Zavant by Black Library

Zavant by Black Library

Author:Black Library
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: General Fiction
Published: 2011-05-14T16:00:00+00:00

'Has the cadaver been moved or disturbed?' asked Zavant Konniger with trademark curtness. Standing in the doorway, he had taken in the scene beyond with a single, dispassion­ate glance.

'Not... not to my knowledge,' the high priest answered hesitatingly. A thin, nervous man, it was common knowl­edge that he owed his prestigious rank as head of the scriptorium at the main cathedral of Sigmar more to his fam­ily's political connections than to any real abilities of his own. Another idiot younger son of some ancient and hon­ourable aristocratic clan, Konniger sighed; the Church was full of such men, especially here at its centre of power in

Altdorf. With the barest nod of polite acknowledgement to the priest, Konniger knelt down to begin his inspection of the corpse. He knew that the figure of the venerable old Comnenus standing silentiy nearby was the true source of authority in the place.

Blanching slightly, Vido moved forward to join his master, bringing the box of instruments and materials that the sage- detective might need in his work.

It was as if some great hand had picked up the corpse and twisted it, remaking its form, altering and reshaping the body as if it were nothing more than a child's wax doll.

The body was that of a human male in his late middle years: the unfortunate Brother Vallus, Vido guessed. His back was arched at an impossible angle that must have agonis­ingly wrenched and broken every bone in his spine. His limbs were stiffened and wracked in equally improbable positions, his death-frozen hands clawing at the air in a pose of unmistakable and perpetual agony. His priestly vestments were ripped apart, claw wounds striping the flesh of his face and torso. Bloody marks on the corpse's head showed where parts of its hair and scalp had been torn away.

The dead man's face was a frozen mask of pain and fear, his glassy-eyed gaze fixed eternally on some great and unknowing terror. His jaw was dislocated, and his mouth hung open inhumanly wide to reveal the gruesome mess within. Vido had seen a mouth with its tongue ripped out once before; it was not a sight that he relished seeing again.

The room - a typical scribe's cell - had been wrecked, its few modest furnishings smashed. There were clear signs that a violent and bloody struggle had taken place: blood splashes on the walls; more of the strange claw marks gouged into the surface of the wood flooring, all mixed with a crushed and trampled carpet of ripped parchment pages, smashed glass and earthenware jars and botdes, and the spilled powdered and herbal contents of the broken containers.

Konniger conducted his examination without any pream­ble or show of human emotion. Occasionally, he would murmur something inaudible or direct Vido to hand him certain instruments to aid him in his work. At one point, he used a curious lens device to inspect the torn flesh of the corpse's fingertips and the marks scored into its skin, as well

as the flooring; at


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