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Cutting the Ties that Bind

[Sunday April 9, 2000]

Griflet's Report: "I must do as my King commands."

CUTTING - Toad (20th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

"Very well, Griflet Gracyon. Remove your shirt. I must cut you with my rune. Step forward and kneel."

You step forward, and from his once-rich robes the old king produces a jewelled dagger. The hilt is crusted with dried blood, but the blade gleams dully. The king points the tip at your chest and you feel its sharp tip, and pain and the king's trembling hand behind it. There is a bead of blood.

You look up at the king's face, and sense that something is not right.

"I...You must...leave ME!" mutters Celedril, his eyes darting. "ALL of you must LEAVE. Leave NOW. LEAVE ME ALONE." The knife is poised dangerously near your heart, the rune uncarved. "Go, LEAVE ME, I must live!"

You stare up into Celedril's tortured face, his divided soul beyond.

"STAND FAST!  Good Elves."  I shout to my companions.

"Finish the job my lord.  Summon courage and fortitude from your noble chest and finish what must be done."

Something about your words seems to recall Celedril from his madness. Quietly, breathing hard and gripping the dagger firmly, he begins to make measured cuts in your skin. The pain is intense, but you grit your teeth and keep from crying out. Celedril is completely focused on his task.

When, finally, he makes no more incisions, you feel weak and your chest is lacerated and bloody.

Celedril says, quietly, wearily "Thus I acknowledge thee Griflet Gracyon as my son and heir in the presence of these witnesses. Speak your names."

    "Kellin"
    "Arborius"
    "W-Windwood, Sire"


    (Leonore does not answer; he is unconscious)

The king continues. "You have no father, no mother, save me. You are mine. You bear my rune."  

THE BLOODY STONE - Toad (20th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

"Now, before you give me the Stone, you have something else of Chaos. Destroy it."

You realise he means Polydices' rune-inlaid box, so you take it out and - with some effort because of your wounds - smash it with the hilt of your dagger.

"Now give..me the Stone"

You hand the old King the Icon of the Dragon and abruptly he shoves the statuette into his gaping wound. He cries out, and his eyes roll back. You watch with horror and fascination as the carved wingtips and tail bathed in blood begin to crumble and snap.

"The window!" shouts Kellin behind you. Your head away from the King for a moment and see an amazing scene.

The city of Tovilyis is under siege. Black Quarmallian banners surround the white walls of the fair city. From the mountains in the distance you hear a cry of rage [Celedril sighs]; it is Coryon. Then the air goes dark and a great shadow falls upon the city and its attackers. The Dragon Bloodbane appears, lithe and glistening in the air. Gouts of burning dragon-venom burst from his mouth and envelop the city. You hear a great many screams and feel a wave of heat from the blast. Then you blink and Tovilyis is in ruins; the only sound is the sighing wind.

The King raises his head to look at you, and his gaze is cold and grief-stricken. He holds in his hands a tetrahedron of bloody stone.

"With Royal blood that descends from a time beyond, the Law Stone is cleansed," you say.

The King speaks: "The stone has told me many..things in the process of its transformation. It tells me that a twisted part of..my son's tortured soul still exists, and that you have shared a part of that soul. Perhaps you are closer to family than I at first...thought. Now you must cleanse my dynasty. You must kill...me...your father [he pauses] and then..your brother Coryon before the blood will be true...there can be only one King..."

"I..may...resist you.."  

CELEDRIL'S DEATH - Toad (20th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

You step slowly backward and unsling your bow.  "I'll not carry a sword stain with your blood my lord.  I am a fine shot my lord but still this will be painful for the both of us."

You call on the powers of Law to guide your arrows straight, looking for the quickest points of death, at his heart and throat.

Your aim is true; the arrow speeds from the white bone bow which was once Coryon's and pierces Celedril's throat. There is a deep cry from the part of the king which clung to life. Then there is only the sound of the wind. Celedril is dead.  

THE LEAVING OF LEONORE - Toad (20th), Witches' Moon, Year of the Gorgon

The windows are quite high up; probably about seventy metres. The ruins of Zecy are quite overgrown and you can't see any living thing, but you hear faint sounds of movement carried to you by the wind. In Tovilyis you can see a few distant figures moving in the ruins, probably beggars. Nothing stirs in the overgrown clearing containing Imric's blasted tower. You don't have rope, Griflet. You turn to the others (who are looking quite shocked at the King's death); Arborius has about 30 metres of rope; "There, Griflet" he hands it to you.

"What just happened here?" asks Kellin.

"You k-killed the king, Sir-Sire.." stutters Windwood.

"I did what had to be done Windwood, now we have to concentrate on the job at hand and get out of here."

"Y-yes."

"Thanks Arborius."

The ranger is silent, but he nods.

"We have thirty meters of rope and seventy meters of breeze, any ideas??"

"And what about Leonore?" asks Kellin. "Even if we could climb out, he is in no condition to..."

The room was once richly furnished, though everything is now stained dirty brown with dried blood. Apart from the throne, there is a bed with bloodstained sheets and wall hangings between the windows, their ancient designs only obliterated by bloodstains halfway up the wall. You can't tell how sturdy these fabrics are, but you think there might be enough material - if you are careful - to add the missing forty metres to your rope.

Celedril's eyes stare lifelessly at the arrow shaft jutting from his throat, pinning his head back. His hands are like claws which clutch the throne, drenched in his blood.

"Leave him" says Kellin. "This is his tomb after all. Let him rest here. You look a bit pale yourself. Let me bind your wounds." You look down at your bleeding chest cut with the king's rune, and feel suddenly weak and nauseous. You allow Kellin and Windwood to clean and bandage you.

Between you, you knot the bloodstained sheets and hangings into a workable rope,
which you lower carefully out of the window to the moss-covered ruins below. Kellin gives you a jaunty salute and lowers himself over the edge. You peer across the window sill, watching his progress. You spot some movement across the clearing - the Wild Elves are still at large, but they have not seen you or Kellin. After a pause, he gives the all-clear signal. Windwood scuttles down the rope with a nervous backward glance. Arborius shoulders himself down. You haul the rope up to tie around Leonore. But when you reach the window, something stops him. His body will not go through. It is as if you are pushing him against a solid wall. Try as you might, you cannot get him through the window. You leave him there and climb down. "Leonore can't go through the portal," you tell the others, "but hopefully the same magics that bound and kept the King alive will also work for him, and maybe someday we can return for him."

The others look a bit shocked and mortified, then saddened. But they see the look on your face and do not object.

"Then we are four." says Kellin. "Well, let's get on back to the boat - I hope Griff's allright."  

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