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A Staff With A Knob On It
Elf
rix_scaedu
I wrote this to kunama_wolf's prompt "Your angels setting. Something involving a round knob-like object and the colour purple." This story is probably some years after The Man With The Bucket.

I would also suggest that this story should be rated Parental Guidance Recommended for adult concepts.


“Purple is the magistrates’ colour,” said Ordestia Prima. “It’s the colour of imperium, the power over life or death. Where is it you come from again?”

“Backcountry Benares,” replied Haigenes calmly. “Nowhere that I’d expect a Gelharine warrior-priestess of the Third Swordlord to have heard of. Our magistrates tend to wear white. That stone’s probably an amethyst.” He continued to look at the object in front of them. “So, what do you think the whole thing is?”

“If my people made it, then it would be part of a senior magistrate’s regalia,” replied Ordestia. “That seems…unlikely under the circumstances.” She reached out to touch the haft of the staff with the purple globe on its upper end.

“I wouldn’t.” Haigenes grabbed her arm before she could make contact. “That knob is probably amethyst, but it could just be a shell or a dome – I think there’s something swirling inside it. Besides, best not to touch a murder weapon before the local authorities get here.” They both looked down at the floor where a man and a woman lay impaled onto the stone together. The angle and stability of the polished wooden staff suggested that its tip was deeply sunk into the stone below the bodies.

“I came up here looking for Sempleticus Lorax because we’d lost contact with him, but I never expected to find this,” Ordestia gestured at the two bodies, the clothed and armoured man on top of the apparently naked woman.

Haigenes crouched down and looked for a few moments, his expression appearing particularly bovine as he did so. “If it helps, I don’t think they were ‘in the act’ when this happened. It looks to me like he was trying to protect her. Also, he was a warrior-priest, wasn’t he?”

“Sempleticus Lorax was a paladin,” Ordestia corrected gently.

Haigenes nodded in acknowledgement, then asked, “So where’s his weapon?”

“His sword isn’t in its scabbard?” Ordestia looked more closely at the bodies. “You’re right, it’s not.” She looked around the room. “It doesn’t seem to be here at all.”

“The next question is, where would Sister Dame Hiliel take all her clothes off?” Haigenes looked around. “Whatever this was, it started there.”

“Excuse me, this is a temple of the god of carnal love,” pointed out Ordestia.

Haigenes nodded but replied, “That doesn’t mean that Lord Hasnor’s mortal servants routinely walk around the sacred precincts naked. If they were trying to get away,” he looked around, “and they started in her quarters, then it would have made more sense to head through the kitchen. As they wound up here, then they probably came from the baths.”

“The baths? This place has proper baths, way up here?” Ordestia was following him towards a side door in an internal temple wall. “I keep asking for a bath and they keep giving me a tub of hot water and a bar of soap. Sometimes I’m lucky not to lose my skin.”

“Not a Gelharine set of baths,” Haigenes admitted. “More a warm pool with water that’s regularly refreshed.”

“Who are you again?” Ordestia asked the question as she followed him into a nicely finished corridor. “I mean, you introduced yourself but you didn’t say what you do.”

Haigenes had stopped at a door and now he looked back at her, “I’m Lord Hasnor’s Protector of Sacred Spaces.”

“So you’re in charge of the temple guards,” said Ordestia thoughtfully. “All the temple guards, or just the ones for here?”

“I probably would be, if Lord Hasnor had temple guards, but it’s kind of a roaming commission,” replied Haigenes. “It involves a lot more drain unclogging, gutter clearing and rat catching than you might expect.” He opened the door to a reveal a perfectly round, gently steaming pool set in stone paving and illuminated by a shaft of light from above.

Something on the floor caught Ordestia’s eye. “That’s a paladin’s sword.” The broken pieces sparkled in the sunlight. “What could have broken it like that?”

“The weapon that killed them,” said Haigenes shortly. “Whoever was using it put that hole in the ceiling,” he pointed at the source of sunlight above them. "Someone who could take a fall from that height.”

“Or land,” added Ordestia in a small voice.

“I think,” said Haigenes sounding both certain and nervous at the same time, “that we need to pray, each to our own lords. It looks to me as if someone tried to replicate Lady Erithme’s murder, but your paladin prevented that, if not his and Sister Dame Hiliel’s deaths.”

Ordestia looked at him, horrified. “Why would anyone want to replicate the event that started the Death War? Unless, phalanxes of angels defend us, they want to repeat it? The killer must have been a vard, mustn’t it?”

“And it’s left that weapon behind for a reason,” added Haigenes. “But has it done what it meant to, or will it try again?”


This is now followed by Initial Orders.

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From the title, I was expecting something a bit bawdier and maybe Discworldish, being reminded of "A Wizard's Staff has a Knob at the End".

• a man and a woman lay impaled into the stone together.
-> on (or) against

I thought of the Discworld too, I must admit. :)

It does all take place in a temple of the god of carnal love is the best I can offer to bawdiness.

I am thinking about word choice.

The staff goes through them and into the stone, hence 'into' but that could imply something wider than I have in mind.

I'm not sure your two suggestions have the penetrating implication I'm trying to get at, but I may have to consider whether what I've already said tells the reader that too.

The staff goes through them and into the stone

That is sufficiently unexpected (and on reflection I'm surprised that it's obvious without trying to move the bodies) that I suggest making it specific rather than sort of implied in the text. While the later bit with the jump from the ceiling and breaking of the sword suggests an extraordinary attacker, piercing stone is with a stab is, I think, a step up from shattering a metal weapon.

Haigenes has learned a lot since last we saw him. And things seem to be heating up on the Vard front, between this and the possibility of the corrupted choir coming to light ...

I have made changes.

Yes, things are heating up. I reread these stories before I wrote this and there were two things I wanted to tie in....

That's much clearer, yes, thank you.

Woot, impending arc plot!

Noticed your tag goes to helgenes, rather than haigenes

Eeee plot advancement! Something has been brewing for a while...

I have fixed the tag. Helgenes is someone else entirely.

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