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Paragon Forgotten Chapter 29

Ecthore: Live 30-50 years 

Appearance: walks on four paws. Covered in varying shades of black and gray fur. The top of the head averages 4 feet.

Population: 30,000

Contribution: cargo-carrier

Realm location: Ecthore Forest

Namesake: typically named after their ancestors

Torc: Iplick 

- “A Youngling’s Guide to Eloshian Races, year 2,862”


Thaen landed on Cohthel like a dragon dive-bombing a cow.

Cohthel exploded awake, heart leaping to three hundred beats a minute with the snapping open of his eyes.

Thaen commenced punching him.

“Get off!”

“This is for leaving me for three knuckling months!”

Thaen’s body-punching increased pressure. Cohthel, tangled in his sheet, rolled onto his back, brought both knees into his chest, and kicked out. Thaen, caught at the bottom of Cohthel’s feet, flew off the bed with marked surprise, hands and elbows catching him on the floor with a crashing boom.

Horror flared through Cohthel at Thaen’s injury he would have caused.

Thaen rose to his knees, holding his gut. “Wow,” he croaked, “you kick like a pegasi. Now I think you could challenge me to a match.” Ouch, he mouthed, hunching over. “Seriously. You’ve never kicked that strong before. Good job.”

Cohthel got off his bed, walking to his closet without apology. “I did just circle Eloshonna.” A quarter of which I carried Atalixsphere on my back. Cohthel wasn’t about to tell him his newly discovered pain-free invisibility, because Thaen would not miss the chance to experiment how far they could push that boundary. Cohthel pulled a shirt out of his drawer. “Why are you griping about me leaving for three months? You’re the one who demanded I get to the source about my father.”

“I suggested you talk to Kitannia.” Thaen rose to his feet, voice still strained and out of breath. “Not run away with her.”

Cohthel punched both arms into his shirt and rustled into a pair of pants Markie bought him in Fire Forge. Unlike the pants Mother always bought for him, these ones fit loose, allowing him to run, crouch, and kick without hinder. “She wouldn’t talk to me, so I had to run away.”

“So? Did you find out about your father? Was your mother lying?”

Cohthel planned to tell Thaen everything but had lost the mood after waking up under attack. He opened his closet to grab his boots, working on how to word his non-discovery.

Thaen shoved past him, reaching into his closet. “You got a sword!” Thaen fisted the hilt and yanked the sword free before Cohthel could protest. “The whole thing looks made of R’th light! Where’d you get it? You know how rare R’th-infused objects are? Like, only the Dark Elves know how to do that. Did you kill a Dark Elf for this?”

Cohthel feared the sword would…burn Thaen, or strike Thaen dead, Cohthel didn’t know. Being goddess-gifted, he expected anything as soon as Thaen touched the hilt. But nothing happened. Without invitation, Thaen swung the sword.

“Markie bought it for me when we stopped at the Dark Elf Gate,” he lied, not about to tell his jealous friend a goddess handed the sword to him.

“This is a good sword. Well balanced. Solid. Do you even know how to fight?”

“I’ve learned.”

“Have you? Well, I’ll have to test you first. My father bought me a sword for my birthday. I’ll go home and get it and we’ll fight.”

“Your birthday last year? Why didn’t you tell me you got a sword?”

“No, my birthday next month.”

“…next month.”

“Ya. I snooped where my father always hides my presents and found it.”

“How do you know it’s yours?”

“My name is engraved on the crossguard.”

“Won’t you get in trouble?”

“I’ll put it back. It’s a good, solid sword, too, so there’s no way you’re going to ding it enough to where he’ll notice. It’s dragon-made. Dragons in common can swing the forge hammer harder than dwarves. Costs a fortune, but I’ll never need another sword my entire life. I’ll get it and we’ll fight.”

“Guh…uh…” Fate said nothing about using the sword. Just…holding it. You won’t conquer the world, Cohthel. You’ll carry the sword for the kindred who will. “That’s a great idea! Go get it.”

