Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest
He would have retched, had his mouth not already been open in a strangled scream. He hoped the thickness of the stone walls would prevent the others from hearing him. It would not do for a man in his position to be caught in such a compromising position. Performing such a compromising act. It was revolting to him yet had to be done.
Sitting erect on a chair in front of the fireplace’s bed of embers, he wiped at a bead of seat that ran down his cheek and into his carefully groomed beard. His legs, powerfully built from past years of required training, nonetheless shook uncontrollably. Exhaling a long steadying breath, he began. It was time.
The tip of the iron rod glowed crimson and sizzled as it seared into his flesh, melting skin then muscle. He pressed it deeper into his own upper chest. Hot tendrils of smoke curled up into his nostrils.
The brand would make the difference. He was certain of that.
He was alone in the bed chamber and had secured its great wooden door shut against any intrusion. This was not a procedure for the uninitiated to witness. He had had to do it on his own. He had considered taking a stiff drink beforehand to help numb the anticipated pain but had wisely decided against it. There could be no room for error.
It had to be perfect in its placement.
Perfect in its outline.
Was it any wonder that he’d had no results with the ring before this? The bejeweled circle sat just above the middle knuckle on his little finger and could be pushed down no further. It was too small for him to wear it properly.
And he’d not been born with the mark.
Without one, it was said, the power of the ring’s verdurous emerald stones would be minimal. Ineffectual. Obtainable, to be sure, but not without months, maybe years of practice. But now ….
He could hardly wait for his burnt flesh to heal.
Deeper in the bowels of London, tucked down a narrow cobbled alleyway, the sharp bouquet of smoldering herbs permeated a shuttered room. Its lone occupant sat at a table, inhaling the vapors as they rose from her infusion dish. As she peered at the flame of a lone candle burning in a holder beside her clay dish, its tip flickered and danced, probing the darkness of the room.
She owned only one item of any value – its real worth was known to only a few – and she manipulated it with her fingers, breathing slowly and deeply, willing the visions to visit. There were many things that she wanted to know. Things that had been asked of her by others. Things she needed to know for herself. The visions would come – they always did. The visions would tell her.
Something pushed into the edge of her thoughts. An intrusion. An unbidden presence challenged. She tilted her head. No, not challenging. Seeking. A faint pulsing energy … growing stronger. She caught her breath and began to tremble. A Spinner? Why now? Had the time truly come to prepare a successor?
The suddenness of the first vision’s arrival made her gasp. This time there were horrific flashes – terrifying and grotesque clips of violence and pain – and she whimpered as they slammed through her mind. It was not the first time that the visions had touched her with fear but they announced that the inevitable would soon be forced upon her.
|Melissa McCarthy||as Mrs. Hanley|