Sir Lawrence Teilhard found his captor lying face down on her bed.
Necromancer-Technician Aconite’s purple satin sheets spilled between
bed posts onto the floor. The lady herself was in dishabille, her arms
stretched forward as though diving. They were, in fact, stuck in a robe
she had put on halfway before giving up. Her feet hung over the foot of
the bed. Aconite wore one black stocking and, praise be, her panties.
Teilhard cleared his throat, brushing his mustache with a knuckle.
“Your breakfast is getting cold,” he said.
“Not hungry,” she said into her mattress.
Teilhard set down the polished tray he had been carrying. The toast, loaded with basil and tomato, had gone soggy.
“You haven’t eaten in a day,” Teilhard said. “Your master is concerned.”
made a noise like “mumph.” The captive paladin pursed his lips. A month
ago, Necromancer-Technician Aconite would have taunted him. The
Deathless Lord was his master too, now, she would say, thrusting a
servant’s broom into his hands and and twirling away with a nasty smile.
you cold?” he said. Aconite growled at him and made little fists with
her toes. It was a fair question, he thought. Aconite laired in one of
the turrets of the Deathless Lord’s keep. The slate blocks and mortar
did nothing to keep out the winter chill. The lich’s living minions took
great pains to show the environment did not affect them.
Teilhard, the keep was a purgatorial shit hole, but he also pretended
it didn’t bother him. It was clear, though, that something bothered his
“Something’s bothering you,” he said, stepping forward.
“My dog died,” Aconite said, her voice muffled and warbly.
did this happen?” he said. When she didn’t respond, he silently
converted the words in the Hymn to Torm into their numerological values,
then added them. He was trying to find out if the sum was a prime
number when she answered.
“Two yurr mumph,” she said.
“What?” he said.
“My dog died two years ago,” Aconite said.
“Ah,” Teilhard said, scratching his beard. “A long time to mourn a pet. Or is this the anniversary?”
“No,” she said.
master will punish you for dereliction of duty if you remain here,” he
said. “Technicians Hemlock and Hellebore have already had to take up
your slack in the resurrection pits.”
do you care?” she said, rolling over and sitting up. Aconite scowled,
beautiful and fey even now. Her fey beauty was blunted somewhat by the
robe still draped over her head and tangling her arms, but it was true
that Teilhard got a commanding view of her belly.
you wanted to split hairs, I care because of the battery of heavy
enchantments you’ve used to enforce my servitude.” Teilhard approached
to pull down her robe, but she wriggled with such menace that he backed
“Fat lot of good it’s done,” she said, pitching back to lie down again.
“I’ve carried out the duties you’ve seen fit to assign me,” Teilhard said.
“But you hate me,” she said. “You absolutely hate me.”
“I don’t hate you,” he said.
“We’re sworn enemies,” she said. “You’d kill me if you had the chance.”
did not hate you, even before you enchanted me. I oppose you, that is
different,” Teilhard said. “And chances to kill you have been few, ever
since you saw fit to beat my holy sword into a plowshare.”
“Why don’t you love me?” she wailed. “I’ve bound you so tight you shouldn’t even know what year it is.”
Teilhard blinked. “This is courtship?”
idiot!” Rage gave Aconite just enough energy to pull her head through
her rumpled necromancer’s robe. Her hair, which she styled into glossy,
coiled ringlets on better days, frizzed like a red dandelion. She had
not removed the black paint from her lips from the night before, and now
it streaked down her chin.
trying to break you,” she said. “You’re supposed to fall for me, and
I’m supposed to lead you from your faith into darkness everlasting.”
“It’s not working,” Teilhard said, raising his eyebrows.
“It’s not working!” Aconite agreed. “Why isn’t it working!”
The paladin’s beard hid most of his blush. “I don’t fancy women,” he said.
“I don’t... it’s really not your business,” Teilhard said.
“You’re gay? You’re a gay paladin,” she said, digging her nails into her cheeks and forehead. “How does that even work?”
He huffed. “Fairly well, in truth, until you ruined my weapon.”
Aconite barked out a bitter laugh. “I ensorcel the only gay paladin in the entire church of Torm,” she said.
“No, shut up,” she said. “Just shut up and throw me out the window.”
Teilhard felt the shearing force of Aconite’s command against the terms of the spell under which he labored.
“This isn’t in character for you,” he said.
the winter,” she said. “I hate winter. I hate stupid paladins who don’t
have the good sense to swear their souls to darkness when they’re
properly beaten. And how do you know what is and isn’t in character for
me? I’ve had you in my toil for like a month.”
“I feel like fits of despair would... compromise your ability to serve your master,” Teilhard said.
don’t handle failure well. And it’s the winter. And I thought about my
dog the other day. And I don’t want the others to see me, or they’ll
start making fun of me. I see the way they look at me. They probably
tell jokes about me. They know I’m worthless,” she said, rolling over
onto her belly once more.
not worthless,” Teilhard said, giving her back a cautious pat. “You’re
very effective at what you choose to do. You can do anything you set
your mind to,” he said.
“Except make you fall,” she sulked.
“Except that,” he agreed.
“I should just kill you. A zombie would do what I say. I could kill you so easy,” Aconite said into her pillow.
“First eat your toast,” Teilhard said.
For the IndieInk Writing
Challenge this week, Kurt challenged me with "'Sorrow is like the ocean and sometimes I wish my heart would stop.' - Will Christopher Baer, 'Kiss Me, Judas.'" and I challenged
Kat with "A character is locked in a bathroom at the worst possible time."