Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Siege of the White Mountain, Vol. 3: Due to the Dead--Part 1

Justinian Sigma stood on the white walls of Montalban, watching the snow fall, and shivered. He was cold, cold in a way that a man born on the Breakers was supposed not to be cold. I've been south too long, he thought. I'd forgotten the cold. Holding his hands to his mouth, he took a couple of deep breaths.

"That's how you lose fingers," said Quiet, as she walked towards him.

"What would you know about cold?" said Justinian, glancing at her. "You're from a desert."

"Ever been to the Heath?" asked the Ghoul. "It's stinking hot in the day, freezing cold at night. We spend most of our time figuring out how to deal with the weather."

Justinian stared at her. "Why do you people even live there?"

Quiet shrugged. "Why do your people live in those shit islands? They're home." She scratched slightly. "And, there are religious reasons. Our Prophets tell us we are to wait there, until we have done the task appointed to us by Mother Night and the Holy Light." She glanced at him. "Anyway--you don't want to do that. It may warm you briefly, but your breathe will freeze on your fingers." She shook her head, ruefully. "And then, you will be screwed."

"Where's Sacripant?" asked Justinian.

"Inside, bitching about the cold," said Quiet. "Marsh Erl, remember? The Accursed Marsh may be wet, but it's warm. Especially around the coast." She glanced at the camp of their enemies lying before them, and sighed. "Is it a bad sign that I find looking at the people besieging depressing? And not in 'oh, no, we're gonna die' way, but in a 'damn, those poor idiots are doomed' way."

Justinian leaned forward and stared at the fires burning down below. It seemed to him there were fewer every night, though whether it was from the men who had needed them needing them no longer, or simply not having the wood to burn them, he could not say. "How you think it is for me? Remember, I knew some of those men as friends, once upon a time."

Quiet gave him a pat on the back. "They made their choice. Remember, you have more loyal brothers fighting beside us. Hells, they've helped toss out the Eremites across the Free Cities."

Justinian nodded. "I do remember that. And I remember that I serve with new brothers, who are dear to me, and whose cause I hold my own." He glanced at her. "Well, brothers, and one sister."

Quiet chuckled. "I'm not the only woman in the Cthonique Guard, Sigma. There are a few more."

"Really?" asked Justinian, puzzled. "Who?"

"You'll have to figure it out yourself," said the Ghoul.

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