The Shadows Chapter 45
By Keith Adams
Thiek vanished in a flash of light. Into the room came to figures; a red Nu and a trenchcoated figure whose downcast head was concealed by a wide brimmed hat.
"I trust you all are well. I suppose you deserve some exlanation, so I will provide one," the trenchcoated figure said.
Melchior recognized the voice. It made sense. Of course - that was who the High Shadow was; the High Shadow was ............
"Gaspar," rasped Melchior. The utter threachery of it all. Gaspar, causing the destruction of the world "Why?"
Gaspar looked at him; Gaspar had clear blue eyes, utterly remorseless. He was going to destroy the world and nothing. Not a single shred of remorse, or pity, ot knowledge of what he had initiated.
"Hello, Melchior," said Gaspar conversationally "You have fared well, I trust? I did not expect to find you here."
"And I did not expect to find you annihalating the world," Melchior retorted.
"Melchior, you always said to make every effort to understand before issuing a condemnation."
"You forgot the corrolary; once you have decided, yield not save additional evidence; the understood thing that is a backstabber remains a backstabber once you have understood someone."
"You have not bothered to look for additional evidence."
"Why should I, when you have offered up every indication that you are implacable, that you shall do what you are about to do?"
"Do you want to know why?"
"Just what I expected. I'll leave you here, I think you will escape. Perhaps in time to try to stop the missles. It does not matter. What happens will happen. It is inevitable. I must deal with an errant companion of yours now. I expect it will be rather difficult. Fare thyselves well; I doubt we shall see one another again."
"Why would we want to see one such as yourself?" asked Melchior.
"To see what you can become."
Frog climbed the stairs; they spiraled upwards, over and over again. Frog hoped Guardia would know how to deal with a traitor on the High Council. Who could it be? It must be one of the northern states - the Southern counties would rather immolate themselves than surrender themselves to the Shadows. Frog couldn't help but share that sentiment; the Shadows, beneath their layer of friendship, were pure evil; manipulating, coercing, killing at their own whims. And then there were those eight legged tracking dogs of theirs, whatever they were.
Frog approached Guardia's door - it was open a hair. There were voices coming from inside. Somewhat familair.
"Guardia, you agreed that your Kingdom would be agreeing to our terms by now. You have done a remarkably bad job of failing utterly and completely."
"It's not my fault."
"Really? Then whose fault is it? I've got a loose cannon attacking us, and I don't want to deal with your .... nation .... attacking us."
"What if I refuse?"
"The results would be most unpleasant. You agreed to have your guards augmented by us. Did you not consider that they would obey us before you? I can lock them into stasis, and my friends above you could rip you apart. They do a remarkably good job of ripping people apart, Guardia. Do you want me to describe it to you?"
"No ....," stuttered Guardia
"Too bad. First they stick their legs into your arms, shattering them. Then they stick them in your legs and work up, stabbing all along the way. Then they hit the stomach and internal organs, Then they do a tiny bit of damage to the lungs. You begin to have trouble breathing, your heart feels a bit odd, and then .... then, they eat your brains. While you're still alive."
"Doesn't sound that ....," Guardia began.
"Then of course, there's Guardia. You love Guardia don't you? I can destroy it with a single two word message - initiate magus - two words, and Guardia crashes down. You made a deal with us. Uphold your end."
"I can't. I need more control over myself, over others, before I can begin - what was your name again?"
"None that I wouldn't kill you if you heard."
"Anyways, look Thiek - your bosses said I'd have power enough to control the High Council."
"Maybe they overestimated your powers of persuasion. They never were great judges of character."
"I don't have it."
"Find it. Utilize your abilities to the fullest. We've given you all you need. If you can't use it, it's your bloody problem not mine."
"Are you done?"
"Not quite. I don't have any bosses. The person you dealt with previously - was killed for incompetence. But before he died, when you visisted the isle for the second time, you came to his office. In a corner - in the shadows of it - was someone you know. A fellow by the name of Frog. He doesn't know who you are, but he knows that you have considerable influence on the High Council - the northern states more or less follow your lead - and that you plan on surrendering to us. You will do that won't you? Good boy. Now run along and deal with that little spy. Understand? I want him dead?"
"I'll deal with him myself."
"Good, because he's right outside the door."
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