|Chapter 19: The Thaumaturge|
"Madman!" Findail retorted. "It is you who imperil the Earth, you! Are you blind to the purpose of the Despiser's venom?"
At that, Covenant reeled; but he did not break. Holding himself in a grip of ire and fear, he demanded, "Then you stop him!"
The Appointed flinched. "I am Elohim. The Elohim do not take life."
"One way or the other." Flame rose in Covenant's voice. "Stop him. Or answer my questions. All of them. Why you're here. What you're afraid of. Why you want me to hold back." Findail did not move. Kasreyn's power mounted toward cataclysm moment by moment. "Make up your mind."
The Elohim drew a breath like a sob. For an instant his yellow eyes were damp with pain.
Then his form frayed, melted. He lifted into the air in the shape of a bird.
Fire coruscated around him. He flitted scatheless through it, a swift darting of Earthpower. Elongating and flattening himself as he flew, he swooped like a manta toward the Kemper.
Before Kasreyn could react, Findail flashed past his face, pounced onto his son.
At once, the Elohim became a hood over the infant's head. He sealed himself under the small chin, behind the downy-haired skull, clung there like a second skin.
Suffocating the child.
A scream ripped from Kasreyn's chest. He sprang upright, staggered out of the protection of his chair. His hands groped behind him, clawed at Findail; but he could not rake the Elohim loose. His limbs went rigid. Asphyxiation mottled his face with splotches of madness and terror.
Again he screamed--a cry of horror from the roots of his being:
The shriek seemed to break his soul. He toppled to the floor like a shattered tower.
Lifting back into human shape, Findail stepped away from the Kemper's body. His visage was engraved with grief. Softly, he said, "That which he bore was no son of his flesh. It was of the croyel--beings of hunger and sustenance which demnify the dark places of the Earth. Those who bargain thus for life or might with the croyel are damned beyond redemption."