Saturday, April 2, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 33

"So, it really is you," came the familiar voice to Armida's side. 

Armida Cthonique took a deep breath, and tore her eyes away from the Needle of the Blood.  Sure enough, he was standing there, at about the age he'd been the last time she'd seen him, when he'd sent her away.  "Father," she said with a bow.  "I'd heard you were playing at being Morgaine's lap dog."  She sighed.  "I'm not happy to see it is true."

Nerghal Cthonique frowned.  "Well, I would be happy to see you, but frankly meeting you in these circumstances is... somewhat putting a damper on my joy."  He looked around the chamber.  "Rather odd place..."

"Our ancestor Assur's creation," said Armida with a smile.  "I bet you wish you'd found it, all those years ago..."

"These days, what I wish might surprise you, Armida," said Nerghal quietly.

"I'd heard death has a way of weakening even the hardest spirits," noted Armida.  "I'm sad to see it's true."

"Wisdom isn't weakness, Armida," muttered Nerghal.  "And revenge... well, it's taken me years to realize that it just isn't worth it."

Armida frowned at her father's spirit.  "And the cause?  You were going to change the Plains of Dread."

"And I did," said Nerghal.  "It got worse.  And then Shaddad came and wrought even more destruction."  He shook his head.  "His children have done more for the things I claimed to represent than I ever did.  Another reason I gave up hating them."

"Oh, I don't hate them, I just..."  Armida blinked and turned to see the discarded rope of the little chambermaid laying where she'd been imprisoned. She let loose a snarl.  "You... you freed her!"

Nerghal smiled at that.  "Actually, it was Lame Mair that did that.  Pleasant fellow, really.  I'm amazed someone murdered him, but then people can be damned unpleasant, can't they?"

"You traitor," hissed Armida.

"How do you figure that?" asked Nerghal.  "You may be my daughter, but our paths have diverged, for some time now." 

"You... you will pay for that!" she said, raising her hand.  "I know ways of making even a ghost suffer..."

"Your mother said the same thing to me once," said Nerghal.  "I suppose now I'll see if she was telling the truth..."

Armida shut her eyes, and took a deep breath.  "Yes.  Yes, you will."

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