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Honey and Sulfur

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posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:23 PM
This is a short story I'm working on. Its not finished yet and I could use some feedback on it, constructive criticism, ideas and whatnot. Let me now how you like the characters. I seem to be having some trouble figuring out how to end this one so any ideas would be appreciated.

Jealous stood over the glowing forge. The red-orange light bathing his muscular frame and wan skin with a feverish, ruddy cast. A bead of sooty sweat rolled down his broad forehead, he reached up to wipe it away and brushed his black hair back behind his bull-like horns. Hammer up, hammer down, he enjoyed the distinct and comforting clang of the tool striking steel and echoing through the tiny smithy where he spent most of his days, ate most of his meals and slept in a warm hay filled mattress. Clang, again sang his hammer, clang, clang.

Lord Poria had him hammering out steel short swords twelve hours a day every day for the past month. He knew better than to ask why but the talk around Castle Rose was that he was preparing for something big, some said war with the emperor. Poria had always held a deep seated grudge against the dragon-kin of the Pendragons, ever since the Lich King brought down death unto the entirety of the planet. The scholars called it The Great Culling but most people just referred to it as The End of the World. Jealous thought about the Culling for a moment and the events that followed. Unscythe, the Lich King, had used his eldritch magic to ensnare Kray's moon and hurl it into the Brinewar Ocean. Kray was the Copper Dragon-God but everyone thought that he had died with his moon. The Scholars knew this as Moonfall. Jealous couldn't care less what happened to Kray, he was known as a trickster and practical joker, sentiments Jealous didn't exactly share. When Quilos, the Gold Dragon-God, realized that defeat was impending he used his vast wellspring of magic to open a rift to another world, the histories said, where he fetched the first Dragon Emperor, Arthur Pendragon. Along with Arthur came his court wizard, the Archmage Merlyn, his son, Mordred and the rest of Arthur's family and knights. Jealous only remembered the most important ones but he did have a healthy interest in Mordred in particular due to the fact that he took a strong interest in the tieflings and often outfitted them as allies and used their help to raze the Hellpits that had sprung up since the Maelstrom opened, allowing a variety of demon-kin to painstakingly enter this realm. Thankfully, Quilos was doing a lot to keep the Maelstrom from opening any further but all the best intellects agreed that he has not stopped it entirely. Arthur had managed to keep the peace amongst the deposed kings once Quilos had installed him as emperor, that installation to the Goldscale throne had gained the Pendragons a lot of enemies in the immediate aftermath of the Culling and Moonfall but over the centuries after the Age of Kings had come to an end, most of that enmity had waned considerably. Every noble family had all but forgotten about those ancient grudges. All but one. The family he worked for, the Porias.

Jealous didn't care about ancient history much or the short swords or why Lord Poria wanted them, he simply hammered them out by rote, producing sometimes as many as five a day but averaging around four. He was required by the castellan, Mortivus Frynn, to tally each blade he completed. They paid him a silver for each sword. Jealous thought, for the quality of work he afforded, that the compensation was debased but others still begrudged him the fact that he was one of the highest paid smiths in Tryston. All things considered, it was worth it.
Jealous felt more than heard someone slink up to the iron banded wood door to his smithy. Not turning from his work, Jealous spoke through gritted teeth as the scent of a familiar musky cologne wafted in to mingle with the acrid stink of coal burning intensely in his forge, “Go away Corman, I haven't got time for your nickering at the moment, Lord Poria needs these blades done in short order and Count Tryston expects me to make my quota, leave.” his muscular, pointed tail began twitching in anger.

“Now, now Sulfur,” Corman said with a sneer, “that's certainly no way to speak to your betters. After all, Tryston may suffer tieflings to toil under his employ but he never said squat about treating them nicely.”

Corman knew just how to twist Jealous' screws and calling him 'Sulfur' was one of his favorites. As though it were his fault that somewhere down the line one of his cursed ancestors had made some long-forgotten deal with a demon causing his sweat to stink of sulfur. While his breed was rare, Count Tryston had made it widely known that any tiefling that relocated to his city would find employment and enjoy lawful protections against the violent prejudices most other municipalities wrought upon his race. Tieflings were not typically nice people and harbored a distinct proclivity toward immoral conduct. The strange, colored eyes and bestial horns were fitting for most tieflings, he supposed, but Jealous thought higher of himself and tried amicably to behave in a more civil manner than most others of his race, he also took great offense in having the odor of his perspiration used as a tool to insult him. Unfortunately Count Tryston's succor toward tieflings did not cover verbal abuse.

Jealous looked over his shoulder at Corman. He was wearing a blue doublet slashed with cloth of gold and wore a longsword at his waist held in place by a black leather baldric. His square jaw was freshly shaven and his tactless eyes were too close together divulging little of what passed through the gangly boy's mind. Corman gave his shoulder length brown hair a flick and when Jealous gave no inclination that he would take the bait the young man went on, “I don't know what she sees in you, Sulfur. All pale with horns like a bull. And the stench,” he waved his hand in front of his face, “how does she put up with it?” He leaned harder against the door frame and produced a red apple which he began to skin with his dagger, letting the rind fall to the ground at the toe of his fine tooled leather boots.

“Go away Corman.” Jealous said as he lifted his arm and thought, hammer up, hammer down.

“Corman,” came gruff voice from behind them, “have you nothing better to do than insult my smiths and cram your gullet full of apples like the suckling pig you are?” A thick meaty finger lashed out to thump the young squire upside his head. “I didn't raise you to be a bully, lad. Now run along back to the archery lanes, that aim of yours still needs some work.”

Crestfallen, Corman muttered a perfunctory “Yes father.” before sheathing his dagger at his belt and shuffling off toward the lanes.

edit on Cpm3Tuesday5420151231Tue, 18 Aug 2015 15:54:12 -05002015 by CagliostroTheGreat because: removed request to postpone replies

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:24 PM
“She has been looking for you, Jealous.” said Mortivus as he fiddled absently with a swage and die bolted to a workbench in front of him. He bore very little similitude to his obsequious son, having long black hair that was as thick as a rope and tied back with a supple leather thong worked with fine gold embroideries. His eyes were not the dark dun possessed by Corman but rather a hue of blue so brilliant it was almost alarming, those eyes belied no hint of malice whatsoever but still held one tightly in rapt attention. He wore a neatly trimmed mustache and a goatee that hung down to his chest in a fastidiously wrought braid. There were laugh lines creasing his aging jowls and a deep, white scar that ran down the side of his thick neck. The castellan wore a simple, brown tunic cinched at the waist with a wide belt studded with steel rivets, he looked to Jealous.

“I've got work to do, Mortivus, like I told Corman. The Count expects me to get these swords made for his Lord Father and I do not intend to disappoint him. He has high expectations when it comes to my work. Besides, Corman is right,” Jealous went on with a glance over his shoulder and a shrug, “there's no reason she should waste her time with a monster like me, a damned fiend-blood.”

“Jealous,” Mortivus paused to swallow, “my son, Quilos save him, is a bully and a fool.” He said, taking a seat on a nearby stool, “He gets it from his mother I suspect. She spoiled him. Rotten, in fact. I fear I may never whip him back in shape. He'll make a terrible knight.” Mortivus was shaking his head in disappointment. He looked up at Jealous whom had ceased his absent minded banging and was now staring intently at him. Mortivus stopped toying with the swage and die and looked up into the tiefling's dull red eyes. “Sorry,” he began, “I know you don't like him but he's my son and I fear for his future.”

“Mortivus, it's not that I dislike your son. If he would simply leave me be I would have no reason to speak with him at all, in fact, if we were not so far apart in social status it is likely we could be friends, I could teach him a thing or two with one of these.” Jealous said, holding up one of the finely crafted short swords he had made and giving it a deft twirl under his arm before setting it back down in the wicker bin he placed the finished swords in.

Mortivus grunted and said, “That you could my boy, that you could. Nine-Hells, Jealous, when you're not banging them out your swinging them around.” Mortivus was pleased to see Jealous grinning but was careful not to let it show as he kicked a bit of slag around on the packed dirt floor.

