The Illusion of Sengaard

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Derickkeyman
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The Illusion of Sengaard

Post by Derickkeyman » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:43 pm

Preface: Notes in the Margin

Like with most things, when I get involved violently, it really isn’t usually my fault. Personally, I would love to be able to rot away the last of my years in relative comfort and decadence, collecting from those who live on my land and smoking good juka until my heart simply stops.

Of course, such things are reserved for the destitute and unworthy. It is truly rare that someone who deserves peace gets peace, and even rarer for those that deserve peace not to accrue suffering. But… Maybe I drag on. Some mysteries are better considered written out, I find, and that is what shall happen here. For any with the misfortune to read these manuscripts, I apologize in advance. My brother was gifted with the talent to write prose, with all the theology essays he worked on.

So that the actual parameters of the mystery might be identified, let us establish the facts: I am Aedan Dredson, Last Living Descendant of the noble warrior Abraham Dredson, who is said to have, in his life time of forty-seven years, killed two-hundred and six vampires, with countless other neophytes and Decay Cultists under his belt. My nobility and the stature there of is no question, but it does serve as a point of contention. My father, Claudius Dredson, did not support the ruling Priest-King in his bid for power some twenty-odd years ago, and had not my uncle usurped his position as leader of the House, I would very well not be here today.

… This is making me depressed. Memories that I’d rather not recount right now come to the forefront of my thoughts. I think pushing on with the mystery would be wise.

Chapter One: Nobility is a Walk in the Park

I was never very much a man of grit until I found myself face down in a disgusting puddle in the middle of the moor between Duke Helden’s estate and my own. I had been attending a party there, the eighteenth birthday of the Duke and Duchess’ eldest brat, a Lord Kiethmar Helden. A tall, angry looking man with fiery red hair and a complexion that was suspiciously dark. I had not bothered much mingling with the crowds, the Heldens have no great love for me, we are simply neighbors, and after helping myself to their food, I made my pleasant good-byes, bowed to the Lord Helden myself, and then taken my carriage onto the road home.

The night was dark, and I will admit that I was tired. Slowly, the whistling sounds of the winds blowing over the dark Ishaelan plains fell into a listless static, my vision fading to black as I found myself embraced by sleep. When I could find it, I took it, and willfully went into waves of fitful dreams. I think I rested for about an hour, slipping in and out of consciousness, before true darkness and sleep overtook me fully.

In my dreams, I fell into what felt like an oily pool of rotting blood, filled with maggots that grazed my skin as they swam. A tape work slithered out of my nose, and bathed with cold anti-light, I could not see a thing, only smell and feel and taste… That taste of bile and brains, warmed over, rotted, I could sense that taste in my eyes. So total and complete was this disgust that one could hardly notice something else, felt in the toes first and then worked through the body vertically, a sort of bubbling hate below anything I could truly sense. A hate so profound it was nearly transcendent, held back only by a gate that was open, yet to small to fit the true width of it all. But it waited, it lurked, with a hungry mouth and a tongue that slithered up my whole body.

“Hello Baj. What could you possibly have for me tonight?”

That feeling, unfortunately, was a normal one, and long ago the Nameless Thing had told me that every time she came to call, she would find a new way to express her True Name upon me, though a mortal mind could not ever hope to grasp it. Soon, I found myself out of the pool of blood and sitting in my carriage.

Across from me was a face that simply should not be, sticking itself out of the shadows with a neck as long as an anaconda’s body. The face would have been that of a beautiful woman, had it not been covered with grey scales, and its eyes have not been a putrid yellow color that glowed with the intensity of the hate I had just felt. Baj smiled at me, revealing rows of teeth that went all the way back down her throat, gnashing ugly things that salivated acid. And her hair.. Her hair was really just a stringing together of millions of tiny faces that all screamed and cried. From her hair she spoke. Always from the hair, in a soft, maddening hiss.

