Zerys’ left brow twitched as he concentrated on the corpse. He tried to focus, to visualise the rotting flesh shrinking, stripping itself from the bones. But all he saw was that dwarven corpse, old and rotten. Zerys struggled to free his hands, but the rope that bound them was too tight. Exhausted, he surrendered to despair.
“I’ve got something to tell you.”
Zerys opened his eyes. He stared at the corpse as Lastrem spoke.
“The rotten heart.”
Zerys’ eyes widened.
“Your powers came from the rotten heart.”
Zerys growled. He closed his eyes. When he reopened them, they were full of tears. Anger crept through his spine, his fingertips tickling to strangle Lastrem. Once again, he tried to free his hands, but all he did was thighten the knots, preventing the blood from getting to his fingers. His palm felt as if it would explode if it didn’t rip appart Lastrem’s throath. Instead, words eructed from his mouth.
“Dirty pirate bastard ! I should not have trusted you. I just hope they kill you first so I can watch you…”
The words froze Zerys’ tongue.
Lastrem wanted to apologize, but Zerys’s silence roused his curiosity. Lastrem tried to turn his head, but all he could see was the hold’s ceilling.
Zerys stared at the corpse. Even if it would not move when he tried to animate it, it now convulsed as if caught by an irresistible dance.
That’s not how it should work, tought Zerys.
The boiling fat sould dissolve the flesh.
The eyeballs should crumble to dust.
The motion stopped and, as Zerys wondered if he had been hallucinating, a tiny creature struggled to free itself from the corpse’s weight. The skeletal rat extirped it’s bones from under the rotten flesh and, when his empty eye sockets crossed Zerys’ gaze, Zerys felt a connection, as if the creature and he were a kin mind. Zerys had already controled undead, but only his word mattered then, not his thoughts.
The rotten heart.
It must have been the rotten heart.
I should escape and leave Lastrem to die, thought Zerys as the undead sensed his command and moved behind Zerys’ back.
“What are you doing Zerys ?”, asked Lastrem. “Isn’t worth anything wasting your energy on magic. You’re just a corpse collector, remember ? An ex-corpse collector. Not a necromancer… What’s that ? Zerys ?”
As Lastrem talked, Zerys’ anger kept increasing. His hands were free, but he didn’t want to spoil his trick. The rat’s teeths were sharp. They could sever more than rope. Zerys would free Lastrem, but not without a price for his treachery.
Lastrem screamed a second before Zerys felt the mind-reaching taste of his blood. Enough, thought Zerys as he raised, cut the rope now. He walked to face Lastrem, whose expression was a mix of pain and confusion.
“You’ve got powers after all…”, Lastrem said, “I hope you’ll thank me waking them.”
Qiroy sat in the captain’s quarters, scrutinising the rotten flesh that enclosed the bloodstone. He relished the faint putrefaction that emanated from the rotten heart and thought about keeping it for himself. Burrowing his head in his notebook, he wrote down every observation. The only missing thing was actual experimentation.
When Qiroy was done describing the item, he stood and headed for the deck. He should find some corpse on which to experiment the powers of the artifact. A shame the master wants the thieves alive, thought Qiroy as he looked across the deck in search of a test subject. For a few seconds, he stared at Lia, who bent over the rail, looking at the plains from above. “That would make a pretty zombie”, mumbled Qiroy as he moved his gaze to a bird perched on a mast. He began praying.
A ray of pale light erupted from Qiroy’s palm, striking the big white bird straight in the chest. The bird creaked, and fell on the deck.
Lastrem climbed the ladder leading to the hatch. He pressed his back to the trap door, but as much as he tried, he could not open it. “Now that’s a problem”, muttered Lastrem as he tried to remember the trap door’s mechanism. “I’ll need a piece of string”, said Lastrem, turning to Zerys. His bloody fingers stained the wooden ceiling when he removed a shard of wood from the trap door.
Once Zerys sampled a string on the dwarven corpse, Lastrem began humming a strange tune that sounded like a children’s rhyme. After a few seconds of humming and gesturing, the string entangled around the wooden splinter. The trinket hovered over Lastrem’s hand, then it disapeared, turning itself into a translusent ectoplasm which instantly slid through the hatch’s cracks.
“It’s the hand that’ll set us free”, rhymed Lastrem as he mentally asked the hand to remove the latch from the door, “One can’t hear. One can’t see. Is the rotten heart for me ?”. Pushing his back against the trap door, he motioned Zerys to cover his ears.
As he looked at the crew tending the ship, Lastrem hummed a creepy ballad, projecting his voice through the trap door so that it reached most of the crew working on the deck.
Demain, la suite de ce chapitre de The rotten heart...