There was a soft rapping at the slightly ajar oak door, Mortivus looked up at Jealous from beneath his brows and nodded his head toward the door as he stood and busied himself with the needless task of pretending to inspect Jealous' work, paying close attention to details in the blades that they both knew were not there. Jealous looked over at him as he made his way toward the door. Mortivus pretended not to notice the glare he gave him. Jealous slowly opened the door, thinking how he was going to get out of speaking with Valdowyn Poria, the Count's only daughter, for too long all the while knowing he wanted nothing more than to stroll the thoroughfares of Tryston with her on his arm, delighting in her radiance. He felt awkward around her every time they spoke, which was often enough, truth be told, but after six years of knowing her he still felt inferior in her presence and confused as to why she would want to associate with dregs such as himself.

As the door came open he stood staring down at the hem of her black skirts which were lined and embellished with deep purple lace. “Val,” He stammered. Looking up at her slate colored eyes which were flecked generously with sharp bolts of azure, her perfectly pointed chin, her face which was all beautiful angles and framed elegantly with honey blonde hair done up in exquisite ringlets, it was easy to see why every young man was smitten by her beauty. She was almost extraordinary in her lithe, lavish demeanor and carried herself with such an air of confidence that it was hard —for anyone— not to feel like they were in the presence of excellence when confronted with her propinquity. She was clad in an expertly tailored dress of deep black velvet that was trimmed in the most tactical of areas with a frighteningly purple lace to exacerbate the haunting beauty of her almost unimaginable figure. If the Gold Dragon-God himself were ever stricken to mortal form, his bride might look a little less comely than Valdowyn Poria.

“Jealous.” she said. There was an awkward silence for a time before Valdowyn went on, “I've been looking for you since after,”

“I was working,” He interrupted.

She went on, “breakfast, but Corman said, oh sorry, what?”

“No, no, go on I was just saying I have been working.” It seemed every conversation they had began this way. With him interrupting her with some vacuous statement as she was trying to speak and then the both of them getting tangled up in each others words. However, after the initial faults in their conversations expired, they seemed to get on consummately.

“Sorry,” Jealous went on, “I always seem to do that.” He said brushing his shaggy black hair back behind his horns.

“Oh, there's no need to apologize for yourself, Jealous. Ever. Especially to me. I was simply wanting to invite you to accompany me on a picnic this afternoon to the Court Woods. I believe I fancy taking Tempest out for a fly. He's been feeling restless lately, it seems, and I thought maybe you could try to fly Lucy again. I do believe she is beginning to like you.” Val was furiously in love with her falcons and tried to get Jealous to join in on her sporting whenever she could but, for obvious reasons, the falcons never seemed to warm to him. Val said it was because of the way he held his arm out when he launched them but they both knew that wasn't true. He let Val lie to him, however, and always gave the falconry his best try.

“Sounds like fun, Val, but I still have swords to make for your Lord Grandfather, I wouldn't want to let him down. They expect much of my work.”

“Oh pishah, to my Grandfather.” Val said with a wave of her hand, “His swords can wait. I won't keep you long, I promise. Now go get cleaned up,” she reached out and rubbed a milky, soft-as-silk finger against his broad, bristly cheek and brushed it down the length of his chin before holding her hand out and rubbing her thumb and forefinger together before his narrowing eyes, “you're all covered in soot.”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:25 PM
Corman stood leaning against a support post in front of the Wildling Lodge, where he liked to drink and smoke with his friends, he was peeling an apple with his dagger and cutting off chunks which he stuck into his mouth with the tip of the sharp steel. Tonight, however, he was in no mood to drink and pinch the bottoms of the Wildling's ample serving wenches.

Why did his father always seem to side with the damned tiefling? Surely he could sense the taint in his blood, just like the rest of those dirty fiend-bloods. Count Tryston was a fool to have allowed them to live and work here under his protection. Of course if Corman ever expressed that sentiment out loud and the word reached the Count's ears there would be some explaining to do. So Corman kept it to himself but that didn't stop him from hating the tieflings. They were literally everywhere now. He could spit and it would land on at least three of them.

He watched from the shadows beneath the lodge's veranda as Sulfur left the smithy and walked arm in arm with Valdowyn across the courtyard and through the gates of Castle Rose, onto Red Brick road and off toward the market district. Shortly afterward, a retinue of servants exited the castle with an empty palanquin and two large bird cages. He dropped his apple core, sheathed his dagger and followed after them.

What in the Nine-Hells does she see in that fiend-blood? Corman brooded as he slowly tailed Valdowyn's entourage of servants, complete with a handful of armed body guards —not that those were entirely necessary if what he had heard about Sulfur's martial prowess was even half true— a maidservant, two muscular palanquin bearers and a retainer. The servants stopped outside a general store with barrels of apples and plums on a plank porch. Corman waited at an intersection and walked over to a standing clock as if to check the time. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Sulfur and Valdowyn compared plums and spoke to one another with an ease that made his guts roil. He was staring at them, he realized and averted his eyes quickly as he started off toward a vendor that was hawking sweet cakes with little chocolate candies planted in the center but not before he caught Sulfur looking at him. Damn, he saw me, Corman thought. Corman dug two copper krays out of his coin purse when the old gnomish vendor held up two skinny, wrinkled fingers and took one of the sweet cakes before walking of back toward the castle in a bluster, wondering why he had even bothered to follow them.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:27 PM
“He's been following us since we got onto Red Brick,” said Jealous, “It seems this is what passes for stealth with Corman.”

“Yes, I know.” Said Val matter of factly, “He's harmless, Jealous. Just ignore him. He fancies me, I know, but I'm twice his age and besides...” she let the rest go unsaid with a flip of her dainty wrist, her electrum bracelet sliding down to her forearm.

“Besides?” Jealous pressed with a half grin crooked at the corner of his mouth, letting just a bit of fang show, he knew she liked it when he smiled that smile.

“Besides,” she said, “I,” She placed a hand on her breast looking into Jealous' shadowy red eyes, “happen to fancy someone else.”

“Who?” asked Jealous with a tenuous smirk. She replied by giving his arm a tickling pinch, it didn't hurt but Jealous yelped nonetheless, if for no other reason than to play along with her flirting.

“So,” she said, “about these plums?”

“What about them?”

“Have you made a choice yet?”

“This one looks fine.” He said handing her a fat plum.

She turned it in her hands, inspecting it rigorously before pointing to a gray spot on it, “There's mold growing on this one, Jealous.”

“Oh, I didn't see.”

The door to the general store opened with a ding and the proprietor stuck out his bald head to say, “Your order is together Miss Poria.” from beneath a great brown and gray mustache.

“Right. Thank you Simon. How much for the plums?” She said holding up two plums she had picked out of the barrel herself.

“For you? A kray ought to cover it.”

“Why, thank you Simon. Add it to my bill if you would please?”

“Of course Lady Poria, right away.”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:27 PM
After making it back to the castle gates, Corman decided that he would take his father's advice and make his way to the archery lanes to release some tension by putting some arrows through straw men. His brooding mood had only worsened as he trudged back to the castle and he felt like destroying something. He picked up a nearby longbow hanging on a rack, made his way to one of several shooting lanes and sat it on a hay bale next to the lane he had chosen. He caught the attention of a man-at-arms and motioned for him to bring over a vambrace and a quiver of arrows, both of which Corman strapped on. Sticking several arrows into the hay bale, he picked up the bow, took his firing stance with muted practice and knocked an arrow. Pulling back the bowstring to his jaw, he aimed briefly and let fly. The arrow thudded into the painted target on the straw man just under where the heart would have been if it were a real man, rib shot, thought Corman, close. The next shot went low and took the straw man in the gut. The following shots were no better, a few went wide missing entirety a few others hit but not where he wanted them. He was letting his mood affect his aim but he couldn't stop thinking about the damned tiefling. A thought occurred to him and, with a mischievous grin, he adjusted his stance. Corman knocked another arrow and yanked the bowstring back once more, he let fly taking the straw man right through the heart. He found that his aim improved if he imagined that the straw man was a tiefling, a particular tiefling seemed to do the trick even better.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:29 PM
“Relax Jealous, you're being far too tense. She's just a little bird.”

“Just a bird, Val? She's enormous. What do you see in these beasts?”

Valdowyn gasped, affronted. “How dare you Jealous. Beasts? They are beautiful animals full of predatory guile. They are majestic raptors and they hunt for me. I tell them what to kill and they bring it back to me before they sate themselves on the blood and flesh of the weak little animal whose life they have taken, Jealous. They do this for me. Because I have raised them from hatchlings, by the hand. I am the closest thing they have ever known to a mother. If they could speak they would call me Mistress.

