Derak in the Scarlet City

A Demonstration of Power

The scene is so dreamlike in many ways. The sounds of the celebration all around us, Vansittart exchanging meaningless pleasantries with the Sheath merchants, his hand gripping around my arm tightly. His ferociousness is like a suffocating perfume around us. Power mixed in with a touch of madness lingering just beneath the civil surface.

But I withhold my stab. If he is taking me upstairs for a private council, it will be all that much easier, perhaps too easy. Kill him, then take the crystal and escape through some of the countless windows, out into the rooftops and away from the people of this city, forever.

— We have a lot to talk about, you and I, Vansittart chats away as we start our slow ascend to the second floor. I lay sideway glances towards the windows. Not yet, from here I can’t really get rid of my costume after the deed quickly enough. It would be a shame to be shot through by the karstite crossbows without the armor and on my way out. And then there is the crystal that is still missing.

He guides me to a small, but exquisite room. We have a bit difficulty navigating in through the door, with my wide costume, but he lets me to enter in first and proceeds to follow me and closes the door behind him.

The room is scarcely furnished, but the items that are there speak of refinement and power. A massive table with four sturdy chairs speak of a negotiation room, but  luxurious, wide bed speaks of something else. Perhaps he likes to sleep and work in the same room. It would not be the weirdest thing these men of power are into. The walls are covered with heavy silks that suck the sound of our footsteps in eerie, muffled silence. The small lantern with reddish surface enriches the feeling of lurid exoticness.

Should I really kill him now? True enough, he is a rising power player of the City, but so are many others I know. If a situation presented itself should I not just knock him out first at least? If the dark crystal is not in this room, I may be in a need of his knowledge of its whereabouts. He might have sold it already, in which case it is important to know where the jewel has gone.

He strolls leisureously towards one of the large chairs. Like a large cat that is cozy at home, no doubt. It is almost too easy. A carefully aimed blow to the back of his head makes him crumble next to the chair he was reaching for. I am glad for the sound-suffocating silks and fabrics in the room, as there his collapse was almost without sound.

But the crystal. I leave his unconscious body where it lies and focus my attention on the room. The large table hasn’t got any chests underneath and as it contains only a wine charafe and few glasses I focus my attention elsewhere. I cross the room with few steps and start investigating the nightstands beside the massive table.

It takes a few crucial seconds for me to realize what has happened. I am kneeling next to the large bed and everything is a red haze. I turn around sluggishly. Vansittart is there with a broken chair and a maddened gaze. There are pieces of wood next to me, perhaps the chair was not of a such good quality, if it was it would have crushed my head like an eggshell.

There is no time for metronomes. I struggle to get up, but the high heels interfere with my not at the moment so perfect balance. He comes in with a disemboweling thrust of his dress sword. A beautiful move as the blade is like a living extension of his muscled hand. It comes through my costume and crashes against the armor beneath. But even with all his power, the scorrevole withstands. It is an armor of different moving parts, a mechanic masterpiece that captures the energy of the incoming attacks in complex, interweaving parts that move freely around the torso. I have made three of these in my life, and even though it can only protect the body, its stopping power is miraculous.

The blow is hard though, and from the screeching sounds of the scorrevole it is obvious that I can’t take another like that without consequences.

— You dog. I will show you your place.

He comes in more cautious this time and I have managed to get my uncooperative legs under me. My blades are out as I block his initial attacks. He is really Albin’s brother. They move alike, but where Albin was a brash bravo, Vansittart is a ferocious beast.

The result of this confrontation is obvious to me long before the actions really unfold. Either he didn’t feel my blow at all or has an uncanny stamina. I am not in the shape to face someone like him.

I stab towards his stomach with my left blade. He evades and strikes a mighty blow at the base of it. The hardened blade breaks, sending a horrible shock along my arm. He continues with a tremendous backhand of his large palm that sends me crawling on the floow half-senseless.

— Now I’ll show you how tools are kept in the household of Gabaldon.

He rips through my clothes and armor like a taloned raptor. By him I am carried to a world of darkness and agony, of brutality and subjugation. He puts me where he thinks I am and I haven’t got the means to do anything about it. He enforces himself upon me, just like the master he thinks he is.

At some point I lose consciousness. A release of sorts for the tormented soul and body.

 

My choices:

  • Kill, permanently imprision or disenfranchise Vansittart Gabaldon.
  • Save Chrysal from her choices.
  • Sway Tassava Gilo and give a new direction for the City.

For this:

  • I am injured or deprived by Vansittart Gabaldon.
  • Daag is left unattended.
  • The Circle will be torn apart.
  • I can’t afford goodbyes.
  • Sheath agents will continue to destabilize Scarlet.
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One thought on “A Demonstration of Power

  1. This is a great about-turn in our story, and full of really lovely descriptive detail, hinting at further developments or bits of character. The scorrevole is a fascinating idea, beautiful and outlandish – a really nice way to build on Eero’s description of the costume.

    It’s a bit abrupt at the end, and the contrasting length to the previous entry is somewhat of a surprise. Not necessarily a problem, I suppose!

    Looking forward to where his goes next – Petteri seems to be setting up Eero to fulfil one of the Climax criteria, but Eero doesn’t necessarily have to play along…

    A note: you’ve omitted one other criteria from you summary – the Dark Crystal.

    Like

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