Overlord Jebus

The Tragedy of Thaylen Field

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Apologies for how long this took to get out, I normally wait until I finish the chapter after the one that needs posting so that I can clear my head for when I do a revision. I've been really struggling with Chapter Five so I just never got around to posting Chapter Four. It's been done for ages. I apologise.

Anyway, enjoy....

 

Chapter Four: Herald of War

Spoiler


“Run, he’s coming.”

Ash supported Taln, one arm over her shoulder. His moment of lucidity had passed quickly. His last words a warning. Around them, soldiers in green clashed with Thaylen troops. Looking up towards the city, the Oathgate seemed very far away.

Moving away from the troops, Ash carried the much larger man with relative ease.

Nearby, a building collapsed.

What could have done that? Ash thought. She hurried around a corner, heading down a long wide road that headed east. Taln seemed to be walking under his own weight again so she unhooked his arm and started pulling him by the hand.

What a gift you gave them! he’d said. Time to recover, for once, between Desolations. Time to progress...

Oh, Taln. Couldn’t he have just hated her? Couldn’t he have let her—

A great guttural scream sounded from the area they had just come from. Ash felt Odium’s power nearby, like a pressure building in her skull. A feeling that she hadn’t felt for a long time. A terrifying feeling.

No... No, he won’t get us, I won’t let him, thought Ash as she started running down the street, pulling Taln behind her. He whimpered and wept but managed to keep his feet beneath him as they fled.

Ash looked behind her. Something flew around the corner onto the street they were on. It struck a nearby building, coming to a stop there.

A man in Shardplate. 

One of the Thaylen Shardbearers, Ash thought.

Then something else stepped around the corner. A hulking brute wearing what looked like midnight black Shardplate, its form swirling with Voidlight. In one hand, it held a shining Shardblade of gold and white. The thing sucked in the light around it.

Ash had no idea what it was. 

They had spent thousands of years fighting Odium’s forces. Fighting, killing, being tortured by. She knew each and every one of the spren that Odium could bring to bear against them, some of them even by name.

Odium was doing something different this time. First the new storm, now this. This was new. This was terrifying. 

The Thaylen Shardbearer had made his way to his feet, standing uncertainly as his opponent approached. He appeared to be unarmed.

When the creature in black Shardplate got close, the Thaylen went in for a strike, lunging forward with a punch aimed at the head. With blinding speed, the black Shardbearer dismissed his Blade, dodged the attack, grabbed the outstretched arm and smashed it against his rising knee. The Thaylens Plate did not break, but the elbow joint bent backwards, surely breaking the arm inside.

Without hesitating, the brute continued it’s attack. Smashing a gauntleted fist against the Thaylen helm, he let go of the man’s broken arm, letting him fall the ground.

Summoning the golden white Shardblade, the monster raised it above its head and smashed it down on the breastplate of the Thaylen in a devastating two handed blow. It repeated the motion, bring the Shardblade down a second time, this time shattering the Thaylen’s breastplate. In one quick movement, it spun the Shardblade around, aiming it down and driving the point into the Thaylen’s exposed chest.

The Plate immediately began to fall apart around it’s dead owner. 

Ash looked up from the dying man at the beast that had killed him. 

The midnight black helm shifted. It was no longer looking at the Shardbearer.

It was looking directly at Ash.

It began charging in their direction.

Ash did what she’d learnt to do for those thousand years. She turned and ran.

Pulling on Taln, she stumbled. 

She pulled again, but Taln stood unmoved.

Ash turned upon her fellow Herald.

Taln stood, his shoulders squared, his face turned towards Odium’s newest creation. Standing with his back straight, he towered over her. The man who stood before her now was not the shell who had cowered as soldier ran by, nor was he the man who had wept with joy when he had discovered their betrayal. No, what stood before her was Talenel, Herald of War, The Stonesinew.

“Taln, we have to go,” Said Ash, once again pulling on his arm.

She could barely move Taln’s arm, his muscles were taut. Naked from the waist up, Ash realised no piece of art could depict Taln in anything close to what he truly was. Taln turned to look at her.

“Go, Ash. Gather the others. Only together can we face the enemy. Go,” Taln smiled, in that infuriating way he smiled when he thought he was being clever, “Unite them.”

Ash didn’t think, she just ran.

She only took a few steps down the street before the goliath in Shardplate reached Taln. Turning, she saw it swing it’s huge golden Shardblade down at him. It glowed a terrible violet light.

Oh God, that thing is fast.

Taln tensed and ducked to the left. He placed his right hand on the flat of the blade as it came down, redirecting it from him. As the Blade cut into the stone beneath them, Taln twisted to the right, punching his foe in the side with his left hand with enough force that it caused the thing to stumble. Taln’s hand shattered into a bloody ruin.

Turning on Taln, the thing swept up with it’s Shardblade, Taln spinning out of reach, the Blade barely missing him.

Ash saw Taln glow slightly and his hand began to reknit. 

How...

Another swing, another redirect. The creature grew darker as it drew more light in around it. Taln began to glow stronger. Another punch to the breastplate, the creature swung one handed and Taln slapped the blade away. 

Ash stopped running.

Ever since Tanavast’s death, Ash had only felt the powers gifted upon her intermittently. Sometimes in times of need, sometimes at random. They came and went, sometimes all at once, sometimes just healing, or luck.

She watched as Honor’s power whirled around Taln, like nothing she’d seen in the past four and a half thousand years...

Where has this come from? Could it be? Stomfather!

Taln shone, grabbing the wrist of the bladearm he had just sent cutting into the ground. Before his foe could react, Taln delivered three blows in quick succession before jumping back as the creature’s other hand went to grab for him.

Ash saw from where she stood a few metres away. The forearm of the Shardplate had actually split. A spiderweb crack had formed where Taln had struck it. 

Taln wasn’t done though. Ash watched as he threw Stormlight at the ground where his foe’s Shardblade had stuck. It shifted, moving like mud, drawing the Blade and arm downwards. When the creature tried to pull it free, the stone came with it, pulling up with the blade, unwilling to let it go. 

Taln ran at the creature, leapt and delivered a kick with both feet against the cracked gauntlet. The cracks widened and spread, leaking dark light. Taln was launched backwards, his legs splintered and broken. But before he landed, they reknit, bones disappearing back into flesh that pulled itself back together.

Glowing with dark light, the creature threw Voidlight at the stone that held it’s Blade. The liquid stone exploded away from the Blade, trailing wisps of both Void and Stormlight. 

Shielding herself from the shower of stones, Ash quickly looked away. When she looked back, she gasped.

Taln stood a few feet away from the armored brute. His skin was ablaze with Stormlight. He stood with one foot in front of the other, knees bent, muscles taut. In his hands, raised to shoulder height with the point aimed directly at his opponent, was a huge spike-like Shardblade.

Taln had summoned his Honorblade.

 

-----

 

Taln felt the weight of his Blade in his hands. It was a good weight, a familiar weight. So much had changed since he’d left. Yet so much was still the same.

Kalak will teach you to cast bronze, if you have forgotten this.

The words, the words still rang in his mind. His body moved, fighting a foe. One of Odium’s minions, It didn’t matter.

Taln stood in a stance of old. His body remembered it even if his mind couldn’t recall it. He remembered it was his though. He’d created for use with his own, uniquely shaped Blade.

His foe came at him again. 

We will Soulcast blocks of metal directly for you.

The beast swung wildly at him. His arms moved on their own. Taking a step forward, Taln used the shape of his Blade to direct his opponent’s strike away from him whilst simultaneously driving the point of his Blade into the cracked gauntlet. He could see the cracks receding and had no intention on letting them fade completely. He felt the force of the blow shake his arms. Were it not for Honor’s power flowing through him, it would have shattered his bones.

Your stone tools will not serve against what is to come.

Now it was the beast’s turn to defend. Taln pressed the attack. He leapt to his opponent’s side and drove the point of his Blade down, striking the breast plate. The force of the blow caused the beast to stumble. It turned on Taln, swiping it’s Blade up, parrying another strike that Taln had aimed for the helm. Taln spun with the momentum of the parry and then used it to power his next strike, once again against his opponent’s gauntlet.

Vedel can train your surgeons, and Jezrien will teach you leadership.

The beast punched Taln’s blade away. The force of it surprised Taln but he held his footing. To his surprise, his opponent took a step back, away from Taln. 

Before Taln could bring his Blade up for another blow, the beast turned side on to him, one foot forward, Blade held before it, tip pointed at the sky.

A part of Taln’s mind respected the form of his opponents stance.

 

----

 

It had been so long since Ash had seen any of them hold their Blades. As far as she knew, none of them had in the past four and a half thousand years. To see Taln holding his, it felt like a betrayal.

No, this isn’t the betrayal, we are the ones who betrayed him, he broke no oaths.

Guilt welled up inside of her. Taln had told her to run but how could she leave him again? After so long, after so much. She couldn’t run now.

The two bladesmen launched at each other. Taln furiously attacking with powerful driving thrusts, his foe smashing them away with enormous strength. Taln’s spike-like Blade was always in motion. Every blow parried became momentum into the next thrust. Spinning and diving, Taln gave no ground. The creature wouldn’t let him through it’s defenses though. It battered Talns blows away, sometimes with Blade, sometimes with armor. The two were matched in skill and power but she knew, all it took was one strike from the beast’s Blade and Taln would be undone. She had to help.

 

---

 

I will train your soldiers. We should have time.

Taln landed another hit on the gauntlet. A thrust at the creature’s arm struck home and this time, the tip of his Blade penetrated the Plate. The gauntlet didn’t explode, though it was close. It held fast as an inch of Taln’s blade lodged in the black metal. Taln pulled back but the Blade caught for a moment. The creature’s other gauntleted hand came up and grabbed his Blade. Voidlight rushed down it’s length.

Taln’s legs strained as he felt his own body become heavier. He pulled the Blade back and tried to return to his bladestance but the blade felt so heavy in his arms.

His opponent brought its Blade down and Taln was only just able to bring his own up in defense. Storms, he felt heavy but he could still move.

Another strike came, Taln blocked it again with the side of his Blade. He took a step back. His muscles held strong, struggling to keep him standing. 

The beast left its stance and stood almost casually before him. It swiped lazily at Taln. Taln redirected and blocked as best he could, he even got a few strikes in that clanged 

off the beasts Plate. Plate that had almost entirely sealed up again. Taln had tried but in the end, hadn’t managed to shatter a single piece. 

Taln threw Stormlight at the ground beneath his opponent, molding the ground beneath it, trying to trap it. If only he could keep it away long enough for it’s Lashing to wear off...

 

--

 

Ash watched as the beast continued it’s assault on Taln. Beneath it, the stone seemed to come alive, flowing over its feet. The huge armored feet simply lifted and broke free of the stone. 

She had to help. She had to do something.

And Ash did something she hadn’t done in four and a half thousand years.

It took a moment to react. The Honorblade was far away, on the other side of the Roshar. She reached out, tugging that strand of Connection that linked her to Honor’s gift.

Holding her hand in front of her, a few seconds passed before her blade, black and sinuous, dropped into her hands.

Ash charged towards Taln and the creature.

 

-

 

You have discovered something unexpected. We will use that. Surgebinders to act as guardians... Knights...

Taln felt himself receding. One part of his mind kept him standing. Another screamed for him to move. He watched as Ash ran at the creature from behind. Her Honorblade struck the creature’s back and it spun to face her.

