The maggots wriggled in the eyeball, glistening as they squirmed into the dead socket.
Frida Bilesodden leaned over the decapitated head and rubbed the crusted mucus from the corner of her lips.
She leaned down and tenderly kissed the blackened mouth of the rotting head and smiled, her lips cracking and seeping puss as she grinned.
“Bodvarr was very clear.” She wheezed as she caressed the dead face. “We must find the south-landers. Find them and kill them.” She turned the head so she could stare into it's milky pupils.
"And you're going to help me. ”
She rose from her seat, disturbing a cloud of flies as she stood and shuffled across to a desk in the corner of the hovel. Her rotting robes dragged behind her, the faded symbol of an arrow barely visible beneath the layers of filth, mold, bones and small animal skulls woven into the decaying fabric. She reached the table and all manner of Jars, phials and bottles were stacked on the mildewed wood.
Frida grimaced a black-toothed smile as she reached for a tall bottle with a deep crimson liquid in it.
“This blood was taken from a sorcerer” she muttered to the dead head as she brandishing the bottle. “A man with a collar of blue feathers at his throat, and the bright yellow eyes of a hawk.” She mused. “I cut his heart out with a rusted dagger and drained the blood.” Her pallid tongue licked the filth from her bottom lip as she savored the memory.
Absent mindedly she scratched at a boil on her chin and ruptured it, causing a stream of pus to slide down her neck. She didn't seem to notice.
“Enough!” She snapped suddenly and shuffled back towards the head on the table. “To work then!”
She degenerated into a fit of coughing and spat a wad of yellow mucus onto the floor, cuffing the plegm from her face with a crusty sleeve.
With a rusted knife she carved the three circles of her patron Nor-Khl of the Wild into the rotted wood of the desk and placed the head in the center of the carving. She let out a throaty giggle as she worked before beginning to chant in the dark tongue, calling upon a demon to gift her with sight.
As she reached the end of the first part of the chant, she swiftly un-stoppered the bottle of blood and took a long drought of the cloying liquid, spraying it out between her lips to form a mist in the air and coat the head in a film of blood.
She began to gesture frantically, yelling the guttural sounds of the dark tongue and waving her arms in cursed patterns, sloshing the blood from the bottle across her moldy robes and face as she moved.
Flies rose in a cloud around her, forming three linked circles in the air to mirror the carving on the table and the buzzing became almost overwhelming. As she neared the end of the incantations, screeching above the noise of the flies to beseech her god for aid she suddenly leaned over the head on the table, forcing the mouth open and filling it to the brim with blood from the bottle before pouring the rest over the carving on the table.
There was immediate silence. No buzzing of flies, no croaking toads in the marsh outside. A bird crashed out of the sky, thumping into the sodden grass outside the hut and dead fish floated to the surface of the nearby discoloured lake. Frida leaned over the head, her breath rasping in her throat at her exertions and pressed her ear close to the dead lips.
“My Lord, Are you there?” She whispered, cradling the rotting head.
A minute passed. Then another. A smell of mortal decay filled the small hut, tinged with the aroma of blood and rancid milk.
Suddenly the decapitated head coughed and Frida smiled. She straightened up and clasped her hands before her. She spent some time flicking her matted hair from her face like a distinguished lady preparing to receive a visit from an eligible suitor, before looking back at the head in the pool of blood on the table.
One cloudy eye turned in its socket and fixed it's gaze upon Frida before the head coughed again, a huge clot of blackened blood bubbling out of the mouth and sliding down it's cheek to settle on the table.
“I am here.” It gurgled, a foam of blood dribbling from one nostril.
“You are most welcome my Lord,” Frida cooed, giggling like a lady in waiting sharing a secret with a friend. “I have need of your help.”
“The price?” The head rasped as a maggot wriggled out of its flesh to drop to the table.
“A sorcerer would offer himself as a vessel for your majesty. You could join him in the mortal realm when he completes the ritual. There are also five souls to devour, an Elf, a Dwarf and three southlanders.”
“I know of whom you speak. Other demons have told me of their prowess” The head said, blinking the one eye that watched her. “It is no simple matter to find such lost souls.”
“There is one who burns with faith.” Frida urged, suddenly animated. “His soul is like a beacon of flame. He can be found, and where he is the others will be there also.”
“It will burn to look upon such a man.” The head argued.
“Only a split second my Lord, to know where he is. Nothing more.”
The head sat in silence for a moment as the maggot squirmed in the pool of blood.
“Enough of your pleadings witch, I will find him.”
The head closed it's eye and the room suddenly darkened. Frida winced as the flies rose in a huge cloud and her ears crackled with unknown snippets of diabolical languages. She put her head in her hands and began to scream as her mind was slowly assaulted by the unknowable knowledge of the realm of chaos. Frida screamed louder, all the agony and wonder of the immortal realm stretching her sanity to breaking point.
Just as she thought she was about to lose her mind forever, the sensation dulled. The rasping voices in her ears faded and the room returned to normal. When she regained her composure she saw the single eye staring at her.
“He is here.” The head rasped.
“What?” Frida stammered, “My Lord I don't understand.”
“He comes now. He comes for you.”
Panic lanced through Frida as she plucked at the rank sleeve of her robes. “What will happen?” She asked frantically.
“The walls will be breached. Chosen warriors will die. Bodvarr will die.”
“No!” Frida yelped, “It cannot be. What am I to do?” She shrieked at the head.
The eye swiveled to look at her and somehow conveyed a look of absolute contempt for the witch as it growled one word.
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