Stories

Cacame’s Quest


Bathed in the dying embers of a forlorn sun, an elf emerged into the clearing. The acolytes moved to surround him. He assumed a combat crouch, in the manner of dwarves. Though outnumbered, he did not move, save his eyes flicking from acolyte to acolyte.

He was unlike any elf the acolytes had seen, though they too were elves and had - before coming to this place - known much of the world. His eyes were a liquid amber, centered with burning coals. His hair was a color so dark it was called black by any but the most discerning of eyes, so it shall be called black here. He had an almost too-perfectly elven face, angular and thin, but held in a most unelven manner, with grim, sunken sockets and thin lips held in a line.

Neither side showed fear, which worried the acolytes, and fear began to creep into their hearts.

“Leave this place or suffer,” one of the acolytes warned in the old tongue that had not been widely spoken since before their grandparents’ grandparents had been born.

The warning was pointless, as none wandered into the grove of Íle by chance. The intruder graced it no response, merely continuing to stand at the ready, his hammer held firmly. The acolytes, armed with wooden weapons and clad in wooden armor - as was the custom of their people - also held their ground, though they did so with legs that ached to take a step. Finally, an acolyte stepped forward and began to raise his spear.

“Stop. A fight will serve no purpose here.” The voice was like the crackle of a fire, wiping away the rotten leaves and stale undergrowth of the forest.

The acolyte, the one who had first spoken the warning, turned to the old elf. They say that elves do not die from age and truly, none have witnessed an aged elf lie down and breathe no more. But it could not be said that the ravages of time did not affect them, as so clearly laid out on the master’s face. He stooped and hobbled as he walked.

“But master,” the acolyte spoke, still in the old tongue, “he is but one and we are many. He is an intruder here, not invited.”

“It is true that numbers could overwhelm him,” the master said, speaking in the newer tongue though the old one was much more familiar to him, “but at what cost to us?”

The acolytes bowed their heads and backed off slightly, lowering their weapons. The intruder returned no courtesy, his eyes focusing on the old master. “Cacame Awemedinade Monípalóthi,” the old master said, “Íle welcomes you to his grove. Come with me.”

Cacame shifted out of the stance and let his hammer relax by his side, though there was no doubt he was ready to strike should violence seek him out. The old master passed under arched boughs and Cacame followed. Once they were alone, the old master turned harshly.

“You are a fool to come here,” he said.

“Not more than any of those outside,” Cacame replied in the language of the dwarves.

The old master let out a clipped laugh. “So, you won’t even grace me with our own words?”

“They are not my words and have not been since I was a child,” Cacame responded. “I speak the way of my people.”

The old master nodded, slowly, in understanding and perhaps a bit of sadness. “Yes, yes. It has been twenty years since last you were here, am I right?”

“Yes,” Cacame answered. “Much has changed since then.”

“I have heard through the roots of trees,” he acknowledged. “Will you tell me which are true?”

“Earlier you spoke the name I have been given,” Cacame answered without hesitation. “They are all true.

“The Immortal Onslaught,” the old master affirmed. He turned and looked deep into Cacame’s eyes. “A fearsome epithet.”

“The elves who gave it to me have a right to fear,” Cacame answered.

The old master smiled. “Am I to fear you then?”

“As long as you do not stand in my path, I would not bring wrath against the adherents of Íle.”

“So why have you returned to this grove? Do you again seek the rebirth of your departed wife?”

Cacame slowly shook his head. “No, I have learned that is a fool’s dream.”

“Then what?” the old master asked.

Cacame’s voice quivered as he spat the name, “Amoya Themarifa.”




The dreams had plagued Cacame for weeks, so that he could not properly sleep. He slept little in the first place and now slept even less, so little that Themiyi, Dostngosp, and Ngom began to worry for his health. They begged him to go to his bed, but he refused. It was only when finally worn to the point of collapse that he would drag himself to his bedroom and lie upon his bed.

One night, he woke in the middle, and found himself occupying not his own bed, but the one beside his own that he had always kept empty. The fading phantasms of the dream swam away as he realized where he was. He gathered himself, then rolled from the bed and retrieved his hammer.

The animals that kept watch over his bedroom door paid him no mind as he passed by, toward the stairs to the upper levels. He climbed to the prison. He passed by the rows of goblins and slathering gibberlings, toward the elf cages. He found most empty. Eventually, he came to a healthy looking elf who had not been stripped of his weapon or armor. Even with it, he posed little threat.

