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Kevin's Song

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Mighara Sovmadhi
A shadow on the heart of the Earth

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:27 pm    Post subject: Kevin's Song Reply with quote

This is Covenant fan fiction, with all moral and legal rights deferred to Stephen R. Donaldson and his publishers, set during Loric's time. The plot is introduced from Covenant's perspective as the Timewarden. It is meant as an adventurous look at what Loric's quests might have been like on a novel-wide scale, instead of just the snippets we've been shown to date. Since Berek kept Damelon at his side during the latter's upbringing, I'm having Kevin accompany Loric and this as part of Kevin's "Song": his story. Enjoy if possible. Very Happy

For Stephen R. Donaldson, for showing me the Way.
There is in the granite glory of the world's heart...

Note: part and/or chapter names may change as this is all written. Below is more or less an outline of what's supposed to take place.

    PART ONE: "Ah, Creator!"

Chapter 1. Loric's Son
Chapter 2. The Fifth Ward
Chapter 3. Among the Wraiths
Chapter 4. "and Truth"
Chapter 5. Images of Friendship
Chapter 6. The Ritual of Sanctification

    PART TWO: "a pestilence which the Earth endures"

Chapter 1. Missions
Chapter 2. Westron Stonedown
Chapter 3. Child Soldiery
Chapter 4. The Doom of the Demondim
Chapter 5. Iuẙptuet Dzied
Chapter 6. Despisers of Trees
Chapter 7. The Corruption of the Mountain
Chapter 8. Quellvisk and Croyel
Chapter 9. Loremaster

    PART THREE: "dream that we will make amends"

Chapter 1. The True Night
P1C1: Loric's Son

Of all the Despiser's machinations, Thomas Covenant, ur-Lord and Timewarden, Prover of Life, for centuries forgave the corruption of the Viles and their descendents the least. During his first millennium transubstantiated into the Arch of Time, Covenant witnessed that corruption as if it were the heart of the Despiser's ancient malice, the focal point of his attempts on the One Forest and the Elohim, his endeavors to sicken and so awaken the Worm of the World's End. And by waging war against the Old Lords through the host of the Demondim-kin, the Despiser had planted in High Lord Loric and his son Kevin dismay and despair, the warped, warping seeds of the Ritual of Desecration. In turn, the Law of Death had been broken in Kevin's name, the first step towards the instant the Timewarden now and always faced, the instant of his reincarnation on the Earth that his love, Linden Avery the Chosen, found herself standing on the precipice of ending.

Within the final darkening of that eternity, Covenant shone the light of the world into his future, tried to prevent the most important pieces of this transcendent perception from shattering apart, that he might remember what he must to survive the fall of the Land. Then in pain like reified glory, white gold and the Staff of the Laws of Life and Death and Loric's triumph cast him through Linden's heart, through the heart of the Earth, and he awoke without sleeping from a dream outside all other dreaming.

* * *

Kevin walked with his mother, Lord Sandroy Loric-mate, to their chambers in Revelstone, smiling sideways as the two hummed in time with the slow song of the Keep's corridors. Sandroy smiled at her son's curious glee, and her happiness merged with Loric's as the three ate and drank together that evening.

"Kevin Landfriend, soon you will be ready to train to use the Staff of Law," Loric said proudly before the other went to his rest. "The Ritual of Sanctification is at the pinnacle of our lore, as that of Desecration is buried in its vale. When I return from my journey to Andelain, the other Lords and you and I will sojourn to Glimmermere, where we will teach you—and ourselves as well, for all life is teaching and learning—the hope of the Law in all its splendor.
"Provided, that is," Loric jested, "you have by then mastered the lore that precedes the sacred Ritual."

It had been taking Kevin longer than expected to truly know the Seven Words and all that Berek and his legacy had named with them. Distracted by a peculiar use he had made of the Earthpower at Glimmermere, Kevin adapted himself more slowly to the magic of the lessons he was taught by his father and mother...

What follows is a synopsis of what I have in mind, for those who might like a "What Has Gone Before" kind of version of the story, or in case I forget/fail to write the entire story.

Kevin learns what he will later encode into the Fifth Ward. Loric in Andelain has visions of a sword, and in Grimmerdhore he hears a dire prophecy of an ancient enemy of the Forests arising to wage war against the Land.

    Andelain's bounty met the horizon without ending. Revering the river, Loric did not notice the flow of the Wraiths into the water until scores of them ensapphired themselves amidst submerged rocks resting in his sight. He watched them shape a dagger out of their bright communion, carry themselves into his surprised hand. Then they dispersed with an expectant chime.


    "Come," Dhorehold said, "you are not to be refused."


    "I am the guardian of the Dark," the Forestal half-sang. "But from the lost Dark, from the lost depths of the Earth, arises a foe that you and I cannot long withstand."

    The Forestal did not allow Loric any inquiries. "The first names by which you will know them will be atrocities like the butchery of trees. Those whom they have sired and who have yet to be fully swayed to Despite may aid you in this need. Remember that the evil of your enemy is not the worst of the Earth." Dhorehold then collapsed into a stormy song of leaves and flowers, leaving the High Lord dispatched to the edge of Grimmerdhore as if awakening from a dire dream.

