Prince Death’s Quest
Part 57 of Quest
Part 9 of Irene’s Solo Quest: A Game of Death
(Previously in Quest —
Irene played chess against Prince Death to regain the eleven souls of the students who summoned him; the game ended when the Battlecrow’s scream alerted Irene to a worse threat. She went to investigate and found another student had trapped the Battlecrow and was stealing her power. Irene released her and the tower started to collapse; the Battlecrow flew off with Irene.)
~ ~ ~
Prince Death watched the Battlecrow, his least favorite sister, fly away leaving the real prize behind. He smiled.
Black wings clawed the sky
dust choked the air, rubble fell
Battlecrow flew off.
So like her to miss the big picture. Ah well, that’s why Death had many aspects. Prince Death smoothed his robes and tugged the pale tether that bound eleven captive souls to his will. Their scattered bodies slid as the tower’s crenelated roof canted. He laughed. Their vacant-eyed corpses fell over the side and tumbled free while their souls stayed chained to him.
“She didn’t finish the game,” he said to them. “That makes you mine to do with as I please.”
Prince Death bristled for form’s sake. His cousin expected no less. “What are you doing here Watcher? Tired of spying on a world you can’t be part of?”
A low blow yes, but this had to look real. He couldn’t have the Watcher of the Moon nosing around the rubble for the real prize. Oh no, that wouldn’t do. Let the fool think these eleven souls were worth something.
The Watcher of the Moon stood unmoved by the fact that the tower’s roof slanted at a forty-five degree angle and climbing. It might as well have been level ground that he crossed as sure-footed as a black cat. Neither was the man stupid either.
He was god-born just the same as Prince Death and he could feel the death energies rising. Let the fool mistake it as the result of so many being crushed by the tower’s collapse. Let him not realize that there was a transformation taking place one level below their feet. That was the real prize, not these pitiful souls who were so dumb, they had called death to them prematurely via magic of all things. They had gotten what they deserved.
The Watcher of the Moon didn’t say anything. Shadows hid a face that belonged to no race and all of them. He was everyman and none of them, just like the moon itself. It belonged to any and every eye that watched it. All Prince Death could see were those haunting eyes.
Moon shined in his eyes–
in his irises it waxed.
Prince Death felt the pull;
his will rose, fell like the tides,
dancing to the Watcher’s will.
The Watcher of the Moon set a hand on the tether and it snapped in a shower of white sparks. Then he turned, stepped off the roof onto air that solidified under his bare feet and started descending. The captive souls straggled in his wake.
“Where do you think you’re taking them?” Prince Death asked as he broke the hold those eyes had on him.
“To someone I trust.”
Prince Death laughed. “You trust my sister, the Battlecrow? You are a fool.”
The Watcher of the Moon shrugged. He’d chosen the lesser of two evils and that was good enough for him.
Prince Death waited until the Watcher had disappeared from sight with his coterie in tow. Then he skipped, nimble as a spider over the masonry crumbling away under his feet. His next victim awaited his loving hands. Too bad the Watcher had sensed her; a fight against him would have been great fun, but, alas, another time perhaps.
Shadows swarmed ‘neath boots
formed a ramp that curved downward
replaced collapsed stairs.
The tower groaned as it leaned hard to the left showering rocks and cement dust that veered away from Prince Death leaving his path unhindered by projectiles. He laughed and his power extended to the curtain wall, kept it standing to screen his next act. It wouldn’t do for Irene, the Battlecrow or the Watcher to know about his little plaything. She should be quite finished with the transformation by now. No need for anyone else to know, not yet anyway.
The tower’s lower levels quit their complaining and pancaked in a satisfying thud populated by wails that cut off as heavy blocks crushed windpipes and ribcages. Death energy released in a fountain of crimson that bathed him in power. It rolled through him, thick and honey-sweet on his tongue, sending shivers of delight down his nerve endings. Death unexpected and premature, the most delicious of them all and he savored it.
A crow screamed; no doubt his sister was upset at missing this. She sounded too far away to gorge on this splendid feast. Too bad for her, more for him and his new pet to enjoy. Bending, he lifted up a headless corpse and grasping it around the waist, he waltzed over the dead bodies littering the landing. All the while he hummed a jig and drank deep of the death choking the air. Such a fine feast indeed.
Diorite blocks rained down around him bouncing off his personal shields. Bowing to his partner, he tossed the bloody thing away. Rigor Mortis had set in anyway making her dance move too stiff. He laughed at his own audacity.
There in the midst of a black web throbbing its last beat as the magic that created it bled away into the womanish thing it bound. Yes, there was his prize. One that would make the world shudder in horror at its unnaturalness.
Irene’s Quest continues in Make Evil a Queen.
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