How we think the fight will go
How Paul S. Kemp, creator of Erevis Cale, thinks the match will go:
Cale sat in the center of Elgrin Fau’s ancient graveyard, surrounded by the dead, shrouded in the perpetual night of the Shadowfell. A crumbling temple to some long-forgotten god brooded over the graves, supervising the decay. Above, the interplanar rift split the starless sky. It was leagues wide and still growing, spitting green, sickly energy into the multiverse.
It would destroy everything unless Cale closed it, unless he stopped Anomander Rake.
The ground shook, gave a pained groan, existence fraying at the edges. A thunderhead loomed to the west, a rolling mountain of black clouds veined with yellow and green lightning. Universes were folding in on themselves.
Cale did not have much time left.
He ticked off the names of those he’d killed while making his way to Rake: Rico, Tannen, Morgan. Cale was already tired, tired in his bones from carrying the weight of those murders. None of three had done anything to earn them. They’d just been in his way, standing on the ground between him and Rake, and each one he’d killed had eroded his soul a bit more.
He accepted that – what other choice did he have? – but he didn’t know how much more murder he had in him.
His divinations had provided him more names, victims he’d have to cut through to get to Rake – Kelsier, Moraine, Wednesday, Kylar Stern, others.
He thought about those names a long time, the shadows swirling around him, and mustered what resolve he could dredge from his fading will. In time he stood and said the name of his next victim aloud, a small honor to presage a murder.
He started to draw the shadows about him, preparing to move between worlds, but a soft, cold voice from behind halted him.
Cale turned, saw a man standing ten paces from him. He was younger than Cale, medium build, cloaked, non-descript but for the weapons he wore: an anyman, perfect for a killer. Cale could guess his name. The multiverse must have grown impatient with Cale’s hesitation.
“Kylar Stern,” he said, not a question.
The man nodded from within his cloak. “You were about to go find me. About to go kill me.”
Cale didn’t bother to deny it. He looked up at the rift, then back at Kylar. “I don’t have any choice.”
“Then I don’t either,” Kylar said.
And with that he drew blades and bounded over the graves toward Cale, his movements preternaturally fast.
Cale barely managed to clear Weaveshear from its scabbard before Kylar was upon him, spinning, ducking, lunging, slashing. Cale stumbled backward, parrying as best he could with his larger blade, but stabs were everywhere. Kylar was a whirlwind made of sharp edges.
The shadows swirling round Cale turned some of the blows, his armor turned others, but others bit flesh. He bled from a dozen wounds and would have been dead already had the shadowstuff flowing in his veins not sealed the wounds almost as fast as Kylar made them.
Cale kept retreating, walking over the ancient dead, until he’d recovered enough from the initial onslaught to hold his ground. He sidestepped a stab, ducked another, leaped over a spinning leg sweep, and loosed a decapitating strike for Kylar’s head. Kylar ducked it, stabbed upward with a dagger, and Cale avoided being gutted only be careening backward, stumbling, nearly tripping.
Two hurled daggers Kylar produced from somewhere pursued Cale in retreat. Cale tried to lurch aside, but both hit home. They’d have pierced his heart had the shroud of shadows that cloaked him not killed their momentum and caused them to fall to the ground inert.
For the moment, Kylar did not follow up and Cale was grateful for it. Shadows churned around him. His breath came in gasps.
“What are you?” Kylar asked, pacing back and forth like a caged predator, eyeing Cale from under the hood of his dark cloak.
“What are you?” Cale responded, trying to figure out how in the Nine Hells Kylar had tracked him down. It was supposed to go the other way.
For answer Kylar sprinted toward him, once again moving faster than an ordinary man should’ve been able to move. Cale backpedaled, in his retreat hurriedly intoning the words to a spell that would shatter bones and ruin flesh. A black beam shot from Cale’s pointed finger, struck Kylar in the chest and…did nothing.
He was immune to Cale’s magic, perhaps to all magic.
Cale had only an instant for that to register before Kylar was upon him again, all blades and stabs and edges and pain. Cale answered as best he could, a flurry of blows with Weaves hear, a kick, a punch with his off-hand, but he only once put a glancing blow with his blade on Kylar’s shoulder. It rang off as if the man wore plate armor, yet he wore only leathers. Some magic warded his flesh.
Cale cursed, trying to think of an advantage he could use. The man was fast, stronger than he should have been for his size, and as well-trained a swordsman as Cale had ever seen. Steel rang as they attacked and parried, dancing through gravestones and time-eroded statuary, leaping over tombs. Shadows roiled while thunder growled. Flesh bled, mostly Cale’s.
