More from The Rose: The Bishop

June 24th, 2007

The Bishop’s parlor was comfortable, but not ostentatious, bearing an air of studious contemplation: incense and old leather, the smell of libraries, every chair an invitation to sit and lose oneself in some weighty tome. Both Dralosahde and Cocia had spent many a day in such rooms in Temples, Churches, and guildhalls. His Excellency Bishop Mantov obviously enjoyed his books.

They had been separated from Captain Grimm and were escorted to the parlor by a tall, dour priest who spoke not a word, but simply gestured for them to sit and then departed. Cocia attempted to assume the composure of her Mistress, but felt certain her discomfort showed. The waiting certainly made it worse, but her mentor took it all in stride, eyes closed as if in meditation.

Cocia could sense the subtle exertion of power, but knew better than to attempt to pry into Dralosahde’s actions. Once, when she was new to her apprenticeship, so very cocky and inquisitive, she had made the error of attempting to divine her Mistress’s thoughts. What she experienced she could not to this day properly recount, but afterward she spoke with a stutter for nearly two years. Sometimes those visions still haunted her dreams.

When the door opened Cocia stood almost reflexively, but Dralosahde remained seated, her hands loosely clasped in her lap, eyes closed. Bishop Mantov entered quietly, no small feat for a man of his stature. At more than six feet and weighing closer to three hundred pounds than to two it was almost unseemly that his step should be so light. Still, it was his face that drew the most attention, his thick shock of white hair pulled back across a large head, square and massive, set with large eyes of a piercing dark blue. He frowned slightly, and the act hinted of far more terrible expressions he could bring to bear.
He looked at Cocia and she stepped towards him, dropping to her left knee. Mantov floated forward, extending his right hand and she dutifully pressed her lips to his signet ring. He turned to face Dralosahde, but she remained seated and the Bishop merely shrugged.

“Lady Campbell,” he began, his voice astoundingly soft as it was deep, but then he gagged, staggering backwards a step.

Dralosahde’s eyes were open, but rolled back into her head, and when she spoke it was with a guttural whisper that seemed to shake the very stone walls of the Basilica.

“You know my true name. Do not fail to address me properly again. Why have you summoned me to Holedo?”

This was nothing compared to her handling of Captain Grimm: Mantov staggered under the weight of her power, every word she spoke accompanied by a gesture of her left hand.

“I-I summoned no one, Dr-dr-dralosahde,” he gasped, shaking as he stepped back and collapsed into a chair.

Cocia was still kneeling when she felt her mistress’s attention touch her with a soundless command to rise to her feet and stand at Dralosahde’s right side. She felt herself moving without thinking of moving, but as she fell into place beside her mistress her will returned and the power seething in the room was muted- muffled, but not completely silent.

“You lie! she rasped, “You sent no message, you conjured no summons, but you summoned me none-the-less. You meddle in things far beyond your meager capacity to understand. You summoned me when you dared approach Campbell Keep! WHY?

The Bishop writhed as if in agony, teeth clenched as he struggled to keep his words unspoken. Dralosahde left her chair, standing slowly before approaching Mantov. With each step his face twisted with renewed effort, until finally Dralosahde reached out and laid her hand gently on his head. Her eyes rolled back to fix the Bishop with a piercing emerald stare.

“You cannot resist me. Your God avails you nothing in this place, at this time. Share with me.”