Thursday, November 4, 2010

Where All Shadows Gather--Part 71

Marcolf de Montefalcone was awoken from his slumber by the sound of a door opening. The first thing he noticed was the throbbing ache in his joints from the way they were bound. The second was the sound of footsteps, coming closer to him. The Magnate snarled to himself. So this was how it ended. Well, he would show them how a Magnate died. With honor, and his head held high. The way his mother died. Marcolf raised himself to face whatever hired knives the Pretenders had brought in to kill him.

He found himself staring at a pair of women--one tall, rather voluptuous, with an enigmatic smile, the other short and delicate, staring ahead vaguely. He blinked in surprise. “You--you’re not what I expected.”

The taller woman laughed. “Well, I’m afraid you are exactly what we expected. That fool who was arrested trying to blow up Castle Terribel.” She sighed and shook her head. “That was a silly thing to do. I hope you realize that.”

Marcolf frowned at her. “I know you. You’re those--hostesses, aren’t you?” He gave her a grim smile. “Whores like you can’t hope to understand the glory of my cause. What seems silly to you…”

“You are--three Links from the Pendant, are you not?” asked the tall woman suddenly. Marcolf stared at her in shock. She turned towards her companion. “Now, dear--good you remind me what Link you rate at? I find I forget…”

The girl nodded. “I am one Link from the Pendant, madam.”

“Tha--that’s impossible!” spat out Marcolf. “I--I--the General would have given me a hint…”

“Ahh, but the Necklace has many Chains, and those Chains have many Links,” said the tall woman. As she looked Marcolf in the eye, he saw that her eyes were different colors. “Do not assume, Friend Marcolf, that you understand the Necklace’s workings. Few do.”

Marcolf gave a nervous nod. “I see. So--you have come--to aid me? Or to… take care of things?”

“More the latter,” said the tall woman. “Though for my young friend here, there is a personal element in this.” She gestured towards the younger woman. “If you’ll look at her closely, I think you’ll remember her. It is something that she can no longer do.”

Despite himself, Marcolf looked at the other woman. And as he did so, he remembered her. “N--no,” he said with a whimper. “It--it can’t be you--the Necklace--you--why would you…?”

“Haven’t I just told you not to assume you understand the Necklace?” said the tall woman. “Yes, my dear Magnate de Montefalcone, this is the girl you blinded. How the wheels turn, eh?”

“I--it--I--it wasn’t me!” whined Marcolf. “Mother--mother did it! I--I only…”

“Erminia de Montfalcone put the lye into my eyes,” said the blind girl--was her name--Termina--perhaps? “But Marcolf de Montefalcone told the lie behind the lye.” She smiled quietly, seeming to stare Marcolf in the face. “I did not steal your mother’s earrings. But you said you saw me take it, and so Erminia gave me one of her famous… punishments.”

“I… It wasn’t me! I--I had to tell her something! I--they fell into the fountain!” muttered Marcolf.

“Oh, hush, Friend Marcolf,” said the tall woman, looking Marcolf straight in the eye. “No one wants to hear your excuses. This--is the time of reckoning.” She smiled gently at him. “Now--look into my eyes. Aren’t they beautiful, in a strange way?” They were beautiful, in a way, one a murky green, the other a dull blue, but oddly--deep… “A person can--become lost in them, or so I’m told.” Her smile took on a cruel edge. “Become lost in them, Marcolf.” It occurred to Marcolf that he suddenly felt cold. The tall woman looked at her companion. “He’s ready for you, Tisiphone. Can you feel his fear?”

“Indeed, madam,” said Tisiphone. “And it is delicious.” And then she began to sing. “Come, heavy Sleep--the image of True Death… and close up these weary, weeping eyes…”

4 comments:

  1. ...wait, I just checked. Armida has one eye green, one eye blue. Now I'm really confused.

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  2. Fixed. You may go back to feeling shocked at my plot twist.

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  3. Ah, good. So it's not quite as twisted as I thought. :)

    ReplyDelete