Alexander Rahl sat alone in his father’s offices, staring into the mirror in disgust. His eyes had almost gone to black from the Taint, and yet he couldn’t help put pull in more. The Lady was very, very happy to have him back, and he’d spent the last week in a near-constant state of ecstasy, her presence flowing into him like a torrential flood, and his body, prepared from conception to contain such energies, soaked it up like a sponge. He felt the other connection, the one he was bred for, in the back of his mind, cold and silent. The room was full of ghostly eyes, staring at him, judging him, trying to gauge what he would do next, but he ignored them.
Nearly every other thing in the small room had been shattered in his most recent battle with Her, but always, through his moments of lucidity and the tearing at his soul, he always left the mirror. Every time he passed it he would examine his eyes and watch as the blue-green eyes of his birth slowly faded to black orbs. Every time he would roar in frustration. Every time he would feel the cold, silent connection in the back of his mind twinge. And every time She would come flowing into him stronger than before, wrapping him in Her embrace.
At night she would come to him in his dreams, lay beside him in his bed, and rest her cool cheek on his shoulder. She would whisper to him that everything was going perfectly, that it was all going to be as it should. But every morning he would wake with the screams of a million souls in his mind, and the twinge in the back of his mind would be more pronounced.
But She was right, everything was going perfectly. He didn’t have the numbers he needed, but a few solid victories would bring enough conscripts to the cause, and he could get a few solid victories if the stars were right, regardless of whatever ragtag coalitions his father was putting together. The loss of the last of the Luthenium was a blow, but a minor one that could be overcome with a bit of frugality.
He caught himself planning a war again, an act that Alexander knew wasn’t him thinking, but Tahl-Mearis. He paced slowly back over to the mirror, trying to ignore the rushing of the Taint as it flowed into him, bringing Kishara’s gentle whispers.
“I,” he said slowly, almost painfully, “am Alexander Rahl. I am Terath’Ambul. I am Terath’Anim. I walk in the shadows so the innocent may walk in the light.” The pull of the Taint intensified, so much so that he could hear it rushing in his ears. “I AM ALEXANDER RAHL,” he continued, shouting, “I AM TERATH’ANIM. I WALK IN THE SHADOWS SO THE INNOCENT MAY WALK IN THE LIGHT!” The rushing became a torrent as She poured her essence into him, trying to drive him back to her will, its sweet feeling colored slightly with a stern reprimand.
“I WILL NOT SUCCUMB!”
The rushing became a scream, driving him to his knees, clutching the sides of his head in a futile attempt to make the sound and the pain stop.
“Yes,” he heard her voice in his mind as clear as if she were whispering in his ear, “you will…and have.”