This is the last in a series of journals written by a young Teir’Dal soldier during the War of Fay.
The Teir’Dal are often considered deceitful and conceited. The perspective of this young diarist provides a different insight into the thoughts of at least one of them during the War of Fay.
Days pass and still the illusions hold. I venture into Felwithe alone, using my stealthy skills to pick pockets or obtain goods which the Cantor and I barter for our room and board. When training for war, this is something never mentioned — the ennui of waiting. And then finally: the battle draws nearer. Our time is upon us.
The Cantor and I have lived for many months under the cover of her illusions; to all others, we appear as Koada’Dal. On this day, we will provide entry into Felwithe for the Teir’Dal units. On this day, we will provide entry into Felwithe for the Teir’Dal units. The Cantor and I know our tasks, though it seems she is enjoying her liaisons much more than I am. If I never have to entertain another stinking Koada’Dal guard again it shall be too soon.
The guards greet us warmly, barely glancing at the gate. The Cantor and I approach and I sense rather than see teh change flicker across her pale features. These men will die and she sees it. I have felt her reaction now so often that I know it instinctively. She smiles coyly at the guard she has been seeing and I slip in behind him to slit his throat. The other guard stares at us, shocked and unable to speak. He meets the same fate.
We open the smaller door beside the gate and in slip the Teir’Dal. The Cantor has released us from the illusion so that we look like them — like ourselves. We head deeper into the city, a thin dark stream of elves followed closely by ogres and trolls, slaying all those who oppose us. The Cantor steers me by the quickest route to the home of the king.
This happens so quickly, the guards fall and we surround the king. I search his face for traces of fear and find none. This satisfies me; I do not like to kill cowards. The Cantor looks from the king to me and back again. She whispers to me, “He does not die this day.” Nodding, I bind his hands with the Cantor’s belt. She has given it the illusion of heavy chains and the king sags from the imaginary weight.
On my watches, I look at Tearis’Thex intently, wondering how it must feel to look one’s death in the face. In theory, all soldiers face their deaths daily in war, but I wonder whether a king would feel the same thrill coursing through his veins. I stare at him so long I draw his gaze, but I do not turn away. He may be king, but in him I now sense the heart of a warrior. He deserves to look into my eyes before I perform the task for which I trained.
Dozens of ogres built the stage upon which the execution will take place. Many times I see the Koada’Dal captives below raise their faces toward this room in which we keep Tearis’Thex. I do not know for what they are hoping. Perhaps that he will spring from the window in the shape of a dragon and escape? The Cantor taps my shoulder and nods toward the king. “It is today,” she says simply.
She removed the ruby and pearl rope from the king’s hands and one of the Teir’Dal guards grasps his shoulder to propel him towards the stairs. From the corner of my eye I sense movement and instinctively react. No one will kill Tearis’Thex in the privacy of a narrow room; his death will be seen by all. Then I realize it is the king who holds the knife. He thrusts.
The Cantor reaches for my hand and grips it, pulling me off-balance onto my short leg. I stagger slightly against her and she grins at me, leaning forward to kiss my forehead. With a slightly puzzled look on her face, she slides to the floor still holding my hand. She says, “It is today.” I stare at the Cantor, realizing her rope of rubies is mixed with a pool of blood. She leans against the wall; it is the wall from my dream.
“Take him down,” I snap at the guard. The king’s knife still protrudes from the Cantor’s robe and I reach for it.
She rests her hand on mine and says indistinctly, “My name… my name…”
“You will not die,” I say, willing for it to be true.
“My name…” she says wistfully, “…I do not remember my name.” She stares blankly ahead, her hand limp and cold.
I kiss her forehead and close her eyes. I say to her, “Your name is Death.”