Chapter 1: Delivery
The cold of the cobblestoned street made Arlen’s boots useless in the night air. His body drenched in a cold sweat under his coat and breeches, he moved silently among the buildings and side-walks, all the while carrying the burlap sack on his back. The contents of the bag smelled a bit foul, so Arlen kept his left elbow covering his mouth and nose. It was never the people that noticed it, but the dogs; the peoples of Felkruin had taken to buying guard hounds in recent days. Damn vampires. Damn demons. Perigleiff’s duties had become increasingly more difficult since the arrival of the damn bloodsuckers, about 14 years ago. Collecting materials, keeping away suspicion, all of it had become a big chore.
Arlen came to the tunnel entrance in the Northern Krellen District. It was where those of above average wealth and status could keep themselves out of the watchful eyes of the churches. True, not all nobles tried to hide for the same reasons that Perigleiff did. Most of the people were trying to hide a rather excessive urge to solicit escorts, not anywhere as close to the punishments that Arlen and his father would be given, should anyone happen to find out their secret. Entering the dank stones of the tunnel, Arlen leaned against the left wall, rubbing his shoulder against it until the familiar feel of that one loose brick appeared.
Pushing the brick with the full strength of his unoccupied arm, the wall began to shake, and then reveal its secret; a tunnel, under the bricks. Arlen made sure to pull the chain once inside the hallway, making sure that the opening closed. The dark corridor had become second nature to walk down, even without leaning on the walls. Soon, a light became apparent. It was emanating, gently, from under a small metal door which marked the end of the path. Knocking on the metal, Arlen spoke: “I met a dog today…”
“A large dog?” A voice came from behind the door.
“She had some weight under her dress…” He replied. The door clanked, and then opened to reveal a large chamber. Standing in the threshold was a man, of middle-age, in a waist-coat and suspenders, with a familiar smile on his face. Arlen came through, and dropped the bag at the side of the opening, and closed the door. The man turned back to the tables in the center of the room and looked back to Arlen.
“How went the collecting?” The man asked, looking through bottles of odd colored liquids.
“Those dogs are going to be the end of us, Perigleiff…” Arlen sighed, taking a seat in one of the embroidered chairs, “Swear, someone almost let their hounds out. I must say, I might have left the materials to be chewed…”
Perigleiff laughed a short laugh, then retrieved the bag from the door, and spilled its contents onto an empty table.
“Let us see here… Three arms, right. Two arms, left. Four spines, ribs attached. Two hearts, adult. Miscellaneous skin, various demographics. Wonderful!” Perigleiff exclaimed. Arlen was pleased with his job being completed. It wasn’t an easy collection, on the boy’s part; the Felkruin guards keep severed and maimed people and parts far away from the public eye. The vampires are bad enough, but having them maul and rend everyone who ventures to close to their territory would be a crippling nightmare for the concerned citizens of this fine city.
“Well, I suppose it’s time to get to work. Would you kindly assist me?” Perigleiff queried.
“Of course, father. Shall I prepare the stitcher-thread, or the Death-Breath?” Arlen was always happy to lend his hand for science, especially when it meant that he could help his father’s genius. Perigleiff wasn’t Arlen’s real father, though, and he knew it. His real parents had lost sight of Arlen when he was no more than a year old, and Felkruin had become is home. Perigleiff had become his father, and this had become his life. Arlen wasn’t aware of his surrogate-father’s “hobby” until two-years ago, when he stole away into the basement of the manor and witnessed the reanimation of flesh.
“Stitcher-thread, dear boy, I must add these final components to the base before we need to worry about reanimation.” Perigleiff answered, moving towards the large tarp in the corner of the room. Arlen hadn’t seen the latest project, as Perigleiff had been keeping it a secret for months now. Trying desperately to sneak a peek, Arlen moved slowly towards the tarp. “Watch where you stick your nose, boy…” Perigleiff warned.
“Please, father?” Arlen pleaded. Perigleiff chuckled and shook his head.
“You can look, but only if you’re willing to do one more chore for me…” Perigleiff smiled.
“Of course! What do you need?” Arlen was practically skipping with joy, his pointed cap just about to bounce from his head.
“Go check on Gaffren, and the others. By the time you get back, it should be done, alright?” Perigleiff smiled as he spoke, as though the objective was the simplest thing in the world. For Arlen, being the young, determined boy that he was, gladly accepted the task.
“Alright, but we’re running low on hallendew, should I ‘acquire’ some from the Hallowed Hall?” Arlen asked, already heading for the chemical table.
“We should have enough for now; just make sure everything is in order.” The old man said from under the tarp. Bidding his father farewell, Arlen went back through the hidden wall-opening. The city had quieted of barking, and the smell of corpse had waned from his clothes. The cold air of the still night reinvigorated the lad, putting enough energy in his step to jog the distance outside the cities gates, to a place only he and Perigleiff knew how to find.