The church says humanity is the greatest resource that man has ever had. There was, if legends be true, a time when men were hollow undying creatures. Creatures whose expansive lives were filled with pain, misery, and lacked all meaning. It was just an endless monotony in a deathless world.
Greedy spirits that looked down upon the races of the world and laughed with the most psychotic glee as the torture the races like playthings. One of those hollow men had a most acquisitive nature, it sought something more and found it.
Legend speak of a pygmy that dared to go forth to the land of spirits and found where a white flame burned. It was hidden in the deepest shadow of all that was know. It hung in the darkest recesses of the worlds catacombs. They say with shaking hands the pygmy picked up the white flame from in this darkness. In this single act the world was changed forever.
They say the pygmy stole the flame and ran back to its kin. The very essence of life and death now within it. It gathered up its kind, as many as it could find, and gave each a single spark. The ember of all life now burned inside man, the white flame broken into thousands or sparks.
Man began to hate that which oppressed them for so long. The creatures though was more careful than they had ever been. The waited spreading the flame among their hollow brethren and letting it grow inside each other. As the flame of life grew, the world began to change. The creatures of the world began to die as well as live, the white flame taking their soul.
The spirits did not like this changing of the world though. Their strength grew weaker with the growing flame. Their power began to fade from the world as the flame grew. It is said though the brighter the flame the deeper the shadow it casts. The spirits found this shadow and took it to as a chance to reclaim the power that they felt had been stolen from them by that which crawled in primordial muck. In truth, the spirits where thieves working to arrogate the flame.
A war was waged, the spirit having no fear of death. For that is why they lost, their foolishness on mortality and what it might drive so to do. In this war man won with a resounding victory and horrific loss. The sealed the spirits away never to see the world light again. The pygmy who found the flame returned to that dark shadow and began to kindle the ember it had with the flames of the dead, all the while waiting for the day the flame might be strong and the world need it once again.
Man used this time to grow stronger and stronger, ushering in their age of man forgetting all the while those ancient seals that protected their world. Seals that went on and on with only the protection and restoration of those few who remembered the old legends.
The carriage made with great haste down the stone laid road. The ride was empty of the normal trade that came to and went from the city, on the hourly basis. People were afraid to come to a the city and only those with official seals were allowed to go farther than the farmlands.
It was a relatively quiet night, ignoring the constant beat of hooves on stone and constant grind and bounding retorts of the axle against the wood.
The inquisitor though took little note of this as the countryside and forest rolled his window. He had been doing this for a number of hours as his mind was more caught in his own thoughts and the sight of the world rolling in front of him gave him a form of perspective for them. His hand mindlessly rubbing the front of his pocket watch with his thumb.
The expansive water front lay to the east. The inquisitor could already make our slim but clear silhouettes of men rowing out into on fishing boats readying themselves for the trip back to the shore their hunting concluded for the day. It was a sense of normalcy for those people, of which he had little doubt gave only so much grateful comfort. It was almost as if a small fleet was not preventing them from exiting the strait and patrolling the edges were calvary preventing any from making an escape.
The carriage pulled to a stop with a niegh of horses, they had arrived it seems. As if to confirm the news valet Baltmore called back to his master, "We have arrived lord inquisitor we have arrived to Ammon."
"Thank you Baltmore, just give me a moment." The inquisitor called back as he collected his thoughts again and prepared to step out. He mused on the task laid upon him, no undead affliction has popped up like this so rapidly in such a central area of the world. It was so unheard even more than that it should not exist.
This would be rather different than the normal repetitive assignments, if any silver lining could be drawn, at least he hope. He was tired of getting tired of getting caught up in politics of nobility. His stomach could no longer handle crawling through bogs of decay. A fight against mindless cultists who knew nothing about it all their shadowy ideas. He was tired of some governor throwing galas for some minor accomplishment, although some recognition was nice at times, when in fact he was likely never needed elsewhere in time.
He with a low husky sigh the inquisitor stepped out from his carriage into the wide world. The gates to the city of Ammon laid sprawled out before, high brazers burning with fury illuminated the shadowy world. He looked to the poor city. The land once and still know as the city of saints. The city now blockade by the very church and the very world the anointed it as wonderful and holy. The city now affiliated with one of the world's most feared curses, the soulless undead. He moved down the steps and and started to move towards the city gates, "keep the girls steady Baltmore, though you may return to the rest of the world if you wish. I shan't think to keep you in a land that the undead now walk among the living."
The black clothed valet laughed, his large belly and chubby cheeks shaking and rolling, "I would ride this beasts through ghana's gates if you asked it of my lord, I can find a tavern in this blighted hell where I may stay."
