37 - Swansong

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Recorded from an excerpt of Jhe 'hAkribastes's Travel Log
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I only see one thing during this moment.  ...That's an error.  I can see many things at a time, as that is a function of being the Law.  There is only one thing that I am focused solely upon at this moment.  It is the Jhe o'Sul's face rushing towards me, eyes widening but still full of mad rage, still utterly convinced he'll have his way and take his vengeance.  I correct that assertion by driving my knee up into his nose.

He claws his way away from me, lurching to the side.  For some reason he doesn't let go of his whip.  I only grin.  He snaps the whip away from Diyn's teeth, dissipating the snared length and then rematerializing it after it's unsnared.  Oh, what a cute trick.  He looks down at me with disdain, which is impressive considering the blood trickling from his nose and the strange crooked angle the feature's been bent to.

"You dare assault me in my Court, Judge?  How shameful.  Perhaps I should teach you a lesson in decorum."

"Sometimes I wonder why I let criminals speak for so long instead of sealing their fool mouths, and then you go and say something like that.  Do you care to back up such a threat?  I should love to see you try."  I watch him grin, the marks on his face twisting more than the shift in expression can account for.  His eyes glisten with glee.  He's coveted a rare prize for so long, and now it's come to him.  He has apparently long awaited this opportunity.

That jewel in the middle of his crown winks and pulses as he gathers power.  I can feel his Will pressing against me, trying to force me, of all entities, to kneel before him.  Is this what he used against my son?  I'm proud of Lyric, then, for standing up under that weight.

I don't move.  I don't even show a sign that I feel what he's attempting.  He only gloats and tries harder, as if that trick is going to work.  For the rest of the room, this part of the battle must be very boring.  It is two men staring at each other, one looking progressively more snakeish and squinty as time passes.

"Is that all?  Or were you not done yet?"  I ask him in the same tone of voice that I order drinks with.  He starts.  I twirl my Trident in a lazy arc, looking up at him with a questioning eyebrow.

He glowers at me, wipes his nose, then makes a gesture of cutting and focusing forward.  Openly attacking me with his Will, now?  Nothing impacts.  He's making this boring for the audience, good Graces.  He hisses.  "You can't be immune.  You stand in my Court, on my land, in my domain."

"You cannot bend the Law."  I stop Diyn mid-swing, the middle tine of the Trident pausing right under Ebrellin-i's chin.  He glances down at it with such Xaillyndesse disdain that I almost gore his throat with it right then and there.  "You cannot make another hold responsibility for your transgressions against the Law. Do you not understand that I can hear the lies in that which you say, gauge the depths of your half-truths, pick out the tiny grain of deceit in a river of double-speak?  If you forced the boy to his knees it would only change his latitude, not the validity of his words.  It would only show you to be even more guilty of tyranny and oppression than you have already proven yourself to be.  Can you even say anything for yourself, or are you going to impress me with yet another mis-step?"

Ebrellin-i hisses and makes a gesture to silence me.  "Get out of my Court.  Your presence is not condoned here."

I chuckle.  "Oh, believe me, it rarely is."

"Your Armed have come here, used my land to ill intent, spied on me, soiled the purity of my daughter, assaulted me, and made a mess of my Palace.  You invade and search without warrant or cause.  Leave me be and leave in peace."

I snort.  "Are you trying to plead insanity with those words?  Do you even realize half of what you've been caught doing?"

"IF YOU DON'T LEAVE MY COURT IN PEACE I WILL DESTROY EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!"  He leaps forward, hand going for my throat.  I swing the Trident to the side a little, catching him in the head with one of the arms.  It should have knocked him out.

Whatever keeps him moving after that, I cannot say, but he screams out something incomprehensible, just a long, wretched shriek, as his body writhes on the floor. Then he begins to crawl towards Lyric.  "Traitor!  Foul cretin!  You dare seduce me and lead the Judge into my chambers where he can twist truth into lies at his own whim!  I should have collared you from the start!  I should have known better than to trust you!"  Lyric takes delicate steps backwards, keeping out of the King's range.  The King lunges forward, fingers barely grazing Lyric's slipper.  Then, something spills out of his mouth that I never, for all my instincts, expected to hear at that moment.

"My consort-King, free me from the grasp of those who would overtake and drag your Empire into nothing...flow your power into me and I promise I will carve with it a path to destruction and ruin over which only you will reign."

My Trident snaps down over his wrist so fast that it's not a matter of movement so much as manifesting in that one spot.  My power comes down upon him in the way that he'd earlier tried to assail me.  It doesn't so much knock him out as throttle him into incomprehension, his mouth still babbling speech in a language that I'd sooner forget I'd ever heard even once.

Nul-deh'le.  The un-tongue.