“Are you here to save me?” the elf asked as Cacame approached his cage. “No, from that hammer you carry, I see you aren’t.”

Cacame said nothing and merely opened the cage. The elf peered at Cacame and remained in the cage, unmoving. “Get out,” Cacame finally said.

“Do you mean to murder me in your pajamas?” the elf asked.

“Yes,” Cacame answered simply.

The elf sat down and crossed his arms. “If so, then I prefer to sit.” He sat his wooden sword to the side.

“Get up,” Cacame said.

“I prefer not to, sir,” the elf answered. “I know who you are and I will not willingly be your surrogate for revenge. If you wish to execute me, then do so. Otherwise, I am content to sit here until the day I am to be freed or killed.” He closed his eyes and began muttering to himself. To the unknowing, it sounded like gibberish, but was familiar to Cacame.

“You are initiated to the mysteries of Íle,” Cacame said.

“Yes, sir,” the elf answered. He cracked one eye. “You know them, then?”

“I too follow Íle.”

The elf opened the other eye, displaying some measure of surprise. “I would have thought a man such as you would not bother with the gods.”

Cacame placed the head of his hammer on the ground and leaned slightly on the shaft. “Though it may not naturally end for us, the mortal coil eventually unwinds for all.”

The elf nodded. “Yes,” the elf said. “The fluid of life flows from the grove of Íle, making us eternal.” Cacame’s eyes narrowed for a dangerous moment. The elf noticed and slowly stood. “So, do you always discuss religion with your captives?”

“Your words have stirred me,” Cacame said. He swung the door open and took a step back.

The elf took a step forward, then halted. “You’re letting me free?”

“In a sense,” Cacame said.

The elf hung his head slightly and nodded slowly. “Very well.” He took another step forward and spread his arms. “I won’t fight back.”

Cacame swung his hammer and it splintered both breast and plate. The elf collapsed to the ground, wheezed out a small prayer to Íle, and closed his eyes.

Cacame stepped over him and returned to his bedchamber. He slept and did not wake again for the rest of the night.




The obsidian tower struck at the sky like a spear from a jealous earth. Who dreamed of shapes staring at pebbles on the ground? Who lifted his face toward the stones and sighed in minute pleasure? Who ever dreamed to burrow through the ground as an earthworm? The earth was a bounty, yet always did those who benefited from it dream of the sky.

As Cacame thought these things, he realized they were quite dwarven things to think. Then he hated that he realized it, to even think his thoughts as being "dwarven" rather than his own.

Once, long ago, this tower may have teemed with goblins slaving to sate the perverse needs of their master, but that had been long ago. Now only a haunting silence inhabited the place. Even the bones of those who had died long ago had crumbled to powder, and their restless spirits had faded away, either to some hellish afterlife or into oblivion.

The entrance to the tower was not hidden. Cacame entered and ascended. He expected his prey to be near the top, a black poison at the tip. Instead, it was huddled around the middle.

So unused to intruders was the creature that it did not immediately turn to face him, though Cacame had spent no effort in concealing his approach. When it did, unfurling its fell wings, it managed to affect a manner of surprised indignity. Despite its horror, it was almost regal in its movements.

It stared at him, for a moment, behind its iron mask. Flames licked the corners of the mask’s mouth as it breathed, making the metal glow red like the furnace. Cacame assumed a combat crouch, in the manner of the dwarves.




The King left his people in the middle of the day. He strode with purpose beneath the legs of the colossus in his likeness and through the dry, brittle forest that surrounded it. He was a great distance away before his subjects were truly aware he had departed.

As with all monarchs, on him the opinions of the subjects were divided. Many feared for their safety because of his departure. Who but he could lead them properly, direct their energy toward great things, and elevate them to heights that were unknown before? Who else could protect them from their enemies as well as he?

Those who held these fears were fools. Cacame had governed little in his reign, leaving such tasks to the dwarves themselves. Similarly, the champions of Trustclaps were beyond reproach in their skill and training. Death rode his pale horse a few steps behind them.

Those he had left to govern breathed a sigh and in some part wished the departure was permanent. Mayors had fallen each autumn as surely as the leaves, so tiring was dealing with their king. None had the spine for a second term. The baron too hoped the king would remain away, as for once he would be allowed to be the one in some manner of control.

