Being a god was something like being an artist, Randidly thought idly. But the overtly genius kind, like Mozart. No, to be a god was to be Jackson Pollock. You take simple actions and there will be some that deem it trash. And yet there are others that see the simple moves you make as representative of broader themes, and lose themselves in your majesty.
This time when Randidly reached for the images, they accepted his will so quickly that it left him somewhat stunned. Before he had simply tapped a tuning fork and the world stilled. Now he beckoned, and it exploded.
Even as the wild energies surged around the city of Carthak in a howling tumult, Randidly scowled. It appeared he had started the Sandstorm Season.
That barely contained climate fury exploded. Above the land, the entirety of the land, a giant maelstrom began to slowly churn. Winds roared to life, cutting their way across the countryside. In other areas of the Earth Golem Land, Randidly felt the people looking to the sky with worried expressions. With their fears realized before their eyes, their spirits were slowly submerged in hopelessness.
But those images were lost as Randidly reached and grasped the vicious sharpness of the sandstorm winds. With his eyes burning emerald the wind smashed into the side of the mountain of Carthak. The wind greedily scoured the broken stone clean and then began to screech as it shoved itself into the cracks in the mountain.
Through his feet, Randidly could feel the stone underneath him shuddering as it barely withstood the assault of the wind. Gritting his teeth, Randidly gathered the scraps of wickedly sharp wind that passed through the cracks into a fist and prepared to bring it down upon the strange assailants that rushed toward Rejt. The longer he gripped the wind, the more it squirmed underneath his will. Very quickly, he felt his control slipping. If he was going to act, he needed to do it quickly.
But then Randidly paused, letting his gaze unfocus slightly. It would be easy for him to crush the attackers. However, that wasn’t the point, was it? What he needed was to set this world on a different path. And for that, he would need the people of his Soulskill to actually want the world to change. For all that Randidly was unwilling to risk Rejt’s death, just interceding might stifle his potential.
To be a god was to be an artist. A minimalist, because you didn’t want to spend your effort dominating the world. Small strokes to influence a complex web of societies. A delicate touch was needed.
Randidly gathered the growing mass of winds and smashed then downwards on top of Rejt.
Wincing, Randidly admitted to himself that perhaps subtlety wasn’t his strong suit. But to be honest, it was all Randidly could do to control the cutting wind to surround Rejt and not rip him to pieces. The force of the concentrated air exploded outward. Of the six assailants, three were ripped apart by the explosion of cutting winds. The other three were knocked backward into broken pillars, further producing rubble.
…But then the wind did not stop gathering. It continued to swirl around Carthak and then through the cracks to gather around Rejt. Honestly, Randidly couldn’t figure it out. It was like some sort of metaphysical groove had formed in the world that the images were suddenly following. Perhaps that was why the image was growing difficult for him to hold?
Around Rejt, the wind around him gathered in a circle, spinning with vicious intensity. A tornado formed at the center of the room, periodically producing deadly blades that ripped outward.
The frown on Randidly’s face deepened. When he had smashed the gathered wind on Rejt, he had meant it to be some sort of “sign-from-god” that would stop the hostilities. But putting Rejt in the center of a tornado was a bit…
The maelstrom above the land began to quicken with the tornado below. Although Randidly couldn’t find the why, the two seemed irrevocable connected. Across time and space and mass, that danger surrounding Rejt became the danger hovering above all of the Earth Golems. Across the Land, sandstorms began to rumble into existence, picking up the scattered debris and turning them into deadly projections. The already vicious winds gleefully gathered more projectiles with which to inflict damage.
Inside the room, the other people were finally reacting to what was going on. Randidly’s summoning of the wind was too quick, and even quicker was the neutralization of the six attackers. By the time they had rushed forward, they were already being smashed backward. The Chancellor just stared at the growing tornado in horror, completely unable to rationalize what he was seeing. Lazar was a little more aware, quickly fleeing the room.
The ruined chapel was tall and dark, but as the wind forced itself into the room it opened the cracks in the ceiling and wall even wider. At the same time, more light found its way into the room through the enlarged cracks. It added to the illusion that the tornado itself was causing the illumination, and as it grew taller the light grew brighter.
Frowning, Randidly prodded the sharp energies that had surrounded Rejt in a swirling dance of ethereal blades. The tornado trembled, but something akin to momentum was fueling it now. Wind continued to pour in and feed it, and Rejt-
Randidly’s gaze sharpened. There were thin trails of blood in the tornado, flashes of crimson. They were tiny cuts, but it was clear that the obscured figure of Rejt was slowly becoming eviscerated.
Randidly thought powerfully, pressing down on the rebellious wind. To Randidly’s surprise, the tornado trembled but continued to doggedly spin. The flash of shock that Randidly felt was enough that he lightened the willpower he was pressing against the wind. This seemed to stumble it more than him actually resisting it had been, and the top part dispersed in a halo of cutting blades the scarred the nearby stone.
