Perfection: Part I

General fiction short stories not related to Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror.

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hoover
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Perfection: Part I

Post by hoover »

Hi, I'm kinda new at this website. Here is a story I wrote up recently. Please tell me your opinions. Also I couldn't fit all of the story on this post. It you want to read the last part of this story go to my website at [Link removed. It is allowed to link to your site in your sig. line or in your profile. Bmat].

Perfection: Part I

The old man reeled up from his seat and slumped on top of the table, panting. As his eyes focused he noticed strands of white hair curling around gray streaked feathers. The feathers were completely dried out as if they have been there for weeks. The man felt his head and found it balding, with the front of his head smooth, while the back held waist long white hair. He never let it grow this long, how long exactly did the vision take?
He flexed his wings and felt more dried out feathers drift to the floor. The muscles in his wings and shoulders felt weak as if it hadn’t been moved in months. But what shocked the man the most was that his that his taut, thirty-ish face had become a mass of wrinkles with a itching beard running down to his chest. His arms felt like dried up twigs and the skin hung off in folds.
The man’s shoulder’s conversed with silent mirth. “There is always a price to pay isn’t there?” he said in a raspy voice that never belonged to him. His energy was being drained away, dissipating like a water droplet on a hot cauldron. A gray haziness obscured his vision. He had found the solution to the world’s deepest desire, but can anyone enjoy it once it is achieved? The man dropped back into his throne and laughed loudly at the domed ceiling with his dried up voice. Yes there was always a price, his youth for this idea and the whole universe for happiness.