They too were fools. Their positions were tenuous and subject to the blowing whims of their subjects. Cacame narrowed those whims and gave hope to them. With the fears of the subjects growing, the leaders would soon find themselves harried more than ever before.

His personal guard gnashed their teeth and blamed each other alternately for his leaving and his leaving them behind. Had whichever was presently being singled out not been so off putting, or ineffectual, or ugly, or weak, or beautiful, or heart-string-pulling, they would still be at his side, either in the fortress or off on whatever adventure had taken him.

They numbered among the fools as well. None of them had entered his mind as he departed, except perhaps as a brief thought, a small chuckle to himself as he realized what arguments would rise among them, before it was cast aside by more pressing issues.

The soldiers gave it no mind. Cacame could handle himself, they knew, and they could handle whatever would appear in his absence. They were proper in holding this belief, but still fools for not having given it more thought.

The former baron’s consort wailed at his departure perhaps even more than she did at her own husband’s death. Several suggested she chase after him, but she did not. Somewhere in her, there existed a voice of reason still. She went about her days as normal, except when she would pass the entrance to his throne room, wonder a moment, then continue on her business.

Perhaps she alone was not the fool, though her broken mind makes such judgments difficult.




The elder elf’s face had gone grim. “This is a terrible thing you ask,” he said in the new tongue.

“Less terrible than what I shall do once it is fulfilled,” Cacame answered, still speaking the dwarven words.

The elder looked at Cacame and then lowered his head. “Of that I have little doubt,” he answered softly. “And it is a request that can be granted.”

“Once, I answered Íle’s request, and from this grove drove a fell beast,” Cacame said.

“With you riding upon its back,” the elder answered dryly. “But I sent you to retrieve your wife. The balance has been granted for that service.”

Cacame shook his head. “You misjudge me. I do not seek to twice claim payment for the deed. I only boast that no service is too great. Name what Íle seeks to have accomplished and I shall accomplish it.”

The elder’s laugh was without humor. “You are eager to rush into conflict. Before you do so, you should know that there are problems with your request that must first be solved.” Cacame simply nodded for the old elf to continue. “The first is the disposition of Amoya’s body. It is buried near the place of his birth. You must retrieve it before anything can be done.”

“I shall relieve Amoya’s grave of the foul taint that it is forced to endure,” Cacame declared. “I shall return within the week.”

Cacame strode out without further instruction.




The soil was hard and compact. It had been many years since the body had been buried here. Cacame wondered briefly how it had been retrieved. Who had gone through such lengths to find the body in the great expanse of the Gleeful Jungle? Who had dragged it to its current resting place and, with great care, fashioned a grave for it?

Someone who had loved Amoya, perhaps. Had it been a lover or a husband, who wept over her corpse much as Cacame had wept over the remains of his wife? Had it been a father or child who vowed revenge on the man who killed her and even to this day plotted?

Whatever it had been, at least her body had been unmolested and there was enough to place into a grave.

Cacame redoubled his digging. He had taken up a shovel, even though he knew rightly he should have a pick. But he had not brought one with him and the villagers would think it odd for him to request one. It was unlikely they had one, regardless. Elves did not dig into the ground with regularity and even rarer did they pierce stone.

It was strange, he briefly thought, that the elves, to whom death ignored unless the misfortune of disease or war were to strike, would revel in the ephemeral world of plants which faded and renewed, while dwarves, who suffered the ravages of old age, would find kinship with the eternal stone, breakable only under weapon.

His shovel made a chinking sound and for a moment, Cacame thought he had dug deeply enough to strike stone. But the stone was too smooth to be natural and he realized then that he had found Amoya’s coffin.




It was a strange experience, to walk between the walls of the world. The elder had told him he had nothing to worry about, though Cacame felt no fear before the warning. Rather, he felt oddly disconcerted, as if everything he touched were made of water, but in truth it was he who was liquid. He hurried through the starscape as quickly as possible, toward the glowing ember he had been told was his ultimate destination.

When he arrived, he felt more solid, as did the world around him, but his odd feeling did not leave him. Now, as he breathed the air once again, he noticed that it tasted different. Not the difference between the air of the sea and that of a high mountain - he had traveled much in his time and knew the difference of such things.

