The Eager Servant

The Eager Servant

The lantern’s light bounced and swayed as he walked down the stone stairway. At the bottom of the stairs, the dirt floor muffled the sounds of his footfalls as he walked to the center of the room and the raised altar. He reached into the inner pockets of his black robe and pulled out a lighter. After several flicks of the steel against the flint without a single spark he put it back into his pocket.

“Wainright?” Though he didn’t yell his voice reverberated across the stone walls and back up the stairs. Within several moments the scuffle of feet and the swish of robes had raced down the stairs to join him at the altar. He shone the lantern’s light on a freckle faced boy, not much older than 13. “Lighter’s dead.”

The Eager Servant

Flickr Creative Commons via Nicolas Raymond

“I thought it might be, sir,” Wainright said. “I placed a second one in your other pocket.” The boy fumbled through his robes to reach for the pockets in his master’s robes. He stopped short when hit by his master’s glare. “It’s the left one, sir. The left breast pocket.”

He switched the lantern to his left hand and reached into the inner pocket of his robe. The second lighter felt a bit heavier than the first, though it might have been a trick of his mind. He flicked it a couple times experimentally and each time a bright flame burst with the first strike. He smiled in appreciation, but said, “That will be all Wainright.”

“Are you sure, sir? I have read up on the sanctificial summoning and I am sure I can be of use.” The boy bounced from foot to foot. “Do you need me to get you the sanctificial knife or the bird for the rights? I have a couple ready upstairs in the coop, sir.”

“That will be all.”

Wainright drooped. If the light had been on him still, he would have seen the boy’s shoulders fall and his head hang low. Instead he turned to the altar and lit the candles on the tiers up and down the back. Wainright stumbled up the stairs in the dark.

When the boy had gone he sifted through a few papers on his work bench off to the side of the altar. And then he began to move the various papers around the table as he searched for his sanctificial knife. It was nowhere to be found.

“Wainright, where is my knife?” He did not yell, but the words had a hard edge to them and they carried all the way upstairs again. After a few minutes he heard the scuffle of Wainright’s feet on the stairs.

The boy scuffled and rustled down the stairs and stumbled in the dark toward the candle lit altar. He never saw his master, dressed in black robes till after he felt him, felt the knife slip through the robes and through the flesh. He felt his master fall to the floor.

“That will be all,” Wainright said.


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