Slotek stood patiently in the atrium, maintaining a perfectly calm surface. He surveyed the room patiently. The walls were ivory colored steel panels dressed on the edges with intricate gold scrolls that suggested a bush of wild flowers. The roof was low here; the inlaid gold scrolls only a foot above his head. The floor was covered with a soft ruby carpet, scrolled with gold to match the wall and the ceiling. There were two doors opposite each other. The south facing one was supposed to be pure diamond. But it was so studded with rubies and sapphires that there was literally no space where one could actually see the surface of crystal. The door led to the outer halls, now probably empty as most the servants took their rest at this hour. But the sky was not dark. Slotek had never known true darkness, no one has. The walls and even the fibers of the carpet emitted enough light to illuminate the whole room. Every particle in the world emitted light, but compared to the wall, Slotek could never be sure he himself did emit anything. If there had been night perhaps he could have found out. But, of course, he doesn’t even know what night was; there was no sun and regular planetary rotation to determine night and day. What de did know was that everything emitted enough light in the world to give its every corner a warm glow, just bordering a blazing flame.
The north door was no exception. Although it was polish dark metal, it gave off s small amount of light. Slotek couldn’t really see the light because they were so minuscule compared to the glowing walls, but if he concentrated, he could feel the light jetting out of the door. Perhaps he could do that with his own hand if he concentrated hard enough. But that was a thought for later and an annoying distraction now.
Slotek shifted his weight onto his right foot and folded his wings up tighter so that only the snowy tip showed above his head. There was no room to spread it out now, not with so many other occupants in the room, and his wings have never been considered pretty either as he was growing up. In fact his schoolmates had often picked on him because of his ruffed up wings that seemed to drop feathers left and right. But some of those idiotic wise cracks may have come from his lanky built and how he always stood slumped with his eyes trained on the floor –until his mother slapped him hard on the back. They were not laughing now, however, not since he clawed his way to become advisor of the chancellor. He had taught them their lesson when he visited his hometown, only a decade ago. His “mates” won’t be getting out of that place anytime soon, in fact, Slotek had a strong feeling every employer would deny them even the right to an application until they had rotted away in that backward village. Mentally, Slotek smiled, savoring the memory as he had revealed all of this to his childhood “pals”.
Berating himself for wondering off again, Slotek pulled his concentration back into the room. He ran his eye over his companions. Standing still as statues next to the crystal door were two legionnaires. Each soldier had two long swords, on each side of their waists, hilts close to gloved hands. The Royal Guardsmen, the chancellor’s bodyguards, they would be some of the best blade masters in the world and also extremely skilled with magic to kill. Their armor was lacquered blood red and navy blue in the same pattern as the gems made out on the door between them, and the same pattern on the flags hanging from every tower of Cansomia, a glowing city over a blue sea. Even their wings were outfitted with tight fitting thin plates that were easy to move in but also could stop a short-range sword thrust. The armor molded around the soldier’s bodies matching the sleek helmets that were meant to slice through the air. The tinted visors were down, covering their cold eyes that calculated every movement for a possible threat.
All of it was for show of course, as they spent most of their time walking or standing a pace behind the chancellor. Slotek wondered why they were still putting up with it in this room. But, perhaps they wanted to impress the Supreme Commander who was standing against the wall facing Slotek. Jarnal Crudle was born a farmer who had worked hard to become a true blade master in only a century’s time. He had no great strength in magic, but he was skilled enough to kill with the same efficiency as a man with ten times his magical strength. Jarnal was taught by an old guardsman how to fight while his brothers harvested crops and tended cattle. He fell out a little from his family, especially his father, who wanted him to inherit the farm. Jarnal joined the army as soon as he was old enough and was raised to captain on his first day because of his abilities. For another century, Jarnal fought in three wars and became a national hero when his legions crushed the undefeated Kalkosh Drin, the greatest general of the Lapater Empire (and perhaps the greatest in the world). When the last Supreme Commander died, the chancellor nominated Jarnal personally to become the Supreme Commander. The Legion Generals elected Jarnal the next day unanimously. After that, his father came to accept Jarnal. Now he boasted to old friends about Jarnal on his private estate.
Older now, Jarnal had more gray then black in his short-cropped hair. Yet his face showed not a line, it was hard and smooth, his eyes cold and sharply focused. The top of his head stood a good foot short of Slotek’s, but judging by his bulk, Jarnal probably could knock down someone twice his size even without flying. The man had come in two minutes ago asking to see the chancellor because of some bad news, but he was told to wait. Now he stood seemingly relaxed, fingering one of three gold chains that ran across his dark coat to show his rank. Slotek noticed Jarnal had left his right hand free and in easy reach of the broad blade at his side. Although a brilliant tactician and skilled warrior, Slotek wasn’t worried about Jarnal, not in a political sense. The man was pure honor and pride, not used to dealing with the crafty twists and turns of politics.
The one Slotek had to be careful of stood directly across from him on the other side of the black steel door. Roland Lequi was dressed in a scarlet silk dress coat with simple embroidery of waterfalls. His hair was slicked back, oily beard trimmed into a triangle, wings perfectly folded, and feathers plump and whiter than snow. His dark boots gleamed brightly from all the polish that had been applied. Everything about the middle aged man looked clean, orderly, and brand-new –well save that there were some fine lines developing at the corners of his eyes. Roland was born from the richest family in Cansomia; was taught to play the games of politics as if they were as natural as breathing. After his parents died –some say that was his doing– Roland helped push the chancellor up to his throne. Roland became the second most powerful man in Cansomia, second only to the chancellor. Some think that Roland maybe the most powerful and the chancellor just a puppet. But after working with them for two years, Slotek can safely say that if Roland had wanted to make the chancellor a puppet, he had failed miserably.
Slotek carefully studied Jarnal and Roland out the corner of his eye again. It had taken him a great deal of time to find men that could supply reliable information about Jarnal and Roland. It struck him as funny how the four most powerful men in Cansomia were standing in the same place, though admittedly the chancellor was one chamber away. The division of power won’t remain for long though; soon there will be only one ruler in Cansomia. He didn’t think any of the others had gotten wind of his plans yet. The chancellor was too busy lately with his incessant search for the solution of our greatest desires –not a good way to rule in Slotek’s book, but if it kept his eyes blind to the plan then so be it. If Jarnal and Roland had learned anything his spies were not spotting any difference in their routines. It was almost time to act; the pieces were falling exactly as Slotek had wished. Now it was time to be cautious; any one of the three could shred his plans to pieces if they heard –especially Roland.
A muffled laughter issued through the metal doors, there was a high-pitched hysterical sound in it, as if the laugh was issuing from the throat of a mad man. Slotek looked up in surprise and saw Roland doing the same. They looked away, and one of the soldiers lifted his hand. The door swung open into the chancellor’s chamber when the soldier activated a hidden switch with air and some fire. Slotek couldn’t actually see the magic the soldier was using of course, but he felt it, so precisely it was almost like seeing air and heat particles being shifted in the atmosphere. The switch was well hidden so only the soldiers and the chancellor himself could open it. But after probing carefully with air –there were unpleasant traps for those that tried to sneak into the chancellor’s private rooms– Slotek had found the switch and how it worked.
A collective gasp came from the men in the atrium when they saw what happened inside. There were gray, dead feathers all over the floor and what looked like long strands of white hair. There was old man lounging tiredly in throne behind a circular table. His laughs were coming in wheezes as he stared blankly at the ceiling. His wings were completely extended, covered with bold pink patches and shriveled up feathers. Most of the man’s hair seemed to be littering floor or the table. The front half of his head was bald, leaving a glowing smooth scalp. What was left of his hair came down to the man’s waist. The fashionable white coat was the one the chancellor had worn this morning. It had fit the chancellor’s broad shoulders well. Now, the coat hung limply on the man’s bony body. Even the tight fitting trousers looked like they were covering a couple of sticks. It seemed the old man had lost every ounce of flesh he once retained. Skin draped in folds under his chain. To Slotek’s disgust, at the end of long fingers were even longer nails –perhaps 4 inches long– that scraped the floor. But that was not the worst. The worst was that the man was covered with a network of veins. His skin was pulled tight over those veins, making them pop out. There were two wide vessels clearly visible on the man’s neck. Slotek supposed they must be the primary vessels for the brain. In between the larger vessels smaller ones popped out too, like tiny long mounds moving up and down to the man’s laughter. Slotek thought he could probably even see tiny capillaries if he were close enough.
The old man lowered his face and gazed into the atrium. His eyes were tired, blood–shot, and looked ready to fall into the back of his head. Slotek almost flinched from that piercing gaze coming from a dying man. He knew that gaze, and he didn’t have to ask to know this was the chancellor. Apparently the other men weren’t quite sure. The guards bared both swords halfway and took a few steps toward the room.
“Stop,” the old man rasped.
The guards stopped short, perhaps from his blood vessel decorated face or his harsh stare, but definitely not for that dried out voice.
“I am still the chancellor,” he sat a little straighter and pulled his wings in gently. Suddenly his face split into a grin and his eyes became even harsher. “It seems I have found the answer the world seeks and I have paid the price for it.”
“Chancellor?” Jarnal said the word in disbelief.
“Yes it is me, my aging process has speeded up considerably since I began the trance this morning,” he regarded the men calmly as his bodyguards sheathed their swords, but they did not step back to the door. “Don’t worry, I am not some imposter. How else would I know that Roland and you, Slotek had intruded on my breakfast to discuss a petty trade route problem that you failed to bring up four days ago, which had now escalated in long delays of import transport.”
At the end the chancellor’s voice had risen sharply, reminding Slotek of that very morning. The problem had simply been overlooked when it first occurred because it was such a minor issue. Everyone thought the traders would easily solve the problems themselves. It was no one’s fought really, but the chancellor never liked bad results.
“So, have you come to inform me of your progress in correcting this mistake?” the chancellor asked.
“Of course,” Slotek piped up just before Roland in his high-pitched voice. Out the corner of his eye, he saw Roland’s face darkening for losing the honor to report. “But Chancellor Lendro, you need to see the medical staff first. Your health is the utmost importance to this nation and us sir. You–”
“I’m fine,” Lendro said harshly. He tensed a bit, and Slotek thought he was trying to keep down a cough. “Now tell me your progress.”
“Very well, if you insist,” Slotek rushed in as soon as Lendro’s mouth stopped moving, again forestalling Roland. “We have helped the merchants change some routes and forced them to wait longer for supplies. The exports have started again. But it is only temporary, we will have to find someway to have the importers wait longer, perhaps for four weeks to fix the whole problem.”
“A month? Well, get to it, I don’t want any more mess-ups,” Lendro said. He watched Slotek and Roland start for the door, and then focused on Jarnal. “Now Commander Jarnal, what do you wish to see me for?”
Slotek took as long as he could to reach the door and perhaps here a little of Jarnal’s news; Roland was taking even longer, appearing to hurry but some how moving even slower than Slotek. Jarnal began immediately, “We have a security breach. At least ten legionnaires have gone missing and five of the Royal Guardsmen. We are looking. However, some of them have been gone for a week now, if they are not a hundred miles from here then they are dead. I–”
Slotek finally opened the door, held it for Roland and everything else was cut off as the crystal swung back into place. They headed in opposite directions down the hall without even looking at each other. The problem would still be solved, there was just no need to talk to someone you didn’t like. Slotek’s leather boots clipped and clicked loudly on the bone white metal floors. The hall ran perfectly straight, branching off to other similar paths or to halls supporting more than few gray double doors. The unadorned walls and ceiling shone with the same white as the floor, continuously emitting light. There was no one out now but a handful of servants. The day had long finished. Slotek judged he had missed half of the rest period while waiting for Chancellor Lendro. The servants were either scrubbing the floors or running errands. None of them used magic to clean; the army seemed to have a way of finding people with even an inkling of handling magic.
Slotek ignored their nods to him as he made for his chambers. He wondered exactly who the soldiers were that had went missing. He had to dispose quite a few before he found ones that were willing to do anything for the right price. If the legionnaires were starting to look for the missing ones, then it was time to move.
He thought back to the meeting with Lendro. The man had put up a very good show of appearing fine, but he couldn’t hide the slight twitch in his eye or the involuntary jerks in his arm that Slotek new belonged to a tired man. Not only tired though, this man was frail and shocked from his experience, no matter how normal he was speaking. There was something in Lendro’s stare before, and Slotek connected it easily with the tired defeat and shock he had seen in his childhood “friend’s” eyes the day he broke the news to them. With Lendro so weak, there had never been a better time to attack.
Slotek used a complicated combination of air, earth, water, and fire to unlock his door and fling it open. He had designed the lock himself; anyone that didn’t know how to open it would die a quick death. Those that tried to find out by probing with air would suffer the same fate. He walked into the carpeted atrium closing the door behind him with waves of air, reactivated the lock. He sat down in a well-cushioned chair by a small gilded table that was support by one thick leg. He could have worked just as well in his study, but he had always liked this room because it reminded him of the grassy hill he had spent much of his childhood on.
Now he barely noticed the flowing water and rocks carved into the wooden walls that could have been the one at the foot of the hill or the oak tree spreading its branches over his head on the ceiling, just like the real one on the center of the hill. The green colored carpet gave off a scent of fresh cut grass. Slotek inhaled it gratefully before turning his attention to the top of the table. He took an orb out of his pocket and neatly took it apart. One halve was completely useless, the other held a substance that looked like water, but rippled too slowly.
Moving one hand quickly across the surface of the liquid, Slotek added small amounts of metal that created the channels he wished. After a few minutes four men’s faces appeared through the liquid. They were soldiers, easily seen by their short haircut.
“We will act in the early hours at breakfast, and I will have your money and transport away from the city by tomorrow afternoon,” Slotek said. He barely saw them nod before passing over his hand again to remove the metals. The orb was recapped and returned to his pocket. It won’t be long know before he became the only ruler of Cansomia.

