Thursday 27th October 2016

Traitor

The guards came for him at first light, dried blood matted his hair and his beard. Still dizzy and nauseated from the blow to the head, he lay on the hard packed dirt floor in his cell awaiting his fate. The floor was cold and damp, his arthritis was making his shoulder joints burn, his breathing was laboured and blood crusted his chin. Thumb-locks bit cruelly into his flesh, tearing at the nails. Beras had not had time to take in his predicament, his mind was numb, he lay still on the floor listening to his wavering heartbeat and wishing he was somewhere else.

A key turned in the lock, the bolt shot back and the door was thrown wide. Beras eyed his captor warily, the kings own son, "how could you do this" he croaked "don't you know my efforts were only to save your father's life?", "Oh yes good Beras, I'm well aware of your intentions. They, or rather, you, are my biggest problem, you see, I'm trying to kill father and you're prolonging his life with your infernal Magicks", the point was driven home with a half hearted kick to Beras' midriff. "you see, it's most frustrating having a bloody mage saving the person you're trying to poison! But now you've given me all the excuse I need to dispose of you old friend". Beras grimaced, wondering what the brat had in store for him, he'd never like Gareth, even as a youth he was an obnoxious thug. "Your recent tryst with Necromancy is perfect Beras, I'm going to burn you as a heretic!". "You can't... it's not permitted, I'm a member of the royal house.". "True, you are, well then... If I can't burn you alive, I'll bury you alive, good bye Beras, your work in my father's house is complete, consider yourself sacked". Gareth turned on his heel and left, chuckling, he was pleased with himself. Beras was left to his thoughts and his fate.

He reached out with his mind, called to the dead things in his lab, he could feel there minds press against his, struggling for freedom from his rule. Beras dominated them ruthlessly and commanded them to his aid, they came, scurrying through the dark secret places in the castle. Beras felt the first small bite sink into the flesh of his thumb, the pain mounted, burning and chewing at his mind, just as his undead rat chewed at the bones in his thumb, he struggled for control and indeed, consciousness. Finally the grizzly deed was done, his minion severed the thumb just behind the nail, Beras had a hand free... all he needed to cast a spell.

It occurred to Beras that even his magick would not be able to avoid every guard in the castle, he'd need to escape in a much more clever way. Beras turned his thoughts to the dark magicks he had recently studied, there was one way... he could turn his magick on himself and cheat the grave. He could use his power to snuff his own life and replace it with the cold eternity of undeath, he could use his final breath to ensure he would need never breath again. The thought of being buried alive suddenly seemed both fitting and funny, he laughed aloud, and rasped desperately to himself "It must work".

They came for him in the next morning, the old mage was battered and bloody, chilled to the bone and he had soiled himself. The guard felt a pang of doubt as he picked Councillor Beras up from the floor, he had been a trusted member of the royal household. The guards were well trained, they followed orders without any outward signs of turmoil even though they disliked their work that day. They dragged Beras from his cell down to the cart in the courtyard, they were to meet their lord at the paupers grave yard on the edge of the weeping woods.

The cart clumped slowly over the cobbles of the courtyard and out into the muddy street. The pony seemed as reluctant to carry out it's duty as the guards. Beras looked up from the cart, Gareth was waiting beside a freshly dug grave, his grave no doubt. The guards dragged him from the cart towards an iron bound sarcophagus. Doubt stabbed at his brain, Beras eyed the sarcophagus with wild eyed panic, "how will I get out?", "you won't, you blithering idiot Beras, that's the idea", Gareth spat the last word, "you're never getting out, you're going to die in there, slowly, choking on your own foul stench" Gareth sneered at Beras' soiled trousers. "Put him in", the guards obeyed the shrill command, Beras found himself thrust into the cold iron-bound box. His mouth opened and closed like a dying fish on the deck, "how will I get out, I'll be trapped forever", the lid closed in on him, darkness, panic, then a swinging sensation and a thud as they lowered him into the hole. Wet soil thudded onto the outside of the casket, soon there was unbroken silence.

Beras began to scream. He had tried every inch of the lid, it was sealed fast, he was entombed, as a corpse should be, there will be no escape, no final victory. Hours blurred into each other, he eventually stopped screaming, numbed by the horror. Feeling no mortal hunger or thirst, time ceased to have meaning. As the magicks did their work, Beras' body began to die the pain was unbearable, in the pale glow of his light spell Beras could see his flesh had darkened. He felt so very cold. His ruined body swelled to fill the casket, a grotesque bloated corpse. Vile, unmentionable fluids leaked from him, Beras had never known such horror, he wished he could die, he begged Ralstan, then Rem and even Thanavox for mercy, none answered his prayer for death. It was about then that he heard the sound, a scratching, gnawing sound, someone was trying to get in, "help, let me out", no answer came, he wasn't sure his ruined voice box had even produced a sound, he tried to move, to put a decomposing ear up against a seam in the lid of the coffin. Something dropped on to his face, a beetle had wiggled it's brittle body through the planks. At first the bites were tolerable, they did not compare to the horror of rotting alive, but within a couple of days the casket was full of new inhabitants, Beras ended his light spell, he'd long lost his ear drums and eyes to the feasting horde of worms, grubs and beetles a few hours before, has was glad he could not hear their feasting any more, the pain was beyond bearable, it felt like he was on fire as the tiny mouths tore flesh from him, but soon even that was gone, his bones, stripped of flesh lay in the casket, his mind very much alive, his body almost destroyed, the feasting ended as soon as the food ran out, his only companion was the mould.

How long passed then none can say, eventually the coffin itself began to rot, and slowly the thick wood and iron bindings gave themselves back to the earth. Beras was awakened by the moist soil collapsing into his grave, it pressed in on him, forcing itself between his ribs, cold moist soil packed all around him and through him. Slowly he made his cold dead fingers wiggle to loosen the earth entombing them. It was an agonisingly slow pace, but eventually he managed to force first one arm up out of his grave, then eventually both. His bony, ruined hands clawed at the soft earth over his grave and finally he was able to free himself from the waste up. Beras sat, the wet earth still clinging to the inside of his rib cage was being washed from him by the cold rain trickling down him and pooling in the grave below. Cold hatred burned within him and fell Magickal fire lit his empty eye sockets. Beras looked at his name on the small simple stone that marked his paupers grave and read the word TRAITOR. The months of physical pain and years of mental torture in the grave had stripped him of his humanity, he was still Beras but he was overwhelmed with a need to inflict agony on he who had done this to him. Gareth would fall to his hand, this he swore as a solemn oath. He pulled his what was left of his devastated body from the grave and crawled through the rain soaked night into the cover of the weeping woods.