His left eye no longer flamed. It wept blood instead.
Most of the epic of Davoul the Lame is very badly written, but its climax isn’t too bad, so I’ll quote it here.
‘… and raised he up and pushed his arms even into the sky and cried out again. And cried he out one last time as he beheld that jewel which he had named Cthrag Yaska and which had caused him to be smitten again, and then, as a tree hewn away at the ground, the Dark God fell, and the earth resounded with his fall.’
And that’s what really happened at Vo Mimbre. Whole libraries have been written about the battle, but with only a few exceptions - mostly written by Alorn scholars - those lurid accounts miss the truly significant events that led up to the duel between Brand and Torak. Everything we did was designed to force Torak to accept Brand’s challenge. Once we put him in a situation where he didn’t have any choice, the outcome was inevitable.
The fall of their God totally demoralized the Angaraks, and the Ulgos and various others had killed their kings and generals so there wasn’t anybody around to give them orders. Angaraks don’t function well independently. Someone very wise once said, ‘It’s all very well to put the government in the hands of the perfect man, but what do you do when the perfect man gets a belly-ache?’ That’s the major argument against any kind of absolutism.
The Malloreans, of course, were doomed. They were surrounded by people who had every reason to hate them, and forgiveness and mercy weren’t very evident as the armies of the west fell on the luckless invaders like the wrath of a whole pantheon of Gods.
The Murgos on the left flank really didn’t see any reason to rush to the aid of their Mallorean cousins. Murgos don’t like Malloreans in the first place, so there weren’t any strong ties between the two races - not without Torak ramming brotherhood down their throats. There weren’t really any orders given. The Murgos simply turned, fled south to the banks of the River Arend on the east side of the city, and tried to swim across. The current was very swift there, and the river was deep. A few Murgos made it across, but not very many.
The Thulls had already bolted to the river just to the west of Vo Mimbre. Thulls aren’t bright, but they’re strong, and they weren’t weighted down with mail-shirts the way the Murgos were, so a surprising number of them made it across to the Tolnedran side. The Nadraks tried to follow them, but Nadraks don’t swim very well, so probably no more of them reached safety than did Murgos.
The slaughter continued until dark, and then the Alorns lit torches and kept on killing Malloreans
Finally, General Cerran came to Brand. ‘Isn’t that enough?’ he demanded in a sick voice.
‘No,’ Brand replied firmly, adjusting the sling cradling his bandaged left arm. ‘They came here to butcher us. I’m going to make sure they don’t do it again. No seed nor root is going to escape this cleansing.’
‘That’s barbaric, Brand!’
‘So was what happened to Drasnia.’
And after midnight when the torches had burned down, Brasa’s Ulgos went around and killed all the wounded. I didn’t care for that kind of savagery any more than Cerran did, but I kept my nose out of it. Brand was in charge now, and I still had things for him to do. Those things were very important, and he might start getting stubborn and uncooperative if I started giving him orders he didn’t like.
The dawn the following morning was bleary with smoke, and the only Angaraks left on the field were the dead ones. Malloreans, Murgos, Nadraks, Thulls, and black-robed Grolims lay scattered or piled in heaps on that blood-soaked field. Brand’s cleansing was complete.
The Rivan Warder had slept for an hour or two at the end of that awful night, but he came out of his tent when the sun rose to join my brothers, my daughter and me. ‘Where is he?’ he demanded.
‘Where’s who?’ Beldin said shortly.
‘Torak. I want to have a look at the King of the World.’
‘You can look for him if you want to,’ Beldin told him, ‘but you’re not going to find him. Zedar spirited him off during the night.’
‘Didn’t you tell him?’ Beldin asked me.
‘He didn’t need to know about it,’ I replied. ‘If he had known, he’d have probably tried to stop it.’
‘He couldn’t have, you dunce - any more than you or I could have.’
‘Does somebody want to explain this?’ Brand’s voice had a testy edge to it.