Quidrid Sputuck tapped on the door of Roland Lequi. Being a First Captain and a Royal Guardsman, he was allowed admittance in the castle to Roland’s apartments without questions. He was still in the same armor suit as yesterday morning, not having time to change before Slotek called. He was very conscious of the weight of his long blade this morning, but he refrained from clutching the handle.
A servant opened the door by hand and inquired what the First Captain had come for. Quidrid asked to be shown to Roland, and he was led to a dining room, where Roland was reading a book at the table waiting to be served. He was in a white shirt, for once without fluff all around his neck and wrist. When he stood up, Quidrid saw he was wearing matching white breaches and white leather soft boots that made not a sound on the hard wood floor.
“First Captain Sputuck is it?” Roland inquired. “How may I help you?”
“We need to talk,” Quidrid replied simply. He had never liked politicians. His dealings with them had left him confused and feeling like he had been robbed. His payer was probably part of the government, but the man had offered the right price, so it didn’t matter.
“Talk about what?” Roland asked and flexed his eager wings a bit in response to a strong breeze coming through an open window.
“About death,” Quidrid said softly, almost a whisper. His blade slid smoothly out of the scabbard arcing up into Roland’s face in a simple opening stance. Roland clawed frantically at particles of air to form a solid barrier, but Quidrid easily dissipated the air particles. His sword arced up until his arm was fully extended then quickly back down to a guard position –a move that every beginner swordsman was taught to memorize.
From the neck up, Roland’s face was split in two, the center of which was quickly filling with blood. The politician tipped backwards and hit the floor with a thud, crushing his wings. His eyes were losing the spark that told you a man was still alive and fighting to live. In a smooth motion, Quidrid pivoted and swung sword in a horizontal slash that cut open the servant’s throat before she could get a scream out. Blood gushed out from her severed vessels, but the distance between them kept any blood from splattering onto Quidrid. Hastily wiping the blade clean on the tablecloth, he sheathed it and locked the door behind him as he left. Calmly he attempted to walk out of the castle alive.
Quidrid stepped quietly out of the spiraled servants staircase at the end of the hall, hidden behind fluted columns. The ground floor hall stretched straight before him, leading to the circular receiving chamber, and to the great doors that stood open. Relaxing the tension in his shoulders Quidrid moved quickly down the carpeted hallway, passing marble statues and gold-framed paintings without a glance. Two servants nodded to him from where they were dusting figurines or some other precious work. He gave slight nods in return –no need to be impolite– and was thankful he didn’t run into any of them while on the stair way.
Then his boots were clicking loudly on the gleaming marble floor of the receiving room. The domed room was built to match the doors, big enough to fit a giant ten times a man’s size. Two soldiers were standing toward the sides of the door, twin swords belted over tight-fitting armor. Seeing the First Captain approach, they saluted together with right fist to heart. Smiling in relief, Quidrid gave a salute of his own instead of nodding his head as was expected of officers.
“Stop!” The cold voice echoed loudly in the large room.
Spinning around Quidrid came to face a tall broad shouldered man in legionnaire armor of the Chancellor’s bodyguard. Second Marshall Wayne, the commander of the Royal Guardsmen. Quidrid had never talked personally to his commander, except of course for Marshall Wayne’s orders. But from his contacts he had learned that Wayne was a renowned sword master who fought cheaply by using magic; supposedly Wayne had never lost a dual in his life. Quidrid readied himself to draw blade, eyeing Wayne’s sheathed sword apprehensively.
Putting his right hand on his hilt, Wayne announced loudly to the room in general, “First Captain Quidrid Sputuck of the Chancellor’s Royal Guardsmen, you are under arrest for the murder of Roland Lequi. Please–”
Not waiting for more, Quadrid leaped backwards and took wing. The door guards didn’t even have time to look surprised before Quadrid swept over their heads into the open air. The wind was calm this morning, no obstructing wind, but also not as much lift as Quadrid would have liked. Making his body arrow straight, Quadrid changed his course and shot upwards to put the walls of the castle between him and Wayne. Concentrating, he moved the flame particles in the air and a trail of orange fire blossomed beneath him, hot enough to make any pursuer hesitate. Large glass windows shot past Quadrid, their panes rattling from the wind parted from his wings.
Suddenly the fire was split in two has if a huge axe had cut it down the middle. Quadrid could see Wayne through the gap pushing the fire apart with a shield of air. Wayne raised his hand and a band of air peeled from the surface of shield, snaking upward with blinding speed. Quadrid screamed with agony as the band torn through his leather guard at the base of his left wing. The band widened and edges sharper than any steel, sheared off Quadrid’s wing. Pain attempted to rip Quadrid’s mind apart, his scream had reached such a high pitch that it has become inaudible. Luckily a corner of his mind remained sane enough to remember that he was plummeting back down to the earth. That part of mind forced his right wing to spread out and slow the fall as much as possible.
Quadrid thudded on to the marble pavement a few feet in front of the stair leading to the doorway. The door guards immediately fell upon him.

