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MizzouRam
April 17th, 2017, 04:31 AM
The following is a continuation of a novella I am currently working on. If you wish to read the previous chapters, please see my prior posts entitled "The Good Inman", "The Green Woman", and "Deathless" as well as a few others that I can't think of right now. I hope you enjoy and, of course, any and all critique is welcome.

VII
Mezzerine

The next few hours were spent thundering through the darkness in on Caller’s back. Remmy didn’t dare allow a respite because he knew the outlaws were on his tail. They had murdered two of them and he didn’t doubt for a second their resolve for this girl, but he did notice there was something odd about his success.
First, there were no guards at her tent. Remmy had been part of a few kidnappings in his time in the East, and he knew the first thing done was to make sure you had capable and unquestionably loyal men guard the bounty, for mercenaries were notorious for finding ways to split a bounty 3 ways instead of 15.
Secondly, the camp itself was lightly guarded, no lookouts, just a craven boy and a horn that sounded too late.
“These were not soldiers.”

And then there was the inman they had turned into decoration. The image was burned into his mind like hot steel burns into skin. Remmy was no stranger to horror, he had seen men burned beyond recognition, dismembered, disemboweled, and begging for death, but he had never seen anything like that before.
As dawn came, they came up on a small creek.

“We don’t have much time, so make your business here quick while Caller gets a drink.” Remmy said after he dismounted. It was scarcely the first word he had spoken to her since they met.

“Where are you taking me?”

Remmy cupped his hands together and started washing the remaining mud on his face with the fresh water.

“A friend of mine.” He responded curtly, trying to keep the conversation to a minimum. The less he knew about this girl, the better for him and Markum.

“A friend.” she said, making no effort in hiding her annoyance. “So you weren’t hired by my father personally?”

“I don’t know your father, m’lady. Nor do I wish to.”

He splashed more water in his face, letting it run down his chin in lines. When he looked up again, the girl was off the horse, and running into the woods.
“Shit.”

Remmy darted after her, the wind drying the water on his body. He was afraid he was going to lose sight of her when she tripped and fell face down in the clearing.

“What the fuck do you think you are doing, get up before…”

As Remmy turned to get her up, a black mass exploded in his eyeball. Dirt flew up his nose, lodging itself there, coughing it out almost immediately. Before he could even begin to think of what it was, something nailed his balls right up into his body. He doubled over in cramping pain.

A scream formed in his throat but all that came out of his mouth was an airless “Grrrrrsht” sound followed by an unending stream of hacks.

After what felt like hours of coughing in blackness, he looked up to see the tip of his sword pointed directly at him. That’s when the coughs begin to turn to laughs, and then back to coughs.

“Valen’s prick. I knew you had the fire in ya girl, but by the gods” he managed through gritted teeth.

“What’s so funny. You don’t think I will do it?” she raised the sword over her head.

He continued rubbing his sore and most likely swollen testicles. “Oh no, no m’lady. I know you’ll do it. Remember I have seen your handy work.”
She stood there for a second, as if looking for what to think.

“I….I had never done that before. They were going to rape me.”

“I’m rather shocked they hadn’t already m’lady. Men like that aren’t likely to show restraint in such matters.”

“They said they were saving me for someone. Someone they called the Shephard. I was supposed to be for him.” Tears began to well up in her eyes. “I didn’t…I just wanted to get
away from Krimina for the night. Just a night is all. One night away from her and my entire father’s chaperone. One more night away from him. I didn’t know what they…they were.”

The sword began to drop slowly.

“I am not here to do you harm, girl.”

“How do I know? You could be a monster. A monster just like them.”

Remmy got to his feet, the smile completely gone from his eyes. “What would the Green Woman tell you to do?”

The sword dropped to her side with that. “The Green Woman? You know her? She was a dream. A memory in the front of my mind, like the kind you wake up believing. You know her?
What…what is she?”

“I don’t know. When you told me about her at the camp, that was...that was the first time I had ever heard her referred to aloud. Do you dream of her often?”

“No just the once, but sometimes I hear her, like hearing faint echoes. At first I thought it was a dream but then I was afraid it was a sign of my own…”

“Madness.” Remmy finished, the hairs on the back of his neck standing at attention. “What did she say in this dream?”

“She said the night they come for your maiden’s blood, offer them to the Black One, and he shall deliver you him a sword, carved from marble.”

A feeling of undefinable horror washed over Remmy. The words, the phrasing, the cadence in her voice verified the authenticity of her story past the point of speculation.

“What does it mean?” she said timidly.

“It means we should leave, as soon as we can.”

“Why are you killing your horse? I’ve never seen someone ride so hard for so long. You are going to end up injuring him or…”

“Caller can take it.” Remmy reached a hand out, asking for his blade back. “Those men aren’t too keen to let their bounty escape. We need to make haste.”

“What do you mean bounty? I told those men I was the daughter of a magister in Troika. They never even asked my name.”

Remmy stopped. “They don’t know who your father is?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

Remmy found a nearby rock to sit on. “Who were these people then? What are they doing? What are they?”

Tears welled up in Mezzerine’s eyes, fighting back the emotion, and failing. “They were m….monsters. I didn’t believe the things they said, even after they took us to the camp, even after they gave us that terrible smelling liqueur. I would tell myself that they were all just boys, stupid, attention seeking boys trying to convince the world that they were something fierce. They kept on going on and on about the Sins of the Meek and how they were going to cleanse there blasphemies from the world as soon as the Shephard arrived. Still, even with all their bluster, I didn’t believe them. I don’t know why. Days turned to night and night into day as if time was a dream.”

“This liquor you were drinking, did you have a lot of it? What was it?”

“I don’t know, only that it smelled abhorrent, like a death.” She said wiping a tear off her cheek.

Then Remmy remembered the sharp smell of decay as he entered the camp. He had heard of such a powerful drink during his time in the east. They said it smelled like a corpse, but would induce a powerful drunk when imbibed. He heard some say you could talk to the dead while in its cups. Others said demons. I was extremely hard to come by though, as so few
knew how to make it. “Well someone does now ”Remmy thought to himself” and telling by the smell, they had found out how to make a lot of it.”

“Why didn’t you run?”

“Run where? Back to my father? My brothers? No, I wanted to stay that reckoning for as long as possible. I still do. Besides, I didn’t take them seriously, until…until the man showed
up looking for his son.” She began to shake. ”Then I knew, then I knew…”

Remmy took back his sword by the handle. “We should go…”

“They made his son disembowel him in front of the camp while the other chanted something in a strange language.” She said with a distant expression on her face. “Then they raped the other girls in his gore, saving me for this ‘Shephard’. When they were done, the son proclaimed his father’s entrails foretold this was the fate of all the Flatlands when the he arrived. ”

kaminoshiyo
April 17th, 2017, 11:21 AM
I've only read three of your seven chapters so far, but I'm convinced to go back and read the first four now...

You've got some mystery going on here and I like that. The pacing remains admirable. I think this chapter is largely build-up- what they call a transitional chapter?- but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Looking forward to the next chapter.