We find out that Kevin's special spell allows him to create "holographic" people by reflecting them out of Glimmermere's water: the precursors to Amok. Then, he and the other Old Lords of that era attempt to perform the Ritual of Sanctification, a spell that amplifies health-sense drastically. However, a synaesthetic disturbance of this sense during the Ritual reveals an attack on Revelstone by two Viles.

    Stories of horror came to the Lords for a score of days before the Ritual of Sanctification was to be performed. A statue of a Ranyhyn sculpted from floating blood, frozen in space by exotic theurgy, the blood sapped from three dead Ramen nearby. A Stonedown's dwellings perverted at impossible angles, the inhabitants disappeared as if into a void. An Unfettered One found so profoundly mutilated that her mind had split into dozens of selves, each trying to express itself through one body.

    The first names by which you will know them will be atrocities like the butchery of trees.


    To Kevin, the song sounded as if it were played not only by the voices of the Lords but also vague, vast numbers of others'. At first, he thought it was an effect of the Ritual of Sanctification. Only when he detected the ghost of mockery haunting the enigmatic singing did he realize that something was wrong.

    Lords of the Earth, be true.

    The silence of the Council resembled a lightning bolt, tasted of crepitation. The world was gnashing its teeth in the dark of the words that some terrible power had uttered.

    Do not surrender, however we may assail you. There is also hate in the world.


    He knew that days of Staff-empowered Healing would repair his broken spine, especially if wielded by the most precise of the Lords. But during this battle he could no longer make use of the High Lord's symbol of office. "Sandroy, claim the Staff!"

    His wife ran to the implement of Law, wrapped it in her embrace. Seeing Loric's injuries, she quickened herself to the grace of his partial restoration. Then she turned to the second dark monster.

    "Strength is not the only standard of life, dire spirit." Sandroy addressed the specter without emulating its insouciance. "It boots nothing for you to be destroyed. What is your greater aim? Who sent you?"

    Who sent us? Lover of your city, we send ourselves wherever our dreaming goes. We are provers of death. Dwellers in the ur-Dark. The Lost of the Deep. Demondim-sires. Viles.

Barely surviving the ensuing battle, the Old Lords embark on a mission to find or forge the materials Loric will need to fashion a weapon against the Viles. Kevin goes one way, north and west, while Loric heads far east (towards the region of Muirwin Delenoth).

    "I offer to head the safekeeping of Revelstone," Sandroy said. The Council agreed, remembering her victory over the second of the vanguard Viles.

In Westron Stonedown, Kevin meets a young man, a renegade Haruchai who deigns not to reveal his origins (the reader will know from the description what group he is a member of). Kevin had no kids, it seems, and I just feel like doing this, so Kevin and this Haruchai become romantically involved (this fact in turn partly explaining Kevin's attitude towards the Haruchai when they appear in his time as High Lord).

    "It is the Keeper's Vow," the young fighter said. "By swearing It, I would seek to bind myself to you for all of Time. None of my brethren whom I have known have proven themselves worthy of eternity, wherefore the power of the Vow for them has ever been effectless. I would pray to your Creator that I do as I must by you, Lord."

Together, they end up fighting a horde of children perverted by Vile magic in a way evocative of the ur-viles' perversion of Pietten. Rumors of "child armies" mutilating people throughout the Land grow.

    Tenscore or more of them flocked towards the Stonedown. They loped as if deranged, fell on the outermost villagers like wolves. But they did not outright kill their prey: they merely gnashed on the hands or the tongues or the eyes or ears of their victims until blood poured over the youths' jaws, as if their target were sensory perception instead of heart-bled vitality. Then the gavotting circles of children tossed the men and women aside and hunted in spirals for other unmarked Stonedownors to hurt.

    Rason [the Haruchai] sprinted down the hill, trying to ram himself into the path of the carnage. But by the time Kevin concerted himself against his horror to intervene in the valley, the marauders had run away, leaving a trail of living injured behind them.

While Loric travels, Kevin goes to the Demondim, builds their allegiance to the cause of stopping the Viles.

    "I am Nekrimah, the First Author of the Enclave," the loremaster stated like an especially clever graveyard. [Descriptions of the Demondim will be as a rule bizarre, possibly uninterpretable.] To Kevin's healthy sight, Nekrimah appeared quintessentially conflicted, as if two interpretations of one of the fundamental questions of existence vied for authority in the creature's reasoning.


    "The doom of the Demondim is this: that we still partake too much of the essence of the Viles. Purifying our forms of their worthless heritage will ensure our honor and splendor throughout the ages." Nekrimah cloaked its speech in the glamour of a joke.


    In the distance—through the walls of the Wightwarrens—Kevin caught glimpses of sound as meandering Demondim discussed intentions the High Lord's son could not understand.

    "A body... a vessel for the Snared One," he saw whispered down a far corridor. "The Pestilent Ones will not be able to see into it as they should. It will convince them of its truth, which truth no test can glean the falsehood of." The paresthetic emphasis the lore-wrought being placed on the word see disturbed Kevin profoundly and unclearly.


