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Paragon Forgotten Chapter 30

…A re-birth, casting away weapons as they moved, cheering until they walked through every battle field, every death-place, their people stopping their fights, looking toward his king standing shoulder to shoulder with his enemy, that killer stood next to killer, hater near hater.

The body of the multitude moved as one hoof and paw, stamping, tearing ground, felling trees, leaving a wide, scarred road in their wake. When fatigue settled, falkons clutched onto centaur backs, pegasi and gryphons nested on the nap of dragon necks. Some stumbled, but caught by another. If one fell, they were carried.

The river was dammed by their crossing, rocks trampled to dust by the foot which followedfollowed, marching behind and beside and in front and together with all the races. They traveled slow; healing, befriending, learning from each other and from Mortal Earth.

The 440 day march around Eloshonna came to be known as the March of One Foot, where all the races walked together as if one race, one being, one foot. This is why one Eloshian year now equals 440 days. The march continues still today on the same road they created, all races walking together, over and over in a symbolic caravan known as the Trading Cycle.

- Snippet taken from Eloshonna’s historical records on the Equality War, year 2,005, published in 2,850


“Unless your mother whored herself out before I left, you are mine as certainly as I named you Evermore. Next time we sit down for dinner we’ll talk about work, and friends, and ‘how was your day?’. Mind if I sit?”

Rodrue Faunt walked around Cohthel, cloak catching his ankles as he sat on the bed.

Cohthel didn’t move, didn’t speak. Barely found the strength to breathe.

“I see.” Rodrue pressed a hand to his chest. “Forgive me for not bringing gifts and knocking on the front door. Would you have received me better if I had?”

Cohthel didn’t answer, unable to do much else but hold himself back from falling into a psychotic breakdown.

“I see now I made a mistake leaving you behind.”

Mistake, he said.

Markie said there are no mistakes. Only choices.

Cohthel lifted his head, finding exactly what he wanted to say. “You chose to leave.”

“Ah! The boy speaks!”

A second time. Boy. The offense kindled Cohthel’s fire. “Where did you go?” Of all the questions pounding Cohthel, pressing him, screaming, this one dominated all with a neat backhand. Cohthel could not figure out the conflict of both hating and loving Father’s return, rage and forgiveness at his leaving, regret and pride at abandoning the name “Evermore” Father gave him.

The moment flipped upside down and Rodrue’s mis-placed humor and cutting arrogance softened in such a way that Cohthel didn’t feel like Rodrue had left at all. In that fatherly posture, powerful legs, Bladehand cloak and sword, Cohthel swelled with pride to be his father’s son.

“I didn’t choose to leave.” Rodrue turned his head so his open-eye disinherited brand, still visible on his faded sable, winter-night skin, stretched across his neck. “This is what happens when you stand up for what you believe. I introduced an easy truth to the Human Realm. This truth offended the rest of the Kingdom and they scrubbed me out like they tried to scrub every record off Mortal Earth proving that humans are direct descendants from the Paragons.”

“We are?”

“Yes. Before the Kingdom formed, humans were worshiped by all the other races as kings.”

If Thaen had not introduced that archaic word, Cohthel would have laughed at the ridiculous fantasy.

Now he understood what happened to Thaen underground and where Rodrue had been the last ten years.

“But these other animals and experimental races rebelled against their masters and destroyed our paragonial heritage. They convinced us to crucify our self-worth so we wouldn’t upset their jealousies anymore.” Rodrue patted the bed next to him, asking Cohthel to sit. Cohthel shook his head, watching sadness droop Rodrue’s face and Cohthel warred with giving in. “I know the truth, son. I’ve bore witness to it. The Kingdom pulled us off our pinnacle, put a bag over our heads, and told us to be quiet. I didn’t choose to leave, and  I was prohibited from coming home. I’m not going to ask what lies your mother told you about where I was because she was especially disillusioned to the lies the Kingdom convinced her to believe, but I used my time in banishment to find the proof and the tool I needed to tear the bags off every human’s head, to put us back on our pinnacle.

