“I remember many such actions in the years leading up to the Riven War. It is fear, and the lust for power,” I told him. “This is just the start. Many far worse acts were undertaken by the highest, wizards, kings, even you father – when they deemed it necessary – the fruit of desperation.”
“You will not speak of my father in such company,” His hand now gripped returned to his greatword’s pommel, his expression turning back to anger.
“Did he call my mentor the Master of Demons?” I asked him. He looked confused for a moment. “Don’t be afraid to say so, many did. Many still do. Even I, at times.”
“Only in whispers,” he confessed, his expression turning unsettled. “Only in the dark nights when he was filled with amber brew enough to willingly speak of the horrors of the war.”
I set my hand on the man’s shoulder.
“Arcory believed everything he did was justified, even when he crossed over all lines of sense and sacrifice, and descended into darkness, chaos and yes, even madness. I will admit all that. He destroyed armies of his allies when they turned against his dictates. I will admit that as well. And he believed he did it to save us all, however horrific the cost.”
The Keith pushed away my hand.
“That is still not an explanation for what you have done,” The Keith shook his head. “Speak plainly. I am not a dullard of a Donland aristocrat.”
I sighed. He was every bit his father’s son.
“At the darkest day, at the base of the blasted walls of the Hirachusi Citadel, when almost all was lost, Arcory came upon me, knowing I had betrayed him, and knowing the reasons why I had done it. He could have destroyed me then, with a thought, and there with all the power he had possessed, at his height, and his darkest. But he did no such thing. He let me walk away, spared our armies, you father’s included, and I will not forget that.”
“Why would he have done that, let you survive, knowing that you would return to slay him?” the Keith asked.
“Because even when he was the most powerful wizard, and most dark, most mad, like all men, while a master of demons from beyond, he was, there is one demon none of us can be a master. The demon doubt.”
“And what do you doubt regarding the villain you just let escape?”
“I fear the coming conjunction will test all of us, more than any now suspect. The prior one certainly did,” I told him. “All of the creations that have come since the Riven War, and that many of them will fall, as they may well unsuitable to the task of defending our lands. The Dragons and Demons learn and plan, as we do. I do believe it is possible what Omar did was for intentions good, even if he did it in a way that was the most twisted and contemptible. That power within the stone may have may have a greater destiny than the simply denying the corruption that may forever threaten yours and the other marches.
“I will fight for my march,” The Keith told me plainly. “I will defend it with my life, even if I have to battle you and Council to do so. You mark my words.”
“And I will not blame you,” I replied.
We stood there, margrave and wizard, our discussion at its end.