I hope that this chapter will speak for itself.
â€œHow much longer are we going to be?â€ Pacing back and forth, Tenrek looked ahead as the centre of the Makerâ€™s core approached. The platform was now flying well over a hundred miles an hour, the terrain below speeding by and the great pillar in the distance growing steadily larger. All of the Exalts were gathered away from its edge, conscious of the lack of railings to prevent an unpleasant end.
â€œCalm down. Thereâ€™s no one here but us.â€ Eyes closed, Kieran was still motioning with his hands, bending and smoothing out invisible lines as, below the fast-flying platform, towers shifted and conduits of Essence began to flow, creating a long and shining beacon that lit the path back to the way from which theyâ€™d come. â€œEven the Deathlords canâ€™t enter Autochthonâ€™s core â€“ theyâ€™re dead. And there arenâ€™t any Abyssals close enough to intervene. Hath was the guardian of the Maker, and with his death, the path was cleared for us.â€ He paused, considering the hordes of the dead that theyâ€™d fought through. â€œMore or less.â€
â€œAs reassuring as that was, it wasnâ€™t an answer.â€ Tenrek said.
â€œAnother minute or two, if you stop bothering me. This partâ€™s actually pretty easy â€“ I just have to create enough power to break the eight Seals locking Autochthon away, which means connecting it from the core. The first seal should break any time now, and the rest will be fully open by the time we reach the spire. If Gaia got everything ready on her end, Autochthon should wake up a few minutes after that.â€
â€œAlright, quieting down, then. Iâ€™ll leave you to it.â€ Tenrek stepped away from the platformâ€™s edge, crouching worriedly. Behind him, Fokuf and Alina were resting peacefully, haggard from their earlier fight.
Draniel smirked. â€œNervous?â€
Tenrek snorted. â€œWho, me? Autochthonâ€™s on our side. If anyone here were going to be nervous, Iâ€™m pretty sure that it would have to be you.â€
â€œWhat? How do you plan to deal withâ€¦â€ Draniel broke off abruptly, his face going slack and then gradually forming into a broad smile. â€œThe first seal has broken open.â€
Alina looked up in surprise. â€œHow can you tell?â€
â€œBecause, however faintly, I can hear my grandmotherâ€™s voice again, finally. And sheâ€¦â€ Draniel broke off again as the second seal broke, his Grandmotherâ€™s voice whispered through him.
The Betrayer lives. He wakes. He must be destroyed. He cannot be given another chance to ruin everything. He clenched his eyes shut as his patronâ€™s needs echoed through his mind, faint but growing stronger, hate and fear in equal measures with every breath of wind blowing through him. He arranged his thoughts, laid his mind open for her. Around him, he was dimly aware that his current companions were staring at him with mixtures of confusion and suspicion on their faces. It didnâ€™t matter. The Silent Wind had to be made aware ofâ€¦
The third seal broke. No! No chances! He must be destroyed!
For a moment, Draniel could not tell if the thought was his or his Grandmotherâ€™s. But that sense of connection which he had longed for now filled him with fear. He blinked once, looked around. Alina had her chakram out, and had stepped protectively in front of Kieran. Fokuf was hefting his backpack, and Tenrek had settled into his fighting pose. Draniel did not understand why.
â€œYou would break theâ€¦â€ He broke off again, feeling weight in his hands. Looked down to see that his razor claws were already on.
â€œDraniel, you swore peace.â€ Fokufâ€™s voice was tight.
â€œShe does not see.â€ Draniel closed his eyes again. He sent his thoughts, as urgently as he could. Adorjan had to understand that these actions would doom her cause.
She did not. The thoughts buffeted his mind as the gateway continued to open. The fourth seal shattered as Kieran continued to work, not realizing that every one increased her control. Kill the shaper! Kill the Betrayer! You swore that you would kill him. You swore that you would die for her. Strike them down!
She did not see. She did not understand. But he was loyal to her, above all things. He had sworn that. No matter what, if he gave his life and soul for his Grandmother, it would be a worthwhile cause. It was so obvious, what he had to do. Serve Grandmother. Death before corruption.
Draniel raised his claws, pulled his Essence around himself. Green light blazed around him, as he spoke with great difficulty. â€œThe gateway is opening too much. I cannot resist her desires much longer.â€ He hesitated, gaze sweeping the others, and paused on Tenrek. â€œPerhaps you were right after all, priest of the Sun. Perhaps even the Primordials must fight their urges. But they cannot.â€ With blinding speed, as the others moved to fight, he struck.
Blood spilled across the platform. Draniel took a half-step backwards, and smiled a faint smile. He coughed, more blood leaving his mouth to join the deep pools flowing from his chest. He twisted his wrists, shaking them free of the razor claws buried deep in his own chest, and took a step backwards as the others watched in shock. Alina whispered all of their thoughts. â€œWhyâ€¦?â€
â€œBecause the Maker must live, for my Grandmother to triumph, and she cannot see that. Because every act of virtue is a triumph over ourselves.â€ Pain was bringing focus, pushing back his Grandmotherâ€™s incomprehension, and he took a second step. â€œMy life is in her service. I have no regrets.â€
A final step backwards, and he fell from the platform, trailing blood as he plunged towards the towers of the Maker. He watched his death approaching, felt his life fade, and he smiled. He had succeeded. Goodbye, Grandmother. I only hopeâ€¦ that you can forgive me.