Archive for January, 2008
Solomon: Chapter 11
Lucinda spoke to Jacob as they hurried towards the others. “I’ve never seen you do anything like that before. With the axe and the jumping and the fire.”
Jacob grimaced as he held both their weights. “It’s a new trick. Adam was killed last night. I bound the demon that did it to myself. I’ve got some new tricks as a result.”
Lucinda shook her head. “I really don’t get you. Your mentor is dead. And you don’t even care.”
Jacob was silent at first, then spoke, staring straight ahead, still pushing towards their allies. “The past has no place in a current situation. Focus on what’s in front of you; magic moves too quickly to dwell on what has already occurred. Adam taught me that.”
Jacob and Lucinda heard the battle before they saw it. The way they had come to cut down on travel time required them to climb a small hill on their approach. As they crested the hill, the scene below took the breath out of both of them.
Magical energy of all types tore through the air. Fire, ice, lightening, death all mingled, shattering the suburban silence of the subdivision.
Under Vivian’s auspices, the very plants had joined the fray, snaking around the ankles of the Baron’s assassins, impeding their progress and tripping them.
Silver and Felicity sat back to back, each in the lotus position, eyes closed, chanting. They worked together to protect their friends from harm, Felicity influencing chance to make as many attacks as possible miss, Silver weaving invisible reflective barriers which became brilliantly visible when an attack struck it and was reflected back at the assailant. For those few attacks that did land, Vivian darted about, going from person to person and healing their wounds.
Mort had already animated three fallen attackers. The undead moved with unnatural speed and precision, pummeling anyone near them. Mort himself was expertly wielding the very power of the Reaper, draining the vitality of anyone who got close to him, growing stronger with each life he touched.
Fire flowed continuously from and around Aidan. The Pyro was in his element, scorching, burning, incinerating anyone and anything in his path. As he and Lucinda looked on, Jacob witnessed Aidan blast two magicians who had flanked him into ash.
For all their strengths, the battle was taking its toll on the five magicians. Vivian was clearly running low on magic at this point, Mort was becoming more and more distracted as his consciousness was split between controlling more and more undead. Aidan was showing no signs of slowing down, but that in and of itself was dangerous. When controlling one of the elemental magics that recklessly, there was a chance of being caught up and consumed by it oneself. The strain of influencing the battle was also physically showing on both Silver and Felicity. Silver’s breathing was beginning to become raspy and irregular. As for Felicity, the little girl was drenched in sweat from head to toe and breathing heavily. Both of them wore a grimace of pain as their pushed themselves to the very limit of their magical prowess.
At this point, Lucinda was not going to realistically be able to contribute much more to the fight. It was up to Jacob, he himself running in less than top condition, to try to turn the tide of this battle. The five of them had worn their attackers down to the point where only four had survived and were now pressing in the attack.
Jacob turned to Lucinda. “Lucy, I’m going to set you down here, on top of this hill. You stay here and let me go handle this. In your weakened condition it’s far too dangerous for you to attempt to join the fray. Especially when I’m reasonably certain that I can help the others finish this quickly without you putting yourself in danger.”
Lucinda started to argue, then thought better of it. She nodded as she slid from Jacob’s arm into a sitting position on the grass. “You’re right Solomon,” she said. “Now get down there and help our friends!”
Jacob held out his ring as he ran down the hill. He began to chant in his multi- layered voice. As the incantation ended, a huge wolf -fur black as coal, unearthly cold rolling off of it- sprung forth from the ring. “Marchosias!” cried Jacob. “Hear your master and obey!”
The wolf turned and ran to Jacob, stopping at his feet and lowering its head in what was unmistakably a bow. “I live to serve,” it said in a deep, throaty growl. “My master.”
“The Icer, the Drencher, and the two Augmenters are our enemies. Destroy them.”
The wolf howled in exhilaration and charged, covering the remaining distance in the blink of an eye. The remaining enemy magicians scattered and broke in confusion as the demon fell upon them. The first Augmenter– wielding magics that did nothing more than make his body better, faster, stronger– screamed in agony as Marchosias clamped its jaws around the magician’s back, sunk in huge, perfectly white fangs, and ripped out his spine.
Their ranks now routed, the remaining three magicians were made short work of by co-operation between Jacob’s demon and Mort’s undead. Marchosias went about the business of disposing of evidence, quietly munching on the remains of the fallen magicians as Jacob helped Lucinda make her way down the hill to the others.
“We need to act quickly,” Jacob said as he approached his friends. “Is everyone okay?”
