Part eleven in the Blood and Lies series
Part One: Blood and Lies (pt. 1)
Part Two: Blood and Lies (pt. 2)
Part Three: Blood and Lies (pt. 3)
Part Four: Blood and Lies (pt. 4)
Part Five: Blood and Lies (pt. 5)
Part Six: Blood and Lies (pt. 6)
Part Seven: Blood and Lies (pt. 7)
Part Eight: Blood and Lies (pt. 8)
Part Nine: Blood and Lies (pt. 9)
Part Ten: Blood and Lies (pt. 10)
Hours pass before Pan allows himself to return to reality. Removed by the passing of time from the immediacy of the tumultuous pressing weight of his grief Pan finally feels ready to confront what has happened. The feeling of waking from a terrible nightmare tinges his perception of the world. Late in the afternoon, he vaguely recalls Rubin going off with Oliver somewhere for reasons he hadn’t cared to ask about at the time. Stretching out the stiffness sitting in the one place for so long had left in his muscles, the requirements of his body flood back into his mind with a vengeance. His throat is dry, he’s hungry and his skin feel unpleasant with dried tears.
Verumalleus’ body has been left with him, he hadn’t allowed any of the villagers to take her away. A decision needed to be made for whether she would be buried here or brought with them back to the capital. She had no family but the church to be returned to, and her faith held the body in no special regard following death.
Anger bubbled up suddenly in his chest. He’d loved her but she had been all of their companion. Why was he the only one here with her? They were here under Telfor’s orders, this was all his fault. Why wasn’t he here taking responsibility for his decisions? The memory of Vahkragg first and then Telfor collapsing with only superficial looking injuries during the fight. That was why Verumalleus had charged the monster, she’d died protecting them. The thought didn’t soften the anger her felt.
“Oliver, I need you to tell me the truth about why we were sent after you,” Rubin in a low voice asks. The scholar had taken the sorcerer to a quiet portion of the village, as far away from the square and the house containing Telfor and Vahkragg as possible. Oliver had been reluctant to allow himself to be taken away from where they could be seen and the direction of the questions from the university scholar was worrying.
“As I understand it you have a warrant for my arrest,” his answer is presented with a questioning inflection. His weight shifts to his back heel, ready to run and shout for help if the scholar chooses to deliver the university perception of justice for practitioners of necromancy.
“A warrant for a crime we both know you didn’t commit,” Rubin hisses with the hurried desperation of a man who has run out of time. “Look, I know you’re not a necromancer. Which means someone’s sent us after you for something they don’t want getting out.”
Oliver’s eyes narrow. He looks at the devil featured foreigner again for the first time, seeming young enough that he should still be sheltered from the world beyond the university but he spoke like he understands the forbidden magics. He agreed with Rubin’s assessment about his arrest, having come to the same conclusion himself when they were first read by the follower of Atyx.
What purpose was behind this secret conversation was now a mystery to him, more important the source of the scholar’s confidence that the charges were false. Necromancy and Enchantment were two heavily restricted schools of magic, hermit sage like himself were heavily targeted for prosecution as practitioners. Guilty until proven innocent was the general practice when his kind were involved. If a university scholar was giving him this chance, then there was more to him than it seemed.
“I’m a magic user independent of the university,” he answers with a glare, “That’s usually enough to be considered a criminal these days”
“The university doesn’t like hermits, but you’re that’s worth the cost of hunting you down. You’re not a necromancer, and I doubt you’re an enchanter. If you’re not being brought in because of what you did, perhaps it’s because of who you are?”
“What does it matter to you?” Oliver grits his teeth, the disruptive energies in the bracelet dispersing his power faster than he can gather it. “You’ve already got me. Attack dogs don’t need to ask questions, you just need to bite.”
In anger Rubin raises his hand, holding it palm facing towards the other man. His power flares instinctively, heat focusing into his palm rising steadily before igniting a tight ball of orange flame. The pairs eyes are locked in a wordless exchange of sudden hatred.
“Do it then.” Oliver’s hard glare unflinching in the face of Rubin’s threat, “I’ll have some satisfaction in the afterlife to watch your masters punish you.”
Sweat beads in the heat of the spell, the contest of wills drags on for another moment. In the end, Rubin blinks first. Shaking his head, the fireball disperses and he drops his hand back to his side.
“You could have made this easy Oliver, I’m sorry.”
Rubin opens his eyes again. Oliver tries to open his mouth to scream, but his body refuses to respond. Trapped in the scholar’s eyes, he feels his soul being sucked into those blackened pits, arcane chains binding it tightly. The scholar begins whispering honeyed words, dripping with magic they pour into him until his body is a vessel filled to the brim of Rubin’s will. All he can do is watch powerlessly.
“Tell me why we’ve been ordered to arrest you.”
“Most likely one or both of my father, or the Earl of Argon has learned of my existence. I was the product of an affair between my mother, the Countess Chloe of Argon and my father Prince William Karilas the third. My mother managed to hide the pregnancy and following my birth sent me to be raised by Sage Wyatt Roberts whom educated me as a sorcerer.”
“You will now forget everything from when I pulled you aside until I clap my hands. In the place of these experiences you will remember a conversation in which I informed you the village is protecting a necromancer called Zsófia. During this conversation I offered to provide a character witness during your trial in exchange for your assistance capturing her. You agreed to my deal with the intention of using your magic to sneak away, without harming anyone, at your first opportunity after I’ve removed your bracelet. After escaping you will decide to head to Verwich to hide amongst the crowds. Upon entering the city you will head to the The Valiant Retreat and ask Lily for a ‘Room with a View’. Trust her.”
With his conditions set Rubin brings his hands together with a sharp clap.