Del and Huck -- On the Wings of Grace (Chapter 5)



Del and Huck visit the Good Lich of the Tower.



Chapter Five:

The Arrangement

Huck was ushered into the next room, not as well-lit, somewhat dark, and somewhat even dustier than the rest of the tower.  This room was filled with crowded bookshelf upon crowded bookshelf, where strange tomes sat haphazardly.  At the center of the room was a large desk and the one window he had seen in the castle, but the glass was smoky, and only let in a little bit of light.  Huck could still see the prairie and the rain out there though, reminding him there was a world outside the tower after all. 

A husk of a man sat at the desk, hooded and waiting.  Huck instantly could feel this thing was undead, but there was no foul smell upon it, just the continuing oppressive odor of the dust.  Glowing green eyes sat in the Lich's shrunken skull above a wretched but intelligent looking mouth.  He -- if he was still a he -- held his bony hands -- more like claws -- together, as though he was just a pleasant person in thought.  The Good Lich smiled at Huck -- a sight more frightful than anything he had seen yet in the tower, and then spoke. 

"Hello, my young friend."  The lich's voice was scratchy, dry, but deep. "I see you have come bearing gifts."

"Have I?" asked Huck. 

"Yes," the Good Lich chuckled.  "You have."

Huck and the Good Lich stared at each other for a moment before Huck gestured with the envelope he had received.  "I have a message for you," he said.

"Good!  Come closer.  Give it to me."

Huck stepped towards the creature, hardly believing he was here.  What happened to the old world?  How did any of this happen?

He handed the message over.  The Good Lich took it in his right claw and gently ripped the envelope open, pulling out the letter inside.  Then, he sat and read over it, twice, before he spoke. 

"I see," said the Good Lich.  "You want help with those damn elves.  I should have known."

"Yeah," said Huck. 

"So this is where we find ourselves.  You as their messenger, and me as the grand wizard begged for a terrible favor.  It wouldn't be difficult for me to find such a predictable tale in one of my apprentice's tawdry novels.  But... but... such is life, I suppose.  I've been here before, you've been here before, and we've all been here before."

 "Right," said Huck. 

The Good Lich swirled his chair around until he faced out the window, leaving his back to Huck.  "What is your name, mortal?"

"Huck Strite," he said. 

"I see.  I don't remember my name.  It's been so long since I used it, so long since I've been this terrible creature before you, that I barely remember who I once was.  But I do, I still strive to relate to living things, even though it is... difficult for me."

"Why do you go on living?" asked Huck, curious, and without thinking. 

"Why?  Because there is so much to know!  So much to know!  And not enough time to know it."

"I guess so," said Huck. "That makes sense to me."

"Does it?  I wonder.  Again, I have a hard time relating to men like I once did, for I no longer am a man.  I am hopelessly dead.  But to know!  That is it!  Do you realize, for instance, there is an order to the Sundering?  Not an obvious order, of course, ha ha, but an order nonetheless.  A pattern!  And I have begun to see it."

"You don't know where it came from?"

"No..." said the Good Lich.  "I know of no one who does, either."

This surprised Huck.  He thought that if anybody knew, it would be someone like the Lich.

The creature whirled back around in his chair.  "Well.  We'll forget for now that your 'reverend' Parsons has found out that I can move my tower, and instead focus on where he wants us to move it to.  I can relocate it North.  But the elves will not be happy about it and they might... test my patience."

"Thank you," said Huck, with grave seriousness. 

"However -- I require something in return."

"What is it?" That is what Parsons wanted to know, first and foremost.

"I want a hundred head of cattle, transported from the South to here, into my possession, and the means and men to take care of them."

"But why?" asked Huck.

"Do not question my motivations," commanded the Good Lich.  "Let's just say... I require them to make me happy.  And don't we want to make me happy?"

"Yeah," said Huck.  It was true. 

"Good!  And I want one other thing: I want you and your niece to enter my employ. There is... a service I require of you."

"Why us?"

"Because I like you, Huck.  There's something different about you, you're not like the other Americans I have met, few as they may be.  And if I like you, then I trust you, and if I trust you, then you can bring my cattle to me, and then perform some other labors I have planned."

"Okay," said Huck.  "I'll do it.  If you move your tower."

"Indeed.  I will move it to where you ask.  And within a week, you will bring me my cattle, correct?"


"Good. Then that is that."

"Oh..." said Huck.  "There's one more thing.  Could my niece could she take a photograph of you?"

"A photograph you say?  I believe I know what that is.  Well, why not?  And that's it?"  the Good Lich laughed.   "How interesting.  What a marvelous world you have here."

Huck popped his head out of the Lich's study and called for Delilah. She was visibly relieved. "C'mon, get your camera ready."

She nodded and came into the study, where she gasped at the Lich's appearance. But after that she said nothing.

"Hello, Delilah," said the Good Lich. "I hope I look ok for your machine."

"You look fine, I'm sure," she replied. 

She aimed the camera at the creature as he sat at his desk. 

The camera clicked.

The photo was taken.

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