Chapter 1: The Name of Vengeance
There was a silence of three parts at The Waystone Inn.
Seated around a table was Kvothe, Bast and Chronicler. Beads of water formed around the long empty mugs of beer, coalescing together and running down onto the wooden table.
Chronicler hovered his pen above the parchment of paper half written with symbols of his own invention waiting for Kvothe to continue his tale.
There was a sad look on Kvothe's face and the dim lighting of the oil lamps cast shadows on his face and only served to deepen the weary lines on his face. He had his hand held up to indicate to Chronicler that he was about to speak but what he was about to say was not to be written.
Bast shuffled around his seat uncomfortably. The look on his master’s face was grimmer than he had seen it before.
Kvothe opened his mouth to speak but then closed it again, shaking his head. Then he continued the silence and for a long time he only stared absentmindedly on the grains of the wood used to make the table.
After a while, the lost look in his eyes disappeared, replaced by a strong light. His jaws hardened and he found his resolve. He spoke. “Originally, I wanted to keep this tale to myself. But I think this is a good time to tell it.
“That time when Ambrose broke my lute, anger overtook me and for the first time I uttered the name of the wind. The events following that, I have told you. But there was one that I intentionally missed out. That day, I also spoke the name of something else. A name less foreign to the tongue.” Kvothe paused and looked at Chronicler. “The next words are recollections but I’m not sure if they are mine or his or if it could be counted as ours. For he saw what I saw, thought what I thought, felt what I felt, heard what I heard and spoke with my lips. I spoke the name of the Vengeance Incarnate. I spoke the name of Honorous Jorg Ancrath.”
I don’t know how it happened but by the time I was conscious of my actions I was in a large square where a crowd gathered around me and another boy who was taller than me.
The boy could be described best as handsome by women’s standards though other men would pass him off as a “pretty boy”. I didn’t care. All I knew was that I hated him with every fibre of my being from my bones to the tips of my fingers. Another thing I knew was that his name was Ambrose. A fitting name for a pompous looking prick like him.
In any case, I had just gained consciousness in the middle of an onlooking crowd who cheered and jeered and it was not hard to determine whom the crowd was cheering for and jeering at.
I looked at the so called Ambrose boy. He looked about sixteen - two years older than me, and the wicked grin on his face was as plain to me as the sun shone on the square though many would argue that he had anything but malicious intent.
I knew better however, for I had faced many men within the past four years and I knew from experience that he wished me ill. The urge to stick a knife through his throat rose from within me and I could already imagine myself doing just that, and I could already imagine his face becoming pale and his eyes becoming wide with shock and he would look at me and I would look at him and then it would be my turn to smirk and belittle him just like how he was looking down at me now. I could imagine the blood forming in his mouth and him struggling to say something though nothing but a gurgle would escape his vile mouth.
Perhaps he would plead for help or maybe he would beg for mercy. But I was determined to do the deed anyway. I didn’t know why. It was the first time I met him and I already wanted to kill him so bad. It was the same kind of urge that time when I stuck a knife through Brother Gemt’s neck. Oh the satisfaction was pure bliss.
And I damn nearly did it too - kill him, I mean - if not for the fact that the knife which never left my side disappeared from its familiar place beside my hip.
“What’s the matter, Kvothe?” he teased. Blood flowed from his left ear. It was obvious that he was injured and I knew that it was me who had injured him. Still, he maintained that smug look on his face and that grin and his voice became mild and honeyed, the kind of tone when someone threatened you. “Have I done something wrong for you to commit malfeasance against me?”
The name sounded familiar to me though I have never heard it before it my life. None of the brothers had a fancy enough name such as that. But I knew when he said the name that he was referring to me.
I was confused but I didn’t let that confusion confound me for long. I could still hear Tutor Lundist’s words that I should never let my mind wander during battle and this was one. A battle that didn’t involve swords. A battle of wit, as I understood it at the back of my mind. But I since I knew that I was, I did something different.
See, I knew the game. I understood it completely. But I’ve never played the game by its rules. I never have. Not then. Not now.
So instead of coming up with a witty reply like what something in my head was telling me, I broke into a run towards Ambrose while he was still speaking sugar coated words to get the crowd to take his side.
“I’m sure everyone has seen what Elir Kvothe has done. He has committed an act of malfeasance against me over something petty. Despicable! I wish for all of you here today to bear witness so that this fiend may never again set foot in the University.”
