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Author Topic: [Story] The Uncurable Cure  (Read 2449 times)
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Dubh Amn
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« on: October 27, 2006, 06:13:01 PM »

This was originally my second offering for the "Urban Cannibal" story request on the old site.  My first, while including cannibals, left out the "urban" part.  Chagrined, but not stopped I wrote and posted this.  Enjoy!  Comments always welcome.

The towers of Fallport rear above him like dark sentinels in the night, hungry looming figures like ancient gods, stooping to feast on those who mull beneath them.  Some nights, if you look up long enough, you can almost see inky black tentacles slithering and slipping wetly down the cornices and crevices, reaching to grasp hungrily, blindly, among those who walk below. 

But when you live now, with the Shadow in the north hungry for gods-know-what, such a thing may not only be fantasy.

Fallport isn't so much a city than a beast, howling in agony, its voice the lonely call of sea-wrens and shrive bats.  Tonight, Fallport cries over her denizens.  A loose, light mist of rain coats the buildings and streets, turning the off-white stone used in so many buildings a sickly grey.

On the coast of the Pellurian, the city hunkers like a corpse, pallid and alone.

The entire city is one huge Fell, hungry for the lives of her citizens, each brutal murder feeding her but never sating her, eating and eating until there will be no one left and the city will starve and truly die, leaving a rotting stone husk crouched on the black shores of an uncaring sea.

Mehkant hurries through the streets, clutching his burden tightly to his chest.  Tiny wails are lost in the mournful winds.  It really wouldn't matter if they rang from the walls, though; no one cares about anyone, least of all those so weak they can't fend for themselves.

If the Shadow had taught the city anything, it was the value of apathy. 

An ancient oaken door shudders on worn hinges, throwing a pool of oily yellow light onto the street as he ducks inside the frame, shutting it behind him.   Lamplight reflects of greasy skin, sunken eyes, open sores on the handful of faces in the bare stone room.   A single guttering lamp on a bare wooden table fills the room with a ripe stench, feeding on the rancid fat in the bowl to provide too little light and too much smoke.  They crowd around him, one sliding dirty fingers over wet lips, another clutching at her cloak, as if touching herself through the heavy fabric.  They gaze at the bundle of sack-cloth in his arms, at the soft movements under it.

Above all, they hunger

Mehkant holds the small lump to his chest, hissing out "This one is mine.  I found it.  I brought it.  It's mine"

"Please.." the woman moans softly, her hood falling, revealing a tangle of dirty blonde hair, "It's been so long, Mehk..."

He cuts her off, annoyed at the way her Dornish accent massacres the Sarcosan syllables in his name, "No!  If you will not hunt, you will not eat!"

"Please..." she hisses, a dry tongue flickering over chapped lips, her strong grey eyes flickering up to meet his, dark, hard and unrelenting.  "I'll give you what you want.. I know what you want.."  she says, trailing off at the last as a bitter laugh from Mehkant's left cuts into the room.

"And what would you offer him, Faedra?  Your body, rotting with disease?  Pock-marks and scars and pus, just like the rest of us.  What does the favored whore offer when her assets disgust even the temple slaves?"

She slaps the man, reaching over the table to do so, fury and sickness warring in her eyes, pale death and horrible wrath, at his words, at her body, at this room, at this city.  The wet sound of the slap echoes in the tiny chamber and the bundle against Mehkant's chest begins to cry, softly.  The sound charges the tiny room and six sets of eyes turn eagerly to him, to the squirming cloth wrapped bundle. to the promise of what is to come.  He'll make them wait.  He'll make them hurt.  He'll make them beg, he always does.  But there will be reason for the hurting and the groveling soon. 

He eyes them, five wretches on Death's door, willing to give him anything if only he will give them their chance at life.  Five and there will be more.  There are always more.  He shifts, laying the squirming bundle on the table, unwrapping it to reveal a plump human child, Erenlander possibly, crying and hoarse and naked and thin.  A pitiful, wretched innocent thing, surrounded by pitiful, wretched, guilty things.  Mehkant places his hand on the child's chest, feeling it cover nearly all of the body of the boy as his mind wanders, remembering the first time. 

