Friday, October 14, 2011

The Evil Behind a Sweet Face - From Druid Derrick, a work in progress

During his new moon’s fast, both the Lady and her consort visited Derrick. The Lady’s touch left him staggering, but Actaeon’s massive hand kept him on his feet until he could retain his own balance. Though their visit was silent and quite brief compared to other visits, the Lady’s smile and Actaeon’s nod were infinitely more preferable to her displeasure and his punishment.

For the first time, Derrick didn’t pass out when the new spells were crowded into his brain, but none-the-less, the overlarge boulder rattling around between his ears kept him indoors for several days, moving from his bed only when his stomach clamored for some attention, or when he couldn’t put off going to the outhouse any longer.

When his headache finally lifted, he had to catch up on spring chores and patrols, and he had to send a message to the Grand Druid; he’d never gotten around to sending one last time.

He was just returning from the mountain and his Fertility Ceremony, two weeks after the Lady’s visit, fully intending to be spending the night in the grove for the full moon, but he found a halfling pacing back and forth before his door. Waiting for his arrival.

“I have news that may interest you,” he said, even before Derrick had crossed half the yard.

“Who died?” asked Derrick. Seriously, he couldn’t think of any other reason for the halfling’s distress.

“My brother’s sister’s cousin’s oldest son saw a girl heading this way and more humans are following her, chasing her. She means trouble if you ask me.”

“Where?” asked Derrick, finding it hard not to smile at the family tree string the little man had felt the need to clarify.

“When I got the news, she’d already passed my cousin’s sister’s place. Has everyone in an uproar, she does.”

“Tell me how to find her, so I can make sure she doesn’t find anything she shouldn’t.”

“Well then, you might cross her track if you head south east of here. I’m sure she’s passed my old gaffer’s place by now.”

“And her followers? What can you tell me about them?”

“They’re humans.”

“Are they carrying weapons? Are they out to do damage to the girl? Can you tell?”

“Three men and a woman. They make a lot of noise. Don’t know anything else about ‘em.”

“Okay. Thanks for the warning. I’ll see if I can find her. See if she’s in trouble. Keep her out of trouble. You go on home and tell everyone to stay out of sight.”

“Eh. Nobody sees…” but the halfling was already trotting off and what exactly nobody sees was lost by distance and decreasing volume as his words rapidly decreased to a mutter.

Smiling, Derrick stepped into the house and collected his bow and quiver, then, thinking to increase his chances of finding the girl, he changed into a wolf. It would allow him to travel faster too.

It was midafternoon when he found her, but he didn’t really have all that much trouble; she wasn’t trying to hide. She seemed to be more interested in traveling fast than anything else.

Not wanting to frighten her, he shifted back before stepping into her view. Not that he was any less dangerous as a human, but at least he would be upright and a safe sight.

As soon as she saw him, she turned to run, but he called out, “Wait. Are you lost? Can I help you?”

At Derrick’s words, she spun on the spot, tears suddenly streamed down her face and sobs shook her voice. “Oh I’m so glad I found someone. I was so afraid I’d be lost forever. Help me please. There are people chasing me. They’re…” But then the tears vanished and whatever else she was going to say, never got said. Instead, she said, “Cyr cestal,” then did a small happy dance right there. “I’ve never had human magic to play with before,” she said. “It tastes different.”

The sudden tears and sobs, and the equally sudden lack of them weren’t nearly as stunning as the result of the elven words she’d uttered. She’d used his own magic against him and he was too surprised to resist. And though she’d called the spell using ‘hold human’ rather than ‘hold person’, it had worked well enough. What he thought was merely a six-year-old little girl – maybe an albino – was really an elf, but never before had he heard of any creature being able to make use of another’s personal magic; there were scrolls and potions enough for that.

“Ailos,” she said next, her word allowing her to inflict whatever damage she chose, fortunately, she only elected to cut the tendons at his heels; it wasn’t life-threatening damage, but without healing, he’d be unable to walk. The hold person spell did nothing to support him, nor did it shield him from feeling the pain, but it did prevent him from crying out, though he thought he might explode with the need.

She watched dispassionately as he was toppled onto the grass and then she pulled his weapons away and tossed them out of reach. Lastly she pulled his cloak free and started going through the pockets, giggling with glee at every discovery.

