Kyte Ch. 09bythelastempress©
Thank you to those who were patient enough to wait for this ending. I hope it meets your expectations. I would like to add how grateful I am to Simon Wolfe who was gracious enough to spend his time and talent to make this a better story, I am in your debt.
Morning came quickly far more quickly then either Kyte or Avaline wished. Kyte refused to speak to Aveline after her betrayal of Asha. If the truth were to be acknowledged he didn't want to see her at all, but he could hardly order her out of her own rooms. Aveline acknowledged his anger but did nothing to ease it although she did give him what little distance the suite of rooms allowed.
He flatly refused to let any one of the lovely servant girls who arrived with the dawn to assist him in anyway although they fluttered about him like strange, beautiful birds. Some part of him understood that this was a ridiculous action, as it took him almost all of one hour to dress himself due to his injuries, but even as his stitches pulled he could not bring himself to ask for help.
The remedies with which the healers had covered him, after Aveline dragged him from the dungeon had healed and cured many more of his injuries than he had expected. But inevitably it had still been only a single day since that dark dungeon and, healers or not, he ached so badly he would have cried if his pride had allowed it.
Malzanoth remained alert in the back of Kyte's mind. As the boy's thoughts wandered the demon viewed the world from inside his mind. The demon was pleased that the boy had lived through the dungeon experience, mostly in the interest of his own self preservation. Malzanoth knew the boy could hear him muttering softly and commenting as he enjoyed the curve of Aveline's figure. As always the boy did what he could to ignore the him.
Kyte did ignore Malzanoth, instead he thought about Asha, his anger at her for bringing him to this and he acknowledged with some guilt that he had never expected to die for her. He felt shame over what he told Aveline, and worried uselessly over how it might be used against Asha. Most of all, he missed her.
After a curt knock on the door, four members of the King's guard entered Aveline's room without waiting for permission to enter. Then bowing briefly before Aveline they walked straight to Kyte.
Their coats were not the deep green senya that he was accustomed to seeing in the cities, but rather the soft brown teska of the royal standard. The guards reached for him with stormy expressions but were stopped in the act by a single inarticulate sound from the Retriever who lingered in the doorway.
The Retriever spoke softly as his milk white eyes scanned the room seeing nothing and everything. "It is time my Lady, the King wishes you both present. Let us not delay." He turned without another glance to any of them sauntering away in his strange disjointed movement.
Kyte glowered at them all as he rose unevenly to his feet and walked to the door with the King's guard flanking him. He may not have a choice about going but he would not again be led in chains. Aveline followed behind them, beautiful and lost speaking softly to herself as they walked through the marble halls.
He was led through a set of great wooden doors, into the largest room he had ever seen. Longer than it was wide, it seemed an immense hallway, a hallway for gods. A great dome above the room allowed sunlight to stream through the stained glass windows onto the smooth marble floor. The floor was made of a swirling cream marble that mimicking perfectly the sand in the desert. Around the sandy marble was a much darker tile that surrounded lighter desert floor like a picture frame.
There were people in every form of dress lining the walls who murmured quietly as he entered and pressed up against one another as if they feared to step off the dark tiles. In their feathered hats, finery and bright colors Kyte was reminded of the bright colored birds in the magistrate's zoo in Tenma. They watched him silently as the little party advanced down the hall, towards a tall wooden throne.
Kyte knew as he walked into the room that he would likely never leave it alive. He had lived all his life in Tenma and could count on his hands the number of times he had slept in a bed. He had lived like a beggar and now it seemed he would die like a king.
Amid the banners and gilded wood Kyte saw a small, wasted man who was his age or perhaps a few years his senior. But regardless of the fine dyed silks he wore and despite the massive sword at his side, a sword which Kyte doubted the man could lift, he did not fear him.
Despite his obvious age, the boy king's face was strangely childlike. The King's hair was the same golden red as Asha's but the paleness of his skin was more of illness than porcelain. He assessed Kyte with fevered eyes that despite their malevolence, seemed vacant. His eyes lingered on Kyte only a moment but it was long enough for Malzanoth to feel the surge of power that came from the King, the power and the loathing. Malzanoth murmured with grudging appreciation. Malzanoth appreciated suffering.
