In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Seventy Five
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
Warren left the cellar with a belly full of wine and head full of questions. He went upstairs to his room. He found it stripped down; an empty dresser, a bed with a bare mattress, sheets covered the chairs and the bureau mirror. He was sure if he returned to Hao’s room he would find his clothes and possessions stored beside hers.
The mindless, supposedly soulless spirits bound to Laurel House had been hard at work doing for him what he had planned to do on his own. And why not? Wasn’t that what they had died for? To fetch and carry until the effort of doing so disintegrated them.
Falling back onto the cool mattress Warren hoped that he would find himself drunk enough to pass out. An alcohol fueled blackout sounded like just what the doctor ordered. Sleep didn’t come, he didn’t even get a lousy case of the bed-spins to occupy his mind. He didn’t even feel drunk, the thought of all those screaming faces kept him shivering and sober.
Hao was the Castellan. The thought was more horrifying than any death vision, more terrible than the memory of his hand being torn apart before his very eyes. The woman he had come to love was a part of this, she was in charge of feeding some monstrous god it’s daily bread. How could she? Warren thought, How could she?
And how could I? Three lives? Not bad for a beginner.
That thought was enough to get him back on his feet. Was this what she had been readying him for with her lessons and forbidden books? Had she been planning to make him her assistant? Her junior Castellan?
If she had asked me before I found out on my own... He thought, ...if she had asked me would I have said yes?
Then it was back down the stairs and out the front door into the morning light. The house was quiet.
Magwier, Sig, Angie, Bodivar, Zeth and Roxanne, did they all know? They must. Did they feel any guilt or did they just try to put it out of their mind like normal people tried not to think about where their hamburgers and steaks came from?
Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, Warren thought. Can’t hide from the world without killing a few kids.
Kids, eggs, what was the difference in a world of gods and Monarchs?
Snow soaked through Warren’s sneakers, a frosty breeze bit at him through his clothes. That was fine, he wanted to feel uncomfortable, he wanted to punish himself a little. Head down he walked on, not caring where he finished up.
What now? That was the question. Did he strike out on his own? The thought was terrifying and exciting. Was making it out there alone worth the risk? He had always been one to play it safe but maybe that was part of his problem.
Of course he didn’t necessarily have to make his way alone.
What if I ask her to come away with me? Warren thought. Hao didn’t need a library to teach him the ways of her world and they didn’t need Laurel House’s cruel idea of room-service to be happy.
Would she go? Did she love him enough?
Knee deep in snow Warren suddenly realized he had been unconsciously retracing the steps of his nature walk with her. The house was still visible but the cloudless light had left it looking shadowy and ominous. He turned away from it and saw a familiar face a yard or two away.
“Hey,” Warren approached quickly and when he was close enough he leaned in, “just the person I’d like to talk to. I just saw some serious... What... what the Hell is that thing?”
The movement was so swift that Warren heard the sound of the blade cutting in to him before he felt the pain and the warm wetness. The blade cut straight up from his abdomen and scraped along the bottom of his ribcage as it came back out again.
Warren looked down at the blood pooling at his feet. He felt his bowels let go and the tickle of blood seeping into his lungs. He tried to talk, he wanted to tell his killer that this was all some kind of crazy misunderstanding and that it couldn’t end this way! But he didn’t have the strength.
A moment later he didn’t even have the strength to stand and he fell backwards. The snow muffled the sound of the impact. Warren gagged, his mouth tasting of bile and blood. His last thought was of Christmas. He couldn’t believe he wasn’t going to see another Christmas.
Once he was sure Warren was dead Bodivar slipped the knife back into his belt and turned his attention back to the voco spurcamen squirming on his wrist. He willed it to call the Monarchs, to bring them to Laurel House at long last.
End of Book Four