The Rebel’s Council; A Tale of Wrath

The Rebel’s Council; A Tale of Wrath

Back when I started the Seven Deadly Sins project, I joked that there were probably enough off-shoots of Domerin that I could write a prompt for each sin featuring him. It’s taken some time but I have, indeed, found a Domerin for every sin.

It seems only fitting that I start off with Wrath, since it was the sin I assigned to Domerin during the first round. I have made sure to choose a different Domerin this time though. The last one featured Space Domerin, while this one features the original after he was displaced to another world.
. . .

Theirs was an oddly small council considering their topic was the fate of an entire empire. Had it not been nearly impossible to reach the archmage’s tower without his grace, the discussion never could have taken place. It went beyond mutiny, beyond treason. And yet, it had been inevitable since the moment the outworld warrior stepped through the portal and realized he could never go back to his point of origin.

He ignored the searching stare of the archmage’s bodyguard as he paced the confines of the small study, spinning on his heel every seven feet to move in the opposite direction, his steps oddly precise though they were absently measured. “I have ridden many of the lands your warlord claims as his own,” Domerin declared without glancing up. “All are the same. Blighted or neglected, yet still expected to produce sustenance for an ever-growing army. And the people! They’re in the worst state of all. Sick and miserable slaves to the whims of the war machine’s generals.”

“For sixty years it has been thus,” the archmage replied, his voice soft but full of emotion. “Morgus sweeps across the land like a plague. He steels the strongest and brightest of the children, and if they survive their training trials they become his favored warriors, perpetuating the cycle.”

“It’s how the general you so despise came to serve among his elite,” the mage’s bodyguard rumbled, his single storm-grey eye still tracing the outworlder’s every step.

“It’s how I came into my position,” Sesha murmured, for once displaying no pride in the power that elevated him to one of the warlord’s most coveted positions.

“I’ve heard the stories.” Domerin flicked a wrist in dismissal. “The warlord’s court is no place to raise children. I think we can all agree on that. But the general’s history doesn’t move me. I know well what he would be if things had been different. And that, I cannot ignore.”

“And what gives you the right to dictate the future of this empire?” Seibel demanded, abandoning his apathetic, cross-armed lean in favor of a one-eyed glower. When it didn’t stop the outworld warror’s pacing, he vaulted forward, placing himself in Domerin’s path. “This isn’t your world. You weren’t born here. Yet you think you know better than we who have navigated its twisted paths?”

Domerin halted, but only because he didn’t want to risk a physical confrontation with the warrior-priest. They had already come to blows once, over a conflict Domerin considered petty in the grand scheme of things. And he was keenly aware he was going to need this man’s trust and support if he was going to topple a tyrant. It wasn’t enough for the archmage to order him into compliance. He had to agree with the plan, devote himself to it, or they were doomed to fail.

“Have you talked to the people who live outside the warlord’s walls?” he growled. “Fear is the only thing that keeps them from rioting. And let me tell you something about fear; it only works as long as people have something left to lose. Your empire is teetering on a precarious brink, my friend. Sooner or later the peasants who feed the machine aren’t going to have a reason not to throw stones. They’re ready to raise arms now. They just don’t know how to do it.”

“And you do?” Seibel retorted, standing his ground.

What did the archmage’s steadfast bodyguard want him to say? That he was willing to melt into the background, fade into obscurity and leave the people of the warlord’s beleaguered empire to their fate? It wasn’t that he couldn’t see the arrogance in his position. His plan was presumptuous at best.

Yet, he had never been able to turn his back on those in need. He had built his entire career around protecting and aiding those who couldn’t defend themselves. It’s what he would be doing right now if the incident with an adept’s final strike hadn’t thrown him into a world so different from his own he had never completely ruled out the possibility that he might simply have gone mad.

If he could do something, he must. It might not be his responsibility, but it was the kind of man he was. More than that, it was the kind of man he wanted to be, and he had seen where the opposite path would lead him.

“I know how the General thinks,” he replied, taping the left side of his forehead twice with two fingers. “If anyone can outplay him, it will be me.”

“We don’t doubt that you’re clever.” Sesha shook his head as he rushed forward, placing himself between the two bickering soldiers. “But don’t you think you’re rushing into this? You’ve only been here a few months. How could you possibly understand the complex nuances of the situation?”

“Because I have eyes.”

The archmage winced and Domerin instantly regretted his harsh tone. He sighed and turned, glancing out the study’s far window for several seconds before he spoke again. “Morgus is growing weak. His system of favoritism has kept him in power as his body begins to fail because none of the generals will allow one of their peers to steal more glory than they can claim for themselves.

