Greetings all. I hope all of you have had a great weekend and are ready for the week. To get you started, here is Part 15 of Mortis Custos.
Those joining us for the first time, this is a chain story which updates twice a week. So, if you have missed of the previous exciting parts, please follow the links below to catch up on what you may have missed.
The Ghoul King got to his feet and indicated he wanted the small party to follow him. Magna was right behind him, forgetting about her horse which Mortis dutifully collected for her.
“Are you insane!” demanded Adiran as he gripped the knight’s arm, “That is a…”
“I swore to protect your blood, but I may go back on it if you insult a protector of this land. Mortis gripped the hand which hung from his. “Release me, NOW!”
Adiran pulled away and hissed as the sharp metal grazed his skin. He realised too late what he had done when Mortis suddenly stiffened and looked to his forearm.
The mage tried to lay the same curse on the night as he had used on the priest, but it effortless bounced off the knight and smashed into a ghoul nearby. The creature made to scream, but no sound came from its mouth. It looked petrified as it ran back into the woods, following its master.
Mortis slowly turned to face the mage, and Adiran knew he had made a terrible mistake. The knight ran a gauntleted hand over the few drops of blood that had remained on his armour. This was more than a family link; this was blood he had used before.
“I see.” Mortis said softly.
He gathered the horses and started walking after the young princess and the Ghoul King. Adiran was stunned, almost so stunned he tripped over his feet trying to follow the knight. His nightmare dutifully followed him.
“Stop!” he begged the knight.
But Mortis didn’t stop, although he slowed his pace until the bedraggled mage could reach him. Once Adiran was in front of him, the mage pulled his face into a grimace before uttering something he thought he’d never have to, “I am sorry.”
“I will accept that.” Mortis said gently, far more gently than what Adiran deserved.
“You know then?”
Mortis looked down at the mage and knew the terrible secret he had held onto for years. It was eating him alive, and this journey would be his only chance to fix what had happened. Or so he believed. The knight took a deep breath before releasing his breath slowly, “Yes.”
“Will you tell her?”
Mortis dropped the reins, raised both hands to his helm and slowly removed it. The armour creaked, and eventually, the helm rested between his two hands. The look of horror on Adiran’s face was enough to have the knight know he had seen the face he had been hiding. The truth of who and what he was.
“Will you?” He retorted, knowing that this was a secret the both of them would have to keep.
Magna tripped over another root and spawled into the dirt once more. The Ghoul King chuckled and said. “Silly human, you can’t keep up with me in the dark. You can’t see at night as I can. Slow down. Our destination will arrive in due time.”
“What shall I call you?” She dusted off her clothing as she got to her feet.
“Why would a shapeshifter have a name? Wouldn’t it be confusing if they were playing the role of another?” the giant bat face grinned.
“So, you don’t have a name?”
“I didn’t say that.” The creature held a hand out to her. “Come, hold onto my hand so I may lead you.”
“Shouldn’t we wait for Uncle and Mortis?”
“I have a feeling the two of them are sharing secrets you aren’t meant to know about yet.”
Magna placed a hand on the extended claw, and together the two of them travelled through the forest. Magna had never been through this forest before. All around her, dead trees were grinning back at her like monsters. Every now and again a ghoul would scamper in and out of the dark. They seemed to almost be playing.
“I always thought ghouls were people who stooped to eating the dead.”
The Ghoul King growled and said. “You have never known hunger, child. It is so difficult to turn your nose up at fresh meat when it is in abundance and your belly clings to your spine.”
He uttered a few clicks and a ghoul emerged from the dark to stand before them. It looked up at the girl in interest but didn’t come closer.
“Take a smell, you can smell magic, can’t you? What does she smell like?”
Magna held her breath, fearing the smell of death would overcome her. However, the Ghoul King was patient and eventually, she was forced to take a breath. There was a smell, not of rot, but of cold meat and the tang of blood.
“The curse, which started the line of ghouls may have come from those who were hungry for the cold flesh of the dead, but it doesn’t hold sway in my kingdom.” He leaned forward to pet the ghoul, and it purred in reply. “They are my servants, and I expect you to treat them with respect.”
“Sorry.” Mumbled the girl.
“You could stand to become more worldly if you are going to become queen.”
“Yeah, it looks that way. May I?” She tentatively reached forward.
“Only if she lets you.”
The ghoul had allowed Magna to touch her head before she yipped once and ran back into the dark. The princess was surprised to feel the same warmth as what her own skin gave off.
“There is a curse on this land.” Spat the Ghoul King. “One which has trapped many souls, twisting them to its need. Perhaps you and your brother can break it.”
“My brother lies dying.”
He only chuckled and turned his head slightly, “Perhaps.”
They continued through the forest until they arrived at a cottage in the middle of the woods. It was old, neglected, but still stood in one piece. The Ghoul King stepped forward and made some huffing sounds before yelling, “I don’t have all night! Come greet our guests.”
The cabin door opened, and a young boy, no more than seven summers stepped from the house. He looked around before he bolted forward on all fours. He leapt at the Ghoul King, who caught him effortlessly and dangled him before the princess. The wild child had hair the colour of cream and eyes the colour of pitch. His clothes were made of tatters of hides, and he kept gnashing at Magna.
“Stop that.” She commanded, as she gave him a sharp rap across the forehead with a finger.
The child immediately calmed and looked at her in annoyance. “Oh great, a human.”
Well now, this should be interesting. Who is the young boy? What did Mortis reveal to Adiran? And what secret is Adiran hiding? No idea. That is up to @zakludick to decide if he is ready to tell us or not.
Mortis Custos Parts
|by @lex-zaiya||by @zakludick|
|Part 1||Part 2|
|Part 3||Part 4|
|Part 5||Part 6|
|Part 7||Part 8|
|Part 9||Part 10|
|Part 11||Part 12|
|Part 13||Part 14|
|Part 15 - You are Here||Part 16 - Coming Soon|
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