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The Fragility of Sanity [ATT: Aginor]

Guest Estel

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The memories were only half-formed; fuzzy as if he had been drunk and could not remember all that had happened.  Had he been drunk?  Light, he wished he could say yes; blaming the entire fiasco on a few too many ales.  Only, the last time he had gotten drunk was before he had joined the Black Tower, while still a boy back in the keep at Fal Dara, and these days the amount of alcohol it would take for him to lose is mind would be roughly an entire keg.  Isha was not about to pay enough for an entire keg to himself to lose his mind- he was losing it already.


What he remembered were charred corpses, his rabid lust for Aginor’s blood and the last thing he had seen before succumbing to exhaustion- his friends’ face.  The horror he had seen there haunted him more than the twisted, blackened limbs that hardly looked like limbs anymore.  That he had been drunk off glory scared him far more than the consequences of killing twenty of his own brothers.  Twenty deaths, all lay at his feet.  Twenty sons, friends, brothers, some husbands, some fathers were all dead because he had been obsessed with the idea of killing one of the Forsaken.  Was his father’s vengeance worth their lives?


Rolling over, that act in itself taxing his remaining strength to its limits, he buried his face in his pillow as if trying to smother himself.  What would happen to him now?  He deserved death for what he had done.  Any mercenary group would have mutinied at that sort of bad judgement from a commander.  Any commander who threw away that many lives with no benefit deserved to be killed by his own men.


Where had it all gone wrong?  How had he misjudged so badly?  It wasn’t like him at all.  His vengeance was his own personal battle, it wasn’t his right to throw away twenty lives for the sake of a great man they had never known.  This was his fight.  He had never dragged others into it before, why had he started now?


Mustering what strength the Healers had left him, Isha threw his legs over the side of the bed.  A clean, unsinged uniform awaited, likely courtesy of either Noy or Vykor.  Any weaker man would not have made it to his feet, and in fact he leaned heavily on the wall, but he was Isha Talcontar, the giant and epitome of physical prowess- if not mental prowess or stability.


Pulling on the uniform, including a brand new pair of pins as his must have melted when he nearly burned himself to death, he stumbled through the curtains separating his bed from the rest of the infirmary.


Baijan’m’hael!  You do be too weak!” the Asha’man attending him, Kurtis, came over and in slipping his shoulder under Isha’s arm, the truth of the man’s words was obvious.  Kurtis collapsed beneath the three hundred pounds of sinew, sending both of them unceremoniously to the ground.


“Kurtis, help me to my feet.”


“Attack Leader, you do be needing to go back to bed.”  A thin waver, mostly disguised by admonishment, said that the story of... this morning’s? events had spread quickly.  They were scared he had gone mad.  What if...  Isha began panicking and reflexively seized saidin.  It was still there.


Sinking back onto the ground, he realised Kurtis had seized the Source in response.  “I’m alright.  I want to go back to the house.”  No need to ask which one.


“You’re do be...”


“I did be killing those twenty men.  I need to go back to that house.”


Struggling back to his feet, he pushed himself towards the door, half crawling, half leaning hopelessly on the wall.  Kurtis was putting up a fuss behind him, but apparently being thought mostly mad gave people a good reason to give you a wide berth.


For someone used to long strides getting him to wherever he wanted incredibly quickly, the trip across the Farm was a long one.  At various points, Isha crawled, stumbled and even pulled himself along the ground.  The full moon sat low in the sky, proclaiming the advance of dawn.  An entire day ago Isha had been gathering men who were now for the most part dead, their lives and bodies obliterated in the pyre he had given them.  And for what?  Nothing!


Blinded by exhaustion and his morbid need to see the place he had killed his brothers, Isha didn’t realise until he licked his lips to find the bitter taste of charcoal that he was already there.  Pushing himself back to all fours, he pushed himself to the middle before collapsing in a bawling mess.  The second time he had ever cried in the Tower.

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Aginor looked around thoughtfully as he sat back against the wall of a tool shed within viewing distance of the earlier conflict. He wasn’t worried about being recognized; because the simple Illusion weave he had woven was of an old serving man. Certainly, he wasn’t worthy of even a second look in his thin, stooped frame and threadbare garments.


He was interested in what would happen next. Surely the madman will return to the scene of his breakdown, the Chosen thought coldly, watching as the black-coated Soldiers and Dedicateds swarmed over the scene like ants when someone had kicked their hill. He had plenty of time to wait, and in the meantime, as the day drug on and the night grew long, he reflected on the day’s events. It had certainly taken a while to get to this point.


He had uncovered a lot of intriguing bits in his tenure at the Black Tower, and the history of Isha the Giant was certainly a succulent morsel to one such as himself. The odd blend of honor, anger, and guilt in the big man made for an inherently unstable mind, and it had all come crashing on down on his large head earlier this morning. Such a waste… he laughed silently, the feral gleam in his eyes belying his otherwise harmless facade. I could have had so much fun with him.


As if summoned by the Great Lord himself, the gigantic Asha’man appeared in the darkness before the dawn, staggering, crawling on hands and knees, pulling himself toward the scene of his utter failure.


