The Avenger and the Destroyer

“Marcellus,” Angrok shouted as we ran along the mansion’s outer wall, “do as I say. Take a torch to that hay cart there, then meet me in the square.” A cart stacked high with hay sat unattended against the residence of House Moezin. I took a torch that had been lit at sunset to illuminate the alley and tossed it onto the flammable pile. The hay instantly caught and blazed into a towering inferno. Sparks flew onto the building, caught at the wood and thatch of an upper story veranda and began to smoke and crackle.

Running at full tilt I caught up with my lord at the city center where he was instructing the startled residents. “Be quick. Take what is most valuable to you and flee Deep Waters. Do not look back. The city is doomed, I assure you,” Angrok boomed. To me he said, “We go to the Citadel of Mazdah. Jabbar will have sought sanctuary there.”

Angrok led the way to the Citadel, evidently familiar with the layout of this town from before the time of my association with him. We reached the building and Angrok shouted up the tower’s height. Jabbar peered down on us from an upper story window. His voice was defiant. “You’ll pay for this treason, Angrok! You are fighting the wrong House.”

“I am fighting the House that slew the innocents in the market today,” he roared back. Jabbar’s eyes widened at that statement, revealing the truth of Angrok’s words. While he gawked at us a bolt from my crossbow flew and snagged his shoulder, knocking Jabbar back inside the room.

“Damn,” I growled.

“You’ll get more practice,” Angrok responded. And together we bashed the door open and entered the Citadel.

Heedless of what we might encounter, we smashed and kicked our way through the rooms in a furious fever. Priceless urns and ornamental plates were sent crashing into countless pieces. Screaming like some mad half-beast, the Destroyer came upon more guards and slashed them to death before they could react. I redeemed my earlier near miss with some well-placed arrows.

When the lower quarters were taken, I dashed after my lord as he ran up the stairs. Four more soldiers stood before the door that led to Jabbar. They were frozen in terror. Angrok leapt for them like a tiger out of some sweltering jungle. He brought his blade down to chop one man in half; twirling around, he sliced the necks of two others. Angrok lunged and stabbed at the last man with such force that he split apart. His rage was ruthless, omnipotent, and total.

A woman screamed at the end of the hall and rushed to a window where she looked back at us with terror and dove to the ground. I heard a loud thump and thought surely she had jumped to her death. Meanwhile, the scent of smoke reached my nose. The city was beginning to burn.

The door before us splintered as Angrok turned his mighty rage against it. Inside, the dark-skinned Jabbar was lying on the floor. He had yanked my crossbow bolt free of his shoulder, and his white glimmering tunic was saturated with blood.

“Mercy! Mercy!” Jabbar pleaded. “How did you know? How did you guess…?”

Angrok dropped his swords and walked over to Jabbar’s prostrate body. He towered above him like some iron clad god.

“Your witch-mother did indeed reveal a vision of truth from the past. But the vision of House Altir’s attack was of many months ago at the height of the growing season. Strewn on the ground were grapes and figs and melons. But now the harvest is over and in your market stalls today are raisins, dried figs, and various nuts and seeds. With your slaughter this morning Moezin more than repaid Altir for their vicious deeds. Your plan was to trick me into exterminating your enemy completely.”

Angrok picked up Jabbar by the neck who merely blubbered his confession. My master growled, “I will not be manipulated by a flea-bitten would-be sultan.” And without further comment, Angrok bashed Jabbar’s head against the wall until he was dead. He then tossed the Moezin leader’s lifeless body out the window, disposing of it like one would a filthy rag.

 

We surveyed the burning city from a safe distance. Its homes and temples and village shops were engulfed in flames. I could yet feel its heat on my face; sweat rolled down my neck and chest despite the chill desert air. I glanced sideways at my master. Angrok the Destroyer, I had called him once. But now I truly knew him as such. No longer the Avenger only, but also an obliterator – the enemy of sultans, lords, and kings.

As we walked off into the night, Angrok remained silent, his iron-lined feet conquering the ground before him with each step he took. By morning, there would be nothing left of House Altir or of House Moezin. Was he right to bring down the city in such a manner? I had my doubts, but let history judge him, I say. One thing I knew, this was not the end of his journey or of mine. Those iron-shod boots would one day tread again upon petty kingdoms and corrupt principalities, destroying or avenging as he judged fit.

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