Chapter 30: Of Plans, Expectations, Wrong Faces and Expectations Betrayed.
The figure was dressed in a worn grey leather robe, and boots that once had the shine of new grass kicked out as this figure disturbingly skipped along its way, hands covered in black cloth strips swinging.
It was the wanderer who lost its face.
It’s head was raised up looking into the dark mist above the fallen realm.
-It knows what is coming.- It began. -A path will open…-
It turned its head to look at the sisters and Wauldigg, that absence of a face, the gaze of an icy abyss.
-If it remains here, if you remain here, then I shall wander an even longer time. No, perhaps I should say, I don’t want to claim the wrong face…-
“You could have just said that you are going to help” Koolah snapped.
The wanderer shrugged.
-I could have, but you could have done many things that you didn’t, I don’t think you are in a position to complain-
Before the two could continue in their antagonism, Jadah spoke soothing words.
“Thank you very much for coming to our aid, noble wanderer” Jadah said.
The icy abyss stared silently at Jadah for longer than she was comfortable with, as if it was dragging out her deepest secrets, then it moved as the wanderer gave a low sweeping bow.
-Ah, it is an honour and a joy to receive your kindness, I would not want anything else-
Abruptly the wanderer span around before stopping, pointing at a space near one of the statues of the Archfiends.
-I shall guard this spot-
It walked briskly, and as soon as its back was turned to the sisters, it said one final thing.
-Just, be sure little kittens, that you do not claim the wrong faces… for your own sakes if nothing else-
The sisters did not dare reply, fearing what more the wanderer would utter. Wauldigg for his part had encountered enough mystics to know that letting them say their piece and not talking back was the quickest way to get them to shut up and stop saying ominous things.
Silence, that curiously fragile yet oppressively strong force held court once more.
The flow of magic continued to build, the image of a grand pattern growing clearer and clearer. All of it was moving towards the completion of one grand spell. The forest too seemed aware of this, while it still slumbered, the crow-leaves stirred restlessly as one would before waking from a nightmare.
Something else stirred in the lonely air, a flock of mirrors flew out of the woods, they swirled above the cauldrons before joining together into one large mirror, a large flat blade, its surface much like a mirror descended from the mirror. Then, with the sword hovering horizontally Yovra the sword-maiden of Rimlasnathines arose from the sword, as if surfacing from a pool of water.
All this in moments, and as Yovra rose, the mirror above her shattered into gripless, hiltless mirror-blades, plain rectangles, they swirled around her. Yovra simply nodded to Koolah before sending out many of the mirror-blades to key positions, forming a pattern that complemented the pattern of the cauldron-fires, a sword formation.
She hid her surprise at the sister’s preparations well.
The flow of magic twitched, and following after Yovra, a bedraggled figure appeared from the frigid darkness. It was Zamelnah, though, he was missing an arm and his clothes were torn. Golobos was still nesting indulgently in his hair. Zam’s remaining arm was a dishevelled mass of wing under which winds chittered.
“Sorry I’m late, it was a bit difficult to convince Orapele not to eat Golobos. He said he’d be along later, after he finishes hunting the Nakrukh”
Yovra almost fell off her sword.
“That monster can hunt a Nakrukh?” She spluttered.
Koolah however, just scowled at Zamelnah.
“Hey, elf, will you be any use with your body like that?”
“Be nice sister” Koolah chided.
Zamelnah gave a weak laugh.
“I don’t have arms in the first place, so it isn’t a problem”
Everyone looked at him askance, Wauldigg and Yorva, not being mages could not see his patterns, but they got the impression of wings. The sisters however, could see that there vibrant brown wing-like patterns connected with the rest of his spirit.
“heart elves are weird” Qusheab muttered, before clamping her mouth shut due to Jadah giving a disapproving stare.
“Ah” Yorva remembered what she asked before. “Hey, agent of Vulk, what do you mean the damyne is hunting a Nakrukh, actually, before all that, when did a rukh appear?”
“It’s the chlanic mandragora’s fault it pressured a lot of spirits to fuse” Koolah explained before Zam could speak.
Zamelnah nodded. “As for Orapele thinking he can take on a rukh… I’ve no idea how he intends to do it, but his confidence is terrifying”
Yovra massaged her forehead.
“So, a herb put me in that state… what kind of mandragora was it? It was at least something powerful right?”
“It was a tri-humour mandragora!” Qusheab replied brightly.
A groan worked its way out from Yovra’s throat, and she curled up on top of her sword, tail wrapping itself around her body and hiding her face in her hands.
“I’m sorry master, I’m such a failure” she whispered mournfully.
“At least you didn’t get bitten by Orapele” Zamelnah said, awkwardly attempting to comfort her.
“It was a chlanic one!” Jadah offered.
A cold snort came from Koolah.
“Enough fooling about. Keep watch, we don’t know what the mandragora will posses… what was that noise?”
It was something that sounded like the tramp of many feet. Like the crash of great tentacles, like the movements of armies.
A disgusted look came over everyone’s faces.
This was just too unreasonable.
“It’s gone an’ possessed the whole pair of armies?” Wauldigg spluttered.