Part of him cried out. He screamed Ash’s name as the beast grabbed Ash’s Blade, wrenched it from her hands and threw it to the side. With a flick of it’s wrist, it bathed her in Voidlight and she fell straight up into the sky.

Taln breathed deep. His lungs burned but he started to feel the Lashing on his body fade.

The coming days will be difficult, but with training, “humanity will survive.”

The last words came unbidden to his lips.

Taln ran at his armored opponent, his muscles screaming with the strain. He leapt, bringing the full force of weight, enhanced by the Lashing that had impeded him, down into a strike against his opponents helm.

The beast caught Taln’s Blade.

Dismissing it’s Blade, it brought it’s other hand up, holding Taln by the head. Something in Taln vanished. He no longer felt the need to fight. He had seen Ash, his love, Lashed into the sky but he felt nothing. He let go of his Blade, it fell to the ground with a clatter of metal on stone.

“I am... Talenal’Elin, Herald of war...” 

It had been so long. Where were the hooks? The flames? The heat?

Taln looked up, the thing in front of him, it was a man. Just a man. Wreathed in black fire and hate. But still just a man.

Tears flowed freely down Taln’s cheeks.

He had to tell him, he had to know

“The time of the Return... the Desolation... is near at hand...” 

The man summoned his white-gold Shardblade and rammed it through Taln’s chest.

Taln opened himself to another death. He had felt it dozens of times before. He welcomed the familiar feeling of transitioning between Realms.

Except this time, he didn’t feel that. He felt something ripping inside of him.

Looking down, he saw black smoke rising from where the Blade had impaled him.

Taln screamed as his life vanished from the Cosmere.

 

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Thanks! This was great!

My one problem, even if odium got Dalinar, wouldn't there be at least some minor victories for the other side?

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Jebus, your Taln fan girl is showing :P 

 

But, wow. Way to give us hope then take it away D:

Edited by LadyLameness
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17 hours ago, Ark1002 said:

Thanks! This was great!

My one problem, even if odium got Dalinar, wouldn't there be at least some minor victories for the other side?

I get what you're saying and I probably could have included a few more nicer moments to contrast the bad. I still let Renarin beat the thunderclast, I couldn't off him without at least giving him that but I will take this into account for the next couple of chapters (It looks like this will only last 2 or 3 more chapters). Thanks for the feedback!

11 hours ago, LadyLameness said:

Jebus, your Taln fan girl is showing :P 

But, wow. Way to give us hope then take it away D:

Yeah, I'm not even going to hide the fact I goddamn love Taln. I would have had him singlehandedly save all of Roshar this chapter but I felt that would have gone against the spirit of this fic. I'm glad I had the desired affect!

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He got Taln! Oh man, right now I'm really hoping Cultivation's the secret mastermind everyone's hoping she is, and has some sort of Hail Mary play waiting to go off...

Edited by Unlicensed Hemalurgist
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Chapter Five: Smoke and Ash

Spoiler


Shallan struggled under the weight of her own body. The Fused had taken her, Pattern, and Syl to the lip of the Oathgate platform, pushed them to their knees then Lashed them downwards. Shallan’s legs burned in the uncomfortable position. The weight of her head pressed her left cheek against the obsidian ground. 

A Fused floated nearby, watching them. A guard, Shallan thought. Every so often, a pair or trio of Fused flew by, patrolling.

Lifting her head slightly, she could just about see the two huge Oathgate spren hovering above the platform at the end of the bridge. Two Fused floated near their heads. Shallan could hear their raised voices but not the words. It sounded like they were having as much trouble with the giant spren as she had.

Pattern kneeled in a similar position as she did, the tips of his ever shifting head making his head rise and fall slightly as it pressed into the ground. Syl was to Shallan’s left, out of sight. Maya stood nearby, she hadn’t moved or fought against the Fused at all. She simply stood where they’d left her.

Small lights floated in the air above the sea of beads. Their number had been steadily growing as they’d waited on the bridge.

Are those people on the other side, gathering at the Oathgate? Shallan thought. 

Storms, her knees and arms ached. She looked at the Fused keeping guard nearby. No reason asking for him to loosen the lashing, she’d probably just end up like Ka—

Shallan’s mind went blank. Her pain faded into the background. Shallan’s breathing slowed. A cold chill ran through her as her mind refused that train of thought.

“Shallan?”

Pattern’s voice broke her from her trance. Shallan was immediately hit by the pain and cramping in her legs and arms. Jolted awake, Shallan pushed out with her legs to straighten them and found herself falling heavily onto her side. She hit the ground and felt something crack. Pain shot up through her chest and her already laboured breathing became immensely painful.

Struggling to breathe, lying on her side, Shallan began to panic. She hadn’t thought about what to do next. 

The Fused were clearly waiting for something, but what? Why were they here, at the edge of the Oathgate platform? Were they expecting something to come through? What if Odium himself turned up?

Shallan looked down towards Pattern. Even though his head had no eyes or even a face, she could tell he was looking at her.

Calm down, Shallan. You can get out of this. Shallan slowed her breathing. The pain made this extremely difficult.

From her new position, she could see a bit more of the surrounding area. From the direction they’d come from, she worked out she was facing east, towards the Thaylen coast.

The thousands of tiny lights bobbed and glowed and flickered. She noticed that some of the distant lights had turned red. She watched as one she had been watching switched to red and began moving erratically. The redness of the lights was like a wave washing over a shore. Beneath them, the sea of beads rolled, clicking and clacking like some warped imitation of the ocean.

Except one section. A small section, a little ways off, seemed to be holding solid among the waves, like something large waiting just beneath the beads.

The lump began to move towards the bridge. Shallan’s mind went back to the enormous hand they’d seen beneath the Kholinar Oathgate. What if it was another huge spren? If it wanted to come along and smash away all these Fused away, that would certainly be helpful.

It appeared the guard watching them didn’t notice the anomaly in the beads, nor did the flying patrol. 

Storms, her body hurt. The Fused looked at them, from one to the other to the other, then turned back to watching its compatriots by the Oathgate spren. It hadn’t heard Pattern whisper to Shallan. 

The lump in the beads stopped just before the lip of the bridge and settled. 

Shallan held her breath for a moment, trying to concentrate on the current events without the pain in her ribs distracting her.

A woman strode out of the beads, followed by a spren.

Jasnah Kholin managed to look imposing even when covered in dust. In fact, wild hair and filthy clothes made her look positively terrifying.

“Excuse me,” Jasnah said to the Fused waiting nearby. He hadn’t noticed her emergence from the beads.

As the Fused turned towards the Jasnah, she threw a bead in a slow arc towards it. The Fused, not realising what was happening, caught the bead. Its eyes grew wide in shock and the Fused began to scream.

“Come child,” Jasnah said, reaching Shallan, “We need to go, now.

She grabbed Shallan by the arm and went to lift her up. Shallan was lifted slightly but she was much heavier than Jasnah had anticipated. Jasnah fumbled and Shallan side screamed in pain as she hit the ground again. Shallan gritted her teeth against the pain and tried to tell her about the Lashing.

Jasnah had caught on though, she kneeled down and picked Shallan up, placing an arm over her shoulders. Shallan watched as Ivory helped Pattern up. Once Pattern was standing, he went to help Syl. He seemed almost hesitant to touch her. She didn’t fight back when Ivory picked her up, but she didn’t help either. Maya simply continued to stand nearby.

Jasnah began towards the other edge of the bridge. The Fused standing guard was still screaming, his hands clenched around the sphere he’d caught. Shallan’s legs faltered as she began to walk but Jasnah kept her upright.

“What,” Shallan said, her breath heavy, “did you... throw at him?”

“I’ll tell you later,” Jasnah said, eyes forward, “There are things these beads can be used for. I’ll have to teach you them... I should have taught you them,” This last comment Jasnah said quietly, “Now quickly, we need to move.”

Jasnah began simply dragging Shallan, Shallan’s legs refusing to move at the speed Jasnah needed them to. They didn’t have time, the Fused by the Oathgate spren must have heard the guard straight away. They’d be there any second, they needed to—

A Fused drifted down from above them, standing between the two Radiants and the sea of beads.


---


Jasnah stopped moving. The Fused hung in the air before her. Trails of dark light coiled off its body. 

Move, Jasnah! Her mind called to her. She tried to turn away from the Fused but a second Fused barred her path down the bridge. 

“An Elsecaller!” the first Fused said, cackling in delight as it raised its long spear to indicate her and then Ivory. He stood behind her, helping the Honorspren. Pattern was struggling but seemed able to move on his own. Shallan groaned, her weight heavy on Jasnah’s shoulder.

“Why isn’t she transitioning?” Said the other Fused, the one barring their way to the bridge. A woman, she spoke with far more calm than the other. She floated towards Jasnah.

Jasnah took a step back, towards the Oathgate. She looked to the guard she’d distracted. It seemed to be just whimpering now, holding the bead as if it were the most precious object in the world.

No, too far, I can’t go back that way! Jasnah turned back to the approaching female Fused.

Jasnah took another step back, her heel hitting the step of the Oathgate platform. She was so close now, Jasnah should have been able to feel breath on her face. Strangely, it didn’t appear to be breathing. Why was that?

Stop analysing! Get out of here!

The Fused abruptly moved backwards. Bringing it’s long spear to bear, it thrust out towards Jasnah.

Jasnah’s arm came up too slow to do anything. She felt pain blossom in her chest as the spearpoint sliced into her, splitting skin and striking bone. The point pulled out immediately, the pain of exit worse than the pain of entry.

Jasnah cried out and fell backwards. She dropped Shallan heavily and the girl let out a cry as she hit the Oathgate platform. 

Holding her chest, she felt the blood seeping into her dress. The wound wasn’t deep, she’d quite literally survived worse than this. But she’d had Stormlight then, and it still hurt. 

“No Stormlight,” said the female Fused, looking at Jasnah impassively. The other Fused found this hilarious, grabbing its stomach and beginning to slowly roll in the air.

Jasnah turned to see Ivory help Pattern and Syl onto the Oathgate platform before resting them down on the ground.

Jasnah pushed with her feet to move away from the Fused.

Stormlight! I need Stormlight! Jasnah’s mind raced as she searched the area, I will not let someone else die when I can do something about it!

Jasnah gritted her teeth. Did Shallan have any spheres on her? Why was she here in the first place? Had she Oathgated somehow?

Jasnah looked up at the two huge spren behind her, knowing they wouldn’t be of any help. A deadeye stood on the bridge nearby, not seeming to have noticed what was happening. The Fused hadn’t even bothered to Lash it.

Above them, Jasnah saw the trio of Fused that had been patrolling the skies. They weren’t patrolling anymore. They were flying right towards her.

They seemed to be... waving their arms. Jasnah could just about hear their shouts.

The female Fused edged closer, looking at Jasnah then turning to look at the approaching group.

They seemed desperate, waving frantically and racing towards them. Jasnah backed away a little further.

Shadows shifted, there was a light coming from above them. She heard the massive Oathgate spren shift. Looking up, Jasnah realised what the Fused were shouting about.

A bright white light had appeared above the Oathgate. It grew forming a swirling cloud. Before she could say a word, the light exploded, covering the whole platform.


--


Ash awoke to a cold sky. Shortly after being Lashed upwards, she had felt something torn from within her. A piece of her soul had been ripped away and the hole it left felt cold and dark. She had passed out from the pain of its excision. She was aware of what had been taken. 

Taln. She no longer felt his presence. His pain, his love, his resolve. More than any other, Taln had been the unshakable presence inside all of them, always there, always resolute.

But now, gone.

Ash was still rising into the air though she had slowed greatly, the Voidlight keeping her aloft running low. She rotated and looked down at the city beneath her, cradled by the mountains around it.

Thaylen City was burning. 

A vast firestorm was consuming the Wards. Through the smoke, Ash saw the insidious presence of Nergaoul spread out over the grand capital. The sight horrified her. She had never seen it so fully manifested in the physical realm. They’d all seen its effects, what it could make people do. Turn soldier against soldier, brother on brother. Ash’s mind reeled at the thought of what horrors it must be putting the city through. 

She watched as one of the grandest monuments to human civilization, a Dawncity, tore itself apart, man by man, building by building. Part of her was glad she wasn’t in the streets, wasn’t forced to partake in the bloodbath that was killing the city.

So this is how it ends? Ash thought, Odium never needed to kill us after all, he just needed to find a way to get us to kill each other.

Smoke and ash swirled around her. The city would burn for days.

Below, a dark shape rose from the burning city towards her.

The Voidlight surrounding her ran out.

Ash fell from the sky, towards the rising figure in voidblack Shardplate.


-


Jasnah was blinded for a moment before the light around her faded. The wound in her chest continued to bleed and ache. Her fingertips had begun to go cold and numb. Her mind fuzzy, she looked around in confusion. In front of her, behind the female Fused that still hung in the air, the landscape of Shadesmar appeared to have been replaced by... a wall?

Around her, she found herself in a small open area ringed by well manicured plants and stones statues. Jasnah knew this place. They’d somehow transitioned onto the Thaylen City Oathgate platform.

The Fused turned to look at Jasnah. Then it looked up, over her head.

“Oh,” was all the Fused could say before something big, bright and blue slammed into it. No, not just bright, Radiant.

The Fused was slammed into the wall behind it, a huge Shardblade pinning it in place. Its dark glow faded and the head fell limp. The Shardbearer, clad in a Kholin blue uniform, removed the Blade and turned on Jasnah.

The insignia on the man’s shoulder made it clear who her saviour had been.

Looking around, she found herself suddenly surrounded by the members of Bridge Four. 

The Windrunners.

“Get some Stormlight over here!” Said the Windrunner as he dropped to the ground. Jasnah tried to remember the man’s name. “Your highness, what’s happening? How are you here, why weren’t you swapped and sent to Urithiru?”

“Not now,” Jasnah said weakly, “The girl.” Jasnah waved a hand towards Shallan who lay nearby.

The bridgeman moved quickly, bringing spheres bright with Stormlight to the women.

This was unlikely, Ivory whispered into her mind, I am glad they are here.

Jasnah drank in the Stormlight and her chest wound quickly sealed. 

“And you are?” she asked the Windrunner, her exhaustion evaporating.

“Sergeant Teft, your highness. There was an attack on Urithiru. We repelled it and came straight here, fearing the worst,” Teft replied, dismissing his Blade. He signaled to some soldiers behind Jasnah, pointing towards a group of Fused that hung in the air before the Oathgate. Jasnah watched them take off towards them. Since when had the bridgemen counted women amongst their ranks?

“Leave us for a moment, please.” Jasnah said, dismissing the bridgemen. Teft made a noise as if to disagree but quickly changed his mind. The sergeant took off towards the aerial battle whilst others in the group moved towards the entrance of the Oathgate platform. The people outside would want to leave soon and they’d need someone to organise them.

The moment of rest this gave Jasnah allowed a wave of emotion to strike. Still clutching her chest, Jasnah tried to focus on the situation at hand.

“We need to...” she said, too quiet for anyone to hear. An image of Renarin, standing before the thunderclast, interrupted her thoughts.

“There’s a...”

A burst of black smoke.

Jasnah swallowed a lump in her throat.

“The city...”

Her father, lying in a broken pile of wood and Shardplate.

“I...”

Jasnah, we must save the city, said Ivory.

“I know.” Tears fell onto the stone beneath her.

The bridgemen have a new Windrunner. They will help.

I know!” Jasnah hissed through clenched teeth.

Fingers of chaos clawed at her mind. A panic that brought flashes of a dark room, of captivity.

“Jasnah?” She heard Shallan say. Her spren moved along the floor and stopped just before Jasnah. Ivory manifested too, rising from the ground like a carved figurine dipped in ink. 

Shallan, oh Shallan. If Jasnah was to save anyone today, it would be her. She needed to save her.

“This might be it, Shallan,” Jasnah said, rising. She looked down at her ward. She went to wipe her face clean but her safehand just came back caked in dust and grime.

“I do not know what has happened to my mother or uncle and... Renarin is gone.”

She said, meeting Shallan’s eyes. 

Shallan leapt at Jasnah, throwing her arms around her. The act surprised Jasnah, as it always had.

Jasnah lowered her arms around Shallan, patting her gently, giving her a moment. Shallan didn’t seem to be letting go. Her breaths were hard and fast against Jasnah’s chest. The poor girl was going to hyperventilate if she carried on.

“Shallan, we know the fate of Kholinar. Are the rest of the group...”

Shallan nodded against Jasnah. 

Jasnah took a deep breath in, then out.

She moved Shallan firmly away, holding her by the shoulders.

“Shallan, we can discuss this more later, we need to find my uncle and get as many people out of this city. We cannot let our grief stop us from doing what we need to. We are Radiant. We have already mourned what we lost in Kholinar. Let us not lose anymore.” She locked her face in a stern stare, projecting a confidence she didn’t quite feel.

Shallan didn’t look convinced.

“Jasnah, they didn’t...” Shallan said, swallowing hard.

“Excuse me, Brightnesses, little gods,” came a thick Horneater voice from behind.

Jasnah turned to see the huge bridgeman behind her. Storms, she wasn’t used to looking up at people. He had bowed his head and was making some sort of sign of respect. When he looked up, the Horneater’s face was grave.

“There is something you need to see. Come,” he said. Jasnah noted his lack of etiquette but given the circumstances, she appreciated the curtness.

“Shallan, I want you to stay here and operate the Oathgate, let the Windrunners do what they can for the city. I will try to find out more.”

Shallan glanced nervously at the Oathgate control building at the centre of the platform.

“That didn’t go too well last time I tried it...” She said, looking at the ground.

Jasnah raised an eyebrow but turned and followed the Bridge Four soldier to the entrance, Shallan a short distance behind.

Very quickly, Jasnah noticed something was very wrong. The sky above was thick with black smoke. The stench of it filled the air.

She could see over the wall of the gardens that the stone buildings of the Royal Ward weren’t ablaze, but through the clouds of smoke, a red mist seemed to coat everything. It hung in the air, thick and evermoving. It seemed almost alive.

A weight dropped in Jasnah’s stomach as she reached the entranceway. 

Above, she watched as Windrunner squires clashed with Fused. Dark purple streaks weaved in and out lines of bright blue. 

Below, in the promenade leading to the Oathgate, another battle was being fought.

The street was filled with people. 

And they were killing each other.

The mass of people below, awaiting evacuation via Oathgate, seemed to have collectively lost control of themselves. Groups brawled, fist to fist. Some just held their heads screaming. Children cowered near the ground, crying for missing parents. Men and women clawed and punched and kicked. 

Jasnah was frozen in place. She watched as bridgemen pushed through the crowd, trying to break up fist fights and finding themselves set upon by those they were trying to save. The soldiers were able to keep the civilians at bay and were mostly successful in separating the most violent groups. 

But there was so many people in the streets and Bridge Four only numbered a few dozen.

Jasnah had read on this. Hessi had spoken of the influence of Nergaoul, the battle lust it could drive soldiers to. She had no idea it was capable of such unfiltered carnage.

Focusing on just the people immediately in front of the Oathgate, she saw those that had been separated by Bridge Four seemed to have calmed down. Dozens sat or just stood about, eyes glazed over, rocking or hugging themselves.

“Squire, what of your Radiant, has the captain returned?” Said Jasnah.

“Not yet, your highness, Teft swore Oaths when Urithiru was attacked. Our abilities returned and we fought back. Now we are here. Kaladin has not yet returned,” the Horneater replied.

Shallan said something from behind them.

They turned to her.

“Kaladin’s dead, Rock. He’s not coming back,” Shallan said, a little louder.

Rock let out a short chuckle.

“Kaladin has died many times, little one. He will be back. Until then,” Rock indicated towards the sky, “we will carry this bridge without him, leaving room for when he comes back to us.”

Jasnah stared at the bridgeman. Shallan’s mouth was hanging open and she seemed to have lost what little colour she had left in her face.

“In that case, soldier, get as many people as you can onto the Oathgate without anymore brawls breaking out. I believe they are in a trance of sorts and seem to come to their senses when interrupted,” Jasnah said, glancing at the mad, the guilty, the grieving. “Shallan, you help where you can and get those people to Urithiru as quick as possible, then return for the next load,”

Jasnah took a moment to put her next words together.

“And both of you, let the bridgemen know. The assassin in white is back. He killed Renarin and he almost killed me. Don’t let your guard down. And Shallan, if you see him, go back to Urithiru. Do not wait here.”

They both looked at Jasnah. Shallan looked shocked, Rock resolute.

“And you?” asked the bridgeman.

“I’m going to find what’s left of my family,” Jasnah said. 

Stormlight thrumming through her veins, Jasnah summoned her Shardplate and made her way down into the city.

Big thank you's to @Alyssum314 and @ladymxdnight for helping with this chapter!

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Thanks a lot for this! And I really like the bit with Rock saying Kaladin would be back. This is probably the most masterful one so far.

Also, how did they help with the chapter?

Hey, @Ooklalord Jebus, any interest in joining a writer's guild? Cause I think you'd fit right in.

Edited by Ookla the Ookla
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5 hours ago, Ookla the Ookla said:

Thanks a lot for this! And I really like the bit with Rock saying Kaladin would be back. This is probably the most masterful one so far.

Also, how did they help with the chapter?

Hey, @Ooklalord Jebus, any interest in joining a writer's guild? Cause I think you'd fit right in.

Glad you liked it!

Alyssum helped me a lot with grammer and capitlisation (I'm really bad at remembering 's and punctuation around speech marks, they're good at them). Ladymxdnight helped with the plotting and pacing of a lot of it. For example, I originally had them appear inside the Oathgate building until Lady pointed out that the platform is a wide open space that, in Thaylen City, had been converted into a statue garden so I had to rewrite that whole section.

And I've never thought about it really. This is my first time writing something this long and complex. Most of my writing projects never break 5k (Tragedy is now up to 13k).

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WOW! This is so good!

But how dare you do this to me? *cries*

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21 minutes ago, Ooklalord Jebus said:

Glad you liked it!

Alyssum helped me a lot with grammer and capitlisation (I'm really bad at remember 's and punctuation around speech marks, she's good at them). Ladymxdnight helped with the plotting and pacing of a lot of it. For example, I originally had them appear inside the Oathgate building until Lady pointed out that the platform is a wide open space that, in Thaylen City, had been converted into a statue garden so I had to rewrite that whole section.

And I've never thought about it really. This is my first time writing something this long and complex. Most of my writing projects never break 5k (Tragedy is now up to 13k).

So, Do you want to join?

