Thaddeus and Ultorios
Asullus Anguli XVIII ... Asullus’ Corner
Thaddeus and Ultoris
Well, now, several o’ our Gentle Readers ha’ been pressin’this ol’ Mule lately to know more o’ Thaddeus’ four, so-called, Feral Children—those he ha’ been identified as bein’ the father thereo’ at a time before he an’ the Lady Marsia ha’ made things all formal betwixt themselves. As those who follow these scrolls knows, the Four Feral ones comprise the Ordines in the Great Prophecy an’ are, therefore, necessary to all things workin’ out just so, don’ ye know.
Wi’ that in mind, yer old an’ faithful friend, Asullus, an’ the mighty Spritae Morphia ha’ done some research an’ come up with four tales occupyin’ the next four bits o’ our writin’s here. Hope they do go towards providin’ ye some enjoyment in yer readin’ time.
The tall figure landed lightly on the ground near the recently completed gray stone tower. Transformation was not so much painful, as he’d heard others claim, as it was just plain hard work. The Northern wind and cold rain pounded his cloak, quickly soaking it through and through, and produced in him a strong desire to return to his sunny southern shores. This was important, though. He had just come through a long and deadly battle and he was compelled to stop here. His Mother would have wished it.
Thaddeus sat at his letters desk, quill in hand, absently rubbing his eyes and considering what to write next. The single fat candle waxed to the skull of Morag the Unlucky guttered and spat from time to time as the wind from the storm pounding the coast buffeted his tower. The stars and moon hid behind a curtain of sheeted rain--a thoroughly miserable night. But the gloom of the night was softened by the prospect of the morrow. His bride was coming. She would be here tomorrow, or the next day at the latest, to start their life together. Assuredly, she was not alone--her family, his family, their friends, Anders and Nannsi, Rolland and Sonnia, Zoarr and his Molly O’ the Willows--all welcome, of course, but his eyes would be for one, only. The crackling and popping of the fire in the pit at the end of the room seemed muted, expectant.
With no warning, a measured pounding rattled his study door. Odd. Who else knew to find him here? And in this foul weather? And at this time of night?
He replaced his quill in the heavy pewter ink well--a prized possession for several years now--and made his way to the door. A moment only to prepare, and, at his pull, the thick oak yielded and pivoted on its massive brass hinges for several hand-widths before slowing to a stop.
A cowled stranger in a sodden wool cloak stood before him, rivulets of water running down forming puddles on the floor. Thaddeus glanced past the visitor at the torches set in sconces at intervals down the hall. The stranger’s path was clearly marked by receding pools reflecting the flickering lights. There were not many who could come this far--unannounced and--unaided.
The man--if man he was--was taller than Thaddeus. Gracile, rather than robust. A long object protruding from behind his cloak on his right hip was certainly a sword. Sturdy, work-a-day leather gloves covered both hands, and heavy boots shod his feet. His tunic and trousers were of a thick, unfamiliar material. A cockleshell pendant hung from his neck by a heavy gold chain. There was the smell of the Sea about him.
“Thaddeus? Called the Faithless?" The voice was deep and resonant.
“I am he." A moment passed. “Your name, sir?" It was not a command, but it brooked no disregard.
“I am called--Ultoris. I have sought you for some time. May I come in?”
Thaddeus was unafraid. He had little to fear these days, and he was curious. “Yes. Of course." He stood back and motioned for his visitor to enter.
Thaddeus indicated the chair across from his desk, turned to the nearby cabinet, and took down two goblets, which he filled from a crystal decanter. He placed one on the edge of his desk nearest Ultoris and resumed his seat. Sipping the Frantillian vintage slowly, he regarded the stranger with interest. He was unable to discern his visitor’s features--this Ultoris had, so far, shown no inclination to throw back his hood. His guest sat without moving for some moments, his head inclined toward the proffered glass. Quickly, he took it and tossed down the contents, replacing the glass carefully on the desk. The sudden movement struck Thaddeus as serpent-like.
The Sorcerer started to rise, but the stranger spoke again. “No more, thank you. It is an excellent choice, but what you’ve given me already has been enough for the task, though I do not refer to the wine.”
Thaddeus resumed his seat aware he was being regarded in turn. Even weighed. He waited. The stranger leaned forward.
“I am here on behalf of my Mother, the Queen. And for myself as well. I never knew her, of course, but I’ve no doubt she’d have wanted me to give you this message: The Red is fallen. The Green, avenged.”
A moment passed. “That, then, is the extent of your message?”
“It is. Now I must depart. Forgive my abruptness, but my kind is not, by nature--social. Still, family bonds are the strongest. I would have you know it pleases me greatly to see you at last. You are as I imagined you would be. My thanks for the wine. Farewell." With that, the stranger rose and strode to the portal where he stopped and turned. “Perhaps we may meet again..." And he was gone.
At his desk, Thaddeus stared at the fire a long time lost in thought considering the night’s events. He knew what he had seen as his visitor crossed the room--the shadowed face briefly illuminated by flames from the burning logs. Not a human face, rather, humanoid. Leathery, almost scaly--and verdant. A long scar, perhaps the mark of a burn, trailed diagonally across that countenance. And the eyes--so very green. Sea green.
He took another sip of wine. Recollection came, coupled with understanding.
Ah, how long ago it seemed. And how difficult it must have been for his young guest.
Ultoris left the Tower satisfied. It had gone very well, and his Mother would have been pleased. Now, south, and farewell to this cursed cold wind and stormy rain. Moments later he was eyeing the countryside from a different perspective. He was reminded that it had been some time since he had last eaten. Perhaps he should have accepted the Sorcerer’s implied invitation and stayed for a late repast. No doubt he would have been offered delicacies and fine pastries. Looking down and spying movement, he mused that while delicacies and fine pastries were all very well, they did not always compare favorably to, for example, a fresh whole sheep. His great leathery wings banked and he went into a practiced steep dive, talons flashing in the lightning.
So, that be the matter o’ how Thaddeus first met his growed up younger son, Ultoris. An’ ne’er fear, there’ll be much more concernin’ these two lads in the later scrolls. Howe’er, until that time…
The Great North Tower, Northfast