“You were my driving force, son. I saw your low self-esteem before the Kingdom banished me, letting your friends walk over you, not standing up for yourself, wouldn’t tell others ‘no’ and not wanting to upset anyone. Afraid of ridicule when making a choice all your own. You made for an obedient son at the sacrifice of your own individual worth.”

Shame welled up in Cohthel at being flayed open, all his insecurities brought forth, reminded, exposed. He withered back into a six-year-old boy.

“Since I couldn’t be home to teach you, I brought back a crown for you. I’ve proven your self-worth is equal to kings, blessed and empowered by the Paragons themselves. Our coupe on the Kingdom has started. The message is spreading. More and more humans are becoming enlightened. I know the future seems unreal right now, talking with you while sitting on your bed instead of on the coming battlefield. The future is real, Evermore. You’ll see the proof soon enough. But I won’t leave you unprepared when that happens, so I’m begging you to come with me and see the proof for yourself now.”

The real reason why Cohthel would not sit next to Rodrue on his bed finally came into clear focus. “I don’t want to be a king. I wanted to be a son.”

Rodrue paused. “Let me make that up to you. Come with me, and I’ll teach you how to be a man. You will be my son again. I swear on my Bladehand arm I will never leave you again.”

The hard shell Cohthel slathered over his heart to numb the truth that he would grow up without a father — layer after endless layer — cracked. The initial pop entered his chest as an icy sting and a releasing hiss.

He knew what happened to Father.


He didn’t need to wonder, question, or search anymore.


Because Father finally — finally — came home.


Promised to make him a man, never leave again, teach him how to sword fight.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Father was home.

Father was home.

Tears. Boyish tears, but Cohthel discarded the shame. Two years old again, he reached for Father, Father! and wrapped both arms around him. Father embraced him back, his black cloak consuming Cohthel on both sides like wings. Wings; father had wings, would bare Cohthel on his back and fly to…it didn’t matter. Another land. Another planet; Cohthel would go with him. School, apprenticeships, friendships, hobbies all cheap distractions his entire sixteen years attempting to tear him away from the focus of this dream now met.

But Mother? Cohthel worried. The Undergod entered his head: You’ve left her once already, the voice justified. She figured out how to live without you. And now she’ll have Markie to take care of her. Cohthel didn’t know if Father worked plans for Mother or not, but that didn’t matter. He would leave with Father and they’d come back for Mother and Markie because Father said all humans were kings…whatever that meant; Cohthel didn’t know, didn’t care, because he had Father again.

Had Father again.

“Oh son, you’ve made me so happy, so proud. I’ll introduce you to the Dreamer tonight who will show you the truth.”

The Dreamer. Had Cohthel heard that name already? He could not place the familiarity. “Dreamer” was such a common word he could have heard it from anywhere—

The Earth R’th spit this out at my feet and explained in its sentient way that the R’th fashioned the sword specifically to kill a terrible man on Mortal Earth. He calls himself the Dreamer, said the nameless Dream Woman who had jumped from Shollomoon’s head to his after he refused to take Fate’s sword.

Cohthel fought the invading thought, fought so hard both fists clenched and sweat broke on his forehead. No! No! No! Physical restraint failed him. The rest of the nameless Dream Woman’s words slashed Cohthel to shreds:

Cinder Dream presented itself to me knowing I was the most qualified to kill him with it.

The front door to the house slammed closed. “Jumpy? Are you home?”

Father broke the embrace. If he noticed Cohthel’s trembling at the remembered Dream Woman’s words, he said nothing. “Get packing. Take a bath — don’t forget to clean your belly button. Get your other affairs in order. I’ll come back for you tonight. Don’t tell your mother. Why I had only left yesterday and she spent no time replacing me. Couldn’t even bother waiting a year in mourning.” Father ghosted to the window, sliding the pane open without a sound. He parted with a smile and slipped out.

“Cohthel?” That was Markie’s voice.

“He…here,” Cohthel said.