The hallways were already bustling with people at the breakfast hour. Most of them were fresh recruits running errands for senior officers. Their armor was undecorated, but clean. A few had helmets cradled in their arms and their wing feathers a little bent, most likely back from a morning flight practice. Linquid remembered those, his commanders had charged at him with steel tipped lances as he tried to maneuver though obstacles. A couple of times they had got him in the legs and he still had to hobble along during the marches in the middle of the day. No one liked those practices.
Two under officers that Linquid had never met before stepped from side corridors. They fell into step with Linquid a pace behind him. Both had a green pin on their collar, so it seemed the payer had sent him the help he asked for. Linquid turned left into the wall. The ivory mass winked out of existence, revealing an identical hall to the one he had been traversing. Linquid walked in with the under officers at his heel. The wall winked back as solid as ever once they were in the hallway. There was no one in this hallway. Most soldiers are not freely admitted into this part of the fort. The winking wall contained images of all the faces and ranks in the legions. It offered entrance only to senior officers and soldiers with special passes. The under officers would not have been allowed in if they had not been with Linquid.
The bone white hallway was referred to this as the Brain, the control center of army. Every doorway led into the quarters of officers with ranks no less than General. At the very end of the hall was the War Room, the Head Quarters for every major war that Cansomia has been in. The hallway was rid of any hint of decorations, such things would get in of messengers that may have to run down the hall during war time. The plain white door that was marked Supreme Commander matched the walls.
It swung open upon reading Linquid’s face. Most doors in the hallway were designed similarly to the winking wall. In the Spartan atrium, a squat secretary sat behind his desk, already scribbling notes onto an official looking paper. The man looked up from his paper. His white hair was almost gone, but his face was hard and his eyes harder, clearly a veteran who had decided to remain in service long after his strength had failed. Putting down his pen, he said, “I’m sorry, but the commander is taking breakfast right now.”
Silently Linquid gave the secretary the note that the messenger from the payer had given him. The secretary read the note in one glance and put it into his record books. The note claimed Linquid and the under officers was part of the House of Spies and had come with special information about the rebellion taking place on the island of Gaunme. Such visits were always guaranteed immediate audience with the Commander.
“Very well.” The secretary moved his hand over a basin of liquid on his desk. The communicator would send a red signal to a similar basin in the Commander’s room to warn him of the visitors. A green signal was given; it meant the Commander would allow the audience. Nodding to Linquid, the secretary told them to go in.
Linquid walked to the metal door behind the secretary and pushed it open. The under officers followed him into a room that seemed to be part of the sky. The floor was an endless drop to the island dotted ocean and white clouds carved into the walls looked as if they were about to move. A dark thunderstorm was on the horizon in the western wall. The Commander sat at one end of the room having a roasted chicken breakfast. He was dressed in his shinny armor that announced his rank as much as the gold chains across his chest. His gray head was still bent over the chicken as three swords swept out of scabbards and Linquid charged towards him.
The Commander looked up in the two seconds that it took Linquid to reach him. Moving without hesitation, the Commander kicked back from the table and used air to hurl the table at the charging men. His knife and fork shot out like arrows. Linquid whirled his blade in an arc to block the oncoming fork and brought down a wedge of air to chop open the table before his face. The knife streaked past his temple and struck into one under officer’s right eye, killing him instantly. The other under officer was more alert, leaping out of the way of half of the table still flying towards him. At the same time, the officer threw out his hand, sending out strands of air that bound the Commander tightly against his chair.
The Commander’s chair thumped against the wall as Linquid’s sword reached him, striking through his thin armor directly in to his heart. The Commander screamed out in pain. Linquid twisted his sword to try to force more blood out. Striking the heart was not a fast kill, it was fatal, but the wounded still had eight seconds to live. Linquid had wanted an instant kill by striking the head, but the table had caused him to miss. With someone like the Commander, giving him those eight seconds to fight back was not a wise decision.
The Commander tapped into the air particles that were bounding him and they recoiled like a whip into the under officer. Unable to disperse all the strands, the officer’s body was punctured with one-inch wide holes. Linquid jumped back with his sword just in time to avoid being stabbed by one of the strands. His wings spread out automatically as they would in the air to balance himself. The Commander immediately pulled out a long knife from his boot and used the last of his strength to leap at Linquid.
The long knife honed in on its target without wavering. Before Linquid landed he felt the blade slip between of ribs and cut open his heart. He landed hard on the marble floor, a few feet in front of the dead Commander. Pressing down on the hilt of the knife as if it would hold the blood in, Linquid lurched to his feet and swayed towards the door. Warm blood was spreading all across his chest inside his armor and his vision became blurry. Not yet, please, I don’t want to die!
Linquid took one step towards the door and fell on to his face, feeling the last of his life seep into his armor.

