Thursday, March 31, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 32

Sindri dodged the strange tangle of thorns that the woman had apparently grown out of her hand, and was using as a weapon.  Despite the efforts of Hymir, their foe had proven both quick and resourceful, dodging and warding off their attacks with an eerie speed and skill.  

"Surrender!" he shouted.  "You can't keep this up forever!"

"Don't have to," said the woman.  "Just have to hold you off in time for the reinforcements to come." 

Sindri heard a howl come from his side, and glanced there to see Hymir tottering, as another woman attacked him with what appeared to be some sort of shimmering threads dangling from her fingers.  The Jotun was gritting his teeth, his pain obvious.  The Mountain Erl barely ducked the lash of his opponent's thorns, and then felt something strike him in the back.  He felt a numbness steal over him.

The first woman smiled and waved her hand the brambles dissolving into dust.  "I was wondering when you guys were going to come..."

"Yeah, well, we were sort of in a hurry to get away ourselves, Semele," noted Hymir's opponent, keeping her eyes on the Jotun's thrashing form.  "Madame Armida's getting spooky."

"Oh, NOW you notice?" muttered Semele.  "It's been like this the moment that lunatic came over.  Suddenly all those great plans receded before getting the family castle back..."

"Hey!" said another woman, stepping over Sindri's head.  He tried to raise an arm or something to trip her, but he realized that his limbs wouldn't move the way he wanted them to.  "Don't insult our great and bold leader!  Who is taking over this entire castle through spooky magic." 

The second woman gave a nod.  "Have to admit Noe, you've got a point."

"Thanks, Sis," said Noe.  "Now stop torturing that old Jotun and just kill him.  No need to be mean about things."

The sister rolled her eyes.  "Fine," she stated, the threads flashing with sudden intense light.  Hymir gave a cry and then was quiet. 

"I forget sometimes how deadly you two can be," said Semele.

"Oh, yes," agreed Noe with a nod.  "We are killing machines."  Sindri's vision gradually went black as the little feeling he had left faded away...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 31

The shrieking image of a woman floated in the hallway, her screams echoing in Mansemat's ears. 

"Oh, now you go off!" shouted Morgaine, waving her fist.  She glanced at her brother.  "I tell you, these spirits!  You give them clear instructions, label it and everything, and they fail you!  They just fail you!"  She bit her lip and shook he head.  "I am surrounded by failure.  Surrounded by it!  Failure has beset me on all sides, tugging at my sleeves, and whispering... oh, whatever it is that failure whispers.  That I suck, or something like that.  I don't know.  Lost the thread there."

Mansemat gave an absent nod, eyes darting around the hall.  "What does Nerghal say?"

Morgaine frowned.  "Oh, just some gibberish.  He's... checking on something.  Or so he claims."  She shrugged.  "I'll be damned if I know what that all means.  Of course, I'm probably damned anyway, but... you know.  Doubly damned.  Or something."

"Indeed," said Mansemat, staring pensively.

His sister frowned.  "You're just tuning me out, aren't you?  I could start talking about purple ponies, and you'd just nod grimly, agree that it was very serious, and just go on."

"Most likely," agreed Mansemat, touching his ear to the wall.

Morgaine raised an eyebrow.  "Okay--was that a joke, or are you just not paying attention to me?  Because I'm not sure, and that makes me..." Mansemat raised his hand, and waved it once.  Morgaine stared at it.  "Is that 'come closer', or 'be quiet'?  I can never keep those things straight..."

"If it helps you, consider it both," replied Mansemat.

"Well, aren't you being Mister Cleverboots?" snapped Morgaine ambling to his side.  "Ha-ha-ha!"

Mansemat rolled his eyes at this.  "You know, Morgaine if you must choose one or the other, I would rather you be quiet.  It sounds like there's a fight going on, nearby, and I am trying to figure out just what is..."

