Monday, October 13, 2008

Chapter 43 (of 43)


The winter passed in Schloeffelonia like a storm that, though long during the experience, once it was over seemed to be only a brief moment in recollection. There were moments of insurrection: most accountably the mutiny of he who could have been his greatest rival aside from Sangwine, le Duc du Fromage. Of this Fang was disappointed, for he had assumed le Duc would have more sense, but what he didn’t realize was that his support had fractured and that the noble houses had discovered through experience that a long war was not only draining the life from their country, but affecting them personally as well. It is when the lofty are affected personally that they deign to incite change, and so le Duc had begun organizing a sort of resistance. Fortunately for Fang, he had always kept eyes upon le Duc for such a thing, and caught it before it had a chance to come to any fruition. It was serendipitous, really, because le Duc gave him the perfect excuse to dispose of him and claim his fortune, which was a boon to the empire’s efforts.

At the disposal of le Duc, la Duchesse had become a raving lunatic. It appeared to Fang, who had her detained and brought to him, that she had lost her mind. Perhaps it had happened long ago, for she seemed to have no cognizance of either of her children, or of anything that made any sense at all. She raved about le Duc on occasion in her madness, but regarding inquiries, she either didn’t hear them, or could not reply. In fact, Fang found la Duchesse du Fromage so maniacally disturbing that he let her go, and the guard watched her as she fled Schloeffelonia as one who cannot stand to be in the presence of something that brings great anxiety. Nothing more was heard of la Duchesse.

He had spared no expense in the care of Camilla, though her seclusion was continually forced. She was a prisoner, though one served by several entirely deaf attendants, and she was made to live high in the tower, watching Schloeffelonia from above.

It appeared to Fang as if all of the Fromages had proven to be entirely untrustworthy in the face of even the smallest amount of inconvenience, and of none was he more disappointed than Al’bert. It was Al’bert who he sent on the very plain, simple task of finishing his last blood relative, and Al’bert had failed so prodigiously and for such an extendedly long period of time that Fang could think nothing but that Al’bert had fallen into paths of insurrection of his own. He knew Al’bert and he knew what Al’bert was capable of. Al’bert hadn’t failed. He had refused, but in a way that pointedly avoided any sort of confrontation. Fang had never known Al’bert was a coward, but now that he did, he could hardly stand to think about him. He would have to be recalled, and Sangwine would have to be killed elsewise. What he would do with Al’bert was a matter of great anxiety for Fang.

Zedwig had distanced himself from Fang since the day in the stairwell, although he was still amicable in a working fashion, but he had clearly drawn a line between himself and Fang which Fang was simply not allowed to cross. It became more and more unclear to him and to Zedwig which of them was in control of their combined subconscious, for though Fang always retained the ability to force Zedwig to comply to his wishes, he never used it, and in fact hadn’t used it since they had attacked the City of Ena. Why he hadn’t used it, he wasn’t entirely sure. There are things he would have liked to force Zedwig to do, but then again he couldn’t stand the idea of forcing him to do anything. He believed this was a side effect of love, but having no past experience to draw from, he was entirely unsure. He wondered if, when it became absolutely necessary for him to wield Zedwig’s power through force, he would be able to do it.

In the case of the war, Fang was losing his drive. He knew this to be a direct influence from Zedwig, and in one sense it irritated him to the point of anger, and in another he wanted to embrace these newfound shadows of pacifism. His empire already stretched through half the known world, and perhaps, should he end the war after this winter, he could embroil himself in the occupation of managing all of these lands. It struck him as ironic that, after his abrasive youth, he would at last settle into a life of politics and perhaps even be quite comfortable in doing so.

He wondered if he could transform Schloeffelonia into a hub of trade; a vast, diverse metropolis through which all passed as it held the position of being the thriving, beating heart of the elven empire. No longer would it be a secluded, secretive land wherein other races fear to set foot, but it would be peopled with all types, of all walks of life, and around it the great spokes and wheel that made up the rest of the empire would revolve. Fang could envision it, and then he would discuss these things expressing great animation and delight with Zedwig.

For the mage, Fang’s concepts were bizarre and radical and he could hardly imagine such a thing to function properly, let alone exist. Zedwig did, however, always listen, and it seemed, slowly, that they had fallen into old themes once left behind: He was the mentor, and Fangline was his eager student. It was even possible from time to time to forget that Fang was the cruel force he had shown himself to be in the past, as, being in Schloeffelonia, sleeping deep in the winter snows, most of Fang’s work was administrative and slow. There were afternoons spent near the large windows that stretched from floor to ceiling, when they would sit and discuss the world in the warmth of afternoon sunlight, and every day Fang seemed to fall further and further away from war, and ever closer to peace. This hope kept Zedwig going, and also his health was failing with great rapidity and he knew he wouldn’t have very long to wait.

There were many days when Fang would lean forward in his chair, rest his elbows wearily upon his knees and passionately declare his angst over Zedwig’s state, and Zedwig would listen, all the while knowing secretly to himself that should the time come that he was capable of removing himself from Fang he would take it, and even more deeply knowing the only way he could accomplish that was through death.

But while looking at Fangline and considering his form and intellect, and his education combined with his vast abilities and intense work ethic, Zedwig very often felt a deep, searing sorrow for what he might have been. Only in recent months had he begun to observe Fang changing into something new other than the basic, primal forces that once ruled him, and he knew his suspicions were right; if things had gone differently, Fang could have been the greatest king ever to rule Schloeffelonia. His ideas were brilliant, if perhaps on the overly progressive side, and he was a wealth of energy and creativity. Instead, though, and quite tragically, he would only hold the distinction of being the most terrifying king Schloeffelonia ever had, and fathers would warn their sons throughout eons of remembrance not to be like Fangline the Terrible.

Still, the long silent winter passed, untouchable, deep in snow, and filled with quiet moments they each spent in the other’s company, even blithely at times, for they were all that they possessed of value in the world.


[1] Here the timeline ends just previous to page #281 in the comic, where the story continues.


Zypher said...

Arg! It's OVER!!! T.T NOW what am I supposed to do while I wait for new Lint pages?

Colby said...

Writhe in agony, I guess.

Mia said...

This was a fantastic read, Colby! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Anonymous said...

What an adeventure, I adored this story! Although, I hate to admit, the last few chapters bored me (no offense intended whatsoever). Also, what exactly IS Fangeline and Zedwig's relationship? I noticed comments in your comic where few brought up the possibility they were gay for each other, however I saw your responses claiming they weren't, that they just had a complicated "thing" going on.

The relationship between Al'bert and Alice was surprising, although enjoyable. Which makes me wonder whatever happened to Al'bert's sister, after Sangwine reclaimed the throne?