Kragle’s Carvings: The Fur
Chapter 1 in “The Book of Grumby”
By Rick Merriman as Grumby
Kragle Iros devoured the Tian slave girl with his eyes while absently playing with his weathered beard. His leathery face was far older and paler than one would expect for a human of only 40 seasons. His brown eyes sank into his skull and contained no luster. Kragle’s hands, especially the fingers, were shriveled, barely functioning – they bore no ornament bar-one. On his right index finger was a band of Bluesteel with a single red gem, and it was here most of his spells emanated. Kragle’s nails were yellow and gnarled. His shoulders slumped, his back curved, his legs bowed. Most of his body was hidden beneath a regal purple gown trimmed in gold – I must never let my people know how weak I have become. The glorious robe was fitting of his position, for Kragle was the king of Kezia, and a master practitioner in the magical arts of Kayz.
The ruler knew that without help he was near death. But soon I will be strong again. He thought, I only need to be replenished – but only Barak, the Father of Darkness, can do that.
The girl he had been ogling darted a defiant look at him. Kragle wished he could have the Tian slave, but knew he was not strong enough to enjoy her. Too bad, he thought, she looks fiery; I think she would last a long time before succumbing to my will. But no, that is not her fate, He thought with regret, she must be given to Barak so I can be replenished.
“Come.” He said to the terrified girl dressed in a flowing Azure wrap. Is she the one? He asked himself. I have gifted three other girls to my father and he rejected each as not being worthy enough for him to guide my hands during the wood carving.
The dark-skinned girl moved forward each arm being held by one of Kragle’s bodyguards. She had been purchased from the slavers three moons ago but had never before been called to his chambers. She had been kept in his harem and taught what to wear, how to move, and how to speak. Kragle was very particular about his … delicacies.
In the harem the girl had also learned the fate of those who did not instantly follow the master’s instructions. They, like as not, would burst into flames from the spells Kragle spewed from his fingers. Not only flames, some fates were worse. Statues of stone, blocks of ice – some slave girls were even thrown into Kragle’s barracks to service all of his bodyguards.
The girl moved forward with no resistance; she did not want to chance the consequences of not obeying him.
“Disrobe!” Kragle commanded. She must be the one, he hoped.
My Father said there is one uncertainty, a possible obstacle, to my becoming ruler of all Mernac – A Fur on the Ooloo continent. To stop him I must make a carving just like the carving I did to ensure that I, not my brother, became king.
The two guards let loose her arms and the girl took off the simple wrap, letting it fall to the ground. Kragle gazed greedily at her, taking in her beauty. Like all from the Tian Islands, she was slightly smaller than most human women. She had exotic brown skin and midnight black hair. Her eyes had a slight angle to them and were a deep rich mahogany. She was slender but still maintained the wonderful curves he craved. I wish I could take this one, he thought, but it matters not. I will get a hundred like her once I replenish.
“You are a virgin?” he asked.
“Yes,” the answer came back softly.
“I will see” he said. “Salivar Soroto Singjin,” he cast a minor spell that would not deplete him too far. The stone in the ring on his finger turned white.
”She is pure,” Kragle said, more to himself than anyone else.
“Hold her tightly and go to the Calling Room, and I will follow you,” Kragle instructed the two guards.
They left his lavish bed chambers and entered the passageways at the back of Castle Borgan. Kragle did not place the spell of obedience on her – not yet – first he would enjoy watching her reaction to seeing his dungeon. He chose to follow, not lead, so he could admire the Tian girl’s hips sway. Of all the human creeds, he thought, no, of all the races in Mernac none have a more sensual natural gait than women of the Tian Islands.
The entrance to the dungeons was close to Kragle’s bedchambers by design. He would often come down to the dungeons when he could not sleep – it relaxed him.
Once the thick door opened the sounds of misery could be heard. Wails from those being actively tortured, sobs of those who were trying to recover, and the pleas of those yet to see Kragle’s torturers. The dungeon walls, steps, and floors were all carved of solid granite bedrock. The castle above had been constructed with the blue granite quarried from where the dungeon now stood. Along the walls, every four paces were torches – these and several fire pits were the only source of light. With each step into the flickering light more blood stains could be seen.
Kragle was quite pleased when his men used tortures which discharged streams of blood. That stain on the second step, he remembered proudly, I made that one myself when I cut the thigh of that spying dwarf. Most of the blood stains, in fact, invoked fond memories for him.
Kragle not only watched most tortures, he actively participated in them. On occasion he would have his torturers compete against each other over how far they could make blood spew. One of his men was practicing now on a human girl, her feet bound, and hanging upside down. Kragle’s torturer grasped her wrist with his massive hand to stop the blood flow, and then slit her wrist. He released pressure for a second – a stream of the girl’s blood splattered Kragle’s party as they reached halfway down the stairway.
“You’ll have to do better than that to beat my winning mark,” Kragle laughed. He wiped the blood from his face with his fingers and then placed them in his mouth.
“Delicious… and she is not from Kezia as she claims.” He tasted some more blood, this time wiping it from the Tian girl’s face. “This one is from Permia or somewhere close to Permia. Keep this in mind as you question her.”
“Yes, my lord,” the torturer replied.
Splattered in blood, seeing the torture and descending into darkness, the Tian girl began to scream hysterically. Despite her small size the two guards had to struggle to keep her from escaping.
“Please, do not torture me!” she kept repeating. “I will do whatever you want!”