This was the warlock Orin, this was Asha's brother.
Kyte's eyes searched the nameless faces that lined the wall and was surprised to find more pity than contempt for them. He could not help but think that these people were as bad off as he was. At least he wouldn't have to deal with this much longer unlike these people who lived in fear, cowed by an insane king.
The Retriever stopped half a dozen steps before the throne and knelt forcing Kyte to kneel as well. He was very aware of Aveline mumbling something nervously where she stood behind him.
"My King your request is fulfilled my prey has been captured. This boy was found with her."
The king's eyes lazily found the Retriever's face and his eye lids fluttered like a child waking from a dream.
"Was he? How regrettable, he looks quite capable, he would have been an asset to our Guard. I see he has been to the dungeons. Has he accepted the error of his ways? Will he testify?" The King's voice rang out across the hall but it had a simpering note that grated against Kyte.
He spit in the King's direction and was promptly laid out by the Retriever's swift kick to his gut. Kyte laughed bitterly against the cool marble tiles.
Then they led her in.
Asha. She was dressed in a flat grey dress and her hair hung loosely around her face. She walked with a slight limp, but moved swiftly with her shoulders back. New bruises joined the old ones on her face but her expression remained neutral while her eyes blazed.
The room was absolutely silent except for Asha's footsteps and that of the guard's who accompanied her. It did not matter that she wore Tellinac bracelets or leg irons, from the moment she entered the room every eye turned to her. They worshipped her with their eyes as she moved.
The guard led her to the King. Her eyes rested on him for a moment and darkened furiously but her expression did not change. When the guard who accompanied her knelt before the King Asha remained erect.
"Will you not salute your King, my sister?" The man on the throne asked.
"I salute my brother, but I do not acknowledge a King." She returned, her eyebrows raised in disgust.
Orin's face twisted grotesquely and he snarled momentarily rising from his throne. " I could make you Asha. I could make you kneel before me."
Although many gasped and even more flinched Asha remained unimpressed, she spoke calmly once the room was again quiet. "Yes brother, you could order them to make me kneel, but it means nothing. Even you do not have the power to make me forget who I am."
Orin hissed at this but he did not look at her face as he screamed.
"I am King, I alone rule!"
Asha shook her head unaffected by his outburst. "I love you brother, but you are mad. Step down Orin, if not for yourself, for my sake and for mother's."
Orin flinched and shuttered, his face pinched up and for a moment Kyte thought the king would begin to weep. Yet when Orin opened his eyes, his face had gone slack and his eyes became voids, he addressed the crowd rather than Asha.
"Although it gives us pain, we must lead by example. I do not need this traitor's testimony. My honored sister is dead. She was killed by this treasonous bitch before me, the creature who now stands before me is nothing but a witch and a betrayer of Sentra. My sentence is death."
Upon the last word Aveline wailed and rushed towards Asha, two guards prevented her and Aveline fell weeping upon the floor. Kyte was too stunned to utter a syllable. How could it be over so fast? After all the time he has spent with Asha he had been certain that she would find some way to prevent this.
Asha received the sentence in her usual manner, with her eyes cool and her face serene and thoughtful.
Orin glared at her as his pale face flushed with rage. His voice strained higher as if he could force a reaction."Do it here, so that all may know the price of treason!".
There was a murmur that passed among the onlookers, the people were unhappy with this decision and they shifted with uncertainty.
Orin began to laugh maniacally and the guards nearest to him glanced nervously towards the king and shuttered involuntarily. One of the King's personal guard, a boy younger then Kyte stepped forward almost sheepishly to escort Asha forward. She did not wait for him but proceeded by herself to the spot that Orin had indicated. She knelt stiffly in a manner that suggested pain but her face gave nothing away
The great wooden doors at the far end of the hall swung open and among gasps, the priest of Solar entered wearing long trailing robes in the muted red of his order. In his hands he carried a simple polished hand axe with a blade so sharp that it glinted in the light, he sang the Litany of the Dying as he proceeded slowly up the hall.