The inquisitor chuckled at his eldest friend. He grabbed a purse from his hip and tossed it too his valet, fine you old fat bastard, do what you will but if this city demands me drag you out then you will be leaving."
"You would break the heart of every women in this city, I hope you understand this." The burly man said as he caught the purse and shoved it into his pocket. The man said dropping down of the drivers bench to check his mares to assure the only gals for his heart were just fine.
"I will deal with that then old friend and not a moment sooner." The Inquisitor spoke as he slipped his pocket watch into his pocket and began to walk the remaining distance to the gates of the city.
He saw a welcoming party awaiting him already. An elderly priest hunched over as if leaning on some nonexistent cane to support himself, despite this his face had an unnatural youth to it. A sort of joy hung about him, the sort of joy of a young man with his life ahead of him or an old man with no regrets. He wore silken robe that were black as an ebon night and trimmed in snowy ivory cloth. The intricate sewing craft upon his robe show stories of great times of judges and law symbolize clearly define the priest's rankings. He was the region's Magistrate of Law. Behind him, A group of soldier stood in formation like an honor guard of sort. Their armor gilded in gold, thirty seven silver buckles upon their belts each donating their some great event they participated in and protected the city from. They were no doubt the best of the holy guard with that number of accommodations that made them worthy of protecting such a clergy men.
The magistrate walked forward as the inquisitor drew closer, the honor guard moved along with him but he waved the off with a shaking hand. The priest's lips moved into a smile as his face wrinkled and lips curled, "Welcome lord inquisitor to our most holy Ammon. I am Magistrate Orsini, till pleasure, I have been awaiting for your arrival since we received word by by raven this very… morn." His words came low and slow, as much from his ages as from a mind that he contemplated each and every word in a precise and careful measure.
"Greetings your worship," The inquisitor choose a more traditional title than your honor. He found it more appropriate. The inquisitor fell to his knee out of respect It tended to be on thee best terms with the nobility and clergy men of ant city, to be on their bad side tended toward problems even when his authority superseded their's.
"What is your name inquisitor?" Orsini asked with a kind tone, "It would be a shame if I would have to name you only by you rank."
"My name is Lazarus, your worship." It was the simple statement from the inquisitor, but among many his name carried weight.
"Lazarus..." Orsini said the name slowly as if tasting and feeling how every syllable rolled off the tongue. "A fine name name for a good man."
"I thank you." Lazarus said with a look most aplomb and organized. It was not truly the time for pleasantries of one's humors. The investigation had begun as soon as he stepped from the carriage and would not end till he had his answers. "Your worship, how much would you know about this undead affliction."
Magistrate Orsini only shook his head as if disappointed, "so impatient youth and life makes men…" The elder seemed to muse as if contemplating one of the great wonders of the human spirit, "it seems only the dying and the old can understand wanting to world to move slower." The old man looked over Lazarus. Lazarus was a man of extraordinary nature, all the inquisition was. He was a man of thirty and five years on the earth. He was of a fine muscular build for a man as the peak of his prime, yet the way he avoided placing his weight on certain muscles showed to only to the most keen eye that he was a pained in several ways. He was a well dressed man with a silk undershirt cover by a velvet vest and leather duster. A simple gold pocket chain hung from his vest down into his pants. His hair was a fine auburn but hints of gray gave it a faded and worn color. This worn look was shading his face as a roughly cut beard grew upon his face, it looked as if he had shaved with a serrated knife, likely that which hung against his belt ever so loosely.
"Well with luck and quick haste, the cause of this affliction can be rooted out before it spreads and those who are trapped in their deathless state may find peace in some true death before the become the mindless hollow," Lazarus said to the magistrate, who although sad seemed a bit more relieved.
Magistrate Orsini nodded and gave a shaky sigh, "With hope, my friend, hope, bravery, and kindness; not luck." He gave a small weak chuckle, "misfortune is part of luck and we have had enough of it." The frail gentleman began to walk over to Lazarius. "Now my lord… if I might see the church's seal… a ceremonious but necessary action." His words coming in short bursts and gasps of air as he walk. He almost collapsed to the ground as he grew close, he would have without Lazarius. Orsini was gasping impossibly hard as if dying and this gave way into a fit of coughs.
Lazarius grabbed the magistrate into his arms, in this cradled position he realize this man was more than just elder. His skin was pulled ever so slight tight over his body, his cheeks and eye were sunken into his face. He seemed to have this darkness about his flesh,as if as he pulled in the light instead of a healthy shine. A small ivory trinket hung about the old man's neck. The gilded honor guard came running toward their fallen master.