A small form flew through a wooden door a short ways ahead.  The Cthonique siblings glanced briefly at each other, then rushed ahead to the prone body lying there.  Mansemat knelt by the weakly-breathing form.  "Eurydice," he said softly, and then began to chant softly under his breath.

"L--Lord Mansemat," muttered the young chambermaid, quietly.  "I... I have been doing my duty, faithful and..."

"Don't tell me what I can see," said Mansemat.  "Just... let me do what I can to help you..."

"And now I find the master serving the servants," came a somewhat familiar voice.  The slight form of Tisiphone made its way into the hall.  "Quite amusing."

"You're that blind girl," said Morgaine raising her fists, as she strode forward. "Which would normally make me feel guilty about your impending beat down, but as you did this to le Fidele here, well, I'm going to assume some magic shit is going on, and leave the guilt for some more appropriate occasion..."

Mansemat shut his eyes, and continued the chant, feeling Eurydice's wounds knit and heal.  There was the sound of a brief and violent struggle, and then something rolled forward and struck his side.  He glanced over to see Morgaine's head lying there.

"Yeah, on further examination, I'm leaving this one to you," she said. 

Mansemat stood up, his hand on Murgleys' hilt.  Tisiphone and he paced around each other, each preparing for their first strike.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 30

"Damn it!" muttered Jean, staring at the wall.  "Another wrong turn. I wish we hadn't lost track of Elaine a while back.  She's the one who's memorized this place."  She glanced around the twisting halls.  "You know, you kind of forget how big and... puzzling this place can be most of the time." 

Her sister glanced around worriedly. "Because it usually isn't so bad," said Viviane.  "Something is happening here."  She bit her lip, and raised her pestle.  "A lot of spells, and protections are... shifting."

Jean blinked.  "That... sounds ominous."

"Because it is," replied Viviane.  "There's something... changing things around here around us.  Which includes a conscious effort to keep us from getting at it.  Using the Castle to do it."

Jean glanced around at the walls, which somehow, some way, had become rather menacing.  "Right."   She raised a hand.  "So, what do we do now?  Blow something up?  Please say 'blow something up'."

Viviane shook her head.  "No, that won't help us.  Things like this... our very power makes us easier to find and sideline.  An overwhelming display of it just... continues that."

Jean gulped.  "But you always want to solve things by blowing them up.  It's one of the traits I've come to depend on... and even love since we reunited."

"Honestly, given all the protection spells on this place, I'm not certain I could blow something up right now," replied Viviane.

"You are scaring me," said Jean.  "You are terrifying your little sister, and not in the way you usually do."

"Well, you should be scared!" snapped Viviane.  "Castle Terribel has been invaded by some monstrous force that is rewriting the rules of this place as we speak."  The sound of footsteps reached their ears.  The sisters wheeled around until they were facing the source.  "Right!  Stand and declare yourself!  Or we will do something!"

Jean nodded fervently at this.  "Yes! Something... violent!  And possibly explosive!"

"Salutations!" said Nisrioch, stepping into view, Elaine and Antea behind him.

"Hey, Mom," said Elaine.  "Nissy's back!"

Antea nodded.  "Yes.  He flew here on a giant bird."

"Actually, it was a demon who chooses to present itself as a giant bird," explained Nisrioch.  The sisters du Lac stared at him.  "But that's beside the point.  How are you two?"

"Surprisingly glad to see you," answered Jean.   Viviane nodded in agreement.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 29

Falerina sat in the back of the potato cart and nodded to herself.  "Well, this certainly went exactly as planned," she said cheerfully.  "Yep, awful old Mansemat is going to suffer, suffer, suffer.  And all at very little cost to myself."

A cold wind blew through the cart.  The Dev shuddered.  "Right.  I should have gotten something warmer to wear."  She frowned.  "Stupid ladies of evening, with their stupid lack of substantial clothing."  She bit her lip and then smiled.  "Well, shouldn't let that get me down.  Things are looking up!  Soon my enemies will fear my might, and learn what it is to cross me." 

