Upon Reflection (short)
A bit of silliness and whimsical perversity for RiaR: Hunter over on the BL Bolthole (that being the analogue to HOES here). Enjoy it. Or, you know, feel free not to if you so desire.
Chazia the Perverse watched in surprise as he died. That the assassin reached him at all, in the depths of his palace, was testament to her extreme skill—and cause, certainly, to discipline his guards.
He was sitting in a gilded bathtub cutting his arms with a silver knife and watching the blood diffuse into the soapless bathwater. A figure entered: his killer. She was a lithe woman in form-fitting leathers, whose steps were graceful and made no sound on the tiled floor. She carried an elegant, bright-edged blade in each hand.
She was a sleek one, certainly. O, the things Chazia would do to her, given the opportunity. But whoever sent her had certainly taken that into account and laced her flesh with traps. He could remove them, given time and the inclination, but his mood was currently bent toward the whimsical rather than the practical, and in any case-
But this diverges from the matter of his death. Chazia did not look up as the death cult assassin approached. She approached him from behind and ran him through him.
“But,” his last words were as he slumped over, “this isn't a holiday.”
Chazia looked up from his scrying bowl, frowning in disgust.
“This isn't a holiday?” he muttered to himself. “How shameful. I ought to have said—well, I ought to say something altogether more prepossessing. I apologize, me, for having settled on such an inanity.
“Oh, apology accepted, of course. Nothing to do but avoid it when the time comes.
“Should I make preparations? Alert the guards? The guards are idiots; they'll still miss her. Hm, hmmm. I'm sure something will come up. And she's such a pretty little thing, too!”
He ambled from the scrying bowl over to his wardrobe. He felt like wearing something... avian, today. To pay respects to his god, for once. A little thanks for this particular vision drifting across his bowl. Here was that one particular feathered headdress, plucked only from the tails of extinct species. That would do—and hold the rest of the outfit. He would go nude apart from the headdress.
“Next,” he muttered, beginning to strip off his multicolored robes, “to see to those dreary petitioners.”
The petitioners had been dispatched to Chazia's satisfaction. Having some thrown into the lion pit had been an especially nice touch, he felt. A classic one. Too bad they didn't have any lions; Scylvendi vhip-fiends would have to do.
He felt filthy, though. Disposing of this daemon world's various tribesmen always left him feeling soiled. Ah well. Everyone had unpleasant duties. At least he was allowed free reign with his imagination for this one.
Dirty. Time for a bath. Though... wasn't there something else he had to do? Hmm. Something, yes, certainly. But it slipped his mind at the moment, and what was the point of being an insane magus if he couldn't shirk duties every now and then? Whatever it was could wait until after the bath, certainly.
Still wearing only his headdress, he ambled through his various suites and quarters (happening across more than a few curiosities that he had otherwise forgotten—including an ornate silver knife, which he picked up and carried with him) until he found his bathing room.
He ran some water and realized that the damn fool servant hadn't refilled the soap. That might have been on account of Chazia blasting him to ash some weeks previously, but it was still remiss of him in his duties. Chazia might have to call up his soul and blast it again.
Nothing to it, then. He slipped into the bathwater, toying with the knife he had brought with him. An accidental slip led to a cut, a cut demanded reciprocation, duplication, chastisement, and all the twenty-seven violations of the flesh. Chastisement was a particular favorite of his—punishment of the flesh for punishment of the flesh. A delicious little truth of the universe.
From the cuts ran blood, which beaded and plipped into the bathwater. The blood slowly swelled outward, each drop billowing into the water in intricate patterns. A smile hinted at Chazia's lips.
The fragrance of steel, a whispering sigh.
Chazia turned and made an idle gesture. The assassin, poised to strike, crumpled into a heap on the floor. Her eyes betrayed her shock but her body was limp. He slipped from the pink bathwater, setting it sloshing, and stepped delicately over to the assassin.
“What,” asked Chazia, resting the knife on her carotid artery, “did you think it was a holiday?”
He stood. Would they ever learn; his legions of enemies? His underlings, his overlings, the Imperials... would any of them learn? One cannot kill a scryer so easily.
He smirked and stepped back over to his bathtub. Now, to see how this rippled into his future. What delightful little chastisements would fate attempt to throw at him for this particular violation? He smoothed the rippling bathwater with a thought. It would make a fine scrying mirror.
No vision appeared. Chazia frowned, exerting his will more forcefully. The water remained stubbornly pink and transparent. What was this about, then? This was hardly the first, or even hundredth time he'd disrupted his own fated future. What blocked his view, now? He called on his powers in earnest and tried again—nothing.
A chill very much unrelated to the water soaking his form ran through him. Paranoias skittered through his brain. What was this? Hikeldos the Flirtatious making an overture, perhaps? Chazia wanted none of that. He might be perverse, but he was not suicidal.
A wave of nausea swept through him. He found himself vomiting his supper into the bathwater. A pity; those cherubs had tasted so good on the way down.
Footsteps at the doorway. An unreasoning wave of terror washed over Chazia as he turned, which was soon replaced by a very reasoning, very much greater wave of terror when he saw the newcomer.
“Not one assassin,” he whimpered, “but two. And the second-”
The second assassin was genderless and emaciated; a withered frame dressed in a taut black jumpsuit. Its resemblance to a skeleton was only heightened by its helm: a large skull, of which one massive, lensed eye glowed red.
No wonder Chazia couldn't scry anything: one could not psychically see what did not psychically exist. In a way, he was flattered. He had risen so high that the High Lords of Terra themselves had sent a hunter to snuff him out.
The assassin approached. Crackling anti-energy built around the helm's terrible Occularis.
At this point, there was no point in running. For once in his life, Chazia didn't fight fate. He sat down in the vomit-flecked water and waited for the Culexus assassin to kill him.
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!