    "We will aid you," Nekrimah said, "if you teach us your special lore, Kevin son of Loric. How can you form images of life where no life exists?"

Beyond the Colossus, Loric meets a mysterious stranger; mounted on a quellvisk, she claims to be an Unfettered One.

    "What is your name?" Loric asked.

    "What of all possibilities would you want to give unto me?" the stranger replied. "If you must, you may know me as Iuẙptuet Dzied. It is a true name among my kind." The assertion resounded in Loric's ears as if it were complex deceit, and even the lettering suggested by the sound of the words implied enigma, yet that concepts like truth or falsity could attach to a mere name surpassed Loric's understanding.

The Insequent permits Loric to make use of the power of flight of the quellvisk to search for the crystal and metal he needs to make the sword he had a vision of in Andelain.

    Exhausted by the tension of the last few nights' silence, Loric asked an implicit question of the woman. "You are adept at a singular lore, if I am not mistaken."

    Iuẙptuet Dzied smiled lightly. "All Unfettered Ones pursue unique studies. I am a hunter after a fashion: I search for and train monsters despised by a race that the Giants may have spoken to your father of."

    The Bhrathair? Sandgorgons? The Dancers of the Sea? "The Elohim?" Loric might have remembered more, but the woman's reaction to his list was an amused shake of her head.

    "They do not like to be spoken of by one such as I," she shrugged, scintillating with flickers of mendacity. Whether the lorewise eremite's wording connoted women generally, the Unfettered Ones, or some more idiosyncratic category, Loric was at a loss to decipher. "Their enemies are many: any quellvisk like my mount; croyel who offend their sense of redemption; merewives whose sire they imprisoned; one of their own kind, who with were-menhirs is the one imprisoned; the p'Altisand"—that one rang untrue to Loric, as if the p'Altisand either did not exist or were no foes of the unidentified acquaintances of the Giants—"many frequently insolent men and women who live far to the West; the last spawn of the Viles."

    "The Demondim?"

    "Lord, permit yourself to be weary. Do not juggle the names of the peoples and horrors of the Earth to keep yourself awake. We approach the southern mountains on the morrow. You will need much clarity to locate the substance you crave for the forgery of the krill."

Meanwhile, Kevin, Nekrimah, and the Haruchai roam the Upper Land helping defend against sporadic attacks by the forces of the Viles. They find some of the spectral monsters by a river, freezing the water into sculpted darts that they use to shred a nearby Woodhelven. As Kevin's party travels to the defense of the Giants, they make their way between Giant Woods and the northern mountains.

    Kevin might have lost heart then, and surely he would not blame himself for faltering for an instant. For the sight was of lithic death. A fortress of obsidian possessed the horizon, overshadowing the range of Earth below it. Nekrimah placing its hand on Kevin's shoulder felt almost like a whistled homage.

    "The Dire Mountain," the Demondim breathed.

    As the Lord and the loremaster watched, the alcazar trembled. And as if their perception had incarnated their nightmares, they saw that it walked.

    * * * [End of chapter]

    "For three hundred years, it has been rumored among the Demondim that the Viles were laboring far to the north of the Land, carving a cathedral of abomination from a lonely summit in the cold wastes. Now we know those rumors were sooth."

    "How can we fight such power?" Kevin asked. Temptation like vertigo crawled into his fingertips from his aggrieved heart, temptation to wield raw destruction against his foes.

    Nekrimah looked at the Lord as if witnessing the latter's inner struggle, and its eyes gleamed approvingly—but what it approved of Kevin did not know.

    From their current vantage, Kevin's party could see the march of the Dire Mountain from the side. In its wake it left an alluvion of corroded soil as vitriol seeped rapaciously from the possessed rock.

    It is possessed, Kevin thought. Some maleficent presence infested the veins of the half-murdered peak. Alone, the demon was puissant indeed, but not enough to conquer the souls of stones: the Viles empowered it to that mastery of the Earth by means of their complex theurgy.

    The entire edifice was the most heinous crime Kevin had ever borne witness to.

    "If I were a Vile," Nekrimah said slyly, "I would head to Coercri with such a weapon, for it seems well-suited to breaking the spirits of Giants. And look"—the Demondim gestured with a flourish eastward—"we are nigh unto the Giants' demesne. Where, perchance, do you think we would best intercept our present adversary?"

    "On the road to the Grieve?"

    "Doubt does not become you, Lord. Of course on the road to the Grieve."


    Lovers of stone, desist.

    The Giants may have been taken aback by the amorphous voices of their assailants. Until then, only the corrupted mountain had played its dire song for the Giants to hear as they shattered tower after tower with their sheer power over rock, and that song had wrung the hearts of these men and women used to building with and not breaking the granite of the world. But the contempt of the Viles pierced that dirge, sounded out like the rape of a crystal. The atrocity implied by the Viles' demand catalyzed the Giants to more acute strikes, more measured blows. Working in tandem, they laced vast stretches of the grim swarm of megaliths with cracks that sparked friction and deeper wear in the Dire Mountain's foundations.

