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In Search Of A Master (Part 8)

VIII

As the hour approached midnight, two desiccated cadavers rested atop of a granite plinth, with Di stood at their heads, with a hand rested atop of each of their scalps. Deep beneath the earth, in the ancient cellar, there were also gathered, six other figures in ceremonial regalia. Flames flickered in the darkness, to the left and aback of Di. The image of the fire reflected in a pool of water that swirled on her right flank. Alice, with a golden bowl in her left hand and a blade extended from her right, slow walked the circle of figures. From the feet of Simon’s cadaver, Alice proceed deasil round the circle, at each of the figures, there gathered, she stopped and cut their presented palms, gathering the blood, that was shed, in the bowl. Her ritual changed, after she had cut the fifth figure’s palm, for that person raised her palm, to Alice’s lips, thus enabling her to run her tongue along the line of the cut. With the first five offerings of blood, collected in the bowl, she continued her clockwise progress about the ring of figures until she reached Di for a second time. Upon reaching Di, Alice knelt and cut each of Di’s forearms, once again collecting the blood that was drawn. Careful not to spill the blood, Alice cleansed and sealed each of the wounds with her tongue. Thereafter, Alice continued her circumambulation, of the celebrants, until she reached the feet of the cadavers again. Ceremoniously, Alice placed the bowl between the feet of the two corpses, that done she slit her own forearm, to provide yet more blood for the sacrifice.

The potent cocktail, of the sacrificed blood was used to trace the sigla of the enchantment there were about to perform. Once the final siglum had been drawn, Alice returned deasil to the foot of the plinth, once she was there the celebrants began to chant and she performed the somantic component of the ritual. The ritual had been their last hope, everything else they had tried to separate the three trapped life-forces having failed; defeated by Di’s innate resistance to alien intervention. The ritual was a bastard; composed as it was from elements of diverse rituals, including those that were intended to heal the spirit, perform exorcisms and enable astral projection. It had never been performed before, four of those gathered there having composed it themselves; the inspiration for it being their desperation, as such its outcome was exceptionally unpredictable. Continue reading

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In Search Of A Master (Part 7)

VII

The two cheetahs, that were Di and Al, flew towards the house’s front door and the shelter it offered, from the golden death. Upon their arrival, in the entrance hall, of the house, they were meet by Jo and an exceptionally relieved James. Once out of the searing light Di shook off Al’s hand, “Fetch my other body.”

Cautiously, once both Al and Jo had left, Di approached James; Eleanor commented within Di’s mind, «He’s less than a century? Remarkable, I’d have thought that he was nearly my age if…»

The image that Di beheld of James was totally dissimilar, to anyway that she had perceived him before. Even when she had gazed upon him, with perceptions enhanced by, her own, sorcerous abilities and mage sight, she had not seen him as precisely, as she did at that moment, «Is this how you normally perceive the world?»

«No, it normally is less clear than this and requires concentration to be able to do it. Your abilities and ours seem to be combining and enhancing each other. Whoever sired him, is one to be feared, to the core of ones being.»

«No one sired him; he was slain in battle.» Continue reading

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In Search Of A Master (Part 6)

VI

Al and Jo sensed that the spell had ended. As did James, who floated over to Al and Jo, on to whose backs he traced confirmation of his safety, with his ghostly fingers. Due to his actions, the two of them were compelled to shiver. As James floated back towards his own body, Al and Jo – having been reassured as to James’s safety – ran into the garage, to aid Di. When they reached her, Di was knelt crying over the body of vampire, so Jo knelt down next to the vampire’s body, on the opposite side of it to Di, and Al knelt next to Di.

“Di? Are you…” Jo fell silent as se caught sight of Di’s face.

Distractedly, Al opened the tool bag and hunted through its contents. At which point, Di’s head slowly rose, from looking at the face of the vampire’s cadaver – whose leathery hand she held – and Di’s eyen locked onto Al’s, “No! You even try it and…” Di fell silent and made a show of licking her teeth, as James was in the habit of doing, when he made threats.

“Why protect it, we came here to put an end to it?” Al’s face showed her surprise, that their most eager hunter had become a defender, of the undead.

“It!” Di slowly rose to her feet, once she was standing, her right hand shot, to her pouch. Fear and confusion raced across her face, as she started to open the pouch. Something was wrong, very wrong, so She turned and ran, towards the small doorway and the security of the natural world. Al went to follow her, but Jo held Al back, then sprinted off, after Di, hirself. Less than a foot from the doorway, Di came to a sudden halt and turned and raised her hand towards Jo, who was approaching her. As she approached, Jo could see anger, fear and confusion struggling, for supremacy, upon

Di’s preternaturally youthful face.

“What is it?” Jo slowed her approach.

“I’m… Not…” Di took several deep breaths before continuing, “Branwen’s Stars tried to burn me. Where am I? Is James alive? Where is he?”

“He’s safe,” Jo reached out a hand towards her; “You did not kill him.” Continue reading

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In Search Of A Master (Part 5)

V

Back in the room, where the four unconscious bodies lay, James’s and Al’s faces showed their concern for their partners’ safety. James grabbed Al’s head, “Take it and go keep Jo safe, do whatever you have t…” Upon felling a rush of power, James fell silent.

Al broke free from James’s grip, “No! John! Look…”

Moments later, red tears formed in the corners of James’s eyen, “Di! Oh God! No!” Action rather than words where what were needed, so James ran at the room’s outer wall. With a terrible force, his body hit the wall and then collapsed, into a lifeless heap, upon the floor. Upon being left alone, in the room, Al made sure that none would awaken, whilst she was gone. That done, she cancelled her wards, grabbed a tool bag and with the pace of a cheetah sprinted from the room, so that she could get to Jo.

The fiery star streaked from Di’s hand, only to, moments later, have its pace slow and then cease all movement. For a spell, it just hung in the air, between Jo and Di.

Apace, Jo exited, through the small side door. Once in the relative safety of daylight, with the adrenaline clearing from his system, Jo sensed Di’s and James’s minds. To confirm his second-hand perceptions, Jo glanced back into the garage, where the blazing pentacle was vibrating, in mid-air, then as Jo watched it darted straight back at Di. As the pentacle flew back, towards Di, it grew. The closer it approached to Di, the larger it became. As it relentlessly stormed its way towards Di, her limbs were drawn out, towards the points of the pentacle, by some arcane force.

Jo shivered, as if the devil had walked over his grave, and glanced around, “Jay?” The answer was traced on Jo’s back, by a spectral finger, and confirmed Jo’s suspicion, of who was there.

After ghosting past Jo, the spectral creature passed into the garage, where Di was immobile, spread-eagled inside the arcane pentacle. That being the case, the spectre incautiously floated, towards Di. When the wraith closed upon Di, so that it was within arm’s reach of her, the pentacle started to vibrate, once again. As soon as the vibrations started, James slowed, his movement, and cautiously continued, to move towards Di. Eventually, he reached a point, where the star started to separate, from her. Once the star was moving, towards him, James began a steady retreat. Di collapsed, in to a heap, on the floor, breathing heavily. The link told Al and Jo, that she had regained consciousness; Di started to sob, then cry.

The arcane star followed, the retreating spectre. As it did so, it steadily hastened its pace of pursuit. In response the spectre’s pace increased and hence the spectre’s lead, over the pentacle, steadily grew. The backwards retreat of the spectre, that was James, ended when it encountered a wall, but the fiery star’s unrelenting advance continued and grew even faster.

When Al rounded the side of the house, her pace slowed, for she saw, with her own eyen, that Jo was alive, unharmed and outside, the garage. Almost at the same moment as she received this reassurance, a scream echoed out, form within the garage and the link informed Jo and Al why Di had screamed.

Relentlessly, the magical pentacle continued its advance, upon the spectral James, whose form rested upon the wall. Eventually, it closed, to within inches of his spectral form. At which point, Di started to rise, until she received, «No! Stay there!»

Upon each vibration of an atom, James’s spectral form expanded, and slowly spread itself over the whole expanse of the wall’s surface. As he expanded, the pentacle too grew in size, until it was almost the full height of the garage, but as the pentacle’s size grew its advance slowed. Finally, when it was about to touch the spectre, the spectral self – of James – passed into the wall. Invisibly, a few instants later, James’s spectral body reformed, outside the garage, as he did so there was a detonation, which happened when the pentacle touched the wall. The pentacle disintegrated and its fragments streaked back, to Di, who cried out when the fragments re-entered her body. Upon recovering from that, Di tore the ring, from her finger and flung it across the room.

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In Search Of A Master (Part 4)

IV

A cold motionless thing sensed easy prey, move close to its dark, resting place; the creature’s perception and sense of its prey changed, as the prey closed in, on its resting place. The prey headed for it, as if it knew exactly where its lair was. Its first perceptions of its prey had been food approaches, then that changed to a big meal approaches, eventually its feeling about what approached it became danger comes. After the creature awoke; it remained motionless, not even breathing. Once fully awake, it sensed a near void, where the other’s consciousness, should have been. When the creature heard the heart beat, of the one that approached its resting place, the creature thought, what is wrong with me, what is there to be scared of, it just one puny little human. This new confidence lasted only for a fraction of a second, for the creature heard, in the distance, another heartbeat, that seemed to be racing, despite the exceptional power, of each, of its beats. Silently, the creature prepared to make its attack. Eventually, the slower heart beat closed, to within a couple of yards, of the creatures resting place, at which point, a huge was the aura, of power, washed over the creature. Having begun its attack, the creature had been so surprised, by the wave of power, that flowed over her, that it paused midway into her attack. It was to amazement, that her surprised turned, when she noticed that her prospective prey had shut eyen.

