The Rogue and the Shade

525 word sword and sorcery flash fiction about the Rogue and his encounter with a sorcerer and cult in the city of Herith of the Black Spires.

The Rogue came to the city of Herith, the City of Black Spires, and the night was storming when he came. There was a sorcerer in that city who dwelt in secret below the streets, in a mausoleum long forgotten, where forgotten folk once interred a murdered priest who had seen the face of god and thereby became cursed and fell and beset by evil hunger. This sorcerer plotted with a group of underlings to stir the shade of this accursed priest to pry from it any secrets it guarded as regards to the face of god and the truths such a vision might entail.

To disturb this shade required mighty magic, and it was the scent of this magic that drew the Rogue to Herith of the Black Spires.

The Rogue flit into the city in shadow and rain, and he hissed like an animal at the lightning when it flashed, for he knew the sorcerer, and did not want the knowledge of his approach known, and he knew depths of this sorcerer's power, had battled with him before in other places and worlds. Within the walls of Herith, the Rogue navigated the labyrinthine mazes below the cities, the befouled sewers, the twisting corridors where smugglers moved their wares, the chambers where cruel folk and criminals held conclave and did evil deeds.

It did not take the Rogue long to find that single spiral staircase leading down into the mausoleum where the spellbinder and his cabal of dark robed acolytes worked their magic, probed time and space for the mind of the priest who had seen god's face. He saw the sorcerer, standing as a black razor, there, speaking magic and making it with strange gestures, and he brought out his blade and it glimmered in the darkness. But he was too late. The spell was completed, and the shade of the priest, like a puff of black smoke, came, and was questioned, and it refused to answer in anger at being awakened. And it spoke in a voice like coins rattling in a lead box: "Why, petty spellbinder, have you awakened me, I who have looked upon the face of god?" The sorcerer, delirious with power, spat, "Relate to me any knowledge of the sight of god's face." But the shade laughed: "For all your knowledge, you are yet indeed ignorant, for to look upon the face of god is not to gain knowledge but to lose it; it is to see the knowledge evaporating like dew in the sun." The sorcerer and his cabal were struck speechless. But the Rogue, seeing the danger of this transgression and tiring of the sorcerer's impetuousness, came into the chamber and placed his dagger in the sorcerer's back and into his heart, who died, gargling.

And the cabal vanished in fear at the terrible sight of the Rogue, robed in black, standing over their dead leader. But the shade lingered. It lingered as a swirl of smoke, its eyes blazing as hot coals fixed on the Rogue, until finally it said, "Do I recognize thee?" But the Rogue did not answer, and he left Herith even as the storm continued raging.  

The End

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