    In the name of the Sea you betray Stone. But evil alone comes of evil means, Unhomed Ones. We accept our unworth. If you win this battle in this way, you will be compelled to accept yours. We permit you only to corrupt yourselves or to die.

    Some of the Giants held back their fists, the tsunami they half-danced upon the land by crashing their travertine bones into the walls of the Dire Mountain. Others lessened the intensity of their violence.

    This is the way your world will end: in such failure and mistaken faith.

    The Viles seemed to be mimicking another's song.


    As more and more of the dire crenellation fell to the Giant host, structures erected by the Viles to help bind the demon into the mountain fell also. The specters had not tamed but coerced this force, and as its restraints came undone, it wrought tremors through the stone under its command.

    Kevin understood with the celerity of light that the demon meant to detonate the peak.

    The Giants could not hold themselves standing at the heart of an earthquake. They ran from the Dire Mountain, half-believing that they were responsible for the degree of violence that the peak suffered now inasmuch as it had been so gravely weakened by their intercession.


    All the self-command he had Kevin drew upon not to strike at Nekrimah as the other suddenly wheeled into his path. "Stand aside!" the Lord shouted. "I must dispel the evil that enslaves this mountain!"

    "Peace, son of Loric!" But the Demondim's pose gave the creature an appearance of amusement. "Invoke the Interdict. The Colossus of the Fall, as all who aspire to lorewisdom and Landfriendship should well know, is a bastion of the Earthpower. Mayhap it will aid you against the spirit that violates the spires of this ornate majesty."

    For no apparent reason, the Demondim added as if displaying a talent for wit, "Think the expression, 'samadhi,' if you heed my advice."


    Kevin sang out the Seven Words, and the Vile interposed tendrils of its weird dialect between the human speech and the perception of the mountain. Therefore the mountain did not hear the Lord, could not awaken with the Earthpower that gave it life. The ravening that slavered out from the rock, threatening eruption, climbed towards bloodshed.

    Kevin could not resist both the Vile and the demon at the same time with any balance of power other than the one he was already proportioning to the struggle.

    Nearby Giants suggested flight.

    The shockwaves of force rippling through the Dire Mountain started to shake the very Earth on which everyone in the immediate area stood.
    Then the Vilespawn saved Kevin's life. The Demondim's action was so unexpected that Loric's son nearly reeled. For Nekrimah spoke the Seven Words, but in a tone of obsidian cataclysm that accosted the speaker and hearer with a miracle of pain.

    Melenkurion abatha. Duroc minas mill. Harad khabaal.

    Gray spangling sloughed through Kevin's staff as if petrifying the flame, and Loric's son shot a grimace of alarm at the Demondim. But the transmuted theurgy resonated with the gray thrumming of the corrupted summit itself. In a blast of refusal, a paean of celestial rage, the purification of the mountain enacted itself like a ritual of jubilee. Incandescent hatred mangled the song of the mutilated heights for only instants as the demon was torn into the sky by the distant hand of the Colossus.

    Evincing lorewise severity, the remaining Vile estimates its chances of further survival against such foes and vanished into darkness.

Loric's party ends up at Melenkurion Skyweir, where an Elohim Appointed to guard the Blood of the Earth confronts them. The Elohim mistakenly thinks that the Insequent has spoken her true name to Loric and commands Loric to use the information to dissuade the Insequent from drinking the EarthBlood. However, Iuẙptuet Dzied is actually the name of a deceased Insequent and has no effect on the one here, who proceeds to Command the Elohim to allow himself to be possessed by one of the croyel. The resulting monster self-destructs (remember what happened to the one on Jeremiah's back: eating the essence of the world's magic is fatal for these demons), killing the Insequent and the quellvisk in the process.

    "Damelon my father told me of the uttermost might of this mountain," Loric said plainly. "But what form that might may take, he did not know."

    "It is the Power of Command," the faery sentience whispered in rage. "No life of this Earth can defy it: all who remain to name and use and who find their source in Time must answer when it calls unto them. But whosoever should attempt this Power must understand that any Command can turn aside from the intent of the one who issues it, for the letter of the words uttered is what the Earthpower keeps faith with; their spirit is another matter. This woman who travels with you, High Lord, and her abominable servant, seek to drink the Blood of the Earth for the sake of an everlasting crime. Allow them not: you know the woman's true name and have it therefore within you to ensure forever her departure from this sacred hollow. In due time, the monster she rides will disappear along with its kindred. Thus catastrophe that neither they nor you can foresee will be averted."

    Iuẙptuet Dzied shrugged. "That you believe you are all of the truth of the Earth, and yet have been taken in by such a slight lie... But then this 'monster,' in sooth my friend, despicable interloper, taught me the ways of guile that suffice to deceive even such as you. Or else how is it that you for so long knew not the threat that marched to your homeland's doorstep?"

    "I am no interloper," the other snarled, "not unless you are as well. In sooth, this depth of place surpasses us. But it surpasses all others as well. I am Appointed to compel your desistance here and now. Beyond that I need no justification for my presence. High Lord, again: demand of this madwoman that she leave Melenkurion Skyweir."


