Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Sword Gods," Master and Servant, pt. 2, 380 words

He pulled the door to, once again plunging the room into darkness. In a smooth motion practiced by long repetition, the knight knelt down in the muck and mire below, bowing his head. While he wore his hair long, he'd learned to keep it trimmed enough so it would not touch the filth below when he went down on one knee like this. Already in his mind he gnawed over having to clean his armor when he got out of here; it would not do for a knight to look as if he had been on his knees in a barn, after all.

After a count of ten heartbeats, drumming slow and steady but heavily in his breast, he dared to raise his eyes from the piece of shadow that hid the floor. Two points of light, like burning embers, floated in the darkness. A soft hissing chuckle came to his ears.

“Arise,” the chuckling voice whispered. The voice was entirely incongruous with its surroundings. It was smooth and soft, and the knight almost found himself leaning closer to hear it more clearly, as he always did. It was the kind of voice that belonged to a preacher before his congregation, not in this pit of shadow and offal. The knight came to his feet, not knowing entirely whether he did so of his own volition or if driven by the subtle undertones of command in that one word.

“My lord,” he began, but the voice went on, amused.

“Always so careful. Always as precisely deferential as possible. Do you ever tire of it, I wonder?”

The voice had asked that question, or one much like it, nearly every time the knight came here for the past several years. At first it had seemed an insult, and the knight had nearly lashed out at the voice for it. It continued to rankle for quite some time, but at last he had seen it for what it was: a tiny amusement for a being awash in tedium and ennui. A simplistic attempt to get under the knight's skin, one that had yet to be abandoned even though it was no longer effective and now rendered, by time and repetition, into another part of the normal ritual of greeting.

No comments: