Monday, 8 September 2014

Life in the Shadows

The Museum was near silent again. The tall ceiling drank up sound in the same way that the gloomy halls drank light. The distant drumming of the rain outside, that was all now. A gentle fire had started in one corner, where a dropped lantern had fallen on the foot of a heavy tapestry. If it was quiet now, it was the sort of quiet that promised worse to come.

Xander Farren stood over the body of the green wizard. He'd have warned her, if there had been more time. Or if she'd have been more willing to listen. The spear had gone right through her from behind, then the guard wielding it had been felled in his turn. She must have been duelling with the treacherous captain, he thought.

Even using the Traitor of Tarn, he hadn't been able to send aid to her in time. A useful spell, if a little obvious. With the guards the spell had turned, he'd managed to scatter his pursuers entirely. The rest had fled into the storm. But they'd be back, and others with them.

He looked round. The growing firelight illuminated the huge painting that covered the roof of the great hall. A stylised depiction of Heroic Truth, slaying the elderly figure of Bearded Ignorance. With a spear, he noticed. How ironic. He didn't feel very heroic right now. Slaying the ignorant wasn't, in general, particularly rewarding work.

Broken glass littered the floor, along with blood, antique pot shards and the smashed relics of forgotten ancestors. Xander's soft boots stepped through the mess until he found the Captain's body. There, he knelt and slipped a hand under the dead man's breastplate.

The packet was tied with white string, although the wax seal was broken. It bore, as he knew it would, the emblem of the Shining Sun. Three years, now, he'd been tracking them. Picking their leaders off one by one, destroying them preemptively before their great crime could be committed. This town was lousy with the cultists, and it had taken him longer to root them all out than he'd wanted. They'd nearly caught him, this time.

But with the packet of orders, he had what he needed.

A link.

A link to their leader, the masterful mind behind their dealings.

All for the good, the cult always claimed. A light under a bushel, burning unseen until the right moment to blaze forth. Then you'd change the world, burn away the shadows that clung to the edge of things and issue in a new world order.

Xander knew the truth. Good intentions were never enough. In order to change a world, you'd have to do away with the old one. And personally, he liked the shadows well enough. They kept the stark, awful truth from damaging the eyes.

No, The Pharoah would have to be stopped. Xander smiled regretfully, patted the dead captain's corpse once, and stood. How many more would have to die before it was done? he wondered.

With luck, just one. But things were never that simple.

1 comment:

  1. All this week! More Wizard's Cup, as we move relentlessly towards the finals. Expect daily fluff updates and action packed reports on the semi-finals!