Prologue to the Story to be Named Later, X
The flickering candlelight barely illuminated the massive tome on the table as the pen scratched its way across the pages. The massive stone walls of the room helped ensure that the sounds of the pen’s movements and the occasional creak of the overburdened chair were louder than the screams elsewhere in the tower. The various glass jars and bottles that sat among the bizarre implements lining the various tables and benches in the room reflected a dim but steady blue glow that lit the room better than the pair of feeble candles next to the tome. The pen moved at a steady pace across the page despite the dark, guided by the obese man taxing the wooden limits of the chair he occupied.
The robe hung too tight on his corpulent frame, covered in stains old and new, of substances edible and vile. His right hand was stained as well with a greenish ichor, the fat fingers idly twirling a bone with surprising deftness for one his size. The left hand scratched idly at the pale flesh of his stomach as it bulged through the gap in his robe. The pen moved in front of him, guided by his magic and transcribing his thoughts. As the page filled with the close-written words, the pen dipped to the corner and flipped the heavy parchment to expose the next sheet before returning to its scratching.
retain a modicum of their memories of life. I have seen a once-prized possession picked unerringly from a pile of meaningless artifacts and retained in hand tenaciously, even if the possessor makes no use of it. There are times when I would swear that the glint in their eyes when they espy me is filled with something other than hunger, as if the flesh recalls the hand that struck it. My amusement at their efforts to reach me, I am sure, goads them to greater and greater efforts. It is amazing and beyond every other example I have seen in the lands outside of El Sof.
To halt the decay natural in these creatures I have placed a variation of Tselfhof’s Ward over the tower, the notes of which are contained in the back of this text. I wondered if the flesh of the Eldehin was immune to this effect, but they are regrettably only a source of food for the creatures, unaffected by the
The pen stopped as Troius frowned, glancing at the ceiling. The screams had increased in volume enough to disturb his concentration. A simple spell would have sealed this workshop from outside noise, but Troius generally enjoyed hearing the screams that emanated from various corners of his abode. Normally, however, the screams weren’t made by his wife and children, currently sealed in the bedchamber a floor above his head.
It was the stupid cow’s fault for trying to leave in the first place, taking his son and daughter with her. It had been years since the princess had shown such spirit; Troius had thought her long broken and seeking only the solace of chewed forghan leaf for her needs. The wizard had been too heavily involved in his research and revenge to pay enough attention to her of late, and he cared little about her in any case. He’d taken her as wife for two reasons: to bear his children and gain access to her father’s store of necromantic secrets. He’d delighted in the first screams he’d heard from her, when on their wedding night he had changed from the dark-haired handsome gentleman who had worked his way into the king of El Sof’s graces to the bald, thirty-stone mass of his true form. Those were surpassed in his estimation only by her reaction to seeing the undead form of her father eating the arm of an unlucky trespasser.
Now, however, the noise she made irked him rather than delighted him. Doubling his ire was the noise of his children, who he’d once considered the lucky benefactors of the empire he was creating, the pair of them ruling after he’d finally ascended into godhood. Instead, the snotlings had punched and kicked him when he’d grabbed his cow of a wife and swung her into the wall. They’d wanted to leave the tower, leave his presence! Troius wondered how long his wife had been corrupting them, turning them against him. He was being kind just sealing them in the bedchamber, allowing the severed souls that haunted the tower unfettered access to them. It was better than they deserved.
Troius growled and sent the tome hurtling across the room with a flick of his fingers, his life’s work slamming into the wall. Nearly indestructible, it was a useful implement for diffusing his rage, but it wasn’t enough this time. The fat wizard stumped heavily from the chamber, descended a spiral stair to the stone-cool depths of the tower, and went to observe the realization of centuries of his research and experimentation. With the wave of one pudgy hand, a muttered phrase, and a lambent flash from the gem in his skull, Troius opened the massive stone door that contained his greatest achievement.