The Dark Council In Ahm-Shere

From Charred Marble

The day Vermen Kabal arrived in Ahm-Shere, the day of the Serpent Council's meeting and the beginning of the mustering of the Ahm-Sheran army.

Later that day Vermen returned to the inn. He had learned all he needed to know. Entering his room, he opened the window. He looked down to the street, watching the movements of the crowd for a few minutes then he looked to the city. He looked at the great walls and the Royal Palace. A furrow formed over his eyes, but more from concentration than of worry. He knew he would make this. After all he was made for this.

Clearing the floor in the room, he slowly knelt on the ground turning to the south-east bending his entire body towards the ground.

"I'm ready."

Suddenly a strong flash of light appeared before Vermen and the room was filled with smoke for a few seconds before it all seemed to disappear into the air again. Before him stood a towering man dressed in dark, thick clothing that also covered his face.

Slowly Vermen head raised up. "You," he asked out of surprise. "I did not expect…"

"Silence tool," the man spoke in a deep voice. "Who did you expect? Grimgard, your friend returning from the dead? Doman, hiding as the innkeeper? Rayrn? He would probably leve this whole city just to speak with. That man lives on wasting valuable resources."

Vermen did not respond, bent his head towards the floor planks but kept his eyes towards the man.

"You are still to deliver the message. Just as the Lurcher told you at the court of Maga Khan."

"I have the feeling that I will not be free even when this is done."

The standing man laughed slowly, with a deep, evil chuckle. "Of course not. You are to continue north. We have work for you in the White Realm. Don't worry about what happens here. The scope is to the north."

Vermen slowly nodded.

"I also know that Grobtak gave specific orders to you through the Lurcher that the Dark Council did not approve off. I want you to follow these orders as well."

Smoke appeared in the room once more, covering the dark figure.

"And the next time I ask you not to try and kill the Lurcher. Even Mordain Thaendil himself has tried that and fooled himself. The next time he meets you he might be quite irritated, and the Lurcher's enemies are few for a reason."

A flash once more appeared, and the man disappeared in an soundless explosion of light and smoke. Vermen slowly rose, walked to the window and removed the covers for the window. He hoped for the sake of the peace of the city that there were no magic users in the city who had noticed the use of his master's sorcery. Vermen never liked to kill when it was unnecessary.

Deep in the prison cells below the Royal Palace of Verdonsk Valek sat on a wooden bench and stared into the darkness of the halls outside the cell. A small plate with some bread and butter stood beside him on a wooden table but he had not touched it.

A tiny light lit up the hallway and his own cell partially, though the corners were in dark shadows. Valek had his eyes towards the torch that created the illumination. The burning light threw a reflection in his eyes.

Suddenly Valek turned his head to the right. The man had heard a sound somewhere in the corner. He was about to get up when a small rat scurried from the shadows. With rage he launched the plate after it, hitting it in the head and killing it outright, before sitting down. Suddenly he heard another sound in the corner though he ignored it and continued to stare towards the torch, throwing a short angry glance towards the dead rat.

Suddenly, without warning, the looming shape of Vermen Kabal rose from the shadows within the cell. He was clad in dark clothing, covering his entire body. Dark boots to dark headclothing. His own body seemed to be part of the shadows of the room itself, and with his presence it seemed like the darkness grew in the room. Valek was surprised, though he did not show it. He had partially expected this meeting.

"The Dark Council is not happy with you Valek," Vermen spoke. "This did not go as they wanted."

Valek sat silently. He did not reply.

"You're lucky they believe you to be lost now. If they thought there were any hope they would have sent someone else. Just imagine one of Doman's assassins or Cyrush's acolytes coming for you, or one of the members of the Dark Council itself."

He slowly stepped forth from the shadows, but as he walked forward the shadows refused to let go and instead moved with him, engulfing the room further.

"Then tell me Valek, do you believe there is any hope now? Anything more you can do for the Dark Council? Or are you spent?"

Valek stood, angered.

"The Dark Council can send their assassins, for I shall challenge them with my own hands. I shall rend the heads from the necks of all those who raise a finger against me," Valek said. "But in answer to your question; no. I have nothing more to offer."

