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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An excerpt from Legion member Thaddus, first-bodyguard to ruler Pious Kracken, about his travels and life.

Submitted: December 26, 2009

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Submitted: December 26, 2009

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The long ordeal began on the twelfth of Geldar in the eightieth return of the year of Saigor. I was, at that intersection of time and space, a young an idealistic Sergeant-at-arms devoted to obeying my Liege, Sir Archbaild Kracken, as well as his son Prince Pious Kracken who I had been entrusted to guard. I must confess at the time that day did not seem like the beginning of anything, instead more of the same wild chase which had brought Prince Kracken across countless Fringe worlds. I of course take full responsibility in allowing a ward under my care to venture to such rotten polyps of planets but it was his passion. He sought things most would consider best forgotten.
This day I was of mixed feelings. We were on a more civilized world, light-years distant from the lawless Fringe worlds, but I knew who or perhaps I should say what was awaiting our arrival. Their does not exist the words to describe the black soul my ward was to bargain with, a twisted horrid creation which escaped its proper destruction and instead prospered and accumulated much wealth. It was this wealth which had fastened the great keep we were descending down through in a lavishly detailed elevator, four of us. My Prince, myself, a stocky guard hired from a high gravity world who could , I doubted little, bend me in two and of course my ward’s muse. A more proper description I must express sorrow in being unable to give. The muse was wrapped head to toe in a thick brown cloak, the cowl pulled down over the wearer’s head preventing any trace of features to be observed. It, and I say it not just because its proper gender was unknown to me but because I fear the word “it” is the only one which properly conveys how utterly alien it is, had never spoken above a hoarse whisper in my knowledge of it, whispering into my master’s ear. No doubt it was the start of his mad fixation through where he obtained such a wretched thing I can not, nor can anyone else, say for certain. The only man beside the Prince who might know, my predecessor, died most horribly yielding open the vacancy I now occupy.
As I have stated I was of mixed feelings and I tried to console myself as the lift continued its decent to Pariahior’s private abode that I still had the weight of my automatic pistol under my coat and I knew my Prince still had his plasma gun under his. It is of course a disservice to my duties to mention that we had both had numerous occasions to practice with the weapons and I can attest both of us could hit a man sized target at a fair distance. This should have given me confidence but my mind knew Pariahior had not lived this long or amassed such opulence by being careless. If he was allowing us to enter into his inner sanctum armed than to his reckoning it was inconsequential to the grander schemes.
The elevator slowed, microchanges in the anti-gravity arrays making the transition seamless, and eventually halted all together. A frivolous display of expensive technology, likely done more to awe the higher echelon guests who would appreciate it than for actual comfort, which seemed to describe the excess Pariahior lived by as a creed. The door opened shortly and we four departed into what I will describe as a cross between paradise and an ancient museum. The air was temperate, filled with pleasant spices which soothed the body and enflamed with mind the likes of which I have seldom found before or since. A wide array of light sources, spared no expense to hide their ugliness from sight but allow their diffused glow to alight the vast rooms, were present bathing everything in their glow.
I saw tapestries bearing the crest of the elder family Jorel and statues my time at my Prince’s side had taught me held none other than from the planet Acador which had been sterilized centuries ago by bombardment. Its surface turned to ash. I had gathered that one statue in moderate condition could fetch nearly the price of a frigate in certain black market deals and I saw at least a score from that world and all flawless. A treasure trove of rare artifacts, their esteemed age detectable as we walked past them despite the filtered airs best attempt to shroud it. The air also failed to cover the unmistakable scent of Pariahior himself but we would not see our host till even further through his private world.
We met his custodians, those entrusted to preserving and maintain the idols we saw all around us, through I prefer to call them sirens. They were, to a one, female and of delectable beauty through even at such a young age I was well aware of such tricks. The guilds who dabble in the trade of death have an entire sect devoted to producing lovely, beautiful women with the morals of a shark and far more deadly than any viper. It took conscious effort on my part but I regarded them as threats to my Prince and kept myself posed to fight off any number of razor-knives, shock-staffs or other assassin weapons the women might have hidden upon their bodies. They thankfully did not attack, did not appear to notice us, and almost insect like carried out their assigned duties.