There had been no attempt to avoid Di’s hands, by the creature, that had arisen from the car’s boot. As soon as Di’s hands made contact with the creature, it cried out, at the inhuman chill of Di’s touch and the total wrongness, of what was happening. A desperate need for survival and the impact of Di’s touch finally shocked the vampire, into renewing its attack. Instants after the vampire had cried out, its mouth descended and closed on Di’s throat. As fangs tore at her flesh, Di’s hands grabbed the vampire’s head, only for the vampire to seconds later start sucking Di’s blood. Continue reading

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In Search Of A Master (Part 3)

III

Once all of them were out, of the cellar, their mutual headache started to diminish; despite that Di remained unconscious, even after James lay Di down, next to an occupied body-bag. As soon as Jay released Di, it was with a thoroughly professional haste, that Jo checked Di over, despite which Jo could find no physical cause for Di’s condition, “The only thing I can suggest, by way of a medical cause, of her condition, is exhaustion.”

The link, between their four minds, told them that Di’s mind only functioned on a very primitive level, just doing those things needed, to continue her existence; no dreams. There was just the noise of a brain struggling to control vital functions. Al knelt by her and worked a simple divination;, for, before James and Di had joined the fellowship, Al had been the prime Operative Field Adept. James’s contact with Di, when he had carried her out of the cellar, had given him the impression that, despite her condition, Di had no real need to emit or gain energy; she was still charged with power. Despite Al casting a spell, it detected no hostile enchantments, alien influences or an external cause for Di’s unconsciousness. Frustration showed upon Al’s face, as did her desperation

and concern; “I cannot find out what is wrong, everything detects as being normal or very healthy. Jay, you…”

James’s worried face nodded, “Her body has much more energy than is normal for a mortal, she has about the same energy as when she stopped me… Much less than when she started to feed off me.”

“There might be something else that we can try;” Al searched through Di’s as well as her own pockets, “First though, you try and pass energy to her.”

James shook his head; “I can only do it if she lets me.”

“Do it!” Al guided his hands down onto Di. As soon as they made contact, James tried channelling energy to Di, but he could not overcome her innate resistance to such activities. After the initial failure, James next tried to get her to steal it from him, that failed as well, because she was too deeply unconscious to even do it, subconsciously. Continue reading

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In Search Of A Master (Part 2)

II

Having freed herself from James’s embrace, Di moved, to the rear and leant against a wall. Kneeling James opened his tool bag, as in a distant corner, of the cellar, a shape moved. Before Di knew what had happened, Al was stood, between her and the moving shape and James had pulled a light out, of the bag, and turned it on.

As the light’s strength grew, it slowly spread its circle of illumination out over the vast expanse of the cellar. Its light first illuminated the tool bag and a small circle of the cellar’s earthen floor. Then James, Al and Di were in the pool, of light. Expanding slowly, the circle of light encompassed one, then three and finally — when the light reached all of the cellar — there were five massive wooden chests illuminated, by it. It was at this time, that Di saw, why Al had moved, to shield her, this triggered the raising and aiming of her repeating crossbow, at the feral humanoid shape, that leapt, from the corner, of the cellar. Dropping the shotgun, Al allowed blades to spring forth from her hands, as she jumped, to intercept the creature.

With incomprehensible speed, James moved, to protect Di, “Di? What do you mean, they’re all too young…”

Di thought back to him; «Use the link, you idiot. Not enough power here, an army of these…»

Parrying the creature’s fangs, with her sinister blade, as it went to bite her, Al’s dexter one punched, through the creatures leathery stomach. If leather covered bone, could have, formed expressions, the creature’s face would have shown its surprise. What is this thing, it is too fast to be living and it is certainly not one of us, the unquiet ones, were the general nature of its thoughts, as Al’s hand reached up, through the gash, in its stomach, and tore out its heart.