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Happy to help, Jebus! I really enjoyed this chapter. It's so interesting to see this exploration of how things could have gone (though admittedly, I am very displeased by Taln's and Renarin's deaths). Eager to see what's next for Jasnah and Ash since right now I'm anxious for their safety. Also, Szeth

EDIT: I still have hope for Ash okay, you can't murderate two Heralds even if you're psycho!Dalinar

Edited by ladymxdnight
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23 minutes ago, ladymxdnight said:

you can't murderate two Heralds even if you're psycho!Dalinar

But you can if you're me. Read the Sanderson elimination. I did kill two Heralds.

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On 29/11/2018 at 6:45 PM, Ookla the Drunk said:

So, Do you want to join?

Oh I didn't realise I was being propositioned for a specific guild! Maybe some other time :D

On 29/11/2018 at 10:47 PM, ladymxdnight said:

Happy to help, Jebus! I really enjoyed this chapter. It's so interesting to see this exploration of how things could have gone (though admittedly, I am very displeased by Taln's and Renarin's deaths). Eager to see what's next for Jasnah and Ash since right now I'm anxious for their safety. Also, Szeth

EDIT: I still have hope for Ash okay, you can't murderate two Heralds even if you're psycho!Dalinar

If I was you, I'd be worried for everyones safety.

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On 11/29/2018 at 11:11 PM, Ookla the Dragon Reborn said:

But you can if you're me. Read the Sanderson elimination. I did kill two Heralds.

gasp you monsteR

21 hours ago, Ooklalord Jebus said:

If I was you'd, I'd be worried for everyones safety.

bUT you've killed everyone else that matters to me! (well, maybe i'm a bit worried for Shallan, too...)

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On 11/29/2018 at 8:48 AM, Ooklalord Jebus said:

Ash fell from the sky,

Well done, Jebus. Well done.

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On 12/3/2018 at 8:18 AM, Ooklalord Jebus said:

Oh I didn't realise I was being propositioned for a specific guild! Maybe some other time :D

On 11/29/2018 at 2:47 PM, ladymxdnight said:

Is a guild for writing... we just discuss writing, less a guild then a group talking about our works... but okay.

Also, hope you don't mind, but I completely stole your idea and I'm writing a story of if Ruin won.

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This is heartbreaking and blasphemous. Well written though, nearly impossible to put down. The contradiction is nearly as troubling as the story is. Looking forward to the conclusions.

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I haven’t finished reading this yet, but it’s storming amazing. @Overlord Jebus You’re evil and amazing. I love it.

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Chapter Six: I'm Sorry

Spoiler

Lunamor guided a pair of Thaylens through the garden. 

Shallan and Bridge Four had been sending people his way and it was up to him and Huio to make sure they had a place to go. There was plenty of room in the statue garden that sat upon the Thaylen Oathgate platform, lots of seating for the evacuees. 

Most sat where he placed them, some just wanted to stand about.

These people were broken. Something had infested their minds and caused them to act in ways no civilised person would. Lunamor could help them up here, on the platform. He couldn’t face the carpet of corpses that lay at the front of the Oathgate.

At least the Fused were leaving them alone for now. They’d chased off the group that were holding guard over the Oathgate and so far they’d not returned. Though smoke blocked them from seeing too far into the city, they could still make out the dark shapes moving through the air. There was no doubt they’d be regrouping.

“Here you go,” Lunamor said to the man and woman as he set them down on a bench. The man simply stared at the ground, clothes torn and bloody. The woman simply held her hands over her face. She had been that way since she’d entered the garden.

So much death, he thought, So much pain. He wished he could stay. Comfort these people more. But he didn’t know what he would say, even if he had the time.

Standing, Lunamor moved to make his way back to the entrance to help the next group of people.

He stopped before leaving this section of garden. Nearby, he noticed a faint glow from behind a nearby statue, like someone had left a diamond chip behind it. The statue itself depicted a soldier, a spearman, thrusting his weapon high, a rippling stone cloth wrapped around the spearhead, frozen in the wind.

Making his way over to the statue, Lunamor peaked around the stone base.

The source of the light lay curled in a tiny ball on the ground. 

Oh no, he thought. A heavy weight sank to the bottom of his gut.

Lunamor squatted and scooped the tiny person up into his hands. They didn’t weigh a thing. It felt like he was holding a leaf, ready at any moment to be swept away in a gust of wind.

“Hello, little god,” He said.

Syl stirred, her head was buried in her knees, her arms pulling them close. She didn’t reply.

Lunamor felt a swelling in his chest. There’d only be one reason for her to be here alone. 

He made a one handed gesture of grief and respect. “Oh, mafah’liki...” he said.

“So much is wrong,” Syl said, barely a whisper, “so much is out of place,” 

Her dim light faded further, pulling herself closer. “I don’t know what to do, where to go, who I am...” She trailed off.

“It is okay, mafah'liki, you are here now. You are exactly where you need to be,” he said, looking down at her. Tears fell around her onto his massive palms.

Syl looked up at him, at the smile across his face. Her form seemed to solidify a little.

“Rock, it’s too late, I couldn’t help when... when he needed me most.” Syl said.

Lunamor shook his head. “No,” he said, wiping his eyes “We can carry on. You are here, little one. Your journey continues. Kaladin taught us...”

Lunamor swallowed.

“He taught us that we can carry on, even when we think we cannot. What matters is not where or when our journey ends. What matters is what we do on our way there.”

Syl smiled, understanding. “Journey before destination.” She said.

“Journey before destination, little god.” Lunamor replied.

He felt something stir within him. He knew exactly what to say next.

The words flowed out of him in the Unkalaki tongue, as if they had always been there and he was finally setting them free.

“Come now little god, we must go protect those that cannot protect themselves.”

A burst of light exploded around them.


-----------


Jasnah ran through the swirling red and black smoke that filled the city. Embers fell lazily around her. Stormlight thrummed within her, keeping her legs moving, her heart pumping. It was a heady feel, Jasnah wasn’t one to partake in the vices of life but she imagined Stormlight was as close as she was going to get.

Jasnah, to the left, Ivory said as they approached a junction.

Jasnah turned to see soldiers in the colors of Thaylen City in the throes of madness. This wasn’t the first group she’d come across. The streets had opened up again as she left the Royal Ward, becoming more vacant. Bodies still littered the streets, though there seemed to be less active fighting down here. At least, from the civilians.

There were half a dozen of the soldiers. Two of them stalked down the road, watching for people whilst another pair kicked in doors and pulled storm shutters from their housings. The final two were laying into a corpse with their swords. There wasn’t much left of the body but that didn’t seem to matter.

The two watching the street noticed Jasnah with shouts. All six ran at her. 

She was surprised the first time a handful of soldiers had charged her. She’d heard stories of battles with full Shardbearers involved. The civilians seemed to realise they shouldn’t attack but the soldiers, they seemed to truly hate seeing her.

By now, she’d learned how to deal with them.

Walking down the street, Jasnah waited until the soldiers were upon her. The first two had spears lowered. Filled with Stormlight, strengthened by her Plate, Jasnah simply grabbed the two spears and yanked them hard. As she did, she imbued the spear with a small amount of Stormlight. She Soulcast the whole entity into wood. Not just the spear, but the whole soldier. The idea of a spearman. The hafts already being wood made it easy for the rest to turn with it. A moment later, two wooden spearman clattered to the ground behind her. 

The two looting soldiers reached her next. One had drawn a knife, the other simple ran at her. She wasn’t sure what his plan was, so she span around the knife wielder and grabbed the unarmed Thaylen by his cuirass. He grasped at her, trying to find purchase on her Shardplate. Jasnah willed his soul to smoke and he vanished into the air, his essence joining that of the dying city.

The man with the knife came at Jasnah again from behind. Her Stormlight and Shardplate granted her speed and reactions beyond that of normal men. As he came at her, she spun on him and struck him around the face. With an awful crack, the man fell to the ground, his head twisted too far around.

Turning to face the final two soldier, she saw their bloody and broken swords raised in preparation to strike. They didn’t even get close.

Jasnah began to run down the street, waving her hand at the two soldiers and turning them both into smoke. As she continued down the street, she ran through the expanding cloud.

The enemy is too strong here, Ivory said. We must leave, we cannot fight him alone

Jasnah took another turn, she was trying to find the way out of the Loft Ward and into the Ancient Ward. She had tried to travel by rooftop as she had last time but fires and collapsing buildings had prevented her from making much progress. 

“We aren’t going yet,” Jasnah replied “not until I’ve found out more. We can always activate the Oathgate ourselves.”

Dead radiants cannot activate Oathgates, Ivory said, in a tone as close to concern as she’d ever heard from him.

Another turn and Jasnah found it. Before her stretched a large open courtyard. A huge archway representing the divide between the wealthy Loft Ward and the middling Ancient Ward. Through the archway, the black of the smoke and the red mist of the Unmade swirled and mixed. It obscured what lay on the other side of the stone portal.

She heard them first. The shouts and screams of men, lost to bloodlust. They came out of the archway in a disorganised mess. Soldiers. But not Thaylen soldiers. Alethi troops, dressed in the livery of House Sadeas.

Behind them emerged a figure in Shardplate.The Plate looked familiar to Jasnah, though it had changed to almost unrecognizability. It seemed warped and broken, strange crystal protrusions broke through the surface of the Plate and seemed to fuse with it. The figure was shrouded in Voidlight, like the Fused. It floated a few inches above the floor, the darkness falling from it and spilling across the ground.

The faceplate of the helm was up. It seemed the wearer couldn’t close it anymore due to crystal growths that stuck out of their cheek and jaw.

Even through the disfigurements, Jasnah recognised the man.

Meridas Amaram grinned through a broken mouth at Jasnah and launched in her direction.


----------


Shallan stood before the Oathgate platform, atop the steps that led down to the street, and wove Stormlight around the survivors.

Once Bridge Four awakened the people in the streets from their violent rages, she would escort them up the steps on the platform. She’d throw Stormlight to them, pools of light that would rise up into one version of herself or another. The many faces of Shallan then walked in front or to the side of the various individuals and small groups. Pattern hummed to himself from somewhere nearby. Above, a dozen Windrunner squires hung, keeping watch for the Fused.

They weren’t much, the copies. They were simply drawings of herself she’d made in the past. She saw herself in havahs of various cuts and colours, her hair free in some and tied back in others. There were dozens now, shepherding the lost and broken towards the Oathgate. 

Concentrating on individual illusions, she was able to talk through them, giving words of encouragement. She even found she could place a comforting hand on a shoulder, actually touch them with the illusion if she gave it enough Stormlight. One illusion, a younger Shallan from her childhood, pulled on the hem of a Thaylen woman’s dress.

The broken people didn’t react much. They seemed dazed. Shallan couldn’t work out if it was a side effect of snapping out of the Unmade’s control or shock over what it had made them do. Either way, it seemed just the presence of the Radiants helped keep them sane. She’d noticed that the areas cleared by the bridgeman were free of the red mist, like the very presence of the glowing Radiant and his squires warded it away.

Shallan found maintaining this many illusions exhausting. Rock was doing what he could, grabbing people as soon as he was able from the care of the various Shallans but she felt herself straining as her Stormlight drained. She felt both Veil and Radiant pushing into her mind. She didn’t know which could help, she didn’t even know if either of them could help. Stress made them blur together. 

