Chapter Thirty-Four: The Blood on Their Hands (1)Mature

Chapter Thirty-Four:
The Blood on Their Hands

From the dark, dirty room in the Land of the In-Between, the Original Six watched their mortal counterparts through a large, hovering orb of liquid light.

            “The mage clearly benefits from the protection of the Scribe’s Shield,” observed Viviane, Queen of the Living.  “But what is it that prevents the Parasite from taking the others?”

            Moriba nodded in acknowledgement of the question.  “The more of them that are gathered together, the more difficult the Worm finds it to attack them.  It has already spent so much energy in pursuing them today, I would imagine that it considers it wiser to wait until their inevitable separation, and then pick them off one at a time.  It may attempt to drive them apart by manipulating other inhabitants of the castle, or to use the two agents it has stationed there for such a purpose, or it may simply wait until the weak link in the chain has been released from the protection of the Scribe’s Shield.  But for now, it rests.”

            “I’d like to drop into Carviliet and permanently etch the verse into that twisted traitor’s skull.”  Elnias’ voice was much harsher and more emotive than was his usual bass drone.  “I knew he was trouble from the moment I laid eyes upon him!”

            The Lady Raven laughed quietly.  “I think you have grown to identify too closely with Seymour, Elnias.  It has become difficult to know which you more desire:  to fuck him, or to live vicariously through him!  All the same, though, we can no longer directly protect any of them from the Worm.  The phantom bell has struck three, and the great game is begun.  In our new role, we can offer our advice, but we cannot directly intervene.  Carving a protective spell into Lord Henry’s forehead would be, I think, crossing the line.”

            Aita raised his head weakly.  “One of the others could carve the Shield into magey-boy’s head.  At our suggestion.  Painfully.  With rusted nails.”

            “It wasn’t his fault!” Mortua snapped.  “Will you leave off with the sadistic revenge fantasies?”

            Elnias turned his red-ember eyes upon her.  “As the one who would have let the known world come to a violent conclusion just because you’re still under the impression that Aita stole me from you, you really have no right to lecture anybody about sadistic revenge fantasies, Your Majesty.”

            Moriba screeched in exasperation.  “That’s enough!  Now does anyone have an idea that does not involve mutilating the forehead of the Lord of Carvil?”

            “We could advise that they inscribe the Shield into a talisman for him to wear about his neck.”

            Moriba nodded at Viviane’s suggestion.  “There’s some merit in that idea.  He could take it off if he absolutely needs to do magic himself, but he would be protected at all other times.”

            Aita snorted.  “Bet you three souls that idiot loses his talisman within the week.”

            “Well, he’s kept pretty good track of Seymour’s pocket watch.” Moriba shrugged.  “As long as he considers the object important to him, I doubt he would misplace it.

            “Still, though…”

            “It’s worth the risk, I think.  He’s too vulnerable to the Worm to forego protection of some kind, and he’s not going to be of any help defeating it if he’s stuck in that cell.”

            The Lord of Light sighed and rubbed at the corners of his amber, bar-pupil eyes.  “Remind me again, Moriba, why out of all the options in the world, you had to select the six most damaged and volatile individuals possible for this task?”

            “I chose them before they were even born, Aita.  There was no way of knowing how they would turn out.  I didn’t choose them because they were troubled; they are troubled because I chose them.  Anyway…” She smiled wryly.  “How could they take on our roles if they were normal?”

The End

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