Still farther we traveled, and as we did so the treasured art began a subtle transmutation. The paintings and sculptures from earlier had been old but they in turn were replaced with works far older. I am but an amateur but placed most of the works we were walking past no latter than the third return of Saigor and few might have been even earlier than that. This was not the only change but the other took longer for untrained eyes such as myself to notice. The subject which had been frozen for all time in the artists works slowly changed. They had initially been about great battles or stoic pictures of famous family members but I slowly began to notice more and more about other…things. The vistas becoming grand expanses of soul hardening terror, foul creatures which should never have been given form on blatant display. The statues, formerly showing fine athletic men and women gradual turned to hobbled creatures and fantastic horrors of every imaginable sort. They had an unclean air about them and if given the choice I would have turned us all back but of course we pressed on.
The artist work of foul daemons gave way to something even worse. The paintings and statues slipping far enough back through the annuals of time to pre-date human handiwork. The art thereupon took on an indescribable mutation into the membrane of its fabric. I can not describe it only say that as all cultured men know that when we look upon some jetsam which the great abyss has coughed back to us which was forged by hands not of human origin it is immediately knowable and covered with a sickly aura. These works had them and it was works like these which had brought my master here.
Presently we finally arrived at Pariahor’s sanctum inside his sanctum with the clean and bright museum walls giving way for black outcropping and a grotesque skeletal face carved from this black rock. The open jaws the steps and up this we climbed into a rather simple and plain room which stood in sharp constrast to both the dwelling itself as well as the rest of the lair. A man of deep red hair and beard stood waiting for us, hands clasped behind his back, as a fountain of every imaginable color twinkled behind him. This than was Pariahor, the guard bowing before his lord before scurrying away, and the muse and I taking submissive stances behind and to either side of our own lord who boldly strolled towards the master of this palace.
“I bid you welcome Pious son of Archbaild.” The red haired man said in an educated voice through the tone behind it was lifeless.
The eyes in his head was of equal shade as was common to those selected to be vassals. The man’s spirit, if allowed to exist anymore, compressed and overshadowed by Pariahor whose twinkling surface shifted colors more rapidly as he spoke. The mind will not see what it does not and I most certainly did not wish to see Pariahor and have described him as a fountain through that is not fully accurate. He did shimmer and appear as if made of jelly but he was likewise solid and possessing four observable limbs with each ending in a razor claw. The unsightly thing, of which I only dare speak of know so far hence, was an Unclean or nonhuman through he had been raised on a human world. The lax local ruler seeing fit not to exterminate such a cretin and in the centuries since his birth had greatly prospered off of the superior humans around him.
“I bid you welcome Pariahor whose relations have never been made public.” My lord replied degrading himself with a slight bow to the unsightly creature.
“I trust an esteemed man of your social standing would not shrink to my depths save for a valid reason.” Pariahor asked through his puppet.
“Pariahor is known across half the quadrant as the foremost dealer in certain…items shall we say that most would prefer not to harbor.”
“My life’s work, assembling something of the long proud heritage of my forebears. I must warn you I do not part with such things. I am afraid you have came here for nothing.”
“I am prepared to pay more than a fair price for the items I desire. The cruiser in orbit has in its hold a hundred Unclean artifacts including several from the race you are derived from.” My lord said extracting a small conveyer box to the puppet to confirm the cargo contents.” I offer you this in addition to the equivalent to the yearly earnings of my estate which is considerable.”
I nearly choked at that statement which I had not been briefed or forewarned about. That was hardly a trivial sum to either my lord or the foul thing he was hoping to bargain with. Pious’s father would likewise object to losing a year’s profit to fund his son’s hobby. I confess for a moment I forgot my surroundings and wondered what the punishment would be to both my ward and myself for this transgression.
The reality of our situation returned with stark swiftness I report however as Pariahor began to chuckle, the fetid thing displaying much mirth at my lord’s offer. I once again took some comfort in the weight of my handgun tucked away as we stood before the thing’s presence. If things turned dark I was prepared to perish proving the loyalty granted me by the king was not misplaced.
“One who does not fully understand the price of the relics he wishes to barter would say such trinkets are a fair price. I know what you seek Pious and they are worth more than your father’s kingdom much less such a pittance you have offered me.”
“If you know what I seek than you know I will not be denied. I have left blood in my wake before, I have no qualms adding your ichor to it.” My master said.
“Threatening a man in his own house…you are bold Pious.” Pariahor said still laughing.
