Prelude Part 2
Speak of the Devil
I am the wound and the knife!
I am the blow and the cheek!
I am the limbs and the wheel--
The victim and the executioner!
-- Charles Baudelaire "L' Heautontimoroumenos"
The three companions, one of them shorter than the other two, stood in front of Vandole and Yin's bed. The prince and princess of the Empire were nestled in eachother's arms, their breathing slowed in sleep.
"They look sweet," the middle one, a female if judging by the voice, said and one of the taller ones snorted.
"Let's just get this over with," growled the one who had snorted.
"Very well," the third sighed. "Let's go, my dear."
The female nodded and whispered an incantation. The five beings disappeared.
"What's the meaning of this? Who are you?" Vandole demanded.
"I am Thanatos," the leader said and lowered the hood of his cloak, revealing a mask. "These are my associates Geshtar, Fanha, and Sheex."
Vandole gasped. He knew who these people were, each were rather famous. Gestar had been a mercenary and assassin for hire until Thanatos had recruited him. Fanha was the daughter of the witch Elinee and Cain the Archmage of the Northern Wastelands and was a powerful sorceress in her own right. She had been disowned and banished by her mother when she found Fanha in a compromising position with her shapeshifting demon familiar, Sheex. The demon, an Aegagropilon, was extremely loyal to whoever he deemed to be his master or mistress. And now he was serving both Thanatos as a warrior and Fanha as a protecter and companion. Thanatos was the legendary Black Sorcerer, and said to be many times more powerful than Cain and well over 300 years old. A feeling of dread settled in the young prince's stomach, for these people had left nothing but suffering in their wake.
"But why are you here?" he asked again.
"You sent for me," Thanatos laughed. "Or had you forgotton sending for someone to heal your father?"
"Yes, I did remember," Vandole said unsteadily. "And now you're here."
"Yes he is," Gestar snapped and sat down on one of the ornate chairs in the meeting hall.
"Patience," Thanatos warned.
"You're the one that's trying to raise the Mana Fortress!" Yin's eyes widened at the realization. Thanatos nodded.
"The Fortress," Vandole said wistfully. "I would give much to see it," he added in a whisper.
But how much are you willing to give? Thanatos thought.
"Here he is," Vandole motioned towards his father. "Can you help him?"
"The spell will take a long time to prepare," Thanatos lied. "Days, perhaps."
"Whatever it takes," the prince told him.
Later that day, Fanha and Geshtar were sitting in front of the big fireplace in the meeting hall. "The Empire will be in trouble if that soft-hearted fool takes over," Geshtar said.
"Thanatos will fix that," Fanha answered.
"You trust him too much."
"I don't," she shook her head. "I just like being on the side that wins."
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