Part 4: Brother Egon

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Since Marellia's prophesy Luthur had watched his son Dorian grow to manhood. He had kept the words of the portent to himself, heightened all the more in his mind since his arrival back home at the palace on Regina, those many years ago, immediately after visiting Thule island. He had gone to the balcony of his office-chamber and seen the servitors removing the mangled body of his favourite male Stavala bird; the Stormhawk bird as the native Reginians called them. It had been killed by its eldest male hatchling, which had then taken over its sire's territory and had driven all others away. These great Dragonbirds lived on the highest mountain peaks of Regina. A fierce magical creature similar to the early dinosaur birds of Earth, they are carnivores with great fighting prowess. Both male and female Stavala will fight to the death over territory, mates and to protect their young. Maintained in a huge specially constructed cage adjoining his office, this family of Stavala had been ruled by the dead male for over 80 years. Now the great bird was dead and its son ruled in its stead. He must not suffer a similar fate. He remembered Marellia's words. 'A Stormhawk of change and power. Father by his side.' This eased his mind for he had seen Dorian's growing command of all things important to a true Vihlani scion. The boy had excelled at all subjects he had taken at the Barlim Leadership Academy, though some like medical science and the minor arts courses had bemused his father. Dorian - the man - was now very formidable as his Karrusar duels had shown. But there was something amiss. The boy had always preferred female company; first his mother, Larrienne's and latterly his sister Mirien's. He knew Dorian respected him but often the boy had tried to talk to him about unimportant subjects and some of his views were overly coloured by outside influences and too much feminine company.
           Two of his sons, Dorian and Thane were womanisers. That pleased him! They had escaped the confines of the palace together and whored their way through the polyglot fleshpots of Regina on attaining adolescence. Even with this Dorian had shown himself different. Where as Thane would get straight on with the business in hand so to speak, Dorian would engage the alien females in great discourse, curious in the extreme and to the great amusement of his father and brothers. In what conflict that had occurred between father and son, Dorian had always restrained himself, even when Luthur had attempted to see his limits by abusing Larrienne and Mirien. The baiting always failed. Dorian always detected the sham and when Luthur was genuinely angered always knew his father would stop short and restrain himself. The Archduke Luthur was not wholly consumed by the evil of his ancestors.
           Luthur continued down the corridor from his office mulling over these thoughts.
           Egon was in the great library straining to master the Ravanna Tome of the Compulsor, one of the most powerful, arcane and literally mind blowing books of the psychic tyranny of the Vihlani race. Once the Vihlani were a cultured, noble race with no interest or desire for such vile Tomes of mental rape and violence. They were great artists and artisans with no weapons or need for laws of judicial murder. But naive Utopia is ripe meat for evil if left unguarded! The slavering of Yog-Shishan and his minions must of been oceanic at their prospects.
           Egon was devoted to Yog-Shishan. He had completed his psionic and magical training in the great temple-complex situated on Thule. His belief in his destiny was unassailable; he would rule the stars! With this creed of monomania he studied the book. Unlike his brothers he did not allow himself diversions. Females and carousing, he had no time to waste on these things, besides which the female he would have was very close at hand. His meditation was rudely interrupted by the voices of Dorian and Mirien as they came into the room.
           "I will show you what I mean, " said Mirien, leading Dorian into the room by the hand.
           "But nobody will want to do anything about it, " said Dorian. As he did so he saw Egon and his expression changed from bewitchment to guarded vigilance in an instant.
           Egon tried to exclude their voices from his meditation, but their presence and especially Mirien holding Dorian's hand doubly provoked him. His brother Dorian and he had a long-standing antipathy, which had resulted in considerable physical confrontation and damage to both, though this had stopped after Dorian's first duelling victory. It gnawed at his black heart that he was the second son. But that would change! Even more infuriating to Egon was Mirien's obsessive attention to Dorian. IT SHOULD BE HIM!
           "Quiet!" snapped Egon.
           "O yes great prestidigitator, " Dorian fired back. Mirien barely suppressed a giggle. Egon started to redline!
           Luthur could hear their voices down the corridor as he approached and he could sense the build up of antagonistic energy.
Deep within him a silent alarm began to ring.
           "I will not be spoken to in those terms impotent rake!" spat Egon turning to face Dorian. Dorian started to move towards him, a cold fell visage of retribution.
           "Dorian! Egon! Stop this!" implored Mirien fearing another violent confrontation. She moved in front of Dorian and placed a restraining hand on his face. Her touch was the kiss of silk. His fell look dissipated like the opening of a lotus in spring. "We interrupted him while he was meditating, " she whispered, intending both of them to hear. "We are sorry we burst in as we did brother, " she added.