She had to be Shallan for now, she was the Lightweaver. The artist, the illusionist, the kind one. She didn’t need a thief or a liar or a warrior right now, she just needed to be her. She just needed to be all of her. Just for a bit.

Squeezing her hands tight, Shallan took a deep breath in. Opening her palms, arms outstretched before her, Shallan breathed out and helped people.


---------


Jasnah summoned Ivory in an instant and swung upwards as Amaram fell towards her. He crossed the square that made up the entrance to the Loft Ward in a few seconds. His eyes were ablaze and his mouth open with a rictus grin. She hit the man in the breastplate and sent him flying upwards. It sounded like the man actually cheered as he flew in a loop away from her, coming to a slow stop a few feet before Jasnah.

Jasnah looked at Amaram’s disfigured face in disgust.

“I didn’t think you could get much uglier, Meridas,” she said to the floating man. Jasnah  brought Ivory up in one of the base stances she knew. 

The ten Blade stances as taught by the Ardents generally had roots in a few base stances. They were taught in the katas, the sequence of movements and stretches for getting your body ready for battle. Jasnah hadn’t gotten much further than learning the katas. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had for now.

Behind Amaram, his troops were spilling out into the courtyard. They didn’t seem to pay any notice to Jasnah, groups split off into side streets from the square they were in. A moment of concern for the people at the Oathgate had Jasnah throw some Stormlight down behind her. The stone floor turned slick with oil, several inches thick. Jasnah snapped her fingers, igniting the oil with a spark. The street behind her was covered with a thick wall of flame. No soldiers would be taking the direct route towards the Oathgate. Jasnah wasn’t worried about the fire. The city was already ablaze.

Amaram began slowly floating towards Jasnah. A small trail of fire followed his gently swaying path. 

Amaram placed a hand on his chest. “Is that Jasnah Kholin in that pretty Shardplate?” Amaram said, voice dripping with smugness. “Wherever did you get that?”

“I didn’t have to murder any innocent men to get it, if that’s what you’re wondering, traitor,” Jasnah retorted.

Amaram threw his head back in laughter. “The heretic names me traitor! You stand here, fighting an Alethi highprince and name me traitor? The exiled daughter of the king, whose uncle names himself king of us all, who calls herself Radiant,” Amaram spat to the side, the liquid sizzled the stone where it landed. “Don’t talk to me about betrayal.”

Amaram was getting close now. Jasnah relaxed her arms, calming her breathing. Amaram always had a way of putting her on edge. Ever since they were young, he’d always fouled her mood. 

“You turn on our allies, Amaram. You’ve gone too far. The world is on the brink of ending and you do... This to yourself. For what? Personal glory? Pathetic.”

Amaram barked out a short laugh. “What I’ve done is gained the power to finally take my rightful place in Alethkar,” he said. His lifted his arms up, palms facing upwards. To Jasnah’s surprise, two Shardblades materialised above him and fell into each hand. One was Amaram's stolen Shardblade, the other Oathbringer. He looked down at Jasnah, his disjointed grin widening even more, his eyes widening. Then he was on her.

He came with a flurry of Blade strikes. Jasnah flung out Ivory in defense, but she was fighting a swordsman of much greater skill than herself with not just one Blade, but two.

She managed to defend against a few attacks, but for every one she blocked, another hit her Plate with enough force that, even with Plate and Stormlight enhancing her physical abilities, she was unable to mount any sort of defense.

After only a few seconds, Jasnah decided to put some distance between her and Amaram. Her Plate was barely holding together. She Soulcast the ground beneath them into pitch black smoke. It bloomed upwards, immediately obscuring their vision.

Jasnah leapt backwards. 

She convinced a pocket of smoke before her to change to a diffuse cloud of charcoal. This was a trick she’d learnt many years ago but had rarely to found a reason to use it. Luckily, it was exactly what she needed.

With a thought, she created a spark within the cloud of charcoal. The combustible material ignited with ferocity, The dust explosion swept over her, bathing her in heat. The pressure wave wasn’t too strong but enough to boost her leap several meters backwards. She sailed through the air, assaulted by heat from her Soulcasting, then by the heat of the burning street she’d closed off. She landed on the other side of the Soulcast flame. The skin around her eyes burned with intense pain. Jasnah assumed it must have burned in the heat but the Stormlight seemed to be healing it quickly.

Getting to her feet, she took a few steps back, trying to see Amaram through smoke and flame. She dismissed Ivory, raising her hands before her. Her Plate felt sluggish, both her arms and legs getting heavier.

“Ivory, thoughts?” Jasnah said.

He seems to be using a form of Gravitation and Division but they are unstable, Ivory said straight into her mind. I would suspect a Skybreaker but he does not seem to exhibit their values. However, I am not the best judge of character.

“Unfortunately, neither am I. Could one of the Blades be an Honorblade? I recognised one as my Uncle’s.”

That is a possibility. However, that doesn’t explain the gems in his flesh, nor how he is using surges within Plate.

“That makes sense.” Jasnah said. 

The smoke beyond the flames had dispersed now, the pressure from being transformed from a solid to a gas causing rapid dissipation.

Before her, she saw Amaram float towards the flames. He was laughing.

With a wave of his arms, both Blades swinging wide arcs, Amaram seemed to split the flame in two. It parted down the middle, like a Blade slicing through stone. The burning oil on the ground moved, gathering at the sides of the street. Once it had pooled against the walls, the fire sharply intensified, then exploded upwards. Firespren danced in the air, swept away in the torrent of flame.

The stone walls of the buildings around them glowed with heat. Nothing stood between Amaram and Jasnah now. His laughter carried down the street.

“Ivory, did he just Soulcast?”

That is three surges by my count.

Amaram floated casually towards Jasnah. Before him, the ground began to draw in light around it, taking on the hue of Voidlight. Slowly, like droplets of liquid falling from a ceiling, blobs of liquid rock fell upwards from the ground. They rose to about chest height with the cackling Shardbearer. In all, about a dozen chunks of liquid rock floated before Amaram.

With a movement of his arm, the liquid balls shifted quickly. They changed from amorphous shapes to sharp spines of stone. Their sharp points aimed directly at Jasnah.

Jasnah, this man is not a Radiant, Ivory said, urgent in her mind.

“No,” she whispered back. The ability Amaram had just displayed seemed something more in line as the powers held by the Stonewards. Shaping stone itself into whatever they needed.

The spines of stone flew towards Jasnah. Reaching out with Stormlight, Jasnah attempted to cast them to air. There was some resistance, more than Jasnah had expected. The Voidlight fought the influence of her Stormlight and several of the spines refused to change. Lifting Ivory, she managed to block a couple of spines with the flat of the Blade. The stones hit with tremendous force. One managed to get through and struck her left arm hard.

Jasnah reeled back, the force of the blow knocking her off balance. Her left arm felt heavy, the spren weak from the encounter with the thunderclast. She dared not dismiss it though. Not when facing an expert swordsman with two Blades.

“Ivory, Yelig-Nar was said to grant the powers of all surges, correct?” Jasnah said, recovering her balance.

Yes, at the expense of the soul of the one they possessed, Ivory replied.

Jasnah looked at Amaram again, he’d stopped laughing but the terrible broken grin had returned. Had the crystals in his face grown?

Jasnah looked into his eyes and saw through them. They seemed aflame, as if a fire burned within Amarams skull. She noticed the skin around his eyes seemed to be turning black, like the eyes of someone killed by a Shardblade, only much slower.

“I don’t think we’re fighting Amaram anymore.”

With that, she reached into Shadesmar. 

The spren of a human was surprisingly pliable. It had wants and needs, conscious and unconscious. People were in constant motion, constant change. To overcome the spren of a human being, you simply needed to tip the balance of desire one way or another. Once you got over the inherent interference within the soul, it was shockingly easy to cast a living human.

Jasnah reached out to touch Amarams spren, a simple light touch that would give her access to everything that made him who he was.

With delicate care, she made contact.

And was overwhelmed in darkness.


--------


Shallan helped people.

She sat atop the Oathgate steps, cross legged with eyes closed. She listened and felt and weaved her light around the people near her.

She’d had lost count of the amount of Shallans that she’d created. So many walked among the dazed Thaylens now, playing out pre-scripted roles, repeating phrases of encouragement when needed. So many complex illusions of light and sound required constant attention. Even with her eyes squeezed shut, Shallan could feel them. She knew when to smooth out a dress that had started to fuzz, when to tidy hair that fell through shoulders instead of onto them. She felt Pattern moving among them.

They’d gathered hundreds now. It was still slow work but they were almost ready to send the first lot of Thaylens to Urithiru.

A shout sounded from above.

The sound broke Shallan’s trance. Her eyes snapped open.

Looking up towards the sounds above, she saw the dozen Bridge Four members that were keeping guard scattering, all seemingly trying to get away from an expanding cloud of pitch black smoke. It stood out against the red hue in the air, billowing out as if something had just been Soulcast.

Confused, Shallan looked from bridgeman to bridgeman. They were shouting to each other, some pointing off to one side. Shallan followed their gaze.

Initially she couldn’t see anything. The sky was a swirling mass of smoke and the red haze of the Unmade. 

Then she saw it.

A streak of black and white flashed through the air. It passed by one of the bridgeman, one who seemed to be lost in the confusion. A moment later, the bridgeman exploded into a black smoke.

Shallan gasped.

The other Windrunner squires in the air reacted quickly, most forming into a wedge shape and chasing after the assailant. One dashed into the cloud of smoke, searching frantically for their comrade.

Shallan felt her link to her illusions falter. She looked down at the street, her illusions were starting to fuzz and fade. Her job seemed to have finished though, the people seemed aware to head to the Oathgate now.

“Mmm Shallan, I do not like this,” Pattern said, sliding up across the fabric of her dress.

“I don’t either, Pattern, but I think the bridgeman can handle it,” Shallan said, looking down.

“Yes, but... mmm, there is something wrong here.”

Shallan watched as half the bridgemen on the ground took to the air, nearly another dozen in a organised V shape. “You can say that again,” Shallan replied.

She watched as the second wedge took off after the first formation. Shallan couldn’t see their target anymore, the first formation had risen to quite some height in their pursuit. Shallan squinted, she noticed the white dot in the sky just as it hit the windrunner formation head on.

In the centre of the V, the lead two squires disappeared into smoke, their forms swirling in with the rest of the smoke laden air.

Shallan watched, eyes wide, as the white shape curved its trajectory and headed towards the second formation. Leading their group was Teft, his huge Shardblade distinct from the spears held by the squires.

As it approached, the white shape resolved as a man in white robes. He held a pitch black Shardblade in his hand that trailed the same black smoke that it turned its victims into. The man was ablaze with Stormlight.

“Pattern, is that...” Shallan said, fearspren boiling around her feet.

Instead of cutting through the middle of the second formation, the man shifted at the last moment. He diverted, following the line of the formation and swiping at the man at the end of the line. Shallan could see as the spears of the bridgeman lashed out. Some hit home, cutting red streaks across the white robes of the man.

“Mmm, yes Shallan, I think that is the Assassin in White!” Pattern said, the vibrations in his voice conveying his panic.

The man at the end of the second formation burst into black smoke.

“Storms! We have to help them!” Shallan said, pacing across garden entryway to keep the Assassin in White in view.

The few stragglers still hovering above her took off after the Assassin in a disorganised clump. 

“Mmm, this seems like a job better suited to the flying Radiants,” Pattern replied.

