Tears of the King

A Vengeance, Finally Sated

In a room that was once fine, still throbbing with unholy energy, a would-be necromancer lay bleeding.

Broken.

Beaten.

He tried to speak, failed. Spat blood into the growing puddle on the floor. Tried again, with more success: “Wait! I have information! I know things that could save you! Only spare my life!”

A party of heroes, grim architects of his defeat, turned to the back of the room, where a tall figure stood waiting. They stood aside, clearing a path for him, their breath steaming in air that was suddenly freezing.

Raethrekr, his tarnished silver armor a startling contrast to the golden raven shining on his chest, stepped forward.

“Do you know me, conjurer? Do you recognize this sigil?”

He raised his blade, the ebony blade rimed with black frost.

“Do you recognize this blade? It belonged to my father. Perhaps you’d recognize him, if he were here.”

He raised the sword, and the room was suddenly filled with whispers.

“If you hadn’t had him murdered.”

Raethrekr touched the tip of his sword to the floor, and ice raced across the floorboards, enveloping the cowering man.

“For you, there will be no forgiveness. Tell me what you know, and I will give you a clean death. Hold your tongue, and you will meet my mistress, but you will suffer first.”

The wizard’s face hardened. He shook off the ice, and stood up, gathering whatever dignity he could muster.

“Then my knowledge goes with me to the grave.”

The armored man, a paladin of Hel, smiled, a bleak and terrible thing.

“Suit yourself. Give my regards to the Dark Lady.”

There was a flash, and then the old necromancer knew only darkness.

He awoke into agony, hanging upside down from a cross outside the gates of Jarlshof.

The paladin walked towards him, carrying a shield marked with an obsidian raven. His head was down, as though he was praying. He suddenly thrust the shield forward, touching the raven to the wizard’s chest. The wizard screamed, overcome by the new agony, his chest branded with the raven’s outline.

Raethrekr turned to his companions.

“Hoist him up.”

As the cross slowly rose towards the top of the gates, blue fire began to pour from the raven brand, enveloping the screaming man in cold flame.

One of the paladin’s companions, a cleric of Sunna, raised his voice, his golden aura flickering in the afternoon light.

“Is it over, then? Is your thirst for vengeance finally sated?”

“Is it over, cleric? For me, yes, I suppose so. For him? Never. He will scream for my mistress’ cold embrace, but she will not have him. His soul is barred from entering her cold domain.”

“For what he did to me, for what he did to countless others, he will burn.”

“Forever.”

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