Slotek carried the tray carefully into the Chancellor’s chamber. Steam was still rising from the clear mint soup. Lendro had chosen to sit at the diner table still in his sleeping gown. His wings were almost featherless now, but he no longer seemed so weary, and his eyes were sharper. Surprisingly, the chancellor had not cut his hair. Instead, it fanned out among his wings.
“What compelled you to become my personal servant?” Lendro asked.
“I am worried about your health.” Slotek forced himself to smile at Lendro’s remark. “As your advisor it is also my duty to see that you do not kill yourself before your service to the kingdom is done. I had this mint soup made with caffeine, it will keep you on your toes for the rest of the day.”
“Thank you, I suppose.” Lendro leaned back to let Slotek put down the tray. “It certainly smells refreshing. Have you and Roland made any progress with the trading.”
“Not much I’m afraid.” Slotek was forced to stand like a servant, as there were no other chairs in the room. Somehow, he found the strength to contain his anger and stand calmly. “But you can worry about it after breakfast.”
Lendro gave Slotek a smile and sniffed his soup. Perhaps he was testing it for poison. But it didn’t matter; the extra ingredient Slotek added was virtually undetectable when mixed with cocaine. Lendro took his spoon and took one sip. Slotek let himself smile when Lendro’s spoon clattered back on to the table. He stared at Slotek for a few seconds in shock, and then fell into a deep unconsciousness against his chair.
Slotek manually locked the door with a wall of air and walked to Lendro with a piece of paper. Now that Lendro’s guard is down, his mind will be easily manipulated. He will personally announce Slotek as the acting Chancellor now that he is “sick”.

