Cordell meets an even bigger problem

27th October 1103

The doors clicked shut behind Cordell and the two women beside him. He squinted, his eyes trying to adjust to the rapid change from complete darkness to the uncanny light cast by hundreds of flickering candles. The thick scent of fragrant smoke tickled his nostrils, crawling up into the depths of his brain and making him feel heavy-headed.

He peered into the cathedral, a place that should have been familiar but was disturbingly strange. This was the room he had sat, kicking his feet, his legs too short to reach the ground as he sat beside his mother. Occasionally she would turn to scold him lightly, if an errant foot accidentally thumped against the pew, but even still she wore an indulgent smile. The priest droning on in his nasal latin while Cordell’s small boy body was desperate to get outside, to jump in puddles and catch frogs and fight battles with sticks and fall in the mud and skin his knees and bump his head.

The pews had all been cleared away, the huge hall shockingly empty. To little boy Cordell, the cathedral had always seemed so warm and full of life, bustling with people, people wedged into pews, straight-backed, their elbows just touching. A big stuffy room that smelled of incense and God, a place that though dreadfully boring had always been very safe. Now it lay before him, a massive creature with its innards scraped out, buttressed rib-cage arching above him. In the far corner Estan’s wasted body was slumped at the base of a rough wooden cross.

He was not alone. Cordell heard the sharp intake of air as Miri sucked in a frightened breath and his bleary eyes raked along the wall noting the two guards standing against there.

One of the guards lazily detached from the wall and sauntered up to them, his sword glinting in the candlelight. He peered at Cordell in curiosity but when he saw Nagale a look of utter horror flitted across his face which was quickly replaced by a scowl.

“Arak nas fanar sark sark?” he growled gesturing to Nagale.

Cordell shook his head slowly, trying not to make any sudden movements.

The guard sighed angrily, “you no understand? How alive? How move?”

Cordell could feel Miriamele trembling beside him, her small body warm, pressed against his arm. Nagale was silent. Cordell swallowed down the acid fear that was forcing its way up his throat.

And then he made a terrible mistake.

“Well you see…” he began and heard Miriamele gasp beside him.

The guard growled something in his language then, “Who you! Who you! You no paint!”

The sword which had previously been levelled at his belly was suddenly rising in a gleaming arc through the hazy room. Cordell watched its trajectory in horror, time suddenly moving achingly slowly, so that he saw the rippling muscles of the guard’s tensed arm as he flexed and heard the whistling sound as the steel sliced through the warm air, downward, curving towards Cordell’s defenseless body.

He felt Nagale flinch away from him. Closing his eyes tightly, a prayer on his lips, he braced himself for the pain that would momentarily slice through his body.

He heard a scream of agony but it came from outside his body. Was this death, was he already spiraling upwards toward heaven leaving a torn body lying on the floor of the cathedral oozing blood? Oh God Lisbet, Eidel… the little one, I never got to meet him.

He heard a gurgling sound and opened his eyes. He was still alive. The guard stood before him, blood bubbling up from his lips, a sword portruding all the way through his belly. At his flank the other guard stood, his face merciless, his hand on the hilt of the sword that was shuddering in his comrade’s gut.

The injured guard spluttered, coughing up great globs of blood that spattered on the stone floor. Cordell heard Miri whimper beside him. With a swift twist of his arm the other guard dragged out the sword, stained artery red all the way to the hilt. With it came a welter of blood gushing from the wound and the dying man collapsed on the ground, his body hitting the stone with a wet thwack.

The second guard turned to stare at Cordell as though waiting for him to say something. Cordell cleared his throat, his voice completely lost for the moment.

But then the guard dropped the bloody sword with a clatter and turned to Nagale, taking her into his arms and kissing her frantically.

What in God’s name…

Miriamele suddenly detached from Cordell’s side and scuttled across the room to kneel beside Estan.

Cordell could hear her murmuring to him, her timid voice echoing oddly through the room. Nagale was still locked in a desperate embrace with the guard. He tapped her on the shoulder and they broke apart.

“What the hell is going on here?” he hissed, “who the hell is he? Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“You are not keeper of me, I don’t tell all my secrets you,” Nagale purred, “I keep him around just in case.”

“Well, thank you I suppose. If you didn’t have your secrets I suppose I would be dead right now,” Cordell conceded.

The guard stared at him blankly. It appeared he did not speak common.

Nagale gazed at him, her expression flat, “He will coming with us.”

“Coming with us,” Cordell had to laugh, this farce of a rescue mission couldn’t get any worse, “he most certainly is not.”

“Oh but he is,” she snarled, “if we leave him, he die. He save your life. Now you save his.”

Her painted face was ghostly in the shadows cast by the candlelight, stark white, making her appear truly dead. Except for her uncanny eyes, glowing hot with anger in the blank mask of her face.

Cordell was fast reaching the limit of his patience. Things were going from bad to worse and he was losing whatever was left of the tenuous control he had on the situation.

“Listen you meddling bitch,” he growled, bringing his face close to hers, “I’ve had enough of this. He is not coming with us. You are bloody lucky I took pity on you and brought you along, but we have no place for a tattooed menace who is a traitor to his own people.”

She brought her face in even closer, “ah but sorry friend, he do come too. Otherwise we all dead. You know I care not. I will tell him call his guard friends. He love me, he will do it if I ask.

“I am not your friend,” Cordell grumbled.

Nagale patted him congenially on the shoulder, grinning “Perhaps not, it is no matter to me. Especially if we are dead.”

She left him no choice. He was as trapped as he had been when she had his balls twisted up in her clawed little hand.

“Fine then, he can come,” Cordell growled, “ but he better make himself bloody useful. He looks to be a strong lad, he can carry Estan.”

Nagale smiled at him, her white teeth glinting like the sword edge.

Arwaduhn

One response to “Cordell meets an even bigger problem”

  1. Van says:

    Another one? Huh. At this rate, either they’re going to get caught due to the mass of people, or they’ll actually gather enough followers to outnumber and overpower the remaining guards.

    I just hope this luck keeps up…

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