Well, Cassandra is getting ready to move again, so she didn’t have a chance to post today. I figured this would make a good time to post the second part of that story I posted last week. So, here you go:
“I… what?” The man asked, his sallow cheeks moving as he worked his dry mouth. “I, I think I was in Alayan.”
“They all say that,” Alanoc moaned, and then made a mocking impression of Gregori’s voice. “I think I was in Alayan.” He sighed, allowing his forehead to drop into one hand. “I’m sorry, Gregori. That was unprofessional of me. I’m sure you were in the land beyond the waters, but now you’re here. Shall we get down to business?”
Gregori turned his head towards Alanoc’s voice. He could barely open one of his swollen eyes enough to see, and a moan escaped his lips. “I hurt.”
Alanoc shrugged at that, unsure if his subject could make out the movement. “You would. Did you know that I had to stitch nearly a hundred different cuts before I raised you? Now many were minor to be sure, probably from some desperate flight through alleyways and along rooftops, but others would have had you bleeding out within an hour. Whoever worked on you was,” Alanoc paused for a moment, and tapped his lips with one finger. “Well, to be politic, let’s say that he was less than skilled. Did he even get around to asking you any questions?”
Gregori opened his mouth for a moment, but then closed it again. Alanoc thought that he saw a dim glint of comprehension bleeding into the man’s one visible eye, but it was so swollen that he couldn’t be sure. “Questions?”
“Yes,” Alanoc drawled the word. “Questions. You were a prisoner, if you remember, a criminal captured committing an act of treason. Something about poison in the garrison’s water supply if I remember.” Alanoc paused again, and then tugged at one glove, it just wouldn’t sit right. “Well, I don’t suppose it matters. You were a criminal, and you were questioned, or at least you were supposed to be, I’ve yet to ascertain if any questions were actually asked, and then you died. Do you remember now?”
“Yes.” Gregori’s voice was confident now, with a tone of resigned menace.
“Good!” Smiling, Alanoc clapped his hands and then adjusted his other glove. “So, were you questioned?”
Gregori did not respond.
“Really? Silence?” Alanoc put on a mask of disappointment, though his hand shivered with glee. “Well, then I suppose that I will have to loosen your tongue.” Walking back to the table, Alanoc lifted a vial of dark green liquid, opened it, and then tipped in a few grains of a blue powder from a second vial.
Gregori grunted from behind him, and Alanoc smiled as he walked back into the man’s field of vision. “Yes, I was wondering when you would realize that. You won’t be able to move, not for a while anyway. You’re body has to get used to being alive again… well, that and I introduced a paralytic agent into your system before I raised you. It’s quite fast acting. I imagine your pain has begun to diminish as well, though that probably won’t vanish entirely.” Still smiling, Alanoc lifted the vial. “Don’t worry Gregori, I’m not going to hurt you.” In the corner Drevor cleared his throat, and Alanoc paused for a moment, staring at the vial, and then continued, “I apologize, that was a lie. Well, not a lie, a half-truth maybe? I am going to hurt you, but not in the conventional manner. This is Drangank liquor. I’m told that it’s quite delicious actually. It won’t cause you any physical pain at all.”
Drevor cleared his throat from the corner, and Alanoc rolled his eyes. “Fine, fine. It will cause you a little physical pain as it bonds with your humors, but it’s barely noticeable.” He glared at Drevor. “There, are you happy?”
Gregori’s one eye flicked back and forth between them. “Drevor is here to keep me honest and above board. This is a temple operation after all, and as a member of the clergy I am held to very high standards. Patlamoshk does not look kindly on dishonesty. Now, where was I?” Alanoc paused for a moment, and tugged on his glove with his free hand, if his glove was too loose it might cause him to drop the vial. “Ah! No pain, well, little pain.” He corrected himself quickly, before Drevor could make a sound. “As I said, the liquor will bond to your humors, normally harmless in and of itself – though I am told that those who frequent the stuff are more easily intoxicated. But, I have added something else. I’m not going to tell you what, no spoiling the secret now, but when the Drangank liquor bonds to your humors, my secret ingredient will quickly drive you mad.”
Gregori stared at Alanoc blankly. “Criminally mad. Clearly you believe yourself a good man, and your acts justified. You claim to return from Alayan. Well, this substance will transform you into the most wicked of men – a murderer, a ravener of women and children, a cannibal. You will do things that will ensure that you never again see that holy place. Now do you understand?”
Alanoc thought he saw a flicker of fear in Gregori’s eye, but the man only said, “The Valashym see the hearts of men, not acts that they are driven to by the wicked.”
Alanoc rolled his eyes, and turned away, feeling a sudden need to pace. “I’m sure they do, but for one simple name. We know that you are one of the Vashanti’s advisors, is his name so much to ask?”
Gregori did not respond.
“Fine.” Alanoc shook his head as he paced around the small room. “Then let me try this. We have learned that you have a wife, and three young daughters. If you do not give me a name, then when we release you I will ensure that you are released near your home.” He paused, allowing the thought to seep into Gregori’s head. “If they are not your first victims, they will soon follow.”
Gregori was silent for a long time, but finally he shook his head. In a soft, resigned voice he said, “No. Elanya would not give up Vashanti’s name any more than I. Do what you will, presavik.”
Alanoc glanced at Drevor. “I could force the name out him. I know the spell.”
Drevor glowered at him, and shook his head. “Patlamoshk forbids such magic. You know this. No spells that affect his mind, it is sacrilege.”
“But he is a heathen!” Alanoc exclaimed, and began to throw his hands up in the air. At the last moment he remembered the open vial of liquid, and stopped himself. “I could… It would be so easy. But no, it is not to be.” Alanoc waved his free hand at Drevor as the paladin opened his mouth to speak. “I know, I know. He is a heathen, but we are not. I’ve heard your lecture before, and you know we disagree.” After a moment Alanoc walked over to Gregori, pinched his nose shut, and then poured the vial down his throat, forcing his mouth closed afterwards to make sure that he swallowed. “Are you happy now? Make sure that they drop him off near his house. With any luck his wife will find him and take him home. Perhaps some good will come of this whole botched affair.”
Drevor nodded solemnly, and then smiled. “I told you that you wouldn’t be able to break him. Would you care to join me for a drink after I drop him off? It’s on you of course.”
Alanoc rolled his eyes, and then fished a coin out of the small purse at his belt, tossing it to Drevor. “No, you go get drunk without me. I have no taste for the stuff, but make sure that he winds up where he needs to be first.”
Drevor shrugged, and then moved to lift Gregori out of the chair and throw him casually over one shoulder. Then Drevor walked back into the shadow door, leaving Alanoc alone in the room. Finally, tugging at his gloves again, Alanoc stepped back into the shadow door.