As he finished his question, Felicity tipped over from her sitting position, crumpling against the ground with a very soft thud. Aidan ran to his sister, with the others moving to her just behind him.
“She’s breathing,” Aidan said. “Just passed out from the effort.”
“First order of business,” said Jacob. “Everyone get inside. Aidan I assume you have wards set up within your home?”
Aidan nodded, scooping his sister into his arms. “Of course. It’d be pretty damn stupid not to.”
Jacob turned to the demon who had already gotten rid of most of the bodies of the enemy magicians. “Marchosias, I need you to shift into a shape more appropriate for this environment. Finish up what you’re doing, then stand guard on the house. Alert me before you use deadly force, but don’t allow anyone to disturb us.”
The demon nodded as its shape warped and changed until a particularly vicious- looking German shepherd stood before them. Thus disguised, Marchosias went back to the business of scavenging.
Mort snapped his fingers and the zombies he had animated crumbled into dust, which scattered in the wind. Aidan led the assembled conspirators into the house. Jacob and Lucinda were the last two inside, the latter leaning heavily on the former, and Aidan paused and muttered a few words at the door frame once the door had closed behind them. Runes and sigils of various colors, shapes and sizes glowed brightly inside the house for a moment, then faded. Aidan turned to the assembled group.
“We’re safe for now,” he said.
Jacob sized up his allies. Felicity was unconscious. Lucinda was barely able to stand. Silver’s breath was still shallow and ragged. A dazed look dominated Vivian’s features; she seemed to be only mostly aware of what was happening around her. Mort and Aidan didn’t look nearly so haggard, but a glance in magesight quickly revealed both of them to be almost completely drained of power. Jacob himself was a little lightheaded after having to both call on Alastor’s power and do a summoning. All- in- all, they were not in fantastic shape.
“Okay,” said Jacob, eyes scanning the room. “Obviously we’re going to need some recuperation time before we forge the Pact. For now, I suggest everyone get some rest. Between the house wards and Marchosias guarding us, we should be relatively secure here for the time being. In a few hours, we’ll set up the ritual and complete it as soon as possible. Aidan, I want you to let me know when Felicity wakes up. For now, I for one am going to take a nap on that couch.” He pointed. “Anyone have any better ideas?”
The assembled magicians shook their heads. Well, most of them did. Vivian just sort of looked at Jacob funny and Felicity was still fast asleep.
“Right then.” Jacob walked over to his previously specified couch, removed his shoes and hat, stretched out, and closed his eyes.
The lift doors open; I step out and move down the hall, still escorted by the soldiers. I reach the door of the Office of the Director and it soundlessly retracts into the wall. The soldiers stop just outside the door as I enter.
The far wall is little more than a huge window, and it is there that Michael Turing stands, back to me, looking protectively down at the city which is his to care for. The trust of the Council of the Technocrats and the larger population of Melbourne has so far proven to be well-placed; Michael Turing has led better than anyone could have expected.
Slowly he turns to face me, a grim smile gradually emerging on his face. Turing is about a dozen years older than me. His sandy-brown hair is beginning to show grey, likely from the stress of managing an entire nation for just over a decade. We’re about the same height, though he is slightly stockier than I. Piercing green eyes heighten the air of authority he naturally projects. In short, Michael Turing looks every bit the part of the born leader he is.
“Aldain Walker, Proxy of the Mistress of Pain and Sorcerer of Carlisle.” He executes a near-perfect imitation of a Carlislander bow. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”
I smile back and bow as well. “It is an honor to be your guest, Director Turing. However,” I say, displaying my wrists, “your safety precautions, while both wise and understandable, have left me at a considerable disadvantage.”
“Oh, of course,” he says, moving to his desk and pressing a button. The glow suffusing the suppressors dims and I feel the cuffs loosen. He gestures to a chair across from his desk and sinks into his own chair as he implores me to sit. I do so.
Turing continues on apologetically. “It’s an unpleasant necessity, I’m afraid. I would have mentioned it in our correspondence, but shorter messages are, of course, more secure.”
While he speaks, I slip the loosened suppressors off and set them on the desk. The sense of relief and power, of completeness I feel as the magic is returned to me puts me much at ease. I shake my head and wave a hand in dismissal.
“No apologies necessary. I was neither surprised nor offended. Caution is nothing but a virtue for people in our situation.” Suddenly struck by a peculiar thought, I chuckle to myself.
“Something funny, Sorcerer?” Turing is a little confused.
“Only to me, Director. I just wonder what my father would have made of my lifestyle these days. It seems I defy the Teachings of Marrin and the sacred Word of the One at every turn. And now I’ve come to collaborate with the most prominent of the One’s Forsaken.”