Cohthel opened his bedroom door. Closed it. Walked down the hallway and sat at the kitchen table next to Markie. Markie was pulling papers out of his bag and setting them nice and straight on the table. Mother sang to herself at the stove while she made dinner.

How could Cohthel’s life have just been ripped in half yet all else remained in stagnating normality?


“Yes, Jumpy?”

“Tell me about Father.”

Mother stopped stirring. Markie stopped shuffling his papers. Mother’s head dropped as if exhausted. She didn’t turn around. “I’ve told you. I’m not—”

“I know he didn’t die. He’s been gone these ten years because the Kingdom disinherited him.”

She jerked around. “Jumpy,” anger heated in her tone, “he’s dead—”

“I know the Kingdom disinherited him because of the brand on his neck. It looks like an open eye, right? Opposite Fate’s who is represented by a closed eye?”

She stared. Cohthel didn’t turn to see what expression Markie was giving him.

“He came into my room. He’s gone now, but mentioned someone called the Dreamer before he left back out the window. You still want to lie to me and tell me he’s dead?”

The most painful three seconds Cohthel had ever experienced transpired between the three of them in brittle, scolding silence. Mother held her wooden spoon suspended and dripping sauce on the floor, Cohthel’s knuckles locked so tight the tips of all ten fingers numbed. Then Mother buckled in half, lowered herself to the polished wood floor, and sobbed.

Markie rushed to her and wrapped both arms around her shoulders, looking back at Cohthel. Markie’s expression balanced perfectly between two extremes so Cohthel simultaneous saw both and saw nothing; a humorless parody inviting Markie to laugh only to entrap his merriment in torture — laughing while he screamed.

Through halting words and stuttering explanations, Mother told Cohthel about Father.

When she finished, Cohthel only had one question. “Why did you lie to me and tell me he died?”

“Rodrue told me he would indoctrinate you into his ideals when you grew up so both of you would conquer the world together. The way you worshiped him at six years old, I knew you’d join him and his vision if I told you he was still alive.”

Cohthel returned no rebuttal because she was right. Cohthel would have followed Rodrue to the core of Mortal Earth, to the furthest star, carrying little why he followed and obsessing only that he did. He rejoiced when father came home to get him, but a single catalyst saved him from the trap: the Dream Woman spoke of the Dreamer to Cohthel first…in warning. Convinced him to carry her sword which would someday kill the Dreamer.

Cohthel stood and marched to the door.

“Where are you going?” Markie asked.

Cohthel grasped the door knob, thinking how to word his intentions to his soon-to-be step-father. But every scenario he processed with lightning speed resulted in Markie stopping him. So Cohthel said nothing. He wrenched the door open and left.

Now Cohthel walked behind the knightlord through the halls of Malandore’s castle. Like the rangers who wore leather, the knightlord’s blackened steel armor covered legs, arms, and chest in pieces, leaving joints exposed for ease of mobility. A short red cloak fluttered behind the knightlord giving the illusion that the knightlord was wider and taller than normal. He stopped at a door and opened it. Cohthel followed him inside.

“The torc will meet with you here,” the knightlord said. Cohthel sat in a cushioned chair and the knightlord left.

Cohthel did not wait well, pacing the room when he wasn’t sitting, drummed fingers on the chair arm when he was, under duress the entire wait debating whether he was making the right choice. He still hadn’t decided by the time Torc Thoraus entered.

The torc didn’t waste any time with formalities and other useless nonsense. He sat in a high-backed chair across from Cohthel and leaned forward so both elbows rested on his knees. Cohthel saw little the torc himself, but anyone would see his thinning face, heavy bags under both eyes, and wanning skin indicative of not eating resulted from stress because of his hostage daughter.

 “My knightlord said you have some private information that might affect the stability of the Human Realm.”

His warm, inviting tone helped Cohthel sit straighter with more confidence, clearing his throat too many times. “The Kingdom disinherited my father, Rodrue Faunt, ten years ago for rallying humans using declarations that we were a pure race and all other races needed to worship us…” is what Mother explained. Explained also that Father kidnapped a falkon. Put her in a cage with a demeaning sign similar to the one the caravan found on their way to Forever Ice. But that crime only triggered connections with too many similar cross-realm crimes advertising his vision ten years ago.

