Syrregain’s plans were coming along better than he had ever expected or hoped they would. He was not making his presence well known, but his eminence as Prince Regent of Elvinia had more than shocked the local townspeople into respecting him.
Such was the way he got into the Grand Hadrana inn. Without any help from Dacak’s guards or Threann’s Arpuns. He barged in when they had arrived from Arpuni, literally shoulder his way through the door and drawing that accursed sword. They fled in fear, and those who did not were killed. No—they were more than killed: they were absolutely mutilated.
Now, he was lying on his bed, idly staring at the ceiling. He was still angry from the other day, when the messenger had returned to warn him of the incompetent soldiers' failure. There was an experienced mage with his troop—one would have thought they would at least come back only badly shaken. As a flickering thought, Syrregain’s eyes glanced at the massive longsword leaning seemingly unobtrusively against the wall.
He hated that sword. Syrregain felt it slowly expanding, taking control of his body and mind until he was so tightly wound around its little finger. It spoke in hardly a whisper, sweet and tempting. Its voice was devoid of malice, and yet Syrregain’s inner mind knew better.
His body did not. That sword was like a deadly poison, far more dangerous than the even the most violent of venoms. And so the sword never left his side. His body wanted it to be there. It wanted to be there. It had to be there. And it would stay there until Syrregain’s whole body would become an empty shell with the sword’s spirit. Syrregain knew this, and so did the sword. The worst part was that Syrregain could do nothing about it.
“Your Majesty,” a voice interrupted him.
“What?!” he demanded, snapping from his train of thought and sitting up in bed.
“That Arpuni woman senses that a God is in Van Mara,” the messenger told him. “Shall I send for her?”
“You know the answer to that, you clot,” Syrregain said acidly. “Anytime she says something about the Gods, you bring her here.”
“At once sir. But are you sure about it? The woman is obviously insane.”
“What did I tell you?” Syrregain demanded in a furious voice. “If that woman so much as breathes a sentence that has ‘God’ in it, you bring her here. Now get her so so that no more time is wasted!”
The messenger was shaking. “Yes, your Majesty,” he responded, and he turned on his heel to fetch Duchess Threann of Threann Khann.
A while later he returned, leading the Arpuni woman by the arm. Actually, she was leading him, and he was trailing along, looking very subdued. Duchess Threann was wearing her crown imperiously, high on her head pushing her long blue-black hair back. Her brazen face was adorned with freshly-painted markings. Threann walked with her head high and her back straight, making sure that her violet-indigo dress came trailing dramatically behind her.
“What?” she asked indignantly when she entered the room.
“You’re dismissed,” he said to the messenger. It took him a second to comprehend the message given to his harried brain, but that was all Syrregain needed. He leveled a finger at him, and fired a narrow arc of energy. The messenger was thrown against the back wall; there was an obvious crack the precise moment he was hit.
“What did you want, Syrregain?” Threann asked him.
“That idiot over there,” said Syrregain, motioning to the messenger; “said you found the presence of the Goddess Matti here. Where is she?”
“Ah, Matti,” Threann said, smiling coldly. “The whorish little sister of the Gods who fraternizes with mortal creatures.” She paused, as giving him a while to stare at her blunt derision. “She is here. In fact, she is in the Van Mara Citadel right now with that witch and her brother.”
“You know, that singer from the other night when we arrived.” She looked at him smugly. “Come now, Syrregain, don’t tell me you missed the actual presence of her? I could tell from a mile away that the woman practices sorcery.”
“You’re a Diviner,” he responded acidly, taking his sword. “And if you haven’t noticed, you dolt, I’m not.”
“You finally noticed,” Threann mumbled. Loftily she brushed at her hair. “Are you going to spend all day fondling that sword?” she asked him with a cold smile. “The whorish sister of the Gods won’t stay there for long—you know how whores are.”
“Asshat,” he mumbled under his breath, strapping his sword onto his back. “He turned to the door, making sure he shouldered rudely past the imperious Duchess of the city of Threann Khann. The pained expression on her face as she clutched at her right arm brought a sardonic smile to his face. Slinging the dread blade Lacrymosa over his back, he admitted the duchess out of the room first to lead her to the Goddess Matti.
“What do you mean they aren’t here?!” Syrregain demanded in his most thunderous voice at a cowering butler at the front gate of the Van Mara Citadel. The butler held a glimmering pewter plate in front of his face to his futile defense. Syrregain did not have Lacrymosa drawn, yet he could just as easily shatter the soft pewter with his fist.
“What goes here?” Baron Rodune demanded in an equally as thunderous voice as he stepped outside to see the cause of the disruption. “Thou there,” he said to Syrregain and Threann. “What business do thou have here?”
“Where is that group that was here for the past week or so?” Syrregain asked, keeping a tight rein on his impatient fury.
“They had departed but a few hours ago,” the Baron replied cautiously, eying Syrregain’s massive sword.
Syrregain’s endless temper flared implacably. “They...what?!”
“My advice to thee, tempestuous friend,” Baron Rodune intoned coolly; “is that thou keepest thy voice down. Thou chance disturbing the Gerodathians in their rest.”
To that, Syrregain sniffed indifferently. “Dacak and his Gerodathians are with me.” He took a second to examine the Baron’s shocked expression as he smiled smugly. “Dacak couldn’t do anything to me even if all the world compelled him to. Now—” Syrregain drew Lacrymosa. It burned darkly with all its malicious intent flowing in its veins. “Where are they headed?”
“Syrregain,” Threann said cautiously. “Don’t do anything rash—”
“Shut up, woman,” he grunted in response. He turned his attentions to the Baron of Van Mara once more. “Now. Your Excellency. Tell me where they went.”
Visible fear came into the Baron’s eyes. He saw his end standing before him, and he was not even armed to do anything. Baron Rodune Vanmara XIV of Van Mara, Sycracia had never imagined death this way. Yet he accepted it with open arms, as he said next:
“I cannot say. They have entreated me to keep it a secret from thy like.”
“Then you die.” Syrregain smiled coldly, and it was almost with mocking beatification that he drove the dread sword Lacrymosa right into the Baron’s chest. It cleft through his armor, pierced his skin, shattered his bones and sank directly into his heart. As if that was not enough, Syrregain thrust it in further, making it come out on the other side. Rhylor’s father crumbled to the ground, and with blood all over his dying form, as if he wept blood. The light faded from his jaded eyes, and he breathed his last.
The butler had run away, fearful of a similar fate. His mildly tarnished pewter dish was left in his wake, spinning and then clattering to a noisy stop.
“Idiot,” Threann muttered about nobody in particular. She shook her head with some show of displaying dismay. “Absolute idiot,” Threann said again, and she turned on one heel and started to walk away.
Syrregain followed after. A dark scheme was conceiving itself in his poisoned mind, and it clung to very wall of his consciousness waiting to be executed.