Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Man Of The Worlds, Part IX (Conclusion)

Farwir charged down the passage screaming, with his short sword held straight out. Suddenly the gladius disappeared and Farwir's arms were caught in the beast's mouth. The Blue Man heard a sickening grinding sound as he tried to pull out the arms of the screaming Farwir. Had the man been wearing any sort of protection on his arms he probably could have escaped with them intact, albeit crushed. As it was, this looked as though it would be a mortal wound.

Unable to pull the young man to safety, the Blue Man yelled at the young Anamather in an imitation of its parent enraged.

"Trelest poui heig marayt!"

He was answered with a coughing flood of something that was supposed to pass for speech from the not yet fully developed Anamather. Farwir was pulled back to the steps of the entrance as soon as the creature had opened its mouth. The Blue Man screamed for the barrage of metal from above to stop, and handed the people above the moaning figure of their would-be hero.

The flame on the tip of his staff had once again gone out and it now lay in the dirt below, wisps of smoke rising in the stale air. The Journeyman Exterminator called for iron spikes and began to hammer the odd pieces of armor and silver to the walls, wedging the spikes beneath the stones that made up the wall, oblivious to the screams of the Anamather trapped at the far end. When most of the walls and ceiling were covered, the Blue Man held his staff so that one end was above ground in the sunlight. Once again, he called upon the sun, though in a different manner this time. From the top of the staff the rays of the sun shot out, reflecting from the polished metal thousands upon thousands of times, and filling the space with a brilliant yellow-white light. Now the Anamather's screams turned from frustration to unimaginable pain. Instinctively, it teleported from the passage to the back of the cellar, covering its eyes. The Blue Man was upon it almost at once. He was no longer concerned with the light, for he was certain that the monster's eyes were damaged beyond repair. Throwing his voice, he swatted the Anamather with his staff while scolding the beast in its mother's voice. Then something inside of him made him stop. The pathetic mound of malformed flesh lay at his feet sobbing and choking up thick liquids. It was hardly in a position to harm anyone now.

He stood over it for a short time letting the pain sink into his murderous side. This would be an intelligent creature someday.

It could just as well have been Ithcyer a hundred years ago. He knelt down to stroke the thing softly, full of pity, and spoke in Moragadriel's voice for the last time.
"My baby, please come home."
The young Anamather disappeared.

The Blue Man's heart welled up with guilt for misleading the young one with a tone of voice that it would never actually hear from its parent. Anamathers cared so little for their offspring it was a wonder the species was able to perpetuate itself. But he had spared its life, among other reasons, in the hope that it would live long enough to feel a change, in the individual sense and in its species.

He dropped to the cool dirt, exhausted from the day's work. Though two families had been preserved, he had originally only worked for the preservation of one. His motives now struck him as questionable and he felt shamefully burdened by the title 'Exterminator'.

When he rose into the afternoon sun he was met with the cheers of the crowd. Old Soot ran to him.

"We thought you had been killed, Journeyman Exterminator. Did you destroy it?"

"Your home is now safe, Soot. It is gone. And I would ask that you no longer refer to me by that title."

"Of course, sir. What would you have?"

"Perhaps, you could call me . . . A Student of the Worlds."

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