The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 69

As Anders entered through the outer gates that led into the grounds of the Private House, he passed two soldiers who guarded the high-walled entrance. A tall man with a broad, emotionless face walked besides Anders, a sheathed sword slapping against his leg as he walked. He wore thick, leather armor hanging down from his large shoulders and bore several weapons besides his sword. This bodyguard, named Silva, escorted Anders from the Public House (where Silva would lurk in the shadows while Anders conducted his public office) to the Private House. Once they arrived in his Private House, Silva would remain nearby, spending all night in the house in case of intruders.

Once the two of them stepped through the front door, where a servant was there to greet them, Anders removed and handed off his outer cloak to the servant and removed the boots, sauntering over the tiled floors in his bare feet. His bodyguard lingered behind, as Anders delved deeper into the bowels of the house, heading towards the private bath, which he expected to already be prepared for him.

The bath itself was set into the ground and was lined with blocks of granite, mortared together. It was large enough for about six people to sit within it, much smaller than the great public baths that one could find dotted throughout Lamosa, but also entirely private, built exclusively for the pleasure of the Premier and his family. Beneath the floor of the bath were hollow spaces fed with warm air created by a nearby fire, which was maintained by one of the house’s servants. Thus, as Anders, now naked, stepped into the bath he found it quite warm to the touch, and he had to lower himself into it slowly. But once he was fully submerged within it, he lay back and relaxed, savoring the warmth.

After only a few moments of sitting with his eyes closed, his relaxation was immediately broken off when another man he didn’t know was even present stepped naked into the warm water across from him. Anders’ eyes popped open when he heard the sound of the person stepping into the water and he was shocked to see a large, hairy-chested man with the long braided hair and long beard of an Itinerant Tribesman.

Anders was turning to call out for his bodyguard when Dylan-Nantes spoke up in a broken rendition of the Omnian dialect: “You no need to call for your man. I come with no harm. Just a message. I am courier.”

“If you mean me no harm,” Anders vociferously objected, “Then this is the most impertinent way of going about it.”

“I don’t know what those words mean,” Dylan-Nantes admitted, “But this most secret way of doing. It’s private message. For you only.” Dylan-Nantes pushed the piece of bark that Mill had scribbled his words across the Anders, who picked it up some reluctance. “Mill send it,” Dylan-Nantes explained, “He has stuff to do in Orinda. He pay me send.”

Anders looked over the note, which succinctly explained that a single survivor from Still Creek, who was ill and bed-ridden and near death, had arrived in Orinda. Mill also stated that he needed to return to Orinda to prevent Lipmon from divulging any of what he knew to the Fourth Order.

Anders tossed aside the piece of bark in disgust when he finished it. “What is this?” he asked in frustration, not directing his questions to Dylan-Nantes, “Why didn’t he just kill the man immediately? He doesn’t explain why he didn’t just kill him when he first found out. Instead he went out of his way to find someone to send a message to me?” Anders then looked at Dylan-Nantes and said directly to him, “Tell Mill the next thing I should hear from him is that this Lipmon is dead, else he shouldn’t expect a warm welcome when he returns.”

“Kill Lipmon or no warm welcome,” Dylan-Nantes repeated, “More message?”

Anders shook his head, “Nothing more. Now leave before I make things unpleasant for you.”

“You pay me to message?” Dylan-Nantes asked, opening his hand in supplication.

“No,” Anders said, very annoyed and impatient to get rid of this unwanted intruder, “Just go.”

“Nice bath,” Dylan-Nantes said with a smile, “I go now.” He pulled himself out of the water and walked away, to dress himself back into his clothes and sneak back out of the house and out of the compound.

Anders remained in his bath steeped in contemplation. He stewed in anger at Mill, until he realized that Mill was only cleaning up after Alles’ mistake. “Alles was ordered to sanitize the village of everyone except the boy. He failed. But Alles I can’t really reprimand. He’s far too powerful,” he said to himself. He considered the possibility of punishing Alles or, even better, simply getting him out of the way, but dismissed it as impossible to achieve.

As his mind drifted he also remembered a line he’d heard of Maarta’s prophecy, which seemed particularly relevant. “A lone survivor will thrive thrice,” were the exact words as he’d remembered them. It had never made sense to him. It still didn’t make sense to him now. Yet, it seemed to bear upon his situation, in some mysterious way. If only he knew the whole of that prophecy.

<-- Go to Part 68        Go to Part 70 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

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