Friday, 29 September 2017

Communal Book Project Part Five

Lord Logenburt Part Five
submitted by Kim. M. Watt

The Baron’s grin widened. “Monstrosities, yes, but my monstrosities!”
Frederic fumbled in his coat pocket for the flask of whiskey. Never mind social niceties or keeping up appearances – this was madness. Breeding dragons had been forbidden for decades, in no small part due to the actions of the previous Lords Logenburt. He gulped whiskey, staring at the still form of the woman in the shadows, feeling the old sick shame in his belly. He’d never wanted to be part of it, and his father had hated him for walking away. Hated him for preferring books and diplomacy to fire and might. But who had been proved right, in the end?
“Now then,” the Baron said, interrupting Frederic’s unpleasant memories. “It’s been said you’re quite an expert in these things.”
“No,” Frederic said. “Not me. I’m just looking for the girl.”
“And now you’ve found her.”
There was a challenge in the Baron’s words, and Frederic flinched, his hands shaking as he tried to get the cap back on the flask.
“I – yes,” he said finally, giving up on the cap. “I have. So I guess I’ll be off, then.” He took a cautious step backwards.
“That’s not going to work for me, I’m afraid,” the Baron said, managing to sound quite regretful. “See, I need the girl to complete the incubation, so I can’t have you running off and telling people about this, can I?”
“Oh. Yes. I see,” Frederic said. The heat and blood-stink was making him dizzy. That, and the whisky. He took another sip anyway, on the theory that things couldn’t get worse.
The younger man took a step towards him. “I’d be grateful of your expertise, of course.”
“Would you?” He was actually feeling terribly unwell. What on earth had he been thinking, getting involved with missing girls and Barons?
“I would. I’ve read all the books, of course, but my knowledge is all theoretical. Having one of the Lords Logenburt to help would be very advantageous.”
“I wasn’t really part of all that,” Frederic admitted, thinking vaguely that perhaps the whiskey hadn’t been the best idea. Shouldn’t there have been a way to work this to his advantage?
“So you don’t know anything?” the Baron demanded. “But your father –“
“It wasn’t my thing. All the blood and whatnot.”
“It wasn’t your thing?”
“Uh, no.”
“The last of the Logenburts, the Dragon Lords, and it wasn’t your thing?”
The way the Baron was keeping on about this was really very annoying. He’d said it wasn’t, hadn’t he? He just wanted to go home, make a very large hot toddy, go to bed and forget this whole thing.
“Look, you’re messing it all up anyway,” Frederic said. “Human blood is completely out. Even I know that.”
“Oh, so that you know?”
“Well, of course! You have to use the blood of docile things, things that want to obey. Not ones that are more worried about the rising price of butter and how on earth they’ve gained a kilo. That must’ve been in the books.”
The Baron might have looked uncertain for a moment, but it didn’t last. Instead he crossed the floor to Frederic in two quick strides and grabbed the front of the older man’s shirt in one hand. “I don’t care,” he snarled, close enough for Frederic to determine that he’d had garlic for dinner. “They’ll be my dragons, and they’ll do as I say.” He hauled the hapless Lord with him as he headed towards the hard platform the young woman lay on. “And if you can’t make yourself useful, I’ll make you useful!”
Frederic squawked and tried to resist, but the Baron was too strong, and he’d never been good at this physical stuff. His movements felt slow and confused, ineffectual against the younger man’s anger. He managed to grab the edge of one of the warm pans of blood, sending it clattering to the floor but doing nothing to slow them down.
“Stop it, you idiot,” the Baron snapped, half turning to glance at the blood slopping across the stone. Frederic (rather regretfully) threw his flask in the man’s face. The Baron yelped as it smacked him painfully in the nose, the alcohol stinging his eyes, and Frederic took his chance. He threw himself forward, his not inconsiderable bulk sending them staggering into another of the warming dishes, blood slopping over their feet and making the floor slick. The Baron was shouting, and Frederic wondered if he should try to throw a few punches. The odds of landing them seemed slim, however, so he continued to drive the Baron in front of him, crashing into eggs and knocking over gas lamps, until he slipped on the treacherous surface and took them both to the floor.
Frederic landed on the Baron heavily enough to drive the wind out of him, and they both lay there gasping for a moment before the younger man slammed a fist into his side and shoved him onto his back. He lay there staring at the ceiling in the dim light of the few remaining gas lamps, spent.
“You fool,” the Baron snarled, getting to his knees. “What did you think that was going to accomplish?”
Frederic had to admit that he had no idea.
For a moment the only sounds were the panting of the men and the hiss of gas, and the last Lord Logenburt had time to consider that he might have been the first of his line to turn away from dragons, but they’d still be the death of him.
And then there was a crack.

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