At the sound of a far away call, she said, “Shar os sys,” drawing a close circle around them with a wave of her hand, her words causing a wall of thorns to surround them and cutting him off from any hope of reaching his weapons. Nothing, but the smallest creatures were going to get past the three-inch thorns and his weapons were now beneath them.

When it started to sprinkle she looked up with indignation, as if ‘how dare nature spit on her’, but then the appropriate spell was there for that too. “Aelesi tyr,” she called out, touching herself in the center of her chest, but endure elements wasn’t quite what she wanted. Though it was a bit chilly, and now damp, there was no damage being done, not yet, and her coat was warm enough. Furious, she turned to Derrick. “Why didn’t it work?” She flipped the rain from her fingers at him saying, “Cori mae,” turning each drop into a tiny, very sharp projectile.

It was like getting a dozen sudden paper cuts and all of them laced with salt, and now that the hold person spell was just wearing off, Derrick was free to voice his pain, now redoubled since this new assault caused him to move his feet, which felt like they were on fire.

Desperately trying to get a grip on himself, he clamped his jaws on any further outcry. “Why are you doing this?” he asked through clenched teeth, the words nearly making room for another cry of pain, but he managed to keep it to a gasp. He was trying to buy time, time to gather his wits and his strength, time to figure out what he could do.

“Because I can,” she said suddenly quite happy. “I’m thirsty. Taeri sharaes,” she said, creating a pitcher of water and winning a groan from Derrick. Then suddenly, once again, she spun on him, totally furious. “Why isn’t there a cup? Cori mae!” she screamed, and then let out an even louder scream of pure frustration when there was no more drizzle for her to turn into knife spray. Derrick was thankful she didn’t think to throw the pitcher of water at him; it would have killed him in an instant.

Once again her mood switched with the speed of a thought and she turned away, drinking deep from the lip of the pitcher, and then she set it over to the side of their space, safe for later.

Derrick had never been so stunned. Every spell she cast felt like she was grabbing at his magical energy with a hard cold fist, yanking it to her control with force enough to take him to near fainting each time. Every spell she cast was every bit a blow as any affect the spell itself had.

Her thirst slackened, she swept down on him and pulled his shirt open. There was no retreat. He couldn’t move beyond her reach. He couldn’t think. She combed her fingers down his chest and then flattened her palm right above his thumping heart. “It’s been a long day,” she said with exaggerated sweetness. “Paer caer,” she said so sweetly as to belie the intent of the death knell spell. It was supposed to be used on an already fatally injured creature. Their final life force going to bolster the casters energy, thus giving him vital energy needed to continue whatever battle he was fighting for a little while longer, perhaps long enough to survive the encounter. The spell worked best that way, but it worked to a certain degree no matter what. Cast on a relatively healthy person, the victim was only weakened for a while. The energy she took from Derrick must have been sweet nonetheless, because she let out a sigh of relish, or perhaps it was just more over dramatization.

Derrick remembered the one time he’d used this spell. The man had died. Had he died from the spell? Derrick found himself wishing for that end – briefly.

Derrick had never felt the like before; not only was she sucking at his magical strength like a vampire sucks at blood, but she was damaging him too – only a little here and a little there, but mind-numbing damage just the same. This was more insidious even than a wraith’s touch. He rolled up with a growl to reach for her.

“Ailos,” she cried, and as if he had just put his hand through a glass window, his arm was shredded from his hand to his elbow.

Derrick recoiled. “Stop this,” he yelled.

“Oh no,” she said with a very sweet smile. Her smile looked truly evil coming from such a young and innocent looking face.

Returning to an earlier tactic, she said, “Vaerorali.” Making him wonder why she wanted a resistance spell. But then she examined a pinch of something very fine sticking to her damp fingers and she smiled through slitted eyes. “Aili mys,” she cried as she flicked the bit of damp dust in the air with an exaggerated flourish.

Derrick took some satisfaction from watching her realize that her resistance spell wasn’t as much protection from her ice storm spell as she expected, but she took shelter under Derrick’s cloak and then hunkered down close to her thorn wall and so took remarkably little damage. Derrick wasn’t so lucky. Sprawled out under the full brunt of the short storm, he thought he might die. If the storm had lasted longer than a few minutes, he would have died. He threw his left arm over his eyes to protect his face from the snowball sized hail stones, but that left the rest of him vulnerable, though he rolled over onto his side to protect his vitals. By the time the hail stopped, he was left with broken ribs, a broken arm and hand and deep bruises. Just before he passed out, he heard the girl let out a whoop of glee as if it had been the height of fun for her.