Her stomach growled.  Falerina looked at her belly, angrily.  "Shut up!  I will feed you when I can.  Is this clear?"

Her stomach's response to this admonishment was to growl again.  Falerina leaned back in the cart and scowled.  "Hmmph.  Stupid body.  Doing things I don't want it to."  She winced and wiggled her shoulders.  "Owww.  Wing cramp." Her stomach growled yet again.  Falerina regarded the potatoes around her, warily, and then picked one up and took a bite. 

"Ewwww!" she squealed, spitting it out.  "This is most disgustingest thing ever!  More disgusting then boiled eyeballs!  Ewwww!  Ewwww!  It's so awful!"

She glared at the potato in her hand, and then took another bite out of it.  "Well," she muttered, munching on the potato with a disgruntled expression, "I must carefully consider my next move.  Carefully, cautiously, like a... careful, cautious thing waiting to strike!"  She nodded, and took another bite of potato.  "Yes, whoever survives my latest devastating attack will have no chance against my next one."  Her stomach growled again.  She glanced down.  "Quiet!  I'm doing what you want!  Why are you so awful to me?"  She looked at the cart's wall.  "Everyone is so mean to me.  It's unfair!"

Her stomach gave another growl.

Falerina snarled.  "Oh, you are just a jerk!"  She sighed, and crossed her arms.  "Right.  As soon as I reach wherever it is this cart is going, you and I are going our seperate ways.  See how you like that."  She chuckled to herself.  "You'll be like 'oh, please Falerina, let me be your tummy again!'  And I'll be all 'nope!  You were a bad one!  Worst stomach ever!'  That'll show you!"  She took another bite of raw potato and nodded in satisfaction.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 28

"Semele has met a pair of guards," said Armida, eyes still fixed on the blood travelling slowly up the needle.

Arsinoe stared at her, eyes wide. "Really?  How do you..."  She blinked and nodded.  "Oh, right, the magic... thing."

Armida smiled. "It's working.  I can already feel my senses... extending throughout the stones of this place..."  She took a deep breath.  "It is good to be home."

"That's... great, Dark Lord, really, really... great," muttered Leucippe, doing her best to avoid looking at her employer.  "So... I guess you want us to... help Semele, maybe?"

Armida nodded.  "That would be good, yes.  Tisiphone is facing the le Fidele heir, but... doing well.  Semele could use some aid."

Leucippe laughed eagerly.  "And we're just itching to help her.  Aren't we Noe?"

Arsinoe turned towards Echidnae.  "But what about our prisoner?  I mean shouldn't we have someone here to watch her, just in..."

"That is not necessary," stated Armida.  "I can take care of her."

Echidnae gulped, and then managed a nervous laugh.  "Are you sure?  I... I really wouldn't like to be a burd..."

"You are not," said Armida.  "You are safely tied, and I can most assuredly take care of you if it were to become necessary.  Which it most assuredly will not."

Arsinoe nodded as she backed towards the door.  "Well... that's... that's great.  We'll get right on it."  She looked at Echidnae.  "Take care."

"You too," said Echidnae, watching the sisters slide out the entrance.  After a while, she looked back at Armida, staring enraptured at the strange device in the center of the room.  "Why are you doing this, Miss?"

"It's my destiny," answered Armida mechanically.

Echidnae thought it over and shook her head. "That's... that's not a real answer," she said.  "Not by my standards, anyway."

A slight scowl came over Armida's face.  "Then be glad your standards are meaningless to me.  And be quiet."

"Okay," muttered Echidnae, glancing away.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 27

Sindri readied his spear as he and Hymir rounded the corner.  "So, this is it, eh?  Battle!  The clang of steel against steel!  The sweet dance of life and death!"

The Jotun glanced at the younger man.  "You've never battled in your life, have you?"

The Mountain Erl frowned. "My brother and I had some nasty fights."

Hymir stared at him impassively. "Did your brother come at you with a blade?"

"He had a stick once," said Sindri.  "It was... pointy.  Ish."