“Yes,” Kragle mused, “You will do whatever I want, but torture is not your destiny, girl,” Kragle continued, slapping her face hard, “but I can arrange it, if you do not be quiet.” The girl stifled her cries as a scarlet handprint appeared on her face. After being used to replenish me and having to pleasure the Father of Darkness You may wish torture was your fate. Kragle thought.
On reaching the bottom of the dungeon they found two torturers in black hooded robes perfecting their craft on a wood elf. His back, chest and stomach were branded a dozen times with the letter “K” for Kragle. Few ever left the dungeons alive but the ones who did all bore this mark – it would ensure that all in his kingdom knew the severity of disobeying even the most minor of his rules. Both eyes of the elf had been taken out, they dangled haphazardly on his cheeks.
Kragle went to the hearth to a makeshift fire behind the torturers and took the branding iron out of the flames. He moved to the elf and burned the “K” into the elf’s forehead. The smell of seared flesh filled the air and the elf screamed out in anguish and then mercifully fainted into unconsciousness.
Wonderful! Kragle thought. It is like being revived to give such pain. It makes me stronger … but I am so depleted that it is temporary; I will still need father’s help to fully replenish.
“Has he spoken of where to find the one with an eye of blue and one eye of brown?” Kragle asked.
“He says he does not know,” the first torturer replied.
“He is lying!” Kragle shouted. “You make him divulge where the one with different colored eyes is. If not, it will be you, not he, who will be placed on the rack.”
His mind floated to the omen yet again. You will be killed by one with an eye of blue and an eye of brown unless you kill them first. The thought echoed through his mind. It was one of the first things his father had taught him – and something Father reminds me of each time we speak.
“Yes, my lord,” the torturer said. “We will get the information.”
Kragle and his party moved out of the underground courtyard where the tortures were conducted and went down one of the many passageways that spidered under the castle. Each of these corridors typically had barred rooms on either side, most containing stores for the castle in case of siege. Many, however, were filled with prisoners of all sorts.
Going down the corridor the Tian girl gagged at the smell. The air was not only dank, it was full of urine, blood and vomit – so strong it assaulted not only the sense of smell but the sense of taste. It was the smell of prisoners, pain, and torture but Kragle did not gag – he once again felt himself becoming aroused by the stench. If she is the one, he thought, I will be able to carve the fur with the Blade of Volition and then we can begin the war plans in Ooloo.
They reached the entrance to The Calling Room and Kragle instructed the guards to let the Tian girl loose. She would come into the room with him alone.
“Kayreth, Calithos, Welltious,” Kragle uttered the spell softly.
He felt more of his Ga escape his body as the girl became enchanted, and he became older, weaker … closer to death. Without the guards, the girl would become difficult to control with what he knew would happen. Yes, though it depletes me, the spell of obedience is essential he thought.
He waited until the guards had retreated down the passageway, then took the key off his neck and opened the calling chamber. Unlike his lavish bed chambers or the rest of his castle, the Calling Room was austere. On the wall where they entered there was the door they used, but nothing else. The opposite wall had a bookcase filled with books, scrolls, and parchments on the darker aspects of magic. The other two walls held small credenzas filled with ingredients and supplies he may need for spells. It had been many years since he needed ingredients for the magic he used, but he kept them well stocked in case his natural magic deserted him, or for special incantations where both were needed. Such was the case now and from the credenza on the right he took thirteen black candles.
Kragle Iros doused the torch he had taken from the wall in the dungeon. He placed the candles around himself and the Tian girl, lit them, and tried to begin the carving from the magical block of wood he took from the credenza. This is as far as I have been able to go the last three times, he thought, and never could I carve the Fur. I hope she is the one. I hope she will be a suitable gift.
The flickering yellow light barely reached his wrinkling face. Even though he was King he sat in a plain wooden chair behind a plain wooden table with a block of wood and a dagger on it. All just the way his Lord and Master instructed him to prepare it. The Tian girl stood naked beside him. Her eyes were open, but she knew naught of her surroundings. Seeing her youthful body, he realized how weak he felt. It was her energy he would sap to replenish himself, with his Fathers help – after which she would be given to his father as a gift.
“Barak is my lord and guide. I call him to me,” Kragle repeated. “Come to me, my lord, I bring you this virgin as a gift.”
“Barak is my lord and guide. I call him to me,” Kragle said once more. ”Guide my hands with both blade and wood. Come fill my body with youth so I can carry out your will and the Prophecy of Erb.”
Kragle looked closely at the block of Stromba wood in front of him knowing all too well its powers – both for good and for evil.
“Barak is my lord and guide. I call him to me,” Kragle repeated ten more times, with each subsequent utterance feeling more distant to his body. With the final thirteenth chant Kragle felt compelled to carve.
He put his hands – or someone put his hands – on the table. He slowly picked up the Blade of Volition – it was the small dagger his father gave to him when he was sixteen. Only with this blade would the magic work. He then picked up the block of Stromba wood and moved it around to see where his first cut should be. The Race of Furs were indeed difficult to carve.
He found the right spot and began – the carving went easily as if someone else was guiding his hands. She must be the one he thought, without even looking at the Tian slave girl. His mind was starting to wander into a dream just as it did the last time he had successfully carved something with the Blade of Volition. Kragle knew when he was done carving the Fur his father would appear, and he would be rewarded.
He also knew it may take hours, maybe days, to complete the carving. But once done he would have an accurate carving of a Fur.
Of a Goldenfur.