“But General Lorcasf has been planning his coup for some time. He’s made alliances and promises. It won’t be long now before he makes his move. Killing an old, infirm man on his death bed will do him no good. He needs to strike while Morgus is still capable of defending himself if he wants to prove his strength.

“If the people of the warlord’s empire want to free themselves from the iron grip of a new tyrant, it’s imperative that they act in the wake of the General’s coup. No matter how careful his plan, there’s going to be a power struggle in the wake of the regime change. I’ve seen it before, and in nations far more stable than this one. Some of his allies will support him because they see it as an opportunity to grab power for themselves, while others are going to refuse to yield. We need to take advantage of the time he’ll have to spend weeding out the traitors and making examples of them.”

“A war on multiple fronts?” For the first time, Seibel seemed interested rather than perturbed.

“Exactly. The more demands on his attention, the thinner he’ll have to stretch to keep it all under control and the more likely he’ll be to make mistakes.”

“It does sound like a solid plan,” Seibel admitted, begrudgingly. “If, as you say, you could rouse the rabble into action.”

“We are not questioning your capabilities,” Sesha countered, a hint of desperation in his voice. He surged forward, grabbed Domerin by the shoulders and forced him to face him, fingers digging into his flesh so deeply, the archmage’s knuckles turned white. “It’s your motivations that concern me. These are not your lands or your people. You could ride off into the sunset, make a home for yourself anywhere you like. Why stay? Why do you care about this so much?”

Domerin couldn’t help himself; he bore his teeth in a snarl. “He wears my face, Sesha!” the words were spoken through clenched teeth and with such ferocity the archmage recoiled. “Our histories may differ but our blood is identical. He is me.”

“That doesn’t make him your responsibility!” the archmage insisted, fists clenched at his sides.

“Doesn’t it?” Domerin countered, narrowing his icy blue eyes. “I know the extent of his potential. Any slight change in his upbringing, and he might have turned out like me.”

“Any slight change in your upbringing and you might have been him,” Seibel countered, his tone absent though the words cut through Domerin’s core.

“Exactly so,” he admitted, though it only hardened his resolve. “I have never been able to endure a tyrant, Sesha. Least of all one that looks and thinks like me.”

“It doesn’t matter how similar you are,” the archmage insisted, making a sharp cutting motion through the air with the back side of his right hand. “You are not him. You cannot control him. It would be madness to try. And you are not responsible for any of the choices he makes.”

“No, I’m not,” Domerin replied, catching Sesha’s hand in his. “But I am responsible for the choices I make. What kind of man would I be if I turned my back on people in need of help? Does it matter if they’re my people? Does it matter if we grew up in different countries or different worlds? I cannot allow someone who bears my face and my voice to continue tormenting the innocent and killing in the name of nothing at all. Would you run if it were you?”

Anger flashed for a moment in the archmage’s eyes, along with a hint of determination as deep and indestructible as Domerin’s. But desperation soon replaced it, revealing Sesha’s irrepressible desire to keep his new lover safe, no matter the cost. “Would you believe me if I told you I would run?”

“No,” Domerin replied, his voice soft. He slid his fingers down the right side of Sesha’s pale face, and the archmage leaned into the touch, his eyes half-lidded. “I believe it might be your first instinct. But delicate as you may appear, you are no fragile flower. You would fight for what you believed in. As I have no doubt you will.”

Sesha didn’t answer, slinking forward instead. He pressed his head to Domerin’s chest even as the outworld warrior wrapped his arms around him. It was impossible to deny the growing connection between them, and Domerin had no doubt it drove many of Sesha’s protests. But even this couldn’t turn him aside. The tyrant general had to be dealt with. He could build nothing for himself, no home, no reputation, while his corrupted twin still lived.

Seibel hovered silently in the background, waiting until Sesha regained his composure enough to draw away before he spoke.

“If you’re unable to gain our support by the end of this meeting, even that will not turn you aside?”

Domerin didn’t have to consider the question before shaking his head. “I would still do what I could, though it would be harder and far more dangerous.”

Sesha made a soft, agonized sound, but his bodyguard didn’t give him a chance to protest. “If the archmage resolves to stand with you, then so will I. But know this; there is danger in locking yourself to a course from which you refuse to be moved. Wrath is a fire that burns our souls thin from the inside. If we aren’t careful, it turns us into exactly what we despise.”

Despite the ominous nature of the warning, a smile crept across Domerin’s lips as he met the warrior-priest’s one-eyed gaze. “Wise words. Where did you learn them?”

Though the archmage’s bodyguard had spent the entire meeting furrowing his brow with consternation and pursing his lips with distaste, his features finally softened, an answering grin adorning his lips.

“If I remember the lesson correctly, my friend – and I’m certain I do – I learned it from you.”

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