Tuesday, July 21, 2015

And the River, It Goes On--Part 22

Doctor Praetorius sat on the stair, and listened to the sounds emerging from Amfortas' chambers... a succession of thuds, bangs and crashes coming in a strange irregular rhythm. The Prince had retired to his room after the Stylites had revealed Mansemat Cthonique's election to Lord Protector, and shortly thereafter the noises had begun.  To Aemlius' mind, the most unnerving aspect of it was that Amfortas did not yell, or scream, or make any indication that he was in the grips of an unreasonable passion. 

No, he remained utterly silent as he almost assuredly destroyed the room he was in.  Indeed, Praetorius couldn't help but suspect that this was less the act of a man who was tremendously distraught, and more the act of a man who was somewhat annoyed, and trying to see if this might cheer him up.

Of course, all of that involved making guesses at the Prince's mental state that the doctor wasn't utterly confident about.  After all--it was Amfortas.  It almost made him feel sorry for this fortress' servants, and they were a bunch of irritating people who spoke much too loudly, and didn't know how to make decent omlettes, which made the doctor's behavior close to miraculous by his own standards.

"Doctor," came a slow, strange voice at his shoulder.  Aemilius gradually turned his head, to see Gilly standing on the stair above him. 

Praetorius forced a smile on his face as he regarded the scarred, bandaged face.  "Why, hello, dear," he said with as much cheer as he could muster.  "My goodness, how did you get there so... quietly..."

"I'm good at quiet," said Gilly, leaning forward so far that her head rested upon her knees.  "Do you have anything to burn?"

"Nothing I can think of," began the doctor.  "At the moment," he finished, as Gilly's eyes narrowed.   "I'm certain I can think of something, if you give me time."

Gilly gave a nod.  Another loud bang came from the Prince's room.  She turned her head slowly and frowned.  "I was hoping he would ask me to burn something.  It's good to make things to light when the darkness is winning."

"Indeed," agreed Praetorius, wondering what a more... traditional priest would think of the girl's understanding of her religion's theology. 

"But he's been very unwell, these days," said the girl unhappily.  "I'm worried about him."  She stared the doctor in the eye.  "He said I was going to burn everything for him.  And now I think I might not get to."

Praetorius massaged his temples.  "Indeed.  How... tragic."

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