Lyric's shaking, having retreated into the shadow of a statue standing nearby.  He lets out a terrified whimper, and I realize with dawning horror that this isn't the first time he's heard that language spoken.

Cade.  The turning and enslaving of more people, creatures and spirits than anyone had guessed at.  The long-standing rumors and the air of pure oppression in this Kingdom.  There can be only one central source for them all, and foolish Ebrellin-i named that source with his own tongue, in its own tongue.  Nul.  He bows and pays tribute and beseeches to Nul.  This King, that we have kept the shakiest of treaties with, that we have so long clashed wills and wits with, that has caused the world so much blasted trouble, has made a pact with Nul.

I want Justice.  But to bring a case like this to Trial is almost as far from my desires as something can hope to get.

* * *

I know someone sits next to me, but I don't look up.  I'm a little frozen, I guess.  I keep my knees hunched up under my chin.  I'm cold.  Numb.  I know there must be a lot going on in the world around me right now, must be so much chaos in this room, but I don't hear any of it.  It's like being submerged in a pool that's surrounded by a large group of very loud people.  I can tell they're there, but what they're saying doesn't mean much to me or what I'm doing.

"--ric?  Here, turn and face me.  Lyric.  Lyric.  Don't zone out on me.  Here, do you see me?  Come on, focus.  Lyric?"

I cringe away.  I can't even tell who it is.  Everything's just a blur and I don't want to pay any attention to it.  For all I care the world can stay an incomprehensible blur.  Incomprehensible blurs probably didn't hurt too many people, in the history of things.

I think I'm being shaken by the shoulders.

"He's lookin' a little green there, Ger.  I think he's gonna puke."

"Oh shit 'Rude you're ri--"

The world heaves up.  Or maybe that's just my stomach.  When I can focus again, things come clear and I see I'm on my hands and knees.  I can hear someone else approaching, going on about needing napkins but she has a handkerchief or two on her for Gerald and me.  She starts wiping my face but I manage to do that on my own.  I check over my clothes.  Just a few bits of filth here and there.  It's a uniform, anyway.  The Peacock King can worry about getting it cleaned.

The Peacock King--

My eyes widen, I turn to the side, and Gerude has time to curse and step back before I manage to puke on his boots.

"He's a damn cannon," Gerald groans.  I look up at him.  He's trying to clean his shirt off, but it's a losing battle.  Wow, I got him good.  Then I gag a little, and there's a scurry of footsteps away from me as I turn and hurk up a little more of whatever I've eaten over the past five days.

Gerude snorts from a few paces away.  "Not much different than before he left home, then."  He sighs.  "I wonder if the cleaning staff here has all run off yet?"

Gerald sighs.  "They probably sharpened their mops and fought to the death or something.  ...Oh shit, Lyric, don't start puking again."

"Ger, I think he's out of ammo.  Look, stop trying to save your shirt, it's a goner.  Help me sit him up.  Here.  Lyric?  Come on.  Everything's going to be okay.  Oh shit, don't you start crying now--"

Gerude checks over me, laying a hand on my forehead, looking into my eyes as best as he can considering the tears.  "Rachella?  You have any more handkerchiefs left?"

"...No.  You can keep those, in fact."

"Oh, thanks."  Gerude runs a finger along the collar around my neck, then shudders.  "We need to get this off of him.  It's got to be making him sick."

"Here, let me look at him.  Lyric if you throw up on me again so help me..." Gerald doesn't bother and just trails off the threat.  He puts a hand on each cheek, looking into my eyes, his brow furrowing as he frowns.  "Gerude, hold him up.  He's having a trouble even sitting up."

"I am no-oof!"  Gerude yanks me to sit straight up, arms around me from behind my back.  I guess I was slouching.  It's a little hard to think.

"Okay," Gerald's voice is calm and even, a touch of lightness to it that I know is false.  "Lyric, stay still, alright?  Gerude is holding you, so just relax.  And trust me."  Dangerously calm, just like Father.  Cold metal slides over my neck, grating against the metal of the collar.  I startle a little bit, but I force myself to be calm and I close my eyes.

'Aye, I won't hit ye, but this might sting a wee bit.'

The rapport roars, heat blossoming at the side of my neck.  Something cuts me, probably the shrapnel from the thing.  There's the sense of a hand gripping me, then slipping away as the collar falls down and clatters on the floor.  Gerald leans me forward against him as a coughing fit overtakes me.  Wagner's smoky.

'Ooo, ye recognized me?'
'Did he pee 'imself?'
'Dunnae smell like it.  The boy's Father will be right proud.'

* * *
Recorded from an excerpt of Jennelcia Akribastes's Travel Log
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The Judge looks down at the figure of the Peacock King, who now lies somewhat still, though amazingly remains conscious.  He's well-restrained, barely moving, but still continues to speak in that language that sent chills throughout the entire room, only now he speaks it so slowly that it takes about thirty seconds for an entire 'word' to get out.  That makes it even creepier somehow.