Shallan paused for a moment. “There is something else we can do,” she said.

With that, Shallan threw Stormlight up at the bridgemen trailing the Assassin. Drawing on the memory of sketching the Windrunners training, the light coalesced into the forms of bridgemen, flying side by side with their living comrades. The illusions flew alongside them, presenting the Assassin with many more targets than he was actually facing.

The memory stung Shallan inside. Kaladin had trained these men, they were his. She hadn’t been able to save him, but she could save his men.

The Assassin abruptly changed direction, moving directly toward the ragged group of men and illusions. As he met them, Shallan directed the illusions to head straight for their target, spears held before them.

They passed in a moment. 

The bridgemen survived the encounter but several illusions had vanished. It seemed illusions didn’t billow into clouds of black smoke like the squires had, they simply dissipated into a dark haze.

The Assassin was heading towards the ground now, streaks of red peppered his robes. With how much he was glowing, Shallan knew he would be healing quickly, but every strike took a little more out of him. 

As he spun in the air to gain height, Teft’s group caught up to him. The bridgemen surrounded him, keeping the Assassin at a distance so not to be caught in the swings of his Blade. As they climbed, the Assassin’s movements became erratic, weaving and dodging away and towards various bridgemen. He would feint towards one bridgeman then dodge away just as he got in striking range. He spun and flipped around the group, obviously far more skilled with the Lashings than any Bridge Four member.

Without warning, another bridgeman vanished into a cloud of black smoke. The Assassin had followed through with one of his feints.

“Storms!” Shallan cursed to herself. 

The fighting group was far above now, a white streak in the air surrounded by trail of blue. It was hard to judge distances but she did her best. Resummoning her illusions, Shallan tried again.


-------


Jasnah was consumed in darkness. 

Amaram’s spren was something massive. Something ancient. Something hungry.

There was no will to this spren, any sense of Amaram’s being was lost in an all-consuming hunger. It was ravenous. A being of pure intent.

Even the briefest moment of contact threatened to consume Jasnah.

She broke off immediately. The snap back of her awareness to the physical realm hit her hard, the smells of the burning city, the heat of the air, the screams and shouts that hung like a chorus in the air.

Jasnah stumbled, placing a hand to her chest in an attempt to compose herself.

“That,” Jasnah breathed, “Was not Amaram.”

Ivory groaned in assent. It seemed the encounter had exhausted him too.

Jasnah looked up in time to see Amaram come at her again, both Shardblades swinging. Jasnah Soulcast the ground beneath her, turning a thin layer to smoke to obscure them. Jumping backwards out of the way of the path of Amaram’s Blades, Jasnah swept out with Ivory in desperation.

Her Blade struck something hard and bounced off with a jarring hit that reverberated up her arm.

Jasnah landed a few steps back from where Amaram was. She was exhausted. Her Plate felt heavy on her shoulders. She still had plenty of Stormlight left so she let that guide her.

Amaram came at her from the smoke swinging. His first hit knocked her Blade aside, the strength behind the blow easily overpowering her beleaguered Plate. The second Blade followed quickly, striking hard against Jasnah’s left vambrace.

The force shook her arm. Jasnah moved downwards with the blow, dismissing Ivory and diving into a roll to the side. She turned, summoning Ivory again who reformed just in time to block another strike from Amaram. He brought both of his Blades down from above. Jasnah, holding the hilt in her safehand, grabbed the blade of Ivory and blocked both strikes.

Storms! Jasnah thought, his strength was immense. She was down on one knee, her Plate cracking the ground beneath her. 

Jasnah strained against Amaram. Her Plate was granting her strength and fortitude but it was nowhere near prime condition. The fight with the thunderclast had left the spren weary.

Amaram laughed.

He lifted his right hand, the one holding his own Shardblade. Oathbringer still pressed down heavily against Ivory. With a whipping crack, he struck Jasnah’s left vambrace again. 

She was launched into the air with a deep booming sound. The sudden rush of sensation against her left arm told her it was now open to the air. Amaram had broken her Plate.

She fell through the air for what felt like way too long. 

Jasnah landed hard. She rolled awkwardly. She felt her weight press her now exposed arm against the ground and felt the sharp pain of her bones snapping.

Once she’d come to a stop, she lay still for a moment. The Stormlight thrumming though her veins seemed to surge down her arm. The immediate pain faded but nothing could dull the uncomfortable feeling of her bones resetting and reknitting.

What options did she have left? She had no chance of beating him with the Blade. She couldn’t Soulcast him. If she tried encasing him in stone or metal, he’d just Soulcast it away himself...

Taking a deep breath in, Jasnah decided to try one last option. She had one more trick in her safepouch, one more secret she believed that Amaram, or whatever it was that was wearing his skin, wouldn’t know.

She stood, initially wary to place weight against her newly healed arm. Amaram floated a few meters before her, Shardblades held low by his sides. His face was nearly unrecognisable with crystalline growths. They seemed to ripple under his skin, alive.

Even then, he continued to laugh.

 

------


The Assassin quickly worked out what was happening.

He weaved around the real members of Bridge Four, deftly hitting illusion after illusion. Shallan tried to keep up but they were so high now, she had never tried to make illusions at this distance before.

Once again, the Assassin quickly changed direction, heading straight down. He fell through the trailing Windrunners. Some didn’t react quickly enough to the Assassin’s change in direction and with a pain through her chest, Shallan noticed another puff of black smoke.

Shallan reached for more Stormlight, ready to produce more illusions once the Assassin came back in range, when she felt a chill run down her. Her attention was drawn to that instinct that prey feel when they sense a predator about to attack. That tingle in your spine when you feel you are being watched. 

Shallan looked up at the Assassin, who was currently speeding headfirst towards the ground through a group of Windrunners, and met his eyes.

The Assassin in White was looking straight at Shallan.

Swinging the smoking black sword around him to ward off his pursuers, the Assassin came in low to the ground, almost hitting it, and changed direction to head directly for where Shallan stood. He fell towards her, over the street before the Oathgate, over the corpses of the people whose lives had been lost senselessly, his eyes never leaving Shallan’s.


-----


Jasnah felt the Stormlight flowing through her. She still held plenty within her, she just hoped it would be enough. She was going to need a lot.

Amaram continued his laughter. He wasn’t even trying anymore. He was clearly enjoying himself. His two Blades hung low, cutting into the ground as he floated towards her.

A secret had been shared with her by someone who had raised far more questions than he’d answered. But he had given her answers. And wisdom.

Jasnah threw her arms before her, the warm air of the burning city swirling around her exposed arm.

The ground beneath Amaram exploded in a billow of smoke. It expanded quickly upwards, the large amount of solid mass turning into a high pressure plume of gas. 

The black cloud quickly enveloped Amaram. The man was completely unaffected. He knew she couldn’t do anything to stop him. At least, he thought so.

Remember, the memory of Wit said in her mind Once something is cast into this, it can never be changed back.

Before the smoke cloud had time to spread too far, Jasnah offered up a huge amount of Stormlight and commanded the smoke into the immutable metal.

The smoke snapped back towards Amaram. It gripped him, clung to his skin, a black film that hung to every jagged piece of his body. The gas then shifted, almost instantaneously turning into a dull silver metal.

Amaram’s laugh was cut off by the seal of metal over his mouth. He immediately fell from the air, his Lashings now blocked.

As he hit the bottom of the hole created by Jasnah’s initial Soulcast, Jasnah noticed his limbs shift as he hit the ground. Wit had warned her about this. The metal blocked Stormlight usage, as well as Voidlight as she had hoped, but was physically not very strong.

She saw Amaram slowly start to move under his metal coat. A normal human wouldn’t have been able to survive this but, with the power of the Shardplate and whatever Damnation-born abilities the Unmade was granting him, this wasn’t enough.

Jasnah stood at the lip of the crater of her own making and threw yet more Stormlight down at Amaram. It swirled around him, the silver coating grew thicker as the air around Jasnah was pulled in towards him. 

What started as a breeze grew in intensity quickly. The air rushed in from around them. A burning building nearby found itself starved as its air and smoke were pulled in. Smoke and dust and Stormlight swirled around Amaram in a hurricane of light. Jasnah poured more Stormlight into it.

Jasnah! Ivory snapped at her, admonishingly.

Air hated to be trapped like this. She felt a pang of regret for the spren. They’d never know freedom again. To a spren, you simply were what you were. Soulcasting asked them to be something else and no spren liked to change, that’s what the Stormlight was for. But Soulcasting came with a implied promise that the spren might one day become what it wanted to be again. Nothing lasted forever — wood burnt, rock eroded, air was breathed, water drunk or frozen or boiled. The world was a constant cycle of change where spren hopped from one existence to the next.

But now, they’d never be free again. The metal wasn’t natural to Roshar, it was an ancient, alien thing. In fact, she wasn’t even sure if it had a spren. 

Jasnah didn’t let her concentration waiver. More and more Stormlight was offered up. She was done with Amaram. She’d hated that her father had tried to set them up. She’d done her research, she knew that the face Amaram showed to the world was a lie. He was a snake in a man’s body and not dealing with him earlier would always be a regret of hers.

How much of this was because of him? She’d seen his troops, they were attacking the city voraciously. Amaram had been left to help rebuild this city and instead he turned to the enemy and burned it to the ground.

Would Renarin still be about if she had dealt with him sooner?

Would Adolin?

Would her father?

Jasnah Kholin was done.

Her Stormlight ran out.

The wind stopped abruptly. Fires crackled nearby. No soldiers were present in the street. Jasnah didn’t know if they had decided to just stay away or if they’d gotten caught in the maelstrom. Jasnah cursed herself for not keeping some emergency Stormlight back but found she didn’t really care.

Jasnah breathed a sigh of relief, the Stormlight drag hitting her with a wave of exhaustion. Ivory manifested on her shoulder, his ink-like figure stood, hands behind his back.

“Whilst I do not agree with this method, I do believe that should be enough,” he said.

“I hope so,” Jasnah replied.

Nestled in the bottom of the crater was a sphere, about two metres in diameter, of aluminium.


----


“Shallan! Mmmm, I do not like this!” Pattern buzzed urgently from nearby.

The Assassin had nearly reached her. It had happened so quickly, she barely had time to react.

No, Shallan thought, now is not the time to panic.

Now was the time to be a warrior.

Shallan brought her Stormlight to bear and became Radiant. Her image and mindset changed. She stood straighter than Shallan. Taller.

Instinctively, Radiant fell into the sword stance that she had been taught. Shallan would have struggled to do so without thinking about the one who had taught her these stances, but Radiant was stronger than that. Pushing memories of the past away, Radiant raised Pattern.

Shallan! I do not like this at all! Pattern hummed into her mind.

“Don’t worry Pattern, it’s going to be okay,” Radiant replied.

The Assassin came in low, black sword trailing smoke. Shallan had just watched him murder several members of Bridge Four. Radiant had no doubt he would dispatch her with just as much ease. She had to be quick, she would only get one chance.

The Assassin drew closer.

She took a deep breath.

Radiant followed the path of his terrible black Shardblade. At the last moment, she leapt to the side, raising Pattern in an arc to parry the Assassin’s blow.

She fell to the side, Pattern rising.

The Blades clashed.

Radiant felt the force of the blow through her arms.

In a moment that seemed to stretch into eternity, she watched as the black Blade bit into her own.

Shallan watched as the Assassin’s Blade passed through Pattern, slicing through the metal with ease.

