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Author Topic: Pruning a Seedling  (Read 1179 times)

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Offline Lord Palatine

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Pruning a Seedling
« on: December 09, 2008, 03:02:44 AM »
What fantasies the mind may conjure when one is alone in the dark, surrounded by nothing but musty old cloth and dust.  Only the faintest glimmer of light shone through a crack high in the ceiling above and played over his fingers, so palatable in the dark that he fancied he could feel it flow like water through his fingers.  He looked down to cracked wood, faded paint once brought out the highlights of the intricate carvings, too dark to read he now struggled to read the wretched runes by touch alone.  The words were ancient but in time he puzzled through them.  “Kill one and you are a murderer, kill a thousand and you are a king.”

A maxim of Duke Garabald of Vaeschelle, usurper of the throne of Amaron.  He would see Garabald’s thousand and raise him a thousand times that, he had no use for the crown and robes of a king he was reaching for the throne of the world, he would collect the crowns of kings and take at last his birthright, the Imperial throne itself.  His father held it overlong now, five centuries at least, and his grandfather before him for thousands more.  Derak was dead, Basdred was dead and Basdred II would be, and the Heron Empire would pass to its rightful prince, Damashan.

He raised his hand, drawing light from the liquid darkness, the walls themselves slowly glowing, russet to rust to ocher, the odd tint casting everything in warm golden hues as he drew the dust impregnated cloths from all in the room about him.  Garabald was mad to be certain, one didn’t dabble in the arts into which the ancient wizard dabbled without some effect, and it had wrecked the powerful mind and shed the blood of the people here with the frantic devotion and precision of madness.  Damashan strode to the door and looked to the men outside, his men, and then closed the door.  He would know the secrets of this place, all of them, and he would use them to take the world, to succeed where all of his line had failed.

He’d killed his thousand to reach this place, and many more besides.  A few his own brothers, but what cared he for them, sons or whores bred to so the bloody work of the charnel houses.  Witless fools with no future and no use that required thought or industry.  He smiled at the thought and let his fingers brush again over the cracking wood that bound the leaves of a great book and as his fingers brushed over the latch he felt the chill dread of doubt wash over him.  Something was wrong, but what could it be?  He’d planned to perfection, none knew, even his father trudged away in oblivious devotion to causes far flung from his own.

Who could have found him?  None would dare!  He was Damashan; Son of Basdred, Extrache of Heron.  Who would willingly court the disaster of trying his will.  He had his thousand here, a thousand of the Imperial Knights Immortal, they were an army and more.  Soldiers sworn to his cause, sorcerers bound to his life, nothing could confront them, but something did.  He could feel it advancing with implacable patience, the wrath, the righteous rage filled this place and the light of the stones grew warmer and lighter, gold then yellows paling at last unto a silvery sheen of white.  The Palatine, white was their color, the pure hue of the Lords Defender, greatest of that Order.

Screams, terrible screams the sounds of battle and yet he knew that his enemy approached in silence.  They fought and triumphed and even died in silence.  Their wills joined in purpose pure and perilous, and he knew in a moment of crystalline clarity that he himself was the focus of this wrath that washed over this place.  Fire, they came with fire to purge all that they could find here.  Fell fearsome furious flame that consumed the power of this place, drawing it away from him and casting it away to be lost forever.  They can’t, it was his!  His power, the key to his glory!

The doors fell away and through them stepped one in full garb, how could one so short, so small of stature contain such will?  Such wrath?  His silvery armor and glowing surcoat was streaked in the blood of his followers and it ran in thick congealing gobbets down the polished steel of his curved blade.  Such a strange blade, curved forward, the edge on the opposite side of what he would expect, and in his other hand an axe, steel from grip to haft to head, forged with runes of strength and power.  At his left breast the golden boar rampant of the Bragg family, he flipped his head back negligently, the face now exposed, fierce eyes of golden brown, the beard yet dark despite the wrinkles around his eyes.

“Cecil Bragg, I presume?”

“Which son of a Basdred are you?” the half-dwarf asked quietly, his voice calm and grim.  “Just so I can keep the history books straight.”

“We, the blood of the Extrache, write the history.”

“Actually old boy,” Cecil grinned.  “I do.  You should see what I wrote about taking the Gates of Herch-Quald.  I was there after all.  And I cut the heart out of your daddy’s dragon.”  Bragg rolled his neck slowly, making a loud pop.  “I didn’t get to finish your father, but you are mine.  Do you die fighting?”

Damashan drew his sword and prepared himself to face the smaller man.  He just started to raise his sword when the visor of his enemy clapped shut and the axe swung low then pulled straight back, ripping through the muscle and tendons at the back of his knee.  The oddly curved sword flashed and cut through the bicep and triceps and Damashan’s sword fell from lifeless fingers.  The son of emperors fumbled for a blade at his hip but the axe smote without remorse, and Damashan’s eyes crossed as he studied it for the last instant of his life.

Cecil pulled the axe free from his enemy’s forehead with a sharp tug and looked at the book that the princeling had studied with such fascination.  It and a few other items found their way into his haversack.  “Frannie, I have a few surprises for you,” he said quietly as he stepped outside the door.  “In here too, burn it all.”
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 12:05:35 AM by Lord Palatine »

 

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