Hymir gave a low sigh. "Just stay calm, and be ready."

"Excellent advice!" declared Sindri excitedly.  "It really is an honor to be standing beside a tough old veteran such as yourself in..."

A strange green missile whirled through the air, striking just over Sindri's shoulder.   It swiftly dissolved into a strange mist.  "Damn,"came a female voice, "I thought I had that aimed better."  A thin pale female Erl stepped out of the shadows.

Hymir leveled his spear at her.  "You are very bad at following advice," he noted to Sindri.

Sindri blinked.  "Hey--that's one of the invaders?"

The woman glanced at Hymir sympathetically.  "Wow.  Not the brightest of your little club, is he?"

"Leave the insults to the legates," said the Jotun, keeping his spear pointed at her. 

Sindri raised his own spear. "And you mocked my 'invasion of maids' theory!"

The woman watched the Jotun's slight wince.  "You know, I'm not trying to kill either of you," she noted.  "Even that would have just left your friend unconscious."

Hymir pressed forward.  "That is nice.  But I do not care.  If you wish to save us trouble, surrender.  Otherwise, anything you say is simply words."

The woman flexed her hands, a greenish mist gathering around it.  "Oh, many of the things I can say are a lot more than that..." she noted.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 26

Eurydice glanced around the room, and clicked her tongue.  "Typical.  Just typical."  She walked to the can of Ancient Mummy dust lying on the ground and shook her head.  "And she just left this lying here.  Oh, Echidnae.  I keep giving you chances, only for you to throw them away, while betraying all my hopes and expectations."  She frowned.  "Just like my former fiance.  And a surprising number of acquaintances and subordinates." 

Eurydice considered things a moment, and decided that almost all of her immediate circle, save, perhaps her father, lacked her innate righteousness, as she picked up the canister, and then began idly shake it around the corners.  She really was getting a tad worried about herself at times, as she felt as if she were becoming a grumpy old maid, despite her youth.  "And talking to myself," she noted.  "That is getting a tad alarming."

"I find one is often the best conversation one can have," came a high female voice.  Eurydice turned to seek the speaker, worrying slightly that perhaps it was herself.  To her initial comfort the speaker was a small woman holding a lute. 

"I... I know you," said Eurydice quietly.  "You're... the lautist from Madame Armida's... house.  The blind one..."

"Tisiphone," whispered the lautist, idly strumming her instruments strings. 

Eurydice nodded.  "Right.  What are you doing here?"

Tisiphone smiled.  "Perhaps the Cthoniques called me from the Folly to hear me play?  I am not without skill, after all."

Eurydice nodded, setting the canister neatly down.  "That sounds possible."  She twisted slightly to her side.  "Not likely, but possible."

"Do I detect a note of skepticism in your voice, le Fidele?" asked Tisiphone.

"Yes," said Eurydice, raising her fists.  "My apologies.  I was considering keeping the entire bit where we dance around the fact that this is highly suspicious in the background, but really, I just didn't have the patience for it." 

Tisiphone shrugged, as she set down her lute.  "Oh, no problems at all."

"You seem very composed for a blind woman facing a very good chance of having the stuffing beaten out of her," noted Eurydice.

Tisiphone raised her own fists.  "Come try me then, le Fidele.  Come try me."

Eurydice took a deep breath, then rushed forward.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 25

Falerina emerged out into the narrow back alley, humming to herself gleefully.  "Oh, whither wander you my dear, whither do you wander, and whither shall you wither, in time..."  She glanced back at Armida's, and chuckled, watching the smoke pour out of the windows. 

"Yes!" she declared. "Oh,, I am so clever, and so quick!  Clever and quick as a raindrop!"  She spread her wings and danced back and forth in the alleyway.  "Clever and quick and nimble!  That's me!  Oh, so clever!"  She clapped her hands together and laughed.  "Ha!  Stupid girl!  Bet you wish you'd been on guard for me NOW!  Then you wouldn't be all dead!  But too late now!  You're dead, dead, deadity-dead!"  She threw her head back and cackled, then bent over and rubed her hands together.  She took a deep breath and stood up straight.