I intend to save you this night, Little Aedan. And then, you shall owe me a favor. There was a pause of consent. Whether I wanted to know what Baj`Xohan had to offer or not, I was going to get it. That was a fact. Your carriage driver is dead, fed to the dogs. The man driving your carriage now, he is going to shoot you, but if you jerk to your left as soon as you wake up, perhaps he will only hit your shoulder, hm?

Well, it made a strong argument.

Waking up was nearly as bad as falling asleep, being pushed back through that pool of hate and decay until my lungs burned and my eyes seemed to melt, and at the last moment, right before I thought my skin might break and I would dissolve into nothingness and gore… I awoke with a gasp. The carriage was dark. It was silent. The horses were neighing and pawing at the ground, but the whole of it had been brought to a halt. And in front of me, just through a little window, was the turned around silhouette of the carriage driver, the assassin.

Crack. The sound of a gunshot pierced the night, and I threw myself towards the left, slamming myself into the far carriage door, taking the bullet to my shoulder, and falling out of the carriage into the warm and sloppy mud puddle that we had stopped above. My suit was ruined, and the pain in my shoulder was excruciating, the thick globs of blood pulsing out with every beat of my heart doing nothing to relieve the ache.

It was, however, no time to stop. The night was dark, and that gave me an advantage as much as it had given my assassin an advantage. I took my pointer finger and stuck it into the wound, mopping up as much blood as I could before tracing impossible shapes in the mud, earth and blood slicking together.

I released the spell as soon as I saw the assassin’s face. It was a Wild Elf, with tawny skin and hard, angular features that cast shadows obscuring my ability to identify him properly. Of course, I could properly see the forty-five caliber revolver pointed at my heart. He pulled the trigger, and only the sudden surge of chaotic energy forming and coalescing into the svelte form of a woman saved me, an infernium dagger coming out of the inky, twirling summoning-blackness to deflect the bullet.

When the curling, chaotic shadow faded, what was left standing looked like a drowned woman, dripping wet and in faded black leather armor. Her lips were a deep, deep blue and her skin nearly as pale as the shade my would-be assassin’s skin turned upon seeing her. She was named Haley, a Soul Thief, a demon from the Chaos Void, a thing of insanity sent to be my guide and my companion. Another shot rang out through the night, and it was harmlessly deflected into the air again. Haley moved faster than most mortal men could see, quick stepping around the assailant and deftly cutting his tendons off at the back of his knees.

By the time his back his the ground, he had gone completely pale, his features now standing out stark and terrified against the light of Imarel in the sky. As I pushed myself up to tower over his prone body, though, I noticed something. The way that he reacted to the pain, his shivering and whimpering, how his gun had fallen out of his hand, how his eyes were alight with fear… Fresh blood. Maybe even his first time on an assassination alone. Some greenhorn kid looking to make quick rep by assassinating a nobleman.

I took my pistol out, a dwarven made pepper-box pistol, and stooped low, then straddled the wild elf, clamping his hands to his sides with my legs and forcing the end of the pistol into his mouth. His whole body shivered under me, and Haley, that bitch, giggled ceaselessly as I stared into the kid’s eyes, trying to judge him, his entire character, in one go.

“You know, the only reason you are still alive is because a very powerful man had a chat with me the other day and it has me thinking about things… I don’t think I believe in redemption.” My mouth was dry as I spoke, staring down at him, making my eyes hold his in attention, activating some of their power to loosen up his sanity, deconstruct his mind, just a little bit. Just for a moment.

“No, I don’t. Shocking, isn’t it? All the Sengaardian nobles and royalty are supposed to be men of the Indarian Gods. My brother was a Crusader, even, and he has become the church’s poster boy for redemption. But me? I don’t see it. If I killed you right now, nothing I could do afterwards would undo that action. Death, corruption, murder, those are fixed points. I can say sorry on the cosmic level, but being told by Kaal that I am forgiven doesn’t quite matter when there would be a grieving mother back at home.”

I pulled the hammer back and squeezed the trigger half-down, eliciting a wave of piss in the assassin’s trousers. He thought he was going to die, I could feel it, and as my mental senses probed his, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. No, I didn’t plan on killing some young gun who made a bad choice. But I did intend on teaching a lesson.

