Here is a bad guy for ya.
When Landry, during one of Karol’s long absences, had converted the Swords from an honor guard to an all-male private army, Guthrie had joined. Every benefit he gained, he shared with his supporters, a wise investment which sped his promotion to Chief Sword. Enemies? A strong man always has enemies; a clever man leaves them dead or disabled.
Landry was quick to recognize Guthrie’s valuable qualities: deviousness, ruthlessness, a complete lack of scruples, brutality kept in check by ambition, and what Landry took to be blind loyalty. Landry had called upon those qualities when he decided the time was right for Karol to make way for a more attentive administrator.
Now the two men walked in silence for a while. The wind was strong and steady, bringing a touch of dampness with it, though Fiddlewood River flowed past some miles to the east.
“Suppose I had an enemy,” said Landry. “And suppose my enemy had a child. Suppose he hid this child at a baby farm, and no one knew which one, or under what name he’d left it.”
“Kill your enemy,” said Guthrie, “and the child is lost.”
“But suppose it’s prophesied the child will not stay lost. Suppose the child is fated to be my downfall. What then? How can I protect myself from a child I can’t find?”
“You can find it,” said Guthrie. “You just can’t identify it.”
“Find it for me,” said Landry.
“And when I have?”
“I don’t forget. Not help or hindrance.”
The Consort held out his hand. Guthrie clasped it, feeling that clasp raise him from hireling to friend, a feeling Landry’s strength lay in stimulating.
“I’ll give you a letter of empowerment,” said Landry. “Do what you must, and do it soon.”
Guthrie remained on the battlement when Landry left to compose his letter. What he must do was simple; how, would take some thought.
For Guthrie beren Melanell had dreams of his own. Not dreams of what he might do, but dreams of what he had done. He and his sword.
Guthrie drew his sword now, and held her across his knees. She caught the sun and flashed it into his eyes. She had been forged in Kozabir; Guthrie had taken her from a mercenary he killed in a border skirmish and had named her: Deya beren Blotha – Death, born of Blood.
They worked well together, he and Deya. They had served Layounna in the militia and now in Landry’s Swords. She sang when he drew her in battle. She sang when he wielded her; even the cries of her victims held a note of awful song.
In the night, in Guthrie’s dreams, she sang to him. The burden of the song was always death. Blood spattered his dreams. If he dreamed of flowers, they were red. If he dreamed of jewels, they were red. If he dreamed of earth, the clay was red. He dreamed of women, and he slew them. He dreamed of friends, and he slew them. Nothing he dreamed of lived, except himself – himself, and Deya’s voice.
He could almost hear her when he was awake now. She whispered of the blood in living things. He could almost see it pumping, could almost hear it buzzing in veins. He almost thirsted for it, but nearly choked with his dreams’ surfeit.
How to kill, and not kill? he asked himself. How to satisfy the Consort, satisfy himself, and keep it from his dreams? For he must keep these children from his dreams. He’d spilled the blood of children before in border skirmishes and the occasional ethnic rebellion in a District. The dreams that had followed had been most dreadful. That blood had clung to him, and it had burned like acid.
Whadda stinkeh, eh?
The Fall of Onagros, SAGE Book 1 got its first review yesterday — five stars, baby! ~kiki poinging~
“The Fall of Onagros deftly delivered on all these expected things, and offered up some unexpected delights.”
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character tries to figure out how to do something mean without being blamed for it.