Turing smiles. “I’ve always felt that the One had simply chosen my people for a different path. We may lack magic, but we are all of us blessed with greater intelligence and curiosity than the average man. It has always been the view of the Six Families that the greater affront to the One would be ignoring the gifts given to us and instead choosing to lament over ones withheld.”
“I think I like your interpretation of the One a little better than Marrin’s.” My expression grows a bit more serious and I sit up a bit more in my chair. “But the time for idle talk has passed, I think. Let’s get down to business.”No comments
But not a Sunday Update. I swear.
Hi. I’m Andrew and I run this site. I’ve recently implemented Paul Kuliniewicz‘s “Magic” Spam prevention thing. With any luck, this should cut down on the number of spam comments in my moderation queue. However, it may become necessary for you, dear readers, to register an actual account to properly comment on the site from now on. We’ll see how this goes.
-The Drewcifer6 comments
The distant spires of the city are visible long before we reach it. However, in only a few short hours, I find myself at the Great Gate of Victoria, the city’s full splendor spread out before me.
This is the fabled White City of Melbourne. It is a symbol of mankind’s perseverance and ingenuity. Erected on the black-glass plains of war-torn Australia, it was the seat from which the restoration of the continent was achieved. And this restoration, this healing of a scarred land, was not done through magic. Instead of relying on power granted by fickle fate, the rulers of Australia turned to ancient and forbidden knowledge of technology. Through these “heretical methods,” life was returned to that which had been thought to be destroyed forever. Melbourne is hope: In five hundred years of post-magical history, it is the only major city never once to have fallen. And at its heart is the man who may well turn out to be the savior of all humanity: Michael Turing.
I am brought straight-away to the Tower of the Technocrats, the squad which captured me now making a perimeter around me, acting as both prisoner escort and security detail–for to be an unidentified and obviously foreign magician in Melbourne is a dangerous thing. I do not begrudge them that. After all, that attitude is largely responsible for unparalleled permanence.
We finally reach the Tower. It stands at Melbourne’s center, dwarfing even the otherwise impressive buildings nearby.
The Corporal says something into her helmet mic and the doors slide open. On her signal, I step forward into the Tower and begin the ascent to my latest blasphemy.1 comment
The triumphant return you’ve been waiting for. . .
I am not able to linger on Maguerite’s confession for long; Australia is a dangerous place, especially for a magician. With that in mind I begin to survey the plain I’ve landed in.
The wind is blowing gently, sending green waves and ripples over the surface of the plain. My combination recon/reverie is interrupted by my sixth sense suddenly registering an alarming amount of magic in my immediate vicinity.
Reflexively, I raise my arms, half a dozen spells ready to erupt from my fingertips should I need to defend myself. Without warning or pretense, six men and women appear in a circle centered on me. All of them are wearing the white powered armor of the Australian Army and pointing very large rifles directly at my head. Good. I lower my arms and let the magic subside; the mystical equivalent of un-nocking an arrow. Being able to mask their presence from me for as long as they did means the concealment spells built into their armor are both powerful and expertly enchanted. That bodes well for me.
The squad’s leader, a Corporal according to her insignia, speaks to me in brusque tones. “Quickly, concisely, and unambiguously state your name and purpose, magician.” She fills the last word with all the venom normally reserved for our language’s most loathsome curses. But considering the history of her nation, it’s hard to blame her.
“I am Aldain Walker, Sorcerer of Carlisle. I have arranged for a meeting with Michael Turing.”
The look on the Corporal’s face is easily worth being held at gunpoint.
“Lower your weapons!” barks the Corporal. Her soldiers comply, but her gun stays trained on the space just between my eyes. Smart girl.
“If this man is who he says he is, then he’s a friend–the one we’ve been waiting around out here two weeks for,” she explains. “If he’s not, I’m sure the real Aldain Walker will kill him soon enough.” She jerks her head to the left very slightly. “Smith, get the suppressors on him so we can proceed civilly.”
One of the grunts moves to me and places a white plastic cuff on each of my wrists. After a moment, they are suffused with a soft white glow. I’ll be unable to use any magic until they are removed. I feel a strange emptiness while so separated from my power.
Once this precaution is in place, the Corporal lowers her weapon.
“Follow me, Sorcerer. It’s a ways yet to go before we reach the city.”
I am led to a stealthed troop transport and invited to sit up front with the Corporal while she drives. As we trundle along our way to the city, my thoughts begin to wander.3 comments
The next chapter is hand-written but not yet typed. It’ll be up as soon as I can get it typed tomorrow.
-The Drewcifer4 comments