pretentious cosmic picture


The ferry came in closer to the shore. Far off, they could hear faint singing to the left, and they tried not to listen too closely to the sirens' songs. On the right, they could hear waves breaking on another shore, and they dared not look, for fear of glimpsing a gorgon. She covered her ears and stared at a coin to occupy her eyes. It had the features of the Emperor, Dahnmaya. It was an odd face; very fine, thin hair worn rather long and arranged in a ponytail behind, some coming forward and obscuring the left half of the forehead. A long, drooping mustache on a mouth with rather full lips, she knew that in real life both hair and mustache were black, which made him sound like a stereotypical villain out of story. Yet that was not the effect at all; his face was long and his chin was weak, and his large eyes had a mournful look. He knew in real life those eyes were a liquid deep, sorrowful brown, framed by eyelashes that were extremely long, like a beautiful woman's. The effect was of extreme sadness, accentuated by the drooping mustache.

Even if his soul were pawned to Sagin, it did not look like that kind of sorrow...the haunted sorrow of the lost and the damned. No, this was a different sort of sorrow altogether.

It was the sorrow of a child, betrayed and trapped by a parent it had loved and trusted. It was the fright of one who had his family and world ripped from him, and left him alone to forge a brave new world. It was the anguish of one who had never expected to be in the postion of command, yet had that command thrust on him. The rage he could focus came from that sadness...of being betrayed by fate, by the will of C'Don, which had stood by and let the dragons decimate the Cathurian Empire, killed his beloved older brother, the Emperor-King Davyn Cathuria, and had made Dahnmaya Emperor of ashes.

(Some heretically asserted that King Davyn was not dead indeed, but instead in an enchanted sleep, and would sleep for centuries, to come back when he was most needed. Dahnmaya would flay anyone alive for the very suggestion. Not that he feared his power being taken away; he would be delighted if Davyn, whom he loved with a fierceness that sometimes frightened them, was alive. He thought such foolish rumors disrespectful to the memory of his beloved brother. Any slight to his family, especially to his beloved brother, was something he would punish without mercy.)

It was the face of someone with a hundred imperious ancestors in unbroken sucession, who depended on this younger son, who had never wanted the burden of command to hold things together at all costs.

It was the face of one to whom duty to his ancestors would cause him to fanatically initiate cruelties that he otherwise would deplore. It was a face curiously weak and forlorn, for the face of the mightiest warlock on Tu, directly backed by Sagin's own power, who had lived for centuries and had singlehandedly held humanity together after the dragons' making a cruel, Sagin-directed dictatorship.

It was a face that would give anything, to set back the clock and live another day in the time of the Cathurian Empire, when his brother Davyn was in power, and there were no real cares or worries, save satisfying his own ever-growing curiosity.

It was the face of a man with good intentions, who used what he considered distasteful means to effect a greater goal. The type that do the most harm in history.

On the other side it showed his form, full figure. The head was much smaller, but you could make out details of his torso and dress. His was a lanky, long legged form, supple rather than muscular.

He wore a long cloak, that was flying in the wind with his ponytail. It was connected by a brooch at his neck, which was made from the melted remains of the crown of the Cathurias...a simple metal circle that had been found, three-fourths melted by dragonfire. He wore a long sleeved shirt, with long flowing cuffs, with three decorative lines. before the end. The belt that held his scabbard were crude blocks linked together in a chain, fragments of the destroyed throne of the Cathurias linked together. Leggings and high-topped boots completed the ensemble. He held in his hand a long sword, the Greyblade. His shadow, which was done in relief, seemed of a different person...even slimmer and more sardonic in profile. They said his shadow was not really his shadow at all, but the shadow of Sagin Shadowfather, from Wal Moortz. She shivered at the thought.

She knew in real life the cloak, shirt and leggings would be black, and the brooch, belt, and boots would be a silvery color, like a mortician turned warrior.

They drew near the docks, and she looked at the huge fortress atop the rise just in front of the Great Column. The fortess was ringed by three concentric walls, which are entired by Nightflame's Arch. In the first ring were twenty-foot ogres, ready to rend any who would enter without permission. In the second were man-eating ghouls, who would feast on any who entered without the appropriate token. In the third were legions of Dahnmaya's elite warriors, and the temple, Dun Sagin, and the great fortress...from which Dahnmaya ruled. Maybe she would see him in person.

Those interested with comments, suggestions, things I have forgotten, things I messed up, contact me at...

Return to TU


Copyright © 1997 Al Schroeder