DUST AND THE HELIX

Tim Tucker

"You may enter." Boomed the King.

The polished oak wood doors were splayed open and Archimedes Snow was ushered into a world of breath taking beauty and unabashed decadence. The throne room was more than five times larger than his own modest Alchemist work shop, great pillars of smooth marble ran the length from floor to ceiling and were flanked by the most exquisite of ornamental suits of armor inlayed with silk breast plates, diamond shined visors, seamless onyx greaves, each one brandishing polished shields of pure crystal and halberds made out of decorative gold, empty and hollow suits as soulless as the chamber they occupied.

Archimedes shuffled across the plush crimson carpet and bowed as gracefully as his frail body would allow before the throne. "You have sent for me m'lord?"

"I have been hearing...rumblings about you," the King said dryly. "For years you were the best Arch Wizard this Kingdom had ever seen, but now your craftiness is only belied by your nervousness. People talk, and word travels fast so I thought I should summon you. Thought maybe you would enjoy a change of scenery, a quaint little position tending to the messenger raven droppings perhaps?"

"I don't think so m'lord."

"Then what do you want?"

Archimedes stroked his flowing white beard and looked at his hands, old, gnarled hands, each finger adorned with a ring of precious metal representing the sum of his lifes work. "What I want is peace m'lord. I want the blades of war to rust and disintegrate in their sheaths, the arrows to plummet from the sky as soft as feathers, the wildfire to smolder and snuff out in their jars without ever scorching the skin of another man ever again, that is what I want!"

"That is what we all strive for, of course," said the King. "Now will you spare me your self righteous banter because if history has shown us anything it's that war is the most profitable endeavor of any great empire."

Archimedes continued to stare at his hands, turning them over in quiet contemplation. "What would the Kingdom do, what would the world do if we awoke tomorrow and found our weapons in ruins?"

The King smiled with all the warmth of the gleam from a dagger. "That's a novel question. I too often philosophize over such theories and my answer is that there would be utter chaos. Each Kingdom would blame the other for the disarmament, trade would collapse, the very foundation of society would crumble."

"But what of after that?" asked Archimedes. "After they realized that every other Kingdom was disarmed and there was nothing left to fight over, would they start over with a new appreciation for the world they were given?"

"They would re-arm as quickly as possible."

"What if they couldn't?"

"Then they would strike with their fist. Throngs on Northmen would beat the ever loving shit out of Woodsmen with their bare hands and if you took away their hands they will kick and stomp and if you took away their legs they would spit and gnash with their teeth and if you knock their teeth down their throats they would club each other with their cocks!"

Archimedes grunted. "The gnashing of cocks, the futility of war."

"It would be like ripping a bandage from a wound, first the shock then a slow, painful death for all mankind."

"And it is your duty to keep the machinations of war turning no matter the cost?"

"My duty is the protection of the Kingdom no matter the cost! Pack fourth your belongings magician, it is to Ravenshield Roost with you!"

"The Art of Transmutation." Archimedes whispered.

"What did you say?"

"I have figured it out m'lord, the spell of changing one state of matter to another. It has to do with focusing on the very basic structures that make up matter, like steel or wood for example, and attacking it at these base structures. Through my studies at The Citadel I have learned to manipulate the natural breaking point of any type of matter and revert them back into the dust from which they came!"

The King was leaning forward in his chair, staring at Archimedes. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Of course m'lord."

"Do you fancy yourself a God?"

"No, just a lowly magician who is doing his job." Archimedes said with a twinkle in his eye.

"Your job is servitude to the Kingdom but your newest...invention has me weary of your true allegiance. I will not reassign you to Ravenshield, but I cannot have your spell running rampant throughout my Kingdom so from here on you are now promoted to the Maesters Guild, triple your current earnings and the very best of provisions and accommodations, all I ask of you in return is that you cease this fruitless endeavor of peace."

Archimedes reached into his moth eaten robe and pulled out a slender, petrified root from a weirwood tree, its tip blackened from years of use. "You will attempt to bribe me of my pacifism but I am not so easily swayed m'lord!"

"Then I shall make the decision easier for you. Guards!"

The doors to the throne room burst open and in marched his armed detail, spears and shields at the ready.

"Of all the short comings of the human condition, war has seemed the most vicious to get rid of," said Archimedes. "I will make you all see the light however, one way or another!"

With a flick of his wand the once motionless suits of armor clattered to life and struck down the approaching guards in a golden bloody fury. Another wave and the King was bathed in a pale blue light purer than water, purer than the infinite sky, and the precious jewels about his neck began to rust and disintegrate, his exotic furs and leathers became ragged and stained and his crown slipped down about his head like an iron halo, shrinking, tightening.

Archimedes cackled with maniacal glee as his automatons formed a protective ring around him. He waved his wand in deft circles, magic sparkling and dazzling from its tip. Throughout the Kingdom blades crumpled and turned to dust in their scabbards, battlement towers toppled from the sky like fallen great oaks, catapults and ballistas dusted away into soft ash of rust and splinters in the wind, and when the King reached up to try to pry the vice from his skull he bled with the rest of his Kingdom.

THE END