Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day Five-Eighty-Four: The Hunger Lames

The surest way to poison a person is to lace their food with the stuff. Consequently, I spent the majority of today looking for an opportunity to do just that. Rather than success, though, I may have discovered that the ghost king's plan is... impractical. At best.

Grayson seldom moves from the throne room, and then only to relieve himself. The rest of the time he's either staring balefully at Dragomir or sleeping, both while sitting on the throne. I would trickle poison into his mouth while he sleeps, but he has a distinct aura of alarm. If I try to sneak up on him, he'll awaken.

It also doesn't help that he's got a second soul inside him. That's the nature of the rot poisoning his body. He's almost certainly been possessed, and the dead don't sleep. Another level of security.

The alternative was to follow the witch around. She and her werewolf-arachnid  retainer often leave Grayson to attend to other things, typically to her wellbeing. She has a room of her own a few doors over from the throne room, and judging by the well-appointed nature of the place I'd say it's magically induced on the palace. How else would you set up tables and chairs and bookshelves and a fireplace and a meal tray laden with food in a place like this?

Following them via the rafters, I sat and listened a while as the witch supped on an assortment of cheeses, the werewolf on the floor beside her.

"I don't know what he expects to find down here, I really don't." She bit viciously into a hunk of brie, coughing a little. "Bloody nuisance, this all is. Damned nuisance. Get me a bib."

The werewolf gently reached into a bag beside her chair and pulled out a napkin. It looped the napkin around her thin neck. "Would you like some wine, June?"

"Of course I want fucking wine!" She sputtered cheese into the werewolf's shaggy coat. "When don't I take wine with my food, Julius? When have I ever not taken wine with my food? Get me some wine double quick, ya twat."

The werewolf sullenly stalked across the room and retrieved a bottle of wine from a cupboard. It poured a small dollop into a goblet and placed it in front of June. 

"Fucking kid," she muttered, downing a small swig of alcohol and coughing. "Fucking kid. The things I do, the things I do... the things... for a body... damned kid, nibbling on souls, can't be healthy... can't... I ever tell you where this body came from, Julius?"

The werewolf shook its head. It sat down, either bored or exhausted, and I noticed a distinct rustle of movement in the fur on the back of its neck. 

"Some peasant bitch." June took another gulp, coughing more forcefully as it went down. "Just a girl. A wench. Took 'er on her wedding day. And the body before... before that... think it was a man, a snake person... hells, I can't remember anymore, a life this long. Too damned long."

I don't think she saw it, but the werewolf tipped its head in agreement.

The witch stuffed more cheese into her face, chomping greedily, coughing irritably with each bite. "Fubbing kib. Hib'n all dose wats. Ib dey'd jut 'ave... mmm, ah, there we go... if they'd just made my brats the way I wanted, I wouldn't be... or if that stupid... fucking... key... if it'd just worked the way..."

"Are you sure you want to take this boy, milady?" The werewolf spoke to June, but its head tilted upward, staring into the rafters. "He's badly tainted. I doubt that his experiments to expunge the presence will yield fruit. Perhaps you should look elsewhere...?"

"What, you want me te take over one of the others?" June waved towards the door leading to the throne room. "The bard, maybe, or that smelly-ass goblin? Had enough goblins for one lifetime. The king? The fatass platypus? That woman and her foxes? Could use a fox te replace your worthless ass, Julius. Or, hells on bells, perhaps I should take over Mr. Mayor 'imself? Get me a grumpy-ass wife? Yes, oh yes, I'd love sleeping in Libby's bed, getting beaten up by 'er every day. Livin' with her for several weeks was bad enough, the surly bitch."

The werewolf grimaced. It continued to scan the rafters, and despite the darkness I'm quite confident that it caught sight of my nose before I could hide behind a crossbeam, as its ears suddenly pricked upward.

"The hell you lookin' at, Julius?"

The werewolf didn't answer. Snuffling from its keen nose filled the silence.

The witch's chair moved back. Alarm crept into her voice. "Something's up there, innit?"

At length, its voice tired and cranky, the werewolf replied. "... no. It's nothing. I think I caught Grayson. He exudes a stench that seems to change by the day."

"Peh." The witch returned to her meal. "Maybe we oughta put 'im back in diapers. I just bet he shits those pearly white breeches 'o his, sitting there all day. There such a thing as soul poop, ya think?"

"I do not know, ma'am."

"'course you don't. Idiot spider."

I contemplated dropping a bit of poison into her food, but gave up on the idea. Killing only one of them would alert Grayson to an outside presence. I might also accidentally poison the werewolf, and I'm confident that it, at least, is friendly to my presence. Or friendly enough that it won't give me up, anyway.

So that's that. Though the hints were few, they're sufficient. Grayson isn't eating. He's feasting on the souls of the people he's captured, absorbing their HP with his magic to keep himself alive. He must only be taking a few HP a day, as Dragomir and the other captives all still look healthy, but in time... in time, they will surely die.

Fuck. I need to find a way out of this. But... how...?

At least I managed to sneak some cheese from the witch. I was getting pretty damned hungry.


V the Rat

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