The Temple of Heart and Bone

The Temple of Heart and Bone by S.K. Evren Read Free Book Online

Book: The Temple of Heart and Bone by S.K. Evren Read Free Book Online
Authors: S.K. Evren
great many children, the
number shocking him at first, just as he had been surprised by the number of
women. The skeletal children, however, seemed to end at a certain point. He had
seen no infants or toddlers, unsure of how he’d react were he to see a skeletal
creature crawling into rank on tiny hands and knees. He’d heard a woman once
say that children were born with soft bones. Maybe that made the difference.
Maybe the Master had set some limits on his grave robbing, just as he had set
some order in the ranks. Troseth shook his head at his musings. What insane
propositions rose to the mind, and what, he wondered, made them more sane
simply because they could be real?
    Though he was now able to
distinguish between the bones of a man and the bones of a woman, most of the
bones carried little else with them. There were, of course, the more recently
dead. He looked these over as closely as the others. There were corpses which
still had flesh clinging to their bones, not knowing it was time to rot off, or
not yet eaten by creatures large or small. Some of these still bore their
burial clothes, or the clothes in which they’d been murdered. They were also
the hardest for Troseth to encounter.
    The skeletal figures were bones,
animated, granted, but dry, for the most part, bones. The corpses still bearing
flesh were stained with colors that sent the primal parts of his mind into
hysterics. Bloated and rotting, these beings showed secrets that the living
were not meant to know.
    Troseth’s thoughts turned to his
own mortality when faced with those wretched bodies. This, he knew, was a stage
of his existence. No matter what glory he found in this life, this was
something that he, himself, would become. Looking at them, he wondered, what
had their lives mattered? What glories or infamies may have surrounded these…
people? What, if anything, mattered to them now?
    He shook his head trying to clear
those thoughts just as a dog might shake to rid itself of water. He had to
believe that something, anything mattered to them. More importantly, he had to
believe that one among them, that she among them had retained some part
of her self.
    Poson had told him that the dead
could be raised. Poson had told him that they could retain a sense of self, and
could even be restored to flesh, and some semblance of “life.” It was hard to
fight off thoughts of mortality in wave after wave of death, but Troseth had to
hope, had to continue. Otherwise, he thought, he was just as much an empty
shell as the thousands surrounding him.
    On the second night, the midnight
after the ceremony, Troseth returned to the area where his men had been staged.
One of the black-robed minions of the Master arrived with a summons. Making
himself as presentable as he could, he followed the messenger back to the red
and gold wagon. Troseth waited outside as the messenger went in to announce his
    “Our Lord will see you now,” the
messenger told Troseth, exiting the wagon.
    “Thank you,” Troseth replied and
    Troseth had never before been in
his Master’s wagon. He was surprised at the size and luxury of the interior.
Light and heat were provided in the autumnal night by four braziers mounted to
the floor, one in each corner. Leather bound chairs and divans were spread
about the cabin, as was a desk, and an area that Troseth could only guess was
for some sort of ritual. One part of the wagon was obviously meant to be a
sleeping place for the old man, another was curtained off entirely. The floor
and walls were varnished a deep and shiny color, and objects of gold and silver
littered the interior. Some sort of incense burned in the air. Troseth was
uncertain if it was for some mystical purpose or simply to give his Master a
more palatable air to breathe.
    The Necromancer, himself, was not
to be seen, and Troseth suspected he might be behind the partitioning curtain.
Time passed slowly in the wagon. Troseth stood at attention, waiting.

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