The God of Shadows

The God of Shadows

Part II

The corrupted halls of Iamblichus were filled with the most grotesque defilements. Here, I will tell a section of the tale not for the faint of heart. For here, in the heart of Ampemia, walked the legions of corpses at the command of the shadow-men. Here, the pious were led by the most impious and incestuous of bestial men. Here, we follow the story of our messenger once again, and, knowing that his word is true, must admit to ourselves that such horrors once did exist and, thus, have potential to exist once again…

-From Benjamin Breane's undelivered Transcript

Chapter 5

The young girl stood in reverent silence, her hands folded in front of her. She was nervous yet fascinated by the pale hooded figures that she stood before. Together, the nine elders made up the infallible council- the most elite of all the magical universities' known governing bodies. They had called on the young female, Marethe, based on the curiosity of their collective council and the wishes of their own leader.

A golden throne, on which their leader sat, was built into the center of the room. He was thin with curly golden locks, and he wore a black suit which hugged his slender body tightly. In his right hand, he held a large Golden rod. The head was capped with a crystal formed in the likeness of a human skull. In his other, he held a silver pendant. In perfect symmetry, four elders stood to his left, and four to his right. Their pale faces bowed to the ground pensively as their eyes, hidden by their overhanging hoods, closed in silent reflection.

Camus slouched in the throne. It was his own will, due to lack of personal understanding, that had brought the girl to the attention of the Elders, and so, in turn, laid the foundations of their own curiosity. It was his hand that had brought the unprecedented Marethe before the council.

He remembered watching her run the Gantlet from his high tower. She had been beaten with incredibly force, and would not have lived. But something about her sparked his interested. As the inquisitors reared back and prepared to nail their finishing blows, Camus had raised his hand in defiance of the ceremony, and commanded that she be taken in to the caverns of healing.

"Bring her to me" he said with eerie calmness.

The two guards who stood by her grabbed her by the arm. The clasp of their bulky hands hurt, even though neither was using even a small amount of strength. Gently, yet forcibly, they hurled her down the scarlet carpet and up the two stairs before Camus' throne.

He leaned in to her face, so close that she could feel his warm fermenting breath on her face. She tried to back away, but the guards held her firmly, blocking her with their huge hands.

"Do not be afraid, young one. I only wish to speak to you. You can call me Camus. What is your name?"

Her head slanted downward, still locking her eyes into his own blue flares, but defending herself from his breath.

Camus grabbed her by the chin, rubbing his black leather glove around her face and examining her. He looked up to the guards and to the council around him. "She is pure, you say?"

"That is correct." Said the one next to him. "She has yet to become defiled."

Camus smiled. "Good." He whispered to the guard. He continued to examine her face, twisting her head and her neck and rubbing his leathery fingers all around he features- her nose and cheekbones, her jaw line and neck. He continued to smile and took his hands off her for a moment. "Leave us." He commanded as he stood up from his throne. Without question, the guards and the robed figures began to dispense in one direction towards the door. When the last guard had reached the door, he turned, saying "We will wait at the door." Then, turning away, he left, closing the massive hinge behind him.

Camus paced with his hands behind his back, though they could not be seen through his flowing layers of vestments. His hair, long, blonde, and curly, reached down behind his neck and in front of his face. From behind it pieced two firey blue eyes. They captivated Marethe, entranced her, drew her in. But, aside form the eyes, most of his face lay hidden by his curls. "Would you like to sit down?" he suggested.

Marethe raised her head. "Where?"

Camus laughed. "Right there before you. On my throne. Please, do, so that we may become more acquinted."

"No thank you." She insisted. There was something in his voice- a bit of force, though hidden- which almost terrified her.

Camus turned around and rested his eyes on her. "Please, sit and be comfortable. I just wish to talk to you."

Hesitantly, Marethe sat down in the throne. The fear of his intentions was replaced with the fear of what would happen to her if she did not.

She took his seat. It was comfortable, cushioned with red velvet and framed with gold. She rubbed her hand on the soft, smooth arms as Camus came around the back of the chair and rested his palms on her shoulders. "How do you like it?" he asked.

"It's nice." Marethe said randomly, too afraid to say nothing.

"I thought you would think so." He said, withdrawing his hands from her and stepping away.

After several seconds of silence, she heard his voice again. "I'm sorry for being so… contrary to the point. Let us cut right to the heart. You wish to attend this institution?"

Marethe nodded.

"You do know that you were unworthy, correct? And that you were saved by my graces and my graces alone?"

Marethe did not know these things, but nodded as if she did.

"Good." He says. "Then, I suppose you know that it was I who saved you? I who prevented you from being cast into an untimely grave?"

Again, Marethe nodded, even though she did not understand.

"Good. Then I only make on request."

Marethe looked at him with curiosity, asking while saying nothing.

Camus reached his arm over to her hair and began petting her, stroking her blond curls affectionately. "You will make regular visits with me."

Nervously, Marethe nodded in half-consent.