Second Marshall Wayne hurried through the palace halls towards the Chancellor’s chambers. Two of the Royal Guardsmen supported a limping Quidrid. Any regular murderer would have been tried by a local magistrate and beheaded. However, a member of the Royal Guardsmen that murdered a noble of Cansomia was a more serious business. The Chancellor would be the first to be notified and pass judgment on the action.
Quidrid had stopped bleeding, but dried blood was smeared all over his left side, hiding the golden bar that marked his rank. Servants that saw them hurried away with lowered eyes. As they came closer to the Chancellor’s chambers there were less and less wall decorations. The priceless vases dwindled and fancy wall paintings or carvings became farther apart. When they came to the Chancellor’s floor, the walls were a bare white, simple but beautiful. It was almost an exact match of the legionnaires quarters. Wayne stood straighter, filling with the pride that he was serving a worthy Chancellor whom had actually served in the legions. But remembering the bad news, he was about to release, Wayne wiped the smile from his face.
Two Royal Guardsmen saluted to Wayne at the Chancellor’s door. Their brightly painted armor stood out in the Spartan hallway. But unlike most people believed, they were not just for show. The Guardsmen were all handpicked from the best swordsmen in the legions.
“I must see the Chancellor immediately,” Wayne informed the soldiers. “We have a code 1 security breach.”
The Guardsmen opened the door to the atrium and led Wayne into the Chancellor’s dining room. The Guardsmen holding Quadrid followed him. To Wayne’s surprise, it was Slotek that sat behind the dinning table. His red hair was almost a cap of gray curls and his wings were held in tight, as if he didn’t want others to see it. Wayne didn’t blame him; Slotek’s bent gray feathers were not a pretty sight. With the entrance of the party, Slotek stood up.
“I wish to see the Chancellor,” Wayne spoke to Slotek.
“I am the acting Chancellor Second Marshall Wayne,” Slotek said with a smile. “Chancellor Lendro is gravely ill and he asked me to be the acting Chancellor this morning. Perhaps you have not seen the new signs. Now, what do you wish to see me for?”
Wayne suppressed any hint of surprise from showing on his face. No one would dare make such a claim without it being true, and it seemed the Guardsman that had led him in didn’t seem surprised at all. He would have to find out how the Chancellor became sick later. Wayne saluted with fist to heart and said, “Chancellor, I am sorry to inform you that Supreme Commander of the Legions Jarnal Crudle and Roland Lequi have both been murdered.”
“What!? When? How?” Slotek put both hand on the table and his face became slack with genuine surprise. “I need their help now more than ever.”
“I am sorry Chancellor,” Wayne said. “Supreme Commander Crudle was murdered by Lieutenant Bartimus Linquid, Sergent Sykes Omella, and Sergent Draga Helmon, from the 21st Legion, 3rd Legion and 18th Legion respectively. They entered his rooms at breakfast hour claiming to be members of the House of Spies. Supreme Commander Crudle killed all three soldiers defending himself, but he was dead with a fatal wound to his heart. It was Guardsman you sent to inform the Supreme Commander of a meeting who found the Commander Jarnal wounded. But by then the Commander had bled to death.”
Slotek shook his head slowly and sat back into his chair. “Jarnal was a good man and the best Commander we have known in generations. All of Cansomia will miss him. The legions must be informed immediately to select a replacement and to plan his funeral.”
“Of course Chancellor.” Wayne nodded, but he was barely able to keep the shame out of his voice at the next piece of news. “There has been treason among the Royal Guardsmen. The one that murdered Roland Lequi was First Captain Quidrid Sputuck.”
Slotek carefully studied Quidrid and said, “I assume you came to ask for the Chancellor’s personal judgment. Then I will give it, First Captain Quidrid Sputuck, as a traitor of Cansomia you will beheaded at the castle gates tomorrow before breakfast hour.”
“No, you can’t kill me!” Quadrid stared wildly at everyone in the room and struggled vainly with his captors. “I…I have information–”
Wayne spun around at the sound of Quadrid’s voice and shut him up with a backhand slap to the face. “Silence. A traitor will not speak to the Chancellor.”
“Take him away to the cells,” Slotek said without taking his eyes off of Quidrid.
The Guardsmen dragged a screaming Quidrid out of the room. The screams were abruptly cut out as the door swung shut.
“There has not been treason among the Royal Guardsmen for 10000 years,” Slotek said as Wayne turned around. “I do not need something like this while the Chancellor is sick. As the commander of the Guardsmen it is your duty to see how deep this treason is. I have seen your records, you are one of the best commanders we have, I’m certain you can get to the bottom of this. Do whatever you need to and get rid of this problem quickly.”
“I will Chancellor,” Wayne said with a salute. At Slotek’s nod, Wayne turned around and left the room.
Slotek was right, there has not been outright treason among the Guardsmen since the reign of Chancellor Daco. It shamed Wayne that treason should occur while he was the commander of the Guardsmen. His mentor would be shaking his head in his grave. Wayne wiped the scowl that was about to form on his face. Anger was not what he needed right now. Now that the problem has occurred he needed complete concentration to work to the bottom of it. And he will; the Royal Guardsmen must be the most loyal unit to Cansomia.

