Chapter Prologue : Prologue

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 31

Tavernkeep



 

Prologue




 

A slight breeze takes hold of his cloak, the edges slapping against the side of his arm as he attempts to smoothen it back into place. The cold, desolate graveyard stinks of aged bones and rotting corpses, his feet dipping into the mud making his teeth grit in frustration. 

Solomon drudges through the thick stew like muck, his cloak just shy of grazing the mud. But the last thing on his mind was the condition of his cloak, in fact, he had more things on his mind than most ever would in their lives. A single objective split into millions of possible scenarios over the span of a thousand years, snowballing into thousands of different lives attempting to feat these tasks and overcome the darkness that Solomon holds on his back. Or rather, the evil that dangles it over his head, a constant reminder of his failures throughout his trials and tribulations. 

But despite the overwhelming feeling of doubt and remorse, Solomon is not, and never has been, one to lay his head down so easily. Perhaps he has the right to give up, to let his failures take hold of his being, but it isn't a matter of what he deserves or thinks he has earned, but what he knows is right. 

Right now, what he knows is right is six feet below where he stands. A puddle shows a reflection of his face, which is still young despite the many, many years of age. Droplets of rain begin to stream down his forehead, dripping off of his nose and onto the top of the headstone that he crowns before. His fingers feel along the stone's edgings, rubbing away at the moss and green life that had sprung upon it in it's ages.

"Today, a great wave of desperation lays upon us like a blanket of death." The quote is marked in the stone, a phrase that seemed to speak much too highly of it's speaker who is a dead man. But just out of sight a figure approaches, interrupting Solomon's thought process on what actions to take next. He grips the handle of his blade and tears it from his sheathe, spinning around and pointing the beautifully sharpened blade at the face of his intruder. But his lungs deflate the air he had so desperately consumed as he realizes it is only the Gravedigger, Matthews. 

"Matthews, you want to be slain like every other pitiful 'warrior' in here?" Solomon spits bitterfully, though he seems to speak ill, he has grown fond of Matthews, and simply hoped he wouldn't take his life in an attempt to defend himself from the unbeknownst Gravedigger. Matthews perks up, his chin high up in the air, his eyes staring through his bottom lids. Both of his hands are strong on the handle of the shovel, which digs into the soft ground below. 

"You'd be best to speak kind words of these graves, they awake as easily as I put them to rest." He smirks, the flash of lightning and howling wind fitting his tone of voice perfectly. It took much to give Solomon a good chill down his spine, and Matthews never ceased to deliver that experience. 

"Of course, but this man in particular," He looks down to the grave. "Has a vendetta for me." He closes his lips, the taste of fresh rain licking his tongue, refreshing to say the least. His skin felt dry, depleted of its basic natural resources. 

"This man is old." Matthews says, unbothered by the rain pressing harder into his body. 

"Yes, and was wealthy." Solomon says, his neck craned as he looks at the dirt patch he stands on. Unpreserved but undisturbed, no real surprise for an unmarked and uncharted graveyard located deep in the forest of Fernwraths borders. Matthews pulls the shovel from out of the ground, swinging it over his shoulder while flashing a skeptical look. 

"Never took you for a grave robber, Sol." He laughs. Matthews knew exactly why Solomon was there, the same reason Matthews had grown so familiar with him. Necromancy. Though Matthews is an honest working man, Solomon's coin was too good to deny his bargain. Though he has a general idea of what he does with the bodies, he felt it was in his best interest to not know much more, and he's right. Solomon never explains, so Matthews never askes.

"I rob the evil of their lives, stealing isn't my thing." Solomon responds, though he knows that Matthews was only trying to banter. Matthews life consists of being born in the chapel down the hill, and planning to die in the chapel down the hill. A vigorous cycle of waking up to a pile of bodies outside his door to which he buries in his ever eastward expanding graveyard.

"Of course, Solomon. You know I know better than to doubt you." Matthews' eyes drift to the hedgestone, the name that he was familiar with. A body he was told to be extra careful with, and that it was a stretch that his body was being buried in such a ludicrous burial site to begin with. 

"Your coin, as always." Solomon says humbly, extending his hand from his darkened cloak to reveal the bag of coins laying in his palm. But as Matthews goes to reach it, his fingers curl and trap the bag in his hands.

"But I expect there to be coverage, nothing can lead back to me." He growls. He doesn't think Matthews isn't smart enough to handle the situation, but wanted to really express the significance of his current task. Matthews lips perch, almost a look of disappointment, disappointment that his accomplice thinks so little of him. 

"I rebury that coffin, the family doesn't know the difference. Besides, they haven't visited the poor bastard in over a year." He expresses. His posture is confident and his kadence assertive. He extends his hand with the shovel, offering him the tool. Solomon trades him the coin for the shovel, his hand feeling along the wetted wood handle. It gives him a memory of his lesser days, when he too was a gravedigger in a small village. Every death was like a stab in the heart for the entire village, so his task was seen as important and slightly symbolic for the people of the village. 

"I trust you will do it right." Solomon nods, and begins to dig. 