But wind continued to howl downwards and-
The bellow came from Rejt and with it came a wicked image of sharpness that cut upwards from the tornado. The winds dispersed, blown apart by this deep sense of severing that Rejt produced.
And at that moment, Randidly felt something. Not a place where he should try to dominate the images, but where he could lend his weight. A moment of clarity where his senses could pick up the metaphysical groove that had caused this, and now enabled him to end it. As Progenitor, he could put his finger on the scales of a motion made by one of the inhabitants of his Soulskill.
Again, Randidly felt that strange sense of connection. Perhaps… being a Progenitor was not as simple as he had assumed. The images resonated with him of course… but these images were not completely his. They were of this world, and they grew due to the people here.
So he threw himself in support of Rejt’s denial.
Suddenly empowered, that image of severing shot straight upwards. It passed through the roof of the chapel without even damaging the stone and ripped into the Maelstrom above the land above. With Randidly’s assistance, that cutting attack spread longer and longer until it was so long and skinny that it was invisible to the naked eye. But it rose upwards and diced the Maelstrom above the Land in half.
The furious sandstorms rumbled forward for another couple seconds, but the force creating them as ceased. Under the burden of their own weight, the sandstorms collapsed even as they were building up their kinetic force. With the same dull rumbling that had signaled their genesis, the sandstorms expired.
Everyone who was aware of what was going on shared a collective blink.
The Sandstorm Season… had lasted all of five minutes?
As the wind dispersed, Rejt was revealed. His chest was heaving and blood ribbed down his arms and legs. His body was canvased in small cuts. But his gaze was ferocious and a small lit his face. With his limbs trembling from the adrenaline, he lifted his hands to the sky.
“Fools!” Rejt bellowed. “It is I! The Progenitor! Descended amongst you to judge the fallen. Do you dare blaspheme by standing against me?!? MEET YOUR FATE!”
Randidly froze for a second, then barely restrained himself from snorting audibly. With the wind dispersed, the room had grown entirely silent. The low sobs of some of the broken assailants were the only accompaniment to Rejt’s grand announcement.
The Chancellor was basically the only person who wasn’t a broken wreck, the actual Progenitor, or the bluffing Earth Golem in the room, so it was to him the dubious honor of receiving the “Progenitor” fell.
After several more seconds of trying to figure out the proper reaction, the Chancellor defaulted to his usual bit; he sneered at Rejt. “Hmph, do you think such a pa- ah, a contrived display would sway me? I have crawled up from-”
A low keening began to sound. To his credit, Rejt didn’t react at all to the noise. His smile only widened. But Randidly looked up, covering his mouth with a hand so the Chancellor couldn’t see his mirthful disbelief.
By some strange coincidence, the wind ripping into the chapel had hollowed out a lot of the cracks and smoothed their edges. Not only light, but a gentle wind swirled down through the openings. And because of the strange shape they had formed, when the cuttingly sharp wind was softened by those meandering cracks, a strange noise was created.
Randidly first thought of it as keening, but it was a wistful, nostalgic keening. It reminded Randidly of the deep song of whales in the wide seas, seeking their kin. Always seeking and reaching. That was what the noise sounded like.
As the noise grew in volume, the Chancellor once more found himself unable to speak.
“Fine then,” Rejt said, his voice loud and formal. “You may approach. If you insist on judgment…”
With an exaggerated slowness due to his wounds, Rejt raised his arm. Thin trickles blood split and crossed each other, sweeping across his skin. His eyes did not blink, however. “…I have a responsibility to deliver it.”
The Chancellor whimpered, then turned and fled. But Randidly knew that letting him escape was just another headache that he wasn’t willing to deal with. So he stepped and appeared next to the fleeing Monster, smashing his fist into his face with enough force that he was sure that he would be out of commission for quite some time.
Then, his face even, Randidly straightened and said, “You know, the
blasphemous thing is to impersonate the Progenitor.”
“How do you know I am not the Progenitor? Did not even Tessa bare her belly to me in fealty? I bear the heavy weight of nobility, Randidly. Even you should be able to see it,” Rejt rumbled. But Randidly could see the twinkle in his eye.
“I know you are not the Progenitor… because I
the Progenitor,” Randidly said slowly.
The two men looked at each other for several seconds. Then, as one, they both began to laugh.
After each had managed to quite their fit of chuckles, Rejt turned and surveyed the Chapel. “…it is more destroyed than when we started. We will be blamed for this.”
Randidly waved a hand airily. “I’m sure Allica will understand how uncontrollable assassins are. Such things cannot be predicted, only weathered.”
Rejt snorted. “Perhaps. And it is certainly brighter in here. And the noise…”
Both paused and tilted their heads upward to catch the music of the room. As the Maelstrom above faded, so too did the volume of the noise. Now it was low and musical, like the thrum of a bubbling brook or the questioning groan of an owl. It was a hard noise to describe. But compared to the harsh noise from before…
“Well, it has become palatable,” Rejt announced. Randidly shook his head wordlessly.