No, it was as if the air were of an entirely different makeup. Related, perhaps, like the tiger and leopard are related, but still different beasts entirely. As his senses returned to him, he realized more that everything was so here. The sky was blue, but the wrong shade he was sure. When he took a step, the crunch of dirt beneath his feet carried an unfamiliar tone.

Only he seemed to remain right. His clothes smelled and felt as they should. His weapon still had the same gleam in the sunlight. But he knew immediately that set him apart as a stranger in this land. Should he encounter anyone, they would immediately sense the wrongness of him. He did not fit into this world, as if he had been created by one artist and then pasted into the painting of another.

But as he walked across the barren landscape, he knew that fearing an encounter was the province of fools. For nothing lived in this place, except his quarry which needed none of the comforts of life.

The dark fortress was a visible wound on the horizon.




Though he had walked all the night, he did not emerge into the retreat immediately. It would be foolish to do so in his present state. He knew not who there might recognize him and, regardless, what reception he would receive from its inhabitants. It had been decades since last he had regularly lived among elves. Longer still since he had lived an elven life among them.

He did not risk sleeping, so lurked at the corners of the retreat and waited for a sign that he could enter. The opening did not come after several hours, however and his fatigue was becoming too great. If he did not move now he would be caught off guard eventually. He shed his armor and helmet, wrapped them in his cloak, and hid them in the crook of a tree along with his war hammer.

Slowly, he walked into the borders of the retreat. People saw him immediately. He raised his hand in greeting and a man strode over to him. “I have been walking a great distance,” Cacame said, “I wish for a place to rest, if you would be so hospitable.”

The man smiled and came nearer, then hesitated when he saw Cacame’s face. For a moment, Cacame thought he had been recognized, but the man waved him forward. “Of course, brother,” he said, “anyone may find refuge with us.”

Cacame wore a smile, but to others it was the hungry grin of a jackal approaching a carcass. The other elves shuddered at his passing and murmured to each other, but said nothing to him or his host.

They approached a tree, with its boughs shaped expertly through elven techniques into the form of a home. The two walked inside and the man gestured toward a bed. “You may rest here,” he said. “Shall I wake you when the meal is ready or do you wish to sleep through it?”

“I will probably wake up before you could come for me,” Cacame answered. His host nodded and walked from the house. Cacame laid upon the bed, stiff twigs for a mattress and broad leaves for a blanket. Even though it was alien to him, he quickly drifted into a sleep like he had not had in many years.




He woke and found that the sun had not progressed very far in the sky. He exited the house and saw the area empty. None of the elves he had passed earlier were there. He wondered if they had discovered his stashed equipment, but discarded the fear. Had he been found out, he would not have been allowed to wake.

“Hello?” he called out, but received no response. He wondered why he had bothered. If the elves had truly departed, it was a boon to him and made his quest easier.

He peered into the doorways of some of the other tree-homes and found each one empty. There was not even evidence of inhabitance.

Suddenly, dark clouds rolled into the sky and darkened the area. They seemed ready to erupt with rain, but nothing fell. He wondered at their quick approach. He had not seen clouds all day prior to their arrival.

He walked toward the outskirts of the retreat, toward the tree that hid his equipment. Before he could reach it, a asio emerged from the woods, landing on the ground before him, and stared at him. It seemed familiar to him, as if he had once known it long ago. Its eyes held intelligence.

He approached it slowly and it lowered its head so its beak touched the ground. “Are you bowing to me?” Cacame asked. The asio raised its head and looked at him more, then turned and flew off into the forest.

Cacame felt the urge to follow and did. With growing alarm, he realized the asio was heading toward the tree that held his equipment. The asio alighted upon it, then stepped to a side and turned back to face Cacame.

He waited to see if anything more would happen, but the asio merely waited. Cacame took a step forward, toward the tree. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and Cacame was knocked back. He lay on the ground dazzled, spots dancing in his eyes. The peal of thunder brought back his senses. He struggled to his feet and saw the remains of the tree, burning. The unicorn was gone.

His head throbbed. He uneasily walked back toward the tree-home, still dazed. He lay down upon the bed and fell back to sleep.




When he woke again, it was dark outside, but not from clouds. Night had come. He heard the chatter of elven voices and saw flickering fires outside. He emerged from the tree-home to see many of the elves gathered around a fire, talking and making merry.

The elf who was his host turned and waved him over. “Come and have something to eat!” he called out.

Cacame moved to join them and sat beside his host. “I thought you would wake me before the meal was ready,” Cacame muttered as he was handed a bowl full of thick soup.