“You would not be the first man I slew laughing Pariahor. I offer you a generous price for a few measly relics of no inherent value. I advise you to take it.”
“Of no value please don’t insult my intelligence. The hidden vault-crypts of the Mad Prophet Azule and his followers is hardly worthless nor the protocols of Egar’Etah or the final resting place of Kau’tu. We search for the same thing Pious, you and I. We burrow through the thick layer of time for a different era. You would give up your right to the throne for the items I posses through that would fail to measure up to their worth as well.”
“Have you, in your long live Pariahor and travels, ever observed a plasma based weapon in operation?” My lord said in a cruel tone he sometimes used drawing his weapon.” It is a marvel of human ability and knowledge. A sphere of ionized gas is generated in the weapon’s maw nearly as hot as the star themselves and directed by a magnetic field towards its target. It is this heat, not the kinetic energy or a natural explosive nature of the sphere, that does the damage which you must see to believe. A bullet will leave a ragged mess of a wound and a laser a neat little hole carved through but plasma is different. It boils its victims, shriveling them up into dried husks as the sphere dissolves through flesh and bone and turns the inside to ash. It is most unpleasant.”
“You can not frighten me with such talk Pious, look behind you. Do you think I would risk my life if yours was not similarly in jeopardy?” The foul, accursed thing said as we became aware of their presence behind us.
A squad of sirens, as lovely as ever, and in their hands they clutched small, compact, but fully lethal weaponry ranging from melee blades to spring powered poisoned dart guns. They were aimed evenly among us but, I wish to stress this, I would have gladly fought them had my Lord given me that command. He instead, smiling a knowing smile, allowed his expensive and potent weapon dangle from his grasp and with a nod gestured for me to do likewise. I felt as vulnerable as a newborn as I handed over my weapon to one of the sirens, casting glances over to my Lord to know what game he was playing.
“You don’t look troubled Pious? I would think a condemned man such as yourself wouldn’t head towards his grave which such a smile.” Pariahor said chuckling, gloating over his easy prey.
“You won’t kill us. You won’t kill me because my corpse has no value and you don’t wish to overly offend me and risk a blood feud by killing my followers. You are a small minded creature Pariahor, unable to see anything but the most basic of profit motive. A further proof of the unworthy of Unclean life in general.” My Master explained as two sirens attempted to liberate a hidden weapon from his muse.
“Do not over congratulate yourself. I have not decided if the treasures you brought with you are more than enough reward. I am not a greedy man by nature you know.” Pariahor said still chuckling.
“Of that only you can be of judge but as a fellow shifter of the past I would warn your custodians from further messing with my muse. If you understand what I seek you must understand what I would employ to help me such a search.” My Master said, still smiling that smile.
“I am aware of what you wish others to know but such dark creatures have long since been culled from existence. A charlatan dressed up in a robe hardly an Animus Venato.” Pariahor said even more gleefully.
“Thaddus whatever happens look no where but upon Pariahor.” My Lord commanded me as my ears heard a soft, feminine gasp.
I saw out of the corner of my eye, which I kept fixed upon the unsightly appearance of the true Pariahor, one of sirens step back from the muse. The cowl parted as the creature turned to face the squad of trained killers. I do not know what they saw, if such things can be described in mortal tongue, but the fragmentary glimpse I received as it turned was of something dark. A faint gray mist seeping out from a darkness where a face should have been. I thankfully saw nothing more, have no desire to see more, than that. The sirens unfortunately saw more, saw all of its features, and they cowered away, tripping over each other. Their hair turning gray, and their fair skin becoming mottled from the unholy visage they had gazed upon. The women’s screams starting at this point, many clawing at their face to either shield it or pluck their orbs from their orifices, as the muse returned its cowl before its face and turned back towards my Lord.
“Thank you.” My Master said to his muse as one might talk to a beloved pet as he bent down to pick back up his plasma weapon which the siren had dropped as her mind had been shattered along with her physical form.
“No. It is impossible, no!” Pariahor’s puppet screamed, fear in its voice, before my Lord silenced him forever.
The rich scent of burning meat tainting my nostrils as the body collapsed near Pariahor’s true form. The creature turning many shades of colors and waggling its limbs as we three advanced. The screaming wails of the sirens ruining my sense of hearing as the puppet’s body did for my other senses. This was a bleak room we found ourselves in, very bleak indeed.