“Why, Jealous, do not look so demure. You seem almost reviled for me to speak of them so but we both know the truth of what I say. These birds are killers, Jealous. They were born for nothing more. They hunt and feed on the lives of lesser beings. This is why my father gave them to me. To teach me the ways of Nature. The Food Chain, Jealous. Do you know what that is?”

“No.” The tiefling said with a stern expression. Truth be told he hated these creatures. They were beautiful, that much was true, but the way she spoke of them did revolt him.

She went on, “The food chain is when stronger, quicker and more prime animals use their superior cunning and instinct to capture, kill and devour weaker creatures.” She paused, presumably to punctuate her words, “Its horrible, isn't it, Jealous?” She looked at him as Tempest preened himself while perched upon her outstretched arm, she whispered something to the raptor and launched him from her arm. “It's beautiful too, though, at the same time, don't you think?”

He nodded, “Sure, Val.”

“My father taught me all this, Jealous. He is intensely studious when it comes to this subject matter. He seems to thrive on it, actually. He says that in the world of the sentient races, man, dwarf, elf,” She flipped her hand as though to enunciate the others left unspoken, “the Porias are second only to Chromatic Dragons and just as ancient. That he, in particular, is above us all. I think, my dear, he may be quite mad. But I love him fiercely.” She gestured toward the female falcon, “Launch her then, Jealous.”

Jealous stared dumbly for a moment then remembered the bird perched upon his own rigidly extended arm. He had been held in such attention at what she was saying that he had, somehow, forgotten. He let his arm drop, stiffly, and quickly brought it up again the way she had taught him but again failed in trying to remain flaccid. It was hard to relax with such a large creature gripping it's razor-like talons into his forearm. Even through the thick leather sleeve he wore for protection. The sleeve felt awkward on his arm and Jealous felt half a fool each time he wore it. Lucy launched nervously from the tiefling's arm and flew off after her brother in search of whatever game her larger sibling was after.

Valdowyn turned to him and said, “We shall let them fly a moment while we enjoy our picnic. I had Simon make us a wonderful lunch. I think he may have skimped on the bacon again though. I hear he has been having trouble with his hogs. They keep dying, I understand. It's quite the curious…” she paused as she caught him watching the birds circle about a small flock of sparrows. “Ah,” she cooed, “The Food Chain. Hungry, Jealous?”

“Actually, yes, I am.” He grinned.

“Well, as I said we have fried bacon, biscuits and honey, some almond crusted trout fresh from the stream, dragon cakes, wine and chilled cow's milk to wash it all down. Let us save the wine for last though, shall we?” She gave him a look, “We wouldn't want a repeat of last Greensky would we?”

Jealous blushed fiercely as he recalled how last week she had fetched him to accompany her falconing and gotten far too drunk on sweet wine. “You promised never to speak of that mummer's farce again, Val!” It was his turn to sound affronted.

“Did I,” She began with a flirtatious grin and a light touch of her chest, “It seems I have forgotten.”

“You did not, you just want to embarrass me.” He said giving her nose a soft flick.

“Why, you scoundrel! That's no way to treat a lady!”

“Neither is this.” Jealous whispered as he wrapped his smith's arms around the dainty noblewoman. He planted a soft kiss on her neck, feeling his horns brush through her honey colored locks.

She murmured, “Jealous, the servants are watching.” She softly pushed him away holding the tiefling at arms length, “another time.” She leaned in closer once more, “Promise.” She said. “Besides, I thought you said you were hungry?”

“I am.” He said with a coy smile. “I didn't say for what.”

“You dog!” She gasped. “Down, boy. Not in front of the falcons. They'll think you're hurting me.”

“I thought it was the servants that worried you?”

“My servants won't shred your eyelids if they think you are threatening me. You'll just have to settle for bacon, my dear.”

“Bacon it is then.” He sighed, “Dragon cakes, did you say? Those are expensive, Val.”

“Nothing, is too expensive for a Poria, dear Jealous.”

“So they say.”
edit on Cpm3Tuesday5520153831Tue, 18 Aug 2015 15:55:38 -05002015 by CagliostroTheGreat because: format

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:31 PM
When the picnic was through and the falcons were put back into their cages, Valdowyn and Jealous set off back toward the castle hand-in-hand. As they walked they made idle chat about how their lives were going. Eventually they got around to the subject of the short swords.

“I don't understand.” Val said with a troubled expression, “Emperor Teladriel has done nothing to us or made any moves against us politically. The last thing he ever said to us was that he respected what my father had done for the tieflings, for you. My grandfather hates him for what Arthur did. Displacing him as king, I mean. But that was, in itself, the will of Quilos. The Gold Dragon-God himself thought it best to place Arthur Pendragon on the Goldscale Throne, who is my father to say he was wrong? If it wasn't for Quilos, Merlyn, Arthur and that son of his that killed Unscythe, what was his name?”

“Mordred.” Said Jealous as a matter of fact, “His name is Mordred.”

“Right,” Val continued, “Mordred. Well if it wasn't for the lot of them who is to say what the Lich King would have done. He destroyed the Copper Dragon-God's moon. He flung it into the ocean and created that damnable Maelstrom. He forced Quilos' hand, I don't understand why my family begrudges him saving the world. Sure, he ended the Age of Kings but...”

“Val, what has this got to do with the short swords?”

“My grandfather is preparing for war, Jealous. For a full fledged rebellion, actually. He plans to usher in a new age of kings and make my father the first of them.”

“What?” Jealous all but shouted, incredulous.

“I fear it is true, my dear. I don't understand it either and when he told me I was just as surprised as you.”

“I had heard rumors but, I never believed that they could be true.” Jealous whispered.

“I believe that Teladriel sending those 'heroes' from Blackroot Town beyond the Wildwood had something to do with spurring my grandfather to action. What I don't comprehend is just what that something is. They have a tenuous grip on their claim, at best. However, I understand they have been making some sort of headway with the orcs. I have been hearing strange tales from the Blue Bards that some of the orcs even have... nobles.” She whispered the last word conspiratorially.

“Nobles?” asked Jealous, “How could that be? The orcs are nothing more than marauding savages, rapers and pillagers, nothing more.”

“So we're told. It would seem that that is only half true, or a quarter at least.”

“So, you think your grandfather is sending men to die on the spears of elite Dragonguard because a few displaced heroes homesteaded a town beyond the Wildwood and the orcs may have high society?”

“Hardly, Jealous.”

“So what then?”

“I do not know, my dear. That is what scares me. I have seen strange men, wearing deep blue robes ushered in and out of my father's solar. They seem to be led by a woman of some standing. When I questioned my father about them he just hushed me and asked me to run a small errand for him. I took that to mean I wasn't intended to know exactly what was unfolding but I took the initiative to ask around about the matter and came to find out that these blue robed men were part of a cult.”

“A cult? That's odd. I thought Teladriel had put a strict ban on the forming and operation of cults on Dragonscale?”

“He has.” Answered Val. “However that decree does not apply to those outside the jurisprudence of the Goldscale Throne. That is to say, anyone not living or, indeed, operating within the empire.”

“So who are they?” Asked Jealous.

“What makes you think I found out who they are?”

Jealous' answer came quick and without much thought, “You are Valdowyn Poria.”

She smiled at him and gripped his hand tighter as a small pride swelled in her heart, “They are Azorians, Jealous.”

“Azorians? You mean they are worshipers of the Blue Dragon-Goddess? Who would dedicate themselves to such a vile creature?”

“Mad men, evil wizards, sell-swords with an untamed lust for gold. You name it, Jealous. I am quite sure that this cult has little trouble swelling their ranks. I had it from a reliable source that they are the ones responsible for what happened at Blackroot Town, your home.”

“They did that?” Shouted Jealous coming to a halt. “And your father is working with them! How could he, Val?”

“I don't know, Jealous, but for now it would behoove the both of us,” she glanced back at the servants trailing behind them a few yards, “if we were to keep this matter to ourselves.”

“Who, told you all this?”

“I fear I can not tell you that, my dear, as this information was given in confidence. Suffice it to say, I heard it from the horse's mouth but not in the capacity in which you might think.”

At that moment there was a ruckus from behind them as the falcons began screeching. The body guards drew their weapons and the other servants gathered around the palanquin bearers who had remained useless thus far. Jealous drew his short sword and put a protective arm in front of Valdowyn, “Keep behind me.” He said.