Kyte stared in disbelief at the servant of the sun god even the demon inside him looked on in muted silence. The outrage he shared with Malzanoth was just beginning to dawn in his breast. A deep and irrepressible bitterness washed over him, the pain that had numbed his body and clouded his mind ebbed away and he glared across the empty space at Asha.
***** The Retriever watched everything passively. He would not debate the will of his King. The smell of terror from the observers in the hall washed over him, the potent smell of urine and ash. Fear smelled just like battle fields and to the Retriever, it was oddly comforting.
He looked to his prey on her knees before the king. He did not pity her, he was a Hound and was not capable of pity, but he did respect her. Even facing her death she smelled like honey and sounded like the wind off the sea. The Retriever wondered briefly, if she was as incapable of fear as he was of pity. Watching her was still interesting which was something he had not expected. He would watch until the end so he could remember her always.
***** Asha turned her head from the Sun Priest's slow advance to meet Kyte's eyes. She looked at him as if he were the only person in the room. On her face she wore a slight smile and a nearly sardonic look. She rolled her silver eyes at him in a way so familiar it made his chest ache.
Kyte took a calculating glance around the room. His years on the street had made him adaptable and he searched the area for some chance for them. There was none. He had no kukris, he had no escape. Malzanoth was uncharacteristically silent as Kyte's heart began to skip.
Still she stared at him, her face remained serene her eyes rested on him expectantly.
She had put her faith in him only to die, there was nothing he could do. If he rose off his knees the Retriever would kill him before he could lift a hand.
The slow steps of the approaching priests were maddening, he wanted to scream at Asha but he was unsure of what to scream. Pressure was burning inside of his chest and Malzanoth began to whisper softly encouraging the boy. Despite the demon's desire to live and thrive Malzanoth could not resist raw anger. It was intoxicating.
Kyte's palms flared white in answer to his emotion, but they burned uselessly bound together as they were. He thought maybe if he'd had his kukris he might have been some use. He watched Asha and struggled to draw breath. His vision narrowed until the King's Guard and the Retriever fell away, until the people who murmured uneasily and the great hall fell away. Kyte's vision narrowed until Asha was the only thing he could see.
But his vision of her was corrupted, the Priest of Solar was nearly upon her, his face was hidden by an ornate bronze mask and in his hand he held the axe that would end her life. Malzanoth began to whisper to him, tickling his mind and offering his assistance.
The demon was Kyte's earliest memory, all his life he had instinctively struggled against Malzanoth the way that any person struggles to be an individual. Malzanoth had helped him survive and live on the streets, but he did him no favors. Every action served the demons purposes. Kyte did not want or welcome the demon in his mind, he had always wished for his own life when others who possessed powers like his had used their demons for every manner of depravity.
But now that Asha was to die, his control over the demon hardly mattered.
The demon was angry and spoke urgently it took him a few moments to realize that Malzanoth was afraid for once in their lives, they shared the same goal.
He was not the only one who loved her. The demon was capable of love and it gave it's love to a girl about to die.
Kyte listened to Malznoth's words with renewed interest and as the rage inside him twitched and skipped like a stone across the water, his anger became focused, malleable, like the mercury the sages used in their mediations. He shrank down inside himself until he saw everything at a distance. It was as if he was not there, as if he had never been there at all.
The priest stood before Asha and she watched him solemnly her face was carefully composed and her eyes were cool. The priest first put his hands upon her head in prayer and then stepped back to raise his axe to the heavens.
In the background Orin spoke softly to himself and Aveline began to sob again and the low, angry murmur of the watching crowd washed across him and passed over and through him. The fear and the doubt washed away with it until Kyte was at last free of his indecision.
Without another thought he surrendered himself, his soul and his mind, his body and his heart. He gave himself completely to Malzanoth. He knew the demon would save Asha and that was really all that mattered to him.
Kyte's mind was enveloped by a darkness so thick and deep that he lost himself in it. He sank deeper and deeper, past Malzanoth's awareness and past the beating of his own heart. He thought briefly of Asha but he knew she would live and he did not think of her again. He sank deeper still until everything he was faded away and Kyte was no more.
