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Elrick exchanged the pleasentries as was required as he drifted, drifted very purposely though the room, he found some amusement in the looks he gained for his dark red amoungst the soft green and blue pastels that were in season. Or perhpas it was the crooked nose, sucha thing was not entirely uncommon but one showing up freshly was, the only others who showed fresh wounds were those in the crisp unifroms that marked them part of the military, then it was gained in the line of duty and completelty acceptable, even a point of praise. Elrick fought to keep his tight lipped civil smile.
He paused by the buffet table, takeing only few iteams of the cheese and meats there before he once again began his pointed drift, not towards Alten, no at an event like this he was quite distracted, he was as of yet heirless and unwed, makeing him a prime target for any unwedded women of a child bearing age. Even a bastard child could be heir if they showed the mark.
No his wandering was to perhaps the only other that shared his disdain for such events, the ‘game master’ as he ussaly called himself, but his games were as fun as Elricks sessions were theaputic. The man, dressed in a uniform close enough to the miliatry but in the blue of civil servant and not quite right, with more scars(no doubt from the unwilling players of his games) then any of the military men, he was old, but tough, and while not in his prime, he doubted many could keep his pace for long.
“At least their is someone like minded in this group a daises,” The game master(I gotta come up with a name for him, for now we’ll call in Karl cuase that was the first name that came to my head. I dobut it’ll stick, but then Greg’s name wasn’t supposed to stick either.)
“Indeed, it makes these things tolerable,” Elrick answered his greeting wiht a small smile, a geniune one.
“Aye, makes a man feel old watchin em dance like that.” Karl remarked, though Elrick doubted he’d have much trouble pulling the same aglity if he could be bothered to try.
“It is simply a waste of time, like all of these functions.” Elrick said, he didn’t feel old, even if he was well over 30.
That gained a low gruff laugh from Karl, “Do yah think talkin shop at a thing like this would be troublemakeing.”
“Do you care much if it is?” Elrick asked, “It is not as though either of fear for our jobs.”
“Point taken, though there’s a young snapper lookin for a pay raise I’d heard you’ve taken a bit of a diffrent route for finding a replacement.” Karl said, the rumour of Elrick spending time looking for a son was one that had spread. Along with a host of suggestions and rumors as to why Elrick didn’t have a son by normal means, or a wife, or so muc has a mistress as well. These were other reasons Elrick did not enjoy court life. (And I don’t know what Elricks problem is, not yet anyway)
“It is not an easy line of work to find a worthy apprenticeship for,” Elrick said, “And the othere working below me know and understand as much about the trade as a maid does of the glasses she cleans.”
Karl gave another gruff laugh to that, “Well, you’ve received the first group slated for the games, what are your thoughts.” His eyes flickered to the still slightly sweeled and crooked nose, the question of how that had happened said wordlessly.
“They are as usal, a mixture of strong but skillless and skilled but needing breaking before they’ll submit. Some more then others. And don’t worry about them staying healthy, I’ve never over damaged your contesteants before have I?”
“No, but none have ever so much as scratched you before either,” Karls said, takeing an offered glass of wine from a bus boys tray. Elrick did not.
“That particuler one I think could endure far more then he could ever recover from and he’d still be as insolent, no I’ve other plans for him.” His smile of a amusement came once again, “I’m takeing him on as a rather personal challenge in creativeity.”
“And you’ve plans for him already?” Karl asked, truly curious. “And is it true that the he’s blind?”
“Very, like a bat in blindness and hearing, a fact I will take full advantage of. He may have a pain tolerence and stubborn ness to match, but I do not think he will care for noise. The desert is a quite place.”
“Just don’t drive him mad, I can’t do nearly so much wiht a mad man as I can a desperate one. " Karl said, "And I don’t want another problem like that mad northerner a few years ago. "
Elrick stiffend a little, “That had nothing to do with me, that was that fool Lorstrick,” If he’d been somewhere less fair he would have spat. “That man was an idoit, and should have been known as such much earlier, That whole mess could have been avoided.”
“At least he never left the ring, twas a near thing though.”
“And the crowds did enjoy it, haveing some mad man neary reach them, they probably thought it was part of the show. At least when news came that those damn barbarains were pillagieng and rapeing as they are known to do it was that much more beliveable.” Erlick said, “And that moron found himslef squished between a rock and a hard place.” He added in a tone that suggested it might not be purely metphorical.
“So how long do you think before I’ll get my hands on some of these contestents.” Karl asked, “The sooner the better.”
