Abu Musa And The Fear
Hermann takes a five-digit number, subtracts another five-digit number in his head, and watches the numbers add up. On an almost youthful whim, he pulls up all the math he has to do. There is a total of one-hundred and thirty-seven calculations left. He puts up a timer on his computer—
— and calculates. Eleven minutes and twenty-five seconds later he is done.
He frowns. A millenia ago he could have done it within ten minutes. The average tallies out at five seconds per calculation, which might be good for a normal human, but Hermann isn’t a normal human, is he?
He shakes his head. I am slipping.Father would have given me the cane for such slovenly speed. His mental sonar catches a car driving by, momentarily distracting him. Where was I?
Father…. Hermann wonders if he’s been too tough on Rune. Like so many people that have been abused, he wonders if he himself will become one. A person that strikes others. That uses their vulnerabilities, physical as mental, and turns them into prisoners of their own minds. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and Hermann is old enough to know that the worst people in the world had the best of intentions.
His synapses, of which he has total control, and which are usually set to human levels accelerate– thinking about his ‘birth’ and the circumstances surrounding it. Abu Musa intended for him to be able to fight ghuls and jinn, and magic-users who would not pray to Allah, and for that purpose he grew Hermann. Endowed with a magical radar, and in-built weapons, he killed and killed, killed til his hands were ruby-red….
He can view the memories as if they took place yesterday, another feature imbued in him thanks to Musa’s meddling.
He is walking through a bazaar in Baghdad. His skin is dark, and he has the beard of a youth, meant to make people overlook him. He spots the target through the throng of people: a girl who always buys dadles at five in the afternoon, on Thursdays, wearing a red burqa. He plows into her, seemingly by accident and prostrates his guilt immediately. She accepts his apology, and their fingers touch for a small moment. And he can tell. That she has magic, something to do with sand and desiccation and dust. She walks by him, but not before meeting his dark eyes with spheres of amber of her own. The next time their eyes meet, Father will have have put ’em in a jar.
He experiences a second memory, and by this time he has grown older, wiser, and he has started to doubt Father. He’s standing at attention, looking down on the left part of his body. His arm, a great part of his chest and leg are burned charcoal-black. Although he has the ability to numb the pain to a lesser degree, Father has forbidden him from doing so, and thus he suffers, the pain almost causing him to blackout. To the right is a white pillar, in which the outline of a beautiful woman can be seen. Father is inspecting the Smokeless, the jinn. Six months from this day he’ll cause a small splinter in the pillar, which will eventually crack and the jinn will escape. Father will have three craftsmen beaten to death, but he will not find out the truth. Not until it’s too late.
And then the end of it all, years past, but not forgotten. He is standing behind Father, in his immaculate office.”Why did you do it?”, Hermann asks, although his name isn’t Hermann yet. Won’t be for centuries, not til he meets a German alchemist that will go down in history and literature as the progenitor of a monster. Father ignores the question- a habit he employs when he doesn’t want to answer. ” Have you come to kill me then?”, he asks with that baritone voice, a voice Hermann can hear clearly, even thirteen centuries later. “Yes.” Succinct, simple, the anti-thesis of the speeches Father is so fond of. “Before I die, tell me: Am I a good man?” Hermann embraces his Father for a last time, needing it, and hating it at the same time. “No. You are a great man Father, but unfortunately, not a good man.” He breakes Father’s neck cleanly, severing all ties to his past.
A soft sound of an email causes him to return to the present. It’s from a friend of a friend in Haiti. He reads it and curses loudly. For three days he has called any acquaintance he has, who knows magic, particulary the deadly kind. And they all offer different ideas. Some believe that the bond between necromancer and barrowman is what makes it live, while others contest that opinion. Some claim that a breaking of the bond can be done, while others say that it is irrelevant: such a breaking will kill the people involved.
Can nothing be done then? No. He resolves to find a way, no matter how narrow that way may seem.
His thoughts go back to Rune. When I was the same age, I could fight five men or six women at the same time. I could last a week without food. Of course, Rune was raised in a different enviroment. The teachings of antiquity won’t work on a modern child…. But what will, he finds himself wondering….
Boys will be boys. And Rune’s Aspergers makes certain things harder to teach. The boy was three years old before his speech was intelligble, and close to five before he was just merely slurring his words and talking too quick. Damn Greyscale and his conceit. He needs a weapon, but Sweden’s weapon-laws makes the laws in New York look laissez-faire. He needs a simple way to defend himself….
Spurred by that thought he checks a couple of storage boxes he has in Fallowfell. His screen turns momentarily black before being filled with three items. Now this might work...