“I did,” the elf answered. “But you merely sat up, muttered something about still being sleepy, and laid back down.”

“I don’t remember that,” Cacame said.

“Ah, it must have been a deep sleep, then,” the elf said. “I am Amoya,” he said and extended his hand.

Cacame pulled away with a start, then relaxed. “I am Cacame,” he answered, but did not shake the man’s hand.

“Is there a problem?” Amoya asked.

“No,” Cacame answered. “Merely a bit of shock. I am here because of an elf named Amoya. I seek to visit her grave.”

The elves around the fire exchanged surprised glances. “Amoya Themarifa?” the other Amoya asked.

“That is right,” Cacame said.

“You said your name was Cacame?” someone from across the fire asked.

“Yes,” Cacame answered.

The other Amoya raised his hands in a passive manner. “The story goes that Amoya killed an elf named Nemo, who was married to an elf named Cacame,” the other Amoya said.

Cacame nodded his head. “I have heard that.”

The other Amoya cracked a crooked smile. “We call this Cacame the Immortal Onslaught,” he said in a mocking tone, as if he were baiting Cacame.

“Yes, I’ve heard that name before. Cacame Awemedinade Monípalóthi, right?”

The other Amoya nodded. “Yes, that is him. Monípalóthi. He wears the epithet like a badge of pride, I hear,” he said. The other elves around the fire laughed, and so did Cacame, though it was one reminiscent of a hammer on stone.

Despite that, his laugh seemed to put the other elves at ease, and the focus of their eyes left him. He continued to eat his soup and as he did so and his strength was restored, so was his boldness. “Where was everyone earlier?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” the other Amoya asked.

“A short time after I first arrived, maybe an hour or so judging from the sun, I woke and found everyone gone from the clearing,” he said. He omitted the part about the asio and his equipment. “Eventually, I went back and fell asleep again.”

The other Amoya looked surprised. “Odd,” he said. “I don’t think any of us were gone from the clearing for too long. I don’t remember any time when we’d all be away.”

“Maybe I was mistaken,” Cacame said, though he knew he was not. “I was quite drowsy.”

The other Amoya simply nodded. “That must be it,” he said. “If you wish, I can show you Amoya Clearmorning’s grave in the morning.”

“That will be good,” Cacame answered.




Flames consumed as he walked away. It was blasphemy of the highest order he had committed. For an elf to commit such an act - even an elf who no longer consider himself one - was unthinkable. Even the gods may not have foreseen such an occurrence.

Trees burned and toppled in the heat. Clouds gathered in the sky, though too slowly to prevent the destruction the fire wrought. In the morning, perhaps, they would extinguish it. But by then, all that would remain was a blackened scar.

Cacame pulled his cloak closer around himself. Though the fire raged nearby, he felt none of its heat.




“So, it was you after all,” the elf said, standing at the edge of the clearing.

Cacame hefted the body of Amoya over his shoulder and turned to face the other Amoya. He felt foolish acknowledging so vapid a statement, but said, “Yes.”

“I suppose I should stop you,” the other Amoya said, his voice taut. He held a wooden sword in his hands and had been sheathed in wooden armor.

“There will be consequences, should you fail. I shall burn this very place to the ground,” Cacame answered.

“I know,” Amoya replied, his voice nearly breaking. Still he held up his sword and took a step forward. But it was only one, then he asked, “Why?”

“It should be obvious.”

Amoya’s head fell and he shook it roughly. “No! It is not,” he cried. “Revenge, it is clear! But what sort of revenge! Would you be so terrible as to turn the very act that has driven you to the arms of the dwarves on your foe?” Cacame simply stared. “Of course not! And if not that, then what? How can your vengeance be gained with a corpse; nothing more than bones and rags?”

Again, Cacame said nothing. The other Amoya cried out in frustration and anger. “Is Amoya’s escape from you the only thing that drives you?” he asked. “Is that what sets the burning fires in your eyes?”

“Does it matter?” Cacame wondered.

“Yes!” the other Amoya shouted. “Before we fight, I want to know the measure of the man who has brought so terrible a calamity on the elves!”

“So, we are to fight?” Cacame asked. He felt certain if he let loose Amoya’s body it would be swept away by some spirit, but he knew more that a fight with the other Amoya would not go well if he was burdened.