"Well, got that out of my system."  The Dev yawned.  "Umm, fun gloaty times!  That was satisfying..."  She turned around quickly and began to run.  "Now--time to move!  They tried to kill me, and I've got move, move..."  She headed towards the street, then paused.  "But where to... Father... Father won't take me."  She grimaced to herself.  "And I wouldn't go back to him, anyway, the nasty old grump!  Alcina..."  She spat.  "I hate my sister.  I hate her.  She ruins everything."  A smile touched her face.  "But if I sneak into Castle Terribel... I steal Ms. Meany's plot away from her, and get revenge on her, AND on Manny and all his awful family."  She clapped her hands together.  "Yes!  Yes!  That is what I'll do!  Oh, I am so wily!  I am filled with wile, to the brim, to the brim!"  She leapt around the corner, and glanced at the castle.

Bleak purple clouds surrounded it, flashing sinister red lightning.  Falerina stared at it a moment, then glanced around.  A sizable crowd was in the street, like her looking at the disturbances.  Falerina considered things, then ducked back around the corner.  She paced back and forth for a moment.

"Right, right, right, right," she muttered under her breath.  "Need a new plan.  A new plan.  New plan."  She bit her lip and sucked at the crook of her thumb.  "Got it!  I move my behind out of here, as fast as I can!"  She nodded fervently.  "Oh, that is brilliant, Falerina!  Indeed, it is, Falerina, and it is brilliant because I am brilliant.  Indeed, you are.  And pretty.  And nice."  Falerina smiled brightly.  "Why thank you.  I tell you, it's so nice to be appreciated."

She took a deep breath.  "So, we ready?"  She nodded. "Yes, yes we are."  Then taking a deep breath, she began to run.

After several minutes, she remembered she could apport.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 24

"Take that!" declared Elaine slashing Caladbolg down quickly.  "Ha!"  She glanced at her mother and aunt.  "See?  No way whoever it is is getting through me."

Viviane and Jean both stared at her unimpressed.  "Well," said Vivi at last, "it's better than gloating about being right about that crazy bad feeling."

"I can do both," muttered Elaine hurriedly.  "Yeah, totally going to kick the asses of the guys you insisted weren't here."

Jean glanced at her elder sister.  "You should not have mentioned that."

Viviane nodded grimly.  "Yeah, that was a mistake."

"Oh come on," noted Elaine.  "I'm not asking for anything awful, just that you acknowledge I was right about this."  Jean and Viviane's response to this was to stare grimly ahead.  "Come on!" she declared, waving her hands in the air.  "You know I'm right on this."

Jean rubbed her temples.  "Please, please stop."

Viviane coughed.  "Look, Elaine, we are sorry we didn't listen to you on this, but again, it sounded slightly crazy, and... well, we didn't want it to be true.  Still, this is probably going to be nothing much to wor--"

A sound not unlike thunder ended Viviane speech even as she gave it, followed by a pop and Malina appearing in her lap.  "Mommy Viv!  Mommy Viv!" she said.  "You have to see this!  The sky's going crazy!  It's awesome!"

Viviane's eyes went wide.  She rose and went to the window.  Looking out, she saw swirling clouds so dark they'd acquired a purple hue covering the sky around Castle Terribel, as red lightning flashed. 

Viviane massaged her temples.  "I've really, really got to remember to keep my damned mouth shut at times like this..."

"See?  See?" said Malina.  "Isn't it the most awesomest thing you've ever seen?  Isn't it?"

"Want me to practice more with Caladbolg?" asked Elaine.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 23

Armida watched her blood running down the lengthy needle with a smile.  "So... that's it?" asked Arsinoe.  "We just... wait for this to take effect?"

"You heard the room explain it to you," noted Leucippe.