 

He pulls the body from its grave, sliding it onto the wet earth and dragging it down the hill carefully. He sits it down next to his horse who is patiently awaiting to tug the carriage behind it back to their stable. But before he could crack the case open, he senses the presence of Matthews, so it was no surprise to him when he turned to see him standing near inches from him.

"First, I need you to solve a problem for me." Matthews says, his face dull and darkened. 

"What is it?" Solomon asks, almost hesitatingly. When Matthews had a problem, it wasn't unusual for him to just solve the issue himself, so clearly whatever the problem is, it's big enough to scare even him. So he had already made up his mind that he was going to help him, considering how much of a blind eye he had for him. 

"Come to the chapel, bring your book." He says, turning around and heading down the dirt path that leads to his chapel. A small stone church, built like it was for a King, but the size of an average home. As Solomon grabs his book and walks towards the chapel, he can't help but marvel at it's excellence, the rain cleaning away the dirt and grime that had set upon it over the many weeks of drought. 

He enters the chapel to a gust of cool air, Matthews just beside him to quickly close the doors, lowering the barrier and locking them inside. An action that brought no real concern to Solomon, if Matthews were to try and kill him, even he knows it would be his demise. 

"Explain yourself, Matthews." He says with a tinge of anger in his voice, his mind far from clouded and his awareness levels sharpened to assure his surroundings are clear. He does not fear death, but rather what would come from it for everyone else.

"You are an old man, but I do know things you do not." Matthews says, as he passes by him, walking through the center of pews, his hand gliding along the edges feeling the scratch marks. Solomon tails close behind, one foot in front of the other, his feet dragging across the crimson colored rug. A green aura fills the room from stained glass on either side of the walls, high above the ground and at a slight angle to point towards the empty crowd. In the front center of the room is the largest pane of stained glass. 

A beautiful woman, with bright red hair and a dagger held to her neck, a drop of blood at the tip of the blade. Her other hand grips a snake at her side, it's fangs exposed and attempting to bite her leg through her long white dress. Behind her the landscape is that of rolling hills with a crashing storm above it, the clouds look like waves dancing with the rain, fitting considering the circumstances.

Matthews' stands at an altar just below the glass, his eyes looking along the inscriptions. He looks back at Solomon, who finds himself stuck in the center of the pews in awe at the beauty of the stained glass. But one motion from Matthews snaps him from his trance.

"Why do you need my magic?" Solomon asks, now standing beside him at the altar. The thick stone cut altar displays an array of different languages, the carvings ancient and all different hand writings.

"They all say the same thing." Matthews speaks, his voice interrupting the rain. "But it is not all the same person." He begins to clear off the flowers and random scrolls and scriptures laying across its surface, exposing more and more of the text.

"I speak many languages, but I've never seen these in my life." Solomon is dumbfounded by his own inability to comprehend the text, it is almost distressing that something is so beyond him. He knows he isn't the smartest or most knowledgeable man in the world, but he knows more than most, so it's rare for him to have utterly no clue of what something is.

"It's an old tongue, hasn't been used in over a few thousand years. Only used now as code for militaries, since no one teaches it, and no one is willing to learn." He begins to try and push the altar, but after several seconds of him grunting and pushing he collapses, his attempts futile. 

"That is why I need your magic." He huffs, gathering himself and standing cautiously away from the altar.

"I don't understand, you want me to move the altar? Where?" Solomon puzzles, already flipping through his book to find the correct spell. Solomon had done good at learning each and every spell for himself, but it was considered disrespectful to the scripture to use magic without it. And he'd be damned to disrespect the gods in a church.

"You misunderstand, that is a coffin, the top is simply the cover." Matthews says, slowly sitting down on the pew behind him, the green light casting a dim glow across his wrinkled face. 

"A coffin for who? A child?" Solomon asks, examining the altar. While it is big, it couldn't hold a person inside, even a child is a stretch of the imagination. He looks underneath the altar, and can see it is simply a slab of stone laying across another chiseled stone, meaning it could very well be hollowed out. 

"Not for a person, but for an object." He says with a cold expression, his eyes darting from place to place. He can smell the stench of nervousness on Solomon, a man not so easily shaken now under his thumb. 

"What is it?" Solomon pushes, his stance becoming less controlled. 

"Open the coffin, Solomon." Matthews says, his voice flat. A tension of unexplainable mass fills the air like a thick smog. Solomon maintains what little composure he had left, and begins his spell. He feels the dark energy around him spiral in his mind, a feeling of sluggish dizziness slowing down his thoughts. Nonetheless he reads from the book, slowly but accurately. And within seconds the tomb begins to move, a loud grinding fills the empty chapel as stone rubs against stone. Finally the lid falls to the ground gently, laying down slanted on the single step leading to the altar. 

"Inside, grab it." Matthews says eagerly, standing from the pew, one hand holding himself up. He couldn't help but feel Matthews was getting weaker the longer he stayed in the chapel, that or the situation was more intense then Solomon feels it is. But nonetheless, he listens, reaching into the altar to see something at the bottom. A hexagonal stone with strange carvings indented into it.

 


Submitted: September 28, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Sam Elliott. All rights reserved.

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