“Jealous, need I remind you I am not entirely powerless myself.” She said as a glowing ball of orange and purple flame crackled around her wrist from the electrum bracelet she wore.

“That is all well and good, Val, but I would not put my faith in such trinkets.”

“Trinkets? I'll have you know my father...” She began to protest but Jealous cut her off.

“Shh,” he hissed

“I don't like this, Jealous. Something is wrong here.” Whispered Val, “My birds haven't acted like this since I traveled to Throne with my mother and we were set upon by a band of...”

“Goblins!” Shouted one of the body guards. “To arms, to arms!”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:33 PM
Jealous spun deftly to his right, dodged a rusty, notched blade and brought his short sword up. He lunged toward the gray-green creature trying to stab him, running his sword through the wretch and twirling like a dervish toward the next. As he spun, he saw a pack of the creatures tearing at one of the body guards, whom was lying on the blood soaked ground. The other guards were fighting desperately against overwhelming odds but were managing to hold their own against the ferocious goblin-kin. Jealous turned around quickly as he heard Val scream, she was being surrounded by them but brought her arm up, the electrum bracelet around her wrist flared with a wicked gold and violet, sending out a scorching blast that engulfed nearly half a dozen shrieking goblins. The unfortunate creatures ran in every direction blazing with an intense heat, their flesh blackening and crackling as they scattered.

Valdowyn looked at Jealous as goblins swarmed around him and grinned a wry grin. She mouthed, told you I wasn't helpless as she extended her arm toward another small group of the hellbent goblins. She roasted them with an expression as calm as a pond as a bead of perspiration trickled down the bridge of her perfect nose. It was in that moment Jealous realized that he loved the Count's only daughter. That he, a slum born fiend-blood, was in love with one of the most highly stationed women in the Empire. How could this be? How could they ever manage?

“Jealous!” She hollered.

“I know! I know!” He said spinning with blinding inertia to lop of the head of a scrambling goblin, then, ducking a thrown dagger, Jealous rolled forward with the momentum of the dodge and sliced open the abdomen of one of the green beasts, spilling stinking off-pink guts on the dirt. Jealous stood glancing back at Val, she stood with her arms at her waist, the bracelet had gone cold. Seeing that she was fine he glanced toward the guards, another of them had fallen. He was writhing on the ground groaning in pain. The other two guards moved over to him. One knelt beside him and took his hand. He murmured something incoherent from where Jealous stood letting blood drip from the fuller of his short sword. The second guard, the one not kneeling, raised his long sword and shoved it through the dying man's throat. A gout of roiling crimson erupted from the gaping wound in his neck as the two of them jerked their heads around at the sound of twigs being stomped underfoot from the direction the goblins had launched their attack. Their attention was drawn too late as a muscular bugbear pulsing with tight sinew and covered in brown matted fur crushed in the skull of the kneeling guard like an overripe melon, blood misted the guard wielding the long sword as the ferocious bugbear kicked him brutally hard in the chest. The remaining guard bounced across the ground gasping for breath, his long sword still stuck in the throat of his bled dry comrade. Before the guard came to a stop, Jealous was rushing the huge, club wielding, hairy goblinoid. He leaped into the air and grabbed hold of the mangy beast, bashing him in the back of his head with the pointed pommel of his short sword.

The bugbear roared something in the guttural slurred language shared by most goblin-kin and spun around in half-circles, to and fro, flailing his meaty arms trying desperately to remove the tiefling from his back. Jealous' pointed tail slashed back and forth as he tried urgently to retain his grasp on the creatures rancid hide, “Val,” he shouted, “burn it!”

“But...” she stammered.

“Just do it! I'll be fine,” he grunted as the bugbear slammed its club into his back, somehow managing to get his reach around far enough to strike him, “I'm a tiefling,” he groaned in pain, “remember?”

Val called forth the magic fire lying just beneath the summons of her consciousness and let gold flame laced with the hues of deep midnight engulf the flailing monstrosity. The creature burst into flames as the inferno wrapped around the bugbear's hairy back. She could see Jealous' clothes catch fire as he let go of the stumbling beast and fell to the ground. Holding onto it was the only way to keep the monster steady enough for him to be sure Val would be able to get it with the magic of her bracelet.

The bugbear roared as it staggered around before falling onto the dirt road and rolling desperately as it tried urgently to douse the magic flames that surrounded it, eventually it slumped to the ground and smoldered as it moaned haunting death rattles. Panting on the ground beside it lay Jealous, his clothes smoldering in charred rags around him, his short sword lying soot stained beside the hand that had gripped it. Val stood where she had been, holding her hand palm out in mute shock, the bracelet gone dormant once more. She screamed, “Jealous!” and raced toward him as the bugbear let out a final shudder and went still as the flames roasted it, the reek of singed hair filling her nostrils. Val could hear the servants muttering frightened oaths and prayers as they stood in a ragged semi-circle around the grounded palanquin. Val reached Jealous after what had seemed like a fortnight and fell to her knees in front of him sobbing his name, she asked in a jerking cadence, “Are you all right, dear?”

“Tiefling.” he managed, pushing himself up with his arms before collapsing once more to the ground. His deep red eyes rolled back into his head.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:33 PM
She had sent the retainer on ahead to tell Kilson, the castle healer, what had happened. The palanquin bearers she ordered to lift Jealous and bring him as quickly—and gently—as possible. Though he was breathing, he was breathing rapidly and shallow. There were deep, angry burns pocked all about his cracked skin. She knew tieflings had a natural resistance to fire but the magic of her bracelet was clearly more than Jealous had anticipated.

When they finally reached Red Brick road, Kilson and a group of his interns were waiting to escort Jealous to the infirmary on a cushioned silk stretcher. He had the palanquin bearers move Jealous from the palanquin to the stretcher under his professional supervision. As soon as they placed him in the plush stretcher, however, the tiefling began a seizing fit, a shaking and twisting spasm that caused Valdowyn to burst into sobs, she was saying “This is my fault.” over and over as Kilson directed his interns to make sure the tiefling did not swallow his tongue. They fussed with him for some time right there at the castle gates but just as they thought they had stabilized him he was cast headlong into another bout of seizing. The healers fought tooth and nail to keep the tiefling from passing but without a true cleric there was not much else they could do. Jealous died beneath the castle gates on Red Brick road with Val crying onto his black, charred skin, the tears leaving wet grooves in the soot as they rolled away.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:34 PM
Corman watched as Valdowyn cried. It was clear that the fiend-blood was dead by the way Kilson was patting the woman on her back and muttering softly into her ear. All the while Corman watched with a crooked grin sliced across his face. He pulled a red apple from a pouch and began peeling it with his dagger as he took in the scene. He couldn't help wondering what had happened, not that it mattered. Sulfur was dead and Val would be his after all.

His father came running up but jerked to a halt when he witnessed Sulfur lying on the ground, motionless but for a soft breeze gently blowing his hair. The interns were trying to get Val to release his lifeless corpse so that they could cover him with a thin linen shroud but she was not letting go, she just kept saying that it was her fault and sobbing inconsoleably, well in that case, good work Val. Thought Corman darkly. His father was now pacing, combing his fingers though his thick mane and shaking his head. Corman wondered contritely if he would behave in the same manner if it were him lying there instead of that thrice damned tiefling. Probably not, he concluded. His father looked toward him and seen him standing there eating the apple. Mortivus gave him a dark look and on a bold whim, Corman tipped the apple to his father. His father ignored the morbid epithet and once again turned his attention to the dead tiefling.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:35 PM
“What happened, Lady Poria?” asked Mortivus sympathetically while he sat with Valdowyn in a sitting room in the castle. A fire burned heartily in the hearth, popping softly and bathing the both of them in a soft, comfortable glow.

“We,” Val sobbed, rubbing her nose. “we were waylaid by,” she sobbed once more trying to keep from crying again,
“goblins. Jealous and the guards killed the goblins but then a bugbear attacked, he must have been the leader. Jealous fought furiously, trying to protect me. The bugbear was huge, it killed both the guards that were still alive. It was on a rampage, Mortivus. Jealous jumped on it's back to keep it from getting close to me. He made me do it,” the lump in her throat could no longer be quelled and she burst once again into shuddering tears as she said, “I didn’t want to but he made me.”

“What did he ask you to do, Lady Poria?”

