The heavy tramp of booted feet sounds on the paving stones as they near the Overlook, and the soldiers waiting to engage them lower their spears in anticipation. A few moments pass, and Darklings come into the lamplight at the far end of the courtyard. There they stop, a wall of armor and steel that may as well stretch into Con'Jithar for all the chance the men have of stopping it.
Darkling eyes glow with a feral light as they study the trophy they have come to claim for their master. A moment later their beastly howls rend the air, and they charge forward, a wave of bristly fur and spikes, razor sharp teeth and claws. The last of the human defenders meet the rush, and cries of pain reach Jase's ears as they are quickly overwhelmed and killed.
Shadowhounds run with the Darklings, hulks of liquid night that defy the very laws of nature as they move up the sheer face of the Overlook. He watches them spill over the rim and move to encircle him, and he takes hold of the Power.
They feel the corruption coursing through him and stop their advance, momentarily confused that he is an Agla'Con. They watch warily but make no move to attack as he continues to draw in as much of Ta'shaen as he can stand. It flows into him in a river of fire so vast it chars his bones and scorches his soul.
He does nothing with it, however. He simply continues to draw in more and more - an ocean of raw energy sufficient to shatter the moon. His vision blurs, and a roaring fills his ears. The Shadowhounds shrink back in fear as the very air around him begins to crackle with heat. Throughout the city the fighting ceases, and all heads, both human and shadowspawn, turn toward the glow coming from the Overlook.
With his Awareness thus extended, he can see the surprise and fear in every face. This is nothing, he tells them proudly, and the truth of the statement makes him want to throw his head back and laugh.
For when he finally reaches his breaking point, the entire world is going to feel it.
Jase jerked upright in a tangle of blankets and cast about in alarm. His skin was hot with sweat, and the veins in his head and neck throbbed violently with each beat of his heart. When his vision cleared, he found that his room was dark save for the soft, grey-white glow of dawn filtering through the window. Only the muffled warble of a morning bird on the balcony disturbed the silence.
He sighed in relief at finding everything intact and lay back against the pillows to cool down. He'd been so certain that he'd embraced the Power while asleep that he'd expected to wake and find the room on fire. He closed his eyes and found Ta'shaen still tingling along his Awareness, a shimmering ocean of Earthpower waiting to be embraced. And there, just audible at the far reaches of his mind was... a voice.
It was the same ambient whisper that had spoken to him last night when it had guided him to the top of the Dome. Only this time it wasn't guiding; it was warning. Warning of both the present and the future.
His eyes snapped open in shock.
The dream of Trian's fall hadn't been a dream at all. It had been a vision. A prophecy. He knew it as surely as he knew he lived. Ta'shaen had spoken to him of the future!
The thought turned his blood to ice. The future he had seen had come about because he had failed to heal the Earthsoul. No. It was worse than that. He had become one of the enemy. Con'Jithar had come to Trian early because he'd lost his birthright.
He pressed his palms to his eyes and willed the images of the ruined city away. Never, he vowed. I will never become an Agla'Con. I will die first. The white hot image of how the vision had ended flashed through his mind and he shuddered. If he were to draw as much of the Power as the vision hinted he was capable of, he truly could challenge Maeon.
But at what price?
The vision hadn't lied when it suggested he could shatter the moon. That much Earthpower could lay waste to an entire continent. In a confrontation with Maeon, that much of Ta'shaen could ruin the world.