Thaen scurried out.

Cohthel entered the living room. Mother must not have locked the door when she went to work, which Thaen took as an invitation to walk right in. Cohthel grabbed his coat and waited for him by the stream crossing his yard, holding the hilt as Markie taught him, swinging the blade. Thaen returned, grinning big enough for two kindred, a two-handed bastard sword in his hands, half his height. The tip would drag on the ground if he belted it around his waist. “See? My name on the crossguards.”

“Let me see. It’s heavy.”

“I’ll grow into it.”

“It’s so long you could plow a field.”

“Maybe that’s what Fate meant when she told me I’d only achieve the rank of captain if I became a ranger. She foresaw I’d become a farmer.”

“Or a plow bull.”

“The ladies do love a strong steer.”

Cohthel cupped his mouth and “mooed”.

Thaen laughed, pulling his sword out of its sheath, casting the sheath aside. “Come on. Let’s fight.”

Cohthel hoisted the hilt in his right hand, spreading his stance and squatting for a solid base. Thaen swung at him, slow and laborious, like a club. Cohthel stepped back and met his blade — but he must have missed because he didn’t feel the connection — turning his body with the motion so he spun halfway around before he caught himself, the sword light and easy to manage.

He sucked in both elbows, pivoting back to Thaen. Thaen stood with relaxed arms, staring at the ground. A long silver gleam nestled in the grass. He held the hilt and what remained of his halved blade in his left hand.

“What happened?”

Thaen raised his head, expression chiseled from stone. “Your…sword cut mine in half.”

Panicking, Cohthel dropped his goddess-gifted sword. The R’th blade made no sound as it seemed to drift to the ground. What in the Underrealm did Fate give me?

Thaen toed his blade in the grass. “I thought it was dragon-made because of the symbol below the crossguard. Just my luck. A fake. Made of tin. I got a sword made of tin for my birthday.” Thaen looked ready to cry. “And my father’s going to kill me.”

“Thaen, we’ll fix this. Wait here. I’ll put my sword away.” Cohthel hesitated before retrieving his sword, then ran into his room, shoving the blade in a corner of his closet, and shut the door. Outside, Thaen hadn’t moved, staring at the blade in the grass.

Cohthel scooped the broken half — heavy, even halved. Definitely not tin.

Thaen plodded along behind him through the city, the hilt stuck in his hand only because he still needed to save face with his father come his birthday, though he hung onto it as if holding a dead fish.

“I’m getting a stupid sword for my stupid birthday,” he moaned.

A large man stood inside the open-air forge, naked muscles on his arms and chest earned from his Engineer occupation. Bald and clean-shaven, the man pounded away on his anvil with a clunky ching ching. The wooden sign outside his shop declared him the Engineer Hierarch in the Blacksmith Branch. Exactly what both young men needed — the absolute best of the business.

Cohthel sprinted to him. The blacksmith paused mid-swing.

“Can you fix this?” He held out the halved blade, motioning Thaen to hurry with his half.

The blacksmith raised singed eyebrows, taking the blade from Cohthel and examining the cut. Burn scars marked his naked arms.

“What happened?” the blacksmith asked.

“It’s made of tin.” Thaen sniffed, throwing his hilt on the ground.

“It’s not tin, son. It’s dragon-made.”

Thaen looked at Cohthel.

“I ask again, what happened?”

Cohthel hid both hands behind his back as if the blacksmith would see his secret. He didn’t know why his sword cut Thaen’s in half.

 “It’s alright. I don’t have to know. Just awful curious. It’s a clean break. No burrs on the edges. Guess you two young sons don’t want your fathers knowing?”

Cohthel pretended he had a father and shook his head along with Thaen.

“Right. I can respect that. I’ll restore this best I can. The repair will be noticeable, and the blade will be weaker at the break, but better to bring to your father a fixed blade instead of a broken one.”

