few people in Calernia who could beat me if I put my back into it.
A lance of ice and shade formed around my hand and Zombie dove down. There was a heartbeat of resistance when the tip of the lance met the sorcery, then they both shattered and we flew through as my cloak trailed behind me.
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With a target painted on us so blatantly, it was no surprise I had to lead Zombie into a desperate roll to avoid being incinerated by a beam of light. It caught the edge of my cloak, leaving it singed and smoking. Malanza was behind them, and as the air whistled around me I got a glimpse of her face. Fear, yes, but much more anger.