Oran finished his procedure then brought the bodies the men outside "here you go gentleman as promised" but before he could go back into his office he was attacked and given a few punches by the men and shortly after that all who were in earshot could hear the screams and then thumps of dead bodies hitting the ground. "when will they ever learn" Oran muttered to himself as he left his area and out into the forest to meditate.
Rio came in and set her axe against the wall. Even in peace she made sure her and her squad kept in shape. So did every other officer, it seems some of the other officers had the strange feeling she had. Something was coming. And no one know why they had this feeling.
Maybe we're all just paranoid. she thought as she grabbed half a loaf of bread and a hand full of dried meat from the sack she kept in a cupboard.
After she finished the meal she laid down on the small bed ad soon fell asleep.
Telemain roused himself. He'd slept long enough. He combed his beard to get those blasted knots out, cleaned his teeth, and cast his mind out to the clock tower. 11:32 "Aw, Hellfire..."
The old man tossed on a robe and sped out of the door. He ran to Irene's chambers. Unless she was already up, they're going to be cutting this far too closely. He wove through the maze of hallways, corridors, and passageways until he got to her room. He banged on the door loudly.
Irene stood on the tower she was assigned to. She had watched the sun rise, and the landscape being slowly illuminated. Kallia had been here a moment before, explaining the fine details of the spell. It came down to Irene having to drink the liquid containing the soul and lifting her mental barriers. Simple enough.
She casually checked the clock tower, passing all the other minds who had cast their thoughts at the same time. 11:34. Telemain was late. Then again, he wasn't the most consistent of minds. She would wait for him for twenty-six minutes before fetching him. A playful breeze picked up her hair and let it dance through the air. She tied it backwards in a ponytail. If only for a few more minutes, she relished in the peace of standing on top of the world.
No one was answering the door. "Irene! It's Telemain! Are you in there?" He heard something crash to the floor and shatter. Telemain flicked open the lock with his mind and barged in. No one was in the main room.
"Irene! Irene! Are you in here? I heard something break!" He explored her bedroom. Nothing. Then the laughter came back. The laughter. THE LAUGHTER!!!! Telemain laughed as the voice in his head did, his voice reverberating off of the walls. He grew dizzy, almost unable to stand. For some reason he decided to run. He ran right into the wall, then his fell to the floor.
The mouse that had knocked over the plate watched the whole time, eating the bit of leftover toast.
The mouse looked at the unmoving shape on the ground. He had watched the shape move through the hole in the wall, make lots of noise and running around and then falling down onto the ground. It made him nervous. Probably best to get away from here. He left the food he had found and scittered past the big people who were stomping around. He jumped up the stairs where his home was. When he got there, he shot across the length of the tower. He froze when a giant shape descended on him.
"Hello, little boy." Irene said when she picked up the mouse. "What are you doing here?"
The mouse edged back, almost stunned with fear. She laughed. This would be scary to the mouse. Suddenly she got an impression. A shape crashing down in her room. She pulled back from the sudden image with a start, leaving her with a sharp headache.
She let the mouse run of her hand and hurried down the stairs.
Hey, I had to do something to make Irene aware of your sudden breakdown. =D
Telemain blasted several soldiers with lightning while Kallia and Magnus were trying to get the Council to fire up the shields. Samuel was falling behind, due to the stress of killing so many of the Legion. "Samuel! Don't worry! I shall protect you!" He tried to get to Samuel before the troupe of swordsmen surrounded him. He was too late. They subdued the magician and carried him off. Telemain engulfed the backs of them with fire while he charged. A sword clipped him on the hip, then sliced his arm off. He howled. He howled as a trapped wolf does when it tries to bite off its leg.
MEANWHILE, IN THE REAL WORLD
The mouse that had seen Irene found a piece of a potato and started nibbling on it.
Irene pushed the magicians who were obstructing her out of her way. They shot her dark looks, but she shot back even darkers ones, making them cringe and thep back. A path opened in front of her, all of the magicians trying to get out of her furious stride. When she saw that her door was open, she broke out in a run. When she entered the chambers, she saw Telemain on the floor, a small stream of blood running down his head from a wound on his head. She dropped to her knees and focused. She used the school of enhancement to stop the bleeding. She could not fully heal it, it was beyond her abilities.
The mouse peeked around the hole in the wall, still nibbling on a small piece of potato. He was curious on why the big shape had vanished so sudden.