    "Iuẙptuet Dzied I am widely known as. However, that name is true not for me but for another. I merely make use of it, a trinket of my friendship with her ere she died long ago. Thus I may not be swayed by its recitation."

    The fey being was so taken aback by his mistake that he made no time for himself to intercede against the false Unfettered One when she drank the EarthBlood. Loric aghast watched the force of the Skyweir ramify through her veins, erect her as a bulwark of her own strength against her enemy as she shouted out.

    "Now, forsaken son of starlight, profane yourself. Summon one of the Demnified and allow it to master you. I will exult as you are humiliated 'beyond redemption.'"

    Spangled by his innate light, the Commanded creature quailed in sublime horror. His eyes as wide as the sun and the moon, he babbled an invocation answered by a living deformity as heinous as the sins of the Viles. The quellvisk sighed as if dreaming, as did the EarthBloodied woman, both watching extreme excruciation compel the Skyweir's sentinel to his doom.

    Deformation loped up the seraphic Earthpower, wrapped its limbs around his chest. Fed on his bright blood.

    Then horror came over the quellvisk and its keeper as that radiance set fire to the monster devouring it. The faery smiled as the fire seared his enemies, drove them back.

    Into the Blood of the Earth.

    Its suzerain puissance climbed like living gravity into the woman and the monster's veins. For moments they remained alive, and the quellvisk made use of its surging might to strike a bolt of sky-shattering light at its nemesis. But the man of power drank in the EarthBled ray, cleansed himself of the Demnified's stain. Then the light overcame its wielder, obliterating both of the transgressors under the mountain. Loric was alone with a creature whose might transcended all but the uttermost expenditure of the Staff of Law.

    Empyreal contempt for the dead agents of his profanation radiated from the fey man as he turned to the High Lord.

    "I am the Land's Creator's hold," the awful power recited like the true name of a divinity. "The Forestals are our hold in turn. But we seek not to manipulate the outcome of the Earth. Verily would I abandon this post at will, were it also my Würd. Therefore I thank you, High Lord, for you and your father and your son have protected and will protect the Earth from the untrammeled devastation of the Power of Command's abuse. Thus you allow me to fulfill my pilgrimage from intercessor and Appointed shield of the world to my origins in the vales of sempiternity, for empowering the life of the Earth to its own safeguarding is part of our purpose, allowing us to withdraw more and more to our home in peace. I will not remain to offer you any more gratitude, save this principle of the truth of the Earth for you to hold before your mind for the durance of your life: Law is not the opposite of Despite."

    Bells from dreams of eternal fanes, everlastingly sanctified and sacrificed to an end in the maw of the stars, rang out through the rhapsody of the fey creature's transmigration to the horizon. But Loric understood almost nothing that he had just been told. All he clearly perceived was that even the victor at the site of the EarthBlood had proven invidious; surely the quellvisk, which always reeked of murderous hopes, and the woman who he could no longer believe an Unfettered One—what she was he would never know, never care to ask if he could thereby forget the organic atrocity she had Commanded summoned—had carried out dire crimes by trying to inflict a palpable form of possession on a creature of free will. If such a host of surquedry aspired to the Skyweir's largesse, such bounty must be as dangerous as an unjustified promise. Any hope of salvation it offered would come at the cost of power that could as easily be perverted to self-contradiction.

Later Loric tells Kevin about the extreme powers he saw vying for the Blood of the Earth and convinces Kevin thereby to never use the Earthpower in that form (this is also how Kevin knew what the EarthBlood was capable of, hence how Amok knew, too). Kevin's Haruchai friend dies during the war with the sires of the Demondim. A trio of the greatest of the Viles squares off against the protagonists, a battle fought partly in the Viles' voidspace.

    The halcyon maelstrom of the Demondim defended the rivers, and only the foremost of the Viles pierced that barrier to assault the High Lord and his immediate companions. As gouts of obsidian disgraced the fire Loric poured from the Staff of Law against them, Nekrimah chided Kevin for his terror. "Our sires are puissant indeed, but imperfect beyond the possibility of triumph against us. Do not appear weak in their presence."

    Kevin, perceptually desecrated by the paresthetic malice of his foes, was losing sight of the men and women and monsters dancing their violence from the edge of Kurash Plenethor towards him. Though the azure of the Staff was as massive as any of the waters flowing from the western mountains to describe the blasted plain, three Viles shifted from the horizon closer and closer to their prey.

    Slaves of trees, your death incarnates before you. You are not permitted to surrender.

    Kevin rallied himself against the dark voice. "Nor would we ever surrender to your evil!" he shouted. And his own cerulean flame began to burn like bloody gold as he recalled the magic of one of the precursors to the Ritual of Desecration.

    In Loric's right hand, the krill reflected and merged the dire rainbow of all the battle's powers in its heart.

    The High Lord wrought a ray of absolute glory against one of the specters, and half its substance was rent to atoms of light.

    Our progeny have betrayed us.

    Tenebrous rapture erupted from the Viles' trinity. Nekrimah howled a chant of lore against the eruption. "Yes, contemptible creators, I betray you with all of my intent. Ere the age is ended, the Lords and I shall hunt you to the ends of the Earth, put an end to your demerit."

