Friday, July 22, 2016

Fiction Friday: Shadows of the Silent Sorcerer (Part 5 - The End)


At last we've reached the final installment of the story. For anyone new to this who would like to catch up before reading the entry, the rest of the story can be found at these links:


Shadows of the Silent Sorcerer
(Part 5)

by

John R. Lehman



There were many items, no doubt of great value to one who dealt in matters of the arcane, but to Kurach these things were little more than worthless junk.  Great piles of parchment were thrown aside and dozens of liquid filled vials were swept from the table to shatter upon the floor in his furious search for something of obvious value.  Finally, behind a stack of moldy leather-bound tomes, he spied something that quickened his heart.  It was box carved from ivory and edged in gold, no doubt worth a king’s ransom.  Greedily, Kurach seized the box.  His lusting eyes surveyed his newfound prize.  The box appeared to have been carved from a single piece of ivory.  Indeed the creature from whose tusk it was made must have been tremendous.  Around the outside of the box were intricately carved dancing figures, their bodies seeming to writhe with in the ivory.  The thought of the treasure that must lie within such a container made him mind reel.
As his fumbling fingers searched for the catch to open the box, a faint breeze disturbed the lamp flame behind him, causing the shadows in the room to jump and twist like the figures on the box.
Kurach looked up from his prize, but there was nothing there.  Only the wind and the night and the shadows
Returning to his work, he at last felt the hidden catch that sprang the lid of the box and his eyes were bathed in the gleam of the box’s contents, even as the room itself seemed to darken around him.  A grim smile creased his face once more.  The sorcerer was dead, and the treasure was his.  Now it was time for his other prize, the girl.
He snapped the box shut, preparing to leave.  It was then that he noticed that the rooms had indeed darkened.  The lamp still burned, but it’s glow seemed muted as if the shadows were squeezing the light from its flame.
The shadows.
Slowly, he turned to face the corpse of the sorcerer, his eyes searching for what his mind knew was not there.  In his haste and greed he had missed it.  The lamp that sat beside the corpse cast a stark shadow of the stool across the floor, yet the corpse that sat upon that stool cast no shadow at all.  Even to one as slow of wit as Kurach of Khelehm, the utter wrongness of the sight was apparent.
Kurach felt his blood freeze within his veins.  His hand went for the hilt of his blade but never reached it.  His mighty muscles were locked as if by iron bands.  He could not turn to see the upwelling blackness that formed behind him, but he could feel the numbing cold creep up his spine and around the back of his skull.  Cold grasping tentacles of darkness caressed his face, slowly probing gently, almost tenderly into his ears.  They whispered to him, those phantom tentacles, and mocked him.  
“Ahhh,” hissed an icy voice.  “So yet another has come seeking what, treasure, revenge?  Did you come slay me, or just to steal from me?  No matter I suppose.  I was far from my body, but my apprentice sent word to summoned me back.”  The voice paused.  “Look what you have done.  My body is now quite useless to me.  Ruined.  What a needless waste.  I shall need another of course.  Yours might be interesting to try and might be pleasing to my apprentice, but I think it can please her in other ways as well.  She has watched for you from afar for a long while Kurach of Khelehm.  Should she not be rewarded for her loyalty and diligence?”
Despite the cold night air, beads of sweat began to form on Kurach’s brow.  His muscles bulged, straining vainly against the implacable force which held him fast.
“Come,” intoned the voice.  “Come and claim your reward my dear.”
He could see the stairway and from it emerged the girl, now freed from her cage, if indeed she had ever truly been bound there.  She had cast aside her furs and was now quite naked.  The full curves of her body that had once fired Kurach’s blood now held nothing but horror for him.  She crossed the room slowly to stand before him.  One soft had raised and gently stroked his cheek.  Standing on her toes and leaning in she kissed him lightly and smiled.  
Kurach would have screamed if he could have, but he was beyond even that simple act.  His bowels released as the shadowy tendrils pierced his eye socket and slowly worked their way into his brain with blinding agony before death mercifully came, and he knew no more.
Along the cold mountain path an icy wind sprung up bringing with it a light snow.  The sun sank swiftly beyond the rim of the world splashing the sky with crimson fire.  The soft white snowflakes floated earthward pausing to swirl around four bleached skulls.  Four skeletons, lashed to poles stood as silent witnesses to the glory of the passing day, their empty eye sockets capturing the last rays of light before being lost in the lengthening shadows.   

*****
(The End)
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