“I used this.” she said holding up her arm, the electrum bracelet slouched down around her forearm. She dropped her arm and said, “I used my father's bracelet to kill the bugbear but I killed Jealous too! Oh, Quilos, my dear Jealous! What have I done?” she was fully wracked in guilt and torment, bawling desolately as her father, Count Tryston, entered the room.

“What's all this, then?” he said lightly sweeping his pale hand out over the scene. He wore blood garnet rings on each of his fingers. The Count was clad in a red, purple and black overcoat with gold lace trim along the cuffs. A blood red ascot was tied about his neck over which hung a gold necklace with a fist sized blood garnet on a pendant. He wore a black half-cape over his narrow, rigid shoulders that was lined inside by a drab purple felt. On his feet were a pair of shiny knee-high black leather boots into which were tucked his black breeches. His long narrow face, framed by straight silvery hair that hung down to his waist, was pale as a full moon and shone of disapproval as he watched his daughter weep into her hands in front of a crackling fire.

“Jealous is dead, Count.” Said Mortivus, stroking Val's back.

“Who?” Said Tryston insipidly with a look of arrant unconcern on his fatuous, stark face.

“Jealous.” answered Mortivus as Valdowyn cried even harder, “The tiefling smith from Blackroot, he came to us for work almost six years ago, Count. He has been crafting short swords for your Lord Father all month.”

“Oh.” was all that Tryston could ostensibly muster. He went on to say, “So? Why is she crying like that over a dead fiend-blood? It's not as though he matters in the least. What are you going to cry over next Valdowyn,” the Count addressed his daughter, “a hog slaughtered for supper? I thought I had cleared your conscience of these foolish notions. Not everyone is meant to live forever, only Porias and the Dragon-Gods themselves are meant to be immortal.” He let a silence settle in as he listened to his daughter weep over the crackling fire. “All better?”

“No. I am not all better father. He was my friend. My only friend if you hadn't noticed. I love him.”

“I do believe you mean to say 'loved' daughter. He is dead after all. More importantly, why would you want to love a tiefling? Nothing more than child's play could come of it in any event. You are far too highly stationed to give yourself to such a lowly creature.”

“I do not want to love him, father. It is not as if it were a choice. It simply… happened that way.”

“Quite.” was all that Tryston said. He let another moment pass before going on, “At any rate, Valdowyn, he is dead, so I suggest you put these foolish notions out of your head. I have matters to which I must attend that are more important than your mewling, good evening.” The Count turned to his castellan whom wore a grim mask of subservience, “Mortivus.” He said in parting before turning on his heel and exiting the sitting room.

“Vile man.” Said Val when her father was gone, “He is such a vile man. Why must he be my father, why am I cursed to love him?”

“The fates are sometimes more cruel than kind, Val.” Consoled Mortivus.

Val sniffled, dried her red eyes with a pink kerchief dotted with an embroidered floral design and asked of Mortivus, “Has there been any word on the cleric?”

Mortivus nodded enthusiastically and spoke, “Kilson says he managed to contact the man through an animal courier but he says that he will not be able to make it here in less than three days time. I have had one of our clerics here cast a repose spell on Jealous to keep his body in state but I fear the only cleric we have at the castle lacks the capacity to cast such spells as you require Lady Poria.”

“Three days you say? Then it must be done. You instructed Kilson to notify the cleric that he will be rewarded for his efforts and that we will pay for the train ticket, correct?”

“Of course Lady Poria. We told him. He said he has never ridden the TransArcane and looks forward to the journey but it will still be three days. He has work that requires his attendance, he is coming from Polarri, your Aunt's seat. He assures us all haste will be made and that as long as certain material components are provided he will be able to raise Jealous once more. He does say, however, that Jealous will feel quite exhausted once he is back but that is nothing that a few days bed rest will not cure.”

“Good.” She said, unfastening the priceless electrum bracelet from her wrist, “He shall have whatever he needs so long as he delivers my Jealous back to me.” Valdowyn nonchalantly tossed the bracelet into the smoldering fireplace. Being magic, the fire would not destroy her bracelet. It wouldn't even blacken it. The gesture was symbolic at best. Val simply did not want her father's bracelet around her wrist any longer. “Nothing is too expensive for a Poria.” She finished, looking through the flames.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:37 PM
Valdowyn had just finished a light supper of warm onion and leek broth with small bits of ham and a chunk of rye bread when there was an airy rap at her chamber door. She had earlier relieved her body servants for the night because she felt like being alone and so ignored the knocking but after letting the person on the other side of the door knock and wait three more times she became frustrated at the unwelcome guest's insistence and jolted up, storming over to the door. She yanked it open and was startled to see Corman, Mortivus' son, staring at her with deep brown eyes. She brought her hand up, closing her robe when she caught him leering at her diaphanous nightgown and said, “Corman. What is this about?”

“I heard what happened and I just wanted to tell you that I was sorry,” he lied with as much sincerity as he could muster.
“I'm sorry to have seen Sul– Jealous die.”

“You were watching?” she asked.

“Yes, I fear I was. I was on my way to my apartments when I seen Kilson hustling toward the gates, so I followed him to see what the matter was.”

“Well,” Val said, “thank you for your condolences, Corman. I am very tired from the days events, however, and wish to rest, pray, excuse me.” Valdowyn began to close the door but Corman stopped it by interceding with his boot. Val looked up with fire in her eyes and said, “What do you think you are doing, boy?”

Corman chuckled darkly, “Boy? You think I am still a boy? I will be knight by seasons end and you call me boy? Do you have any idea just how much I love you Valdowyn? I have loved you since I was old enough to conceive of such a notion.”

“Notions which I had been conceiving for years before that, Corman. I am twice your age. Besides, Jealous,”

“Is dead, Valdowyn. Forget him. We could be together forever. At least I am of noble birth and not some slum-born tiefling.”

She slapped him, hard. “How dare you, Corman!” She demanded, “I am going to get you father, boy.” She tried storming out of her chambers but Corman placed his hand on her chest and hurled her bodily to the ground. He slithered inside and bolted the door shut behind him.

“No, you are not, Valdowyn. You are mine now and no one can take you from me. Your father will consent, do not worry.” He said stalking toward her. “Stand up.” He commanded her.

“Leave at once, Corman, and I will see to it that this transgression is forgotten as a young boy making rash decisions in a fit of lust.” Val said from the carpeted floor.

“No, you are mine. No one can take you from me, ever!” Corman shouted, his voice beginning to take on a tinge of madness.

“Corman listen,” Began Valdowyn holding up a hand, suddenly she realized that her left arm felt lighter than usual and regretted throwing her father's bracelet into the fire. Corman stepped forward, drawing his dagger. “Corman, don't you dare bare steel in my chambers! My father will skin you alive for this, don't think that he will not!”

“No!” He screamed, “Your father will love me as a son. He will be thankful that I took you from that fiend-blood.” He brought the dagger to bear in front of him, “Now, stand up!” He said pointing the weapon at her and gesturing with it. “Now!”

Val scrambled to her feet, pulling close her robe once more, “Corman, put the dagger away. The guards will have heard your shouting and if they see you pointing it at me they'll kill you. Please, Corman, put it away.” She implored moving slowly toward Corman.

“No, Valdowyn, I can't. If I put the dagger away you'll run, or scream. I can't let you do that. You're mine, I have to make sure you stay here.” He moved to her still holding the dagger and used its point to move aside her robe. He leaned in to kiss her but she darted out of the way, “Valdowyn, don't you love me?” Corman implored, the insanity ringing clear in his voice now, “I saved you from the tiefling. You have to love me!”

“No, Corman, I do not love you and you had noting to do with Jealous dying. You are sick, Corman, a malady of the mind, put down the dagger and we will get Kilson to help you. I knew a woman once,”

“Shut up!” Corman yelled violently as he grabbed Val by the throat. “I'm not sick, now kiss me! You have to love me, Val, because I love you! If I love you then you must love me! Kiss me!” He roared.

Val dodged his advances as best she could but he eventually planted his lips on hers and pressed a kiss onto her that hurt and revolted her. She bit his lip and tugged hard at it, splitting it with her canine tooth. Blood leaked onto her lips and down her chin. “You bitch!” He groaned, his voice cracking in alarm, “If you won't love me than I have no choice.” He said dementedly.

Val felt something cold and rigid stick into her gut as warmth flowed from between her fingers where she gripped the dagger that Corman had stabbed into her gut. “Corman,” she stuttered, “Why?”