I wonder why Daddy's even letting him go on like this, just lying there without any restraints.  Silly me!  Daddy's already on it.  He's just concentrating.  He always gets a funny look on his face when he's in deep thought.  He looks very, very serious, and I just wanna honk his nose.  The air crackles around him, he's focusing so hard.  I know what he's going to do, too.  I've been trained in it.  I um...well, I've achieved what Camden would call a 'success', but the results weren't something that could really leave a prisoner able to testify.  I've been told, in rather wry tones, that it requires a lot of focus and restraint to do properly.

It's funny, the Peacock King might even be familiar with the technique.  It seems like something that would be right up his alley.

'Sy grips the Trident by its staff, which still stands upright in the air, the tines of the Arms embedded around the Peacock King's wrist.  The weapon warps, a ripple flowing down the pole and to the point where the tines fork out.  They bend and grip the King's wrist, then, snaring it like a cuff.  It's cute, he screams in the most genteel manner.  He tries to struggle, but the cuff forces his wrist to the ground as if the Trident were still pinning him.

'Sy swings the Trident over to the other wrist, then, pinning it down with a quick strike that the King can't evade.  He cuffs it, then raises Diyn once more, staring down at Ebrellin-i.

The King manages focus again, breaks off his creepy moon-language monolouge, and then has the audacity to glare up at the Judge and spit.  For the record, because he didn't aim it right, it falls back down and splats on his blood-crusted nose.

Daddy snorts.  "I should have gone ahead and done this when you were up against the wall."  He stabs the Trident downward.  I almost wish he'd gotten the bastard in the throat, but no.  Daddy's Aim is always precise, and he pins Ebrellin-i's neck between the tines yet again, the Trident flowing into a matching collar that I'm sure my brother would describe as tasteful as well as elegant.

Bound with the full power of the Law, Ebrellin-i stares up in confusion, utterly silent.  He turns his head, staring out at whatever's in his range of view.

It's Lyric, leaning against Gerald's shoulder while Gerude kicks at the remains of that cursed pet collar.  Then something catches the King's eye, and he looks back up.  Faun steps near him now.  Staring.

The animism looks sad, for some reason, and then levels a glare of accusation at the Judge before backing away and looking at Lyric.  He sniffs my brother over, then trots off to the throne to collect his furs.  I don't know, alright?  Animisms are fucking strange.

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(Note from Irk: The next update will the the final chapter of In the Court of the Peacock King, Novel 1 in The Peacock King Trilogy!)


  1. The last chapter!?
    Will you be starting on the next book soonish? Pleeeeease?

    (And on another note, whenever you DO start the next book, you should spam adverts across other online fiction sites. This deserves more readers.)

  2. I've started already, but what I've got so far will need about a month to 'cook', especially while I'm working on the book's new website. So I'm thinking there'll be a month or half a month of 'layover' so that I can properly prepare for the next book. Once the new site's up it'll be a lot easier to update everything, and it'll have a sorted archive.

    (I advertise a little bit every week already, but I've been holding off on a big campaign until the new site's up. Do you have any particular sites in mind? And how'd you run across this story, by the way?)

    Thanks very much for reading and commenting!

  3. Is it wrong that I feel kind of sorry for Ebrellin-i? I mean, yea, he's done some crappy things, but you keep getting these glimpses of some thing deeper there, almost like there are two sides to him, at least based on Hespiredes and some things that Faun has said. And because of all that, I feel bad that everything that might have been good in him is gonna be dragged down and forgotten by all that's bad. I dunno if that makes sense.

    I have no idea where the next story in this series is going to go, but I hope at some point you can revisit what led him down such a dark and assholiesh road.

    Awesome as always. I'm excited, and a little sad, to know that there's only one part left in this one.

  4. http://www.digitalnovelists.com/why is MeiLin Miranda's joint...she seems to have a variety of reasonably-priced options and is definitely familiar with the webserial gig. $15 setup and she gets the advertising $$, or $15/month and you keep your own ads. I bet the folks at http://forums.webfictionguide.com/ could give you other options.

    I'm looking forward to the conclusion as well as the next book. I sure hope we still deal with Faun, and Bruce/Wagner, and the chick who's the whip, and...and... :D

  5. http://forums.webfictionguide.com/topic/starting-an-online-serialnovel

  6. V - Thanks for the info! MM's a big inspiration when it comes to the webserial stuff. I'm actually doing my own Drupal site without signing up with DN - I already pay for a host that happens to be able to install Drupal via an automated script, (omnis.com) so most of my efforts right now are going towards building up the content on the site. (Uh, well, and learning Drupal, but I wanted to do that anyway.) The site's still under construction but DOES already exist...I just need the time to finish it. You should be seeing it soon!