“Rodrue came to me today.” Coming to the end of the event became harder, not easier. “Snuck inside my room. He talked about someone named the Dreamer and how the Dreamer would make all humans kings.” Though still not knowing who the Dreamer was or what Rodrue meant to be king, only that Fate acknowledged the danger herself and had been preparing over hundreds of years against its birth.

Cohthel watched a sick spread of pallor bloom on Thoraus’s face. The torc dropped his head into both hands. He didn’t speak for several moments.

“The humans have him.” He spoke to the rug. “His evil intent right under my ruling palm.” He stood and paced back and forth, slippered feet falling without a sound on the red carpet. 

“I’m sorry for the shock, torc.”

Thoraus shook his head. “Cohthel, I’ve already known the Dreamer has been found.”

Cohthel took his turn for the shock.

Thoraus’s face never wavered. “All the torcs have known. We just didn’t know to which realm the Dreamer would favor. We did not want to reveal the truth of his emergence to the rest of the Kingdom, knowing contention would erupt between the realms, accusing the other of having god-like aspirations to rise above all other races.” Thoraus paused, staring out the darkening window. “But you have now provided me to which race he belongs, but it is good news delivered in a death wagon. All the torcs fear contention. If word about the Dreamer favoring the humans gets out, the rest of the Kingdom will react badly.”

His pacing became furious; robe long since untied billowed behind him, exposing his pants. “Yes,” he said to himself, “this is what must happen. Who else knows this?”

“My mother and her fiancé.”

“Keep it that way. Swear you won’t speak of this to anyone, and make your mother and her fiancé swear as well.”

Cohthel recognized the good in this. “I swear.”

“We do not want to birth panic. I will send out scouts to find him and bring him in.”

“No need for scouts. I know how to contact him.”

“Oh, blessed kindred. Your service to this realm—”

“But before I tell you…” Gaining character belonging to someone else, Cohthel felt disjointed as he made his next statement. But sometimes we have to do things, the unpleasant, hard, embarrassing, and scary. “I want to negotiate.”

The torc stopped pacing. “Negotiate?”

“I understand my father’s crimes.” Cohthel shut his eyes, breath stuttering as Markie’s lesson floated to the top of his anxiety: Wouldn’t we be more productive if we celebrated change, like Urouhi, than to punish it? If we encouraged those changing for the better, we’d see the day when hostilities stopped, would we not? “I understand the Kingdom disinherited him for them, and that carries an open kill order. If you capture him, you will get the information you want and then kill him.”

Thoraus opened his mouth, then closed it. His displeasure sloughed off him in hot waves.

Cohthel drove on. “I’ll tell you how to contact Rodrue, but in exchange for that information, I want your promise that you will not kill him, that you will pardon his crimes and work with his rehabilitation back into the Kingdom.”

“Cohthel, I know you love your father, but I cannot just blanket forgive him just because he provides us with information about the Dreamer. The Kingdom’s justice system would fail if kindred committed crimes and then thought they earned forgiveness if they provide a service to the Kingdom afterward.”

“Is there anything you can give Rodrue for his information?”

“Well…there is…I don’t…no. No there is nothing.”

“You think he’s going to talk if he gets no reward for taking you to the Dreamer?”

“Even if he doesn’t talk, there is value removing him from the problem.”

“You mean kill him?”

“Per Kingdom law.”

Cohthel sat back in the chair, drumming fingers on the armrests. Nodding. “Then stopping the Dreamer doesn’t matter that much to you.” He stood. Walked to the door.


Cohthel turned.

Thoraus lifted both hands, looking at them, at responsibility, the liability. Which to choose when both choices shared equal wrong? The one with less affected numbers? The future guess that less evil would spread? Cohthel got off easy. He didn’t have to choose this time.

“I’ll negotiate,” the torc said.

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