Torgo (Part 3)

The Witch Queen normally used powerful illusions to project herself as a young, vibrant, and excruciatingly beautiful woman. This was because she wanted on general principle to be viewed with either desire or envy as it more easily enabled her to manipulate the mortals she had regular interactions with. Her most powerful illusion was one which required no magic at all, and that was her careful machinations that made her subjects believe that she was a kind and caring sovereign who had no other thoughts than their goodwill. But this was only a ruse. No lich cared about the living to any real degree other than how the living could enrich the maniacal designs of the undead sorcerer that kept them like livestock. If this illusion wasn’t achieving its goals then it would be discarded just like the mortals it was meant to trick.

In this particular instance the Witch Queen had made a decision not to employ magic to disguise her true form. Having been informed by her inquisitors that the remaining prisoner from the shipwrecked pirate crew had provided no satisfactory answers about where her precious statue had been taken to, she decided to visit with the doomed prisoner personally. The inquisitors had been thorough beyond even what they were conditioned to be in the many days long interrogation of the wretched man known as Torgo. They had relayed with precision the exact wording of their questions and in detail his tortured responses. The Witch Queen had gone over these conversations in detail over and over again searching for what might have been missed. Any enchantress worth her salt could tell you that the greatest display of wisdom was in knowing what to ask in order to get the information one truly needed to hear. But even the Witch Queen wasn’t sure that anything had been missed. As she made her way silently through the dungeons of her primary palace she pondered it some more until at last she arrived at where the doomed man was kept.

By this time Torgo had been placed in a metal cage, suspended by a long chain in the center of the main torture room. The cage was small, barely adequate for the man to curl up in in the fetal position, and that was if he had full control of his limbs, which he no longer did. Many of his bones had been shattered and he now existed in an almost unbearable state of pain. As she neared the area that the cage hung over, the Witch Queen made a subtle motion with her hand and the chain began to lower the cage to a level where she could look down upon her suffering guest. The inquisitors stood along the walls of the chamber and hungrily awaited the fresh delivery of torment upon Torgo’s wrecked and bloodied person.

Ignoring his moans of anguish, the Witch Queen looked at the poor man in the cage. He could scarcely make her out through his bruised and swollen eyes, but all he could determine was that this had to be his ending. The lich was clothed in regal scarlet and bright orange robes, her hands and face hardly more than mummified skin stretched tightly over sharp bones. Pinpoints of orange light burned in her eye sockets, and on her head she wore a crown of gold fashioned in a most elegant and almost elvish design. Her long white hair was braided carefully but Torgo couldn’t see it all from this vantage point. He only wanted this to end.

Holding her skeletal hands clasped in front of her, the Witch Queen said in her melodic voice, “I am not prone to mercy. You no doubt understand that by now. I have not gotten the answers from you that I want. I need you to explain to me why that is.”

Torgo closed his eyes and said weakly, “I have answered the questions. If you do not like the answers, then find new questions.”

The Witch Queen growled and replied, “Insolent dog! I know it was your ship that was in my harbor the night the statue was stolen. Yet you insist that you know nothing about it!”

Torgo said in a hoarse whisper, “I served Captain Sabre aboard the Blue Skull. We didn’t take no statue, not recently anyhow. Any we did take was months ago and we sold them in port or traded them for gunpowder. I couldn’t even tell you what they were statues of. Men of the sea don’t need statues.”

Using magic to discern the intentions of her captive, the Witch Queen was infuriated and confused to discover that the man spoke the truth. “How is it that you served aboard the Blue Skull when the nameboard of the vessel you were on clearly said Queen Myrtle? An obvious ruse! Why do you refuse to admit it? You were pretending to be somebody else in order to steal the statue!”

Torgo coughed a little bit of blood up as he laughed weakly. “Always easier to believe the one answer you imagined rather than look for the truth, ain’t it?” In pain unfathomable he tried to draw himself more tightly into a ball as he said, “Whoever took your statue knew you’d be looking for them, so they put another nameboard on us. And it worked. You destroyed the Blue Skull and your statue thieves sailed right on away. They be hundreds of miles away by now. And all you got was the joy of killing us.”

Like a key in a lock finding the right tooth to move to unlatch the mechanism, the Witch Queen suddenly realized what must have happened. “Do you know of a ship called the Queen Myrtle?” she asked with an eagerness that she was challenged to hide.

Torgo chuckled softly. “Aye, I do. We all did. She is the bane of our captain. Our orders were to find her and send her and her crew to the bottom of the sea once and for all.”

The Witch Queen’s voice turned to a vile hiss. “Who commands the Queen Myrtle?”

“Captain Divo Zucco.” answered Torgo.