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Fic for (I’m sorry. I’m so, so, so, sorry.) Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. Spoilers for The Game of Kings only, since some people on my flist are reading the rest of the series now. Rating PG-ish.

Oh, I’ll be going to the very special literary hell for this.

The abridged tale of Francis Crawford of Lymond, the (Zombie) Master of Culter

"Lymond is back."

The news spread quickly in taverns and inns and castles. Sometimes the name was said with disgust, sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with contempt. "Lymond is back," each man would say, and then lower his voice. "Though what I mean by that is, his reanimated corpse."

People speculated about Lymond’s intentions. Some claimed that Lymond had come back to dispose of his brother Richard, but cooler heads pointed out that even if Richard were dead, Lymond could not inherit legally while he was wanted for treason. When some suggested that judgment could be reversed, the cooler heads added acidly, "Also, he’s undead."

Lymond himself settled into outlawry as if born to it, running his band with a firm hand and a sharp tongue--though admittedly his tongue would sometimes fall out in the middle of a multilingual diatribe. As his new follower Will Scott found out, a man picking up his own tongue off the ground isn’t intimidating, but the threat of brain-eating will keep even the roughest outlaw in check. Scott settled into the camp after an unnerving initial interview with Lymond, who cast an ironical cornflower blue gaze over him (one eye fell out in the middle of the inspection, and stared piercingly at Scott from the mud) and asked if Scott had perhaps confused his words-that-started-with-zed and was looking for the camp of a zealot, not a zombie, before accepting him.

Scott learned many things at the camp--swordplay, wrestling, cards, superhuman control over his olfactory senses--as well as the fact that a drunk Lymond was to be avoided, and a hungry Lymond was even worse. When Lymond went around murmuring, "Les cerveaux! Les cerveaaaaaaaaaaaaaux!" and declaiming extemporaneous poetry about red-haired men and the quality of their brains, it was best to run away quickly until Turkey Mat could procure some nice cow’s brains (or maybe they were Englishmens’ brains...it was never quite made clear to Scott) from a nearby farm.

Many events transpired that year, most of them proving that the (Zombie) Master of Culter was so obviously superior to the rest of mankind that, even zombiefied, he still possessed the quickest wits in Scotland. And England. And the rest of the civilized world. Lord Grey would forever bear the scar of being duped--and of course in retrospect, it was obvious that the Spanish captain had been an impostor, and that the smell that Grey had taken for tar and poor hygiene had been the stench of death. The mutterings of, "¡Los cerebros! ¡Los cerebros!" should have been a hint that something was askew, but Grey had assumed that the man was decrying his own lack of brains, not proclaiming his dietary requirements.

Lymond’s cleverness could not forestall some events, however. Scott’s nose adapted to Lymond’s presence, but his conscience grew more outraged. After Lymond had treated two women with egregious cruelty, Will could no longer stand by--oh, Lymond claimed he’d never had intentions on Mariotta’s brains ("As that witless fool doesn’t have any") or body, but that was obviously just a front. Will had seen him with Margaret Lennox and would not soon forget Lymond’s ruthlessness in his dealings with her, the way that Lymond had pulled her close to gather information from her with honeyed words before pushing her away violently, leaving a finger tangled in her hair.

Thus Scott betrayed him and Lymond ended up in chains, where he atypically fell silent, a mysterious circumstance that was only explained when Christian Stewart came running up, exclaiming in exasperation, "You fool! Did you think I only recognized you by your voice? I recognize you by your stink!"

Lymond escaped and made his way to England, and Tom Erskine and his brother followed him until they found him in Gideon Somerville’s house and the confrontation between Richard and his younger, brilliant, wayward, zombified brother came to a head. The two men fought, while the other men watched with admiration. Culter was a known master of the art, worth seeing under any terms, but now they saw what the (Zombie) Master of Culter could do when pressed. He was brilliant with the short sword, which Culter clearly had to take into account, and he also had a knack for wafting his smell offensively into Richard’s nostrils. After the English spy escaped, Lymond went on the offensive. Culter sliced into his side--followed up with a blow at his brother’s forearm--and the men gasped as Lymond’s wrist and hand, still holding the shorter blade, fell to the ground. (The blade clattered. The wrist and hand more...squished.) Thrust, parry, recovery, feint...in a quick move, Lymond ducked close to the ground and his hand, still clutching the blade, leapt up to reattach itself. But now the men saw what Lymond did not, that he was being maneuvered into the soft pack, and then he reached it, and then he tripped--

Richard’s blade fell to cleave that fair, unsettled head, and met a crucifix of steel.

("Shouldn’t he be dissolving?" hissed one man at the back, and his neighbor hissed in return, "That’s *vampires*, you idiot!")