           "Yes brother, I regret the interruption, " Dorian said choosing his words with care and without hint of apology.
           "Apology accepted, " Egon replied with great malice in his voice, knowing that the words would strike home.
           "Come Mirien, beloved. Let us leave it in peace with its Tome of the brain cell, " said Dorian, taking Mirien's hand to lead her away.
           Egon turned back to the book all relief valves temporarily tied down, but too distracted with fury to read.
           Mirien hesitated. She broke free from Dorian and moved towards Egon unhappy to leave on this sour and nasty note. She intended to placate Egon before they left.
           "Egon..." she said softly, standing beside him. She did not touch him. She rarely did. Egon made no reply.
           "Egon, " she repeated as she reached over and closed the book, seeking to get his attention.
           The restraint, the relief valves blew! Without thinking Egon lashed out with the back of his hand. He blindly struck Mirien across the face sending her spinning across the room, crashing brutally into the wall, such was the force of his blow.
           As Mirien hit the wall a primal bloodlust irrupted from within   Dorian. As it did so his body changed its form in answer. One moment a man, the next moment a golden dragon-lizard, serrated teeth and rending claws, leaping to kill its prey.
           Even with the superiority of his Vihlani breeding and skill, Egon knew he looked at death. Half rising out of the chair he met Dorian's leap with a martial arts strike that would of killed most opponents. Striking the Dorian-creature square in the chest. A strike for the heart!
           Luthur heard the crash and then the snarling roar from down the corridor. The Archduke of Regina immediately broke into a run towards the commotion.
           Egon was knocked over onto his back, hand bones smashed by the force of his own strike. He screamed in terror, pain and frustration. Dorian, his mind a palette of wrath, struck with talon and tooth, again and again.
           Luthur hit the doorway in full flight and took in the scene at once. A bolt of red manna launched forth from his right hand and burst around Dorian's body like a fireball, flinging him yelping and crashing half way up the opposite wall. Dorian fell down to the floor barely conscious and involuntarily changing back to his human form; severely wounded.
           Luthur moved directly to the mangled body of his son Egon. He could clearly see that Egon was dying, and he sensed the fading of his son's life-force. Placing his hands on Egon he started to invoke all the healing spells he knew.
           "It would not be enough, " Luthur thought, finishing his last spell. "No time to wait...I must risk giving of my own life-force..." Luthur hesitated. He looked across at Dorian crumpled on the floor. "Maybe this is how it is to be...Dorian will live and Egon must die..." He looked down at Egon...something moved inside him..."No! I will not abandon my child. I will never do that to any of them!" And he began to pass his own life-force into his son Egon, the danger to himself forgotten.
           Mirien stirred. As she opened her eyes she saw her father bending over Egon, sweat pouring from his brow. She could sense the dire necessity of his purpose. She looked around for Dorian, fearing the worst...
           She sighted him, his body covered in what she knew were magical fire burns, his face a reddened, blistered mess.
           Dorian!" she was frantic. She thought he was dead! Mirien crawled groggily over to him as quickly as she could. "Dorian!" the plaintive desperate call of his name summoned him out of the darkness. He slowly opened his eyes.
           "Dorian, "more softy as the relief sighed from her body and she tenderly caressed his burnt face. He stirred and opened his eyes again to the face of the angel he knew so well. She smiled and he managed to smile back with an unseen kiss passing from his lips to hers as he did so. She kissed him tenderly on the lips, a tear fell onto his lips as she lifted her head back.
           Luthur was suddenly aware of them both. He could not continue to give any more of his life-force to Egon as his own life would be forfeit. But it had been enough. Egon would live.
           "What happened here?" he demanded. As Mirien turned her face towards him he could see the red welt across her face.
           "Egon struck me and Dorian..." Her words failed.
           "Father. I did this. I accept any punishment, " Dorian made a feeble attempt to rise. "Do not blame Mirien..." He collapsed unconscious again, falling limp in Mirien's embrace.
           "Dorian!" Mirien called in distress. Luthur marvelled as Dorian once again came back to her immediately at the sound of her nightingale voice and he saw them share a smile.
           "I will give my judgment when all have recovered, " pronounced Luthur having the weariness of having saved Egon's life with his own life-force, bare on him. He reached up to the palace intercom and called the servitors. He was too weak and distracted by the passed minutes experience to summon them any other way.