Hembila drew us all together tonight; he wanted to talk about what we had seen. We marched in silence through the day, sticking to the low points and hidden paths that Nodora showed us on our way north. It was good to speak in the light of our small fire.

He had known the Darkness to be a threat, he said, but never a threat like this. What we saw yesterday was enough to convince him that whatever compromise needed to be reached, it must, for the sake of all their people.

Salisir asked him what he thought Fodafa would say to that. Hembila said it would not be easy, but Fodafa must be made to listen. Whatever that took, Hembila was willing to help. The reluctance was still there, but I could see his fear of the Daedra winning out over his distrust of Salisir. The Darkness, he said, must be stopped.

Salisir asked if he would agree to the terms of the Yatusu and Batsu? Appoint Yatusu leaders to key positions in the government, and allow the Batsu to form a principality in the east. Hembila nodded slowly.

“Yes,” he said. “I would do such things if I were king. They are small prices to pay, and if the Yatusu are as successful as their reputation holds, then it would be foolish not to give them the appropriate offices to maintain. But my brother, he will not see it so easily.”

“Come with me then,” Salisir said. “Come see the Yatusu for yourself, see that they are noble and wise. Then perhaps your brother will come to see reason if you vouch for their leaders.”

Hembila thought on that for a moment before agreeing. “My brother will expect me back sooner.”

“I have messengers waiting for us with Nienatara,” Salisir said. “I’ll send them on to let your brother know you’re continuing with us, and to plead for him to mobilize his troops. You can see our time grows short. With displays of power like that, it’s only a matter of time before things escalate beyond our ability to contend.”

“I can see that,” Hembila agreed. “But how will you get the rest to mobilize?”

“We will have to tell them what they want to hear.” Salisir’s eyes never broke contact with Hembila’s. “You will have to tell them what they want to hear, Hembila.”

After a long breathless pause, Hembila slowly nodded again. Salisir’s plan has hinged on this man lying for him, making promises he cannot keep, and I’m afraid it may truly be the only way. I wonder if Hembila would ever have agreed to this without seeing the blood rituals over the Nanten River. How convoluted are Salisir’s plans? They cannot be riding such a thin edge as this. What if Hembila had never joined us as our escort?


Dionus brought up the fact that Wudan would make an ultimate sacrifice, of sorts. He asked what would happen if that came to pass. Salisir simply said “Chaos.”

I told Dionus that the Tetrarch teach if a Prince or Daemon can sacrifice enough Pures, or just the right one, it can ascend into something akin to the Dread Gods of old. As powerful as Infiri, and not hindered by the limitations of the flesh that Inifra brings to her incarnation. I told him I had read such things but never believed them. Before yesterday, I had only read of parade sacrifices and never believed them possible either.

Wudan aside, I said, we don’t know how close this Prince is to unlocking his own ascension or that of his master. It could be weeks, it could be hours. All I saw yesterday amounted to my worst nightmares manifesting in broad daylight. If we don’t move against the Daedra soon, we may never again have the strength.

Share on Pinterest