“Maybe,” the other Amoya answered. “Perhaps not if you answer my questions! If you are to leave with Amoya’s body and it brings you your vengeance, will you be freed of the guilt that drives you forward?”

For a moment, it seemed Cacame would not answer, then he shook his head slowly to show it had merely been a moment’s pondering. “There is much I hate about the elves, though it is epitomized to me in this elf. I cannot simply forget the deeds they do, even if my own scales have been balanced.”

The other Amoya nodded at that, but he stood his ground. “That is the answer I both hoped and feared,” he said.

“So, are you to stand aside, then?”




The demon regarded him coolly. “You are no elf I have even seen,” it said. “You look like an elf, but beyond that… You are alien.”

“I have the flesh of an elf,” Cacame answered, “but nothing more.”

The demon laughed. It was a terrible sound, the wails of a dying baby. “The flesh only, you say? So, have you discarded your soul then? Ripped out your heart and tossed it into the garbage?” It shook its head, which seemed a prodigious effort. “No, you are an elf, though you are one that denies it.”

“I hate elves,” Cacame told the demon. He remained in his crouch, turning only slightly to keep the demon at his face.

“Then we have that in common!” the demon said. “I too hate them, though I suspect for dissimilar reasons! Tell me why you hate them? Maybe we can avoid this conflict!”

“That is impossible,” Cacame responded. He ached to charge forward and slay the demon, but he know the task would not be simple. It was only through the demon’s curiosity that he remained unharmed.

“Perhaps, but you did not answer my question,” the demon said. “What drives your hatred of the elves? If you wish, I will begin first!” The demon did not hesitate, “You elves are creatures of contradictions. Oh, the humans like to think they are the ones of contradiction. Capacity of great good and great evil, or so the saying goes. But the elves… Oh, they are something quite different!

“Immortal, but so frail! They love nature, but they hate nature’s most perfect creations! Beautiful beyond belief, yet uglier than the worst goblin. They are hypocrites and liars, beyond good and evil, and the worst thing that has ever been unfortunate enough to sprout from the ground.”

“They sound little different from a demon,” Cacame answered.

“Yes!” the demon answered furiously. “That is why I hate them so much! They are like us, only not so. The differences are severe, but from a certain light, who could tell? I could not stand it. All elves must be destroyed, though I know doing so would be impossible in the end. I can see from you, there are elves that are beyond even my ken. But that is of no importance. Why do you hate elves?”

“It is nothing so philosophical,” Cacame explained. “A party of elves - supposedly, my own people - attacked my village, killed my wife, and devoured her.”

The demon laughed hysterically. It was worse than before. “So you are driven only by petty revenge! What a disappointment. And here I thought you would be interesting. Your dwarven armor and weapon are merely a facade for an angry, sad little elf.”

“Are you trying to goad me?”

“Does it matter?” the demon asked and attacked.




Cacame placed the body in front of the elder. The elder looked down at it with some mixture of grief and apprehension. “So, you did it,” he said quietly.

“Yes,” Cacame answered. “Now restore her to life so I may gain my revenge.”

“Not so fast,” the elder answered. “Remember, there is something you must first do for Ìle before I can invoke his power on your behalf.”

“Name it and it shall be done,” Cacame said and it was no boast or empty promise.

“Do not be so hasty,” the elder said, though he knew it a useless warning. “Wait for the price to be named before agreeing to it, else the price be higher than what it would otherwise.” The elder shook his head slightly and sighed. “There is a demon. It resides in another land, perhaps another plane or world, far from our own. It is a terrible creature, who has killed thousands of elves with its own hands. You must slay it, for Ìle.”

“I think this demon sounds like an ally,” Cacame replied. “Besides, what does Ìle want with the death of a demon in another world?”

“Even though it is of another world, it is still a terrible monster. All have sent champions against it, all champions have failed. You may yet succeed, however. In the realms above our own, who can say what one favor will carry? But know if you strike it down, Ìle shall bring breath back to Amoya.”

Cacame nodded. “I shall do it then.”

The elder led Cacame to a small pool. Waves, like those of miniature ocean, broke against its shores. The pool was no larger across than a man, yet it seemed to run deeper than the furthest dwarven tunnel. “Step into here and your essence will be flung across existence to its destination.”

Cacame hesitated a moment before stepping in, not out of fear, but out of want of a question. “This demon. What is it called?”

