Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chapter 2c: A Meeting with the Duke

"Would you please use the honorific when referencing Piet Lithor? At least do it when you address him directly."

"I am sorry, my friend. I didn't realize that it meant so much to him." Wellan replied. A mischievous smile twisted his lips.

His research into the prisoner's condition had taken more time than he anticipated, allowing Lithor to reach Duke Renier before he had gotten a chance to meet with him. It couldn't be helped. Wellan was thorough, as all wizards were, at least all who wanted to excel beyond the level of street magicians.

"Oh, you damned well know what it means to him. You do it just to get under his skin without appearing to do so." The Duke winked and grinned at Wellan as he added, "I find it rather amusing, but unfortunately I have to listen to his whining when you get his feathers ruffled, and I find that aspect of it far from amusing. So, if he asks, you have been officially scolded."

Wellan looked at the Duke and nodded with a feigned innocence.

The Duke chose to meet with him in the small chamber not far from the main audience chamber. He picked the room not only for comfort, but because it sat in a remote corner of the castle, away from prying ears.

After pouring himself a cup of coffee, the Duke leaned back in the soft, leather-padded chair. He sipped the coffee with both hands and propped his booted feet on a table next to the coffee decanter while giving Wellan a relaxed grin. The charming smile had closed many lucrative business dealings for the city of Renier. The same grin his father used and his father before him as the city expanded through three generations of Reniers. A knowing smile threatened to sneak past Wellan’s bearded lips. He had seen all three sets of grins but knew Duke Renier didn't realize it was a charming trademark of his hereditary line. It made him loved by the rich and poor alike throughout the city and even the neighboring kingdoms.

The Duke took another sip of coffee, dropped both boots to the floor and leaned forward. His smile vanished and in a conspiratorial voice he asked, "So… What did you find out about that unfortunate man? Piet Lithor said you want him burned to ash though he hasn't committed any real crime, other than running from the city guard. Piet Lithor also said the man is quite lively, considering his condition."

Wellan's expression grew serious as he set his coffee cup down and leaned forward on the couch, "I didn't order it burned because of any crimes that it might have committed. I ordered it burned to ash because it is a dangerous abomination."

"Hanging is an effective means of getting rid of most abominations."

"Not this one, my Duke. The thing isn't a leper. It is an undead. A walking corpse." Wellan leaned back on the sofa. "It can't be killed by any means other than total destruction of the body."

The charming smile disappeared from the Duke's face and his brows curled down with worry. "I heard the guards had trouble with them. I thought it odd, considering their sickness and all. Do you have any idea what they were doing inside my city? Do you have any idea why one was captured near my home?"

Wellan shook his head. "No, my Duke. That's the main reason I'm so late getting back here with a report. I wanted to look through my archives to find out everything I could about the undead."

"What did you learn?"

"Not a whole lot. Of coarse I didn't have a great deal of time to carefully study my documents because I was already late returning here to tell you what I had found. As soon as we're done I'll return to my archives and see if there's any other information to be gained about these creatures. In the meantime, with your permission of coarse, I would like to have the body of the abomination burned to ash and the ashes sent to me. They may aid me in learning what its purpose was, here in Renier. I would also like to meet with all the guards who were involved in the capture of the creatures."

Both men stood, knowing that the discussion was ended. Duke Renier put his hand on Wellan's shoulder. "Keep me informed, my friend."

With a nod Wellan replied, "I will, my Duke."

"Get up."

Drummen's eyes opened to stare at leg of his dining table.

"Get up."

Without grace he pushed himself off of the floor, shaking like a newborn calf. Whiskey, blood and bile covered the front of his armor, beard and hair. It was unimportant.


He walked toward the front door. The confident stride missing, his shoulders no longer straight and proud and his expression was no longer angry. His features had turned blank, his eyes a reflection of that emptiness. He looked straight ahead but didn't recognize anything as he shuffled toward the door.

The door stood closed, but that didn't prevent him from walking. He shuffled into it and stopped, clawing at the rugged wood.

"Lift the handle. Pull the door open."

Drummen looked around the door. He didn't understand. The only feeling he had was hunger, so very hungry.

"Lift the handle. Pull the door open."

Without any instructions from him his hand found the latch. He jerked and yanked on it until the door opened, hitting his head. He didn't notice.


He walked out the door and into the cool breeze of the night. Starvation clawed at his stomach and had there been anyone around he would have ignored the Voice and eaten, but the streets were empty. He listened for food, but didn't hear any.

"Do as I say and you will eat. Do as I say and you will feed, but not right now."

Drummen didn't care about the Voice, he wanted food, but the Voice couldn't be ignored. The Voice had to be obeyed.

"Good. Now go. I know just where to hide you until it's time for you to feed."

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At August 25, 2007 8:29 PM , Blogger Jeff Parish said...

Awww, poor hungry zombie guard.

Keep up the good, if disturbing, work!serials Sothink SWF Quicker  

At August 25, 2007 9:08 PM , Blogger Bret Jordan said...

I will try, Jeff.

A disturbed mind is a terrible thing to waste. :o)serials Sothink SWF Quicker  

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