Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sketch in My Notebook: The Order of the Blackened Glaive (Part 8)

Our story so far...

Drakar has been forced from the Sentralian Military Academy because of his half-demon heritage.  However, angels of the goddess Nyx visited him in a dream, commanding him to seek out Fortress Abbadabas and the fabled Order of the Blackened Glaive.  Drakar traveled south to the city of Jakara, where he met a girl--a young wizard named Elaina Emboo.  Having saved Elain from certain death, Drakar is now headed to confront Safras, the man who tried to have Elaina killed.  

Drakar feels compelled to visit justice on the wicked for reasons he does not fully comprehend.

Safras’s lair turns out to be a hole in the desert floor, marked out by a lip of carved sandstone blocks.  Steps lead down into a darkness that is broken by weak torchlight shining some thirty feet below the city’s surface.  Drakar assumes this place was once some kind of crypt or tomb, that it has long since been defiled by grave robbers, and that this Safras is merely the latest in a long line of thieves and villains who’ve made the place their home or hideout.  Covering the entrance with a tent is a simple but ingenious idea, however Drakar doubts that it would accomplish its purpose without the willing ignorance of the local constabulary.  Given that Safras has also been shown to be in possession of the constabulary’s anti-magic handcuffs, this is in no way surprising.  The tomb’s entrance looks ancient; Drakar is sure that Jakara’s rulers have a record of its existence somewhere.  Besides, the tent is an at best minimal disguise.

“Let me go first,” Elaina says.  “I know the layout.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Drakar replies.
“I’m not some helpless girl, you know.  I can take care of myself.”
“I didn’t say otherwise.  However, I am wearing armor and must in any event get close enough to use my weapon if I am to be effective.  The same is not true for you.”
“Fine.”  Elaina’s tone says that it isn’t, though.
Drakar ignores her.  He likes Elaina, but something has changed between them since the fight with the guards.  He mourns its loss, but what can he do?  Ultimately, he has not come here for Elaina.  She thinks that he is doing her a favor, helping her retrieve what she is owed.  
The truth is both simpler and more profound.  
Drakar has come to eradicate evil.
Best be about it, he decides.  He starts down the steps, letting the fire of his heritage fill his eyes.  Mere darkness is no impediment to one whose very nature burns with the power of the Pit of Tartarus.  
A pair of guards stands at the bottom of the stairs.  Cavernous space opens beyond them, lit by the flickering light of torches.  More men await inside the room.  Drakar is not surprised when the two guards stand aside, allowing him to pass.  He moves into the room, and Elaina follows.  He does not need to look at her to know that this has made her nervous.
“We just want what we’re owed, Safras,” Elaina says.  “This doesn’t have to get violent.”
Safras is unmistakable.  He is a fat man on the far side of the room dressed in robes that are far more sumptuous than any that Drakar has seen since setting foot in this sand-cursed city.  Though the basic fabric of Safras’s clothes is the same white cotton that Drakar has seen elsewhere, its cut is flattering rather than billowous, and it’s trimmed in purple.  Beyond this, Safras wears a cloth-of-gold stole like some kind of priest or potentate.
Besides Safras, there are fully a dozen men in the room.  The room itself is a plain sandstone box, save for a few torches set into sconces on the walls and a single table set in the center of the room cut from a wood that Drakar cannot identify.  Were he not channeling the power of the Pit, Drakar doubts he would have seen that he and Elaina are surrounded.  Most of the men are heavyset street toughs carrying heavy-looking truncheons.  The sole exceptions are the guards that Drakar passed to enter what he is now sure is meant to be his own personal tomb.  The guards are younger, and they carry sheathed scimitars.  Both already have their hands on the hilts of their blades.  The room reeks of incense and nervous body odor.  Drakar locks eyes with Safras, and through the power of his heritage, he looks into the man’s soul.  He sees an abundance of evil and a tiny hint of fear.
He smiles
Safras shuffles from one foot to the other.  He says, “I do not think that you are in a position to demand anything, my dear Elaina.”  He spreads his hands wide, encompassing the room.  “I have a dozen men.  You have one, though I admit that he seems a worthy specimen.  If you leave now, I will forget this incident and allow you to go on your way.”
“You can’t treat me like this, Safras,” Elaina replies.  “I have powerful friends, even here in Jakara.”
Safras shrugs.  “You’re assuming I’ll let you leave.  But… it does no good to be hasty.  Perhaps if I gave you half what you’re owed?  Just to maintain a business relationship?”
Elaina waivers.  “Three quarters,” she says at last, “and next time I’m in town, you introduce me to the vizier.”
Safras smiles.  “I like you, Elaina.  It takes gut to come in here and threaten me in my own kingdom.”
“So we have a deal?”
“No,” Drakar says.  “No deal.”
“What?”  Elaina stares at him.  “What are you doing?”
“I told you before, Elaina, I care nothing for your profits.  I came here for justice.”
Around the room, men stare in shock.  Save for Safras, they do not understand what has happened, do not want to understand.  Safras does understand, though, and he backs away with a look of surprise on his face.
Drakar steps forward, bringing the Hellglaive enguard.  “Make peace with whatever powers you honor, Safras.  Your time has come.  The rest of you can live or die, as you choose.  If you would live, you had better run.”
“Drakar, don’t!” Elaina cries.
But it’s too late.  Drakar is already moving.
The Pits are deeper than your theology will allow…
Sorry this piece is so short.  I wrote it last week when I was in Albany, and I've not had time to add anything since I got back.  

The good news, though, is that you can follow the further--actually, the original--adventures of Elaina Emboo in my book, Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki.  It's available for the Kindle and Kindle app for a mere $2.99.

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