How we think the fight will go
How Paul S. Kemp, creator of Erevis Cale, thinks the match will go:
Lightning painted jagged green lines on the starless vault of the Shadowfell’s sky. Thunder rumbled, a deep groan, as if the world were in pain.
And Cale supposed it was.
Shadows roiled around him, their dark churn a reflection of his thoughts. He stood on a balcony in the highest tower of his basalt citadel, staring up at the glowing gash in the sky.
The rift hadn’t shrunk. Cale had murdered two people, thinking that would close and end the crossovers that were destabilizing the multiverse. But the blood he’d spilled had been a libation to indifferent gods. The rift remained as it had been, several leagues wide, glowing green and blue and yellow, a bruise-colored hole in the fabric of the multiverse.
If it weren’t closed soon, he knew, it would consume everything. Everyone everywhere would die. The multiverse would end in nothingness.
He had to learn more of its origin.
Intoning the words to a powerful divination, he smeared shadows across the air before his face, read the meaning in their pattern, in their swirling whorls and spirals. Words came to him, alien words that originated on alien worlds, names of beings he never should have known: Kylar Stern, Revan, Kelsier, Rachel Morgan.
And every name was a symptom of the multiverse’s sickness. All of those beings stood between him and his ability to seal the rift. The rift….
He focused the energy of his spell on the rift, looking for a magical signature, anything that would tell him of its origin. And he soon had it.
His spell pulled a presence from the shadows, showed him the cause of the rift, the towering, dark presence that loomed behind it all, a being with the power of a god, a being whose name Cale now knew.
Rake was responsible for the rift. Rake was responsible for everything.
Cale would have to find him, and then find a way to kill him.
But others stood in the way, beings Rake was using to thwart any attempt to stop him and seal the rift.
Cale would have to kill them first.
He picked a name at random from those he had learned.
Rachel Morgan would be the next to die.
He drew Weaveshear, hooked the foci of his divination onto Rachel Morgan’s name, and so learned the location to which he must travel.
Thunder rumbled anew as he drew the darkness about him, stepped through the shadows, and went off to kill.
He materialized on another world, in the tree line at the edge of an open meadow. A single moon cut a silver crescent in a sky filled with stars he didn’t know. Insects chirped and buzzed. He merged his form with the darkness, turning himself invisible.
Stones decorated the meadow, arranged in a semi-circular pattern. He sensed the magic of the place, though the feel of it was foreign to him.
Rachel Morgan stood in the meadow.
Seeing her, he cursed softly. The darkness around him churned. He’d not expected a woman. Even in his days as a paid assassin, he’d never murdered a woman.
Resolve drained from him, as if pouring through a hole in his heel. He sheathed his blade, unable to act. From the darkness he watched her, a ghost haunting her movements, trying to reconcile himself to blood.
She moved from stone to stone, touching each one in turn, sparks of magic flowing from her fingers as her fingers touched rock. He prowled along the edge of the meadow, a dark, silent shadow trailing her steps. He flashed back on Tazi and Varra, the only two women he’d ever loved, inasmuch as he could love. Rachel Morgan reminded him of them somehow. It wasn’t just her beauty, though there was that. And it wasn’t just the way she brushed her red hair from her face. It was the confidence of her movements, the grace. She was formidable; he could see that.
He imagined he would have liked Rachel Morgan if he hadn’t come to kill her.
Sentimentality made him doubt, and doubt made him sloppy. A branch snapped under his step. Rachel froze, looked over at him, head cocked, eyebrows raised in a question. He would’ve sworn she looked directly at him, saw him for a moment, though that shouldn’t have been possible.
It was excuse enough. He drew the darkness fully about him and rode the shadows back to the Shadowfell. He didn’t have a murder in him, not right then.
Rachel watched the shadowman pull the darkness to him and disappear into it, going back to whatever sunless world he called home.
“Really?” she said. “Dark, shadowy assassin type? That’s what I get? Cliché much, pal? Hell, I’ll bet you have a heart of gold, too, or at least an honorable streak.”
She sat cross-legged on one of the stones of the meadow while the glamour that looked exactly like her—a distraction designed to draw fire—continued to move from stone to stone and cast illusory spells. A leyline bisected the meadow and she’d used its power to fuel a series of defensive wards and magical alarms. She wouldn’t be taken by surprise again, and she wouldn’t be taken from earth, not again. She’d wait out this idiot cosmic game on a leyline, in her meadow. If she were forced to face someone else, to kill someone else, she’d do it on earth.
She’d watched the darkman as he’d watched her glamour. She’d sensed the power in him. But he was no demon, no fey, no kind of being she’d ever seen before. He was…something else.
And yet there was something human in him. She’d seen the hesitation in his yellow eyes, the doubt written in his expression. He’d come to kill her. Of that she had no doubt, but he’d faltered. But he didn’t want to.
She hoped she never saw him again, hoped he’d reconsidered his course. Because she knew that if she did see him again, if he did come back, he would be coming to kill her. And she knew he wouldn’t hesitate again.
“You should’ve taken your shot when you thought you had it, shadowman. That hesitation’s gonna cost you if you come back here.”
She knew quite well how to deal with a man who lived in the dark.
Cale paced his sanctum, out of view of the rift, trying to figure out another course. But there wasn’t, and he knew it.
He stacked coins, played chess against himself, rifled scrolls and books, all of it mundane nonsense designed to file while his conscience caught up with events. In time he came to the only conclusion possible.
He’d have to kill Rachel.
