Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day Five-Eighty-Three: A dying king

Before Traveller, my life was nothing. 

This is not, of course, a literal statement. I lived. I breathed. I worked. I wielded power, or helped wield power, as part of a mass. I was one of the rulers of this world, even if we were greatly diminished. 

But my life, my singular life, was nothing. Thanks to Traveller, and all he showed me, all he taught me... even if those teachings were merely the virtues of idiocy... I am a bigger person. A better person. I am V the Rat, and I do not want that taken away from me. Not while I struggle to remember who, exactly who, I am.

But I fear my life will end soon. I have reached the palace.

The ghost king's palace is enormous. It stretches at least eight storeys tall and is easily five or six times as wide, encompassing two whole city blocks. It juts upwards  into the uppermost reaches of this cavern, its tallest spire nearly touching the ceiling, and every inch of its architecture is covered in roiling, writhing snakes. Artistically writing and roiling, of course, but the effect is no less impressive, even on a building so scarred by ages and battle damage.

I have no perception of time down here, but I think I arrived at the palace sometime in the evening today. Exhausted from the precipitous load strapped to my back I sought shelter in one of the palace's side doors, noting immediately that the ghosts who'd dogged my trail the whole way had given up. They really do fear this place, and in retrospect I can see why.

Happy for an opportunity to unburden myself I untied the vial from my body, laid it safely down in a musty batch of hay (I think it used to be a servants' bedding, long ago), and began wandering the palace. The inside is as serpentine as the outside, though most of the snake carvings are broken beyond easy recognition. I'm glad I ordered this diary to remain behind, as it probably would've given my position away at once.

The dead and their haunts give off a distinct bouquet of demise. Their decay, even as spectres, is unmistakable. But it's such a dull and uninteresting odour that the smells of life immediately shine through, and almost immediately after I began searching through the palace I caught distinct hints of living creatures. Indeed, there was a rather strong concentration of them deep within the palace, in the king's enormous throne room.

Once I found a few useful holes in the architecture and made my way to a taaaaaall perch in the throne room, I discovered just what was wafting through the palace and into my nose.

Far below, seated on the king's cracked yet opulent throne, was a man. He looked to be in his twenties, perhaps, with long, blonde hair, a cut build, and pure white clothing. He had the unmistakable scent of a regulator. Yet mixed in it was some horrid decay, something malignant and festering, which may have accounted for the cruel look in his eyes and the gauntness of his skin. He was a sick man, to be sure.

But he wasn't alone. Floating in front of him was a line of people, of recognizable people, of people dressed in dirty travelling clothes and carrying backpacks and tents and all the things needed to survive in the jungle. My friends. Dragomir hovered in the middle of them, eyes closed, caught in a faint whirlwind of repressive white magic.

The man stared at Dragomir for a long, long time. His dislike was too obvious for words. I'd call it hatred, but that's not strong enough. So I assumed this to be Grayson, Dragomir's son, whom I glimpsed fleetingly during the attack on Pubton. Grayson all grown up.

In time, Grayson was joined by more living souls. The witch, yes, I recognized her, and with her a hulking werewolf. I caught a distincly arachnid odour wafting up from its fur, but I didn't see any spiders. Perhaps in time it will reveal itself.

They spoke with Grayson for a while, identifying themselves, and eventually he dismissed them without a word. He seemed utterly fixated on his father. The witch looked put out being ordered around by Grayson, but she tottered away nonetheless. She doesn't look much healthier than her youthful counterpart, though her decay is of a more natural kind.

The intruders are identified. The stage is set. Now all I have to do... is find a way to poison them. 

Gods knows how I'll do that.

This may be my last entry,

V the Rat

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