Lymond leapt out the window, yelling, "If you can’t lead, follow!" They did follow, of course--he was shedding skin as he raced across the ground on horseback, leaving quite a recognizable trail. Tom Erskine followed him and saved him, and brought him back to the dovecote. "We can’t take him back with us--he's crumbling to pieces!" Erskine insisted. Richard, thirsting for vengeance, stayed to tend his younger brother.

Revelations ensued. (One of those was the revelation that it’s very, very difficult to decapitate oneself unless one has a guillotine; the suicidal zombie really does need to plan ahead.) Reconciled, they began to return to Scotland.

It was a slow journey, as they no longer had a horse due to...certain circumstances. Fish don’t have much in the way of brains, and neither do birds. Francis had required sustenance, and Richard was willing to sacrifice many things, but not his skull, which led to...suffice it to say, it was a long journey, and upon their return, they were captured.

Fortunately, while lawyers and advocates were still debating the legal status of zombies and the statute of limitations for treason ("Doesn’t it end with someone’s death?" "Clearly. But there are no provisions in the law for someone’s undeath!" "That’s an oversight." "Yes."), Will Scott produced evidence that revealed Lymond’s innocence. Lymond was stunned and could barely speak. Reduced to English, he could only manage a gentle murmur of, "Brains. Braaaaaaaaaaains," and a...really very gentle...nibble on Will’s hair before he recovered himself.

And they all lived (or unlived) happily ever after.



( 73 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 29th, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC)
I love you.

I am fairly certain that Suela will love you more, however.
Oct. 29th, 2004 02:11 pm (UTC)
Heh. Thanks. It was fun.

Suela will either love me more or kill me. Hard to say ;)
Oct. 29th, 2004 02:01 pm (UTC)
Ahhhhh! I began to squeal with laughter here: "Lymond is back," each man would say, and then lower his voice. "Though what I mean by that is, his reanimated corpse." And now that I've reached the end, I'm still squealing with laughter. I adore your spicy brains.
Oct. 29th, 2004 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It was a blast to write.

>I adore your spicy brains.<

Heh. That compliment has never been more apropos. :eyes vaznetti for signs of zombie-ism:
Oct. 29th, 2004 02:06 pm (UTC)
This would have been even better with numerous long-winded digressions, hinting in-jokes requiring a knowledge of Latin and much more quoting from foreign languages, but ...

Oct. 29th, 2004 02:13 pm (UTC)
I know; I am *so sad* that I did not know any 16th century poetry about brains. Sigh.

Glad it amused :)
Oct. 29th, 2004 02:25 pm (UTC)
"Les cerveaux! Les cerveaaaaaaaaaaaaaux!"

Dying. Here. ::thud::
Oct. 29th, 2004 02:51 pm (UTC)
Hee! That was my favorite part.

>Dying. Here. ::thud::<

:reanimates you as zombie:
Oct. 29th, 2004 04:24 pm (UTC)
You're sick! Sick! :)

*waits anxiously for Queen's Play*
Oct. 29th, 2004 04:51 pm (UTC)
:hangs head in shame: I know. *g*

I think I'm Lymonded-out, but feel free to do Queen's Play yourself if you want. And thanks for the feedback.

Oct. 29th, 2004 04:32 pm (UTC)
That was *awesome.*
Oct. 29th, 2004 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)

Aw, that's a cute icon.
(no subject) - kate_nepveu - Oct. 29th, 2004 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2004 04:50 pm (UTC)
bwahahaha! too funny. *veg*
Oct. 29th, 2004 04:51 pm (UTC)

My brain scares me sometimes.
(no subject) - jenlev - Oct. 29th, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC)
words that start with zed!
... I think my neighbors fear I've been murdered. Because there was shrieking. "Oh my god! Los Cerebros! Oh my god! WHeeeee! Oh my god! Bwahahahaha!"

I love you more than chocolate. More than the sneaky 5.10d in the corner of the back wall. More than the line, "I apologize for the faint odor of fish."

More than Jack O'Neill barefoot.




::clutches story to her chest, goes off to climb, chortling happily::

Oct. 29th, 2004 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: words that start with zed!
Yay, you liked it! Since you introduced me to Lymond and started this ficathon, I was hoping you would :)

>More than Jack O'Neill barefoot.<

Oooh, wow. That is high praise *g*

:sneaks away barefoot Jack O'Neill while you're distracted:
Re: words that start with zed! - cofax7 - Oct. 29th, 2004 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: words that start with zed! - minnow1212 - Oct. 30th, 2004 06:47 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2004 07:04 pm (UTC)
You are an evil demon of a woman and I do love you. Oh MY. The concept alone makes me sputter happily.

I'm done with Queen's Play! I am!
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:47 am (UTC)
Thanks. And WOOO! So happy you're reading these :)
Oct. 29th, 2004 07:27 pm (UTC)
As his new follower Will Scott found out, a man picking up his own tongue off the ground isn’t intimidating, but the threat of brain-eating will keep even the roughest outlaw in check.

