[Story] A Story a Week 14

[[ Prompt: A story from a villain’s perspective.

I’m not sure if Naxitarius is really a villain, he believes fully in his cause as all good villains do. But he’s (one of??) the antagonist for the story of Tamazi and Harvian. I would have liked this to be a lot longer, but I barely had time to write today as it is! ]]

Something large and ungainly fluttered through the window in a crash of feathers, skidding across the table-top and upending a candle and a stack of parchments. Naxitarius snorted and drew his head up in alarm, but there was only one forsaken creature that dared fly through his window, at this hour or any.

“Clod!” He bellowed, stamping out the candle’s flame, and retrieving the pages that had scattered over the floor. “I hope you have a good excuse for ruining an entire afternoon’s worth of notes.”

The creature untangled its limbs from itself, crawling out from beneath the stout wooden table. None of them matched; they all belonged to one sort of animal or another at one point. Clod was the result of a very early experiment — successful depending on how one defines “success”. He lived, that was the important thing. But he could not speak, no more than guttural growls or sounds. Yet Naxitarius knew the creature’s sounds and gestures well enough. A spindly bat wing waved excitedly toward the window. Naxitarius snorted, scenting the breeze there. “You found something.” It was more a statement than a question. “Show me.”

The night was black already when he made his way out of his shelter, and rain had begun to patter heavily on the soft ground. A weak illumination spell would provide enough light, while still leaving enough focus for more important things, if needed. Could Clod have really found something here, so close to his home? He’d scoured these woods for years. Were anything here, surely he would have sensed it. His last discovery had been nearly a year ago, in the dense woods to the north. The asenji there were reluctant to give it to him — though he could not fathom why. They had no way of knowing what it was, nor its importance. Still, they wanted it — likely only because he did. Asenji were like that. The discovery — a toe bone — had joined the rest of his small collection, safely in the clearing beyond his shelter. It was warded with the strongest spells that Naxitarius knew. But he was not going to get very far with only a toe bone. More was needed, much more. He glanced up at Clod, who flapped overhead with single-minded intent.

When he began, he knew this would not be easy. But he had not expected it to be quite so difficult. To complicate things further, the Cult had reportedly kept some remains for themselves. Surely most were fakes, but not all. They would surely be more reluctant to give up their remains than even the asenji. The thought occurred to try and convert them, they had a great deal of knowledge after all. And he knew the truth of things, while they only played at it. But Naxitarius did not think himself a very good leader, nor did he especially like being around others for very long. Clod was about the only creature he could stand, and even that at times was up for debate. More importantly, Clod did not speak. No, aside from its resources, the Cult was of no use to him. They, too, would ultimately pay for their errant ways. Only the Mother could make the world right, bring her wicked children to task for what they had done to her world. Even now, he knew that one would rise soon in the south. He had to finish before that happened, but it seemed impossible, so far in the distance.

Clod uttered a squeak and banked quickly, his mismatched wings flapping in his descent. He hopped along a rotted, fallen log, wet with moss. Naxitarius stepped closer and craned his neck over it to look. There was a stone marker there, the words long since worn away. He snorted and fixed Clod with a glare. “It’s a grave. No one would have put her there.”

Clod’s striped tail fluffed up, and he began to scratch at the soft ground with his front paws. What a waste, Naxitarius thought. Not only the long walk out, but to have his hopes brought up — and all for nothing. There were times, he hesitated to admit, that he thought of giving up, of abandoning his great work altogether. It was too difficult. It would take too long. He might spend his entire life chasing this. Tonight was one of those times. Clod barked again, sharp and insistent. “There’s nothing there, Clod.” Naxitarius shook himself, sending the rain shivering off his hide. He should have dressed more warmly. Clod took up a clump of mane and tugged on it. “Ouch!”

He looked behind the log again, and he saw the white gleam of bone amid the soil, even in the darkness. He could scarcely breathe as he watched Clod dig further, revealing the bone’s shape and contours — the fragile arch of the eye sockets, the battered spines and horns, the jagged curve of the jaw. Her skull.

Mother bless us all, thought Naxitarius.

 

 

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