Okay, I’ll get the hang of this eventually. Here’s number three. Same deal as before– original work directly from my fingers. Not edited. Much. But will be done, and in the end we will have a final work. And it will be sold. Copyright Me, but art not necessarily distributed with it in it’s final form.
Emerging from the haze of pain. I heard a gasp, and a keening. The wild eyed creature was astonished by something, gap mouthed, and pale, the tips of her pointy ears deepening to beet red. Then I heard a high ululating cry. The door behind me (I could see though my eyes were closed) shuddered in it’s moorings and exploded softly, as if it were just made of balloon material. Creatures flooded through, looking small and smart on little goaty steeds.
I found myself weeping for no apparent reason. The pain was fading to the point I looked down. The blood was thick on my shirt front, and the creature was screaming, waving her arms in front of her in a weak wristed defensive gesture. The wand seemed frozen in the air, pinned to my chest. There was so much clashing light right in front of my eyes, I couldnt’ tell what was happening. But I was vaguely aware of the beautifully coreographed rescue going on behind me.
Some kind of projectile that exploded into nets rained down on the bright clashing vortex of light in front of me. The nets were also made of black chain, but somehow also serpents. They wrapped themselves around the creatures shape, though she did not look like the humanoid I’d seen before.
I closed my eyes to her confusion, and suddenly I didn’t have to worry about it. But I was still frozen, and could only blink and shiver. The branch was still stuck in the air in front of me, and attached to my arm.
For whatever reason, it was stuck to my solar plexus, sticking out as if it were lodged in quite a ways. But there was too much of it exposed.
The blood had cascaded down from my neck, and had been drawn in around the front of the wand, and now the berries were a livid red of freshly oxygenated blood. A few of the back berries looked like arterial blood. The very thought revolted me and made me nauseous. But dry heaves was all I could do, perhaps because of the enchantment. This caused further pain in my chest for…obvious reasons. I tried to relax.
The two mounted riders rode around her in opposite directions, weaving the bonds ever closer to her feet, or what counted as such. Then, the COM walked up to the result, glared at it through his goggles, and spat on her feet. Then the whole works was cut loose from gravity and lifted into the air.
A gruff voice called out, “seek out the others!” And even more gnomes wound up thundering out onto the deck, probably all out into the property.
COM man walked up to me slowly, then pulled out his mini cigar out from behind his ear, glared at it, and set it alight. He puffed as he examined the creature floating above us. He tilted her this way and that, and she whispered things at him in his own language that he found very amusing indeed. He dismissed her with an unimpressed shrug and walked up to the branch that was still floating in front of me. His expression was entirely otherwise, astonished. He then planted his fists on his hips and spat an oath.
“Phips! We need a wizard. This is serious.”
The Elder Colonel ambled forward, completely ignoring the squabbling, floating creature. He walked up to me, and adjusted his glasses.
He sighed. “They combined…what? Winter and spring? Impossible?!”
COM nodded dolefully. “Thats what I would have said, not 10 minutes ago. So, what are we going to do with it? And why isn’t our new pet human dead? Or at least as far away from the waking lands to count?”
The Colonel shook his head. “Is it… a Gray Walker, you think?”
COM snorted. “As a drow assassin? The Seasons hope not! They hate each other, last I heard.”
“Only for the last several thousand years, give or take.” He said meditatively.
“That’s great, but can you at least make it so I can scratch my nose? My shirt is ruined! Are you just going to leave me this way?! I need some medical attention, STAT!”
COM looked absorbed in an interesting theory. “You are no longer experiencing extreme pain?” he marveled absently.
“It was…beyond bad, for a while. But now, it’s like a bad sunburn, but not even as bad as Poison Ivy.”
The Colonel snorted. “Give it a few, lass.” He said cheerfully.
I paled. “I don’t want to…be this way that long. What do I do if I…have to use the bathroom?”
They both laughed. I wanted to teach them a lesson. I would have punched him given a chance.
“Lass, magic is magic. You just won’t…need to.” he chuckled.
“So, why do I feel the itching on my nose and face?” I asked.
