I entered the room, it seemed such a cold & clinical place, sterile almost. I don’t know quite what I was expecting, certainly not the comfy chairs & soft cushions of the Spanish Inquisition (Monty Python fans will understand that) but the place seemed so harsh, a simple table in the middle of the room, a chair presumably for myself, fluorescent strip lights in the high ceiling compensating even now in the middle of the day for the little light coming in from a small frosted glass window high up in one of the white-washed walls, beige floor tiles oh & the small matter of another chair occupied by a Mr Severin Frost.
Until gently prodded in my arm by a guard, I hadn’t realized that I had stopped dead in my tracks. I looked to my right from where the nudge had come from, the guard stared at me but with a gesture in his eyes that seemed to say “fold or bet buddy? are you in or out?” I really don’t know how long I’d been rooted to the spot, probably just a matter of seconds but clearly it had been sufficient time for it to be an unasked question. I took a deep breath & puffed out my chest, putting one shaky foot in front of the other, Yes I’m going forward, I’m going to do this, I have to do this!
As I’d entered the room, he had been looking up at the small window to his left, he looked as if his mind was elsewhere (and who knows where or even who his mind was with!!), light reflected down to shine on his seemingly freshly shaved scalp, he was motionless, he wore black jeans & boots & a spotlessly clean & laundered white shirt, though this didn’t hide the muscularity beneath, power & malevolence practically oozed from every pore. Not really as I’d imagined at all, I expected something from Guantanamo Bay if I’m honest grueheads! I knew from reading of him in “….Of Tortured Faustian Slumbers” that he wore standard issue prison (sorry, Hoffman Institute) uniform but it seemed he’d been given a makeover, I must admit I felt a little flattered if this was for my visit.
I approached the chair opposite him and the door was closed behind us, the guards positioned themselves either side of me as I stood, awaiting his invitation. I felt like a guest, not welcomed as such but at least I knew that I wasn’t an uninvited guest. I opened my mouth to speak, what I was going to say I didn’t know (a simple ‘Hello’ seemed stupid somehow) however it seemed he knew that I was about to speak despite his seeming obliviousness to me, he broke the silence (though the pounding of my heart seemed audible enough to me, I thought we all heard it).
He turned his head slowly to look at me, he stared deep into my eyes & I couldn’t look away, then he seemed to survey me, looking me up & down for what seemed like an eternity. Now grueheads, I’m not a small guy, I’m 6’2” & in pretty decent shape but I was dwarfed by those security guys, Frost remained seated but I know from C. William Giles book that he was also a big motherfucker. For some reason I felt that he was viewing me as a specimen, seeing if I was worthy as a man to be in his presence, again I felt myself unconsciously straightening to my full height, sucking in my gut (not too big, honestly) & puffing out my chest. Looking back it reminds me of scenes from movies set in ancient Rome, there always seemed to be a slave auction, that is how I felt, like a prospective slave trying to be sold to a good home rather than be sent to the Coliseum!!
I swear Brothers & Sisters of Grue that as he watched me, he tilted his head to the side, immediately I looked to his left to view nothing, I don’t know what I was expecting to see but I could feel he was cocking his ear to someone, someone or something whispering in his ear, then a slight smile creased his lips, which was emphasized by the goatee beard of dark yet greying bristle. A chill ran down my spine and my legs took on a jelly like quality as he seemed to share a joke with no-one, or someone or something!
“So” his deep voice seemed to echo in this room “You are the infamous Crimson Quill are you?”
I’d never thought of myself as infamous but it was proof to me that he did indeed know of me, though how much I would try to determine soon.
“I……I…..erm….” came my assured response as I stood there shaking
“Hmm, I think you should sit down before you fall down”
“Erm …..thank you Mr Frost, I mean Sir, I mean….”
“Severin will do for now” he uttered, again I felt honoured to be allowed to be on first name terms with this man. I knew from his exploits that he was a monster but also he was known to be an intelligent & well read businessman, philanthropist & patron of the arts, however things had changed for Mr Frost yet no-one knew why. I didn’t expect him to be sat there covered in blood wearing a butchers apron but I was still taken aback by the erudite beast before me…….
In Darkness & Fire