Monday, November 26, 2012

Harduk The Slayer and the Father-In-Law of Doom

Harduk shoved the blanket aside and sat up. Nissa lay at his side, still snoring gently. Judging by the sun, the boat was still on course. Nearmis Oddbottom was sitting beside the rudder.

Harduk blinked, shook his head, and reached for a water-skin. He was in no hurry to leave the blankets. He had arrived on that island wearing only a loincloth. Now he was not even sure where that had gone.

When he looked again, the wizard was still there.

"Well," he said. "What are you doing here?"

"You destroy my ruins, kidnap and despoil my daughter, and you have to ask?"

Harduk was silent for the space of several breaths. He was very much aware of Nissa; her presence was probably the only reason the wizard hadn't destroyed him already.

"You and Duke Decantar," he said, and took another swig of water. "I spoke with your daughter last night, after we'd had our fun. I'm not your enemy, wizard. I'm the instrument of Nissa's curse. She made me to disrupt your work, so that she could have a normal life." He paused, yawning wide enough to crack his jaws. "Also, as of the middle of last night, I'm your son-in-law."

"WHAT?"

Harduk shrugged. He'd killed wizards before, but he was finding this exchange far more satisfying. "I'm the captain of this ship. I conducted the ceremony, and she summoned... beings... to witness it. She's a married woman, now - of her own free will - and no longer your concern."

The wizard's face was a frozen mask. "Harduk the Slayer, I will kill you."

Harduk shrugged. "You'll have your chance," he said. "After the wedding, Nissa tried to lift her curse... but she failed. Until she does, I'm still drawn to your ruins. So you keep building them, and I'll keep stumbling into them, and we'll see who survives." He paused, then added: "Does that sound like a hobby that could keep you entertained, old man?"

Nearmis Oddbottom's expression was purest fury for a moment longer. Then it cracked, and he chuckled. "Yes," he said, "I suppose it might. I'll need to add more death-traps, of course."

"Of course," agreed Harduk. No true son of Distractia could be intimidated by death-traps, even if Distractia had never existed save as the imagined source of a young sorceress' dreams of escape. "Just leave in the treasures, so I have some reason to explore."

"Oh, never fear," said the wizard. "There'll be treasure aplenty, for the man bold enough to seek it."

"Until that day, wizard." Harduk smiled.

"Until I kill you, son-in-law."

Here ends this tale of Harduk the Slayer.

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