“You wouldn't love me.” He uttered through gritted teeth with an unmistakeable gleam of madness in his dull brown eyes. Pulling the dagger out and stabbing it in again he said, “I,” he pulled the steel out and stabbed, “just,” stab, “wanted you,” stab, stab, “to love me!” He cried. Valdowyn Poria fell to the floor of her chamber lying on the soft carpet as blood leaked out lethargically through several angry, raw stab wounds. Corman stumbled over to her bed, both dazed and elated by the murder, suddenly he didn't feel like he loved her at all. She was just a crumpled ball of flesh bleeding out on a fine carpet. He shook his head and fished an apple from his pocket. He began peeling the apple with his bloody dagger and used the point of it to feed the apple slices to himself as he continued to watch the strange, pale woman bleed to death on the floor. The apple rind fell softly to the carpet as he skinned the fruit. When it was gone, Corman stood and wrapped the cool body in the carpet. It was late now so hopefully no one would see him hauling it out of the castle. Once he got outside he would fetch a handcart and take the corpse into the Court Wood to bury it.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:38 PM
The castle was in an uproar as castellan Mortivus Frynn stalked down the halls toward Valdowyn's chambers. Servants, guests and guards filled the hallway, pooling together in tight knots and large groups, all discussing the disappearance of Valdowyn. There was a clenched group of Thorns surrounding the door to the room. When they saw him approaching they moved aside to grant him entrance. Tryston stood within, speaking to one of the commanders of the Thorns. Mortivus stood just out of earshot, not approaching until Tryston had dismissed the man. Count Tryston watched Mortivus for a moment before beckoning him over. When Mortivus reached the Count, Tryston looked at him with cold maleficent eyes and said, “Where is she, then Frynn?” his demeanor was placid and blase.

“I haven't got the slightest inkling, Count Tryston. If I knew, I would tell you but I didn't even know she was gone until the guards woke me and told me you were waiting to speak to me here. I haven't spoken with Val since you saw us in the sitting room, last night.”

“Indeed.” Tryston murmured, surveying the room.

“I don't see why she would flee the castle,” Mortivus continued, “if that's what your thinking, Count Tryston. She was waiting for...” Mortivus cut himself short, realizing that he was about to breach Val's trust. It was too late, Tryston had already affixed his slate gray eyes on him and they were cold as the grave, eyes one could not easily lie to.

“Go on, Mortivus, what was the foolish girl waiting for? Something to do with the dead tiefling I'd wager, if I were a betting man.”

Mortivus spoke rigidly and without moxie, “She is waiting for a cleric to arrive from Polarri, Count. It will be three days yet until he comes.”

“Three days? Then, of course, you are right. She would not flee the castle after making such an engagement. She wishes to pay this cleric to raise the fiend-blood I presume?”

“Yes, Count.”

“Quite. Let him come then. I will give you sufficient gold to pay the man. Have travel arrangements been made?”

“Yes, Count, I went to the station myself and bought train tickets for the man.”

“Of course my daughter would spare no expense.”

“No, Count, she did not.”

“Inform me when the cleric arrives. Meet him at the station yourself, if you would, then take him to the tiefling and let him do his work. Afterward, bring him to me. Tell me, Mortivus, which Dragon-God does this cleric serve, do you know?”

Mortivus gulped before answering, “Quilos, Count.”

A baleful gleam slithered grotesquely in the counts eyes as he said, “Wonderful.” as Mortivus was turning to exit Tryston went on to add, “One more thing, Mortivus, please have your son pay a visit to me on the morrow.”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:40 PM
Corman sat on the edge of his bed, he thought about how empowering it felt to kill the Count's daughter. It was like trapping lightning in a jar and then quaffing it in one go. It was like becoming a god.
He wasn't about to stop at one, he kept thinking. It wasn't possible. He had stepped into the abyss and there was no looking back. He couldn't stay here though. Eventually, he figured, someone would reason out what had happened and the Count would flay him, he knew. He didn't want to be flayed just now and so resolved to pack what things he could, his blade, some riding clothes and multiple pouches of gold and silver and take to the roads. He could find others to kill, he would jump from town to town, village to village. He felt blood rushing through his ears at the thought, like a vile torrent of twisted lust, well, he supposed, lust after a fashion. Corman stood and began meticulously packing his things but there was a firm rapping upon his door that stopped him. Corman opened the door and was greeted with his fathers stern veneer.

“Corman.” He said.

“Father.” Said Corman staring intently at the floor.

“Look at me when I speak to you, boy.”

Corman looked up at his father and said, “I am a man grown. I will be a knight soon. I am not a boy, father.”

“You are a boy Corman. Do not beguile yourself into believing otherwise. A man does not taunt or tease. Why do you look so guilty, son?”

“Guilty?” asked Corman, his heart quickening its steady beat. “What do you mean?”

“I mean what I said, Corman. Why do you look so guilty?”

“I do not.”

“You shouldn't lie to your father, boy.”

“I'm not lying, father, I do not know why you seem to think I look guilty.”

“Whatever you say, son.” Said Mortivus knowing his son was lying through his teeth. “I didn't visit to accuse you of anything. I just wanted to talk.”

“Talk then.”

“Damn it, Corman.” Mortivus fumed at his son's insolence, “Why must you provoke me!”

“Because, father, you make it too easy. What is it that you wish to speak to me about?”

“I just wanted to see how you are doing is all. It is a crime for a father to check up on his son? It seems that we rarely speak at all anymore and when we do it was because I am scolding you for mocking Jealous.”

“Small chance of that happening anymore.”

“I wouldn't be so sure Corman. Valdowyn is a very resourceful woman.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing. Just that the Porias are a strong willed and stalwart family. Do not expect Val to forget about Jealous so quickly. I would leave her be regarding this matter.”

“Yes, that is sound advice, father. Thank you.”

“You are welcome, son. Believe me, I wish she would warm to you as well, just give it time, understand? I will do my best to sow my seeds when they will have the best chance of flourishing, but you must allow them space and time to grow. In time Val will warm to you son. She can never marry Jealous anyway, he is far too low born.”

“Perhaps you are right father. However, I fear Valdowyn shall remain quite cold.”

“Do not say such things, Corman, we will marry into the Porias. Just have faith.”

“Whatever you say father. Is there anything else?”

“Yes, actually, there is. Tryston wishes to speak with tomorrow.”

“About what?” Asked Corman all to quickly.

“He didn't say.”

“Is that all, then?”

“Yes.” Mortivus shuffled his feet before saying, “Good night, son.”

“Good night, father.”

When his father had left Corman sat back down at the edge of his bed. Did the Count know already? No. How could he? It had been two hours at best since he put Valdowyn in a shallow grave at the edge of the Court Woods. There was no way he could know. Tryston had never summoned him personally before. Perhaps the Count thought that he might have had something to do with Sulfur's death but that didn't make sense either. The Count had always been an enigma wrapped in a stark, ghostly mystery. It was best not to dwell on the matter but at the same time there was no way he could flee the castle now, he had to stay. Somehow, he felt as though someone were forcing his hand.

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:41 PM
Mortivus stood waiting on the platform at Tryston station. He could see the train hustling along the tracks in the distance as a cold rain fell, drenching everything and turning anything unpaved to deep brown puddles. An off-blue colored cloud wafted from the train as the magical engines within vented spent power from the engines that harnessed and burned the weave of magic that surrounded the entire world. The TransArcane railway was truly one of Dragonscale's modern marvels. It had only been up and running for a year and had all but revolutionized trade and travel across the entire continent. It was the Pendragon's wizard, Merlyn, that had created it. Mortivus wondered what role the railway would play in the oncoming war.

The train was clattering up to the station, squealing it's breaks and finally coming to a stop as it discharged a garish blue cloud of smoke that smelled faintly of jasmine with a long and drawn out hiss. Doors on the passenger cars began opening as ushers stepped off, set up small step ladders and directed the affluent passengers, what few there were, to the baggage compartments. Mortivus caught the eye of a man in silver and gold vestments that carried an air of galvanizing divinity about him. The man had a balding pate surrounded by shockingly silver hair and brows that were as thick and bushy as his elegantly styled mustache that seemed to quiver beneath his hawkish proboscis. He held up a wrinkled, liver spotted hand and waved tepidly at Mortivus, whom waved back just as genially. Once the cleric had collected his meager belongings from the baggage compartment and said a blessing for the usher, he shuffled over to Mortivus on slippered feet.

