Arm’s Reach

“It was…necessary.” he replied. “Many strange paths, many dark days — all for necessity.”

The Browncloak coughed fiercely, sending more purple phlegm across his chest. At the end it turned into weak laughter.

“Listen to me, getting a little maudlin and drippy. I always get a little choked up when I talk about child-murder. Ah, so many happy memories….” the villain leered at the paladin.

“Ah, Gentle Sir Knight, with your wide cow-eyes. I think you will soon understand a tiny part of what I mean — about necessity. Because now the great game truly begins.” Izus flopped a wounded hand off his chest onto the floor between he and the others. With battered fingers, he slowly began to draw crude figures in the strange ichor that was his blood.

“The board, Kythera.” he drew a wide oval. “The pieces – a key, a shield, and a girl.”

Three crude drawings slowly appeared inside the oval.

“Now the key has been removed, but the game still moves on.” Izus wiped away the crude picture of the Crimson Key. “And the girl is also out of your hands.”

He smudged out the picture of Talitha. The Browncloak was beginning to pant with exertion.

“The only piece that remains is the Shield — and whatever knowledge you’ve brought with you, or can discover in the Unbroken City.” he concluded.

The villain laid his palm flat on the floor, covering the picture of the shield.

“Ah….but you don’t control the Shield. I do. ” his voice became thin with exertion. ” And if I die, you’ll never find it.

Izus coughed again, regaining some strength to his voice.

“That’s what I mean about necessity, Sir. If I die, you’ll never save her — you have to keep me alive to give yourself any chance at all. Keep me alive, knowing what I am.” Izus leered again, the flesh of his face cracking horribly. ” Keep me alive, knowing that I’ll kill the girl as soon as I have her in arm’s reach.”

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