Author Topic: Short Story: Snow on the Averpalast [library]  (Read 1501 times)

Offline rufus sparkfire

  • Global Moderator
  • Posts: 33265
Short Story: Snow on the Averpalast [library]
« on: March 04, 2004, 10:41:08 AM »

I sent this to Grutch already, but just in case here it is again:

Snow on the Averpalast

by Rufus Sparkfire

Avermarshall Jürgen Starke set down his brandy glass and looked out over the city. For once, with the warm pink of the sunset above the flawless white of the snow, it looked beautiful. The snow covered up the decay of the slums, the open sewers of the streets; with its problems hidden beneath that freezing blanket, Averheim looked worth saving.

“Lord Starke? Am I disturbing you?”
Of course, Starke thought irritably as he turned to face the man. “No. Close the door behind you, and report.”
“My Lord, I bring word from General von Plauen. His men intercepted von Bösewichtschloss’s raiders near the border. They succeeded in driving them back into Sylvania, but suffered heavy losses in the process. In light of the adverse weather conditions the General asks leave to withdraw.”

Starke looked down at the table, where a map of the border between Averland and Sylvania had been laid out. There was the counter representing von Plauen’s army, encamped by the Dunkeldorf ford. Through the window of a warm palace chamber the snow might look harmless, but to a battle-worn army camped in the open it could be a death sentence. He knew only too well how it would be for those who were injured. Weak from pain and blood loss; tired beyond endurance, but knowing that to submit to sleep might mean never waking again. For a moment, Starke considered allowing the retreat, but only for a moment. It was quite impossible. The closest relief force was too far away – in the interim von Bösewichtschloss would regroup and come back across the border. The undead do not suffer from the cold, do not sleep, do not hunger – what he would give to have such an army!

“Tell von Plauen that he must hold. A relief force will reach him in four days.”
“My lord, I beg you to reconsider. Von Plauen is no coward as well you know; he would not ask this if it were not absolutely necessary. The snow-”
Starke cut across the messenger’s protests impatiently. “Do not presume to lecture me. I know the situation, and I would not ask this if it were not vital to the defence of the province. How many civilians would pay the price for von Plauen’s withdrawal?”
How many have already paid for this war of your making, the messenger thought to himself. “Very well my Lord. I will see that the General receives your orders.”

Starke turned his back on the man, looking out though the window again. There were enemies everywhere. Von Bösewichtschloss, that blasphemous travesty of a nobleman and his dead legions raided across the border near constantly. It was only a matter of time before the raids escalated into a full-blown invasion. The Blackfire Pass was beset by goblinoids and worse things, almost more than the Mountainguard could hold back. Even more troublingly, the rumours of barbarian armies gathering in the far north had proven true. Desperate measures might be called for in the months ahead, and Starke knew that he needed the full and unwavering support of both the military and the civilian hierarchy.

The snow was falling more heavily now, in large ponderous flakes that shook the earlier fall from the trees in the gardens below. His gaze turned to the Elector’s apartments in the north tower – there was a light in the unshuttered window, and for a moment he though he saw movement. Behind him, the messenger cleared his throat discreetly. Why was he still here?

“Do you have something further to report?” Starke turned to face the messenger, who seemed oddly apprehensive. The man was shivering, and if with cold, but the room was well-heated. “The Elector…” the messenger paused, quailing beneath the Avermarshall's intense stare, “Count Leitdorf is awake. He rose from his bed an hour ago.”
Starke said nothing, so the messenger continued, “The Elector walked over to the window and threw back the shutters. When he saw the snow, he cried out in amazement. ‘It’s so beautiful’ he said, ‘how white and clean it makes the palace look’. Then he asked how long he had slept, and was horrified by the reply.”
“How is his state of mind? Has he recovered his reason?”
“His physical health returned to him months ago, as you know my lord. But he has lain long in this death-like sleep, and we did not think he would ever fully awaken from it. The physicians say that it is a miracle, for a man so long incapacitated to awaken so fully and so suddenly. They say that if he continues to improve this rapidly, he will be completely recovered in a matter of days.”

The news hit Starke like a cannon shot. Not now, of all times not now! To have the Elector back in command of his province, his mind influenced once more by that traitor von Hochsleben and his agents. He could see it now; von Bösewichtschloss would be appeased, treated with. They would undo all his work, and Averland would be overrun by undead and orcs and barbarians. Starke lifted the brandy glass to his lips and drained it in a single draft. The beauty of the snow was a false one. All the rot and corruption of the city was still there beneath it, covered for but a short time. When the thaw came it would return, more vile and corrosive than ever. He had a duty to do.

“My lord? What are your orders regarding the Elector?” The messenger knew what the reply would be, and he steeled himself in readiness.
Avermarshall Starke looked him directly in the eye and said, “Increase the dosage.”
« Last Edit: August 17, 2007, 03:40:56 PM by rufus sparkfire »
Hey, I could still beat up a woman!
If I wanted to.

Offline EC.Sylvania

  • Posts: 569
Short Story: Snow on the Averpalast
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2004, 03:33:07 AM »
I like it a lot. Please increase OUR dosage with the next edition. :)

Offline Domoviye

  • Posts: 59
Short Story: Snow on the Averpalast
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2004, 06:33:37 AM »
I'm glad you started writing, once more very well done.
I never touch reality myself you understand, I find it gets in the way of the hallucinations.
Joker in "The Killing Joke"