“Relax Thaddus.” My Master said misjudging the look upon my face.” We shall yet prevail.”
“Without a puppet my Lord how can this devilish creature tell us what you wish to know?”
“One of my muse’s many gifts.” My Master said smiling still.” This will not be pleasant for it but we will know what we need to know.”
At this the Unclean creature began to squirm most fierce as the muse alone approached it. It opened its cowl, through not enough for either I or my Master to see its face, and bent over Pariahor who lay transfixed. The stalk of the creature vanishing inside the folds of the muse’s robes. This was maintained for some time, which passed maddeningly slowly with a fierce headache my brow gifted me with, before the muse retracted itself and concealed its face once again. The stalk was now withered and gray, crumbling before my eyes.
“Very well. Where is what I seek?” Pious asked of his muse, the creature silently nodding its concealed head and striding to the far rock wall.
A hidden button, I did not see what precisely, must have been pressed by its unseen hands for the wall receded out of view revealing a secret vault. I only briefly glanced into this room, to ascertain there was no danger for my ward, and can only hint at what it contained. It was a library of old, not uncommon among noble houses, but these had an unnatural air among them that the scent of dust and age couldn’t hide. Pious went inside, at the direction of his muse, and took I was later able to deduce only three leather clad tomes. To a mind such as myself they were hardly worth the trouble to obtain, I had spied far more grander books engraved with jewels and other precious metals, but I dared not question my Prince’s choice. At the time the catching of one of the book’s titles, Mors Decessus Mortis de Libri, meant nothing to me. It would be much time before I would even have the barest knowledge of the horror such a book could unleash.
“Is this it?” I asked as my Lord returned from the archive putting the three books, which allowed me to spy the cover of the aforementioned one, into a small sack.
“No Thaddus. There is still one other thing I desire before we can began my quest to unite the stars.” He replied as he followed his muse back to the fountain where Pariahor’s body lay decomposing with remarkable speed.
The muse, as if directed by the Unclean’s spirit, tapped a series of cosmetic markings in a specific sequence all around the ring of the fountain. The complex sequence, designed with four limbs in mind, took the creature several tries to perfect but on the tenth it finished the arcane ritual without flaw. It was only then that the purpose became clear as the ring of the fountain, arrayed like flower petals atop one another, parted in a particular segment revealing a niche. It was not very large, only as big as a man’s clenched fist and but from it the muse extracted an ordinary looking box or chest. The small thing handed over by a bowing muse to Pious who, with a look of intoxication, opened the chest with its well oiled if uncountable old hinges and from it extracted and folded up piece of parchment. It once again appeared inadequate to my uneducated eyes to be worthy of all the death that surrounded it but I knew my Master prized it highly the way he lovingly unfolded it. The map would shortly be studied and photographed a million times but for that first time he wished merely to gaze upon the star chart and gently stroke it as one might a lover. The old fabric, composed from trees that had not grown in any known soil, yielding under his touch as he traced his finger towards three dots of light, each with its own separate line extending from it granting its name and vector coordinates.
“Ares, Gaia, Aphrodite. The three sister worlds of the Empire of the Ancients.” Pious said out loud in a voice monks reserved for high prayer. 
“Those names mean nothing to me sire.” I informed my liege as he returned the parchment to its holder.”Empire of the Ancients?”
“The first ones, older than myth, who blazed the now decadent path we stroll. They predate Necrominia, Kau’tu and Egar’Etah, lived when the galaxy was young. The celestial heights they achieved can only be thought of your most lucid dreams. If I am to unit all of humanity under a single banner, if I wish to lay claim to the entire galaxy, than I must have the first ones if any still exist. They are our forefathers and our future.” He explained.
If I knew than what I now know I very well might have throttled my Lord but I was still innocent. I didn’t understand what dark depths we would plunge in accordance with his wishes. I merely bowed before him and pledged once again my loyalty to him. Much work lay ahead for us and I could gather from the charts, through written in a strange tongue I could not translate, that the distance indicated was very vast. The normal cruisers could not hope to cross such a voyage and it would take much expense to properly modify an old dreadnought from cold-storage. Time alone would tell if my Lord’s mad quest would succeed.


© Copyright 2018 Krik Kcops . All rights reserved.

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