Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul

A mounted figure, broad-shouldered but slightly buckled; a dark and blurry contrast against the haze of dawn's first light. Mount and rider stand motionless; alone the steady clouds of respiration break the eerie stillness of the scene. On the inside the Duke trembles. Inside he always trembles. He can't say any longer what emotion underlies these tremors. The years have blurred the boundary between rage and sorrow. It had been fifteen years since he had made his dreadful decision. Fifteen long years and he was a different man now. An older man, a harder man perhaps. He should have killed this scum of a man there and then. Maybe things would have been different. Maybe his life and his marriage would not have been poisoned without the perpetual stain of his existence. Maybe he could have truly learned to love his wife after that; and with time she could have stopped despising him. Maybe, but now it was too late. Things were how they were; His soul seemed dead, rotten from the inside. And he could feel his life time draining out of his aching limbs, quickly and relentlessly.

The Duke struggles to unclench his jaw and fists and opens his eyes. If someone could see those eyes now they would startle at their empty stare.

Then, through the mist, a second figure resolves itself into the galloping shape of the Duke's son. The silence shatters as the young nobleman charges at his father with a shrill cry of triumph. The Duke looks up and awakes from his dark reverie. He sees his son and a faint glimmer comes back into the hollow of his gaze. The old Duke straightens his shoulders. His son. He is all he has left, the Duke knows. His heir, his legacy and the honor of his House. They have poisoned and ruined his own life, but here it must end. Looking at the exulted grin of his son coming closer and holding the spoils of the hunt, the Duke makes a vow to himself. Long enough had he remained inactive. When he died, the truth which had haunted him for the last fifteen years and now threatened to dishonor his line must die with him. Maybe it was time to end this.

In a small dark cell, a world away from the bustling festivities above ground, the figure of a man paces through the lazily dancing shadows of two candles. The man looks gaunt but his posture is upright. His face a is grimace of anxious anticipation, the man trembles. He could not have described his feelings since the midget had magically appeared in his cell the previous evening, evidently sent by his woman Mari and promised to give him back his freedom. For fifteen years he had prayed to every god that would listen to get back what was stolen from him by that bastard the Duke. He had taken his woman, his freedom and eventually, as time had passed mercilessly, his life. How he despised the man. There had been times when he wished the Duke had killed him instead of letting him rot in this hole. But now the time for despair was over. Events had finally been set in motion. The time for revenge was near. Oh how sweet this revenge would be. For fifteen years he vainly longed for the moment that seemed within his grasp now. He would finally take back what was rightfully his and the accursed duke would pay. It was time to end this.


Hedzor said...

Are you saying that we need to take a holistic approach?

Cynan said...

a holisitic approach is always advisable =)

Hedzor said...

Do you want to give us a few more clues?
I have a strange suspicion that which ever of them we kill will turn out to be royalty.
Are they brothers?

Cynan said...

no they are not. see I wanted to call this post 'brothers in hate', but then I thought that would unfairly mislead you to think they are brothers! and now you're still thinking it! duh!

Hedzor said...

I'm just trying to work out:

1) Why the prisoner has been kept alive for fifteen years?

2) Why the wife/lover hasn't attempted to rescue him?

I was guessing that the prisoner was the younger brother who stole/seduced the woman/wife away from his older brother and plotted to take his position.

As you say; duh!

More clues please.

Hedzor said...

After being told to wait while the Wizard of the rings considers his offer, Mendez heads off to some of the local bars and starts asking questions.
"Who is the mysterious man in the castle dungeons?"
"What crime did he commit?"
"Why wasn't he simply killed?"
"How well is the Duke liked by the people?"
"Is he any relation to the Baron of Seawell?"
If people get annoyed, Mendez leaves sharpish.

Cynan said...

the people you talk to don't know anything about a man in the deepest dungeon (which, on reflection, mendez guesses, is the point of having someone isolated in the deepest dungeon). unfortunately that invalidates most of your follow-ups.
On one occasion mendez stays in a pub until closing time, and because he was such a good customer he chats to the old couple who runs the inn. the wife of the innkeeper tells you about the young duke. he was a solemn and friendly young man. apparently there weer some rumors around the time of his marriage about some scandal, but no information ever got out what was going on. in the years following his marriage, the duke became more and more withdrawn and harder. he still manages his estates well, but there is not much joy in it. the duchess is somewhat unpredictable, the woman thinks. she can be most charming and radiant but is also has phases of brooding when she can be quite disagreeable.