The iron was cold on Roth’s tongue and his spit tasted like rust as it trickled down his raw throat. The bit, much like a horses harness, kept him from speaking while the other iron, chains and manacles, kept him from moving.
“We should kill him.” Came a deep voice, baritone and black.
Laughter like a brook responded to this, quickly joined by the giggles of children. Above this, another voice, older and cracked, emerged, rising over the mirth of the lady in scales and the small things that clustered about her. “Do not be hasty Glakos Vorathack the Sunless. If you used the head in that helmet you’d know that it is not a viable option.”
The man in hydraulic armor said nothing, steam spouted from his shoulders.
A fourth voice, imprisoned and hollow, as if spoken through an old nineteen-thirties radio crackled from the dark doorway. “He cannot be killed.”
“This is true, so true this is.” Hissed a man in the lab coat. “To the other side he would flee. Flee he would into the Espiritis.”
The woman who’d laughed earlier walked over to Roth’s naked frame, the patter of tiny feet went with her. “We cannot have that result, man of metal and steel. Your stupidity demeans us, bound to the world of flesh as you are.” Her eyes flashed green and her scale dress shimmered as she turned against him.
The Sunless stood and the pistons of his arms squealed. “Take care with your words Mother. I’ve no qualms with slaying women.”
She smiled and the old voice, the shuffling of parchment voice, returned. “Calm yourself Glakos. You know that to make war within the Clagmarate is to ensure your own doom. Beyond this, Mother is right; you are bound to flesh and do not see clearly into the spirit land beyond. We cannot kill him. It is as Zemeck says. I’ve not worked for four centuries to jeopardize our plans by releasing the spirit of our foe into the nether realms of the Esperitiss. From there he could seek aid from the dead or commune with living allies. His death would ensure disaster.”
Glakos’ facial expression was unreadable beneath his iron armor. “You’re argument is heeded, Mortua.” The words were slow and thick.
The electric cackle spouted agian. “So we are in accord that we shall not kill him. But then what to do?” The question emerged with the monstrosity of science that uttered them. A tray rolled forth, bristling with electrodes and speakers, moving on wheels and carrying a domed jar of urine-like liquid, from within floated the severed human head of a woman. “Do we know whether or not he has the ability to Lear?”
“His mind is fuzzy, fuzzy his mind. A shot, administered.” The short man in the lab coat spoke nervously, toying with the bandoleer of syringes he wore across his chest. “He cannot Lear while under, Learing he cannot. Mind lacks discipline Remnant Diosis, mind lacks focus.”
By fate or coincidence the five stood in the shape of a pentagram around the butchers block that Roth lay imprisoned upon. A dangerous cage.
Remnant Diosis spoke again. Her lips did not move, her wide eyes did not blink. Only the speakers vibrated. “Be sure of that Zemich. If his mind wanders from his body, and finds another…”
“Then we are doomed.” Reverberated the words from within the man of living armor.
“And your punishment will be a legend of suffering.” Said Mortua, voice like creaking wood, spoken from a long dead throat.
“It will not last forever, forever it cannot endure! Another solution, something. We must determine, we must!” The syringes clattered, a hundred shining points and plungers, a rainbow of deadly drugs. He gazed upon his foe from beneath glazed goggles.
“We could feed my children.” Offered Mother. This prompted a delighted cacophony of squeals from the figures at her feet, and an even greater hissing from the dark shadows. “Only the vital parts of course. Tongue, ears, fingers…”
Roth bit the cold iron in anger.
Tiny hands reached up to caress his skin, shadow and blood, pale skin and ether, the demonic outpourings of Mother longed to dine upon his mortality.
“Such parts would be wasted. The dissected portions would benefit me greatly.” Remnant Diosis glared at the blood babies with her unblinking gaze, the shadow children. “It is impractical. Feed your filth on lesser adversaries.”
Mother smiled sweetly. “What’s the matter Dio? Jealous that none of them are yours?”
“Enough, Mother.” Echoed from within armor.
“Ahh… she wishes she could contribute to my family and you regret that you did. Upset I cracked that armor of yours, aren’t you Glakos? Does your son disturb you?” Her hand caressed a slick bald head that housed fiery eyes and pin-like fangs.
A rustle of a voice, strong with age and power. “Mother. Control yourself, there is a serious matter at hand. Your copulations have no place here.” The skeletal lich looked once again to their captive. “His body is ours, this is no matter. He will never escape imprisonment. But his soul, and his mind. These things we must also bind.”
“The soul is in the body, the body holds the soul. His flesh will keep it, hold it tight.”
“But what of his mind?” Boomed Glakos. “We cannot keep him distracted forever. He will adapt to the drugs, he will learn to press down the effects, then he will Lear, speak mind to mind with his allies.”
The radio hummed. “There are operations. Had I but hands, I could remove parts of his brain.”
Mother scowled. She was tired of their foolish suggestions. “There is but one way to prevent him from what we fear. We must cage his mind in pain. We must watch him constantly. We must ensure that he shall never feel anything but torment; raking, numbing, debilitating torment. This is the prison we must build for the Hero of the Dawn Star, this champion Roth.”
The Clagmarate was quiet, save for the hissing of hydraulics, the patter of infant feet, and the static hum of a speaker. Slowly Mortua the Dead shambled toward the prone man.
Roth glared up into the face of the mummified corpse, and for the first time since his captivity, felt mind numbing terror. He thrashed, he screamed around his bit, he banged his head against the block.
The voice was a whisper of grating wood.
“So be it.”
I thought it would be a good idea to release another short while I'm finishing up the final scenes of 'The Brief Redemption of Doctor Proboscis'. I'm certainly having a lot of fun with that story. This one was a neat little exercise in a five way conversation. When was the last time you read a five way conversation? They are literary rarities, that's for sure.
I've also attached a .pdf version of this one in case people would prefer to read things that way. I'm able to format them differently that the text blocks of the Patreon site and it's a bit easier on the eyes. I plan on doing this for all the stories in the future. I may even go back and pdf-ify some of the old ones too. You know, with the scads of free time I have!