Descendant 109 – Old Devil – Chapter 02

This entry is part 38 of 39 in the series Current

The astral body was the impression left by a person on the astral plane, comprised of a combination of core emotions, self image, impressions from others, and in some cases their powers or magic.

Kareem had lain eyes on many astral bodies in his life; the deep azure of heroic souls, a manifestation of the legendary cart of Juggernaut, the tortured forms of transfigured monsters—but never something like this.

The man sitting calmly on his rocking chair, was, on the astral where the self of self was rendered visible, a giant in golden armor. True gold, free of the blue normal human astral forms possessed or the rose tint of the astral’s matter. And not only golden, but of a design he’d never seen; historical or fictional. It was made up of a chaos of edges and rounds the blended together into something that completely ensconced a form three times larger than the man’s actual body, and it blazed with an ambient power that was colorless, yet somehow burned bright.

The helm was a horned thing with a heavy brow ridge with eyes blazing with the same energy. Though bowed heavily forward as the group approached, the astral form’s head rose at their proximity, locking eyes with Kareem—independent of the man it belonged to.

Under the full brunt of this figure’s attention, reflexes Kareem hadn’t been aware of closed off his astral sight in an action that was the psychic equivalent to covering one’s eyes. For truth, he had to restrain himself from physically flinching.

Stop.” He said, working to keep the awe and mounting fear out of his voice as he addressed Boarder.

The telekinetic board stuttered and paused in air. “What’s wrong?” she asked, looking around. As far as she could see, there was just a man down below enjoying a cup of coffee.

It is very hard to explain right now, but that man there may be very powerful—or possibly not even human.”

Human,” The man in the chair said in a loud, clear voice without shouting, “And with very good hearing. You must be powerful too, since you were able to get here on purpose. That or incredibly determined.”

Callie hemmed a bit, before saying, “We’re here for our friends. They came to visit you, then disappeared.“

The man huffed a laugh. “Of course those were your friends. I’ll mark that down as powerful and determined.” It was only then that he decided to look up at them. “I expected costumes… or disguises.” Keeping his coffee in one hand, he rolled the wrist of the other. “Go ahead and land. You won’t find a fight from me—not a good one at least.” He gave them a small smile whose purpose was known only to him. “Not unless you attack first.”

Green Boarder didn’t respond immediately. Instead, she leaned forward and muttered to Kareem. “What’s the play? Rebound usually lets them talk, or let’s TM distract them.”

Kareem nodded slowly and gestured for her to set them down. “We can hear him out, but be prepared to lift us immediately if he isn’t being sincere about not intending violence.”

With tentative motion that matched the Boarder’s mindset, the board landed on the walkway, but didn’t fade away. None of the four young heroes stepped off.

The caution makes sense,” the man commented. “But there’s no reason for use to be unfriendly. “You can call me Winceslao. I assume I can call you Green Boarder, Hope, Ephemeral and Vamanos?”

You know about us and our friends,” Kareem observed, “May I ask how?”

Winceslao rolled his eyes. “I feel like you can come up with a better question then how I know some of the most famous people in the country, two of whom you know came to my house.”

Kareem’s eyes narrowed a little, but the rest of his expression remained neutral. “Can you tell me where they are then?”

And if they’re in danger?” Callie chimed in.

The small smile on Winceslao’s face broadened. “Now those… are good questions.”

***

So these guys are what? Protomorphs?” Teen Machine asked before another volley of cannon fire slammed into Zero’s barrier. The whole thing flashed and distorted, nearing its limits despite the less advanced weaponry.

I’ve got it, Z. Levanto esta pared!” Lisa conjured a wall of force just in front of the shield. Then she looked to Teen Machine. “And.. I don’t know. Now that I know what to listen for, I just know they’re speaking like… a weird dialect or something?”

Rebound watched as the apparent infantry of the creatures disappeared into the tree line, following the movement as they started moving through the jungle. “They’re trying to flank us; get round the shield. I get the impression you two don’t know where we are or what’s going on any more than we do.”

It was the doing of the disciple of Hyrilius,” Icthiani spat. “He deceived us and sent us here.”

Hyrilius?” Zephyrus said, “how can that be? Mankinds do not live that long for one of his disciples to still survive.”

That’s all a very complex and confusing situation that may or may not mean Hyrilius was a time traveler, and Winceslao may be immortal somehow. There wasn’t a lot of time to ask questions before He said he had something to help us and this happened.” Lisa failed entirely to clarify.

Is this what he calls help?” Facsimile asked.

Alloy looked around, finding the creatures moving through the jungle that Rebound had pointed out. “Maybe it’s a test.” When all this did was gain a few confused looks, he added, “We came here because of Avalon old timey magic stuff was all about tests for the heroes to prove themselves worthy of whatever they’re questing for.”

Is that something real wizards do?” asked Glass. She shifted back and forth uneasily, looking from the jungle to the strange thing on the water that fired the cannon balls.