The Assassin passed. As she fell to the ground, Shallan was met with the horrifying sight of her Blade cut in two.

A heart-wrenching, blistering pain screamed through her as Pattern’s presence in her vanished. In that moment, her Blade, her spren, her friend, exploded into black smoke. Inside, something at the core of her being shattered like glass. Pain bloomed inside of her as the shards trying to rip themselves free.

A moment later, the Stormlight she was holding exploded outwards, forced away from her as if in revulsion. It mixed with the rapidly dissipating cloud before her.

Shallan fell to the ground, mouth stretched open, a scream climbing out of her throat. Her mind, her soul, her very being spasmed as they were ripped and torn asunder.

She grasped at her head. Clawed at it. Her back arched and legs kicked as she tried to reach into herself for something that just no longer there. The muscles in her jaw strained against her.

Shallan’s mind reeled. She tried to reach inside for help but there was nothing. There was no Radiant. There was no Veil. No Pattern. Just Shallan. Shallan, the murderer. Shallan, the orphan. Shallan, the quiet and the meek and the prim and proper. Shallan, the nobody.

She begged for the void to stop, to leave. She wanted so desperately for what was no longer there to be there again. It was like trying to see through eyes after they had been gouged out, move a limb that had been severed. Every impulse she had used to talk to her spren, to create illusions or summon her Shardblade was met with nothing. Nothing.  

All she could feel was an impenetrable absence.

Shallan rolled onto her front, retching. She scraped her nails against the cold stone beneath her. Her mind rebelled against her. She threw her head against the ground, slamming it down hard. The pain that flashed through her almost felt real. It cut through the crowd of thoughts that clouded her mind. But not enough. Not enough.

This must be a horrible dream, this couldn’t be happening, she wanted it to stop. Needed it to stop.

Shallan ground her forehead against the stone, desperate to feel something, anything, in response to her pleas. Her screams had turned to sobs. She retched again. 

Greyness clouded her vision, like a cloud. 

Shallan fell to the floor limp, her consciousness fading.


---


Jasnah stood, breathing heavily, looking at the tomb she’d creating for Amaram.

“Jasnah!” Ivory suddenly shouted.


--


Dalinar had raged across the city.

After letting the second Herald’s corpse drop to the ground, he’d descended upon the city like an avatar of damnation itself.

He’d wiped out pockets of soldiers keeping the Sadeas troops at bay. No Thaylen stood a chance. He’d hunted down each of the Thaylen Shardbearers. The fools kept their Plates and Blades separate and each had been wiped out with ease.

Dalinar had lost himself in the slaughter. People hid in buildings that offered no defense against him. Walls crumbled before him. Restraints vanished to smoke at a thought.

Some he killed with Blade. Some with fist. Others he simply burnt.

Dalinar had stood surrounded by a city which he had killed as surely as he had killed any enemy he’d faced in his life.

A single thought passed through his mind, like a whisper on the wind. Not a word, more of a concept. It dripped with hatred, of millenia of frustration. Its touch was soft. It wasn’t enough to cut through the miasma of emotions that overwhelmed Dalinar’s mind. Instead, it redirected his rage. 

No, it wasn’t just a word.

It was a target.

Radiant.

Dalinar Lashed himself upwards.

Through smoke and flame, he rose above the burning city, leaving the heat of the streets behind. The Ancient Ward lay before him, barely a building stood that wasn’t at least touched by flames. Soldiers stalked through the streets, killing any who tried to flee the firestorm. There had been the corpses too. Burning, beaten, broken, the city was dying. Dalinar had felt elation rise up inside of him at the sight of such beautiful and absolute destruction.

Then Dalinar looked to the east, towards the Loft Ward and the hill that held the Oathgate platform.

There, he saw it through the chaos.

Just on the precipice between the two Wards of the city, the red haze thinned. Within the swirling chaos of red and black, a beacon shone brightly.

Dalinar started falling towards it.

It was small, a diamond chip in a stormwall. A bright light that pulled the darkness in from around it and left nothing but the hope of a new dawn.

As he got closer, he could make out the shapes.

The light itself was a sphere of swirling Stormlight. It drew in the very air around it, the smoke from nearby buildings, the dust and debris from the ground. 

Before the glowing sphere, arms outstretched, was a figure in stunning Shardplate.

Dalinar couldn’t hold back the torrent of emotions that came next. His mind thrummed with an appreciation for the beauty, for joy that such a thing could exist in the word. His heart elated. Within that, hatred, jealousy and envy bloomed. The Shardplate was like none he had ever seen before. It was angular, its shape made up of many flat shapes that were filigreed with a mesmerizing pattern of bright white lines. The Plate represented the hope of humanity against the oncoming storm, defending against the terrors that asail them. Even with one arm bare, the Plate was still a sight to behold.

A Knight Radiant.

The glow before the figure faded. They lowered their arms, sagging their shoulders in exhaustion.

Dalinar struck the figure like a highstorm.

Any normal human would have been completely pulverised by the force of the blow.

Instead, the two armored figures collided and continued onwards. Dalinar drove the figure into the ground, eventually coming to a stop at the end of a twenty foot trench left by their passing.

Dalinar sat astride the figure in deep violet Shardplate and rage carried his fists. He struck the helm of the warrior. The figures armored arm came up to defend them but Dalinar slapped it away. A Shardblade appeared in the unarmored hand and the Knight tried to swipe it up at Dalinar. 

Before they got the chance, Dalinar’s arm shot forward and grabbed the forearm of the Knight and he squeezed.

Under the immense strength of his gauntleted hand, the arm broke with ease. Bones shattered and splintered and the warrior screamed. Dalinar barely even registered that the voice was female.

Dropping the ruined arm, Dalinar continued his assault. Another fist driven into the helm. The metal started to crack. A two handed blow caused it to split.

Dalinar leant forward, placing a hand on the ground just above the Knight’s shoulder. He smashed his fist against the helm and this time it exploded in a shower of molten metal.

A mane of jet black hair fell out.

Dalinar saw the face of his victim.

His mind quieted briefly as he gazed upon the face of his niece, twisted in horror. A woman who he’d seen grow through many trials in her life. Someone he’d come to trust and rely on, who always seemed so strong. A Radiant that, at one point, Dalinar had utterly respected as an individual that could survive anything.

His body relaxed for a moment. His body ached to move. He looked down at his niece.

Shamespren fell around him, a soft fall of white petals. 

He gritted his teeth. He breathed in quick, short breaths.

I’m sorry, Jasnah, he wanted to say, his fist rising.

It’s not my fault, looking down at the fearspren pooling around his brother’s daughter.

I don’t have a choice.

Dalinar brought his fist down again and smashed Jasnah’s skull against the stone.


-


Lunamor rushed out of the garden.

“Rock, there!” Syl yelled, her small blue form flying over to where Shallan lay.

He ran over to the crumpled form on the stone. Lunamor rolled her over onto her front. Her face was a mess, a bloody wound covered her forehead and it looked like something had clawed flesh from scalp.

“She still breathes, I do not know what happened to her,” Lunamor said, picking up the girl. She was so light in his arms.

“It’s okay Rock, we’ll get her back, get her some Stormlight,” Syl said, looking around intently. “I don’t see Pattern.”

“I am sure he is around somewhere. Tell Teft to activate the gate. There’s nothing more we can do here,” Lunamor said, looking over the city. Syl nodded and disappeared back into the gardens.

From atop the Royal Ward, Lunamor took one last look at the dying city. The battle was lost. They’d lost almost a third of Bridge Four before Teft had called the retreat. The red mist seemed to be fading, the damage it had wrought was done. 

Wary of the Assassin who still patrolled above, Lunamor turned and carried Shallan back onto the Oathgate platform, just as the swirling light of transition enveloped it.

The Battle for Thaylen City had been lost.

 

Epilogue

Spoiler


Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, admired the mosaics in the Oathgate control room and listened to the screams.

They’d been gone for so long, he found he’d missed them. Running a hand along a grand depiction of Urithiru, Szeth took comfort that those he’d killed were still with him.

After so long of them being his only companion as he’d slaughtered his way across Roshar, they’d returned.

New voices joined the old, the people he’d killed in the city. His new master had set him upon the Radiants of the city and whilst some still lived, he’d taken a good number.

Sword-nimi sat on his hip in its scabbard. It had gone quiet after the Windrunners had left, occasionally sighing contentedly to itself or humming gently. 

Szeth smiled up at the mosaic. His world was finally making sense. He’d sworn himself to Dalinar Kholin who had given him purpose. The voices in his head that had tortured him whilst he was sworn to the Oathstone felt different now. He knew they weren’t screaming at him, they were screaming with him. They didn’t hate him, how could they? It wasn’t his fault. His new Shardblade was unlike anyone he had met before. He was excited to show it the greatest city on Roshar.

He even enjoyed the presence of the silent spren that followed him around. The Highspren shimmered in the air behind him. Together, they’d cleanse Shinovar.

He knew now. He wasn’t Truthless. The Voidbringers had returned. He had never been wrong. Those that had died had died because the Shamanate had lied. They were guilty of the atrocities Szeth had committed. Whatever Szeth did now, he was justified in bringing justice to them.

Szeth reached the smooth stone of the activation slot. His smile became a grin. Tears filled his eyes. For the first time in too long, Szeth felt happy.

Throwing his head back, he screamed along with the dead.

It was liberating.

The scream became a laugh. A joyous laugh, how wonderful his life had become.

The room darkened as a massive figure entered the doorway.

Leaning down to fit through the doorway, Dalinar Kholin entered the control chamber. He was still wrapped in his pitch black Shardplate, drawing in the light around him. His presence dominated the round chamber. Szeth knelt before the man he had sworn his life to.

Behind Dalinar, Alethi troops gathered and organised onto the outer platform. The thousands of Parshendi that had arrived via boat had started moving into the city after the troops had cleared the city. They’d begun the process of putting out fires and rebuilding whilst the soldiers had prepared for immediate departure. It seemed they were to assault Urithiru immediately.

Several Fused followed Dalinar into the chamber. Mostly the flying forms that, even in this confined space, still floated a few inches from the ground. Their long robes dragged along the ground. They were followed by a tall, slender Parshendi who didn’t seem to have the dark glow of Voidlight around it. Finally, one of the hulking, heavily armored Fused entered too. Its huge arms were on the shoulders of a young teenage girl. 

Szeth’s eyes widened. He recognised the girl, she’d saved his life from the Fused before Dalinar had joined and ordered Szeth to join them. He looked from the girl to Dalinar then back again, looking for answers.

The girl’s eyes were downcast, her long hair dirty and matted.

Dalinar moved in front of Szeth.

“Stand.” he growled through gritted teeth.

Szeth stood.

“Move.”

Szeth moved to the side, giving Dalinar access to the activation slot.

Dalinar stood before it, then turned to the centre of the room. Szeth had noticed the Fused had mostly moved to the edges of the room too, waiting for something.

A man stepped into the centre of the room. A moment before, there had been nothing. Now, as if from an unseen doorway, a man simply stood. The tall Parshendi seemed to balk at his presence.

Szeth didn’t recognise him. He stood supported by a golden sceptre. He was dressed in the white and gold robes, his kindly old face framed by a neatly cut beard. 

He looked Shin, to Szeth’s surprise. He looked at the others, noting that no one else seemed to be too shocked the man had appeared from nowhere. 

It seemed whomever they had been waiting for had arrived.