“But, I think there is something to be said for striving for the impossible. That, I think, is what my good powerful friend didn’t realize. When your entire essence is comprise on the idea that you can achieve anything, it sort of precludes you from that line of thought. But me? Hm. I am considering striving for redemption. Not for myself, mind, but for what I wish to accomplish. You can’t plant a tree with a rusty spade, can you?”

I twisted the barrel in his mouth, making his jaw widen and spit begin to fall back down his throat, oozing uncomfortably into his throat and lungs. When he coughed, I let him, lost in thought myself. By the time he was done, I was talking again, “So this is what I have decided, listen carefully, for I’ll only say this once. I am going to leave you here, bloody and wounded, so that you might pray to whatever god you wish to pray to for strength. I am also going to leave you with a Farwind disc, so that whenever the smell of your own piss gets too much for you, you can activate it. You’ll end up in a little place far, far away from here. Brynmere Glade. And then, you’ll disappear. I will never hear of you killing again. You will never speak of me. You will write your mother and tell her you love her very much. Are we clear?”

Obviously, he nodded and released another wave of piss when I took the gun out of his mouth. Fuck, those stains would never come out. I sighed and got up, staring down at the Wild Elf before moving off, getting back in my carriage, and ordering Haley to drive me home. Now, I had a bigger problem. Someone had wanted to kill me, and honestly, I was a little bit offended.
Derickkeyman
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:00 pm
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The Illusion of Sengaard

Post by Derickkeyman » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:43 pm

Chapter Two: … Where It Started?

The reason the Helden’s are so well known and regarded throughout Sengaard, beyond their status as one of the oldest noble families, has to do with two things. One, they have some of the very few steel mills and factories within the Kingdom residing on their land. Two, those factories make the weapons that supply the Sengaardian military and various militias throughout the kingdom. They have enough power, wealth, and fame to have a serious go at one of their own becoming King should this Priest-King’s line ever die out, and all it would take for them to have a Militia-Army would be a few letters to other large and old noble families threatening their supply of weapons if they didn’t join. Dangerous does not begin to describe them.

I arrived on Mansion Helden’s doorstep at quarter to noon twelve days after the assassination attempt for two very specific reasons: One, I did not want to tip them off that I suspected them for the attempt. And two, I was busy healing from a gods damned gunshot wound. I try not to make a habit of entering into potentially hostile situations partially crippled. I hope you can forgive me, dear reader.

The outside of the Helden Estate is absolutely immaculate, if I have to tell the truth. Within the gilded gates there is a long paved road that leads through some truly marvelous flower bushes, a couple of hedge mazes, and various golden and black silver statues in honor of heroes from the Civil War and the Long Struggle. At the apex of the road, where it curved and turned into a lane that ran parallel to the front of the Helden Mansion, was a large golden statue to the original Lord Balazhel Helden, a grand Cleric of Kaal who wielded a spear that was said to burn with the fire from Ka itself. I couldn’t help but give a little salute as we pulled up the lane. Heroes be heroes, no matter what their progeny might reak.

I showed up uninvited, my carriage drawn by two reasonably well bred horses and driven by a rather large Hillsman bloke named Saxon. Saxon wore a regular driver’s outfit, topped by a dapper top hat I had chosen myself, which I was rather proud of, really. He fidgeted with the clothes a bit, them not fitting him perfectly, but he would live, and put on a good show opening my door and heralding me to the attendants that rushed about to greet me properly.

“T’is my very good pleasure t’introduce Lord Aedan Dredson of House Dredson today, an’ it is with ‘is honor befitting ‘is stature that he calls upon House Helden to grant his courtesy even on this unexpected visit.” Saxon stood in front of me and to my left as we looked upon the double doors, iron and studded with black silver, that lead into the mansion. We were at the bottom of a set of long and wide stairs, like you might see at a true palace, made of marble and lined with ashenroot vines.

Quickly an attendant bustled out of the double doors, a tweedy looking fellow that wore clothes that revealed him to be of a high station for a butler. He called out in a surprisingly deep voice, “Lord Helden expresses his deepest regrets that he cannot meet with you right now. But, he will be sending his son, the young Lord Kiethmar Helden in his stead, if it very much pleases the Lord Dredson.”