“A dreadful day for such regalia I fear,” said the cleric shaking gelid rain water from his now damp footwear. He held out a hand for Mortivus and said, “Donaldo Rey, High Priest in the Light of the Gilded Redeemer. At least that's what they call me.” He chuckled softly as Mortivus shook his frail hand with eyes as wide a saucers, “You can just call me Donaldo, or Don, if it please you. You must be Mr. Frynn?”

Mortivus was astonished. He knew that Val had spared no expense but he could have never imagined that she wold have reserved the services of one the most highly renowned clerics on Dragonscale. “Mortivus Frynn, Your Holiness,” Mortivus said bowing his head and kissing the high priest's imperiously wrought gold dragon ring that wrapped tightly around his little finger. Though Tryston disapproved, Mortivus was still an ardent worshiper of Quilos, like most on Dragonscale.

“Thank you child, may the Gilt-Forged God bask you in his glorious light,” Donaldo prayed, “and may your kin have eternal shelter so long as the Maelstrom holds, Quilos be praised.” he finished ritually, “Now then,” He said raising Mortivus' face to his by the castellan's solid chin, “I believe there is work to be done?”

“Yes, Your Holiness, if you would follow me please.” Mortivus said walking back toward where he had hitched the horses, “I fear that your benefactor has gone missing however, as strange as that must sound. She has been gone since the night we engaged your services. You will still be paid for your services though, in whatever way you wish. Your room and boarding will be to your liking, I am quite sure,” Mortivus went on as Donaldo bobbed his head and watched Mortivus speak, “whatever components you require to work your magic will be supplied as well,” he went on as they reached the horses, “Count Tryston also wishes...”

“Mr. Frynn, may I stop you there?” The High Priest interrupted, “Are you aware, sir, that we are being followed?”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:42 PM
“Just take me to the castle,” said Donaldo as they rode, “Act as though I have said nothing but be prepared for anything. Can you use that?” Asked Donaldo pointing to the bastard sword strapped across Mortivus' back, the spear like pommel sticking up from behind his shoulder.

“Of course, Holiness, though I wish it would not come to that.”

“As do I, my son, but if wishes were always granted, the world would be a utopia and djinnis would have no fun. If we are attacked, we will defend ourselves using any means necessary.”

“Of course, Holiness, I have no qualms against doing so.”

“Have you any idea as to who may be following us?”

“None specifically, Holiness, perhaps one of the Count's Thorns?”

“Please, Mortivus, call me Don. Thorns you say? I assume the Thorns are the Count's bodyguards?”

“Yes. They are elite fighters trained since childhood with the sharply pointed morningstars they wield.”

“Indeed. Tell me, Mortivus, is the count a curious man?”

“He is certainly curious, in more ways than just one.”

“Yes,” said Don looking off toward the roadside as the rain continued to fall in a cold sheet, “I have heard tell of some of his antics. His sisters are no better, I understand, his father worse.”

“I fear much of the rumor you hear is true, the Count is a cold, callous man with little warmth in his heart and far less compassion. Sometimes he vanishes for days with no word to anyone, not even me, his own castellan. I do not know where he goes during these forays but...” Mortivus trailed off and looked at Don whom was staring at him intently, “I should not be speaking so freely, this is treason and I am the Count's man. I apologize, Holiness, sorry, Don, but I can say no more of this matter, pray forgive me.”

“Of course, my son, all is forgiven. You seem like a liege of the Gilt-Forged God, tell me, how is that you found yourself in the employ of such a man?”

“Birth, Holiness, my father served the Count before me but he passed nearly ten years ago this icethaw, I simply became castellan in his place when he died.”

“And your father, how did he come to the post?”

“In the same manner as I. Ascension.”

“So, your family has served the Count for… how long?”

“Since he was born, Holiness, that was two generations ago.”

“The Count is an older gentleman?”

Mortivus scoffed and said, “Hardly. He doesn't look a day over thirty.”

“Have you ever wondered why he does not age as other men do?”

“There is no need to wonder. He is a Poria. Lord Poria himself is well over six-hundred years old.”

“Indeed he is, and what a wonder the Lord Poria is. Have you ever considered, then, why the female line of Poria does not live as long? The Lord Poria's two daughters, Polarri and Versha are both old women. Yet Tryston, Poria's first born and only son, is nearly two-hundred, yet, as you say, looks no older than a man in his thirties?”

“I suppose I have not given it much thought.” Mortivus grumbled twisting the braid of his goatee as he was wont to do during times of reflective thought.

“Clearly,” said Don, “no offense to your intellect, of course.”

“Of course, so then, why are you telling me this?”

“Oh,” Don waved his hand, “no reason at all. Do many women turn up missing in Tryston?”

Mortivus thought about it for a moment and said, “Actually yes. Though I have no statistics with which to compare our rate to those of other settlements to compare what number of missing women is normal.”

“Why, are missing women supposed to be considered normal? I would, personally, find that to be quite a disturbing occurrence. To answer your previous inquiry, however, maybe one or two women go missing per annum in Polarri. Though in Throne it is nearly five times that number.”

Mortivus visibly paled as he said, “Twenty.” He looked at Don, “Nearly twenty a year in Tryston and we are not even half the size of Throne. How could this be?”

“An astute question, my boy. Would that I had an answer. I do, however, have my suspicions. Macabre though they are.”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:44 PM
Corman waited in the Count's foyer. As he sat fidgeting nervously with his fingers and wondering why the count had summoned him, the large stone door that adjoined the antechamber to another room, presumably the Counts office, opened admitting a large man dressed in purple and black dyed leather armor, he wore a morningstar at his hip with a rose shaped bladed head, smaller spikes ran down the haft in a spiraling manner. Thorns the guards were called. The Thorn beckoned him to enter the office so Corman stood and began walking, the Thorn watched every move he made, measuring him with elite confidence.

Corman stepped over the threshold between the door and the chamber and felt a noticeable drop in temperature. Why is it so cold in here? Thought Corman, It's nearly Frostcoming yet the Count keeps it near freezing in his office, how odd. There was a man reclining in a regal red velvet chair which sat behind a large mahogany desk. His silvery hair was pulled back into a ponytail which was draped over his left shoulder. He wore a thick purple and black silk robe decorated with a pattern of black and white roses which was opened wide at the chest revealing a bony hairless chest.

“Greetings, Corman Frynn.” Said Count Tryston.

Tryston bowed deeply, all things considered he had great respect for the gaunt, handsome man in front of him, which was to say nothing of the fear. “Good morning, Count Tryston. My father informed me that you wished to speak with me. What can I do for you, Count?”

“Blunt and to the point. No formalities.”

“I apologize, Count. I am quite nervous.”

“No need for apologies, my boy.” Tryston said as he fiddled absently with a quill on his desk, he dipped it in an inkwell and began writing on a sheet of parchment. As he wrote Tryston went on, “I think that we both know why I have asked you here, Corman.” Tryston wrote for a moment more, letting Corman stir restlessly in front of him, he knew. He knew.

“I fear I have no...”

Tryston bolted up from the desk, purple and gold fire burned where his eyes should be. “Do not lie to me, Corman!” The Count said as the flames died down to a low smolder, “I know what you did. I just want to hear you say it!” The flames blinked out, revealing the Count's slate gray eyes once more. Tryston took his seat and began writing again, “Say it, Corman.” He intoned with a disturbing tranquility.

“I...” Corman began, chocking on his words. He looked up, “I killed Valdowyn.”

“Yes. I know.” Tryston said, unagitated. He seemed to be more upset by the lying than Corman's confession.

“What is to be my punishment, Count?” Said Corman with a gulp trying to remain as stoic as possible.

“Punishment? Who said anything about punishment? Corman, my boy, I am going to give you a gift. Return here tomorrow and we will speak again.”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:46 PM
“You'll be glad to know that our tail has receded, Mortivus.” Don said as he and Mortivus trotted through the gates of Castle Rose.

“Good. Too bad we never discovered who was following us though.”

“Too bad indeed.”

“This way.” Said Mortivus turning his horse toward the stables beside the smithy where Jealous was lying in state.

Once they had dismounted, Don gestured for Mortivus to lead the way as a stable boy arrived to tend to the horses. Mortivus walked next door and opened the smithy. Jealous' body lay atop a crude wooden table that had been brought into the smithy to serve just that purpose. Don moved toward him and lifted the shroud, “A tiefling?” He asked.

