“Hurry, my faithful!” shouted Vathek as he ran. “This is but a temporary delay! Our inevitable trium…” He stopped, as he saw the people blocking his way. Quiet, Sacripant, Justinian and Palamedes stood there.
“Vathek yn Baurbur,” said Quiet with a shake of the head. “This is how you deal with failure?” She took off her veil and snorted. “I shouldn’t be surprised. This is the man who snuck back into Irem when his revolt ended in crashing failure after all.” She laughed. “Oh, my. I said ‘man’. My mistake. I meant ‘cur’.
Vathek stared at Quiet. “I consider my mission greater than my honor. If I must sacrifice the second to succeed in the first--then so be it.”
Quiet nodded, then spat. “You have no honor to sacrifice, Vathek. Your honor is a streak of piss.” She removed her headdress. “Well? Have you anything to say to that? To all the insults I have heaped upon your pathetic carcass?”
Vathek stared at her for a moment. Then his hand went to his turban. “Nouronihar ys Harut, I challenge thee to a duel.” As he removed the turban, Sacripant was somewhat startled to see that like Quiet, his hair--a bright red, instead of a dark sea-green--was gathered into a lengthy braid. He glanced at his followers. “Form the Ring!”
The Ghouls were already doing that, spreading out into a sizable circle. Quiet gestured for her friends to join them. Once Sacripant and the others had gotten in place, she tossed her swords into the center of the circle. Quiet and Vathek then paced towards each other, until they stood side by side. A female Ghoul began to wordlessly sing. As if a signal had been given, Quiet and Vathek began to run towards the swords. The pair kicked and made grabs for the other’s braid as they ran--finally, Quiet managed to grab Vathek’s and tossed him back several feet. He managed to land on his feet and began running even faster, but it was too late--Quiet had reached the swords, and was picking them up.
Sacripant looked over the circle, and saw a Ghoul drawing a knife, preparing to throw it at Quiet. He darted over to him, and struck him with the blunt end of his spear, then gave the Ghoul a warning wag of his finger. Quiet meanwhile was descending on Vathek, twirling her blades menacingly. Vathek tried to back away, but Quiet was too fast for him. Quiet slashed his left arm as he raised it to ward off the blow, then felled him with a kick to the knees. Vathek gave a scream as he hit the ground, and then Quiet had stepped on his back. She sheathed a sword, and grabbed his braid. “This is for my father,” she said softly, as she sliced the braid off. “And this is for me.” And with that, she twirled the blade, and slit his throat.
Stepping off the corpse, she regarded the crowd, as she cleaned her sword. “By the laws of our people, the traitor and False Prophet has been punished! Got now to the Monker, and beg her mercy!” The Ghouls filed off, as Quiet went to where she’d dropped her veil and headdress.
Sacripant and the others watched as she put them back on. “So…” said Justinian quietly. “He killed your father…?”
“Among other people,” replied Quiet as she managed to get her braid back under her headdress. “He was a very unpleasant person.”
Palamedes raised his hands. “Hey, no argument here.” He nodded. “I don’t consider myself a--urrr, bloodthirsty, but I heartily approve your bloody revenge.” Quiet stared at him, and arched one eyebrow. “Trust me,” declared Palamedes. “I’m being completely sincere.”
Quiet put her veil back on,. “Look--there are still things I need to do here, and I have a feeling you’d rather not see them, so…” Justinian and Palamedes turned away and walked off. Sacripant stayed. “You sure?”
Sacripant nodded. “I figure that staying around for things like this is part of the whole relationship.”
Quiet nodded, and then went to Vathek’s body. Drawing her sword, she slashed at his ankles. Sacripant coughed. “Ummm, why…?”
“I’m crippling him, so that he has to crawl to the Place of Ultimate Judgment,” declared Quiet seriously.
“Damn,” said Sacripant. “You guys don’t stint on revenge.”
“Our philosophy on it is that like anything else, if you’re going to do it, you shouldn’t do it halfway,” replied Quiet, as she grabbed Vathek’s arm. “Look, if you want to be of some assistance, you could come and help me drag his body someplace awful where scavengers can eat it.”
“Sounds reasonable,” said Sacripant, walking up and taking Vathek’s other arm. They dragged the corpse off for awhile, when Quiet began to weep. “Is this… about your father?”
“In part,” said Quiet. “And part of it is for a little boy who used to catch fireflies with me, and who gave me my first kiss.” She stared at the corpse. “How’d it all go so wrong?”
“My uncle drowned when I was five,” said Sacripant. “He was a great fisherman. One of the greatest our village ever seen. He died on a clear day, and a calm ocean. His boat tipped over, and he hit his head on an oar.” He shook his head. “When I was young I used to think there had to be a message in that--so great a man, killed in so--stupid a fashion. Then I realized--it was just--something that happened.” He sighed. “I don’t know. It’s just--life.”
Quiet nodded, and they went on their way with the body.