Heir of Depravity

Setting the Stones - Part 1

Castle Mechi

Province of Mechi, Rodakrov

~

The disadvantages of living in the Mad Lands were more copious than the snow that infested the kingdom not quite year-round. The quarrying of the mines of the north depended on the generosity of the sun, which never seemed so generous. The number of livestock and crops expected to be consumed throughout the year had to be doubled, so as to account for the losses that would occur during the successive bouts of sub-freezing wind and storms. And, of course, the spirits – the wine imported from the south barely lasted through the snow season. No courier from the summer lands would dare trek north at the end of the snow season, no matter the offered payment. Even the simplest of minds at the farthest stretches of the continent knew what followed the snow season in the Mad Lands: the ice season. Even if their courage and greed trumped their fear, however, wine wouldn be enough to warm the body, not during the ice season. Thats why we winter lands had our own domestic spirits, utilizing wheat rather than the grapes of the south. Still, the supply was nearly as unstable as the promise of summer.

The cold, though, it was a blessing. It preserved bodies perfectly.

My stomach burst with warmth, my lungs swelling with laughter as I looked down at the body. Its eyes were wide, its hands sprawled over its neck, as if desperately clutching for air. Beside it, on the wooden bedside table, a pewter cup I had never seen before was overturned, containing nothing but mere drops of the liquid that had such awesome and absolute power.

How terrified he mustve been, I mulled, when he realized he was to die in such anguish. Giddiness began to bubble within me at the thought, slowly but irreversibly overpowering the control I had over my throat, my jaw, my lips. The incriminating noise I wrestled to suppress, escaped without so much as a warning. A vile and vicious sound echoed about the chambers, haunting the space with wicked bliss.

”Nikolai? ”

I whirled at the calm sound of the priests voice, grinning at him like the mad man that lay, cold, in his bed.

”Vitale. ” I couldn help but giggle his name, a newfound vigor pulsing through my veins. ”Hes dead. The king is dead. ”

The priest considered me for a moment, his golden eyes scouring over my face as if he were searching for something specific – expecting something specific. When he found nothing, he took a breath and moved to the foot of the bed, regarding the body with practiced neutrality.

”Dead indeed, ” he agreed, as if I needed his reassurance. The body was blue, the rigor freezing him forevermore in position of utter horror.

The very thought drew from me another trill of euphoric titters, my hands shaking with adrenaline and ecstasy.

”Send riders to the four provincial houses, Vitale, ” I ordered despite being stricken with such intoxication exultation. My erratic tone drew the priests cautious gaze to me, but, today, I couldn be bothered with his holy concern. ”Tell them he is dead. Tell them the mad king is dead. ”

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