Mask – #writephoto

fox

Photo by Sue Vincent

Note – this is part five of the story, Towards the Light.  Click here for previous.  Go to the Table of Contents. Or start at the beginning: (click here for part 1 – The Tunnel)

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The guards ushered us into the throne room.  We were forced to our knees when we came before the king.  The king stood.  He had only been waist high when I saw him before, but he was now taller than me.  I am not gay, but I must say, he was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen.  Fair folk was a very fitting word.

“Rawcliph, what brings you to my domain?” the king asked.

Rawcliph stood up and a guard pushed him back down.

“Well, your excellency, I have news,” the wizard said.  “Glumoric is awake and is planning on causing strife between your people and the humans.  He would like nothing better than an all-out war.”

“Do you think I don’t know this?” the king said.  “Glumoric sent an Emissary.  He reminded me that all of our problems were caused by your meddling.  We could very easily work behind the scenes and drive the humans into an all or nothing war, not against us but against themselves.  We need do nothing but wait and the world will be ours again, not just these musty old tunnels.”

“And you believe this?”  Rawcliph stood again, but this time nobody pushed him back down.  “You know the evil one’s history.  He wants to destroy you and have the world to himself.  Think.  Even if this was true, if the humans wipe themselves out with nuclear weapons, the world would not be habitable for you, but it would be perfect for Glamoric’s demons.  Blavour is already a radioactive wasteland.”

“Send for the Emissary!” the king shouted.

A flame shot up in one corner of the room.  I could see a shadow in the conflagration.  When the fire died down, a man was left.  He was in robes, which reminded me of a dress.  At first I thought he had the head of a fox, but I realized that it was a mask.

“Supper’s Ready,” I said.

“And we’re the main course,” Whindell said.

The king looked confused.  “I did not give an order for a meal to be prepared.”

“No,” I said.  “Genesis…  Uhm, a prog rock band.  Hmmm.  Peter Gabriel and the fox head mask.  You know?”

I looked around.  Even in my world most people had forgotten the old Genesis album Foxtrot and its best song, so how could I expect these creatures to know it?

“Genesis, exactly,” the Emissary said.  “This is the beginning, the start.  A new start.  The world will be remade in your image!”

Whindell stood up.  He was much taller than he should have been.  “I am sorry,” he said.  “My friend here is having issues because of your mask.  It reminds him of an ancient dinnertime ritual of his people, one from the dawn of their history when bands of their people, known as Progs, ate at rock tables.”

Everyone looked at him as if he had six heads.  Without seeming to notice, the old wizard continued.  “The polite thing to do, of course, would be to remove your mask.”  He waved his hand in a seemingly casual manner, but I could feel the power.

The Emissary had changed.  He was huge, stooping down since his head brushed the ceiling.  He was again surrounded by flame, but his face could plainly be seen.  Hideous is too mild of a word to use.  It had nothing to do with beauty.  His face radiated pure evil.  The former dwarves stepped back involuntarily.  There was something that told me that now that he was unmasked, the Emissary was about to do something dreadful.

Whindell glowed in an unearthly golden light.  He raised his hands and spoke in a voice so loud that the room shook.  “Begone!  Return to your hellfire of Blavour!”

The flames had started to leap out from the Emissary, but they sucked back into a single hole and went out.  There was no sign that the Emissary had been there except the stench.  The room smelled of sulfur.

“I think it is always most polite to show your true face, don’t you?”  Whindell had returned to normal size and wasn’t glowing any more.  He winked at me.

“You are right, Glumoric was never our friend,” the king said.  “Stand up human.  We will find a solution.  But in the meantime,” he waved his hand and I noticed a few of his people leave, “I have taken your children into my custody.  This is for their protection and mine.”

“Please sir, they are innocent.  Don’t hurt them,” I said.

“Innocent?  Perhaps.  But don’t worry, they’ll be well treated in my daughter’s hands.”

Cate and Leo stepped into the room.  There were a couple of other kids with them, but the other two children looked different.  I realized they must be Fair Folk children.

“Don’t worry,” a female voice said.  “They have already met my children and they all seem to get along.  Perhaps someday we can be friends the way they already are.”

I turned to the voice and let out a yelp.  For just a moment I thought Lisa had come back to life.  But this wasn’t a human woman, it was a Fair Folk.  She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen with the exception of Lisa.  Nobody was more beautiful than her in my eyes.

“Come,” said the king.  “Let’s go someplace more comfortable for a council.  Alashina, leave the kids with a trusted servant.  Your wisdom is needed in this council.”

I hesitated for a moment.

“We’re fine, Dad,” Leo said.  “Go.”

I smiled at him, then turned and followed the others to the council room.

— —

Can the no-longer-a-dwarf king be trusted?  Are the children really safe?  Does the narrator actually judge people based on their physical appearance?  These questions, and more, will soon be answered!  Stay tune for our next exciting episode – same blog channel, same blog time!!

(Towards the Light – <–PreviousTable of Contents –  Next–>)

— —

This was written for Sue Vincent‘s weekly #writephoto challenge.

 

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