COM sighed with great patience. “That is actually a blessing from the One who protects you. Imagine being ever numb in that state.”
“An unitchable itch is not a blessing. So are you doing anything to release me, or not? So if you need magic done, I know this witch…”
The Colonel shook his head. “No. We need a wizard. Any old creature can do magic. What we need is someone who understands how it works. As talented as the human you know, this is of a different order. It requires a lifetime of training— and a particular nature. It is not of Earth, that is as much as I can say at the moment.”
“Do you think he’ll come?” A third, younger gnome said. Ahh, he was the one who attacked me earlier. The one with the rod. Pencie, was it? He had his trusty weapon strapped to his side, and looked up at me in trepidation. He was now wearing a leather helmet with goggles. They had purple shades he flipped down. His eyes widened as he looked at the object
“Crikes! She’s weirder than I thought.” The little man gasped. I squinted at him as he oggled me…or stuff around me. He sucked at eye-contact. Oh, right. Fligget. I knew him.
COM regarded him suspiciously. “What do you mean?”
“The girl, not the drow. All drows are weird, it’s their nature. This human is… resisting the magic of her own fabric. There’s a blessing, but… that’s not what saved her.” Fligget said.
“Are you a wizard?” I asked.
“No. I’m a once and future mages assistant. I… had this left over from those days.” Fligget hung his head and looked so ashamed I was afraid to ask.
“But do you think a wizard would come for this? They did not come for the Queen’s disappearance.”
COM shrugged. “I tink so. A Queen can dissapear and it can be an ordinary event. This has cosmic consequences, don’t you agree? This is like having endless pizza, jolt, and Star Trek reruns to one of her kind’s wizards. Oh, and a tricksome problem to stroke the mind and ego.” He said, calmly puffing.
“Great. I’m a weird puzzle. That’ll take forever.” I said.
“What are Star Trek reruns?” the other asked him.
“Specific form of Earth entertainment. Pretty pictures, sound and story. All in a little box. All set in mythical place called “space, the final frontier”.”
The other swallowed. “Is it like the Outer Darkness?” he asked.
Pencie laughed. “In a way, except infinite, with a hundred hundred worlds. Like the Tree. Only all the worlds are surrounded by Outer Darkness. So told from a great sailing vessel that travels among them.” He said.
He shivered. “So all is needed is to call them.” Fligget said.
COM nodded. “But we are never sure the message gets through. They can ignore…anything. So a little message, well, doesnt’ always reach ears to hear it.”
I did not need to hear that.
The Colonel returned. “Okay, Fligget, go examine the rest of the scene. Morla was complaining of strange emanations near the bed, as well as near the door. The center of the living room needs another sweep. See if we can secure the sword, but this room is your first priority. Pencie…stop chatting with… her. See to the prisoner. Coordinate the search.” He said, rather unnecessarily. Pencie picked up his COM gear and saluted somewhat ironically. The elder looked away, as if all was in order. Pencie waved at me and started chatting on the mic, issuing supersonic chittering orders.
The elder looked down, and picked up a modern silver looking object. He examined it closely. “Find also what means ‘Sprint’, and what sort of wizardry this is.”
COM laughed. “That, Sir, is a battery. I have found other bits that fit around this one. It’s a communications device, that’s definitely disabled.”
He nodded, put the goggled helmet back on, and started staring around the room. He jumped up on the bed in his light footed way, and walked around. ‘She gated here!” he said. The Elder nodded.
Then he jumped off the foot of the bed and gasped.
“And here… a powerful sorcery— a glamour— was unmade. I see the seeming of a sword, unraveled by… unknown magic I can’t get a trace on.”
The creature started gabbering. I couldn’t understand her at all. Then the crow started cawing, and she was quiet again. The crow stopped not long after. I shivered. All the gnomes stopped. At first I was afraid she’d spelled them all from her tumble of nets and fetters above me.
Then Fligget blinked several times and adjusted his glasses. He muttered another thing in his fast high pitched gnome language.
The Elder sighed. “Fligget, we have guests. Agitated guests whom I actually care about. The drow… well, give it to the wizard as bounty. Wizards like… drow, don’t they?”