Saxon already knew the score, but I simply nodded to him, with practiced stoicism, to keep up appearances, mostly. Saxon responded, “Th’Lord Dredson finds this arrangement agreeable, so long as the young Lord Helden finds it so as well.”

There was not even a pause between what Saxon said and the butler’s response, “The young Lord Helden finds this agreeable. Though, should Lord Dredson find another day and write ahead next time, a meeting with the Lord Helden could be arranged.”

Ah, how I just loved all the formalities. They put a taste like rotten eggs in my mouth for all the good it does for the world. Eventually, I silently raised my hand, palm out, declaring enough was enough. The tweedy butler raised an eye but quickly opened one of the doors and stepped aside, “The young Lord Helden will meet you in the Dining Room, my Lord. If you’ll just follow me, we can meet him immediately.”

***

The dining room was an odd shape for a room, perfectly circular with a long rectangular table going across the radius. The young Lord Keithmar was waiting for me there, a tall young man with long black hair, eyes that were a rather brilliant shade of green, and with an impeccable sense of style that left me looking a bit underdressed and out of fashion. The room smelled of old wood, but the scented oils Keithmar used mingled and created an unpleasantly offsetting sensation.

When I entered, he sneered, quickly taking a seat before me and motioning to a chair across the table from him, which I silently took without making much of a fuss. Any sort of feelings of rage were mitigated in this moment, thankfully.

“So, Lord Dredson, what do you wish to discuss with such urgency that it requires this unannounced visit? I certainly hope that is urgent at least, else I might just throw you out.”

Indignant children… It was quite hard to suppress a scowl. “Ah, well, thank you, then, young Lord Keithmar. I simply came to inform you, no doubt for your own safety and the safety of your family, that on the night of your party, after I had taken my leave of the festivities, that there was an attempt on my life.”

There was an incredibly brief silence between my words and his response, where the young Lord’s briefly contorted into one of disgust, the disgust of the nobleman, where a peasant couldn’t even be trusted to bring a pail of milk to the kitchen. The disgust that draws from uselessness. A very odd expression, “How unfortunate, Lord Dredson. And, if I might guess, you suspect my house for Mister Samburne’s actions?”

Now, now I smiled. “Oh, no! Not at all, young Lord Keithmar. Not at all, just that I worry about what could have transpired at your household and how that would reflect upon your family. I thought I would tell you first.” A platter of tea and cakes arrived, which I prepared for myself without the help of the servant. When offered sugar, I waved him off and reached into my pocket, taking out a little metal casing and cracked it open, revealing my own sugar.

“Well, Lord Dredson, I assure you, I will make the Sons of Sengaard perfectly aware of what transpired here. And, if there is nothing else, and I am quite sure there is nothing else, I would like to take my leave.”

“Of course, young Lord Keithmar, at your pleasure.”

***

“Well, tha’ was a rather short visit, m’lord Dredson. Hope it was worth th’cost o’my services.” Saxon called back to me once we had finally left the Helden’s estate. “Or, y’d be the firs’ Lord who ever paid a hundred Keshra an’ hour in order t’have a world renowned assassin play coachman, m’lord.”

I smiled, leaning back into the thick black leather seat and pulling out a purple etheric cigarette. I drew on it silently, letting the vapors fill my lungs and the push their own way out, an odd tension and pressure release that added to the feeling of weightlessness, of nothingness, that the cigarette so pleasantly provided. “Mister Saxon, somehow, the young Lord Keithmar Helden knew my servant’s name. Except that Samburne was born on my land, raised on my land, served on my land, and was to die on my land. I have had the Helden’s over exactly once in the last ten years, and that was ten years ago. Samburne would have been twelve.”

Saxon let out a low whistle.

“There are two types of people on Ishaela, those who are smart enough to get away with what they plot, and those who are not. Duke Helden is a master of the former, and it seems that the young Lord Helden is a master of the latter.”
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