??? - ??? (somewhere on the Basohian forest)

He drank from the offered globet, gulping down the warm metallic liquid. It slipped around his mouth and tickled to the ground. Jeweled scarabs, the forest ever present pests, ran towards the spillage feasting on it. His drink finished he left the cup once again in the table and moved backwards. Crunch one of the beetles reduced to nothingness under his sandals. The vermin's innards soon becoming dessert for the others.

For a moment he couldn't help but to think of those beetles. They were everywhere, long ago they had partaken in the metal tinged draconic blood from the prosperity dragons and had changed. They too had drank from the draconic well and changed. They now fought each other, almost continously, the priest said that they were growing stronger as it had been their first command. But he knew better. They were just vermin squabling fighting each other like rabid dogs, or scarabs. So thirsty for each other's blood that they didn't even stop to wonder why.

While his mind wandered close to aposthasy his body was cleansed. All clothing was removed, which wasn't much considering he had been dressing rags, and priests carefully examined his phisique. Then a scrubbing sponge made sure to dig out any dirt that might have been atached to him, oils were applied to his body making it shine. The shine didn't last for it was carefully removed with a sharp ceremonial blade, made of bismuth no less the thing would be worth a ransom. He stood there naked, hairless except for his eyebrows and a rather cropped mohawk, and without more mark than his tattoos and scars.

The priests observed ritual. They gathered around him smearing him with fine white powder. His nose took some time to adjust to the smell. He barely recognized it. Once bone was cooked at hot temperatures, over the runic stones, all meat and traces went away. It took mastery to keep it from charring but priests had mastered the trade. He was robbed of all color. He was dead incarnate.

A markless mask, like a mannequin, was fitted over his face. His eyes barely able to see through the slits. A white wooden circle was placed over his belly, a gut shield mockery. His hand was openned and a cold metallic bismuth dagger handed to him.

He was lead, or pushed, like a beast to the slaughterhouse. In front of him gates oppened and as he stepped forward the audience thrilled. But the audience was more thrilled when the gates at the other end oppened. Two brutes, standing two heads over his own height, each covered in a buzzing mass of scarabs. The vermin had thrived under their flesh, bitting and merging with it. He had seen creatures succumb to the beetles attention, their bite numbing the prey and deadening the flesh to pain, rarely he had seen so many bettles on a beast that became a monster impervious to punishment. Where they his opponents he would need luck to defeat them. But they weren't. They were simple lackeys pulling thick wraithwood cords.

At the end of those cords was death. Wealth dragons had crossed with many creatures since they had arrived at the Bahosian forest. Some of those creatures were docile, capable of being trained, others were reticent yet could be reared. Still there were those like the thing in front of him that could not even be cajoled. The creature, he doubted it had any proper name other than "execution tool", was an aberrant mutant the bastard child of what new what. It stood among four strong legs that barely lifted his immense body mass from the ground. His stout elongated body reminded him of a crocodile, and perhaps such reptile had been lost in the monster's family tree, but the features were beetlelike. Chitin plates had grown asimetrically all over. It's faceplate so big that his head was just an armored maw. Wings, for it had had, were clipped and torn flailing uselessly at his side like ragged cloth. The creature stood there and the audience fell silent as two moth like antennae extended from it's openned jaw. They moved tasting the air.

And when it tasted the metallic dager in his hand chaos loosened. The beast lunged forward pulling with it the luckiest brute who had gotten mangled with the chord, the unlucky one simply got trampled. Warrior instincts set in as the audience roared again. He ran. To the side and the monster clashed against the thick wall. It recovered preternaturally fast and charged again towards him.

Again he ducked aside, barely getting out of the monster way. This time the aberration recovered faster charging soon against him. He couldn't help but smile, knowing full well that it was his own smile, a smile hidden to the public behind his mask. He was going to die. That was beyond the question. A spiteful part of his wanted to just be done with it. To not be a part of the charade, to simply let the beast take him. But he was a warrior and a warrior does not surrender. Nothing else mattered. His life didn't matter. His enemy didn't matter. His weapon...

Was trapped. The weapon was a trap. The monster could smell it. That's what kept it lurching at him unherringly despite being blind. This time he almost laughed, he threw the dagger aside. Cutting such monster's hide with a small weapon like that was a fool's hope. And Cle of Wo w..

*******

Cle of Wo wasn't a fool. He didn't listen to ghosts.

*******

Even if they were insistent ghosts. He was on his way to become one. His dagger discarded he moved slowly towards the charging beast. Before they clashed he moved sidelong. The beast went by him. As it went he jumped hugging the torso, the legs were long gone, of the brute that had clutched the wraithwood cord. He climbed atop of him, fending of the beetles, and started going over the rope. He didn't get far, the brute somehow still alive clutched his leg unto his fist. Cle sonov' Wo...

*******

Started to trash at it with his free leg, kicking the extended arm till it snapped like a twig. His continued climbing was marinated by a wet sound as the broken arm was torn free and the scarab's chirping rummage.

When the monster finally reached the dagger, which it engulfed in one quick bite, he was atop it. In one hand he held the creature's wraithwood collar, in the other the brute's broken arm. As the beast trashed trying to get him off he laughed. He was holding a tiger by it's tail and his grip wasn't firm. Well, the analogy wasn't a valid one. The monster was much larger than any tiger. He wasn't holding it's tail. He was at it's neck. And the neck was always a vulnerable part. He pulled the collar up, revealing the soft meat that had been grazed by the wraithwood touch. With strength born out of madness the dragrel rammed the bettle infested limb's bony end upon the exposed flesh. He kept pushing as the beasts trashing intensified. He kept pushing when it became erratic. And he did even push when the beast died.

He stood over the fallen corpse. Raising to the audience and shouted.

"I'm Cle sonov'Wo!"

I'm not Cle sonov'Wo! I'm Ur sonov'Sha! I'm Ur sonov'Sha! This isn't real!