Into the Heart of Darkness

The Voice of Morkinhall

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Abacus awoke from deep slumber in his sinus-sarcophagus. He slowly forced his mind to exit his simulus-dream and opened his eyes to the real world. His body was suspended a couple of yards above the floor of his chamber and his obese torso was embedded in the sarcophagus by an array of cables protruding from his synthetic spine. He was engulfed by sinus-liquid inside the egg-shaped glass bubble, covering the majority of his huge bulk except his flappy arms and legs. A signalling rune made him aware of someone knocking on his chamber-door. He moved his hand along the outer surface of the convex globe and turned on the touch-screen. A wealth of information, measurements and graphs were made available on the glass and Abacus raised his head to skim it. He calculated and analysed all the data, then activated the omnisphere in the hall way. The picture showed a Household Squire and two Yomen outside his chamber-door. He zoomed in on the tattooed insignia on the squire´s left temple. The rune was that of the High Voice of Morkinhall Saga, and rider of the King´s Hand, Scion Eufemia. Obviously, they wanted his attention.

Abacus looked to his left, stretched out his arm and opened his clenched fist. The bionics in his palm ignited and a gravitational pull was established between his fingers and his Lexxian Mark of Office, the mighty Phonomacron. The iron staff, with a head of megaphones powered by archaic machine-spirits, soared from its rack and into Abacus´ open hand. Several cables hanging from joints in his arm connected to the device. A hose suspended from a portable power-source also connected to the Phonomacron. It had a mouthpiece in the opposite end, similar to a mouth-covering re-breather that was inside the glass bubble. It slithered its way through the sinus-liquid and connected to the Archmagos´ face. The great irony of the powerful orator Abacus, the Voice of Lexx, was that he physically lacked a mouth and vocal-cord and needed the Phonomacron to be able to speak. With his Mark of Office firmly in his hand, he tapped the head three times against the outer glass surface and turned it on. A powerful feed-back soared through the room, as the digital machine-spirits reached out from it and sought devices to connect with. They skimmed the air like sharks in bloody water, homed in on every piece of technology in the vicinity and established a two-way communications-link. In this instance, the machine spirits immediately hacked the voice-recorder in the omnisphere in the hall-way, the Yomen´s internal encrypted comms-network and the digital communicator in the Squire´s belt. The feedback made the Yomen twitch a bit, but the Squire of the King´s Hand kept his calm. He seemed to be used to the way the Lexx Supreme chose to communicate.

The Squire, knowing that the feedback signalled that Abacus was listening, spoke the formal phrases common to all Morkins: “I represent the Voice of the King´s Hand! Hear me, King Jotun!” A moment passed and then a monotonous voice, relatively jolly-sounding, but also quite disturbing, echoed form different sources. “.. Lexx will hear you, Errand Runner!” With those two greetings, the board was set and the great game of intrigue commenced. The proud Squire refused to use the respected title Lexx Supreme when addressing Abacus, and instead chose a diminutive form. The expression King Jotun, meaning “Troll-king”, referred to him being the master of the automatons that came from the Machine-world Lexx. The expression was seldom used around the King´s table, but certain Scions, particularly those of the Jorsal Saga, tended to use it when they addressed the Archmagos out of session. The Squire clearly sought to establish the rank of Lexx as a vassal of House Morkin, and the Archmagos as little more than a master of mindless machines. Abacus spoke in kind, refusing to acknowledge the envoy of the King´s Hand, the most notable knight present, as even having a Voice (something only a Scion could demand). He used the least respected term of “Squire”, namely Errand Runner, which denoted “apprentice”, and even chose to hold back the title. This was to establish that the one demanding Abacus´ attention was unworthy and not a Scion yet.

“The High Voice of the Morkinhall Saga summons you. The King´s table is set, and the Sagas present will agree on the next chapter that is to be sung. The High Voice asks for unanimity, and that all the Sagas join in leaving the Prasada to pursue the forces of the Foreign Empire to Gorydia and, from there, press them out of the Constellation.” The Squire raised his chin and spoke confidently. “So say we all!” The tone of his voice demanded compliance, and had a hint of contempt in it. Abacus processed the information. If the “Ginnungdal” was to pull anchor and leave the Prasada, there would be nothing to keep the Technarcs of Kovir to loosen the tight leech Lexx had spent generations establishing. They could even be so bold as to cut their contact with the once and mighty Forge World, and in the process refuse to be a Vassal of House Morkin. The region would certainly be open and ripe for the picking. The presence House Morkin had at the Prasada was imperative. How utterly typical, he thought, that the Knights of Morkin valued honour and fleeting reputation above sane strategy and logic. What would come of this region if the House refused to strengthen its grip on the assets it had within reach? He answered: “Lexx will lend an ear, but will raise its Voice. So shall Jotungard and Grimheim!” With this, Abacus signalled that he refused to agree on the common notion that Jotungard, the prime forge on Cydonia, included what was left of Lexx. He also implied that he would hear the proposal, but at the same time raise voices against it. Although the Voice of Morkinhall was a commanding one, it was still malleable and open to suggestion, especially if the High Voice of the Cydonian Forge agreed with him.

The Squire heard the opposition in Abacus´ words and concluded the short conversation with the following challenge: “.. Hear your words, Morkinhall shall. Listening, on the other hand, will demand more than an oiled tongue from your part!” A satisfied smirk fell on the Squire´s face, he turned on his heal and, with a gest of his hand, ordered his lackeys to follow him. Their footsteps were followed by Abacus´ voice: “Prepare your Mistress for my arrival, Errand Runner. Lexx lives to serve the noble House of the Morkin Saga.” The pacing of the Squire told Abacus that he had heard the insult and was working hard not to be publicly offended by it. If Abacus could smile, he would. He instead jollied himself with a little rhyme while he programmed the sarcophagus to open so that he could prepare for a session at the King´s Table.

Run along, little scribbling squirreling
Hastily to your Lord with your squabbling
While Lexx now serves you like a hore
In the future, this will happen nevermore

The Sarcophagus was lowered so that Abacus´ fat feet touched the floor. The glass-bubble surrounding his body opened, spilling the Sinus-liquid all over. It first lay in a huge puddle, and then slowly ran in geometric streams along the spilling canals in the chamber, before disappearing completely. His huge, naked body was soaked and, while Abacus stood with his Phonomacron in hand, four servitors came from their compartments. One dried him up, another put on his robes and a third fastened his portable power-source and servo-harness. When all was ready, the fourth approached him with a conical hat and lowered it over his head and face, like a king would receive a crown. Abacus wiggled his toes on the floor, moved over to the door, opened it and left his chamber. The only sound that echoed down the hallway was the firm tapping of his Mark of Office. Abacus was confident that someone present at the King´s Table was going to listen to him. If not, the victory House Morkin had achieved after the Storming of the Prasada would quickly turn to ashes in their hands.

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