    But the Demondim loremaster overestimated its power—and underestimated its adversaries' cunning. Lowering its defenses to amplify its offensive magics, it abruptly vanished in a thunderclap of shadow.

    Kevin felt the same warp of space encompass the High Lord, and his father was gone as well. Joined by a final breach of the fortified river, the Viles on the plain themselves moiled into another dimension.

    * * *

    Loric did not awaken because he had not fallen asleep. Nonetheless, to his excruciated senses, he seemed awake and asleep simultaneously. Though the Viles could not laugh, the void they had trapped him in appeared in itself to be a form of laughter.

    Only the madly pulsating light of the krill allowed him to keep his bearings in any fashion.

    You have learned more than we would have believed possible since last our kind assailed you. You did well in striving to emulate white gold when you forged this weapon. Yet it will not avail you in the end, for in the ur-Dark there is no end.

    And Loric had to counter blast after blast of vitriolic hate as madly as the krill flared its majesty forth.

    Nekrimah rejoined him from the shadow of a shadow. A cleft of light opened near it.

    Treacher, if you do not desist, your destruction will follow a pain that you may not define.

    But the krill caught a glimmer of the light before the source was trammeled by the Viles, and that was all the dagger required to translate itself into an inferno.

    Now Loric could see the true structure of the Viles towering over him. The oblivion of their spectral flesh branched out from distortions in the fabric of reality that only the most exotic lore pertaining to the shape of space could anticipate. That lore dimly glittered in the hilt of the High Lord's dagger, tracing black flame towards Loric's grip on his arms and his hope.

    Nekrimah carved out a portal back to Kurash Plenethor, and Loric perceived through it the desperate calescence mounting in his son. Kevin was balanced on the edge of power that he was not ready—that no one could ever be ready—to use.

    Once again the krill mirrored the solar rapture of the High Lord's son. "Landfriend, hold!" Loric yelled through the avenue of the Demondim's theurgy. Then he thrust the krill along an alluvion of Staff-magic into the nearest of the sovereign Viles. Cutting into that personified self-torture at an angle that should have been impossible, the dagger shredded the Vile's heart.

    Recursively collapsing in on itself, the rent monster disintegrated as if fusing with the outer dark.

    The others sealed off the door of light opened by Nekrimah.

    Loric remembered at the same time as Nekrimah howled at him, "All you childish Lords together barely stopped the first strike on Revelstone. How easily do you conceive, loremaster among men, that the two of us may prevail under direr circumstances?" Surprise had given them the victory against the first; the others were already more than ready to sublate any comparable intent.

    Portals flooded the distance as further Viles assembled to execute the beings they had forced to trespass in the ur-Dark.

    Therefore, you will die.

    Therefore, we are all in agreement.

    The mordant mocking of the specters reminded Loric of something else as well. "Nekrimah, if the Ritual of Desecration were performed in this dark, it could not damage the Land. Nonetheless, I have seen in my son that his comprehension of the dangers of the Ritual is confused—he acknowledges and dreads them, but there is a propensity to something in him, some hurt that I do not understand, though I am his father... 'But love is not the opposite of Despite,' I have heard that in my dreams... Should we tell him when we return how we preserved ourselves from death?"

    "A lone Demondim and Loric son of Damelon son of Berek, bringing ravage like the falling of stars upon the mystic demesne of the Viles?" Nekrimah grinned—if grinning was possible for one such as this. "You demean your son if you believe that he will not know himself what necessity required to be done today."


    "I will not deceive him," the Demondim suddenly glared. "He must be taught to know the absolute opposition between verity and illusion." The lore-sculpture of the monster's face resembled that of a man or woman risking an iniquitous intent. "Only in that way will he be capable of seeing wherefore he may save or damn the Land in his own crisis. Either he will see his true enemy before the sword falls, or he will know that his enemy transcends humankind's truth. In this his fate or destiny lies."

    "Then I will hazard the Ritual of Desecration myself!" Loric shouted in panicked fury, although somewhere in the depths of his heart he recoiled from the Demondim's intonation of the word seeing. "Return to Kurash Plenethor as you may. If I do not return, teach my son what you must. Otherwise, keep your silence. If I die in the attempt, nothing will persuade him more strongly to abstain from such dire might ere the Land is ruined without hope of enduring redemption. If I triumph, however, I will bear the burden of justifying myself to him."

    Nekrimah sighed like the laughing void. "Very well, High Lord. At times, ruin and redemption defy distinction, or so I have heard it in my dreams said. Perhaps even my own sins will prove to be graces ere I am lost to name and use and life." As the Demondim recited the ancient threefold figure of speech, its voice conveyed evanescent hints of a vain but glorious hope. Then the creature stepped through the ur-Dark into the Land.

    Loric knew that the Ritual of Sanctification was one of the last keys to the Ritual of Desecration. By magnifying one's Land-given sight to the state of perpetual epiphany, the former opened one up utterly to the passions that inspired the magnitude of power demanded by the latter. It would also allow him to perceive the ensemble of the Viles gathering in this last abyss of the world. And the krill allowed him to amplify the Staff to the stature of the entire host of Revelstone. Loric unveiled the immense shadow weighing down on him in a flash of Staff-fire radiating and tetrating through the chiaroscuro flare of the dagger's hilt.

