Chapter 154 Pt.1:
Terrill could barely stand, alcohol had already robbed him of such delicate movements. Instead, he sat in a soft, plush chair, a half-empty glass of brandy within easy reach. No words passed his lips, only the brown liquid in an attempt to calm his heart.
It failed utterly.
“Stupid girl.” Terrill downed the entire glass in one go, uncaring that he aged body spasmed in rebellion. “I told you it was going to be a trap. But you didn’t listen…And now look what happened.
Terill shook his head, just for a moment regretting he had thrown away the last of the alcohol.
“If you’d just listened…Had the meeting somewhere public, where everyone could see you, he’d never had tried something like that.”
Terill shook his head, sinking further into the soft chair. The last conversation he’d had with Lila came flooding back. An argument. Quite a bad one at that. Terill insisted that Leo couldn’t be trusted, while Fabrice assured her that he would, with people as reputable as Bernard and Marcus advising him. Lila was swayed by his arguments and agreed to go to the throne room, with a modest escort. Terill, exasperated, told her that she would be killed. Lila had only smiled and told him that her brother wouldn’t do that, that despite everything they were family and that he’d follow his words. Terill, in a misguided fit of anger, left in a huff. Of all the terrible choices he’d made in his life this was the one he regretted the most, a feeling that threatened to drag his heart to a complete stop.
“You should have listened to me…”
Terrill’s empty voice echoed in the small room. An old Church hideout, respite for Inquisitors hunting heretics and apostates. But mainly just a place to relax and unwind in peace and perfect privacy.
“I could hide here for the rest of my life.” Terrill slurred aloud. “I’m the only one that knows of this place. Well, that’s alive at any rate.”
The hideout was very simple. A small underground room underneath an unwitting civilian’s home, cluttered with preserved food, small caches of gold and even some books. Some of which were far worse than being simply heretical.
Terill had yet to see Lila’s body but he knew that she was murdered. In public too. The story was more than hollow; a last-ditch effort from Harold’s supporters to avenge their fallen king. But few had much recourse. Leo held a much larger force, more mages, and the strange mercenaries that Lila had taken a passing interest in. What she wanted to discuss with the mercenaries he would never know. They were firmly in Leo’s pocket, even if they weren’t paid they would be on his side. What option did they have?
Terill stumbled to his feet and searched for another bottle, anything to numb the pain that coursed through his heart. He tossed books and food to the side, uncaring the glass vials of preserved food broke, both food and glass staining the floor and the precious books. But Terill didn’t care.
Slowly the anger began to build, quickly consumed by an overwhelming sense of loss and hopelessness.
“Why couldn’t you have me by your side?” Terrill slumped back into the chair. “At least then I’d be dead…And not here. Just…”
He couldn’t find the words and stared at the single candle that illuminated the small room. Though small it was more than enough, luckily it wasn’t tossed into the piles of books, and their flammable paper pages.
“What am I supposed to do now?” Terill began to laugh. “An old, decrepit eunuch of a man, hunted by an entire Kingdom. At least I had some purpose before.”
Terrill kicked another pile of books. “Curse that idiotic boy! Leo should have never been allowed to take the throne. There must have…What’s the point? You’re dead. And soon…I’ll be dead too.”
Another pile of books fell, scattering over the ground. He grunted and shook his head.
Terrill’s eyes fell upon a small black leather bound book, one that Terill didn’t recognise. There were many that he had yet to read but he didn’t remember seeing this particular book, but he couldn’t pull his eyes away. A small marking on the front, the only distinguishing feature amongst the black leather, drew his attention.
A small stylised eye, with a set of teeth below. But the teeth were not humans. Nor Beast-kin. The lateral incisors were long, very long and tinged with a faint red dye.
Terill knew this symbol. It had been a part of his training as an Inquisitor.
Necromancy was a particularly vile school of magic, normally only the most wicked people would ever dare try and pry its secrets. Normally these were young mages, or hermits and miscreants that stumbled upon the most basic of the necromantic arts. But this was different.
“No…No they wouldn’t be able to help me.”
Terill picked up the book. The cover was still soft, despite the age and misuse, the paper crisp even though the other books were warped from the damp.
“Those creatures…Those foul creatures of the darkness.” Terill looked up. “Who am I kidding?”
Despite his words, Terill couldn’t put the book down. Thoughts continued to swarm and fester in his mind.
The book belonged to one of the few groups that Inquisitors genuinely feared. Terill had defeated hermit necromancers and the few errant mage students but these were different. Entirely different.
“I’ll never forget fighting a Vampire Archon.”
Even with alcohol coursing through his blood Terill shuddered at the memory of the creature. A single Vampire Archon, spawn of a dread being known only as Gorash, had been discovered in the north of Qaiviel, plotting something from a small remote village. Terill had marched upon the solitary man, rather unremarkable apart from his distaste for sunlight, and lost hundreds of soldiers. Memories flashed before his eyes, of a man tearing through elite soldiers and mages, moving with such speed and grace it was almost hypnotic. And every soldier that fell returned, not as a shambling monstrosity like the rudimentary necromancers, but as full sentient beings, bound to the man’s will and somehow enhanced by his magic. Terill didn’t know how the Vampire Archon fell, only that he did. He was not ashamed to say that he ran the moment he realised how dangerous they were.
“But they can do more than just fight…” Terill shook his head. “Could…No. They couldn’t…Could they?”
Terill cast his eyes around the small room, the last refuge he had. Could things honestly become any worse?
A sly smile crept over Terrill’s face. “They can hardly torture me. My heart would probably fail before I gave anything up. Not that I have anything left. So…Why not?”
A new thought stuck itself in his mind. Necromancers, even the most powerful, needed a body to work their magic, or at least some sort of flesh. The thought of somehow taking Lila’s corpse across the seas made him shudder. Not to mention that it would be impossible to recover her body before Leo either burned or buried it.
Terill rubbed a small lump in his pocket. A simple necklace given to him by Lila. He didn’t know where she found it, she had given away most of hers to ensure they had enough food and water during their flight from Clausonne, but she wanted him to keep it. She had given it to him a few nights before arriving at Clausonne. A night that he’d never forget. A night where he actually laughed, laughing and drinking with a potential future Queen, chatting about nothing and yet feeling the night fly by. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before. And it was now gone forever. Unless…
“This…This might be enough.” Terill sighed. “It belonged to her. Maybe some part of her spirit will remain lingering and attach itself to it.”
Terill slowly nodded. “I have enough money for the voyage, though it’ll be only one way. If they can’t bring her back then…”
I’ll just have them kill me. At least I tell her that I fell to the Vampire Archons.
Terill tried to take a step forward, both legs were like jelly.
“Alcohol is such a vile thing.” Terill slumped back into the chair. “Tomorrow then. Leo’s forces will have calmed a little by then too. They’ll probably think I’ve already left…”
Sleep rapidly began to overtake him, with the last of his strength he blew out the candle and completely surrounded himself in darkness. It was strangely peaceful, calming, almost.
“Maybe…Maybe I’ll do something worthwhile. Put someone worthwhile on the throne…Then I could die happily. Maybe I’ll just die? Who’s to say?”