Tales From a Thousand Worlds

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The Sleepers of the Marsh – Part Nine

The Sleepers of the Marsh

Part Nine – The Viewing

A low rise looked down over the misty marsh, one upon which the fading sun still shone. Atop it squatted Renkheqen. He had set his smoking brazier down beside him while he leant upon his staff with one clawed hand. With the other he scratched markings into the ground around him, patterns that spiralled outwards, in complex, esoteric designs that pained the eye to gaze upon. As he did so, he whispered words that seemed more sounds than actual phrases.

When at last he was done with his markings, he removed a single bar of metal from the collection that dangled from his staff, this one of a dull black metal that seemed to drink in the light. It’s surface was pitted with corrosion that bled red rust. He tapped at the ground with it, striking parts of it with exact precision. As it did, it send out ripples through the air and the ground, accompanied by the echoes of whispers, ones that clawed and snarled in muted tones.

“Show me,” he bade in sepulchre tones.

Then sitting back on his haunches, he waited, a skeletal vulture on its perch, his sharp, sunken eyes scouring the lands for prey.

For some time he sat thus, unmoving, unblinking, simply staring ahead, until at last he spotted movement below him. From out of the marshes and the mists emerged two people.

The first was a woman of a barbarous cast, her hair aflame. She moved like a stalking wolf, prowling all alert and on edge, her sword at the ready, prepared for any threat that might arise. To mortal eyes there was little more than that to see, but with his stolen sight Renkheqen could perceive more. A wild thing was she, with passions always too the fore. Unbreakable and with an unshakeable will, yet there rested heavily upon her shoulders the weight of her ancient unyielding bloodline, and the demands to maintain that above all else.

“Even the strongest iron will shatter if there are flaws to be found in the casting,” he mused, a vultures smile touching his thin lips.

Behind her trailed a tall man, one of slender build and a rakish outfit. Renkheqen’s smile deepened as he viewed the man, for about him trailed the shadowed vestiges of one who had in the past touched the darker side of the mysteries, one in which he was well versed. Once touched, the pull of the temptation for it would never go away, for its sweet addiction could never truly be forgotten. The man had power there, untouched and perhaps never truly realised.

“So you gave up on the darker path? To what ends? Many possibilities I see.” Slowly he rose to his feet, a skeleton unfolding, picking up his censor as he rose. He watched the pair pick their path away from the marsh. “You, then, are those that thwarted my will and my purpose here, and Renkheqen does not easily forget that. Some day we shall meet again and have our reckoning. Upon the powers that I command this I swear.”


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