He floated a long time in the dark. When he became aware of himself he was shocked. Death was nothing like he expected.
******** The Retriever's body went rigid. He breathed deeply and was on his feet before the air in his nose reached his lungs. The scent of the room once potent with fear had changed. It overwhelmed the sickly sweet scent of madness from the king, the scent overwhelmed the smell honey and silk of his prey. The smell was a viscous and shimmering scent and so potent that he could taste it on his tongue.
It was the smell of sulfur and sour wine, the smell of rotten blood and fire. The Retriever understood what had happened before anyone else and yet he was useless against what was coming. His long mouth twitched as he chastised himself, the hound had been foolish.
One never underestimated an opponent until all cards were revealed.
The boy was not a boy any longer.
The boy was now the hunter.
******** The demon roared as Kyte relinquished control of his body and mind. Malzanoth surged toward the surface and freedom. Malzanoth longed to destroy and to kill. There were enough creatures here that he might kill them all and paint the room with their sufferings. This could all be his! Mazanoth's teeth gleamed as he thought of his own room of torment. He could slide in and out of the shadows in a kingdom of death.
He would save the girl, her strange eyes and smile haunted him. He would save her and study her. She held power over him just as she had power over the boy. Malzanoth wondered if he could find a way to kill her that would not trouble him. He wanted to crush her into his body until she was a part of her. He wanted to possess her and keep her but also he wanted to be free of her, her strength worried him,
Fire blazed from Malzanoths' hands as he rose in the boy's body, the strength of ages boomed through him as he leapt to his feet. The guards around him grabbed for him but he brushed them away like flies, he laughed as they were pitched across the room. The Retriver was before him, quick and flashing. The hound's shining teeth were bared and he feigned left before he aimed for Malzanoth's belly with his silver daggers.
Malzanoth gave him the privilege of his wicked smile. The creature had made this fun for him, he would not have come to this without him. The Retriever was clever as well, he knew of the demon's weakness. If a demon's fragment was injured by silver before it was fully in control of its host body, it could be killed. It was an unlikely chance but it bore heeding. Other demons had lost opportunity because of it.
The hound was not fast enough and as he danced forward, the Demon took the creature's hand and threw him into the air. Malzanoth laughed as the hound hit the floor and rolled into the wall his body sent a rain of plaster onto the people staring towards him in shocked horror.
Malzanoth reeled as a wave of energy slammed into his back. The king that Asha had called Orin had raised his hand against him. Just as a child taking its first faltering steps, the king had no real power, not when compared to that of a demon. With a wave of Malzanoth's hand the king screamed and tumbled to the floor.
In the background one of the nobles started screaming and then others joined in. The demon raised his glowing hands to the symphony of fear and unleashed his anger upon them.
Above him windows shattered as blue lightning crackled against the brands on his open palms, the heavy fog of fear quickly turned to terror as tendrils of power shot out at random. The doors to the room began to bang as the frightened people tried to get out and the king's guard, summoned by the cacophony of sound tried to force the door in.
The few guards that were still standing foolishly raised their sabers at him they were shouting and stinking of fright. Instead of destroying them outright Malzanoth became a splinter of ice in their minds he drove deep into their minds and froze their thought. A sliver of despair was all that was needed to immobilize them. He enjoyed breaking them down, destroying their will. They were no threat to him, he just reveled in their pain.
The priest of Solar turned his back to the girl before him. He saw Malzanoth raging in the boy's eyes and recognized him. The priest raised his axe as his cried something to the heavy air around him.. He prayed to his god for protection, for holy intervention. He prayed for the strength to smite the demon.
Malzanoth dismissed the priest without a second thought. This was no place for gods today.
Even the guards fled from him now. All of them knew him for what he was and in that knowledge was despair. He was all that was all that is and all that would ever be.
With the immediate threat handled the demon turned his gaze to the girl, he wanted to save her and he wanted to crush her. He wanted to devour her flesh so she could no longer control him, he wanted to devour her flesh so she would always be a part of him.