The Lost Prince: Part II – The Seeds of Tyranny

The Lost Prince: Part II – The Seeds of Tyranny

I stepped into a large room that was comfortable, but sparsely decorated. In the middle of the little, grey cage stood a single bed, with thin, light pink sheets. Beside this bed was a single desk and chair-the desk was made of old, faded wood and covered in several thick books. I recognised them as works covering the history of Ashenmore, from the founding of our kingdom by the First King, Asha, after the destruction of the dreaded Dukkahworm. Lazrilus was sprawled on the bed, reading another one of these thick, black books. Since we had been expelled from Tamburlaine’s court, he had undergone a great change, both physical and spiritual. He was thinner than when I’d first met him, and his dark blue eyes had retreated deep into the grey recesses of their sockets. His grey skin had waned, giving his flesh a curious, and sickly texture. His long dark hair had been cut short and even his pointed teeth appeared to have grown blunt since his imprisonment.

I still wasn’t sure how I felt about Midon’s decision to seal Lazrilus away in the bottom of Regan’s house – though, I’d lacked the courage to argue against the grizzled nobleman at the time. One moment, the three of us had been sitting beside Regan’s desolate fireplace. Regan, as always, had been silent, leaving the Vomoran and I to talk amongst ourselves. Lazrilus had told me that the madness that had swept across Ashenmore was reminiscent of his own nation. He told me that the territory he’d belonged to, which had been under the governance of a faction of Vomoran nobility called the Solossians, was often struck by arbitrary curfews, military spats and sudden, volatile insurgents, propped up by rival nobles. I suspected – only suspected, of course – that in his own way, Lazrilus was trying to offer me his sympathy. I hadn’t been ready to receive it at the time and, just as I was turning my head to tell the necromancer that I wasn’t interested in hearing about his wretched nation, when the doors of Regan’s house were thrown open and a thick contingent of Ashenmore soldiers stormed into the room. Regan rose to her feet, scarcely aware of what was happening, as Baron Midon marched inside.

Midon very quickly explained the situation to me. The entire south-eastern coast of Ashenmore, including Ashuron and several other small towns along the coastal border, had been thrown into chaos by the plague. All attempts to contact Tamburlaine had failed, it appeared that the young king had sealed himself away in his palace, leaving the rest of the kingdom to burn. Most of Ashenmore’s Inner Nobility, who had been languishing within Ashuron, waiting for Tamburlaine to summon them back from exile, had perished to the undead demons, or to opportunistic looters. In response to this, Midon had called upon assistance from the Lower Nobility. Already, Count Lysander was advancing from the western branch of Asha’s Pass with a small fleet of ships, carrying soldiers, healers and sorcerer’s, all of whom were ready to restore order to the south. Once he’d explained this, the Baron’s eyes had fallen on Lazrilus. Midon’s brown eyes recoiled into jet black slits.

“What’s a Vomoran doing here?” barked Midon. Before I’d had the chance to respond, Regan had piped up. From her permanent residence beside the fireplace, she had whispered:

“That’s Tamburlaine’s pet necromancer. He’s the one to blame for all this.”

“Necromancy!” roared Midon, brandishing a huge, silver pistol, upon which I bizarrely noticed was decorated with Midon’s family crest, “by Ahasathoth, I knew Tamburlaine was a blasted fool, but never in all my years…come here, Vomoran.”

Lazrilus silently obeyed. Over the following several minutes, Midon had interrogated the young necromancer and, furiously, extracted a semi-complete recollection of how he had arrived at Tamburlaine’s palace, offering to help the king uncover the origins of the sickness that had suddenly arrived on Ashenmore’s shores. Lazrilus did not reveal, no matter how hard Midon pressed, how he’d come to learn about the arrival of the plague, or how he’d come to be so far away from his homeland. The only thing he revealed was that he was some kind of traveller and had ridden with some companions to Ashenmore’s shores, only to be separated from his friends. This was obviously a lie; I could hear the lie dripping from his words like molten chocolate. Lazrilus then explained how he had resurrected the dead sailors, how Regan’s men had lost the undead beasts and how, out of nowhere, this strange necromantic disease had corrupted the whole coast.

Midon, of course, had been less than satisfied with this answer. With brusqueness that, in more civilised times would have been unthinkable, he grabbed Regan by the arm and pressed his thick, bearded face against her blank, unresponsive eyes.