He had just finished his speech when my body rammed against him, the both of us easily tumbling over like tumbleweed, our limbs entangling with each other.
I was the one who recovered first and I was surprised that my strength had betrayed me. In a normal situation, I would knock into Ambrose and he would fall over like a tree being felled by a woodcutter and I would remain standing but that wasn’t the case.
Instead I felt weak and my limbs had lost the strength that was normally within them. I didn’t let my surprise to last for long and recovered myself from the entanglement. I knew then from that move that I didn’t have enough to take this boy down unless I had a weapon. Luck was not on my side however and no weapon presented itself in front of my or within my immediate vicinity.
I had to make do with whatever I had which in this case were my fists though they felt like they weren’t my own. I punched frantically at Ambrose’s neck and his solar plexus which was enough to keep him winded and down for a good few minutes.
I knew I couldn’t kill him with my bare hands alone but a hatred from within my soul wanted to at least humiliate him the way I killed slew Katherine’s champion with an arrow between his eyes instead of fighting him in a sword duel.
See, that was the thing. Dead men don’t talk. They don’t come back to complain about the unjustness of their death even if a necromancer brought them back to life. At most all they would become would be loyal dead bodies following the bidding of their master which brings me back to a question. I had inherited some of the necromancer’s powers. With but a touch flowers would wilt and people would fall sick and die. But wasn’t it that I couldn’t feel the coldness on the tips of my fingers? Why was it that my touch could not kill this bastard lying pathetically under me?
That was yet another question left to be answered, but for now, I had an urge to humiliate Ambrose even if I couldn’t kill him.
In front of the crowd, I undid his pants and pulled down his undergarments. The sight that greeted me made me laugh uncontrollably and I couldn’t help but say out loud in between short gasps of breath, “I see your dick is as small as your heart, Ambrose.”
And before he could retort back, I took his member in my hands and tugged with all my strength.
I felt little resistance and felt the ripping sensation so satisfying and empowering and I couldn’t suppress my maniacal grin as blood flew everywhere staining my clothes and the ground beneath me.
Amid the screams of horror from everyone watching, I could only smile and feel elated. I faintly heard someone ask if the best doctors of the kingdom could attach it back but I knew better. It wasn’t possible but just for good measure, I stuffed the piece of meat that I just ripped into the now open and frothing mouth of the fainted Ambrose.
I put it there and made sure it was in the way of his teeth and then I shut his mouth forcefully with my hands and used his own teeth to grind his manhood into meat paste.
The horror of my actions had sunk in and the crowd observed in silence for a while before someone broke out in a panicked scream.
This seemed to have woken everyone up from their stupor and immediately there was a bustling of activity where some people shouted and called for the medics and the others called for the guards.
As for myself, I just waited in the same spot patiently. I wasn’t one to run. I didn’t run when I faced the army of the undead at the lich road. I didn’t run when I faced my cousin, the son of Count Renar. There were many times when I didn’t run and this time too I refused to escape and take advantage of the chaos even though my head throbbed in pain and something tried to tell me to run.
I stayed and ignored this something against its better judgement for authority was never made for me to fear but to control.
The thumping grew stronger and the pain more intense than the last. Finally I could bear it no longer and the world turned black.
I woke up and found myself in a jail cell.
Apparently wherever I was, the cells were less advanced but the conditions were better. There was actually enough room to walk around in and I didn’t have to live sleeping beside my own shit for there was a proper dung hole dug out from beside me. There was also a bucket beside the hole with some water which I supposed was for me to wash my hands on after using the leaves or straw to clean up after myself.
Beside it there was a small shard of a mirror which purpose I didn’t know. It wasn’t big enough for me to make myself look more amicable and even if it was I seriously wondered why there was a need to do that in a single prison cell.
It was big enough however to show half of my face. Except when I looked the face wasn’t mine.
The colour of my hair was wrong. Instead of the usual black, it was a flaming red. And my eyes too. Their colours were wrong. In fact, everything about my face screamed wrong. I had to hold back a scream for I had too much of pride in being a man to scream out like a woman in hysteria.
Still, the change in my appearance greatly shocked me and although it improved my looks greatly, I couldn’t help but ask out loud to the unfamiliar face of mine on the mirror, “Who are you?”
I didn’t have to wait long for the response came quickly in the form of the thumping in my head returning and thumping in a constant beat as the voice in my head replied, “I am Kvothe. Who are you?”