The Godstorm so far...
Part 1 - Clouds like Murder
Part 2 - Wailing Winds
Part 3 - Blood Rain
Part 4 - Dark Thunder
And now: Part 5 - Bright as Lightning
Ephea leaps in Brattur’s way, hoping beyond belief that a weapon from Kraius’ own armoury might take a blow or two from Thunder’s black blade. As the sword leaves its scabbard a stark flash of brightest white illuminates the hall. The sword in Ephea’s hand is alive, jagged with power. It is like looking at mirrors in the midday sun, blinding with afterimages.
Every god knows Thunder’s twin sword: Lightning.
Ephea does not understand. Legend holds that anyone not Starborn who wields Thunder or Lightning will be reduced to nothing but ash and memory. Yet somehow Ephea still stands. At the sight of the sword something stirs within him, something like nostalgia, the edge of something long forgotten, buried deep.
Reality crashes back in. Even with Lightning, Ephea knows he cannot beat Brattur; the godprince is a renowned warrior, veteran of countless battles. But the sword gives him hope that he might buy the godqueen time to recover. Beyond that, he cannot think. Brattur attacks.
Brattur feints a strike to the right which twists into a sudden stabbing thrust at Ephea’s heart. Ephea stumbles, but the speed Lightning lends him brings the sword across in time to parry the blow. He pushes Thunder up over his shoulder, past his face. Ephea ducks as Brattur flicks the sword back and it grumbles just over his head.
When the swords clash Ephea feels the dark strength of Thunder pressing against him, it is like an invisible wave grabbing every particle of his body and shoving him back. But that feeling takes hold of something else within him; some strange recognition.
As they strike and parry, Ephea feels something swell inside him, a memory of strength and might, a memory of war, a memory of millennia. It is a complex of memories, but it has a single name. As the memories grow within him so he grows, filling his armour, becoming taller than his opponent. Swordplay becomes familiar to him, second nature, and Brattur is caught off-guard by Ephea’s metamorphosis, he does not understand what is happening. He does not understand that a godking needs more than might and posturing, a godking needs cunning and strategy and foresight.
What seemed brutal and powerful to Ephea mere moments ago now seems clumsy, and he avoids Brattur’s strikes with ease. Then he sees an opening. He takes Brattur’s sword hand off at the wrist, Lightning barely slowing as it carves through bone and flesh alike.
Thunder falls to the floor and Brattur grabs at the stump of his wrist with his left hand, red blood bubbling through his fingers in pulsing gushes. The godprince staggers backwards, eyes wide, mouth gaping as he looks disbelievingly at Ephea-who-is-no-longer-Ephea.
“Father.” Brattur gasps.
And as if to underline this simple statement the armour on the altar sags and crashes as it collapses, empty.
Ephea is no more, he remembers now that he is Kraius, that he created a larval form of himself, a godseed, when he sensed the winds of rebellion, when he foresaw his own murder but not the direction from which it would come. Lightning was the trigger, with the sword in his hand all his disembodied power would be drawn back to him, and with it, his memories and his might.
Kraius reaches down and picks up Thunder from the cracked floor, flicking Brattur’s hand away. He takes a step towards his treacherous son, who stands straight, defiant despite his grievous wound. The traitor expects death. Kraius raises his foot and kicks his son square in the chest, launching him halfway down the centre aisle of the hall. Everyone hears Brattur’s ribs crack, even over Thunder’s angry rumbling.
Kraius raises the swords high.
“I am Kraius.” He roars. “Godking.”
The answering roar is deafening and Kraius grins savagely. It might take cunning and intelligence, but it was the power they respected.
He feels a light touch on his back, a gentle, chill waft of air as wide wings fold into themselves. He leans into the godqueen’s touch.
“Elenor,” he says, softly, “my queen.”
And that will do them, for now.
Later, when they are alone, when they are no longer required to be king and queen in front of their subjects, they can be husband and wife, and say everything.
Later still, Elenor turns to Kraius.
“I made a promise, while you were... away. I would still see it honoured.”
The Godstorm is over... almost. Come back next week for the epilogue, Clear Skies.