Telemain gripped his stub with a cloth while several masters of healing were being summoned. He didn't know where he was. The only thing that went through his mind consumed him, making him its slave. He knew not where he was going, but he knew it wouldn't end well.
YOU FAILED SAMUEL
Irene was wiping the blood off of his forehead when he came to. He winced from the bruise that was spreading around the gash. "Alright, Missy, I've got it." The gash knitted itself shut, not even leaving a scar. "How.... how long was I out?"
The mouse finished off the potato. He was still hungry. It wondered if his store of crackers was still there.
"I thought creating living tissue wasn't possible? It would require the school of..." Irene said when she saw the gash seal. She could grap how he did it. Create a patch of skin with the school of creation, and attach it with enhancement. Simple, yet it required a train of thinking on the fly which she didn't think off.
"I don't know. A few minutes perhaps?" She said. She cast for the time again. 11:42. Not too late.
"Come on, old man. Get up." She said while pulling him up. "How did you get hurt anyway?"
Mouse dashed across the room and under the bed. The saltine crackers were still there. He grabbed one and ate it whole. After he was satisfied, he peeked at the big shapes, wondering what their intentions were.
"I.... I think I had another....... burst of insanity......" While he stood, his frame bespoke of weariness. His shoulders sagged, his face drooped, and he didn't stand to his full height.
There was a group of a half dozen apprentices in the doorway. "Get out! Go to your studies, you goggling ninnies!" Telemain barked. The apprentices ran off in different directions.
"Let's go. You either soul join now, or we wait another 24 hours. The Felines could be attacked anytime. We must hurry!"
The mouse was nibbling on his cracker when the big shape helped the other, bigger shape up. The mouse smelled something sweet in his satchel. It ran up bigger shape's hanging cord and slipped in through the poorly secured flap.
"We'll have to hunt down Kallia. She needs to be present during the joining, if something would go wrong right?" Irene said nervously.
She felt a wave of nervousity as she was suddenly reminded of the drastic change she would undergo withing a quarter of the hour. The purest part of her being would be joined with the soul of a vile man.
Then she reminded her duties, and the doubting thoughts died.
Suddenly the fabric started swinging. The mouse buried its claws into it, trying to keep his balance. He found the source of the sweet scent, a cube of sugar. Elated with his findings, the mouse squeeked and started on the delicious sweetness.
"Did you hear a squeak?" Telemain asked vaguely. Irene shook her head. "Must be my ears playing tricks on my. Kallia said she would be up there a few minutes before noon. We'll meet her on the way there, probably."
Irene looked troubled. Telemain put his arm around her. "Don't worry, Missy. It'll be fine. If anything goes wrong, Kallia and I will be there to fix it."
SWEET SWEET SWEET SWEET SWEET SWEET
Irene stood on top of the tower once again. The wind had grown to be quite a strong one, playing with her long hair. She couldn't tie it behind her head this time, she had lost the bindings. The sky was still clear though, so she wouldn't get wet with rain.
Kallia was here as well. She had arrived at 11:55, and was now speaking the last enchantments that would safeguards Irene's soul and make the joining as painless as possible. As possible Irene thought So not painless.
"So, are you ready for the biggest piece of magic since the First Shadow War?" She asked Telemain jokingly.
He shook his head. "You haven't heard my stories, have you?"
Before Irene could respond, Telemain realized something. "The First Shadow War? Someone knows something she isn't telling?"
Kallia set the last spell on Irene. "That should be it. You may drink the potion now."
The sugar cube disappeared into a puddle of tasty. The mouse stuck his head out of the satchel and saw a new big shape doing things to Shapely Big Shape.
Irene nodded and walked towards the jar. Her entire life would change with just a sip of the liquid, clear as water.
"All of it?" She asked Kallia. She nodded. Irene took one last breath and quickly gulped down the potion. She was chanting a song in her head, the one she had heard once as a small child and had always calmed her when she thought about it. She didn't understand what it meant, but it was soothing. The liquid had no taste, no scent, and it didn't leave any taste after she had drunk it.
Then a sharp pain pierced her side. She dropped the jar, which shattered on the stone floor, and grabbed at her side. She expected to see blood, but none was there. Then another lance of pain pierced her spine, between her shoulder blades. She craned backwards. Then one hit her forhead, and her vision flashed.
A moment later, she was drifting in limbo. She looked around, but saw nothing but darkness. SHe could hear the soft whisper of a voice in the otherwise unnatural silence. She couldn't make out the words. She started singing her song again, but a human scream overpowered it.