Vermen simply shook his head, "Listen to yourself. Listen to what you have become. Ignorant of your own horrible situation which you brought yourself into. Blind by the anger which you can't control. You know that such words will only provoke your masters, and then people like you and me can't stand against them, with neither fists nor swords."

"Then let them come, the sooner they free my soul from the prisons that it is encaged within, the sooner I can be released on my sins," Valek stated.

Vermen lashed out with an iron fist, a strike quick as lightning. Valek crashed into his chair, knocking it down, but was quick on his feet again. Blood ran from his mouth.

"That is how Rayrn would have punished you," Vermen spoke. "Only with the strength of a falling mountain instead. You have no idea how much he wanted to come here and crush you. So stop speaking gibberish and begin thinking. I do not want to do this Valek."

"Fool!" spat Valek in disgust. The red liquid was warm. Valek climbed back onto his feet and clenche dhis fists tightly behind his back. "If my hands were not bound, I would slay you, Vermen," the Lord-Commander threatened. "Now tell me, what is it you want of me?" he shouted at the top of his voice.

Vermen slowly moved closer, his face suddenly covered in the unnatural shadow that followed him. He pulled a long, black knife from his belt.

"You're making a mistake now Valek" he said. "Threatening me, and then saying that you you're completely unaware of what the Dark Council wants with you."

The blade touched the throat of Valek. "Don't you think they can listen to your every word?"

"Then let them know, that I am not afraid of them," Valek spat.

Slowly Verman let the black knife run across the skin of Valek while speaking softly. "Fear is not something you will have to think about. It will be the least of your pains for certain."

He pulled the blade away from the touch of Valek, a small drop of blood running across the throat of the brother of the Lord General of Ahm-Shere. "Why don't you liten to me," Vermen spoke with regret though also with anger.

With a sudden, surprising move Vermen roared with fury and picked Valek up by the throat with his left hand and pressing the man up against the wall. The dark shadows in the room moved with Vermen and engulfed the room behind him as he moved forward, covering the walls, floor, table and chair.

Spit ran from Vermen's mouth and his limbs shook, though his grip on Valek's throat was secure as mountain roots and somehow the man seemed sane in his eyes.

The black knife swung around in Vermen's hand, and the light from the weak torch in the hall hit the blade of the knife for a brief moment revealing a thin, elegant though sickening scripture. Then the knife was turned downwards.

"This is how Dantares wanted it," Vermen whispered as he moved with one quick action which lacked any kind of mercy. The black knife went down in one strong stab, cutting into the crotch of Valek.

His agonizing screams filled the hallway.

Valek screamed as Vermen threw him to the floor. He looked at the wound to find nothing but red liquid pouring from the cut. He vomited upon the sickening sight.

Vermen slowly sank back to the shadows as he spoke once more, in a silent, whispering tone. The words however were in some strange language which Valen could not understand.

Valek was left on the floor, bleeding from his wound, a broken man.

Vermen sprang forth from the shadows in a tight street some hundred yards east of the Royal Palace. He licked his lips as he looked to the starlit sky of Ahm-Shere, blinking in the light from the moon. Then he cleaned his blade on a piece of clothing which he threw away before tucking the long knife into his cloak. Then he moved out on the main street and began walking back towards the inn.

Valek lay a broken man in his prison-tomb. He held the rag to his groin as he attempted to stop the bleeding. It was all in vain. He felt nothing as he passed out.

The next morning Vermen left his room in the inn after cleaning it up and putting things back to their original positions. He paid the innkeeper handsomely after telling the man of his intentions to go to Pascal De Gamma in the west. He was going to visit a distant cousin there who sold his craftsmanship.

Following that he gathered his equipment, as well as a few valuable food rations he had bought from the innkeeper and gathered his horse from the stable and proceeded down the street though the thick crowd. It was a warm day as any else in Verdonsk and the air in the streets was filled with sand and dust. Therefore the innkeeper though nothing about it when Vermen pulled the scarf around his face in the manner he did.

Vermen Kabal left Verdonsk some time later.

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