|Ability||Your General gains +2 Attack.|
Your General gains +2 Attack.
Sajj followed Zirix as he turned to address the singers. ‘The Rite is complete,’ he said. And, to Zirix: ‘It is time to let the Masters recover from the ordeal. It is no small thing, bringing past and present together.’
She would later wonder how true this was. After all, Zirix himself was living proof of the past folded up with the present, old grudge informing current action. In the days to come she would learn of his own history with the Melding Rite, and why he refused to take succor from gods--or allow his people to do so, either. Sajj's own existence proved that people could thrive without the gods' meddling. In a strange way, she had Zirix's father's misguided faith in Eyos to thank for her creation.
By then, Sajj knew better than to express that sentiment aloud.
As it turned out, the future, too, could interfere with the present.
The air shimmered again. Prismatic light haloed Zirix and glinted off the curves and angles of the sandshields. Swords clanged as the Masters drew, preparing to defend their General.
One of the Masters bellowed, ‘Who dares profane the Rite?’
A newcomer stepped out from between the interstices of light and air. She recognized him, even if the others did not--yet.
Sajj interposed herself between the newcomer and the Masters. ‘Wait!’ she cried. ‘Would you betray your leader?’
The newcomer was nearly identical to Zirix. The same height, the same bearing, the same fearlessness even outnumbered. But a great rent in the sandshield over his heart revealed a tangle of metal merged with flesh, a wound half-healed beneath the armor.
‘Hold!’ the first Zirix said, and the swords lowered.
This second Zirix paid Sajj no heed. ‘I bear you a warning,’ he said to his counterpart.
‘Speak,’ the first Zirix said, his tone unpromising.
‘You forged your creation using a piece of the past,’ the second Zirix said. ‘She is but the first of your experiments. But know that she is flawed. Either her mind or her body will fail you.’
Behind the second Zirix, Sajj glimpsed an ever-receding vista of a battlefield crimson from horizon to horizon, dried-out bones, shattered sandmetal. The second Zirix walked unhurriedly into that otherwhere. A tremor of firelight highlighted the edges of his sandshield and painted wavering shadows in his wake.
‘Wait,’ Sajj called out, but the word died in her throat. The newcomer had vanished into the otherwhere battlefield. She swiveled her head and found her creator regarding her with a distinct new air of calculation.
[Next Chapter: Entropic Decay]