"Well, yeah, but... I thought it would look more impressive," noted her younger sister.  She glanced at her employer.  "Plus... you know, I thought we'd be more careful about following the instructions given to us by an apparently sentient room.  Which was recommended to us by a crazy woman.  Who remember, did not go use it herself, back when she had a chance."

"Falerina's mad, but not utterly without sense," noted Armida.  "The room's purpose was to solve family fights quickly.  Supporting the Ashurana wife of a Cthonique because she's angry at her husband might be a bit too far.  And might make the Castle angry."  She smiled.  "Whereas my cause is plain and clear.  The true heir denied for decades, at last come home, to avenge her father's death."

Arsinoe gulped.  "You know, when you say it like that... it sounds kind of creepy."  Armida glanced at her.  "Not that I am in the least way rebelling against your glorious leadership."

Leucippe nodded.  "Right.  Noe is just being... her usual self."

"May I add that of all the people who have ever threatened to kill me, she is the nicest?" added Echidnae from her position of being tied to a sconce in the wall.  "And some of those people are my dearest friends."

Armida rolled her eyes.  "I'm not going to kill Arsinoe at the moment," she said quietly.  "Especially when I need her."

Arisnoe gave a relieved laugh.  "Oh, oh, that is good to hear," she said.  "Not that I ever seriously considered it as a possibility, but now even the unpleasant freak occurence is being vanished from my mind."  She glanced at her sister and her prisoner.  "Isn't that great news?  Yay!"

After a moment, Leucipee and Echidnae joined her in cheering. Armida sighed and went back to watching her blood run down the needle.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 22

"Nothing?" snapped Morgaine.

Nerghal gave an overly formal bow.  "Nothing, milady."

Morgaine narrowed her eyes at the ghost.  "Okay, when you get all formal and sarcastic, it's usually a bad sigh.  What gives?"

"What I have told you," answered Nerghal.  "I can sense nothing amiss.  Truth be told, I'm fairly alarmed."

"Yeah, yeah, keep talking like that, and make me regret making you the head of the spiritual security," muttered Morgaine.  "Come on!  Do you have any idea what is causing this?"

The ghost idly brought a hand to his chin.  "Not really, no."

"What does that mean?" muttered Morgaine, crossing her arms.

"It's... complicated," answered Nerghal.  "An inkling.  A notion.  Something so mad, it doesn't even bear saying."

Morgaine frowned at her great-uncle's spirit.  "You have a real talent for reminding me that you are a shifty unreliable bastard, you know that?"

"Of course," said Nerghal with a shrug.  "One of the reasons I used to mess with you.  Train you up well.  Make you hard to con."

Morgaine stared at him unimpressed.  "Yeah.  Right.  Look, I have mysterious intruders who aren't setting off a lot of wards that this family has spent a long time perfecting, a missing maid, and a young step-niece who is getting very smug and 'I told you so'.  I do not need this bullshit, now.  Is that clear?"

"Clear as I am," said Nerghal.

"You're not that clear, Nerghy," muttered Morgaine.

"Clearer than I used to be," muttered the ghost.  He regarded his hand for a moment, and then shuddered.  "Really, when I think about it, it's damned upsetting..."

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 21

Armida touched the stones in the wall, watching them light up under her hand, while beautiful tones filling the room.  "King Assur truly was an artist and a wizard," she noted.  "This room--so like him.  A simple, beautiful solution to family squabbles.  A shame we forgot about it by the time my father had to... take action."  She chuckled.  "It would have made things so much simpler."

Arsinoe nodded.  "And you'd be the recognized Dark Lord right now.  Which would be awesome"  She considered it.  "Unless... you know, your dad was still alive.  Which... you might actually find more awesome." She bit her lip.  "Yeah, the more I think about it, the more sure I am you'd find that more awesome.  Sorry for suggesting that you'd even consider the alternative as the superior option."

Armida paused a moment to glance at Leucippe.  "Would you please tell your sister to be quiet?"

