Atami frowned slightly and a near by servant moved, sluggishly to stoke the fires within the newly made greenhouse. Atami nodded, absentmindedly, to the servant and returned to lounging in his sedan chair and watching winter’s slow march forward. Everything was so…dead. Shanri was cruel and her winters were crueler still. It was good to have his expectations challenged, those who are not paying attention or those who are too settled die too quickly to make a mark on this world. Surprise keeps one sharp. Still, being surprised by the viciousness of winter wasn’t entirely what he’d wanted. Winter couldn’t be avoided, dealt with or murdered.
The sound of a throat clearing behind him brought Atami from his reverie about the nature of Shanri and his own people. “My Lord, I apologize but I must say it again.” Came the voice of the Seneschal of these lands. Atami smiled to himself, glad that someone here could play the caring figure, the one his people could come to when they had things to discuss and problems to solve. Atami’s smile faded just a tinge as without turning he responded, “Yes, I know. Keep going. We will not change course just yet.” There was the creak of clothing that indicated a bow and then the sounds of the door opening and the slightly cold gust of wind as his Seneschal left. There was some disapproval, building as winter was coming was already not something one did ‘normally’, but this particular project held some more significant negatives attached. Still, his people were up to the challenge. The greenhouses were built and Atami now could stay out here as long as he wished, even with the heat of the fires to keep him warm.
The Seneschal had issue with the increase in Spice required to keep the other servants in line. Many had issue with obeying orders of this kind, and Atami frankly understood that. The answer was floggings….or Spice. Everyone at the greenhouses had that sluggish look…that vacant stare. The spice was slowly devouring their minds. None here would live long. This was the issue the Seneschal had brought up constantly. He was trying to take care of Atami’s things, so the young lord could not be angry with him, but the constant nagging would eventually become annoying. Atami made his mind up to go round up some Orks for these kind of tasks in the future. His Seneschal was capable and killing him would not do right now, even if he was annoying. He sipped his wine and made a mental note to himself to speak about taking some Orks from the Wildlands he was to visit in Spring.
Everything was coming together so well… The food here was by necessity the cold finger food sort. He wasn’t at his manner house after all. This was the middle of his woods. More wine was brought and Atami looked to his Apothecary. The man had bags under his eyes and a haunted look in them. Still, he checked. Finding nothing, and nodding to Atami that all was well. Atami began on the new bottle with vigor. This was quite boring in a way. After all the fuss, once all the issues were dealt with…it became mundane. Lacking. Atami sighed and stood. “We will return to the Manor.” Relief flooded the face of the Apothecary. He disliked this place, Atami’s pet project. They made their way to his Carriage and left into the snow filled night. Behind him, servants, fed on Spice and kept in line by guards kept on their task. Feeding the Ven tied to the trees to stretch and be torn apart as the trees grew at their slow pace. Keeping them warm…and alive. Atami’s orders would be kept. They would not die from exposure, nor starvation or thirst. They would be stretched until their bones broke…their blood flowed and regret clawed their minds out of the semblance of sanity.
All through the night, the moans of the slowly tortured filled the air, as Ven were kept alive and slowly made to regret their every choice more and more until there were no men left, just beasts screaming their horror to the skies, and the mindless caring for them and keeping them there. Hidden by the snow and the silence of the deepest Winter.
The darkness used as the robes of a murderer given time to practice his art.