|Author(s)||J. Robert King|
|First printing||September 2002|
Blurb[edit | edit source]
|“||The land is in upheaval.
The forest grows out of control. The mountains erupt. The seas boil. The swamps spew acid, and the plains turn to desert. Yet, amidst the turmoil, there is civilization, brutal and unforgiving. Pit fighters battle to the death before tremendous crowds, making some rich, while others lose everything in one stroke of a sword.
The games must continue.
So must the struggle for survival.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Summary[edit | edit source]
The story picks up where Judgment left it: Kamahl has just slain Laquatus using the Mirari sword. He has unleashed its power, which causes the vegetation around it to grow strong and flourishing; this reflects the former pit fighter's change in mentality, who has gone from a battle loving barbarian to a more contemplative nature druid.
Kamahl makes his way back to Seton's hut, where he had left his sister Jeska to be cured of the wound he inflicted upon her. The centaur was unable to save her, and when Braids showed up promising her that she could, she reluctantly agreed. Seton opposed this, and the dementist killed him. When the druid arrives, the hut has been burned down, his friend is dead and his sister missing. Sensing the Cabal's influence, he leaves to reach Aphetto, where the First resides and has his headquarters.
In Aphetto, the former Order angel Nivea and the street illusionist Ixidor form an unlikely duo in the pits. They love each other very deeply and fight in tournaments to earn enough money to escape the squalor of the Cabal and create their own society based on values of honor and purity. They have accumulated a fair amount of coins, and Ixidor decides to bet everything they own, plus some forged by himself, on their next match. If they win, they'll finally be able to leave. Little do they know that their opponent is Phage, the Cabal's new weapon. Created out of Jeska, she has a putrefying touch and great battle mastery, and she easily subdues the duo, killing Nivea. Having lost the game, Ixidor's forgery is discovered, and all of his goods are confiscated. The Cabal officers knock him out and leave him naked in the desert, where he swears revenge upon Phage.
Kamahl reaches Aphetto, where he is quickly approached by Braids. The dementist is looking for a great match to light up the arena, and she offers him the chance to meet Phage in the pits. Kamahl accepts, but in the fight, his sister does not recognize him: in fact, she greatly resents the name Jeska, and despises the druid for his role in making her what she is. Rejected, Kamahl stops the match and returns to Krosa, where he decides to build an army to defeat the Cabal and rescue his sister.
In the meantime, the First has great plans to expand the Cabal's business: feeling Aphetto is too provincial, he commands the construction of the Grand Coliseum, which will become the new center of Otaria's commerce and culture. He sends Phage to oversee the works, who picks the mule driver Zagorka as her official spokesperson. Soon, the great arena is finished and envoys leave for the entire continent to entice people to bet and fight in the Cabal pits.
Ixidor, abandoned in the desert, discovers that his illusionist skills are nothing short of miraculous: he creates a verdant oasis by waving his hand and makes living creatures out of the mud. Soon he has built his own kingdom, known as Topos, with his palace, Locus. In his lands, Ixidor attempts to fulfill Nivea's wishes for a just nation and spends all of his time perfecting it. He creates defenders, works of art, and ecosystems. He makes also unmen, silhouettes of himself that are living portals to parts of his kingdom, to be used in need of escape. The envoys from the Cabal reach him, and one night he dreams that Phage has come to hunt him even in Topos; however, an angel with Nivea's face, Akroma, appears to defend him after the Cabalist rips off his arm. Ixidor awakes, missing a limb but with the angel at his side. Akroma explains he must have created her during his sleep due to his troubles. He agrees, then sends her to eliminate Phage.
In the Krosan forest, the situation has gotten out of control: the Mirari-induced growth has become very strong and cancer-like, mutating everything in its wake and suffocating anything too weak. The people of the forest are fighting desperately against it, but it is all in vain. Kamahl returns to aid the centaurs, and he promises help in stopping the Mirari's nefarious effect if they follow him in his fight against the Cabal. They agree, and he mutates them into huge, powerful beasts. Their leader Bron is renamed Stonebrow and becomes Kamahl's general. Soon an army is set up, twisted by the Mirari's power and augmented by Kamahl's magic. They march upon the Grand Coliseum, where the druid is once again contacted by Braids, who proposes another fight between him and his sister. He accepts, but he orders his army to position themselves for battle in case the Cabal betrays them.
Phage and Kamahl meet again in the pits, but not much has changed: she still resents him and wishes nothing more than to kill him. The fight, however, is cut short by the arrival of Akroma, who proclaims herself to be Phage's slayer. The two siblings battle her, as Kamahl's army intervenes. In the ensuing confusion, the druid cuts the angel's legs, and Akroma flees. Cabal and Krosan decide upon a truce and agree that Ixidor's power has become a serious threat. Kamahl and the First form a new army, led by the druid and Phage. They also forge a new weapon by uniting theirs and create the Soul Reaper, an ax with enough power to kill Akroma. Despite Phage's resentment towards her brother, they march towards Topos.
Ixidor senses that they have united against him and bolsters his defenses. He cures Akroma's legs by fusing her with a jaguar, then creates more and more sentries to protect himself. When the allied army arrives, they face great challenges such as men made of mud who become copies of them and giant flying jellyfish. The greatest threat, though, is the spark that Ixidor sends on the battlefield that causes everyone's worst nightmare come true; while most have a relatively mundane nemesis, Phage's unique constitution makes it so that she regurgitates out a swarm of beetles, which then go on to become enormous wurms. They are the embodiment of each of her murders, and represent her dark soul: once she has expelled them, she is Jeska once again, and she exchanges a few tender words with her brother.
Ixidor realizes that the deathwurms are incredibly powerful, and sends Akroma to battle them. Not even the angel, though, is able to stop them, and they ravage the battlefield, scattering the army and devastating the land. One of the wurms, the embodiment of the murder of Nivea, catches the scent of Ixidor and follows it to Locus; the illusionist is forced to use his unmen to escape, but some of them betray him and leave the portal open behind him. The wurm devours him.
On the battlefield, Jeska sees that the wurms are wreaking untold havoc, and realizes that she must absorb them back in herself, even though that means she will become Phage again. Kamahl opposes the plan, but his sister refuses to let the monsters destroy everything. With the cooperation of Akroma, she returns to being Phage and once again despises the druid. Cabal and Topos unofficially decide upon a truce to recover from the battle, as the army has fled and deserted.
Phage returns to the Coliseum, as Kamahl swears that he will save his sister and goes to Krosa; Akroma takes control of Topos. Their fight continues in Legions.