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In The Mage-King's Service

Old Vault Category: 
Old Vault ID: 

Amidst the screams of pain, amidst the wailing of victims whose minds and flesh were being torn to shreds, a man stood. Pale green eyes, unkempt gray hair, an aging, weathered face and a crumbling body, he stood emotionless, simply watching the scene, looking for some imperceptible sign only he could recognize that would single out one or more of the writhing bodies. Single it out for something less conventional than pain.

To his side slouched two gnome-like creatures, their eyes gazing soullessly upon the bloodstained floor, their only clothing the rusty manacles clamped about their necks, fixed to lengths of chain which ended in the grasp of the man.

Two screaming bodies beckoned to the man in the manner he had been hoping for. Small bodies, bodies one would assume were those of human children, held to pure silver slabs with thick leather straps, their backs arched in the grip of whatever torment was being thrust upon them. Somehow, despite the physical damage done to them, the bodies were alive, and the holes where mouths once smiled spewed forth unearthly screams.

The man walked over to the bodies and hovered his left hand over their heads, one at a time. As he did so the bodies dropped to the slabs they were on, consciousness finally being given permission to flee.

A glance from the man to his small gnome-thing servants lurched them into action, and they mechanically undid the straps binding the two bodies. Each grabbed a slick, skinless arm of a body and pulled it off the block, a wet, smacking thud the result as it hit the stone floor. The creatures pulled the second body down similarly, then each one chose a body and slowly dragged it out of the horror chamber, leaving a crimson trail behind them.

The man retreated to another room within the complex, a room full of books. He sat down in an old stuffed chair and pulled himself to an ashwood desk, upon which a large tome lay open. He ran his finger along the exposed page, then slowly leafed through several more pages, all the while muttering strange words under his breath. At last, after many minutes of perusal, the man smiled wanly and creaked from his seat, rubbing his hands on his silvery robe as he left the study.

The bodies were wrapped head to foot in white linen, linen soaked through in many places with youthful blood. There were no breaks in the wraps for mouth or nose, and the bodies were motionless, unbreathing, yet still alive - possibly even conscious. The man stood between the bodies, which had been placed on rough-hewn slabs of silveroak, looking intensely at the faces of each - or where the faces were at one time. After a few moments, he touched his hands to the faces, which elicited a tremble from each body, and pressed down.

The man's eyes rolled back in his head, and he raised his face skyward as crackling blue light coursed over his hands and the heads upon which they rested. Mouth open in ecstacy, the man's body trembled violently, yet he kept his hands firmly upon the heads of his subjects. For several minutes the bodies also jerked about, arms and legs slamming down upon the oak slabs until finally the magical blue flickerings faded and the man slumped to the floor between the bodies, sweat matting his now black hair to his forehead.

As he raised his head, vibrant green eyes staring out intensely from a young, smooth face, he met the gaze of the two gnome-things which served him. No words passed between the man and his automatons, but they wordlessly moved to drag the lifeless, linen-clad bodies off the oaken slabs and out of the room.

The man stood, strong, tall and youthful, and breathed deeply the blood- and sweat-soaked air of the room. With a sigh, he turned and departed.

Wordlessly, the gnome-things dragged the corpses down several flights of stairs and into a large room containing a massive coal-burning furnace. They unwrapped the bodies and added the blood-soaked linen to an already large pile of similarly-stained cloth. They took the bodies and pulled them to the mouth of the furnace, where a large door level with the floor lay open, heat having melted the hinges in place. As one, the creatures grabbed the first body by the legs and pushed it headfirst into the furnace. Instantly the body burst into flame from the incinerator's heat, and before the gnome-things began to push the second corpse in the first was already cremated.

The man walked slowly down the spiral staircase to the front entrance of the complex, to answer the ring which had faded into echoes minutes earlier. Swinging the door open, he saw a pale, terrified farmer standing there, his young son beside him holding a small rucksack. The farmer spoke.

"Great Mage-King Eldarr, my boy Nestor has a touch of the sorcerous in his head, and seeks to�" Here the poor man gulped, trembling, before continuing. "�and seeks to serve you."

As he issued those last few words the farmer's voice fell to a whisper, and his gaze fell to the ground, a tear creeping out from his clenched eyes and running down the edge of his nose to find its way to his lip. The boy, Nestor, moved backward slightly, made nervous by his father's behaviour.

Eldarr the Mage-King smiled down at Nestor and pried the boy's hand from his father's desperate grip. "Come, Nestor, let's see how the sorcerous gift fares within you."

He tossed a clinking moneypouch to the farmer, who did not move to catch it. "Farmer, your son comes to serve a noble purpose. Take this pouch and revel in the honour young Nestor shall bring to your house."

As the mage-king drew the boy inside and closed the door the farmer fell to his knees, his body racked with huge, uncontrollable sobs. After several eternal minutes he grabbed the moneypouch and ran from the Spire, clutching it to his chest and screaming all the way.


In The Mage-King's Service © Rhino

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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