Thaen nodded, hope restoring his energy.

“Can’t do it for free, you understand. A few chores around the shop should pay for it alright. Give my son a rest and pump the billows. The other of you chop wood.”

The boys split to their tasks without a word.

Mid-day they walked out of there exhausted, sweaty, and soiled. No wonder the blacksmith’s seventeen-year-old son filled his personal space as awkwardly as an ox. They went back to Cohthel’s house to retrieve the discarded scabbard. Thaen sheathed the blade. They didn’t talk about what would happen if Thaen’s father discovered the repair before his birthday. As long as he didn’t pull it out of its sheath before then, his father wouldn’t notice the damage.

They didn’t talk about why Cohthel’s sword cut his in half. Thaen would wonder about Dark Elven craftsmanship while Cohthel stressed what Fate and that Dream Woman actually gave him. Cinder Dream, the Dream Woman called it. Sentient.

“I’ve got a few links.” Thaen held his sword as if fighting not to cry. “Let’s nab some bread and butter from the bakery.”

They headed off down the road, stopping by Thaen’s house to re-hide the sword.

Cohthel detailed the events in the caravan in backward order, since Thaen persisted in knowing about Cohthel’s father.

“So you still don’t know,” Thaen conceded, rubbing his smooth chin. Cohthel always thought he saw hair there, but couldn’t see hair now. “But Markie is going to marry your mother?”

“He asked my permission yesterday. He’ll propose tonight.”

“Hmmm. I think you should have demanded he tell you about your father instead.”

“You ask Markie, and then you can tell me.”

“I wouldn’t tell you a knuckling thing. If it were up to me, I’d charge you criminally for leaving me like that.”

“I dare you to become the next torc so it WILL be up to you.”

“Torc? Nah. I aspire for higher.”

“Higher? What’s higher than a torc?”

“A king.”

“King? Like what the races had before the Equality War?” Unless a king stood differently in Thaen’s mind. Thaen’s imagination often reached so far even the Paragons couldn’t see where he ended.

“Yes. Just like what the humans had during the Equality War. A king means ‘the sum of all things.’ That’s what I want.”

“Ah…okay.” The subject unsettled Cohthel. He attempted switching back to something normal, something Thaen would react to in an expected way. “You’d make it a crime? Some friend you are.”

“You left for three months. Some friend you are.”

Thaen updated Cohthel on school and Ilthyn, and Cohthel returned with his meeting with Mianda. They reached the bakery’s open window where a fresh pan of bread steamed on the sill, Cohthel realizing he had eaten nothing yet and his stomach snarled.

“Two slices with salted cream.” Thaen passed the links in exchange for the bread and hot crust burning Cohthel’s fingers. They sat on the short stone wall encircling a bed of flowers, looking at the castle.

Cohthel detailed the Dark Elf attack on Atalixsphere between bites. “Thaen…they branded her with the word animal.”

Thaen, surprising, did not react. He chewed for a long moment, taking another bite. “Huh.”

“They branded her with the word—”

“I knuckling heard you.”

Dread reeled inside Cohthel. He forgave Thaen his knuckling animal comment in Deep Winter, but the offense resurfaced.

“I have a thought to throw at you.” Thaen swallowed his last bite and brushed his hands together, smearing sweet butter over his palms. “Has it ever occurred to you that the falkons, gryphons, pegasi, dragons, and ecthore are all animals the Paragons blessed with social coherency?”

“Whoa, Thaen. Why are you even thinking like that?”

“Well, they technically are, aren’t they?”

“What is your definition of an ‘animal’?”

“Someone…” He waved a hand in front of him as if pushing aside invisible words looking for the one he wanted. “Not born in the common-form.”

“The common-form is defined as walking upright on two feet, right?”


“So droogs are animals? They’re born into common but walk on their hands.”


