Points of Light
Endrik looked at himself in the large standing mirror, pleased with what he saw. The most recent enhancements the enchanter had made to his nose were perfect. A touch on the noble side, but not so much as to be overbearing. The past few hundred years had gone well for this world. The greater races had brought order to the land, and had helped the lesser races to understand their place in the world. Sure, some had complained about being forced to serve the greater races, but one could not make fine wine without crushing a few grapes! He sighed, looking around for his cup of wine. “Wine!” he called, but not too loudly. To call loudly would be to admit he didn’t have enough slaves to meet his needs… something no noble would willingly do.
Soft bells chimed and echoed throughout the manor, and Endrik began to walk in the direction of the small greeting room. The bells indicated a messenger had arrived. Had tiny trumpets sounded, he would have been walking toward the sitting room for a more… private engagement. He sighed again. He found himself doing that a lot lately. Ever since that incident at the Grand Arena a year before, things had been less stable. There were even factions now that espoused the abolition of slavery! He rolled his eyes as he walked, how could a world function without lesser beings knowing their place?! He entered the plain room, and was immediately put out as the messenger looked him in the eyes. If one of his own had been so bold, one of his overservants would have had the man beaten to unconsciousness! Yet another sigh almost escaped him, but he stifled it. Sighing in front of servants? He needed a nap. His greeter accepted the message from the servant, and took the short ivory rod he offered. Endrik reached out and touched the rod impatiently, verifying that the message had reached his hand, and none other. He had noticed the seal on the message… only one person sent a blank seal. Snatching the rolled parchment from the greeter, he struck a brisk pace in the direction of his study. In a calm voice that seemed a mismatch to his hurried stride, he called for refreshments to be brought to him.
As he reached his private study, he noted with satisfaction that the cheese, chilled wine, and grapes awaited him beside one of the furnishings of the room, his favorite recliner. He dismissed the young woman woman with a wave of his hand; that was not the kind of refreshment he was needing right now, and privacy was necessary.
Sitting down, he spoke a word, “Privacy.” A robed servant in the corner of the room uttered a single word, and waved a wand as he exited. The tinkling of the nearby fountains stopped abruptly, and the windows became opaque. Quickly he broke the seal, and began to read, popping a grape into his mouth and chewing as he began to absorb the words. He took for granted the fact that the scroll did not burst into a ball of flame as the seal cracked… he couldn’t help but grin as he remembered the one time one of his slaves had attempted to crack the seal in an attempt to be helpful. Foolish slave got what she had deserved. The smile was interrupted by a scowl as he remembered that while the display had been amusing, the expensive tapestry she had been standing next to had been damaged beyond repair. No matter, her family had paid the price for her stupidity. Selling the lot of them to the Arena had helped offset the cost a bit.
His mind focused again as he placed a weight at the top and bottom of the scroll, allowing him to sprinkle a pinch of powder he had pulled from a small compartment in the couch upon the parchment. Letters began to appear, squiggleing and writhing until they formed words, which then formed into sentences, and paragraphs. He absorbed the text, committing it to memory. With a concerned, pensive expression, he dropped it, remembering to move his legs away as it hit the ground, igniting and quickly burning to ash.
His thoughtfulness dissolved, and concern replaced it. A few lines standing out in his mind… “The lizardmen have taken staggering losses, but we have failed to stop them from completing the ritual.” “If the gods themselves are not slain, they will at least be rendered comatose.” “Our contingency plans must be executed. The barriers must be brought up, before all is lost.” “If my information is correct, as a side effect, the monster races will increase exponentially over the next few months.”
Endrik was pulled forcefully from his reflection by a soft scrape originating from behind him. His anger was kindled immediately and he turned to discipline the fool servant who had ignored his wishes, “I was to be made PRIVA…” His last word cut off with a gasp as the blade found its mark, his lung. A soft laughing hissed in his ear. “You are private now, my lord. If we can’t have the world, neither can you.” A long tongue tickled his ear as he dropped to his knees, gasping fruitlessly for breath. He managed to glance at the ashes beneath his knees in dismay. If he didn’t pass this information along… Suddenly it didn’t matter as much. He was no longer gasping for breath, and gurgling as blood filled his punctured lung. In fact, somehow his situation almost seemed comical. Why should he care if the world burned? He began to laugh, but instead, his eyes closed and he drifted off into endless dreams.