Wriggling like a worm in the dirt, the Chosen thought triumphantly as he looked around to ensure that no one was around to see. There was NO ONE. The fool’s crazed behavior yesterday had scared away any who might have helped him, and the hour prohibited most everyone else from being about.


Too bad, thought Aginor without the slightest hint of pity. Hehehe, his mind laughed with unbridled glee at the fun he was about to have.


Grinning predatorily, he picked his way through the rubble that was left of his old home and toward the prone giant amidst the ashes of his own ruin. Hapless, hopeless, helpless, he was…


Aginor strode toward the sobbing man in the bottom of his pit, licking his lips like he was about to taste charbroiled steak fresh off the grill, although to a man such as himself, if there were other such men, this was ever so much more delicious. He was standing directly over the shattered remains of the towering giant, sobbing and shaking as he was, before Isha noticed him. Looking up at him through a mask of tears, dirt, and ash, the Asha’man said nothing through the gasps of anguish, a look of loss and confusion painted across his filthy face.


“Awww… are you missing your daddy?” Aginor asked, the sweetness of his tone adding even more menace to his words.


“Wha…? Who?” Isha began, shying away instinctively as the humble servant before him rippled and became the man he had killed so many in order to destroy. The look of horror on Isha’s face was enough to make the Chosen dance for joy, if he were into that sort of thing. As a madman, he most definitely was.


Slamming a shield into place over the fallen Asha’man and binding him with Air, Aginor bent down and looked closely into his face, the soft cackles of mirth bubbling up from him like a happy, but mad, little stream.


“Hehehe!!! Awww… did you miss me?”

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  • 2 weeks later...

The acrid taste of charcoal went as unnoticed as the bleeding knees.  Fingers clawed at dust, ash and debris, shifting bits of wood and stone away as if to create a nest in the middle of the destruction.  Isha writhed in the dirt like some dying beast and perhaps that was the most accurate description of Isha's opinion of himself.  How could he care call himself human when he callously threw away the lives to twoscore men?  Men with families; children and wives who loved them and mourned their deaths.  Deaths that sat squarely on the giant's shaking shoulders.


Blight-honed instincts were dulled by horror and grief so that Isha was unsure of how long the strange figure had been watching him.  Eventually though, the Asha'man did look up.  “Awww… are you missing your daddy?”


Utter incomprehension plagued the giant's mind as he tried to make sense of the sudden appearance.  The sun wasn't to make an appearance on the horizon for a few hours yet so why on earth was this man awake?  And who was he?  Isha was on the verge of telling the man to leave him alone with his grief when all of a sudden he rippled.  First instinct said it was a trick of the poor light or else the tears that stil ran down scarred cheeks, but then a terrifyingly familiar face appeared, Isha's mind didn't have time to make sense of the familiarity with Aginor despite having never actually seen the man in his right form before.


Event though he knew a Shield would already be in place, the grizzled Shienaran threw himself at the One Power, praying against hope that in his pride Aginor had made some mistake.  Hope failed and deserted him, leaving him barrent of even grief and horror.  All that was left was terror.


“Hehehe!!! Awww… did you miss me?”


As if the rest of the night hadn't been shaming enough, Isha screamed.

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  • 1 month later...

He danced around gaily, waving his hands as if conducting an orchestra of pure delight to the screaming wails of the prone giant in the ashes.


Making up a song in the spur of the moment, he pranced around in the darkness singing, the sobbing cries of the lone member of his audience providing both a rhythm and background harmony.


Poor little giant, he is so sad!

He’s killed his friends! He’s got no dad!

Squirming in the dirt, he’s a tasty worm,

To cut, to prod, to tease, to burn!

I’m a doctor, an expert, though it’s true I’m mad!


So be afraid of the fun we’ll have!

Together you and I we’ll spend lots of time!

The sobs, are they joy? At least you’re not dead!

Though you will be… hey, I made it rhyme!


Cackling and rubbing his hands together gleefully, his wispy hair in complete disarray, he was obviously mad to any who could see him. Fortunately for the souls in the Black Tower, only one of their residents did see the mad genius standing within its walls. Unfortunately for the suffering giant lying in the dirt, ash, and rubble, Isha was that poor soul.


Bending down and looking into the filth-stained, tear-drenched face of the broken Asha’man, Aginor cocked his head slightly to the side. Oddly enough, he looked very much like a bird examining a worm he was about to eat. Much like his mad little ditty had suggested.


Standing suddenly, the giant worm rose in the air, too, the Chosen weaving the Power as fast as thought. A gateway appeared, as Isha’s baleful dirge continued. Grinning slyly, Aginor lowered the Asha’man’s face to look him in the eye. Whispering softly, like a serpent in dry leaves, the man from children’s nightmares, and other nightmares that were even more deadly, spoke sanely for the first time that evening. It was more terrifying than anything he’d said before.


“Those thoughts and sensations that you thought were dead… no screaming, remember that they’re all in your head.”


The closing of the gateway sliced off the loudest, soul-wrenching scream that Isha ever uttered; the silence left behind, like a graveyard.

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