Friday, January 10, 2014

The Trench Lord

A taste of the world of Vesta, more after the jump:

Sordith sat in his chair pondering the reports in front of him.  The beautiful wooden desk was ornate and made of a deep red wood.  It had been polished till it glistened in the flicking torchlight.  His office walls held his collection of various weapons and treasures from both the isle and the otherlands.  The crackling of the fire was the only noise as the Trench Lord sat pondering the last week's figures.  Sordith sat with a mug of dark mead as he stared at the reports.

He sipped the mead and glared at the page. The numbers were off and he knew that meant supplies would be low.  There should have been more coming out of the mines.  There should have been more coming in from the farms.  It had been a quiet week so nothing should have been interfering with those that supplied the city. In addition, there had been an influx of cargo from the port.  Yet here he sat with a report that said the numbers were off.  He sat the mug down and leaned forward picking up the earlier week's report.  He compared the two carefully.  Someone was skimming and they were skimming from him.  His copper eyes narrowed in cold anger.  He drew over two more prior reports and turned to the pages of incoming produce, meat and ore.  Using the numbers, he carefully narrowed down which farms and mines were inconsistent.  He pulled back further and began to see a trend.  The farms that were low in a given week were rotating.  The same was found within the mines. The culprit had gotten greedy. He had rotated to a farm and mine but at the same time, there was a drop in all the numbers.  A coincidence most likely but a big enough drop that the numbers had drawn his attention.

He sat back with the last report and ran through the men in charge of imports of such goods.  He slowly smiled.  All the farms and mines had one common denominator.  They were all brought into the same two storehouses.  The storehouse manager was a man named Domicus.  This was the only one it could be.   Even if it was not Domicus, his dealings with the man would make it clear to any culprit or those considering the same crime to reconsider their dealings.  He did not care who was skimming, only that the skimming stop. However, if it was not Domicus, the man had to know because he was the one submitting his warehouses reports.

He rose from his desk and moved to the door.  The Lerdenian male was built with a more solid build then most but then he held no skills in magic.  In many ways, he was much like Daezun although he was taller and had the betraying metallic eyes.   He had, once or twice, been called a half breed. None of those so brave had lived to repeat the mistake.  His stride to the door was silent.  Every step breathed a lethal intent.   He opened it and nodded to one of his men.  "Fetch Domicus from the south warehouse.  Do not accept any delay. He is to return with you regardless of his wishes."

The man nodded once and headed down the hall.  Sordith shut the door and went to the wall considering.   He pulled a knife with a deadly point and a convex blade.  He touched the tip and smiled as a small bead of blood formed on his finger. He did not much like killing to be honest.  He had never intended to become the Trench Lord.  However, survival for a Lerdenian without magic had two paths.  Either you were a victim of the Trench Lord, his henchman or .. you became him. There was really no other options. He had known from the time he was old enough to understand how the trenches worked that he would never be the victim of the Trench Lord.  Killing was a necessary evil to maintain order in the Trenches.  He would not like killing Domicus, however, the man's death would insure order for a good while.  It would also remind those so brave that you did not steal from the Trench Lord's pocket.

He returned to his desk, laying the knife upon the shining surface. He straightened his reports and put them away.  It never was good to have blood upon your reports.  He put his boots up on the desk and sat enjoying his dark mead while he waited.  His mind wandered to the pleasures of last evening.  A sweet lass had taken a liking to him.  Well, let us be honest, to his pocketbook. However, she had been willing and the evening had been quite pleasurable. He had sent her on her way with a bit of slips to see her for a couple months. Her disappointment had been palpable but to be honest, Sordith was not looking for any attachments.  A Trench Lord's life expectancy was really not that high.  There was no retirement for a Trench Lord.  You ruled till you died.

The door opened and two of his men half dragged Domicus through the door.  They tossed him on the floor before Sordith's desk.  Sordith did not move.  He motioned his men to take a step back but not to leave.  One went and shut the door then returned to a threatening stance behind the man now groveling upon the floor.  Sordith's voice was kind as he spoke.  "Domicus, come rise."

The warehouse manager managed to find his feet. His face was pale.  His bronze eyes bright with fear.  "I am sorry milord for whatever displeasure I have caused you."  He managed to stammer out not looking at Sordith.

Sordith slowly put his feet upon the floor.  "I have been looking over your reports quite carefully Domicus and I was a bit surprised. Do you know why I was surprised?"  Sordith's tone was calm and gentle.

Domicus managed to shake his head no. But the increased trembling of his body, the smell of urine in the air told Sordith that he had the right man.  He slowly stood up, picking up the blade.  He moved around the desk. He tipped Domicus' face up to look at him. Even then, the man managed to avoid eye contact.  "You have been stealing from me." He whispers into the ear of the terrified man.  "I would not have considered you so brave. I am feeling a bit of respect right now.  Unfortunately for you, I cannot let this go unpunished." Sordith let go of the man's chin.

Domicus dropped back to the his knees. "Please Lord.  P-p-please I-I beg  y-you. Show m-mercy!" His hands even came together begging.

"And  now I have lost it.  Brave enough to steal from the Trench Lord and yet not brave enough to face the consequences. Tsk-Tsk." He turned to his men.  "Hold him!"  The two men moved forward and brought Domicus back to his feet.  The smell of urine was stronger now and the man was sobbing with fear.  Words were in there somewhere but they were unintelligible. "I would tell you this is not going to hurt, but alas, I would be lying." He whispered from behind the terrified warehouse manager.

Sordith plunged the blade in next to the spine and just above the pelvis.  The damage to the nerves immediately paralyzed Domicus' left leg and Sordith's men had to hold him up as he sagged. His screams grated on Sordith but he needed the man's screams to radiate out his office window.  With a firm upward motion he pierced the kidney and damaged other organs.  Domicus screams were inhuman as the pain flooded him.  Sordith drug up one more time and pierced the man's diaphragm. The scream was abruptly cut off.  Domicus was still alive, his eyes dazed with pain. However, Sordith knew he would not live long.  However, he would live long enough to be an example.  He stepped back after wiping his blade on the man's shirt.

"See he is placed on the dais outside for a day.  Put a sign that his crime was stealing from the Trench Lord. Let him die before those he has robbed."  Sordith did not look to see if his words were honored, he knew they would be. He had chosen men who didn't quite have the intelligence to try to remove him but had a loyalty and strength he could rely upon.   He moved to the window and stared out. His dwelling was just a little above the trench but not quite upon the first tier.  He had a view of the port from his window.  He stared out it breathing deeply.  He reminded himself that to have done less was to earn his own death.  In his own way, he knew he was protecting the Trenches from a far greater tyranny.