Chains have tightened. Mortal and death have joined. She heard the whisper say.
Irene tried to say something, but all she met was the human scream again.
I bring knowledge. I bring power. I bring understanding. The whisper said.
Irene found it difficult to draw breath. She was starting to panic. She tried to raise her hand, but was unable to.
The darkness beneath her started to change. It was as if it turned into stone. Irene felt something lift, and she fell onto the hard floor. It was indeed stone. The darkness faded, and was replaced by white. The stone floor extended every way. Irene couldn't see where it ended.
A man stood in front of her. She rose, and he looked at her. He did not speak, move, blink or even draw breath.
I am you. The whisper came out of nowhere. The man lifted his arm and reached out. Irene did the same, out of instinct. The moment the young girl and the worn man touched, Irene felt her mind being attacked, and something snapped. She felt a tickle of blood running down her lip from her nose.
Then she sank to the earth and remembered no more.
Telemain was reading from a levitating book beside her bed when Irene began to stir. A bookmark floated in between the pages and the book shut, resting on the table. He turned his head towards her. His voice adopted a gentle tone. "Are you well, young one? Kallia didn't know what happened, and we did the best we could to remove the pain..."
The mouse jumped out of the satchel and landed on Irene's chest. Instead of scurrying off to it's cracker stash, it looked at Shapely Big Shape as if he knew her.
I need to.....Because you.....
Am I dead....Lost....must...be...
...must tell you.....am your....
Irene sat straight up, expecting to find her self on the tower. Instead a mouse sat at the foot of a soft bed, making annoyed sounds. She smiled and reached for the animal. It didn't come. She looked to her left to see Telemain speak to her. It was hard to hear him. A lot of voices swam through her head. She focused on shutting them away, and they were silent for the moment. She could still feel a massive entity pressing against her mind.
and we did the best we could to remove the pain. Irene could hear Telemain say.
She looked at him.
"Did something go wrong?" She asked. She was surprised by the slight change of her voice. A faint whisper sounded through it, like the one she had heard with the joining.
Her voice sounds a bit different. That means it was a success, if nothing else.
The gentle tone still in his voice, Telemain cooed, "Kallia said that, although you'd feel pain, it shouldn't have been enough to make you collapse. Do you feel any different than before?"
The mouse was aggravated. Shapely Big Shape ignored him. Instead of coming closer to her, he curled up against her body and napped.
"A bit. Like a magician is constantly trying to attack my mind." Irene said. She felt the little mouse drop against her leg and promply fall asleep. She stroked it with one finger, absent minded.
Kill the creature. A sharp thought crashed through her train of thought.
Be quiet Irene thought. The voice did not respond.
"She said that would be normal. There's two spirits trying to control the same mind. You're bound to have some tug-of-war until he gives up. You'll have control nearly all of the time because you were born with this mind-spirit combo, and Kallia and I weakened him before you consumed the elixir."
"Well, we'd better get some rest. We'll be leaving first thing tomorrow. Good night, Irene." He patted her gently on the shoulder and took his leave. After he got back to his bedroom, he rubbed his eyes. He's got his hands full with this one. He disrobed and slipped beneath the sheets, letting the solitude of sleep control him.
About three miles away from the Library, Corwyn was flitting about the forest, light as a zephyr. He had woken up early that morning, upset by an intrusion into the cave he was currently calling home.
A large bear had come snuffling around, ruining his restful night.
Irritated by this, he had spent a great bit of the day putting together an insurance package of sorts to prevent such an occasion from happening again.
All that was left was to test it.
Finally, he came across his quarry. When the bear had stomped in as dawn approached, Corwyn had scored an "x" marking across the beast's back.
For the daylight hours not spent preparing his countermeasures, he had been searching for his marked prey.
Now, his efforts rewarded, Corwyn focused himself.
As he tapped into the power of the souls he had stolen from innocents years ago, the woods went silent.
Nothing moved in the thicket, and even the damnable crickets had fallen into a state of silence. Noticing this, the bear's natural instincts kicked in, and it began to look all around it, knowing something was very wrong.
As it peered into the growing shadows, it failed to notice as Corwyn slipped out of the trees to its right. It was not until he had sidled up alongside it, drawn his crudely made daggers, and sliced off both its ears that the bear realized just what was going on.
Enraged, and in pain, it turned to face its attacker.
