Grimm Tidings

Chapter 32


A voice was shouting from the base of the lighthouse. Baltrog looked over the edge, some fifty feet down to the rocks of the island. There, dripping wet, stood the slave dully illuminated by the moonlight.

“Ah, good master slave,” shouted Baltrog. “What can I do for you?”

“There is no wand,” shouted the slave. “You lied to my master.”

“So I did,” said Baltrog. “And you know, you’d be amazed how little remorse I feel for it. There’s just something so inconsequential about giving your word to a fish.”

The slave did not reply. He only stared up at Baltrog.

“Well,” said the sorcerer impatiently, “if there’s something else you have to say, let me hear it. I’m rather busy now destroying a city. No? Kraken got your tongue? Okay, just stay out of my way.”

Baltrog turned his attention back to the city. The moon was rising and his view of the devastation was getting better the higher it climbed. He could see the smoking rubble of the harbor clearly in the moonlight. He could see the occasional person running along a wall, chased by the stumbling undead. And he could see something in the water making its way towards the lighthouse island. Refugees from the mainland, no doubt, hoping to hide from the zombies on the Necklace. Rather clever, that. And convenient. He would not have to wait for the tide to go out to enter the city. He could simply take the refugees’ boat. They wouldn’t be in much state to put up any resistance.

Baltrog’s thoughts were interrupted by Grimestoke. The little man was tugging at his robe.

“My hand is getting worse,” whined the gnome. “If you can’t fix it, I’m going to go into the town and find some medicine.”

Baltrog could not believe what he was hearing. “Into town?” he asked. “During my revenge? I’ve waiting ten years for this night. You can wait until morning to fix your hand. And besides, you can’t get into town until the tide goes down.”

Grimestoke, his face pale with pain, gritted his teeth. “You could cast a spell,” he said. “Maybe a flying spell.”

“A flying spell. Yes, good idea. Here.” Baltrog spun Grimestoke around so that he was facing the town. “Get ready.” Baltrog picked the little man up by the armpits and placed him on the low stone railing that encircled the top platform of the tower. “Now take a deep breath and say the magic word.”

The gnome inhaled. “What’s the magic word?” he asked.

“Gravity,” said Baltrog. He pushed Grimestoke off the railing. The gnome screamed as he fell and made a satisfying crunching sound when he hit the rocks. Baltrog looked over the railing. Grimestoke’s body lay in a twisted heap some five feet from the slave, but the slave did not seem to have noticed the near miss. He was standing with his arms raised above his head, the way he had in the sea cave. Baltrog could not be sure but he guessed the man had his eyes closed, communing with his squid. Absurd, really.

The satisfaction of dropping Grimestoke over the railing began to fade as Baltrog realized that he had no idea how to work the augmenter. He walked over to the machine. It was not large; it did not come up to his knees and it was not more than a foot wide and long. But it was complicated. In the green light of the plankton tank it looked like so many metal and glass rods tied together with different coloured metal cors. Here and there levers and knobs poked out of the tangle but how they related to the structure as a whole, much less its operation, was beyond Baltrog. Something deep inside the machine was making a whirring noise. A few of the glass rods occasionally showed sparks of light, but he did not know what either of these signs meant. Was the machine working properly? Did he have to adjust it or, well, feed it somehow? He did not know. Grimestoke had spent a good deal of time bent over the machine, fiddling with his parts, but that may have been because of his own obsessive nature.

Baltrog decided not to worry about it. It had done its job, or most of it. Even if it broke down right now enough damage had been done to Seatorn that it would never recover. And he could animate a few dead easily without the aid of the machine. It just sped up the process of destroying the city.

But Baltrog had all night.

The boat bumped into something hard. Voltag had to bite back a shout.

“What was that?” he asked in a tight voice.

“We’re here,” said Kerimos.

Voltag allowed himself to look up. He had focused on the bottom of the dingy for the entire trip, bailing with single-minded purpose. They had reached the Necklace. The lighthouse towered over them.

“Me first!” he shouted happily. He grabbed his axe and sprang over the side of the dingy into the water.

He sank some five feet, the dark water swirling over his head. In his panic he realized that he had jumped over the wrong side of the boat. He had fallen off some ledge. He was upright, standing on a slippery rock surface, but he was underwater.


His axe! He thrust the axe above him, sensing it break the surface of the water. He swung it until it hit something hard. Not caring what it was he twisted the axe until he felt the blade hook on the object, then he pulled hard, hoping to drag himself from the water. Instead he tipped over the boat, sending Kerimos and Yolanthe sprawling into the water.

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