Cale feinted to gain some room, then stepped through the shadows and materialized to Kylar’s right. He stabbed with Weaveshear, opened a gash in the man’s side, and stepped through the shadows once more, this time behind Kylar, and stabbed for his kidneys. But Kylar was too skilled for the ploy to work more than once and countered with a spinning parry that he rode into a kick. His booted foot caught the side of Cale’s head and sent him reeling, stumbling over a gravestone. Kylar lunged after him, both blades positioned for a killing stab.
Cale rode the shadows out of the way of the attack and appeared behind Kylar, but in the instant it took him to rematerialize, Kylar had disappeared.
“Shit,” Cale said, and hurriedly merged his own form with the darkness, likewise disappearing to normal sight. He stood still and listened, but heard nothing, not a footfall, not a breath.
Kylar was good. Very good.
Cale rode the darkness onto the roof eaves of the god of the dead’s temple. He winced with pain as the shadowstuff in his veins closed his many wounds. Lightning tore through the sky. He took the time to softly intone a spell, pulling on the divinity within him. He grew to half again his normal size, and his already shadow-enhanced strength and speed increased further. He’d need it if he was to defeat Kylar.
“Invisibility is just prolonging this,” he shouted into the dark. “Can you hear me?”
Kylar’s disembodied voice answered from somewhere to his right. “Prolonging what? Something brought me here and I knew your name somehow, that you were…evil, and that I had to kill you. So what is this?”
Again the earth shook. Above them, the rift yawned.
“I don’t know,” Cale said, shaking his head. “Not for certain. I only know the world’s ending if it’s not stopped.”
“Your world,” Kylar said.
“All worlds! Yours, too.”
“Did you hear?” Cale called. “Yours, too, Kylar. Is there no one in your world you care for? No one you love?”
“If there is, to save them, one of us is going to have to die. Here. Now. There’s not much time left.”
Thunder boomed. Lightning split the sky.
Kylar re-appeared twenty paces away from the temple, blades in hand, violence in his face, cold eyes fixed on Cale. “I’ve no intention of dying here, Erevis Cale. So that leaves you.”
Cale gave a hard smile and shadows spun. “I guess we’ll see.”
He made himself visible and leaped from the roof toward Kylar. While airborne, he formed the shadows around Kylar into perfect duplicates of himself while riding the darkness into the air twenty feet above Kylar.
The shadow duplicates charged Kylar from all sides. Kylar responded, his movements a blur. Two daggers flew, struck duplicates, and dissipated them into nothingness. After that he must have deduced Cale’s ploy, or sensed his danger, for he bounded aside into a roll as the real Cale descended from above. Weaveshear chopped through empty air while Kylar regained his feet, reversed direction, and charged back at Cale.
Cale parried with Weaveshear, sidestepped a dagger thrust, and landed a kick to Kylar’s chest. Despite Cale’s increased size and strength, Kylar took the impact, gripped Cale’s leg, and twisted him to the ground. His blade whistled for Cale’s throat, but Cale rode the shadows back to his feet and behind Kylar.
Cale stabbed for the lungs, but Kylar spun, again with that inhuman speed, slapped Weaveshear to the side with his long blade, and drove a dagger overhand into Cale’s chest.
Cale groaned, staggered backward while blood poured from his chest. Shadows swam around him. Kylar stayed on him, unrelenting, and slashed at Cale’s throat. Cale parried the blow, fought through the pain, and did the only thing he could think of — he lowered his head and charged.
He caught Kylar off-guard, got his hands on him, rode the momentum of his charge into a spin, and flung Kylar fifteen paces through the air and into the doors of the temple. The impact shattered the doors, cracked the jambs, and Kylar careened into the dark interior of the temple.
Cale did not hesitate. He jerked the dagger from his chest while the shadowstuff healed the wound, roared, and sprinted into the temple. He expected to find Kylar prone on the polished stone floor.
Instead, he found nothing.
A sound from above pulled his gaze up but it was already too late. In the mere moment it had taken Cale to follow Kylar into the temple, the man had climbed into the temple’s ceiling beams and there waited, a dagger in each hand, both blades black with some kind of poison. He leaped down, landed on Cale’s back, wound his legs around Cale’s hips, and started stabbing him in the sides and chest, again and again and again, the blows coming so fast that Cale bled from a dozen holes before he’d drawn two breaths. The poison did not affect Cale but the blades did. Blood soaked his cloak; he swam in pain.
He dropped Weaveshear, tried to reach back and grab at Kylar, but still the stabs came, still the blood flowed. Shadows whirled around them, a storm of darkness. Cale backpedaled hard into the stone wall of temple, slamming Kylar against it. The man grunted, but did not relent. The blades continued to rise and fall, spraying crimson lines on the air, putting bloody holes in Cale.
Cale slammed Kylar against the wall again, again, again.
“Just die!” Kylar said, his voice a hiss, his blades a blur.
“I…can’t,” Cale grunted, feeling steel scrape ribs, feeling a lung puncture. “I won’t.”
