Chapter Thirty-Three: Snakeworm (4)Mature

The dungeon of the Castle Carviliet wasn’t actually a dungeon, not in the classical sense of the term, at least.  By the time of the building’s construction, the windowless pit model—the kind with a single entrance (a trapdoor on the ceiling) which would not serve, in all likelihood, as an exit—had fallen out of favor.  Quicker deaths—by hanging, burning or decapitation—were much less morally objectionable by the standards of the times, and so the castle had been outfitted with holding cells much more suitable for short-term imprisonment.

            It was here that Alasdair MacQuarrie left Henry Thomas Mantoux Edmund, confined alone in a cold, dark cell, his hands bound behind his back.  The iron cuffs had been engraved with lines of Ancient Magramish scripture that prevented the young mage from using magic.  Before he left, Alasdair took the time to burn the same text into the door, walls, floor and ceiling of the cell, just in case Henry somehow managed to free himself of the manacles.  Henry knew the lines:  Libéru, 9:63, Armúru fita, foil ó fiaru, siu ó deominu ag angealu go leir.  The strongest armor, wrought of mere words, is the gift of demons and angels both.  It was the Scribe’s Shield, a verse which, if written, served as a protection against all but the most powerful of magical beings. 

            The text also appeared—Henry now noted as he sat alone in the dark cell, lit only by the glowing blue runes that Alasdair had burned into the walls—in an old lullaby that Simon had sometimes sung when they were younger.  Something about sheep.  He remembered that the line had been altered in it slightly, but he couldn’t recall how.

            Deominu.  That was it.  It had been replaced by something else.  He had thought that Simon was mispronouncing the word, but now he suddenly remembered the conversation he had had with Seymour in the Olde Moribinu, what seemed like an age ago…

            “The Old Magramish word for demon, deominu, is only one letter different from deosinu, the word for fallen god.”

            Simon had always said deosinu.  Instead of siu ó deominu ag angealu go leir, it had been i deosinu ag angealu go leir:  in fallen gods and angels all.  A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

            Henry laughed at himself mirthlessly.  Of all the things to be thinking about in this moment, here he was, pondering the semantics of a verse of religious text and its adaptation into a nursery rhyme.  Stupid.

            He closed his eyes and lay down upon his side on the cold stone floor.  He had a feeling that something terrible was happening right now, but he wasn’t afraid for his safety.  While the glowing scripture that surrounded him was intended to keep him in, it would do him the favor of keeping other things out.  Nothing could get at him now.  Only Alasdair MacQuarrie and the gods themselves had the power to unlock that cell.

            Nothing could invade his head here.  He could think clearly now, without that horrible, rasping voice meddling in his thoughts.  The Parasite was gone, and Henry was free.

            Free to ask himself what in Rezyn’s name he had done.

The End

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