Rake would answer for Rachel, for all of the dead, if Cale could make it through to him.
His mind made up, he stepped through the shadows, from his sanctum to the plains of the Shadowfell. From there, he took one last glance up at the rift, the mouth that was eating existence, a reminder to himself of the stakes.
He jingled the coins in his pocket (he must have shoved some of them there while stacking them), put murder on his mind and drew Weaveshear. He pulled the darkness about him and stepped between worlds.
Once more he materialized in the darkness of the tree line. Rachel sat on one of the stones in the center of the meadow, her back to him. He could make it quick. She’d feel nothing.
He stepped out of the trees and into the meadow and the moment he did white light blared from above. It originated from everywhere, fulgent, blinding, hitting him like a physical thing, stripping away the darkness that shrouded him, driving him to his knees. Shadows poured from his flesh, but lingered for only a moment before the light burned them away. He groaned, eyes watering, and tried to feel the darkness of the forest right behind him, but couldn’t. Something blocked his perception.
“Take away the night and you’re like a turtle without your shell,” said a woman’s voice, Rachel Morgan’s voice. She stood and walked a few steps toward him. “Kinda one-dimensional, aren’t you? I mean, darkness is your thing? Really?”
Still holding Weaveshear, fighting against the pain, he crawled on all fours toward her.
“Oh, none of that, now,” she said, and waved a hand.
In response to her words, the earth squirmed under him, the grass and weeds growing, thickening, whipping about. They grabbed at him, wormed their way into his clothing, pulled him down as if trying to draw him into the soil, into a grave. He fought against them, struggled, but every strand of grass or weed he broke, ten took its place. They were wrapping him up, cocooning him. Soon he was covered in them, barely able to move.
“I’m sorry about this,” Rachel said. “But you came here to kill me, right? Probably told yourself ‘Killing’s what I was born to do,’ all hardass like, right?” She shook her head and paced a small circle.“You men and your egos.”
He grunted, tore at the grass, got himself again to all fours, moved in a halting crawl toward her. He needed a shadow, some darkness, but the light of her spell killed them all. There were none in the meadow.
“You’re thinking about the light, aren’t you?” she said. “It’s a simple spell, really. You know what ‘local noon?’ means? No? It means the sun is directly above an object, such that the object casts no shadow. This spell’s like that except in spades. It puts a magical source of illumination directly over every object in the meadow and then stays there, even if the object moves. Hence, no shadows.” She clucked her tongue. “Hence, sad shadowman. And my wards isolate the meadow from everything outside it, so no leaving the field of play, as it were. It’s just you and me, kid.”
She stood maybe ten paces from him.
Grass wormed into his mouth, choking off his air. Weeds clogged his ears, blocked his vision. He was sinking into the earth. Several strands wrapped around his throat and started to squeeze. He gasped, tried to grab at them but couldn’t free an arm. Shadows poured from his flesh, but Rachel’s spell quickly burned them away.
Weaveshear was too big to be of use, so he reached for his dagger with his off-hand, grunting against the pull of the meadow’s vegetation. Sparks exploded in his brain, the lack of air blurring his vision, clouding his thinking. He couldn’t reach his dagger, could only reach his pocket and the handful of coins it held.
He almost laughed at the silliness of it.
And then an idea struck him.
He closed his fist over the coins, pulled his hand free, and squirmed desperately to free up his arm. The vegetation clutched at him, choked him, reached into his throat, his eyes, his ears and nose. He couldn’t breathe; he couldn’t see; he was dying.
“Sorry, darkman,” Rachel said. She sounded far, far away.
“You’re not killing me,” he grunted. “You’re killing everyone.”
She stopped her pacing, faced him. “What’s that now?”
Her hesitation cost her. The grass and weeds relented, just for a moment, and desperation lent him strength. He freed his arm for just a breath and used that breath to cast the handful of coins into the air, in Rachel’s direction.
As he’d hoped, her spell could not keep track of all of them, could not follow the random movement of their flight. For just a fraction of a heartbeat, the coins flew oblique to the magical light of her noontime spell, and as they did, each coin put a tiny shadow on the ground.
And Cale felt them all as they formed, felt their connection to him, each shadow a tiny hole in the defenses Rachel had so carefully crafted. He felt the correspondence between the darkness that bled from his flesh and the shadows cast by the coins. An instant was all he needed, a moment.
He moved from one shadow to another, leapfrogging across the meadow until he materialized behind Rachel. She whirled, eyes wide, words of power forming on her lips, but before she could utter them, he drove Weaveshear up through her ribcage and into her heart. She gasped, a small sound that would haunt Cale a long while.
“I’m sorry, Rachel Morgan,” he said, as she sagged toward him, her hands clutching his cloak.
“What..have…you done?” she said, her blood warm on his hand.
“What I had to,” he said softly. “It’s night now. Rest.”
He cradled her as she died, and after she was gone, the light from her spell failed and darkness reclaimed the meadow. She lay limp in his arms.
Cale stood, pushed away the guilt he felt, and arranged her body in a posture of repose. He closed her eyes, bade her godspeed, and left her there.
As he pulled the night around him and rode it back to the Shadowfell, grief gave way to anger and he shouted the name of his hate into the heavens, the name that had made all of this necessary.
Predicted Winner: Erevis Cale
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 22nd, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
We’ll be down to just eight characters in Round 4, starting March 26th!
Don’t forget–we’re always looking for fans’ depictions of these characters. Check out the details here
Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”