Written by our DM, the final fate of Vigo the Whisperer...
Tavros followed Abbess Sturmgart down the hallway. They were under the main complex, in seldom used tunnels that he was unfamiliar with.
“Here,” the Abbess gestured to a small cell, being used more literally in the spirit of its namesake. It was guarded by two very serious looking guards wearing regalia not of his house, but of the temple – men loyal to the Abbess. She had been wise not to trust anybody of the Fontaine household with the prisoner, who might claim to be acting in the purported best interest of their king. It was an effort by the Abbess to put the power of decision making back in Tavros’ hands.
“Thank you,” he said, “you are one of the few, and always have been, who look after my genuine best interest. Really, I… I appreciate it.”
“Of course, my child. I know it’s important to you.”
“It is. If I continue to let everybody think they need to step in and fix things for me – if they continue to think that I’m incapable of doing these things for myself – I will never truly be king; I will only be a puppet.”
The Abbess nodded and smiled graciously. Tavros felt a surge of warmth. No matter how grown up he felt, the Abbess had a way of making him feel like he was that young boy again, running amuck around the temple.
“Who told him?” Tavros inquired.
“It was one the maids who served you and Jacqueline a few nights ago. It turns out that neither your mother nor Andraska had any recollection of ever hiring the girl. You see, with so many people coming and going here and at your mother’s estate, everybody just assumed that someone else had hired the girl. In reality, nobody hired her, but she’s been going around for months, serving your food, folding your clothes, and all the while funneling information back to…” she paused.
Tavros’ face became stoic, “Yes, well we’ll see about that. Thank you, Abbess.” He bowed low. It was how he used to defer to her, as a disciple – not entirely appropriate as a king, but well, there was nobody here to see. She smiled again, and touched him affectionately on the cheek – also not appropriate, but damn it all!
After the Abbess walked away, Tavros, took a deep breath, nodded to the guards, and barged into the room. It was a spartan cell, in the fashion of many in the temple, but this one was deep in the bowels, windowless, and barely furnished. Vigo the Whisperer sat a table, writing. The Abbess had treated him as a political prisoner of importance rather than throwing him in a proper dungeon, again giving Tavros the opportunity to decide how he would be treated.
“You ran away!?” Tavros blurted angrily.
“Of course,” Vigo responded calmly, “you were going to execute me. How can I serve my purpose if I’m dead?”
Tavros sneered, “Well I hope our dear Reverend Mercy didn’t mistreat you too badly.”
“He found me in the Savage Hills, halfway to Brightland. I have to say, I’ve never been eaten and shat out by a snake before.”
”Yes, well,” Tavros brushed the scales on the back of his head, “Marshall finds that a convenient way to store and transport things.”
Vigo finished writing and put his quill in the holder, “I’ve taken the liberty of drafting a list of others that you should execute alongside me. I assume you’ll make it a public affair, likely with some light torture to emphasize the price of crossing the king.”
“I am not torturing people!” Tavros stamped his foot in frustration. This was exactly the problem with Vigo. “Besides, wouldn’t you be included in this group?”
“Yes, of course, assuming I don’t escape. But public torture is nothing compared to the real thing – just some minor dislocations, cutting out a few internal organs -- …”
“Enough!” Tavros yelled, “why doesn’t this bother you?”
“As we discussed,” Vigo said with a moderately bemused look, “I have nothing left to lose. But truth be told, I’d rather not be executed at all.” He got up and came over to Tavros, dropping to his knees. He grabbed Tavros’ enormous claw and started begging, “please, my liege, spare my life. I will swear to serve you, on your terms!”
“Are you -- ?” Taavros snatched his hand away, “begging!? Get up, it’s…”
“What’s wrong with begging?” Vigo asked as he stood up.
“Aren’t you ashamed?”
“No,” Vigo said simply, “I want to live, so I’m begging you to let me live.”
“But,” Tavros said, eyes narrow, “you also don’t care what I do to you.”
“Not really,” Vigo said honestly, “but I beg you not to kill me, so that I may serve you.”
“You’ve served me enough,” Tavros said angrily.
“At least,” Vigo implored, picking up the list, “look at my list.”
Tavros received the list begrudgingly. He scanned it, his eyes getting bigger, “are you serious?”
“Of course,” Vigo said, “these people are your enemies.”
Tavros stopped suddenly, his mouth open, “Martini D’wintlithar!?”
Vigo nodded, “She’s dangerous, angry, and evil. She tried to turn in your pivotal battle against the Goddess of Secrets, offering to join her. It would be better for the kingdom if she were dead.”
Tavros turned away, massaging his aching temples.
“Surely,” Vigo said, “you don’t consider her situation different than my own? It’s true that I might betray you, if I felt it necessary, but I haven’t yet. She has.”
Tavros sighed, turning back to face his former spymaster, “Vigo, I sentence you to death. There will be no torture, no fanfare, no performance. I will do it traditionally and honorably: With a block of wood, a sword, and my own hand. I pledge to you it will be over quickly, but it will be over. My mind is firm on this matter. I am sorry.”
Vigo nodded, thoughtfully, “that is… sub-optimal. But… it suits you. Good job.”
Tavros looked at him aghast, shaking his head, “Vigo, you confound me.”
“My apologies, my liege, for I seek only to aid you.”
There was nothing left to say. Tavros just shook his head, and made for the door.
“Wait,” Vigo pleaded, “one week. Give me one week.”
“One week for what?” Tavros asked.
“One week of you,” Vigo replied, “one week to tell you everything I know, everything I’ve learned, everything I have planned. If I will no longer be here… at least let what is in my head live on in you. It is clear I have no leverage, and I am out of time. The best I can do for my kingdom… is to give it all to you.”
“You can do that in a week?” Tavros asked, skeptically.
“Yes. You will arrive at eight o’clock each morning, and we will go through supper. We’ll eat our meals here. I will be provided spare quills and all the parchment I need. What I don’t say, I will write. All of it, all my knowledge, it will be yours.”
“That’s,” Tavros searched for words, but had none. He did not understand this person at all.
“No disruptions,” Vigo said firmly, “you give me one week left in this mortal world, but I want all of it. Your other advisors must wait, for now.”
“I,” Tavros stuttered, trying to find the hole or trap in this suggestion, “I - …”
“And on the eight day, can you execute me at mid-day?”
Tavros looked at Vigo in surprise, “Why?”
“I just,” Vigo seemed to think for a moment, “well, I guess I wanted to see the sun one more time.”
Tavros laughed once, mirthlessly, “Confound is not a strong enough word. Very well, I will execute you at high noon of the eighth day, on MY terms.”
Vigo bowed deeply, “thank you, my liege. For what it’s worth…”
There was an awkward pause. Tavros didn’t know what to say, so he just waited for Vigo to continue.
“I think,” Vigo said, “you will be a much better king than your uncle. I am proud of you.”
Tavros swallowed. For all the horrible things Vigo had done, for all the certainty he had about this decision, it was still hard for him. He was not good at sentencing people to die. “Thank you,” was all he could muster. Then the two men stared at each other in silence until Tavros left the room.
Once outside the room, Tavros had a pit in his stomach, but then something tickled the back of his brain. Was it mistrust? Or perhaps a developing, ingrained vigilance?
“Double the guards,” he ordered, “and nobody is to see the prisoner except for myself.” After a moment, he added, “that includes the Abbess and my mother. Absolutely nobody, is that clear?”
The guards nodded vigorously, virtually wilting under his gaze. A part of him felt bad, but another part nodded in satisfaction. Dammit, he swore to himself, a little piece of that bastard is already inside me.