    But then he saw that both the near and the still-distant Viles, seething like a meteor devouring its way through the sky towards the Earth, fell silent at his exaltation.

    Instants passing in a roiling dimension of time or space slowed to obeisance. The Viles attuned their legion of intentions to a paresthetic clarity that Loric interpreted as self-commandment.

    Friend of trees, you are Earthpowerful beyond any other we have ever encountered in the wide world. Your chagrin on the day that you know what will be done with the artifice of lore you have crafted from the shadow of the Blood of the Earth will surpass our dismay in this eternal night. Yet that is cause for sorrow, for the loveliness of the world will be diminished greatly thereby.

    You are not a pestilence which the Earth endures for the sake of anything save the meaning of your own lives.

    One by one, become novas of self-Despite, tangibly consumed by their own convictions of unworth, defeat, the Viles killed themselves in Loric's apotheosis of sight.

    * * *

    Nekrimah will be hard come to the truth of the story. Rue played out a smile enlivened only by the graves of hope that drifted on Loric, the strange remains of the self-annihilation of the Viles. Each fleck of ghostly obsidian warmed him with the distant trust of love and the mystery of the Land, as if in their cthonic rapture the Viles had achieved some insight enough to alter once again at the last their civilization's alien Würd.

    When the bright door of the Demondim allowed him to, the High Lord simply and sadly departed.

    The stricken verdure of Kurash Plenethor welcomed him to the Land once more. At once Loric saw that even on another plane of existence, Kevin's proximity to his father, during the High Lord's single-handed performance of the Ritual of Sanctification, had accomplished for his son what the Vile-halted ceremony had before failed to do. Unable to even magically lie to Kevin, Loric explained what had happened to the last detail.

    "They feared that I would slay them if they did not slay themselves instead," Loric concluded.

    "So you have disproven even in this dire hour the Ritual of Desecration's promise of salvation," Kevin added sternly. "Now none who contemplate its enactment may lay claim to ignorance as to its inefficacy."

    To his father, Kevin did not sound like a man trying to convince himself of something.


    "I will renew the Weird of the Earth," Nekrimah shrugged cleverly. "I can perceive it one way, or another; either suffices, undecided yet that I am. The ending of the world should one day prove a decent enough strait to sort out which is best."

    "If the Earth fell, so would the Land. That I would never allow. And no Lords after me would allow it, either."

    "Kevin, you should doubt yourself more." The Demondim's half-tangible sight glinted as if the Vilespawn had just made the most spectacular joke of all of Time.


    Loric watched for signs that Kevin was reading more into the story than he should, but caught none. He did not have to fear that his son would regard the Power of Command as a greater hazard than the Ritual of Desecration, as if to imply that the latter were in some way preferable and therefore under some circumstances permissible.

The end of the story is about the shadow of the True Night, the Last Dark.

    Covenant knew the outcome of Kevin's song with the intimacy of excruciated divinity. For the Viles' last stand had proven the precursor to the Old Lords' last fall.

    Nekrimah had been possessed by two Ravers, primordial foes of the Forestals. This had been possible because the loremaster's self-Despite eventually transmuted from loathing its incorporeal aspect to humiliating itself before the same subsistence: Nekrimah attempted to attain to the communal minds shared by individual Viles, dividing the Demondim's haecceitic essence into discrete personages occupying one host. These were ensnared by moksha and turiya, who guided Nekrimah towards the Blood of the Earth seeking to Command the ancient guardians of the Forests to slay their charges. High Lord Kevin had made use of the krill to strike down his former comrade before that dire atrocity was committed, preserving the Earth from absolute Desecration.

    But Kevin would never know until long after his damnation that he had at that moment triumphed so utterly. Alive, he had in the end looked on the Bloodguard and saw the people who had cast Rason out by their indifference towards his individuality. Kevin never revealed this secret to anyone. Instead, in love and woe he had persuaded the Haruchai to leave the Land as he parleyed alone with the Despiser. Kevin had convicted himself of failing his lost Haruchai friend, and therefore in another way the Bloodguard as well, as much as all the others he had ever cared for on the Earth.

    Meditating for days on Kevin's Watch, the High Lord could see the entire Land from this vantage point. Before setting the krill to rest in the depths of Revelstone, Kevin had enacted the Ritual of Sanctification for the last time, and on the mountain of his vision he crucified himself with rapture at the Land's vast and teeming glory. Then he went to darken that glory with the work of despair that paid the wages of death.

    In his last dreams, a woman who would in her own way know as much pain as Kevin told another man whom he did not know, "In punishing yourself, you come to merit punishment. This is Despite." But Kevin had forsaken his dreams by then. Even the image of white gold shining from the woman's interlocutor inspired no hope in the High Lord: he had yearned too long for that metal, to no avail.