He had been holy, once, or at least a man.  Gutter trash, using his wits to try and survive.  He did his share of horrible things, everyone did.  But he didn't deserve to catch one of the wasting plagues.  No one did, really.  He thought, at one time, only the wretched fell ill.  But this plague was different.  Even the chosen of the Shadow didn't escape the sickness that befell the city that arc. 

One of the temple legates came down with Cold Fever, as it came to be known.  Mehkant was too sick himself to notice at first.  He had come to the temple seeking help.  He had been crazy.  No one ever goes to the Church of the Shadow for help, but he had hoped they would at least put him out of his misery, sacrifice him, take him into those inky black corridors and make him vanish like so many others.  But they hadn't.  The Legate seemed to guess that Mehkant was a man of questionable morals, a man able to find things others might need. 

He had promised to make Mehkant well, if only he would help him steal children.

There comes a point in a man's life when he must either set his final line, or blissfully walk past it.  When he must decide what truly matters in life.  When he looked into those soulless black eyes, when he knew the Legate would not judge or question, when he knew obedience just might save his miserable life, Mehkant stepped over that line.

But it didn't work like it should, like he thought it would.  He would find children, bring them to the Legate.  He would share the flesh of the child with the man.  The Legate would get better, Mehkant just stayed sick.  He didn't worsen, but he didn't improve.  Too late, he realized just how deeply into this trap he was mired.  He looked down those dark hallways and wondered if it would have been better if he had just wandered down them himself.

But Mehkant was a thinker and a watcher.  The Legate brought others in on the task.  Each of them with the Cold Fever, each of them staying the same while the Legate not only got well, but got better.  Doubt and fear were replaced with cold hatred and a desire to discover why.

The answer was the vellum scroll the Legate always carried.  He would pull it out and intone the words in some unutterable tongue and then carve the living child just so, piecing it out.  No more than six per child.  Always at Midnight, on the High Day of the week.  Mehkant couldn't read, of course.

But he was a damn good listener,

He would mouth the words of the Legate as they were uttered.  He practiced tone and cadence, pitch and tempo.  He would say them before sleep, he would say them when he rose, he would say them when he ate.  He lived those words for months, terrified of his idea but hating the legate. 

One night, as the Legate prepared to launch into his intonation, Mehkant recited it with him.  The look of surprise on the Legate's face filled him with dread, but more than that, he noticed the man did not stop chanting.  Filled with fear of stopping himself, he continued, their voices rising in volume, booming from the walls of the small chamber, the child screaming, the low candle flames flickering and as they reached the crescendo of the litany every one in the room but the Legate and Mehkant dropped dead, their bodies withering, thrashing and rotting as the disease claimed its delayed due.  With a howl of pure hate, the Legate drew an obsidian-bladed dagger from his robe, his chants altering in pitch.  Fueled by the purest mixture of hate and true terror he had ever known, Mehkant acted without thinking, beating the Legate to death with the still-living child sacrifice.

He fled from the temple, into the night, into the streets, fear driving him forward, down along the docks, up into the city proper, along broken parapets and over roofs, knowing each second that black-fletched arrows would reach from the blackness to claim his life. 

When he did not die that night, nor the following, Mehkant knew two things.  He knew that without the ritual, he was a dead man walking.  He knew he needed others to fuel it and fuel him. He couldn't simply order anyone, as the Legate had.  He couldn't coerce anyone into the black act he needed to live.  But Mehkant also knew he was still sick, that he was only delaying death.  And if he was sick, others could be too...

He blinks, staring into the eyes in the room, waiting for him to begin the chant, begin the carving, hoping he can somehow make them better, cure the sickness they have suddenly developed.  They're almost at an end, these five.  Soon, they may start questioning why they are not getting better.  They may wonder about the dark ritual they so willingly sell their souls for.  Soon, another five will be needed.  As the knife bites into the sacrifice, Mehkant thinks of the whore who so willingly shared her bed earlier for his small bundle of dried meat, her first real meal in days.

There will always be more.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2007, 12:17:15 PM by Nifelhein » Logged

"Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts." - Cicero
Nifelhein
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2006, 07:12:54 PM »

I likd this abck then and hell, I still like it, really, thansk for re-posting this to our delight. Grin
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"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2006, 09:12:55 AM »

Cookies shall be hurled in your general direction for the re-posting of these awesome stories.
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