Paragon Ablaze – Chapter 5: Outside the Gates of War
I looked over at my mentor’s half-charred body before the ornate doors of this massive gate. I glimpsed it briefly before my vision was consumed. I was made to watch a reality that was not my own. Lands far away. Arms raised up high. Mouths spewing saliva. Swords clashing against swords. Daggers splitting skin. Blades cleaving through sinew. Maces crushing bone. Beasts brought low. Women flying high. Men called to arms.
I was made to listen too. At first, it was just the clatter and ring of steel, but the din of battle got louder. More visceral. I was hearing what it sounded like when blade entered flesh. Then I felt it. I keeled over in pain. I couldn’t recover at all. I couldn’t see anything but people being slain before me. Arrows from fleshy pale appendages. Dweghom raging ablaze. Dragons harpooned at the neck. Tall men flung at giants from wooden ships. Warped bodies flailing lifelessly. Feathered beasts ridden by bone-clad monsters. Horses impaled on spears. My brain was overwhelmed. My senses felt like they were being controlled. I felt what it was to be everywhere. I knew for that moment that this was War.
I felt my heart pumping harder than ever before. An intense heat inside of my gut welling up, growing larger. Then, like the quick stab of a spear, the heat flew through my entire body. The intense heat traveled through all my veins, a thousand of them at once in all directions and searing pain all of it. The pain multiplied and burned so strongly that I doubled over and my flesh openly smoldered.
I writhed on the ground. My body was husk crawling towards the only structure I could actually think of: the tall gates.
I cried out. I really tried. But my throat wasn’t in my control anymore. I made a sort of gurgle at first before I heard myself bellowing a grisly roar. The hair ignited on my head as flames spewed from my brain. My eyes felt like they were popping. My lips splitting. My tongue ripping. Pain cannot even begin to describe it. I felt like I was being unmade.
I think I was unmade…
I lost consciousness for a long period of time…
Then…I gained regained sentience.
I was staring at the ornate carvings of the gate. I didn’t feel any of the pain anymore. I didn’t hear the sounds of war. My eyes were my own.
I looked down to inspect my hands. My bewilderment was a cross between astonishment and fear. For they were not the same weathered hands with callouses on the tips of fingers and alongside the palm. They were not even the same with respect to each other.
My right hand was red hot as if steel emerging from a forge. My left hand was that of a beast, a massive claw that exuded smoke. I used my right hand to feel around my left. Despite the heat waves radiating from me, I didn’t feel any pain, nor did I feel as though my skin could burn.
My body had made a similar transformation as my flesh was now darker and you could see a subtle glow of scarlet tracing my veins. Did fire now flow through my veins? Did I somehow manage to harness the element of fire?
I looked to my right at the remains of my thane, who had burned so bright and extinguished so brilliantly. I wasn’t like her though. I wasn’t as talented or disciplined but perhaps I was better in this way.
My chest glowed white-hot between my breasts and where my heart should have been. I retained my muscles but they felt more corded than ever. I was filled with strength and energy that was just ready to burst forth. My legs had been spared from the wild transformation, which was a relief as I feared that I might have grown pincer-like legs similar to the beast I’d recently encountered.
I have just come to the realization now, just now after recounting my radical transformation by the Gates of War, that perhaps the beast that I had encountered had once been a guardian. Perhaps it too had been transformed by a similar force.
Turning back to my transformation. Yes, a great feeling of awe and pride came over me. It washed over my fears and doubts and filled me with purpose; motivation that has led me here today.
I suddenly knew that I had found what almost all dweghom sought during the Dheukorro. For the first time ever, I knew was it was to be Dweghom and I knew I needed to go back.