The elder quirked his head to the side, as if listening to a far off voice. “Egngun,” he answered.




A battle is swift and brutal. Only in tales do the knight and dragon exchange blows over hours or days. In reality, as Cacame had found it, battles were won and lost in a single swing. He retreated from Egngun’s attacks, but did not flee from them. He only sought an opening.

A blast of fire emerged from the demon; from its fingertips or as hell-breath, he did not notice. He rolled to the side and heard a woosh as his cloak ignited. Cacame cast it off with only a moment to spare and ran at the demon.

Egngun opened its arms wide, as if to welcome Cacame in a massive embrace. Cacame swung his war hammer at its chest as its arms closed, bringing razor claws slashing into Cacame’s sides. He felt his own flesh separate and bleed even as the demon’s chest caved from the force of the blow.

The two of them fell, the demon and the elf, their blood pooling together on the floor. “I did not think you so strong,” the demon said, though surely its chest has been crushed and its lungs collapsed.

The blood flowed freely from Cacame and he could not answer. Blood foamed to his mouth when he opened it and soon blackness overtook him.




“I have done as you asked,” Cacame answered, “there was no way the demon survived my blow.”

“Maybe,” the elder answered. “Perhaps not. It is irrelevant, though. You died in that far realm, Cacame, and it was only Ìle’s intercession that spared you a forgotten grave in that foreign world.”

Cacame slammed the butt of his war hammer into the ground. “But I was promised the rebirth of my foe!” he shouted. “I will have it! The service was done and the payment has not been made! My own life was not part of the bargain, Ìle did that of his own accord!”

The elder hung his head. “Yet the power is gone from me, Cacame. I can no more restore Amoya to life than I could a fly.”

Cacame spit on the ground. “Then what other service need be performed? I will do it! I swear.”

“There is nothing, Cacame,” the elder said, shaking his head. “Your revenge is lost to you.”

“No!” Cacame growled, grabbing the elder roughly. “I know the river of life flows from this grove! Show me its source and if you will not dip Amoya into it, then I shall!”

“You know not what you ask,” the elder hissed.

“I know very well what I ask,” Cacame answered. “My just payment.” He raised his hammer as if to strike the elder, who shrunk back from him.

Cowed, the elder shuffled forward and led Cacame to a small spring, bubbling with water. Cacame bent and sipped it and felt vitalized. Cacame smiled and retrieved Amoya’s body.

“This will not end well,” the elder whispered loud enough for Cacame to hear. He was ignored and Cacame dipped Amoya’s remains into the spring.

The result was astounding, as the bones returned to the color of life, then the flesh began to rebuild itself over the remains. Cacame could see the heart, then the lungs, and the heart began to beat.

He stepped back and raised his weapon, but Amoya did not rise. Cacame looked down at the body, which was clearly breathing and alive. Its eyes were open and it looked up at Cacame without recognition.

“Do you know who I am?” Cacame asked, but Amoya did not answer. “I am Cacame Awemedinade and you killed my wife, then devoured her! And yet my vengeance against you was denied by your fortunate death! But I have pierced the veil to bring you back so that you may stand before me and face your judgment!”

Amoya remained unmoved by Cacame’s words and merely stared up at him. She seemed to almost not see him. “Stand!” Cacame ordered.

Amoya did so, slowly, ponderously. She stood, the hair falling around her head in rings. See took a step forward, out of the spring, toward Cacame. Her skin turned gray, her eyes to dust. She took another step forward and her flesh atrophied and the tongue hung limply from her jaw.

“What is this?” Cacame gasped in anger. The creature that had looked like Amoya reached an arm out for Cacame, only for it to fall to the ground. The rest of her body soon followed, the illusion of life fading from the bones. Cacame turned to the elder.

“Ìle’s fountain cannot give life to that which is not alive,” the elder answered.

“But I saw Amoya! I saw her live and step from the water!”

“The water is vitality,” the elder said. “And thus the bones regained the clothes they had when they were still alive. But as soon as they left the water, the vitality left with them. It was a foolish decision, Cacame.”

Cacame swung his hammer at the remains in anger, shattering the skull to dust. “Is this to be my revenge?” Cacame shouted. “Impotently striking down the dead! What will that do to cool my rage? How will that ease my hatred?”

“Immortal Onslaught,” the elder said. “It is your name.”

Cacame turned back to the elder. His eyes burned hot with the fires of rage.



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