Slotek strode slowly down the stark hallway to the Chancellor’s Study. He must do something with this part of the castle. Lendro had stripped away all the carvings to make as plain as a common barrack. A true Chancellor needed a setting that would befit him; perhaps the new carving genius from Cantoa could make something good enough.
The boots of the two Royal Guardsmen who flanked him clanked loudly on the steel floor. They were splitting up their guard force. Halve to guard Lendro and halve for the Acting Chancellor. Marshal Wayne is not with either group. He was still desperately trying to find the source of the treason as Slotek had told him to. Wayne was a more than capable soldier by his record but neither him nor anyone else was going to trace the traitors to Slotek. All of the soldiers who had received money from Slotek were now dead, or “missing”, except for Quidrid, who was as good as dead. But not even Quidrid knew who had given him the money. Slotek had instructed the soldiers that received money to kill the messengers; all the leads were dead.
The Guardsmen positioned themselves on each side of the gem covered crystal door to the Chancellor’s Study. Slotek used air to push the double door open with a wave of his hand. The door had been there since the founding of Cansomia to symbolize its power. Slotek turned around to shut the doors. As he did so he set a few traps on it; whoever tried to force their way in without his permission would be blown to pieces. He laid a few more traps for backup in the atrium as he walked to the inner door. Inside were a simple circular table and a throne.
But after careful questioning of the drugged Lendro, Slotek had learned there was more to it, much more. Slowly, Slotek moved strands of air and fire into the marble white walls of the room as Lendro had told him. The walls immediately melted to the floor as if they had never been. The rest of the chamber must have been a kilometer squared, but almost all of it was filled with a levitating disk. It was made of pure black stone without a single marking, almost as thick as Slotek was tall. But the strangest part is that it didn’t emit any light. Slotek had never seen anything like it. It…it was pulling in light from everything around it. He could feel it; the disk was sucking in even the little light his own tissues were making.
Slotek spread his wings and flew to the center of the disk. As he landed on top, the disk formed around his feet and ankles, pulling him in. He forced his breathing to slow down. Lendro had told him that this would happen. The disk continued to absorb him without seeming to move or make a sound. Surprisingly, when he was completely inside he could still breathe and see the rest of the room as if the disk didn’t exist.
Breathing to the beat of his heart, Slotek emptied his mind and let the thoughts of the black disk into him. Lendro had claimed the disk was powerful enough to do almost anything, now it was time to test his claim. Using the disk to move air, water, and earth Slotek formed a translucent version of himself in the middle of the Dead Forest, on the borders of the Lapater Empire. The form allowed him to see, hear, and smell the forest as if he was there. Slotek laughed with triumph and so did the form. He raised his hand and a searing blue blaze suddenly appeared around him. At the same time the air reverberated with a loud horn call.
The savages that lived in this forest believed in something called God, as all savages did. Cansomia had already rid of all its religious fanatics two generations ago. But the Lapater Empire and the Wycons have failed to do so and they still suffer from savage raids. Annually their borders are ravaged as the savages try to convert them to their God. If he had controlled Lapater, he would have cleared the entire forest and slaughtered every one of the savages. But now, he could actually make use of them.
The secret histories held a surprising amount of knowledge about the savages. To the ones in the Dead Forest, the great sapphire blaze and the call of the golden horn was a sign that their God had come of them. Slotek changed his form into a robed old man with a dangling white beard. No need to have the savages blabber to others that their God had wings like a Cansomian. He waited while heavy gray clouds gathered above him. First it began to drizzle and then into a drenching down pour. Using the disk he kept the blue fire going, but it took more effort.
For 100 yards around Slotek, the trees had been burned to unrecognizable ash; even the rocks were melting. The blue fire was more than 1000 degrees. the only reason the entire forest didn’t go up was because Slotek was containing the fire. He wanted a signal, not to kill all the savages living in here too. Even so the other trees looked like they had been scorched. Their gray leaves had long dropped to the ground just from the weight of the rain. Their limbs were skinny, bent and blackened, giving off as little light as possible. The place truly looked like dead.
To the right, Slotek saw human faces began to appear, eyes looking hesitantly up at him. Lifting his hand, Slotek wiped out the fire and drained some of the heat from the ground.
“Come.” His voice boomed as he used air to magnify it. One by one the savages came to gather around him, not only from the right, from every direction. They were dressed in some sort of wrinkled leather that blended right in with the Death Trees. They were all men, probably soldiers. Some had swords buckled at their belts, others held crudely made spears with two feet of steel on top. A clean-shaven mid-aged man stopped in front of Slotek. He was almost as tall as the translucent form and bulky too under his leather. The man was completely bold, as the chiefs were said to be. Two other bold men joined him. They put their left hand on their sword hilts, right hand at heart, and kneeled. Everyone in the burned circle kneeled down.
“I am God!” His voice drowned out even the thunder. He felt up into the sky, into every drop of rain, every wisp of cloud. The black disk gave him total control and he could feel oceans of particles at his call, ready to be moved. I am God, I can do anything, and the whole world will bow before me. He punched his fists into the air and forced the storm clouds apart. First from over their heads, then further and further. “I command you, rain, to stop!”
Suddenly, pain shot through Slotek’s temple, turning his vision gray for a few seconds. He could feel the disk absorbing part of him and the room as it tried to gain the needed energy to move the clouds. Gritting his teeth to keep from making a sound Slotek torn the rest of the storm apart. The world seemed instantly lighter because the sky emitted far more light than the clouds. The savages looked up with wonder, then pressed their faces to the ash, all facing Slotek. They probably felt all the tidal wave of particles that was moved forcefully.
“Oh great God,” the first chief to appear spoke into the ground. “How may we, humble servants, serve you?”
“The non-believers have had power for far too long.” Slotek gained confidence as he realized his voice still sounded normal despite the pain. “I have observed them enough to know that they cannot be converted. They have become the heart of evil on this planet. They have burned your homes, slaughtered your people, and destroyed your crop countless times. But now the non-believers threaten all that is alive. The fools think they can shape the world, but their ignorance will wipe out everything. They must be taken out of this world. Ready all of your men that can lift a weapon. You will unite together under me, for a new age is about to begin, an age free of evil, an age of happiness and perfection. Lead your men into the heart of the Lapater Empire and slaughter all that oppose you. I will be by your side. The skies will rain lightning of death and victory shall be yours! Avenge your fallen brethrens and free this world of evil!”
“We here and obey great God,” the chief spoke without picking up his head. “We will not fail you. Lapater will be burned, the non-believers will be killed, and we will be victorious!”
Nodding, Slotek let the translucent form disappear. He was once again inside the disk, staring at the empty room. Slotek studied his hand. It was wrinkled, as if it aged 100 years in just a few minutes. For whatever reason Lendro had created the disk, it wasn’t all-powerful. It did have great power. Ten of the greatest magicians of all time wouldn’t have parted that storm from so far away even if working together. But the disk did have limits, and it seemed to suck in any energy around it once it reached the limit. Perhaps that was why Lendro had aged so fast. It will be interesting to find out what the man could have been doing that required so much energy. Though that will take some more questioning at another time. Slotek’s job is not yet done here. The savages in the Dead Forest do not represent all of them on the planet. He will need to have a chat with the rest too. They will be a distraction to the Lapater Empire and Wycon. Then he will make the final move to conquer the world. He may not be all-powerful, but he can still rule the world.