“Well some simply need to recover from the trip, long use of the drugs can have a less then wonderfull effect on the stomach, Kisen is takeing care of them, but the rest,” he shrugged a little, “Only time will tell, and this nomad I think may take some serious time.”
“Just remember that he’s not your personal toy.” Karl warned. Gaining a glare as Elricks stiffend again.
“Of that I am quite aware, however I doubt you want him as he is now, if reports from the guards are to be trusted even with proper bindings he broke the arm of one guards, fractured the wrist of the other and almost broke the leg of a third, and he cuased trouble while traveling until a black cloack deafened him and they could forcefeed him the drug, a drug that I do not think you want him on while he fights.”
Karl smiled at the news, he’d heard, and n many ways was looking forward to his own work with the nomad, if he was half as good as they said he could create quite the spectacle. And that was what he all about. “No not at all, it makes them stumble about like a drunk, and fall like one to.”
Elrick forced a small chuckle as the other laughed gruffy at his own joke, “So what more unusal things do you ahve planed for this harvest?” Elrick asked, this conversation was being less rewarding hte he had hoped.
“I’ve yet to see the contestents I can’t hardly make a good show without know the actors,” He answered, "and I’ve yet to find out what sort of excoits will be brought in, somehow I doubt I’ll get something from the mage’s mengerie as one of the genrals promised me. “The seige has been going for three years the castle is still as unbreechable as ever.”
“Alten has mentioned that some Black cloacks(really need to come up with a more forbodeing name for those guys) are on thier way and that should disrpt things in our favor.” Elrick said rather off handedly.
“Or just get that crazy lady more riled up, she blew the bridge last I heard, and anything that goes where it was ends up turning to silver fire and is gone.”
“She’s only a human women, she’ll be brought down.” Elrick said, Karl sounded far to much like a rumour monger for his likeing. “The rest of the city fell so will their precious castle.”
“I’m sure your right, just not by this fall me thinks.”
“I doubt it, unless Alten decides to go there himslef, that wold change matters quickly.”
“Aye, but he can’t afford to leave the city as things are, the rebels have half the docks under their control and that is just hte beggining.”
“They will be dealt with in thier own time.” Elrick answered, after all the fabled ace of spades was dealing with it wasn’t he.
“What I heard, Alten’s not the least bit worried about it, so I supposed I shouldn’t be either,” he gave a nervious chuckle, the silence that followed wasn’t entirely comfortable.
“No, you shoudln’t, you’ve a festivel to plan after all.” Elrick said, wishing for an excuse to leave, he didn’t desire any more itme with this dolt then he’d already spent, wasted really.
“Indeed, I’ll leave such matters to those who know them.” he aggred a litle uneasily, his experssion hinting that he was catching the poorly hid contempt of Elrick. “Speaking of which, I need to speak to the Captain of the guard about a few things,” He excused himself, and left Elrick to his thoughts, which guided by the music went to plans of noise, much more pleasant then the conversation he’d been endureing. He returned the civil smile to his face, and not long after found himself forced into more pleasnentires, a few badly hidden, and all but rudely denied courting propousals. Could they not realize he had no interest in thier stupid blushing girls.
Cornell woke coughing in the damp underbelly of the ship. The swaying buck of the ship had been something he’d yet to accoustom to, his left hand never left the bars of the cell, gripping it afraidn he’d fall if he didn’t. He didn’t dare stand. He’d tried that once, the ground, it was wet, slipperly, and it stunk. Not just with the people and what came with people in close quaters that they were not allowed out of but another pungent aroma. Like fouled meat but less acrid. (I’m trying to describe mold, but they don’t have mold in the desert cuase it’s to dry, however it runs rampant in ships.) Soft, but foul. He didn’t like it. He could feel himself rocking, but he wasn’t sure if he was rocking or if it was the ship, the idea that water was around them, still was beyond his comprehension. It just didn’t make sense, it coudln’t be.
It was trick, it had ot be, didn’t it. He the twisted magican had taken his hearing could he not twist it to. But slippery wood beneath him, the wetness of the air, and that smell like salt that was to real to be an illusion.
He shifted leaning agsint the iron bars to stop himslef from rocking, the feel of the grid agsint his back was familiar and almost comfortable. The rocking contiuned, he wished it stop, or at least he’d know how long, how long he’d been in this stinking ship, and how much longer he would be stuck there. The sounds, the creaking made him worry that the craft of wood would brake and they’d sink, and he stuck in it’s belly would drown in more water then he could even comprehend.