“Will this be a problem?” Mortivus inquired back at the priest.

“Not for me. However, it may ruffle a few dark feathers in the Nine-Hells. Demons do not like having their toys taken from them, the cry babies that they are. He will be marked, even more so than before but I can raise him, that much is certain.”

“Do it then.” insisted Mortivus.

“The components?” Don asked, looking over his shoulder to Mortivus.

Mortivus reached into a pocket sewn into the large black duster he wore and produced a diamond about the size of a child's clenched fist and handed it to the cleric, “I hope this will do.” He said when Don took the gem from him.

“This is more than sufficient, Mortivus, thank you.” Don said something to the diamond whilst holding it in one hand and rubbing it with the other. He then pulled open Jealous' mouth and slid the diamond gently in. Next, Don began chanting under his breath as a soft, radiant glow emanated from his fingertips and slid languidly up into Jealous' nostrils. The diamond in the tiefling's mouth began to glow with a soft divine light. The diamond appeared to slowly dissipate as the glow intensified. Eventually, the diamond had vanished completely and with its dismissal, Jealous' chest began to slowly rise and fall. A low murmur escaped Jealous' mouth, he sounded as if he were in extreme anguish. Mortivus could see Jealous' eyes twitching rapidly beneath their lids, they cracked open slightly as another moan escaped Jealous' lips, louder and more painful this time.

“Why is he screaming like that?” shrieked Mortivus.

“Being raised is never a pleasant experience, Mortivus, the process is intensified ten-fold for one of the fiend-blooded. Remember what I said about demons not liking to have their playthings taken from them?”

An ice cold ripple surged up Mortivus' spine as Don said that, he couldn't imagine the pain and torment Jealous' soul must be experiencing. “Hurry!” said Mortivus fervently.

“Hurry? You think casting spells such as this is like running through a corn field? I cannot hurry Mortivus, be patient, your friend will be back soon.”

After a moment, Jealous' chest began heaving and the tiefling started arching his back, letting out agonized moans of increasing volume. His eyes jerked open and he looked about the smithy, fixing his red eyes on Mortivus with a tight frown on his snarling visage.

With a final wail, Jealous arched his back to the point of snapping and finally lay back down, breathing heavily and noisily. Mortivus rushed to his side as Don stepped back and wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, “There.” he said. The cleric took a seat on a nearby stool and pulled out a pouch, from it he produced a long-stemmed wooden pipe and packed it full of longbottom leaf. He lit the pipe and watched as Mortivus held the tieflings hand and stroked his forehead, brushing his stiff tangled hair back behind his horns. “He will need to rest for a few days,” Don said between puffs, “but after that he will be good as new. He may have nightmares of this for the rest of his life, however. I am told this phenomenon is quite common in tieflings that have been raised.” He gestured toward Jealous with the gently smoking pipe, “He's my first.”

Mortivus heard Don speaking but he couldn't make out his words, he just kept trying to soothe his friend. “Jealous,” he said as the tiefling eyes flickered open again, “Jealous, it's me, Mortivus.”

“Mor...” Jealous worked his mouth, trying to get the saliva flowing, licked his lips and said, “Mortivus? But… But I was in the Nine-Hells with...” He looked about, taking in the smithy, “I'm home?”

“Yes,” Mortivus squealed with glee, “You are home, Jealous. Don brought you back thanks to Val.”

“Val, Where is Val? Why is she not here then?”

“Jealous, just rest for now.” Mortivus stroked Jealous' forehead wiping back perspiration.

Jealous swatted back Mortivus' hand, “Where is Val, Mortivus? How long have I been… Gone?”

“Four days, Jealous.”

“Where is Val?”

“Jealous, rest.”

“Mortivus, why are you dodging that question?” Jealous asked, heatedly.


“Tell me!”

Mortivus sighed and shook his head, “She has been missing since the night you were killed, Jealous. No one knows where she is.”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:47 PM
“Azorians?” asked Corman, “but why?”

“Because, Corman, they are mad and easily manipulated.” Tryston said as he sat behind his desk tapping the quill against his bottom lip. “Plus,” he went on, “They are ever so intriguing. I am coming to respect Azorian, though, and have paid homage to her on several occasions myself, although I have never been much of a dragon worshiper.”

“So what of this then,” Corman gestured to the black handled longsword whose equally dark crossguard resembled two women making love with a monster of some kind. The Count had produced and set the frightening sword upon his desk, he had never set eyes upon a sword with such a blade before. It looked as though it were made of glass or some crystal, “what do I do with it?”

“Are you truly that dense, boy? You kill,” said Tryston, “is it not obvious? After all, what are swords for?”

“But you say this sword is not the gift you are giving me?”

“No, the gift will come after you kill the cleric. This blade, Bloodseed, will absorb his life force and twist it into a form that I can use. Do you understand?”

“Not particularly,” said Corman with a glance at the horribly arousing sword, “but I understand killing well enough.”

“So you have shown. Which is why I have chosen you for the gift. Your father has always wanted you to marry into our family, as have I but, since you killed my heiress, I have no choice but to induct you in this manner. It's a shame that Mortivus will not be around to see this union come to fruition. You see, Corman, you have already proven that you have the capacity to kill someone you love, you told me yourself how much it aroused you, so, I am giving you the opportunity to prove yourself even further. Kill the cleric, then kill your father, not necessarily in that order but kill them both, then bring me the tiefling. Alive, if you would.

“You want me to kill my own father?”

“Is that not what I just said? Haven't you got the gall?”

“Of course I have, but… why?”

“The 'whys' are not important, Corman. What is important is that you do it. Then you will be inducted into the family. My special family. Now, will you do it or not? No more superfluous questions, understand?”

“Yes, on both counts. I will do it. Why doesn't matter. I want the gift.”

“Good,” Tryston purred, wringing his hands, “take Bloodseed, then,” he pushed the sword closer, “and use it to kill your father and the cleric.”

posted on Aug, 18 2015 @ 03:48 PM
Jealous was sitting on the edge of Val's bed, the bed she and himself had shared on several, glorious, occasions when Mortivus gave a tentative knock and entereed without waiting for a response. Jealous looked up at Mortivus and gave him a sad look, “Still no sign?” he asked of the castellan.

“Nothing, Jealous, I regret to report.” He held out his hand to Jealous, there was something in it, it took Jealous only a momnet to recognize the piece of jewelry.

“Val's bracelet.” He said taking it from Mortivus' outstretched hand. “But… why wasn't she wearing it?”

“She threw it into the fire the night you, um, died,” Mortivus swallowed uncomfortably, “She was disgusted with her father's brash attitude toward what had happened, so she tossed it into the fire. I retrieved it the day she was discovered missing and held it for you.”

Jealous clasped the bracelet around his wrist, it was almost too small but it grew half an inch when he put it on, he marveled at it for a moment and said, “Thank you, Mortivus.”

“Of course, my friend.”

There was an awkward silence for a moment as the both of them conferred with their thoughts, finally Jealous said, “She's dead, isn't she?”

“There is no way to know that, Jealous.”

Jealous shook his head and, his voice thick with grief, and mumbled, “I found these when I came in,” he unfolded a kerchief embroidered with an austere floral design, “apple peels.” he said as a matter of fact.

“Apple peels?” asked Mortivus, confused.

“Yes, apple peels.” Jealous said, almost inaudibly, he looked at the floor, “Mortivus, I do not mean to offend but,” he paused, wondering if he should go on, “who do we know that eats apples this way?”

“No.” said Mortivus, taking a step back toward the door, “No.”

“I'm sorry but…” Jealous looked at his friend, “Have you noticed that the carpet is gone as well?” He asked gesturing to a spot on the stone floor that was far cleaner than the rest.

“I never...” Mortivus bumbled.

“Well, it is. Where could it have gone, do you think? And if Val had left Castle Rose, why would she bother to take the carpet?” Mortivus was too stunned to speak, he stood numbly working his jaw, so jealous went on, “That's not all. Val would never have left her falcons. If she were to leave the castle she would have taken the birds, no doubt. Val was murdered, Mortivus, and I think it was your son that did it. Come with me to the aviary?”

Mortivus seemed to find his voice again as he stammered, “Of course.” while staring at the brown apple peels lying within Valdowyn's tear stained kerchief.

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