Leucippe gulped.  "Noe... shut up.  You're making the boss angry."

"Right," said Arsinoe with a cough.  "Sorry about that."

"Ummm... she's a Cthonique?" whispered Echidnae. 

Arsinoe nodded.  "Mmm-hmm!  The true Dark Lord of the Plains of Dread, and a whole lot of other stuff..."

"Noe, you're not shutting up..." hissed Leucippe.

"She asked a question," replied Arsinoe.

"Hostage!" snapped Leucippe.  "Hostage!  And what did we say about hostages, Arsinoe?"

"You know, Leucippe," noted Armida, touching another stone, "your sister is no longer the one irritating me."

Leucippe started to say something, then shut her mouth and managed a nod.

"I didn't realize your boss can be so... scary," said Echidnae.

"Oh, yeah, she's cool like that," whispered Arsinoe.  "I saw her make a man swallow his own tongue once.  True story."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 20

Mansemat regarded the Guards worriedly.  "Intruders, you say?"

"Almost certainly, Your Magnificence," said Hymir with a nod.  "Not many, but some.  Might be how they got in."

The Dark Lord bit his lip.  "That... wouldn't make much difference.  There are... wards, and the like that should tell us about any such intruders.  Wards upon wards, really.  Some new, and some very old."  He shook his head.  "This should not be possible."

"Well, sir, it is happening," answered the Jotun.  "So it is."

"Indeed," agreed Mansemat.  "Call up the rest of the guards..."

Hymir coughed.  "Well, sir, most of them are in..."

"Call them up," said Mansemat, rolling his eyes.

"They will likely be hungo--" continued the Jotun.

Mansemat looked the Ogre levelly in the eyes.  "Call them up."

"Of course, sir," said Hymir quietly.

"Excellent."  Mansemat turned, and headed for the door of the room.  "Meet me when they get here." 

As soon as he was gone, Sindri regarded Hymir. "Wow, I'm amazed you handled the Dark Lord being all... Dark Lord so well."

"Used to it," said the Jotun.  "Joined under his father.  In Shaddad's conversations like that, man likely to wind up hanging by thumbs.  Lord Mansemat is infinitely preferable."

"Well, that makes sense," agreed Sindri.  He glanced at his thumbs and shuddered.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 19

Echidnae grumbled as she shook more Ancient Mummy Dust over the corners of the room.  As opposed to her superior, she was not as certain as its effectiveness.  But telling Eurydice this tended to get you.... Eurydice being upset.  And that was not a thing you wanted.

Still, she thought, hopefully it would kill enough of the filthy little biters, to make Eurydice... calmer.  That would be...

Her thoughts were interrupted by a strong pair of hands grabbing her shoulders, and pulling her backwards.  "If you try to scream, we will kill you," came a female whisper.  "Is that clear?" Echidnae managed a nod.  "Good." 

"Maybe we should kill her anyway," came another woman's voice.  "It'd... keep things... safe."

"Not now," said a familiar woman, stepping out of the shadows.  "I will not soil my heads with the blood of my House's loyal servants, on this, the night of my great triumph."

Echidnae stared at the woman in surprise. "You... you're Lord Nisrioch's... lady friend."  She coughed.  "Umm, well, the one who isn't a Dev.  Or insane."

Armida smiled at her.  "I'm more than that, Miss Bluebell.  Much, much more."  She walked up towards the wall, and placed her hand on it.  "Yes," she said.  "The Ashurana was right.  There is a power here.  Old, slumbering, and mine for the taking."

Echidnae gulped.  "Can I ask what's going on?"

"Yes," said the woman holding her, "but we won't tell you.  Sorry."

"Don't talk to the hostage, Noe," muttered the woman by her side.

"Oh, come on!" said Noe, tightening her grip on Echidnae.  "The boss did.  And said she was a family servant!  So she's practically one of us!  Kind of."

"Different families, Noe," muttered the other woman.

"You are mean, sis," said Noe.  "Mean and unfun."