Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chapter 12b: Observations

"How long are we to sit here and wait?” Lurok Bos Spielter grumbled. He squatted on the tiled alter steps with his hand propped under his chin, staring at his feet. Lithor didn’t care for his choice of seats, the alter being the holiest of ground, but under the circumstances he didn’t think it worth mentioning. Brother Cylus, on the other hand, fumed and glared at the merchant. His mouth had even opened once or twice to say something, but the rant never got past his wrinkled lips. Bos Spielter didn’t move and no one, not even Brother Cylus, wanted to start an argument that wasn’t necessary.

“If Duke Renier is still alive, and I have no doubt that he is, then help will come as soon as he can arrange something.” Though he spoke to the group with confidence, his words were spoken to comfort himself as much as the others.

When no one replied, Lithor walked to the window. He could only take so much of the merchants’ growling and complaining. Thank Vaspar the man had finally tired of his own grumblings. He desperately wanted to put the merchant in his place, to do what the old Piet would have done, but he didn’t want to return to being that man, the one who ran. He didn’t want to ever see himself cowering behind a bed again while a friend, a brother in Vaspar, stood in his place against the forces of evil. No, he wanted that man to be gone forever. If he had to sacrifice his pride in order for that to happen then so be it. The loss of his status would just be one of the many penances he planned on paying for a lifetime of sin and arrogance.

He watched the mass of pale bodies meander aimlessly back and forth at the edge of the safe zone. Their numbers had decreased, but not knowing where they all were bothered the Piet more than watching them stumbling about in front of the temple. Maybe they will get bored and find somewhere else to haunt. Or should I be doing something? Did the lord Vaspar save me and give me a weapon to combat them? If so then why do I cower behind the walls of His temple? What does He have destined for me? What is Your will, my lord?

Brother Cylus’ liver spotted hand grasped the window frame, interrupting the Piet’s thoughts. His raspy voice asked, “Why do they stay? What are they waiting for?”

“Us, I think.”

Two of the bodies walked into one another’s path. Each turned to avoid a collision.

“Why don’t they attack their own?”

Lithor’s thumb rubbed up and down the pommel of the sword. His eyes focused on the crowd. “I don’t know.”

“Why do they hate us?”

He pulled his gaze from the window and looked at Brother Cylus. “I don’t believe they do. I’ve looked into their eyes. I didn’t see hatred; longing perhaps. Hunger, desire, need maybe, but not hatred. I believe I even saw fear or revulsion when they looked upon the holy sword, but hatred…no that I haven’t yet seen.”

“Do you think they still have souls?”

Lithor returned his gaze to the window. Since entering the temple he had asked himself that question over and over again. He wanted to think they still had souls, a part of themselves that could be redeemed and brought back. He shuddered to think that they could be lost in the void, without any hope of return or salvation. Or worse yet, trapped within those mindless bodies, forced to see themselves committing atrocities they couldn’t control. He tried to tell himself that they were still in there somewhere, blind to their actions and desperately trying to escape the prison of their own bodies. He wanted to see them returned to the lives they had lived only hours earlier. He wanted to put the world back where it had been less than a day ago. Though he wanted to put everything back like it was, he couldn’t’ see how things could be put right as he watched them aimlessly stumble through their environment. They ignored everything, walking around objects and occasionally into them, only becoming driven in the presence of the uninfected. Violence and desire seemed to be their only motivation.

“Piet Lithor, do you think they still have souls?”

“I wish I could tell you that they do, Brother Cylus. I honestly do, but to be honest with myself…I don’t think so. I don’t know what evil causes them to hunt us, but I think their souls are gone. I only hope that they are in a better place and not devoured by the force that created them.”

“Where do…”

“Please, Brother Cylus. No more questions. I’m…”

Footsteps pounded on the bell tower stairs. Both priests turned as Tollis raced down the steps. Everyone stood. The newborn let out a whimper in his mother’s arms. Two hands clasped as the newlywed couple tried to comfort one another. A mother pulled her two sons close to her sides.

Tollis looked at each person, searching. A grin lit his face as his eyes fell on the Piet. “They want us to wait.”

Bos Spielter growled, “What are you talking about, boy? Who wants us to wait?”

His smile faltered. “The guards, Bos. The guards want us to wait.”

Lithor spoke up, before Bos Spielter could snarl at the boy again, “How do you know this, Tollis?”

“A sign, your excellency. They spelled out ‘wait’ on a sheet and unfolded it down the side of the castle wall.”

The Piet turned to Bos Spielter, “I told you the Duke wouldn’t let us down.”

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