Chapter 78: The Avaricious Eye

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The avarice of Kazalibad was not as noticeable as some of the vices of the other Eight. Ishta'ana's lechery, Yazhara's appetite, and Malaphaisto's lying tongue were nigh-impossible to hide, though they tried their best. Kazalibad did not lust after material wealth, but immaterial gain. Power, influence, and fame was what ruled his heart.

-The Necromancer's Notes, Scroll 2546, Column 45.

***

Kazalibad frowned. The face he wore, however, remained impassive. He wore the garb of a woman now, a fair-haired woman who hadn't even screamed when she saw him. From the reek of her breath and flesh, he had guessed she had partaken in many a drink. But, inebriated or not, she was tall, and the taller they were were, the easier it was for Kazalibad to wear them. "You failed?" he asked the bandit."

"I lived," he snapped back. "My friends went into Gaelhal to kill some little brat, and they didn't come back alive. You didn't tell us that she would be under guard!" He strode forward, and stopped a few feet away from where Kazalibad sat. There was a hole in the barn they were in, a hole in the ceiling that let in a shaft of cold autumn sunlight. It draped over the bandit, shined off his armor, and made the damp earth beneath his feet glisten.

Next to Kazalibad, a man snarled. "Do not speak to him like that, whelp. You have no idea who you speak to!" Haema Rin was a sorcerer, a gifted one, though his talents tended to lie in fields outside of the realm of the law. He also worshiped Kazalibad. Some of the other Eight had their own cults, but Kazalibad kept his in good working condition. The other cults worshiped their respective immortals; Kazalibad's cult worked for him. "You should be begging for mercy from him!"

The bandit gulped. "Wait... You're a woman. You're not the one who hired me!"

"I am," Kazalibad said. He sighed, rose, and stretched. The garb he wore split like paper, and Kazalibad peeled himself out of it. Kicking it aside, off of one clawed foot, like a discarded garment, he turned towards the bandit, his vision and senses expanded. Three eyes trained on him, two on his arms and one on the inside of his thigh. He didn't use that Eye, the one on his forehead, where the one who taught him the agony of immortality had touched him and blessed him, and given him his terrible gift. "You saw me in a disguise. An older one."

Haema turned, and though his eyes were stained entirely black, Kazalibad could see him look at the bandit and the immortal. Eyes in your back allowed you to do that. The immortal opened one of his mouth, on his right flank, and spoke. "You have displeased me. But your form is fair enough."

"My form?" the bandit asked, backing away in revulsion.

"Yes," Kazalibad said. "Cloak me with your skin. Your life to mine, your skin to mine."

For a moment, he lost all orientation. Everything became a maelstrom of motion and dizziness, before sensation snapped back together. His sight was limited again, only to what the bandit could see normally. Gone was the sight around his body, the eyes in his back covered by skin. The immortal wiped away a few drops of blood from his nose. That happened occasionally. The bandit must have struggled. No matter. Once Kazalibad said it, the thug's fate was inevitable.

"So," his cult-leader said, "are we leaving for Saefel Caeld?"

"Yes," Kazalibad said. "Burn the husk first." Haema Rin nodded, and held his hand out. Wordlessly, the sorcerer stepped over to the discarded skin and, holding his hands over the husk, ignited it. Her face, her ruddy skin, and her flaxen hair were slowly eaten by flames, like fiery grave worms.

"The captain is waiting," Haema Rin said. He yanked a black lock of hair back, and his completely black eyes scanned the abandoned barn. It was the mark of a sorcerer, the change in his eyes. His magic had been used for violence, for selfish reasons, for cruelty. Malice was the spirit that ruled his art. Not an actual spirit, of course, but a figurative one. One had to make those distinctions when speaking of sorcerers.

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