When he woke, he found himself upright and bound tightly in the thorn bushes that made up their barrier. She was pacing back and forth in front of him. What did she have in store for him now? Though he had used all of his spells at some point or other during his existences, he had never done so to only one enemy and never with such meticulous glee. It was as if she couldn’t wait to cast the next spell and do the next bit of damage, though that last was more than just a bit of damage.

As soon as she noticed his eyes tracking her pacing she said, “Thaes os Pys,” effectively combining two spells into one command by telling him to fear his doom without bothering to tell him what his doom was supposed to be. She didn’t really need to though; he already felt doomed and he had never been so afraid – not ever. The pain of the sharp thorns helped him resist struggling though; it wasn’t healthy to struggle while in the grip of a wall of thorns. Was it the magical energy she relished, or was it his pain? He couldn’t tell. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember ever encountering anyone like this little girl before.

Much to Derrick’s dismay, she apparently wasn’t satisfied with the amount of damage her thorns were doing, so she cast another minor wounds spell, ensuring that each spot where a thorn touched his skin did indeed pierce, allowing a trail of blood to escape from each puncture.

Derrick spit blood from his mouth. The pain from her spells was forcing his chest muscles into immobility making breathing nearly impossible and making his head spin. She didn’t seem to be in the slightest concerned as she cast thornwrack saying, “Sys shas,” and drew a scream out of him, drowning out her giggles of delight.

Over the next ten eternal minutes, Derrick’s ribs grew jagged thorns of their own. One thorn at a time, eight in total, drilled its way slowly out through his skin from the inside until the bur was several inches long and had torn an inch wide hole in his flesh, then they began to recede, infinity slower than they had grown, grinding their way back through their wound. Derrick was helpless, but to cry out and writhe against the thorn barrier. By the time the bony thorns were gone, Derrick was drenched in blood.

Long before the spell was over – long before even half of the thorns had burst through his skin – the girl grew bored. There was no variety, just screaming and squirming and bleeding, so “Shaer tarn” were her next words, and her fingers turned to razors, and with them, she played ‘connect the dots’ by tracing slow and careful cuts from thorn to thorn as they appeared and even including some of the dots created from exterior thorns.

Derrick heard a sound that might have been a voice, but then the girl said, “Shi paes” and all sound was wiped away. Even if her pursuers were close, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to muster enough air to call out to them.

A few moments, and another spell, later he felt her mind in his. Not that she’d said much before, but now Derrick could taste her demented reasoning.

Unfortunately, the spell worked both ways and his revulsion pissed her off. She took a swipe at his belly with her razor clawed hands, but the beast claws spell picked that moment to run out – at least his guts were still inside where they belonged. That didn’t stop her from using a cause light wounds spell to do some of the damage she’d intended with the claws, and what was whole of the skin across his chest and belly grew more cuts.

And then to further torture him, she said, “Caes os si shaes.” Casting bear’s heart to falsely emboldened him and feed him strength to draw out her game, but he knew it wouldn’t last long enough for him to accomplish enough, so, though he felt stronger, he horded it carefully. When the spell ran out, it would tax him enough without spending what it offered, and he didn’t have much left to fall back on.

Finally her thoughts turned toward furthering her escape, this game was getting boring and her care-jailors were getting close – a thought Derrick relished. An end, any end would do, even death. Hastily, she started to cast spells on herself, or for herself, as the case may be. She created food and wrapped it up in his cloak then she made fire seeds twice to arm herself with eight acorn firebombs. Then she cast death ward, barkskin, magic vestment and endurance on herself as fast as she could put them together – each spell leaving Derrick feeling deflated and weaker. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth; he no longer had the energy to spit.

In the middle of that, bear’s heart wore off and Derrick fainted. She woke him with more pain, though he hurt so much already, he couldn’t determine what other damage she’d done, and then she said, “ai tystal o sais hi molail.” He was a moment understanding the elven words, but the command silenced him just as well. In her place, he would have simply left himself unconscious, but no, she just had to wake him. Another spell told her which direction was north and then wind walk took her away.


Did she get away scott free? You may have to wait until the book comes out. A little sweet talking might get you an answer though.


Roy Durham said...

good read Anna and the story is coming alone well, i hope mine will do as well.

Anna L. Walls said...

Thanks Roy. And thanks for stopping by