Tower’s Quest Part 5
Part 48 of Quest
(Picks up where Tower’s Quest Parts: One, Two, Three & Four left off.
Death is playing the white squares, our heroine, Irene, the black. At stake are the eleven souls who thought summoning Prince Death was a good idea.)
~ ~ ~
Battlecrow screamed Death;
it slammed into the trap door,
sought victims below.
Irene turned but before she could step off her square, Prince Death spoke.
“Leave the board and forfeit the game. The choice is yours.” He opened a cadaver’s hand and then closed it into a fist, his point made.
Irene regarded the game pieces, eight bodies and their souls, separated by squares. If she won Death would reunite body and soul and let them go. Were eight fool lives worth the hundreds of innocent students in the tower’s lower floors?
The Battlecrow gave one last scream and hit the trapdoor, vanishing through it in a puff of smoke.
The chess match ended
with a crow’s caw and its claw
left Prince Death’s spoils.
~ ~ ~
The Battlecrow hurtled down the narrow stair with its wings drawn in, its claws raking the stone and the bodies stupid enough to cluster on the landing adjacent to her goal. Her claws sliced an arm at the shoulder leaving a bloody ruin to fall to the ground. In a swirl of feathers, her avian form melted into that of a woman in plate armor.
Stepping forwards into a dim hallway, her black eyes pierced the shadows in her path; she needed no light to guide her as her dagger-tipped sabatons crunched the bones of the fallen. Toeing one of the heavily embroidered robes and the corpse wearing it, she stooped. Her armor liquified so it flowed with her movements, lending her a lethal grace as she closed her fist around a ceremonial blade bearing her crest. The black jewel in the pommel throbbed like a heart beneath the mantling crow carved on its face. Reuniting the blade with its sheathe at her hip, she entered a room on her left where she sensed the liberated magic and life essence of the dead had collected.
~ ~ ~
Imelda waited and before her pulsed the magic that death had spilled. Sparks danced in the blood; red power massed before her. A dark shape filled the doorway as black eyes speared her. She swallowed an acidic burst of fear that bubbled up from her churning stomach as the Battlecrow approached, clad in black armor.
The Battlecrow raised a gauntleted hand and the power released at the deaths of teachers and students alike popped in a shower of sparks that faded before they hit the ground. The Battlecrow had released it to flow back into the great circle that bound all to death and life again.
“Shed my mortal coil
give me unlife’s suit of clothes
clad me in Death’s pow’r.”
Imelda dropped to her knees repeating her request. Throwing her arms out, she welcomed the transformation she had read about in those scrolls. Such forbidden knowledge should not have been hidden away in a dusty corner of the library where anyone might chance upon them.
The Battelecrow cocked its head. “What is it you seek?” it–no–she asked in a rich alto made for singing funerary plain chants.
Imelda bowed her head and held out the scrolls that defined the Undeem.
“Neither a devil
nor a demon cursed I’ll be
but life’s enemy.”
She held her hands steady not daring to look. “I wish to be Undeem.” She licked dry lips. She would be their Queen and then she’d have real power unlike anything anyone living had ever seen. She’d be a god almost in her own evil pantheon.Her toes curled at the very idea and warmth spilled through her.
“You need Arcane Death, the transformer or the Devil’s Death. Why draw the Battlecrow here for this? What trickery is this?” The Battlecrow knocked the scrolls out of Imelda’s hand. Their fragile parchment crumbled as it struck the flagstones.
So careless…The Battlecrow’s gauntlet had crossed the circle’s threshold and the spells waiting there caught it, holding Death the Battlecrow, hostage. Imelda sat back on her heels and laughed at the warrior’s struggles.
“Because you wouldn’t see a magical trap until it trapped you in it.”
A defiant scream left the Battlecrow’s lips that curdled Imelda’s blood and almost shattered her ear drums.
~ ~ ~