    If white gold were truly the key to a power that transcended Time, and as rare as extinction on the wide Earth that Kevin wept for, then the High Lord could only gain access to it if he could devise a way to reach outside of Time. Mayhap our deaths deposit us beyond the Arch of Life. But he could not conceive of any lore puissant enough to bridge the last dark circumnavigating the Earth.

    These futile musings Kevin encoded into the First Ward. They could do no harm, and perhaps they might help the New Lords—Kevin did not doubt that a new Council would arise to defend Andelain and the Ranyhyn, to honor the Vow of the Bloodguard, to take joy in the life of Stonedowns and Woodhelven. If Kevin's successors knew from the beginning how to recognize white gold, they might endeavor more—and more faithfully—to find it. They could be dissuaded from the false hope of the other Wards, for the knowledge they contained had not withstood the test of the Despiser's falsity. And if the New Lords' passion for wild magic afforded them the intuition necessary to open doors between realities...

    If, if, if.

    That the Demondim had pretended to foreswear the final intentions of their lost loremaster in order to ward themselves from suspicion, that they had earned well the title given to them by the Ramen, that they had murdered Lords without pity: all this dismayed Kevin, but now he accepted the past without pity as well. For the worst aspect of the Ritual of Desecration was that one needed to have absolute faith in its power to enact it. If one did not fully trust that it would destroy anything subject to its apocalypse, its savagery would not unleash itself at all. Kevin therefore had to—had to—hope that the sins of the Demondim would be amended for in time.

    And this dream could only become truth if the Despiser fell forever.

    By this cruelly purifying logic, the Landfriend became the Landwaster. Certain that the truth of the world itself was on his side, that evil's obsession with destruction would allow it to defeat itself by its own means, the High Lord incarnated hell upon the Earth. The last horror that trumpeted through his eviscerated thoughts was that the Ritual of Desecration had not the might he had put his faith in, that his doubt of its capacities would have been well kept.

    But Covenant forgave Kevin as much as he did not forgive the corruption of the Viles. He forgave Linden more than he forgave himself. To impose absolute punishment was to commit unpardonable sin. The necessity of freedom was the opposite of Despite.

    Against falsified night Covenant stood and fell to the Earth. If the world came to darkness at the last, he meant to do what he must to prove that dark true. There was no other way.

Last edited by Mighara Sovmadhi on Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:37 pm; edited 3 times in total
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deer of the dawn
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tantalizing vignettes, but I find them rather disjointed and hard to follow. I do hope you fill in the missing pieces!
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. -Philo of Alexandria

ahhhh... if only all our creativity in wickedness could be fixed by "Corrupt a Wish." - Linna Heartlistener
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glanced at this over the weekend, but like Deer said, it's difficult to follow. Would be better if you posted either single successive chapters or the whole story at once. Also how do you update? If you add text to random chapters without informing the audience about the changes, it makes the reading even harder.
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Mighara Sovmadhi
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry 'bout the way it's being done... I don't have my own computer right now so this forum is doubling as a word processor for me. I.e. I'm getting down the ideas, patching them together, and if I can make something workable out of all of it, I'll update it more appropriately.

For the moment, I guess I'll just ask a question. It has seemed to me since the start of the Last Chronicles that the style Donaldson uses to write the Covenant books stands out about as clearly (maybe) as Lovecraft's for his horror stories. Does anything I've come up with fit the tone of the actual series or am I just whistling before The Last Dark?

EDIT: this was not exactly my intent, but the way it's written so far almost reflects how it's written, on one level, from Covenant's perspective.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mighara Sovmadhi wrote:
Sorry 'bout the way it's being done... I don't have my own computer right now so this forum is doubling as a word processor for me.

Does anything I've come up with fit the tone of the actual series or am I just whistling before The Last Dark?

There are better online writing platforms than an outdated phpBB forum, like Google Drive. Wink

Errr...I'm not the best person to review stylistic elements; you'd need some native English speaker to give detailed advice. Yet as far as my opinion goes, more character introspection should be included in order to reach a Donaldson-ish atmosphere. Adding expressions with the length of mundane Finnish words does not suffice alone, but it does make the language more interesting. Smile However, I don't see anything wrong with just using your own, existing style. I have written some TCTC stuff, may have attempted to emulate D. up to some degree, found it impossible, and reverted back to existing techniques.

"I am Nekrimah, the First Author of the Enclave," the loremaster stated like an especially clever graveyard. [Descriptions of the Demondim will be as a rule bizarre, possibly uninterpretable.]

This may be problematic, as "bizarre" often floats in the eye of the reader. Laughing As a longtime fan of Pratchett and Douglas Adams, I wouldn't see anything quirky there, considering that I have sentences such as in the following in my own texts.

...and Squareset, who, as a rule, tittuped around as if a rectangular boulder had sprouted legs, slumped down to a half-crouch as soon as permitted.

(And immediately afterwards got the urge to insert some half-hidden allusion to Spongebob, but thought better of it.)

With her mind's ear, she could almost perceive either Stonemage or Grueburn cracking something about infinite piles of ravens stacked upon the shoulders of one another.

Or mind's nose, with her mind's hands, she applauded, etc.
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