“You’re letting this Vomoran – this Necromancer – wander about your house, unrestrained. Pah! You’re as mad as your accursed brother. Do you have any rooms below ground? You, men. Follow her with the Necromancer. I want him locked away, until I know what to do with him.”

And thus, Lazrilus had remained imprisoned below Regan’s house since. Granted, it was a comfortable imprisonment, but imprisonment, nonetheless. Good books, regular food and a comfortable food aside, a man cannot live inside a cage, not without taking on a sickly, weakened appearance.

Lazrilus raised a wary eye in my direction, before returning it to his book.

“I had no idea how bloody Ashenmore’s origins were,” grinned the Necromancer, “your first king – Asha? Built his throne from the skull of a monster called the Dukkahworm. A chair fit for the so-called Protector of Ashenmore! And he slew one hundred of the Dukkahworm’s servants in a single night! Men, women – perhaps even some children. I think even the deranged nobles of Vomora would hesitate at doing something so callous! Still,” chortled Lazrilus, tapping the book against his bed, “I have to admire the honesty of your scholars. The fellow who wrote these books was keen to record your history with as much accuracy as possible, warts and all.”

“Yes,” I replied, “Lord Kanadus was a very wise man.”

“One thing that does confuse me though,” continued Lazrilus, “I requested these books from Regan’s library. These soldiers – they might be my jailers, but they are nothing if not keen to make my stay as comfortable as possible. Some of these books have pages – entire chapters – missing from them. Which is confusing. If it was just an attempt by some Ashenmore noble to wipe away the dark side to your own history – well, I don’t think it would be done in such a crude manner – and why would they leave in Asha’s atrocities? It’s a mystery, it really is.”

As Lazrilus spoke, I noticed something that I had never seen before. On the lower end of Lazrilus’ neck, just above his shoulder, was a silver tattoo. The tattoo showed the outlined shadow of a withered hand, clutching a glowing eye in its curved talons. Lazrilus’ loss of weight was causing his dark clothes to slide out of place, which is why I had never observed the tattoo before. I shook my head, discarding this distraction of the mind.

“Lazrilus, I didn’t come down here to talk about Ashenmore’s history. Not it’s ancient history, anyway,” I said, “I came here to tell you that Tamburlaine’s dead.”

For a few moments, Lazrilus didn’t reply. Then, he put down his book, and sat up, resting his gaunt chin on his knuckles. He turned his eyes to me once more.

“So, your friend with the silver pistol’s taking the throne for himself?”

I started.

“What are you talking about?” I spluttered. Lazrilus chuckled.

“Well, if he’s killed the king, and his soldiers are running about the place, what other conclusion can I draw?”

“Midon didn’t kill him!” I retorted, “Tamburlaine died by his own hands. There were witnesses. Count Lysander talked to a serving girl, who found the body-”

“Well, the details don’t matter,” muttered Lazrilus, “I’ve lived through enough insurrections and coups to know what comes next. Midon will be settling down on your throne soon enough. Maybe you should bring back the Dukkahworm skull version, for the sake of tradition.”

“Midon would never take the throne like that. Insurrections?” I scoffed, “We aren’t like you Vomorans. The kingdom of Ashenmore is governed by tradition, Lazrilus, and laws. A code laid out by King Asha himself. Baron Midon can’t just take the throne whenever he wants.”

“And who will stop him?” sighed Lazrilus, “You? Regan? From what I’ve heard through that very slim door, most of your nobles are dead – my apologies for that, by the way. So, what’s to stop Midon declaring himself as king? Nothing. Midon could kill us all right now, if he wanted to, and nobody would be able to stop him.”

“What are you talking about – why would Midon want us dead?” I stammered.

Lazrilus shrugged.

“Well,” said Lazrilus, “He wasn’t exactly pleased to see you and Regan consorting with a Vomoran Necromancer, was he? And as for me, well, thanks to Regan, he’s aware that I’m responsible for the plague. Well, at least in part. Do you really think he’ll be content to let me live?”

About The Author

Rhys Clark

I am an English and Theatre Studies student at the University of Warwick. I particularly enjoy dystopian literature and political satire. My influences as a writer are George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens, Kurt Vonnegut and Harold Pinter.

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