|Ability||Give a friendly minion +1/+1. Draw a card.|
Give a friendly minion +1/+1. Draw a card.
Beneath the lens of the Melding Rite, Zirix burned. If someone had offered to cut off his head, he would have accepted. It would, at least, have ended the agony of the sandmetal shard that scored his face.
The Rite Masters faltered, and their song with them. Even the drums crashed into silence.
‘We must call this off,’ one of the Masters said.
Zirix knew most of the Rite Masters, who also served as his father's counselors. At any other time he would have been able to identify the man's voice. Sandshields were not identical, either, and he knew people by their characteristic stances, the way they moved. All of that dissolved amid the pain.
‘The Rite continues,’ Y'Kir said. His words fell like hammer strokes.
‘He could die, Y'Kir,’ said another. ‘Your heir.’
‘The Rite takes the form it does for a reason,’ Y'Kir said, with the particular cold note that meant his temper was rousing. ‘Resume it. Now.’
‘Y'Kir, he's still a boy! There's no need--’
‘Father,’ Zirix whispered. ‘Father, I'll do better next time, please, make it stop--’
Even those arguing to halt the Rite didn't hear him.
‘I cannot condone this.’ Another Master. She started for the pit, intending to remove Zirix from it.
Y'Kir blocked her path. Like a mountain he reared up before her, faceless. ‘Then you can leave,’ he said, enunciating every syllable with knifepoint accuracy. ‘Or you can stay, and continue the Rite. I will permit nothing other.’
The lens continued to waver.
‘You're prolonging his suffering,’ Y'Kir added. ‘He will survive or he will not. But either way, the Rite must be completed according to the traditions.’
The Master tried to pass him anyway.
Y'Kir struck her with the back of his fist. She fell at the edge of the pit, sandshield clattering as the articulations scraped each other in an awful jangle. She did not move again.
‘Anyone else,’ Y'Kir said. It was not a question.
One by one, the remaining Rite Masters resumed their places. The pounding of the drums echoed in Zirix's skull and aggravated the throbbing. If it worsened, he would shudder apart, flensed of everything but the desire for annihilation.
The lens continued its dance. The light flared anew. Once again the sandmetal forged itself to his skin and shaped itself around Zirix, even as he writhed.
‘Eyos will decide his fate,’ Y'Kir said.
It was the last thing Zirix heard before he lost grip of consciousness. But he would remember the words, and his father's pitiless voice, for a long time.
[Next Chapter: Pyromancer]