‘It was part of the agreement between the Necessities,’ I told him. ‘Those agreements get very complicated sometimes, and they appear to involve a lot of horse-trading. After they’d agreed that you’d win if the duel took place on the third day, our Necessity was forced to agree that you wouldn’t be permitted to keep Torak’s body. This wasn’t the last EVENT, you know. We haven’t seen the last of Torak.’
‘But he’s dead!’
‘No, Brand,’ Polgara told him, ‘actually, he’s not. You didn’t really think that sword of yours could kill him, did you? There’s only one sword in the world that can do that, and it’s still hanging on the wall behind the throne of the Rivan King. That was another part of the agreement, and it’s why the Orb was set in your shield instead of left where it was. You aren’t the one who’s supposed to use that sword.’
‘Hang it all, Polgara,’ he burst out. ‘Nobody survives a sword thrust through the head!’
‘Torak can - and has. Your thrust rendered him comatose, but the time’s going to come when he’ll wake up again.’
‘When the Rivan King returns. He’s the one who’s supposed to take down that sword. When he does, Torak’ll wake up, and there’ll be another EVENT.’
‘Will that be the last one?’
‘Probably, but we’re not entirely sure,’ Beltira replied. ‘There are several things in the Mrin that don’t match up.’
‘Is Gelane going to be able to handle it?’ Brand asked Pol. ‘He doesn’t seem all that muscular to me, and Torak’s a very serious opponent.’
‘I didn’t say it was going to be Gelane, Brand,’ she corrected him. ‘It probably won’t be, if I’m reading the signs correctly. It might be his son - or somebody twenty generations out in the future.’
Brand’s shoulders slumped, and he winced and put his hand on his wounded arm. ‘Then all of this has been for nothing,’ he sighed.
‘I’d hardly call it nothing, Brand,’ I disagreed. ‘Torak was coming after the Orb, and he didn’t get it. That counts for something, doesn’t it?’
‘I suppose,’ he conceded glumly. Then he looked out over the corpse-littered battlefield. ‘We’d better get rid of all these dead Angaraks,’ he said. ‘It’s summer, and there’ll be pestilence if we just leave them lying there to rot.’
‘Are you going to bury them?’ Beltira asked him.
‘No, I think we’ll burn them instead. I wouldn’t be very popular if I took everybody’s sword away from him and handed him a shovel.’
‘Where are you going to get that much wood?’ Beldin asked.
‘There’s a sizeable forest on the northern edge of this plain,’ Brand replied with a shrug. ‘As long as it’s so close, we might as well use it.’
And that’s what happened to those woods. We had a lot of dead Angaraks on our hands, so we needed some very large bonfires.
It took several days to clean up the battlefield, and while we were all concentrating on that, Aldorigen of Mimbre and Eldallan of Asturia went off a ways to have that private discussion Eldallan had proposed before the battle. Neither of them survived that discussion. The symbolic significance of that useless meeting wasn’t lost on the older nobles of both duchies. The Arendish civil wars had lasted for eons, and if they were permitted to continue, it was very probable that Mimbre and Asturia would follow their rulers into extinction.
Mandor and Wildantor led the deputation that came to Brand with a rather surprising proposal. ‘Our hatreds run too deep, Lord Brand,’ Wildantor noted glumly. ‘Mandor and I’ve learned to get along, but we’re a couple of unusual fellows. We can’t really hope that other Arends might be willing to follow our lead.’
‘You all cooperated fairly well during the battle,’ Brand replied. ‘Couldn’t you build on that?’
Mandor sighed and shook his head. ‘Our uneasy truce doth already begin to show signs of strain, Lord Brand,’ he said. ‘Some ancient grievance will surely arise to rend us apart again.’
‘Our problem’s fairly simple, my Lord,’ Wildantor said with a rueful smile. ‘Arendia needs to be unified, but who’s going to rule once we get it pasted together? No Asturian alive will bow to a Mimbrate king, and the Mimbrates feel the same way about Asturians.’
‘Where are we going with this, gentlemen?’ Brand asked.
‘We needs must have a king who will unify poor Arendia, my Lord,’ Mandor replied gravely, ‘and our mutual animosities suggest that this king cannot be Arendish. Thus, after extended consultation, have we come to offer the crown of Arendia unto thee.’