92

Desolation followed the pulse-pull of one of its more ingenious creations. Felt a swell of pride not only at its own handiwork but also at where its Scion had chosen as the home for this half of the pair. Especially since every pair of ahtjeer had a larger, more easily spotted hourglass and a smaller one that was more easily hidden among every day items. And what the World hadn’t learned yet was that the smaller ahtjeer that was ten times more powerful than the larger one. Which was perfect or what it had planned to right the Balance Rhyshladlyn had upset with his choice, however interesting and unexpected.

It took form in the deep shadows that spread out from the retaining wall that surrounded an all but abandoned cabin at the edge of the Shiraniqi Desert. Took a deep breath of the air and smiled at the scent of decay and hopelessness and hatred that saturated it. Dhaoinic emotions heightened by a thing of pure Chaos that sat at their heart, feeding off their existence like a Dhaoine lived off air and water and food. Its creation was nearly ready to engage, was so close to freedom. And it had arrived just in time to bring it to where it set the ahtjeer free.

It stepped through the wall as though it wasn’t there pulling the deep shadows that formed it, cloaked it, along behind it as it did so. The wards shuddered once at its presence, gave a halfhearted warble before they fell silent and docile again, already having forgotten it had touched them. The Shields and Barriers didn’t even register its presence at all.

Dhaoine were so simple, beautiful and tragic and entertaining and infuriating, yes, but still so very simple. They didn’t think on multiple levels, didn’t ever anticipate that their homes would be invaded by something that wasn’t restrained by the laws that governed the living and so they only protected against things that were. Which was understandable, but oh so boring.

It walked up the front steps and through the front door, pausing just inside as the ambient magick that coated everything inside got a taste of it. Waited as the barest brush of Rhyshladlyn’s own power reached out, old but no less powerful for it, and touched it. Looked around at everything while that power tasted it, weighed it, and receded like Desolation knew it would. It chuckled.

Even Dhaoine Scion of it were so very simple.

There weren’t many places to hide this particular creation, even small as it was, even so it still focused in on the warbling hum that filled the cabin. Followed it down the main hallway and passed the stairs. Turned the corner and went down the second hallway to a door that had scratch marks on one of the jambs, like someone had gripped it while either running out or running inside. It touched those scratches and snickered at the whisper of desperation and worry and fear that poured out of the past. Memories so thick, so pure and yet tainted for the subject matter that had formed them, feeling them was like drinking perfectly aged whiskey; syrup-thick and sticky but burning like high priced spices with a heat like swallowing fire. Desolation snickered again, the sound like rustling leaves, and opened the door. It smiled so wide that it’s face hurt at the sight that greeted it from a small desk tucked into a corner.

There you are, little one,” it crossed the room and ran its hands across the top the hourglass, fingertips trailing down the smooth sides of the glass bulbs that trembled as the sand within them shifted and fell in one direction, the last grains dropping before they reversed direction. Hummed in tune with it, making the perfect countermelody, its smile turning fond when the ahtjeer cooed softly in response, recognizing its true creator. “Time to take you home.”

Getting a good grip on the twisted bars that bracketed the edges and held the flat top and bottom ledges, it turned and just before launching them both to its destination it caught sight of the four scorched wing marks that spread above the bed on the far wall. A flare of pride at the location Lílrt had chosen flared before it finished it left the cabin and landed in H’jae, Anglë World.

Lílrt may not have known the full breadth of what ahtjeer were capable of when he’d hidden this pair in opposite places in the Worlds, but Desolation wouldn’t hold that against the Anointed One. Instead it would merely make use of the left overs to ensure that its chosen Scion and the Worlds he protected learned a valuable lesson.

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