I realized a little while ago that I’d been writing this big long Book of Deacon story and I don’t think I’d actually shared any, as I had in the past. Time to rectify that. I might pick out one or two more before the release, but for now, here’s the villain scene.
Somewhere deep in the arid wastes of the southern shore of Tressor, a woman lay sleeping. Hers was a deep, dreamless slumber, a slumber unbroken for years. The woman was frail and forgotten, a motionless bundle of ragged cloth and withered flesh. If undisturbed, she might never have awoken, sleeping blissfully until the end of time without troubling the world or its people. But this was not to be.
Piece by piece her body flickered to life, like soggy bits of firewood sluggishly taking to flame. Her lungs took the initiative, deciding that shallow breaths were simply not sufficient. And so she breathed deep, quickly releasing it as a painful cough. Next her eyes grew weary of the darkness and slid open, feeding her mind images that it was not quite ready to comprehend. Her fingers twitched, her cracked lips parted, her dry tongue smacked, and slowly a word formed in her mind. It took several minutes of effort before it worked its way to her lips.
“Thirsty,” she croaked in a voice from the wrong side of a grave, startling a nest of mice that had made a home in her hair.
She slowly scraped together enough of her wits to sit up, stiff joints crackling with every motion. The light was dim, filtering in from the mouth of a low-roofed cave. She swept her eyes around until she found beside her a small cup caked with sand and dust. Beside it was a cork-topped wine bottle. It took three poorly guided grasps before she was able to close her bony hand about the bottle’s neck, and four tries to manage the complex maneuver of pulling its cork free, but persistence earned her a long swig of vinegary swill.
One need dealt with, her body quickly alerted her of another.
“Hungry,” she stated, her voice a shade closer to human now.
Again she scanned her surroundings. There were empty bags chewed through by rodents and the bones of a dozen assorted animals that had been picked clean. Nothing even resembling a meal had been in the cave for years. For a moment she contemplated climbing to her feet and seeking out some provisions, but having only just managed to work out how to use both arms at the same time, she felt the task of walking was one that would be easier to work out on a full stomach.
She picked through the mound of bones nearest to her. Though it was an uphill struggle to work out the proper sequence of opening and closing her fingers that as necessary to grasp them, oddly she found identifying them was utterly effortless.
“Skull of a jackal. Where is the jaw? Here. Good, good. One of its legs too. Don’t need the toes. A few rat spines, yes. Ah, perfect, a serpent skeleton. Intact, save the head. That will do nicely.”
Like a child with a new set of building blocks, she merrily began to fit the bits of carcass together. Under her breath she uttered arcane words, conjuring black tendrils that fused the bones to one another. After a few minutes she had assembled a creature that could only have been borne of madness.
The jackal skull sat atop the long, narrow spine of a snake. Ribs, femurs, and claws were linked together into a set of six spidery legs that linked to the curving spine a third of the way down. The rest of the serpent’s spine formed a curled tail. She dangled the horrid concoction by the spine, eying it critically.
“A motley bit of odds and ends, but it will have to do… Now, live.”
Inside the hollow skull, darkness began to swirl and coil. The edge of the tail twitched and the mismatched legs quivered. Two points of violet light sparked to life in the jackal’s eye sockets. She lowered it to the ground and watched it shudder, quake, and finally hoist itself to its feet, twisting its oversize head toward her and sweeping its tail in expectation.
“Good. Now listen closely, Motley. You will fetch me food. Meat. Something large, lots of blood, lots of skin, lots of bone. Bring it quickly and I’ll be sure to give you the bits that I don’t need.”
The abomination pranced in place for a moment, radiating delight at the chance to serve, then rattled off toward the mouth of the cave. When it was out of sight, the woman ran her fingers through her scraggly white hair, combing away any other creatures that might have taken up residence.
“Now then… to work. I suspect there’s much to be done.”
She looked beside her and found a tall ivory-white staff. It was intricately carved with runes and sigils, and the top was set with a deep violet gem. She pulled the head of the staff to her lap and worked a simple spell. Inside the gem there was a muddy red glow and she felt her thoughts grow sharper, if not more orderly. Yes… her name. She was Turiel. Her task. She was prepare the second keyhole. Her masters… Why they not woken her? And why did something feel lost, something missing. She reached out, seeking guidance, but there was no answer.
“Something has happened… I’ve slept too long… Need answers… Something must be done…”
And there we have this story’s villain. Sort of a change from the trilogy, but hopefully she’ll do the job. What do you think?