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Novel in progress
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Great Beyond VII
will investigate now Shugg." The voice was instantly angry.
It always came without warning, and every time his reflex was dread
Shugg was a real
bastard. When he was born Gaius Octavius, known as Augustus was at the
height of his power. During the Pax Romana, his family prospered from
the spice trade until the untimely death of his parents. They were sailing
back to Rome with a small fortune in profits when the pirates attacked.
Shugg sold them out for less than a tenth of what they were carrying.
He took over the business at fifteen; involving his estate in the most
decadent and underhanded schemes seen outside of the Senate. His riches
increased exponentially before the authorities caught up with him. The
ones he couldn't bribe or have murdered were too well connected to ignore.
He sold everything, including his slaves. He had his sisters' tongues
cut out and sold them into prostitution. He took what wealth he could
carry and fled east.
Even in his youth, his appearance betrayed the evil in his heart. He
had a sharp angular face fixed with a permanent scowl, and beady little
black eyes. His hair stuck to his scalp in scraggly gray patches. He
was incapable of growing facial hair, and his skin always appeared smooth
and ashen. His presence seemed to draw out evil at every new city. He
moved all over the planet for centuries. His life was an unnatural one,
and it cut a swath of malevolence across the world. He evaded death
over and over again. Sometimes a tracker would catch up with him, and
had to be eliminated. It grew more and more difficult to escape, and
eventually he found his back against the wall.
It was then that the voice spoke to him. Deep in his mind, it filled
him with fear and hatred. He shuddered as it offered an escape from
the justice of the hunters in exchange for servitude. They were closing
in. He could smell the gun oil and hear their breath. He waited until
the last possible moment before he accepted the offer.
The soul in his body was instantly replaced by that of another. It was
forced out in an excruciating instant of unimaginable agony that seemed
to last for an eternity. His mind reeled and threatened madness. He
felt violated in a way more violent than rape. Images of his life and
the lives he ruined bombarded him from all sides. He was still trying
desperately to breathe; unaware that his body was gone, and he needed
no breath. He writhed and thrashed, and every move intensified the disorientation.
It was impossible not to cringe away from the horrors that flooded his
mind, but every reaction no matter how minute, was answered with redoubled
pain. When he finally gained control, he swore a blood oath.
He made his home in a tall stone tower, similar in appearance to the
house of Usher. Outside it was always dark, cloudy and cold. Twisted
and covered in poisonous thorns, vines of a thick dense foliage surrounded
the base of the tower. He sat in the topmost room, brooding over the
memory of the pain and contemplating his revenge. He gazed out a window,
and saw through time and space into his moment of ultimate vengeance.
He focused on his enemy, whose face he had long since memorized in every
detail. His master forbade him to act on his hatred for the man who
forced his soul from his body. He had sworn himself into servitude,
and since then he had served faithfully. He had no choice. His master
was too powerful to be denied, and some unseen force compelled him to
be true to his word. Still, he sat and plotted. One day he would be
free, and then he would return the pain and the humiliation in kind.
His master had kept his end of the bargain. Shugg had been saved from
the hunters. The new owner of his body had dealt with them easily. He
was powerful. Much more powerful than Shugg had been. Now things were
different. Shugg was gaining advantages slowly but steadily. He was
constantly growing stronger and stronger. In the service of his master
he learned many things. He participated in atrocities that made the
most ignoble and dishonorable deeds of his life look like petty larcenies.
He learned well, and he felt sure that very soon his abilities would
surpass those of his tormentor. He would be free, then he would see
them grovel, beg and perish utterly.
The voice interrupted his daydreams. "Report." It was a simple
command, but the voice put and edge into it that was not to be denied.
"Lord, there have been many victories. Many lines have been destroyed.
The search grows more narrow with every spy who returns. The mission
at the primary crux appeared to work, though I have some doubts. I will
investigate personally as soon as the last of my spies reports in."
"You will investigate now Shugg." The voice was instantly
angry. It always came without warning, and every time his reflex was
dread and terror. He went to his knees, unable to stand under the weight
of his master's presence. Displeasure increased the oppressive tenacity
of the control he exerted over Shugg. "If the spell failed to seal
him at the primary crux, your spies will have other concerns. I will
remind you only once more that our quarry cannot be located by any of
our methods after his death. If he escaped our trap he is lost to us;
our enemies will have hidden him by now. You will assign a lieutenant
to accept the reports of the remaining spies, then find the remains
and be certain. Report to me immediately."
"Yes Lord." He stammered, but the voice was already gone.
His fear was replaced gradually with anger. He rose up and calmed himself
with thoughts of his imminent revenge. He ordered a subordinate to receive
the stragglers, then moved smoothly into the museum. The spell had been
activated; he could see into the spectrum and easily recognized the
residue of the cage enchantment on the swords and the walls. He moved
again to the side of a fresh grave. He looked through the settling earth
into the casket. The spell was clinging to the body. The wounds made
by the swords glowed hotly with it. The remains were empty. They had
failed. There was a time when Shugg would have despaired, when he would
have returned sheepishly to his tower and reported to his master hoping
for mercy. This time might not have been different, even with his ever
increasing abilities, if it weren't for the unique opportunity he saw
in his failure. This was a special case; for once his master was at
a disadvantage. The existence of this boy, though extremely dangerous,
could be used to level the playing field. It could be the key to his
release; the instrument of his victory and his rise to power. His master's
days were numbered. As were the heartbeats of the man still in his body.
There must be a way to use this child's abilities, and he would find
After he returned and made his report, he shook off the lingering effects
of his master's rage by focusing on the problem facing him. He mulled
over it as he reassigned his forces into a futile search for a soul
who could not be found. He put the problem in perspective. If he had
been murdered as this boy had been, and if he had the inevitable allies
that this boy must surely have, and if he had the unique ability to
remain hidden from sight, what would he do? Where would he go?
© Brodie Parker Oct 7th 2004
To be continued...
Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here
Chapter Four here
Chapter five here
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