Eventually the sickening lull brought him back to sleep.
He stood feeling the desert’s wind blowing, dry clean and warm. Familair, comfortable and part of home. He could feel warm dry sand beneath his feet, warming them healing the sores on his feet from the hardroad.
“Cornell,” It was his father voice almost, but it wasn’t his father, his father was dead, and it was his fault. Beucase of stupid Boyish pride.
“No, your fahter knew his role.” The thing took shape, a cat sitting at an Oasis, Cornell knew with some regret that this was a dream then, for he saw the cat, the red lynx the size of a large pony. “As you will know yours. Stay strong.” It dipped int’s head into oasies drinking. “For you will be the blades wielder,” It told him. "Of that thier is no doubt, but not yet, thier wil lbe another, as kin and kindered you will find him. "
“Who, and where.” Cornell asked, collpaseing into the sand, laying in it, reveling in it whilst watching the cat. He had never thought the warmth of sand would feel like such a pleasure.
“Remember the path to this place well.” The cat said after it finished it’s drink, looking at him pondrously, “This will be your oasis for more then just water.” It left, but that seemed alright, for a long while Cornell lay in the blinding sun of his far away home, and languished in the grit below it. Eventually the sand whould mositen to wood and the world would begin to sawy and buck again but that was not importnat now.
Elrick stood faceing a mirror in his private chamber, assesing the damage the insolent nomad had done to his face. There was snarl beneath the now crooked nose. He felt and saw the red riseing in his cheeks, anger and embersement at his mistake mixing into a terrible coacktail. One thought grew promient as his mind worked it’s cruel way, the nomad would pay, restictions or no, the nomad would regret ever being born in the sandy wasteland he called his home.
He found the image of the boy begging, beggining for him to have mercy to be far more pleaseing, this was no longer simply a matter of work, no. The idoit child had made it personal, and that was not something Elrick was very often. The snarl turned to a cruel smile, he would beg, not for an end to pain but nosie. That much he knew, the drill master he had to ‘work’ with that was in charge of all of those slated for the fall festivel had made his arsenal rather limited. Ussaly it didn’t matter if his ’client’s could so much as walk when he was done, now he could hardly touch them.
But if the gaurds report was accurate then this blind nomad would be far more weak to nosie, or perhaps the complete lack of it, deafness he had been told had been a usefull tool of his escorts here.
He smothed his silken shirt, giveing himself a look over in the mirror, sighing once more at his now imperfect nose. The doctors mocking words that it looked like a school boys injury still ringing in his ears faintly. It had been a very long time since he’d had to deal with an insult, one not said by someone on his table at least. But those were diffrent, the insults of the damned and tortured were not something he cared about, but the insolence of that dark skinned boy, that he would pay for in full.
With a final glance at the full length mirror in his private room to make sure the dark red shirt and pants he wore sat right he sighed, there was nothing he could do about it, it was crooked and that would be enough to remind him not to be so careless. The thoughts of the nomad and his soon to come troubles were pushed back, for now he had other things to deal with. Like a court function that Alten had insisted he being a Baron, should attened. Why he did not know, he knew little about his supposed Barony, other then that was where the coin that paid for the ridculous clothing for these things came from. A small smile crept up, how much he wished he could make them really understand what he did to earn his palce at the head of the table and at Alten’s left hand. That was something he was not supposed to do, it was a public secret.
At least this times his shoes were comfortable he thought, as he walked down the taperstry lined halls to the great hall where a ball of some kind was being held. There was nothing in there that he had any desire to be a part of, but what Alten insisted on Alten got, that was how it had been for as long as he had been in employ, but at least these things only happened once in a while, at least one’s that he had to attened. That much he was glad for, and chances were if he had to be attendence so did the ‘game master’ as he was ussaly called, he had a diffrent title, one less childish but Elrick coudlnt’ quite be bothered to remember it.
With one more sigh, this one more of a fortifing breath he entered, forced himself not to cringe as the senshcal tapped and anooced his entry, and the dance kept going, the band in the corner kept playing and other then a look from those not danceing to the tune he gaind a look for his choice in colors. It was spring, and one was not supposed to wear red in spring. He did not care, and the taoilor for all his protesting had not cared enough to risk his ire, so he wore red.
He looked about the room, dismissing most and dandies and thier women, these were pups at the table hopeing for scraps, every land owner that had the capital to call himself a nobel was here, along with any of thier brats of the marring age. Though one thing he did notice, was the absence of the frivlious Galroy, it was a welcome relief, he did not need another asking if he’d gotten in a school yard brawl.