"My god, your worship are you...?" Lazarius began to ask that dreaded questions. He use a free hand to shove away those of the guard who drew to close. He did not need the interruptions.
Orsini chuckled between each cough till his throat was raw. once the fit stopped, the magistrate regained some control of his voice, "no my child. My heart still beats, but I have been expending much of my own humanity as of late."
"Why your worship would you do that?" Lazarius inquired with a most shocked looked, to give up humanity the very essence of yourself and all life.
"to ease the pains of those who are afflicted." Orsini said with a measure of pride from a man who would do it again a thousand times again if he made the choice again. "come now help me to my feet, I shan't be look my age in front of the rest of the city." The old man said in in a manor that was become a kind question and a judge's demand.
Lazarus shifted his weight to his back leg and pushed up Orsini as if her were a falling column or sculpture."Your worship if you will hold on to my arm."
After a few moments Magistrate Orsini was upon his feet again, though he clung to Lazarus's arm, by the inquisitor's own request. "you do not have to allow me to hang upon you, I am old I am not dying just yet though."
"You deserve to named a saint for what you are giving up to help others." Lazarus said uncaring about the the protests of the priest.
"A saint no, a humanitarian yes." Orsini said as Lazarus helped him walk back into the city proper. "The cities governor, lord Zeph, requested that I make your acquaintance and direct you to him." Orsini told the lord inquisitor in an oddly hushed voice. "He live in the mansion near the cities wharf, you inquisitorial seals should allow you to make entrance unabated. Although if you require me or any of our fair cities clergy come to our chapel in the northern end of the city." Magistrate Orsini offer with a kind gesture before whispering "come to us lord inquisitor if you require anything from the reliquaries, even those sealed."
Lazarus nodded as it was a matter no often spoke of allowed to among those outside the clergy and inquisition. Artifacts of old, even those that by order of highest authority were sealed, were at the disposal of any inquisitor who might require them, within reason of course. "Thank you, your worship." Lazarus with his idle hand touched the dead men's watch, memento mortis, that was placed inside his lapel; the relic his was given they had he became an inquisitor. "I will keep that in mind and be sure to call upon the clergies more holy relics."
"Good" Magistrate Orsini nodded as he touched the white trinket upon his neck. It was a piece of ivory signet showing a pair of hands holding a flame. It was a rare symbol among clergy but it was the icon of a certain sect of faith within the empire, the white flame. Some called it a cult but nothing of its practices were deemed dangerous and all levels of society were replete with their kind." The magister then let go of Lazarus and said, "now child head to the governor estate. I am sure the golden guard might be able to properly protect me. the sun shall be rising in but a few hours and traffic in the streets will grow far beyond what it is now and rest should never be taken for granted."
Lazarus was surprised that the old Magistrate Orsini cared enough about Lazarus's rest to warrant the statement, although he figured he would only have rather limited rest over the next few days at best, so it was best make use of what was provided. The Inquisitor, after a display of gratitude for the inquiry, made sure that the Orsini was safely on the arm of one of the golden guard before he dared to talk away.
Lazarus made his way through the most blessed city. Its night life was very much active in these beginning hours, although the streets were clear of most revelry, almost every building flooded the street with light, chatter, music, and the occasional brawl. It was for a moment as if the city was just fine and there were none of the walking deathless within the city, hiding the truth of the problem they were containing for now at least. The air did have a tension about it, like that of a blushing maiden privy to a secret she dared not share despite so much inquiring. It dared to hide its shames with laughter and statues of holy men.
Lazarus, as he moved, came to the conclusion he was being watched, he felt in on the back of his neck, heard an occasional sound following him, or glimpsed a shadow sinking into the most black void. These were not the movements of curious urchins, no to organized and very well though not perfect at being quiet, urchins would cause a mess of sounds. He heard the occasional metallic clink or hollow groans as he walked. He did not stop moving, that would alert too much attention to him. He just continued waiting for the stalkers to strike. In soon enough fashion, they faded.
Please do all the things below you deem worthy of your time and good day my snowflakes.
Well here is a little beginning of a piece I did for the National November Writers Month challenge. It is a short 40k-ish piece here is only the beginning. I never finished but got close so I though I will post a chapter when I need something in between trials and can maybe finish this one up too. So i can promise you it wont take time away from my main work as I spent most of number pumping it out and I just don't want to leave me snowflakes without something. i know at time it seems a little rushed but I was on a time limit and still doing school work
I would love you to check out Trials