Rearing up, it took a brutal swipe at the human before it, only to miss, and fall to the ground as its balance failed.
Forgoing stealth in order to keep the bear on his heels, Corwyn began stomping through the brush as he went back to his cave.
Thirty minutes later, he had arrived at his cave again.
The thundering steps of the bear not far behind, Corwyn defiantly stood in the mouth of the cave.
With a woody crash, the bear broke through a ring of shrubbery, and skidded to a halt.
Its pause was only momentary, however, as it caught sight of its tormenter not fifteen feet away.
Charging again, it got within five feet of Corwyn, when his trap was sprung.
An elaborate set of tripwires ensnared its feet, while two bent saplings were released from their pinnings, and pressed the bear against the hard rock above the cave.
Pleased with himself, Corwyn exited the mouth, and admired his handiwork.
The bear was completely restrained, and despite its thrashings, was unable to get out of its predicament.
Still smiling, Corwyn took a stance three inches from the creature's snarling mouth.
Raising a hand, he focused his mind on one of his favorite casts.
As he stood, the swirls in his eyes became incredibly active, red streams spinning, sinking, and rising as the bear seemed to smolder, and it began to twitch madly.
Letting out an unholy roar, its last sound was nothing short of horrifying, and its mouth emitted steam as its blood churned into a boil within its veins.
When the bear was still at last, Corwyn cut it down from the trap, letting the body simply fall, before hacking it up and dragging it, piece by piece, into his abode.
His last activity of the day was resetting his lovely trap, just to ensure a solid night's rest.
THE NEXT MORNING
Telemain and Irene met at the gate to the Library with packs slung over their backs. They nodded in wordless greeting. They both looked back at the beautiful buildings and plant life. This could be the last time I see this place.... They would be the first magicians to set foot out of the Library since the Legion attacked. What they did afterward would affect the very fate of the Felines, the Old Kingdom, and the Library.
Taking in a deep breath, Telemain walked through followed by Irene. The inactive spells that filled the inside of the passage way tingled off of his skin, making it feel as if his entire body had fallen asleep simultaneously. Then they were out. The outside world was almost exactly the same as it was when the four magicians fled inward that night, so long ago.
There was a skeleton hanging from the crucifix. Telemain used his had to shield Irene's sight.
The mouse was poking his head out of Shapely-Big-Shape's carry-bag. One-Shape-Big-Shape moved towards them. He squeaked and fled back into the depths of the carry-bag.
Irene mvoed her head away from Telemain's hand. She wasn't the small girl that had once vomited when she saw the skeleton. She didn't pay it a lot of attention though. Once she stepped out of the protective wards that surrounded the Library, something vanished. A feeling she didn't know was out of the ordinairy. The feeling as if she was constantly watched. She grinned and breathed deeply.
Not that she had never seen the outside, she had looked at it from the walls and rooms. But this was the first time she had stepped out of the library. A somewhat notable event.
"Remind me again why we're not teleporting?" Irene asked.
The mouse searched through the fabric, and found a seed which he ate partially. He sniffed and clambered to the edge. He sniffed once, smelling recent blood. He hid again, in the warmth and safety of the bag.
Irene jerked away from Telemain's hand. She's a big girl now. I've got to remember that.
"The Felines don't have a receiving end for us to pop out of. We'll need to bring this up while we're there, too. We could have tried using the experimental spell that doesn't need a sending node or receiving node, but that's practically suicide. I've had enough testing magic done in my life, thank you."
The two walked in silence for a while. Just before they rounded the bend that would block off Samuel's skeleton, Telemain looked back. Don't worry, old friend. I'll keep her safe.
"A squad of swordsmen surround you. Your weapon has been flicked aside and they're about to strike the death blow. What do you do?"
"Take advantage of the weak and unprotected sides, and use an opening to escape, make an opening for escape or use the opening to strike fast and deadly." She said, even if she never got a lecture in 'weapon-fights.' The whisper snickered.
Feel that knowledge? Use it.
She ignored the voice once again.
Telemain cocked and eyebrow. "Why..... yes, actually...... It would seem as if that soul joining will come in handy indeed...."
He stroked his beard his his thumb and forefinger.
"You're standing atop the main tower at the Library. Someone from behind pushes you off. What do you do?"
"Can we leave the theory lessons behind us? I mean, that was what I could've followed in the library." She said.
She noticed a path crashed through the nearby treeline, and several bloodstains were splattered across the path.