His shadow-infused body almost kept up with Kylar’s blows, closing wounds moments after they were made. Still, the pain made him see sparks, summoned gasps and groans. He slammed Kylar into the wall again, dislodged him just enough to cause Kylar to rear back.
And that was what Cale needed. He threw his head back and caught Kylar hard in the face. Kylar groaned, recoiled, sloughed from Cale’s back. Cale whirled, throwing a sloppy elbow as he turned. It caught Kylar in the cheek and sent him reeling to the floor. Cale leaped atop him, his hands digging at Kylar’s face. Kylar dropped his daggers and his hands climbed Cale’s chest until they reached his throat. They closed on the windpipe, squeezed.
Darkness enveloped them both; and sharp breaths, grunts of exertion, and gasps of pain populated the darkness. Cale got a finger of one hand in Kylar’s mouth and tore at his cheek. He got the forefinger of his other hand in Kylar’s eye and rooted in the eye socket, digging deep.
No doubt sensing his danger, Kylar twisted his head to the side and bit down on Cale’s finger, severing it. Cale screamed, recoiled, and as he did the finger of his off-hand hooked Kylar’s eye and jerked it from the socket.
Kylar’s screams joined Cale’s and both men rolled away from one another, bleeding, for the moment solitary in their agony. Neither stayed prone long. Both swallowed down their pain and rose at the same time. They stood on pain-wobbled legs, bleeding, breathing hard, staring at one another across the temple floor. Kylar’s eye dangled from a string of veins and sinew. Blood poured from Cale’s mangled hand, from the dozens of wounds in his chest and back. He shed his cloak and it hit the floor in a wet, gory pile.
Kylar had produced another pair of knives. “How many more holes can you take, shadowman?”
Cale spit a mouthful of blood, winced as another wound closed. “More than you can give.”
He looked over at Weaveshear, but dismissed the idea of using it. This wouldn’t end with steel.
“We end it in close,” he said. “Close work, yeah?”
Kylar winced at some pain or other and nodded, his eye bouncing on its gory string. “Close, yeah.”
A pause, a nod, a look, and then they charged one another, colliding at speed, both of them past training, past technique. They embraced in savagery, nothing more or less. Cale’s greater size and strength allowed him to drive Kylar to the floor. Kylar stabbed him while Cale loosed a flurry of punches, blows powered by his shadow and spell-enhanced strength, blows powerful enough to crack the floor when they missed and stave an ordinary man’s skull when they hit.
But Kylar was no ordinary man.
Cale shattered his nose and Kylar continued his stabs. A punch crushed Kylar’s cheek, collapsing one side of his face, and still Kylar stabbed. A blow popped the gory grape of Kylar’s dangling eye and still the man fought, still he stabbed, finally slitting Cale’s abdomen wide open in his screaming desperation. Cale’s guts spilled out and he shrieked in pain while his body tried to regenerate the horrific damage.
And still they fought, in a cloud of shadows, in a pond of gore, the one stabbing and screaming, the other punching and shrieking.
“Die!” Kylar said, his dagger blows punctuating the words. “Die!”
“I can’t!” Cale answered, punching, turning Kylar’s face into a ruin. “I can’t or we all do!”
Another punch, another stab, another punch, another stab, another punch, a spray of blood and the give of bone and cartilage and…
Kylar arms fell limp to his side. He went still.
Cale collapsed atop him, exhausted, his exposed guts pressed between their bodies. His body shook from the exertion, from the agony. He was lightheaded. He rolled to the side, gritted his teeth, and started shoveling the slick ropes of his entrails back into the hole in his abdomen. He screamed with pain as the shadows swirled around him, remade him.
Beside him, a wet groan passed the ruin of Kylar’s mouth.
Cale was instantly back on alert, reaching for a dagger, but there was no need.
Kylar turned his head to look at Cale, the bloody pulp of his face a map of pain. His ragged, bloody lips moved, made whispered words.
“Why won’t…you die?” he said to Cale.
Cale regarded him a long moment. “Gods, man, why won’t you?”
Kylar laughed, the sound bubbly and wet. He turned his head to look back up at the ceiling. His breathing slowed, grew fainter. He lifted his forearm off the floor, hand open. Cale understood the gesture right away – a warrior’s farewell, a sign of respect. He clasped Kylar’s hand in his own and held it while it grew cold.
On a shared world, Cale thought that maybe he and Kylar Stern would have been blood brothers. Or if not, they’d have been the worst of rivals. But on this one…
On this one Kylar was dead, and Cale was his killer.
And that was as it had to be.
After a long time Cale rose, still pained from his many wounds, and left Kylar and the temple behind.
He stepped outside, into the graveyard. He was one step closer to Rake. He looked up at the rift, Rake’s rift, and made a promise.
“I’m coming for you , Anomander Rake.”
Predicted Winner: Erevis Cale
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 29th, 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!”