Shaking his head, Lendro forced himself to sit up. The drug Slotek had fed him seemed to make his thoughts swell, clogging up his mind so he couldn’t comprehend anything. Being in a soft bed didn’t help much. Shaking his head again, Lendro threw off the covers and slid off on to his feet before he laid back and fell asleep again. There were dead gray feathers all over the bed. At this rate he would be completely bare in a matter of hours. At least they hadn’t undressed him; he was still in a coarse white robe that Slotek had given him when he was interrogated. Or was it because they were just so sick of seeing his aged body.
The bedroom was his. A dark vase sat on a pedestal at each corner of the room. The bed was a huge square big enough to fit five people, and very comfortable. The walls were crisp white except for the ground to ceiling window in one wall. The curtains were drawn, but through the center crack he could still see the sky outside. It seemed a thunderstorm was moving apart in the distance. But it was moving too fast, as if something was pulling it.
Turning towards the vase at the base of his bed, Lendro took a step towards it. His vision suddenly turned double. The floor, the pedestal, the vase all seemed to be moving apart and tipping to the side. Lendro spread out his hands to steady himself on the uneven floor. He shuffled slowly through the grassy carpet. However, with each step it seemed like the floor was tipping more and more. When he finally reached the double pedestal it seemed as if he was trying to stand on a wall. He grabbed at the pedestals’ heads for support, but only found air. The carpet cushioned his fall somewhat, but the forearm he had landed on felt broken.
Surprisingly, the floor seemed normal again now that he was on his back. Grunting, Lendro forced himself to get up again. If he was still in his rooms it meant Slotek hadn’t gained all the power yet. Most likely he told everyone Lendro was sick. He needed to get out of here and take back his position before Slotek figured out how to dispose of him. Moving air and fire particles at his state felt like pushing on a nail-studded boulder. But somehow he forced them into the vase. It melted into the pedestal and a glass ball was in its place. The hiding spot was so well made that most people wouldn’t have found it even if they were feeling with magic.
Lendro reached out his hand to touch it. He had spent years trying to find out how the world, no, everything, could be made perfect. He had perfected the construction of the black disk that Chancellor’s before him tried to make. It was supposedly a defensive structure that could stop the advance of any army into Cansomia. But Lendro had made it ten times stronger. With it he had delved into the deepest reaches of space, the farthest dimension, and through all of time. There he had wasted his body to find the way to perfection. He had stored his memory into the crystal ball incase something should happen. He may need it now if Slotek gets to him before he can find Roland or Jarnal.
His long fingernails had been cut to two inches long, fit for an old man who can’t work. The world around him suddenly lurched with his anger and he knocked down the pedestal. It fell to the floor in a muffled crash, but he managed to catch the crystal before he fell on top of the pedestal. If that arm wasn’t broken before it definitely was now. The bedroom door banged open and a couple of Legionnaires walked in. Neither had swords or armor.
“Ah, we must have missed his lost dose of medication,” the older man said. “I’ll go get it. Try to get him bed, but be careful. Chancellor Slotek said he may be delirious and could be dangerous.”
“Chancellor Slotek?” Lendro snarled at the guards. The drug must be enhancing his emotions because all he could feel were waves of anger that battered aside his feeble attempts to control it.
Waves of heat enveloped the room, entering everything except for Lendro. The bed was instantly a mass of flames and the vases exploded to a million little shards along with the glass window. The younger Legionnaire screamed with agony as fire spring from his mouth and spread throughout his body. The older one had better reflexes; he threw up a shield of air and pushed it apart to force away the heat. But it was already too late. He was too slow compared to Lendro, heat had already entered his body and his blood was cooking his brain. Within seconds he had collapsed next to the charred remains of his companion. He let go of his shield and a wave of air bumped into Lendro.
Or it would have been a bump a day ago. In his frail body, it felt more like a smack. Lendro was forced back. He could feel the shards of glass ingraining themselves into his feet. Suddenly, the ground gave way behind him and he fell out of the socket where the window was. The castle sped by him; windows flying past so fast that he couldn’t even get a glimpse of who were in them. But then the castle had past and he was falling along the bottom of the island, threw mists of clouds that wet his robes. Luckily there were no protrusions that he would have hit and died on. His mind was no longer cooperating with him as it had during his burst of anger. Her seemed to be blacking out from forcing his body to use so much magic. Every time he opened his eyes he was farther down then he should have been. The bottom tip of the island passed away and so did most of the clouds.
It looked like the island had been floating over land. He was plummeting with dead speed towards a vast forest. I will not die, not until my knowledge is passed on! Desperately, Lendro spread his wings to slow himself down, or maybe wake his mind before he hit the floor.

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Ariel
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Post by Ariel »

Someone will get to you soon. Hang in there! :wink:

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Bmat
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Post by Bmat »

The man’s shoulder’s conversed with silent mirth-- his shoulders talked with something silent called "mirth?" Shoulders should not be possessive, also.

At the beginning of the paragraph you mention a seat and a table, but at the end it is a throne. A throne could be a seat with a table near it big enough to slump over, but this looks like an anomaly.

The first paragraph is intriguing with the interesting idea that the person has discovered the solution to the world's greatest desire at the expense of his youth.

The second paragraph contains at least one tense change. The repetition of "but" could be changed.

The third paragraph needs a little proofreading.

spread it out now,--- I wasn't sure what "it" is- if it refers to wings, then would it be "them?" This paragraph was a bit slow to read, perhaps the information it holds could be brought out another time- just an idea.

Each soldier had two long swords, on each side of their waists---this says they had two swords on each side, for a total of 4. Again, the detailed description makes for slow reading.

Slotek wondered why they were still putting up with it in this room---- I wondered about this wondering. It seems normal to me that the guard of an important person would stand at attention when on duty. Perhaps this society being presented in the story is different. Once again, the paragraph spends a great deal of time on description.

I stopped reading here- I ran out of time, actually, sorry about that. I'd recommend some vigorous condensing and removing information that isn't necessary here but could be inserted later on. In a short story, in particular, the long descriptive paragraphs may detract from the plot and the action. If this were a chapter of a novel, then one would have the leisure to spend more time on description.

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