--


Venli’s eyes recovered slowly from the blinding light of Odium’s appearance. Her skin prickled with pain from the heat that had washed over her. 

As her eyes adjusted, she looked at the ancient being. His face was marbled with white and gold, framed with smooth carapace. He tucked his scepter under his arm and began clapping his hands.

“Well done everyone, the city is ours.”

The words sounded odd to Venli initially. It took her a moment to realise he’d said them in both the ancient singer tongue and Alethi simultaneously. She wondered if the others had heard it.

Odium turned in place looking at each person in the room in turn, eventually turning on Turash.

“Turash, how are the troops?” he said.

The Fused bowed his head. “They are well, master, eager for their next conquest. I do worry about their loyalty though. Even with the voidspren, they grow suspicious of us,” he said.

“Yes, the loss of their leader was unfortunate. How long will it take to release Yelig-nar?”

“Several hours master. The metal is thick.”

Odium waved a hand. “Unfortunate. The troops here will do their jobs, do not worry. Nergaoul is already on his way to Urithiru, all they need to do is keep the fight going until his arrival.”

Turash nodded.

“And what of Yushah, master?”

Venli had been so focused Odium that she hadn’t noticed the Fused around her were staring at the man in bloody robes. Dalinar still stood unmoving, his helm looking straight forward. Odium turned to face the robed man.

“Ah yes, our newest Skybreaker. Yes, Yushah is gone.”

There was murmuring among the Fused as Odium walked over to the man.

“I would very much like to find out how you were able to do that, Szeth-son-son-Vallano,” Odium said in Shin.

Szeth looked at Odium, confusion on his face. 

“Do what?” he said.

Odium placed a hand on Szeth’s shoulder and the man cried out in pain. Falling to one knee, Szeth strained as Odium held him in place.

Venli knew that pain. The cold fire that burnt through you, laid you bare. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried not to focus on the man’s cries. She found herself gently humming to Anxiety.

After a few moments, Odium released the man. Venli opened her eyes to see Odium looking at the sheathed Shardblade the man had been using. Odium contemplated it for a moment before turning back to face the Fused.

“It’s the blade. Ralesh, watch that human. If he falls in battle, do not let that blade fall into enemy hands. I will need it once the battle is done,” He said, switching back to the ancient singer tongue. Venli looked to Szeth. He still crouched on one knee, breathing heavily. Stormlight coiled gently off his skin.

“Yes, master,” said Ralesh, one of the floating Fused.

Odium then addressed the rest of the Fused. “Do not try to exact vengeance against him. He is our ally now. I’m sure the prospect of facing someone who is able to send you Beyond before our work here is done doesn’t appeal to many of you anyway.”

Odium turned to face Dalinar.

“Now, time for a little treat!” Odium said, throwing the arm not holding the scepter wide and indicating towards the little Reshi girl.

Dalinar stood unmoving. The bulky Fused holding the girl marched her forward.

“Dalinar, you recognise Lift, right?”

With the mention of Dalinar’s name, Lift looked up.

“What? Dalinar?” She said, her voice weak.

“Dalinar, my champion. It seems the lovely lady of this world has been grooming her own little backup plan. You were her and Tanavast’s plan A, ” Odium said, sweeping a hand between Dalinar and Lift. “Plan A, meet plan B.”

There was a moment of silence.

Dalinar walked forward towards the girl.

Placing one hand on her shoulder and the other atop her head, Dalinar twisted sharply.

A snap broke through the air.

Lift’s body fell to the ground.

“Thank you kindly, Dalinar. You’ve been a huge help,” said Odium, a warm smile on his face.

Dalinar walked back to his position before the activation slot. The large Fused moved back to edge of the room. Odium turned back to the Fused.

“Now, Urithiru lies ahead. The battle will be hard. Reinforcements should come from Kholinar but you will be the first to attack. Most of their troops stand ready so let my champion take the lead and follow behind. Nergaoul will join eventually. No other Unmade are positioned to assist but you shouldn’t need them. Once Urithiru has fallen, we may not even need to free Ba-Ado-Mishram,” Odium said, turning to Szeth. “You will find and kill the rest of the Radiants. I will come find you when you are done.”

“Excuse me, uhm...” Szeth said, rising.

“You may simply call me Odium,” Odium said.

“I am sorry, Odium, but I do not follow you. I am sworn to Dalinar,” he said, gesturing to huge figure next to him.

Odium did not reply. There was a pause before Dalinar turned to Szeth.

“Kill Radiants. Don’t die,” Dalinar said. His tone was strained, as if he were under great stress. Dalinar returned to looking straight forward.

Odium cleared his throat.

“Right, now, Dalinar. If you would be so kind...” He said, gesturing towards his champion.

Dalinar summoned Oathbreaker, turned, and slammed the Blade into the activation slot.


-


“There once was a terrible king who loved art,” Wit said.

He shuffled in line — along with a couple hundred other people — one dreary step.

“His love for art was matched only by his hatred of disappointment. His beautiful castle, made by the kingdoms greatest architect, stood on a hill. Before it was the most perfect garden you can imagine, curated by the kingdoms greatest gardeners.”

Weeks after the fall of Kholinar, the place still smelled like smoke. Though the city’s new masters had moved tens of thousands of humans out to work farms, complete resettlement would take months, if not years.

Wit turned to the man behind him. “His castle was filled with glorious tapestries and paintings. His meals, cooked by chefs who were all masters in their arts, were eaten to the backdrop of full orchestras playing masterpieces. His nights with his beautiful wife were spent looking out through a grand window of gold and jewels, looking over the ocean that stood behind his castle.”

Wit turned back to face the front.

“He only asked for perfection. His coffers were always full, his kingdom always drawing in gold selling the best products the world had ever seen. He paid his artists well. He knew they were the best, he’d killed everyone else.”

They shuffled forward another step.

“The king was always looking for a new project. One night, he stood in his bed chambers and looked at the ocean. At the beautiful natural beach that covered the shore.”

Wit paused a moment, tapping the man in front of him.

“Do you have beaches here? I never thought to check.”

Without waiting for a reply, Wit continued.

“The king turned to the queen and told her, ‘I shall have the most beautiful ocean in all the world!’” Wit proclaimed, throwing his arms wide. The man in front of him took another step forward. Wit stepped forward again. The people around continued to expertly ignore him.

“So he called his architect and told him ‘Build me an ocean that the whole world will want to come and see!’

The architect, not wanting to disappoint his master, ran off and spent many month putting together a plan that would turn the coast into a marvel. Great blocks of stone were carved, great mechanisms constructed. A year after the request, the new ocean was ready. The kings window had been covered with a great tarp to stop him seeing the imperfect construction process.

Unfortunately, that night a great storm struck the kingdom. It was the strongest storm anyone had ever seen!”

Wit leaned over to the man in the queue next to him. Nudging him with an elbow and giving the man a wink, he said, “you guys know a bit about storms, right?” 

The man looked at him, his face bright with apathy. Wit returned to his place in his own queue.

“So, the architect couldn’t sleep at all, he hadn’t planned for such a strong weather, would his creation survive?”

Another step forward.

“In the morning, the king immediately summoned the architect to his bedchamber, eagerly awaiting his new ocean. With nervous hands, the architect pulled back the curtain. The king gasped!”

Wit paused dramatically. No one cared.

“The new ocean was gone, washed away. Do you know what the king did after that?” Wit said, looking at his audience who were intently focused on not looking at him.

“He had the architect killed, obviously.

So he tried again. With his gardener. Once again, a storm came along and wrecked the beautiful undersea garden that had been built. So he had his florists, his chefs, his painters, his musicians, all were told to make the ocean perfect!

They all failed, and so, they were all killed.”

They were nearing the front of the queue now. 

“The kingdom fell to ruin. There was no one left to create art. No one left to cook splendid meals. No one to compose perfect music for perfect musicians to play on perfectly constructed instruments.”

The man in front of Wit reached the front of the queue and was handed a cup of water and a bread roll.

As the man left, Wit stepped up to the front of the queue.

“Do you know why the king failed?”

The man giving out the rations looked up at Wit. “What?” he said, his eyes hard.

“He didn’t realise that even with the best people at your disposal, sometimes things out of your control will ruin everything.”

The man, a cup of water in one hand and a bread roll in the other, looked at Wit quizzically. Wit took the water and bread, bowing his head in thanks and turned to the man behind him. He handed him the rations.

“Which is why I must take my leave. I’m sorry,” he said.

And with that, Wit left.

 

9

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Here's a little post-word for those interested:

Spoiler

 

Hi everyone!

I hope you’ve enjoyed The Tragedy of Thaylen Fields. This is by far the largest writing project I’ve ever completed and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

First things first, I’d like to thank @Alyssum314for their continuous efforts to make sure my apostrophes and commas were in the right place. Turns out I absolutely suck at knowing when to end speech with a full stop or a comma and Lyss helped me a lot with this. I’d also like to thank @ladymxdnight for helping me with plotting, structure and another general grammar checker. If it weren’t for her, you’d have had Amaram using the Destruction sure and would have more than a few sections end on duds. Lastly, thank you to Jaffa6 on discord for his help with grammar and wording.

Now, if you’d indulge me, here’s some fun facts about the writing of Tragedy:

● The entire reason I wrote this fic was the scene where Nightblood kills Pattern. For years, people have asked what would happen if NB and a Shardblade clashed. My answer, since before OB came out, was that NB would eat the Shardblade immediately. Ever since NB turned up in WoR, I’ve hoped we’d see this in the books but until then, I wanted to write my interpretation of it. I wanted it to be Syl originally but I foolishly killed Kal in the first chapter so couldn’t use him! I liked how it turned out anyway.

● Something that surprised me was that Shallan was the hardest character for me to write, by a long shot. I almost didn’t write any PoV’s for her because I struggled so much with her. By contrast, Jasnah came to me as the easiest by far. I don’t know if it’s just because we don’t see anywhere near as much of her internal thoughts so it makes it easier to fill in those gaps with my own interpretation of the character or because I’m just more like her irl than I am Shallan. Either way, this is why we got a lot of Jasnah PoV’s.

● Another inspiration of this fic is a sequence known as the Eclipse from the manga Berserk. If you’ve read it, I hope this makes sense. If you haven’t, I highly recommend Berserk under the warning that you’re going to see some crem in it that makes my fic look likes a kids book. I tried to emulate the feelings I had during the Eclipse in this fic. Of horror and disgust and just a brutal emotional ride. I hope I succeeded.

● For the Dalinar chapters, I went back and read the Marsh chapters from HoA. Those were heavily influential in those parts, with Dalinar both moving on his own within the orders that Odium had given him and other times completely controlled by Odium.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this terrible, awful ride. Thank you to everyone for reading and your feedback. I appreciate every single comment I get on these. Never forget, if you ever want to do something like this yourself, all you have got to do is write.

I doubt this will be the last thing I ever write, and hopefully this won’t be the last thing you ever read of mine.

Thank you all, and see you around.

 

9

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@Overlord Jebus, I’m screaming into my pillow for two reasons right now: 

1. All of the deaths... I’m honestly in shock. 

2. This story is over. 

Thank you so much for a great 2-3 months of heartbreak and incredible writing. I look forward to seeing what you write in the future, because in all honesty, this is the best Cosmere fan work I’ve had the privilege of reading. :D 

Edited by Ashspren
Typos, typos, and more typos.
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