I just realized I have no idea where this is going so I’m gonna end it here.
Cornell along with the rest of the prisoners, had been linked in a chain, as they boarded, the constant sound of the waves was still something that baffled him, how could there be so much water that it could make so much sound. He feared his hearing was still not entirely right. Sea they had called it, but he couldn’t see, coudln’t see how there could be so much water that they needed a ship, to cross it.
He nearly stumbled as the dock rocked beneath him, only the supporting effect of the chain that kept him inline with the others kept him from doing so.
“Best you don’t fall brat, I doubt you know how to swim.”
Another word he didn’t know, yet he was certain the guard was right, he didn’t want to fall, even as the ground of wooden planks shifted beneath him, he was sure it was shifting, he hand’t tasted the drug in his water that morning. Now as struggled ot keep the pace he knew why. There was more noise now, more then the water and the gulls, more pople noise, and the creak of wood, but it wasn’t the stuff beneath them, it was from beside them. He wanted to touch it to feel it what this hulk of wood they called a ship was.
He halted as the line halted, feeling the chains around him stop long before he would have run into the fellow unfortuante that was infront of him.
“You sorry lot have all got the pleasure of rideing a one way cruise on my beatiful ship the Magnolia(pulled it out of my hat) and I swear if you so much as scratch the walls of the hull your be staying in for your ride you’ll suffer more then you dreamed ya could.”
Cornell doubted this, he doubted this greatly, but he said nothing, he wondered though if a ship carring the damned could actully be beutifull.
“Now get yur sorry arses on board.”
And the line moved again, he winced, as much a reaction as to pain, as he stubbed his toe on the plank that went upwards. It felt like it was twisting beneath him as the ship swayed in the wind and water. The sails were snapping, a sound he found oddly comforting for it’s familiry.
His stomach tensed, and he remembered when he’d once eaten that’d been poisned by the desert crustence(think hermit crab but without the sea, and a predator) and fought back the bile that fought his way up.
“You red coats, get these sorry bit of humanity off my deck and out of my workin sailors way.”
The monster, the thing that we all have withing us, the thing we fear, that torments us in the dark of our mind, that pushes to be what we don’t want to be. What is it really?
It is not a thing of claws and horrible sclaes, with a forked tounge and a fanged maw. Of this I am certain, for a such at thing would be obvious.
It is I assure you just as terrible, are far more cunning.
For it is you. Just not the you you want to be.
It is the you that falls a little every time you fail. It is the you that still has that bitterness so strong even when the reason is long forgotten.
It is the you(or me perhaps would be more accurate) that wishes to tear a heart open so they know what it feels like, that wants to say those cruel cruel words. That sees the flaws so clearly, like a snake see’s an exposed ankle, it wants to strike.
But this is not me, not wholly me, since since I do not let the mosnter control me, but it’s become more insidious, it’s whsipered to my pride, and it’s grown. OR it did, I smashed it to size the other day. (And that hurt) It did far more then encourage nasty painfull words, or a refuse to speak when a few words could mean so much. (sometimes silence is the crueler then any word)
Now it’s crept into my character and tried to blind me of my faults, to stop me from countering them, it wishes to trip me up like a rope,(or a cat) and I’ve a need to be ever more watchfull for I hate to make mistakes twice. I do, and now I’m left hopeing I can repair a bridge that I almost lit fire to, and hopeing I don’t make the same mistaketwice.
Breaking free of fualts is so very hard. I’m not a person that takes initative well, I am a passive person, I like to be told what to do, and then jsut do it. I do not communicate well with others and I assume(which is I assure a terrible thing to do) that they will just hope on and say what htey will do. This is a falw, I can hardly begrudge them for not doing as I asked when I never did ask.
So once again I’ve learned a lesson a little later then I’d like but now I know, and I have learned well for it smarts a little still and a little pain with the experince makes it that much more rememborable. So now I’m left knowing I need to push myslef to ask instead of expect, to just do it instead of wonder if it’s being done and to simply do, instead of wait. Waiting isf or lines, busses and docotr’soffices. Not for work, no now I think later,when I’ve more time I will be done with this matter of the mind and will contiune the work with my novel. Galis a spy to spy on Galroy a spectecule to make of himself, and Zephane a nomad to talk to. And of course there may be soem time with Allana in there. Yeah, I’ve gota scene with her, I may write it when I get back from the bus.
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