Fligget paled.”In a sense, yes. They are… playthings, to a wizard…”
The drow shook and gabbed again, but the language was blurred even from what I’d heard before. I could hear— the alien rhythm of her heart, and feel her fear, like a bug caught in a web, a web built by creatures much weaker than she. Yet she was caught, and she did not know how. It hit me with such pristine clarity, I was jolted when I came out of it, feeling dizzy. Had I not been restrained, I would have fainted. Instead, things were dark, but I was aware of my own breathing, then, I came back to the world, and all the gnomes were looking at me while in huddle formation. That meant heavy thinking was going on.
“I hope he gets here before things get too–” said.
Pencie (COM) slapped a hand over his lips. He squeaked an indignity, then the light got… bright again. I winced. Light was streaming in from the windows that faced the haymow, those that should have been blocked by heavy shades. I realized that the curtains had been pulled off, and the rods were bent and disused in a corner. I was real sharp for noticing things today.
The light then faded, and a small middle aged man stood there, wearing a robe that reminded me of a church man from sixty years ago, or maybe older. It had a high collar that they hadn’t dreamt of, though, and it was a swirling shade of blue that was eye watering to behold. It had words strung through it’s silken fabric, a spidery tracery that reminded me of elvish.
HE did not have drapey sleeves, but practical ones. He scratched his bald spot, then concentrated for a second and pulled a hat out of the air, and doffed it on his head. It wasn’t as…pointy as I wanted it to be, but it did have a broad brim. He adjusted it and marched in. I noted he was wearing sandals that reminded me of roman centurion footwear, of many laced leather with a curved portion to protect the toes. He stamped over and examined the area slowly. Then he pulled out a monocle, put it on his face, and squinted at me for quite a while. He said “hmmmm.”
After staring at him for a while, I realized his mode of thinking was even more alien than the drow. He was thinking in terms of seasons, music of the spheres, and signs of the zodiac, …no, but things like that that had no realistic significance to me at all. What was the sign of the burning dragon? Why did the frost flowers of the High Elves matter? Were unicorn blood and the Crystal Cross Castle really…a thing? The depths of icy snow where any sort of life is extinguished at absolute zero? I had to do something other just to stop a massive headache from forming. He was thinking about…flowcharts. Yep, I told you it was getting bad.
He even stopped and stroked his trimmed pointy beard. Yet oddly he did not look sinister at all, if perhaps a little removed from reality.
He looked amused. “You must be very confused.” He said.
“Well…I’m used to that.” I said defensively.
He laughed a belly laugh. “Yes. That makes…perfect sense.”
Even the gnomes looked puzzled over that one.
He leaned back, and looked at all of us, as if that should explain everything. His brow worried a bit when he saw blank stares of incomprehension.
Then he turned his attention to the wand. His smile got big. The others still looked puzzled, but Pencie was a picture of dread. “I’ve seen that expression bef…” COM again applied his palm to Pencie’s flapping mouth.
COM looked bored, and still puffing away at his cigar. I wondered if he had a stash of them on his person, or if he just had one magical cigar that lasted as long as he needed it. HE then stared at it in annoyance, tossed away the tag end, and plucked out another from his vest, bit off the end, then lit it with a glare.
“Ah! Okay. I see what she’s doing. The wizard, not the drow. The drow is but a tool. She has no idea how lucky both of you are. This… is a tool that can be used…for several things. But it was set… to digest both the target and the killer. To consume them in it’s…final purpose, which is to create…something. Something big, if it were hungry enough to devour a drow battery plus, anyhow. But… it doesnt’ think much of your taste, my lady. You are… a bit odd.”
“Will people stop SAYING I’m odd, and explain what you mean?!” I said plaintively.
“The blood, er.. Your blood, has immunity. You are fused with a being far, far greater than yourself, and… are watched over by several entities I can’t read.” he said.
I laughed bitterly. “Fools, drunks and the United States of America,” I said.
The Wizard wrinkled his eyebrows at me. “What incantation is that?”
“Those that God loves best.” I said.
Text: (c) 2014 Margot St Aubin
Trademarks held by respective owners.