Huld pulled his cloak tighter around his shoulders. The city had blackened as night took full hold of it. His eyes darted between every crossway. He had volunteered for this, but the creeping feeling of the city still chilled him. He felt Sendiil’s warmth in his chest but it seemed faint being in the heart of the corrupted city.
Each year the Magistrate required all citizens of Braen to return to the Monolith this day and release the energy they have taken. This allows the Magistrate to keep tabs on the Ether. They take this as an opportunity to record who owns Ether, how much they own, and make sure that everyone’s returning the energy. They claim the only reason is to study Ether degradation and if the energy evaporates.
Huld’s mission was to overload the Monolith here in the Corrupt City, with the yearly return of the people of Braen. He would have to sneak in without arousing suspicion, and using a name of a recently deceased man he would release his Vessel full of Ether. The Ether would travel to the Monolith and cause it to rapidly expel all its energy.
Huld’s heart leapt. He heard the woman speaking with the Registrant Officer. She was the wife of the man he was impersonating and now she was explaining to the officer that her husband has been missing for several days and would be present to return his Ether for registering. Huld’s heart started pounding. He saw the officer take down her name as well as her husbands. He was only a few surfs behind her. He clenched his hands over and again. Took deep breaths and squared his shoulders. He knew the masses had come and gone and now only stragglers were trickling in. The only people left would only have a sliver of the Ether he had inside. He could still do this.
“Your name!” The officer repeated, it was the end of a long day, but the people of Braen were wicked regardless. Huld realized he was already in front of the Monolith and the Registrant Officer. There were guards side by side surrounding the Monolith, leaving only three paths to the Monolith that a Registrant Officer gated off. He was ten yards from his destination. He could see the eagerness to finish the shift on every guard’s face.
“Sorry officer, I have my papers right here,” the officer scoffed and the guards shifted their eyes seeing nothing of interest about the plain cloaked peasant. They had seen thousands of those today.
And with that he reached into his cloak and retrieved a hammer that he sent into the officers head. He was killed instantly and the guards were stunned. A dull day of work makes for a dull mind. Before the guards could draw their weapons Huld had dropped his hammer and dashed into a full sprint. He was covering the yards quickly.
“For you my Lord,” he whispered under his breath, “The King lives!” He yelled closing in on the last few yards before the massive Ether Monolith.
He leapt forward taking his last breath, his arm reach out towards the flickering stone. The Haste would be instant. If only he could get his hands on the Monolith. A ferocious energy ripped through Huld’s side. His clothes were shredded and beneath he bled severely. He crashed across the cobble stone. Huld looked down astonished, he raised his arm and could see his own ribs and bloodied flesh. The air was pushed out of his lungs and his head was spinning. A man wrapped in cloth and trinkets, flowing tails and strips of cloth. His face was scarred and angular. He crossed from the other side of the circular clearing around the Monolith.
Huld looked across at the man approaching him, sweat was pouring down his face and he felt hot around his midsection. He blinked his eyes rapidly. What happened, he wondered, this was all planned out. He looked up at the man quickly approaching. He wasn’t supposed to be here. They hadn’t planned on the woman to mention her husband. Had he done the right thing to charge? Could he have talked his way through the confusion?
Panic swelled inside.
Settle my son, there is nothing that surprises me
Well done, you have been faithful
The panic was instantly replaced with a calm warm sensation. He knew what was left.
Turning, he planted both hands on the cobbled stones. He lifted himself himself just as the man loomed over him.
“Why did you run peasant?” he hissed.
Huld coughed and took a breath. He reached inside, and loosed all the Ether inside of him. A flash of energy radiated from Huld. It pushed the man back and he covered his face.
“If that was what you call a surrender, it will do you no good now,” the snarl was coupled with a kick to the ribs rolling Huld away.
Huld coughed, but this time there was blood.
“I wasn’t surrendering, I’m a child of Sendiil, and I pity what’s next for you,” his last words were followed by panic from the Registrant Officer.
“He’s ruined us!” he had figured it out.
All day for three days people returned to deposit their Ether into the Monolith. It has been filled slowly to it’s limit. Huld was extensively skilled as a Fortifier and could retain amounts of Ether that very few could imagine. They were indeed ruined.
Huld couldn’t Haste the Ether to the Monolith as planned but he hoped that simply releasing it this close would to the deed. The Monolith began to hum. It was high pitched and growing louder. Huld clamped both hands over his ears and everyone else became disoriented. It would’ve been appreciated for its pleasant aria if it had not been so loud. The scarred man pulled his left hand from his ear to deal the final blow to Huld.
The Monolith cracked. Energy and light erupted with such intensity that everything within a mile from Braen was obliterated. Braen was no more.