domingo, 10 de julio de 2011

El Juego - SDIV Chapter Five Pt2

Returning to his previous position, his hands now clean and dry, Cornelius stared as the old woman’s skin began to change colour, the wrinkles disappeared as her neck elongated, her mouth lengthening into a snout and the eyes no longer hiding their intense green colour. Her flesh throbbed, light and sound combining, as with each deepening of shade, the initial purring became a rumble and then a growl.

The creature was no longer slumbering, but had moved to Butt’s shoulder, its red orbs whirling in tandem with the primordial beat emanating from the once-hag. Squinting at the apparition, Cornelius staggered to the bar and poured himself another drink; this was all getting just a little over the top for him. Then, when the stentorian voice boomed forth, he perched himself on the table’s edge and peered defiantly into one blazing eye.

“Witness. Listen. Silence. Mission.”

Butt snorted his laughter at what he saw as the ridiculousness of the situation, yet the now reptilian creature, its clothes sloughing off it, like some dead skin, hissed in insistence, and Cornelius wiggled his fingers in some kind of acceptance, before resting his elbow on his crossed knees. His studious pose was less than convincing, as his joint slipped free, causing him to slop brandy on his clothes.

“Shanna talks, and fools listen,” gurgled the voice, “or at least would be wise to do so.”

Realising that he could not maintain his pretence of sobriety, Cornelius had retired to his comfortable chair, and fighting off the onset of sleep, tried to concentrate, as whatever the woman had become continued. Her voice took on a sing-song quality, as though reciting a hard-learned, yet well-worn story and as she wove her strange spell, Cornelius almost unknowingly listened.

“From beyond the pale, cold depths of space, the dark forbidding emptiness and the explosive collisions of stars, comes death. It has waited long, schemed its cruel and heartless revenge, and even now steps onto the edge of our conscious knowledge. All should tremble, none will be spared, and yet, there still is hope. This chance, this impossibility, has a name and, a purpose.”

Head nodding on his chest, consciousness ebbing, Cornelius drifted into a strange twilight world, the old woman’s words painting a picture, which gradually shaped itself to existence. By his side, the little winged creature watched him avidly.

…He was standing on a strangely undulating plain, the wind swirling and whorling the waist-high grass. Ahead, far in the distance he saw a tall, fluted tower which seemed to spear defiantly into the sky. It was black, not the grey, reflective black of silken cloth, but the dead black of obsidian, of a tomb, of death itself. Tearing his glance away, he plodded forward, unable to stop, an almost magnetic force drawing him onwards.

Then, the top part of the tower uncoiled, spread huge wings and smote the sun-kissed clouds. Each beat of those wings, tore through the white cotton-like formations, destroying them as they drove the beast onwards. A huge maw opened and green fire lanced forth, followed by an earth-shaking scream of anger. Deep inside, Cornelius cringed, he knew that it came for him.

Looking down, he saw his clothing, the strange checked patterns mirroring those of the Clansmen, a sword held in one hand, and a rounded shield in the other. His body tall and lithe, muscles thrilling to the impending battle. As the horrible apparition came closer, a weight pressed down on him, forcing him to his knees, filling him with terror. The heroic warrior that was he cowered in fear and waited to die.

Butt was angry; this was not him, this beautified representative of a warrior class. He ate these idiots for breakfast, he spat on their corpses and no over-grown lizard was going to spoil his party. Reality was the suite of a cruise liner, a glass of brandy, soft sheets and a leggy brunette. Most he had, but he was short one beauty and that just wouldn’t do. Cursing and spitting, Butt tore his way forth in a shower of blood and bone. He drew his knives, spat in derision and crouched ready to fight. A tail was wrapped round his neck, a small screaming voice rose in communion with his defiance and Cornelius laughed…

Shanna watched him struggle, saw his indomitable spirit and his sheer bloody-mindedness, and smiled. Cornelius would do, he was anything if conventional, but she had a feeling that he was everything they needed and more. Slowly, she relaxed, her features returning to that of the wizened hag. When he woke, she would tell him of the prophecy, the significance of his vision and what he must do. The only worry that she had, was how to convince him that he was the one who had to carry out this mission. After a moment’s pause, she giggled almost girlishly and shouting at the top of her voice, summoned her suited assistant. Shanna had the perfect solution, one that would have Cornelius falling over himself to comply and then nothing would stand in her way.


Clopping his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and running its fur-lined extremity over painfully sensitive teeth, Cornelius struggled awake. Glue seemed to coat his eyes, sticking recalcitrant lids together, and it took a supreme effort to open them even a crack. Spasmodic focussing brought light and shadow, which suddenly coalesced into a dream-like vision. An abundant cleavage lay but a small distance from his blinking eyes and unconsciously Cornelius’ groping hands reached out.

Reality arrived with a pleasant surprise and a tremendous blow, which rocked his head backwards just as his questing fingers touched bare flesh. Once again blackness enveloped him as a mocking laugh pealed out.

It took a little while for Butt to struggle forth into the light again, and this time the vision awaiting him was different, less welcomed. Gingerly he peeked forth and screamed in repugnance, a wrinkled, saliva flecked chin loomed into his vision, like a senile turtle poking forth.

Cackling with glee, Shanna watched the man wrench himself backwards, his constant passenger protesting shrilly. By her side, a well-endowed young woman smirked complacently.

“That,” spat Butt, regaining his composure and his chair, “was uncalled for...”

“Oh, I don’t know, “replied Shanna, “it gave me a kick”

“Those, “grumbled Cornelius, “are for free...”

Shanna sucked at her teeth, regarding Butt with a less than approving expression and then she shrugged, as though her feelings were unimportant.

“I would,” she said, “introduce you to my niece, but as you are already on intimate terms, I will gloss over the formalities.”

It took a moment for Butt’s foggy mind to place the good-looking young woman, but as his eyes lingered on the top of her bulging blouse, his jaw began to ache in sympathetic resonance. No words passed his lips, rather a grim smile and a respectful nod of his head; the moment deserved no comment, only a response. That would come in his own time.

“Would you like to know, what the fates have in store for you?” asked Shanna, with a strangely respectful inflection in her voice.

“Just get on with it!” muttered Cornelius, “Your niece and I need to reconcile our differences; this cruise won’t last forever!”

Shanna heard the curse by her side, watched the doubt and confusion form in the red-rimmed eyes before her and, not for the first time, questioned Cornelius’ involvement.

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