“Seadwellers are born common-form only from the waist up, so they’re animals too?”

“Brother, you’re missing the point. We’re equal to a talking bird serving as a torc and you and I are not.”

“They are not ‘birds’, they are falkon’s.” Cohthel couldn’t believe Thaen’s new emotions. “If you want to become torc so badly, change your apprenticeship to Government.”

“I don’t want to be torc. I want to be king. These animals and experimental races are not our equals and should not be our torcs. Think of it this way,” Thaen started as Cohthel tensed at his words, “let’s say the Paragons gave that pig over there social coherency yesterday. It can now speak our language and change into common. They then decide on a torc. How would that make you feel?”

“I’d miss eating bacon and ham.”

“It wouldn’t bother you a pig could be made torc and not you?”

“You really want to be torc, don’t you?” Cohthel shoved the rest of his bread in his mouth and wiped his buttery palm on his pants.

Thaen grumbled and looked away. “You missed the point.”

“Brother, why are you so upset about this? The Kingdom is in harmony; has been for eight hundred years. Who cares who serves as torc as long as they perform on moral grounds? Fur, feather, scale, or skin is only a blanket keeping warm the same heart we all share.”

“Knuckling never mind.” Thaen hopped off the stone wall, heavy, oversized boots thudding on the concrete. “I’ve got to go.” He marched off, an angry cloak of bad energy trailing him.

Cohthel watched, stunned, heartbroken at Thaen’s new ideas. Where they came from, Cohthel dared imagine. Cohthel shoved both hands in his pockets and walked home. He considered visiting Ilthyn, but Thaen left sticky irritation and dread behind and he could not find the mood.

His hands fidgeted anxiously to hammer, cut, sand, and gather again, chores he missed while in the caravan. He’d evaluate the house first to make sure there were no neglected repairs, then chop a big stack of wood, feeling awful that he left Mother to do it by herself all winter. Pending all that complete, he decided he would need a job to get him by while he waited for the next caravan rotation. He’d signed his contract with Kitannia yesterday.

He walked around the house. He noted his self-induced list of chores and he went into his bedroom to change into his working clothes. He rustled in his chest of drawers, jumping when his bedroom door slammed. He turned toward the cloaked man, a black-cloaked man, a bladehand now leaning against his door.

Fear crawled up his neck with icy fingers. Instincts urged him to grab his sword out of his closet, but no matter his bravado or stupidity, he would never win a duel against a Bladehand unless he became a Bladehand himself.

Some Markie-trained sense held him steady, and he found his voice. “Get out of my house.”

“Funny boy. Are you not going to ask who I am?” The man’s hood covered all but his bearded chin, a sword poking out the bottom of his cloak. The man folded both arms, hood lowering and raising as if assessing Cohthel.

Cohthel clenched and unclenched his hands, sweaty palms unable to find a flex he liked. Fear and purpose riddled through his body, filling him with adrenaline. The stranger would hear his heart through his rapidly beating neck. “I said get out of my house!” 

“This is my house.”

A dark sincerity Cohthel could not name stuck hard against his chest.

“Sixteen, now.” The man’s deep voice carried a tone of pride. “Though I don’t know where you would have learned such violence. Not your mother. School? Must be school, though I didn’t realize the school curriculum now included ‘death and dismemberment’ as a class. Unless that’s the new title for math?”

“What do you want?”

“Still not going to ask who I am? You’re mean. Not the way I would’ve raised you.”

Cohthel swallowed; a thick bile of lies, fear, and hate sliding down.

“Who was that man flirting with Shiana last night? Did she go off and get married illegally? What last name do you bear now, Evermore?”

Cohthel trembled, a knocking of all his bones against impossible questions, impossible answers.

“I see I have frightened you.” He removed his hood with a childish flare. “Better?”

Cohthel stared at this man’s hair and brown eyes identical to his own. Cold sweat broke from his pores.

“You’re not my father.”

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