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Old Blood

There was a stirring that drew Angkir's eyes toward the door of the chamber. It was not a noise so much as a slight movement of air. Wincing past the wan afterglow of a spectacular sunset one of the young ones ghosted by, pale face averted. The older bloodlings still slept.

Angkir returned his attention to the fire. His hands caressed the greataxe in his lap with a soft oiled cloth. His mind, not yet called to serve this night, drifted back through the fire; fire, bane-fire, soul-fire, Soul-forge.

His thoughts were heavy, worn and smooth with age like the weathered granite shoulder of the mountain he was born under. Five thousand years. None of those fools lived to remember Soul-forge singing, ringing as white-hot moon-metal was heated in balefully glowing Earth's Blood. No one could recall the glory of forging living weapons like his Iron-cleave. Even so, the living remembered Angkir, the last Truesmith, Lord Granite, Cast-out. The last Lords of the Earth had died at his hand two ages ago, entombed in sanctums forever forbidden to him, and still the living denied his might and glory. Whimpering fools. Shadows thickened about him like old hate, old black blood, thick enough to gag, to choke.

An owl hooted somewhere beyond the open balcony doors and his master in the silence of his sarcophagus awoke. A shiver of hate/fear/need goose-pimpled Angkir's massive arms.

The Cast-out put away his cloth and sheathed Iron-cleave. His mind quickened as he rose to his master's bidding. He slid the massive marble lid to the back and the beautiful dead elf opened his curiously mild green eyes and took a slow deep breath.

“Is it a good evening, Earthlord?” The voice was cultured and smooth. The elvish accent in the ancient dwarven language more than a little disturbing. The old title, lost forever, a perverse personal joke between master and servant. Angkir shivered again. It was always thus when his master awoke.

In contrast, the ancient dwarf's voice grated, worn to gravel by millenia of battle-cries, rage and weeping. “The red-head is about, looking hungry. The others still roost. A man crossed through two leagues southwest. He appeared to be alone. The village headman asks relief of his tithe, claiming troll predation among his cattle. There is enough spore to support this. There is still no word on your son, my lord.”

The elf extended a slim, pale hand and the squat dwarf helped the elegant creature to his feet; great scarred hands on soft, rich fabrics. “Weapon Master, my brood grows too large. I am angry. I want my son found. You know this. Since you can not help find him, you will instead motivate these worthless bloodlings. When they are all awake, dismember... hmm...”

“The so-called 'Lord' Brian?” Angkir offered, a faint glint in his dark eyes.

“Yes, perfect.” The vampire lord did not look at his Companion, crossing to stand staring into the fire in unknowing echo of the dwarf.

“Dismember Lord Brian in sight of all of them. Make it bloody and spectacular as you do so well. Something even these brainless creatures can remember. Then kill him. Use blessed water. Make them all remember to fear the death they have cheated.

Angkir bowed low and turned to leave, the glint in his eyes growing into a red kind of joy; five thousand years of searing blood-lust and rage.

“Angkir.” The quiet word stopped the dwarf.

“Yes, lord?”

“Trolls, Angkir?”

The white bearded warrior nodded toward his master's back; “Aye, lord.”

The elf nodded at the confirmation, his mind stirring; fitting fact and speculation, rumor and pattern together with his nimble mage's intellect. With a languid wave he dismissed the Cast-out to finish his evening chores.

In the silence of the fire-lit room, nearly lost in the crackle of flames, the Bloodcat murmured in an ancient elvish dialect; “Trolls... what are you trying now old friend, old enemy?"

"Is my son with you?”

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