There are no words for how much I adore you.
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:48 am (UTC)
Yay, glad you liked! Thanks.
Oct. 29th, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC)
I love you more than braaaaains.

Oct. 30th, 2004 06:51 am (UTC)
Many thanks :)
Oct. 29th, 2004 08:38 pm (UTC)
I love you *so much*. I've needed this for years.
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:51 am (UTC)
Happy to fill a need :)

(Deleted comment)
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:51 am (UTC)
Woo! Company in Literary Hell!

Oct. 29th, 2004 09:27 pm (UTC)
You are evil, evil, evil.

"We loved his . . . brains."

Waiting for the next one (and maybe someone will finally explain to me what the three lessons are....)
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:52 am (UTC)

I doubt I'll do Queen's Play, though. I think I'm out of stink/brains/rotting flesh jokes :g*
(no subject) - badgermirlacca - Oct. 30th, 2004 04:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - minnow1212 - Oct. 31st, 2004 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2004 10:04 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, you made me laugh until I cried! I still can't control myself!

and a...really very gentle...nibble on Will’s hair

*falls on the floor, laughing helplessly*

I finished The Game of Kings just over a week ago! What timing I have!

Los cerebros!
Oct. 29th, 2004 10:47 pm (UTC)
Los cerebros!


(no subject) - minnow1212 - Oct. 30th, 2004 06:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2004 11:33 pm (UTC)
It was years later before Philippa forgave him for interrogating picking her family's brains.

"Is there no God who looks after little brains?" - Kate Somerville, GoK p224.
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:53 am (UTC)
>It was years later before Philippa forgave him for interrogating picking her family's brains.<


Oh, most excellent.
(no subject) - brightly_woven - Jan. 2nd, 2007 05:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - minnow1212 - Jan. 6th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 30th, 2004 12:19 am (UTC)
Owwwww owww owww my stomach hurts because I've been laughing so hard. And the boy is looking at me like I'm insane.

Particularly loved:
"(The blade clattered. The wrist and hand more...squished.)"
"Richard’s blade fell to cleave that fair, unsettled head, and met a crucifix of steel.

("Shouldn’t he be dissolving?" hissed one man at the back, and his neighbor hissed in return, "That’s *vampires*, you idiot!")"

And.. oh it's too hard, this is priceless.
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)
:does happy dance of making oyceter laugh:

Thanks :)
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:51 am (UTC)
Thank you, this is brilliant. Chess is a terribly cerebral sort of game.
Oct. 30th, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)
Thank you for commenting.

>Chess is a terribly cerebral sort of game.<

Oct. 30th, 2004 09:26 am (UTC)

Thank you. This is wonderful.
Oct. 31st, 2004 04:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 31st, 2004 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Languish locked in literary L
Thank you!

>Languish locked in literary L<

Oct. 31st, 2004 12:50 am (UTC)
This is absolutely brilliant. I love Dunnett's writing but am not a true believer in the Wonderfullness of Francis Crawford. You've done a great job of combining zombies and a perfect satire on "The Game of Kings." Are you on any of the Dunnett lists? If so, I'll keep an eye out for your posts because this is great!

namaste SF Nancy
Oct. 31st, 2004 04:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!

I love Francis, actually. Truly, I do. But I would never ever ever want to live with him. Or near him. Or in the same country as him.

I'm not on any of the Dunnett lists, I'm afraid. For one thing, I haven't read Niccolo yet--although I finally got my own copy of Niccolo Rising, so I can read it without having to hurry through it and return to the library.
Oct. 31st, 2004 06:51 am (UTC)
*falls over laughing*

I can only echo the cries of "Brilliant, brilliant!"
Oct. 31st, 2004 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thank you!
Jun. 18th, 2005 10:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, my dear god, I have no idea who you are, but this is a.) hysterically funny, and b.) the only Lymond fanfic I have ever seen, and c.) given the source material, probably the only kind of Lymond fanfic that could ever really work. Wow.
Jun. 19th, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC)
:waves hello:

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

I don't think I could attempt straight Lymond fanfic--I don't know nearly enough languages for it! *g*
Oct. 24th, 2005 09:46 pm (UTC)
I had had a hard week and was sent to read this by oneminutemovies to aid my recovery.

Oh my dear *hugs* [too British to offer to provide you with offspring or even to squee properly but you get the idea].

That really captured the essence of the man.

Oh and I fanficced Dunnett a couple of years ago, though I catered to the lowest common denominator and slashed him with Will - it's almost canonical. Great writer though Dunnett was, there are elements to her work that scream for a little fun to be poked at them.

Oct. 27th, 2005 07:33 pm (UTC)
Hope your week got better :)

And thank you! Lymond--I love him, man, but he's a wee bit high-maintenance, isn't he? Never does a thing easily if he can do it the hard way...
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 16th, 2005 08:37 pm (UTC)
:facepalms: I know! It's *so warped.*

And thank you :)
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