|"The Princes in the Tower" Wiki image|
A historic villain meets the lead characters in the Gastar novellas:
“What’s this?” Said Shevata, as Zermon handed her a scroll.
“I need to be out a while. There’s a new member to our flaming family in Hell who claims to be of special birth, and requests a higher role down here instead of the usual knee high imps of most newcomers.”
“Why should we consider him?” Shevata unrolled the scroll and glanced over it.
“He says he’s innocent of his crime.”
“How did he get here if he were innocent?”
Zermon laughed. “I always thought I was innocent. Didn’t you? Have fun.” He strolled out, leaving Shevata standing in front of the huge fire pit, surrounded by the smooth black terrace well known to be Zermon’s domain. She leaned back on his huge throne, deciding she’d look almost as ridiculous sitting on it as she does doing his job anyway; his prisoner now judging people after death to what level of torment they deserve.
A pair of imps brought forward a young man appearing to be in his thirties, richly dressed. Shevata motioned the demons to leave them.
Opening the scroll again, she said, “So you’re Richard Plantagenet?”
“King Richard III.” He said.
Shevata said, “Where is Plantagenet?”
“It’s my family name. I’m from England, fifteenth century.” He said.
“Zermon ripped apart the last man brought here from the fifteenth century. He name was Vlad. Was he a friend of yours?”
“Absolutely not.” Said Richard.
Shevata rolled up the scroll. “State your business then.”
“I was King and I admit to betraying my promise to my brother. I meant to be a guardian so his young son could become King, but I couldn’t make it work. I had his marriage declared invalid, his children made bastards, and I became King.”
“Betrayal is usual business of Kings and doesn’t get you burned in hell fire.” Said Shevata. “Go on.”
“His sons, my nephews disappeared after I became King. A pair of innocent boys are missing and everyone thinks I killed them.” He said.
Shevata’s face went blank. “What happened to them?” She said after staring at him a few minutes.
“If I knew, I wouldn’t be here.” He said.
“This is not a place for lies.” Said Shevata, tossing the scroll into the flames. He turned to look with horror as the voices below howled with pain and torment. “I can make it easier for you. If kill you in this early afterlife they can’t tear your soul apart slowly over time. Zermon won’t give you this offer.”
He looked at her once, then jumped into the flames. She winced as she heard the horrific process of soul changing begin. In time he will rise as a lower demon, one of Zermon’s brainless underlings.
Zermon returned. “What did you think of him?”
Shevata said, “I thought he was guilty.”
“So you pushed him?”
“He jumped. Nothing pulls people down here like ill deeds cloaked with good intentions. As tragic as it is, the victims are the boys, not Richard."