James sent, «They’re waking.» Continue reading

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In Search Of A Master (Part 1)

I

The day was exceptionally hot, even for July, which was, just over, a week away. The sun was nearing its zenith, in a cloudless sky, as a black VW van turned into the drive, of a large, old house. There was not even a discernible shadow being cast, by the properties tall boundary hedge. Despite the brightness, of the day, the three occupants, of the van’s cab, were in deep shadow and only discernible as three female shapes. The van slowed, to a stop, close to the house’s front door. Before the van had stopped moving, the cab’s passenger door was open and Jo stepped out, running up to the front door of the house. Di, the other, front seat, passenger, and Al, the driver, disembarked once the van had stopped moving. They went to the van’s sliding side door. Jo was, by then, knelt before the house’s front door. Di gestured with her hands and muttered, as Al slowly opened, the van’s side door, a few inches. With her left hand, Di reached into the van, then smiled at Al; the signal received, with exceptionally speed, the van’s door slid back, though it only softly slid, into its retainer. As it did so, the only sound it made was the click of the mechanism, that held the door open. A man in a heavy overcoat, gloves and a hood, which had no eye holes — all of which were made of leather — exited from the van. Taking him by the hand, Di led him up to the house. Having lifted a bulging kit bag, out of the van, Al closed the door, to the van, and strode passed Di and the man.

Al entered the house, where Jo held the door open, for then. Jo smiled, as the man approached, the front door, “James Redfern, please enter this house and be welcome.”

Di glared at Jo, “Shut it changeling! We’ve got…”

Jo closed the door, behind them; “It is always safest to obey the lore.”

James moved quickly, to a shadowy corner of the hall, where he slumped, against a wall. As Di shot a concerned glance, towards him, Al pulled a pistol and an ammo belt from the kit bag, throwing them to Jo as she softly, almost inaudibly, said Jo’s name. Jo caught them, without looking towards Al. On reaching James, Di removed his gloves and coat, then slowly and tenderly removed his hood. Once it was removed, it revealed that James’s face showed signs of sunburn. Seeing this, Di closed her eyes and stoked his temples, with her fingertips as Jo asked, “Is he all right?”

Before Di could answer, Al passed her a crossbow and a quiver of bolts. Di took them, “Thanks Al. He’s better than we could have hoped, for him to be. We will just have to find a better hood, for days like today.” Continue reading

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Fool’s Bubbles

How Honeymoons Came To An End

Dionysus sought a new following for his revels and the vine, so he took on a new form, that would allowed him to travel, far and wide, with great speed. Across those lands, where the vine held sway, his shape journeyed, after which he flew on over the sea, unto his destination, which was a group of islands, where the vine was unknown. As he sawed over there, he looked down upon them and saw revels, but no sign of reverence, for him or his beloved vines. After an age of watching, he landed in a wood and took on a human form. Upon landing, he sensed that the islands were hostile to him, even to their bedrock — he and his were an unwelcome visitor to those shores.

There was, in the wood, a revel that rivalled the wildest that he had ever attended. Despite the joyousness of the revel, his mood was dark, for there were none of his wines or vines within his divine perceptions. After having observed the festivities for a time, Dionysus moved towards where they were held. Entering the revellers’ clearing, Dionysus was uncertain of the reception he would receive. As soon as he entered, a skin of liquid was passed to him, only form him to doubt his perceptions, once he had smelt the contents, of the skin. The drink reminded him of the nectar, of Olympus, but he was not in the presence of his father, and the other Olympians. When eventually he tasted it, his mood became darker still, for the drink tasted even finer than the best Olympian Nectar. A voice echoed, in his mind, “Yes! Vine Lord! True nectar. Not your low wine, fruit of the vine. Where do you think old Bright Eyes gets his…”

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Doing Business (Part 2)

II

Small Print

The red suited man’s butler shoved a nervous man, in to the chamber, where red reclined in an opulent leather chair. Seated in his chair, the man swirled his glass, of brandy; “Brouge have the gates closed yet?” The butler nodded. With his question answered, the Seated man pointed to a low, uncomfortable chair; “You, sit there. Brouge, put the news on.”

The television boomed; “Tonight, the major stories are: the end of a corporate empire, cruelty at the Palace, the YEG split, and corporate fraud. First, tonight’s main story, the worst storms in living memory.” That report started with a piece from the Met Office, that tried to explain, why they had not predicted the storm. Rather than answer the question, the spokesperson highlighted the exceptionally rapid waxing and waning of the storm. There followed pieces from around the country: a few were about floodlights, at sports grounds; one was about a cancelled pop concert; another concerned a soap personality’s account, of seeing his garage roof being blown off and a there was also long piece about Blackie, a cat, and its ordeal. Over a shot of Blackie and her curvaceous blonde owner, who was dressed in a diaphanous negligee, the news reader closed the story, “The storm caused numerous road accidents, destroyed many buildings and several hundred people lost their lives in it. Later we will have more, on the storm. Now for Royal news, Lucy Walsh reports. The royal news was an account, of a palace servant, who had been fired, for biting a corgi, which had bitten her. There followed a story, of corporate fraud and corruption, by the Baron Corporation. Dealings in the company’s stocks had been suspended and the Official Receiver had been called in. To close the story, there was an official, from the SFO, announcing the start of their investigation into the company.

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