I really wish I could give an answer for that,” said Lisa, using her D-icon to summon her Occult costume. “But it’s as good an option as any. That means we have to beat these guys to pass, right?”

Teen Machine stepped astride Thumbelina, wirelessly connecting the power from his prosthetics to the bike, allowing it to hum to life. “In that case, let’s get to it!” With that, he veered around the shield and toward the hulk on the water and the centaurs in the intervening space.”

Immediately, Rebound leapt in to direct the action. “Lady D, overwatch. Z, back TM up. Glass with me, close in fight—we can’t let them get out of the jungle where they can use their weapons effectively.” And then he and his team were off, Icthiani flying straight up and summoning fire to her hands while her brother dashed after Teen Machine.

Blinking at the efficiency of the west coast team, Facsimile took a second to gather herself before shout, “Us too… uh…”

Meanwhile, Alloy had been watching the enemy and thinking. Given the nature of his powers, he’d spent a great deal of time studying armor and weapons. In the process, he’d picked up a lot of ancillary information on the people who wore and wielded them. Something about the creatures they were fighting, combined with lead bullets and cannon shot and speaking Spanish was clicking in his mind.

Zero, Occult,” He finally spoke as Facsimile tried to come up with a battle plan. “When I say go, drop the shields. Fax, we need a look at the thing in the water and you’re just the person that can get to it. Stay high and the cannons shouldn’t be able to get you. Occult, I need you to translate for me.”

What’ve you got in mind?” Facsimile asked,

A guess for now,” Alloy responded, straightening his shoulders and focusing his power. “Drop the shield.” Years of trust allowed the tekekinetic and the sorceress to lower their defenses without hesitation. As soon as the twin walls of energy flickered out of being, he brought his power to bear, targeting the cannonballs in the sand.

The iron spheres disintegrated into ribbons of dull metal that rushed at him in an instant. They twisted and melted around him, building upon each other and layering into a breastplate, greaves, a metal skirt and a helmet with a pronounced crest and a brim that heavily evoked the heads of the creatures they faces. Hammered and engraved designs appeared on the helm and breastplate.

With a powerful gesture to the side, Alloy also formed a broadsword in his hand and raised it aloft.

You men there,” he said.

Picking up what he needed, Occult stepped forward behind him and translated and he repeated the reply in a bellow. “Dame tu atencion!

In the name of God, lay down your arms.”

En el nombre de Dios, bajen sus armas.

The two centaurs glanced at one another. One of them barked out angrily and raised its blade hand. “Blasphemia! Moryas poraystay insultos!” They both charged.

Occult started to translate, but Alloy was quick to say, “I heard ‘blasphemy’. That did not work how I hoped. Plan B. Boys?”

Hearing his call, Isp and Osp lashed out. They caught the first centaur across the chest, lifting it bodily and sending it crashing into the sand. The one following it reared and danced back, only to be struck just the same and sent toppling backward.

“Really confused now,” said Alloy. “Why would they know what ‘blasphemy’ is if—crap” While he’d been speaking, the centaurs had, with speed and grace belying their equine bodies, gotten to their feet.

***

It’s a complex question, really,” Winceslao said, rocking gently in his chair. “One might say isn’t a dangerous business going out your door. I mean, you step into the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off too.”

Green Boarder raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that…”

“Just because I’m centuries old doesn’t mean I don’t read a book or catch a movie now and then. I prefer the Jackson trilogy to the Watson epic from a couple years ago. You know, I remember when movies weren’t four hour affairs. If it was going to last that long they’d do a series or at least send it to streaming…” He frowned. “Not that an old man can’t ramble on. What were we talking about?”

“Our friends being in danger.” Kareem replied warily. It wasn’t clear if all this was an act or not.

Winceslao chuckled. “Right. Well I can’t promise they are in absolutely no danger. I person can trip and fall and break their neck on a rock, or drown in about a tablespoon of water. We’re surprisingly fragile beings like that, and I’m careful, but not so careful that harm is impossible. So I would say… minimal danger?”

“Then you know where they are!” Vamanos said.

“And you put them there,” Hope surmised.

The older man perked up, smiling genuinely. “Yes on both counts. I promised the Heir I would give them something since she came so far just to find out you all aren’t actually one the trail of artifacts designed to fight Maeve perse. And what kind of gift-giver would I be if I didn’t provide a demonstration.”

“You aren’t explaining the situation very well,” said Kareem.

Winceslao shrugged. “Real people, even actual aged sages, don’t spend their time practicing exposition. Then again, sometimes real people are cryptic assholes who haven’t had the opportunity to flaunt their magic in a few hundred years, so there’s also that.”

Hope glared at him. “You’re toying with us.”

“All of you.” he laughed, “But come on, it’s not like you haven’t dealt with tricksters already. Shouldn’t you be used to it?”

“No,” Hope said flatly. “Bring them back. Right now.”

Winceslao frowned and rolled his eyes. “Did… you expect that to work? What are you going to do? Beat on me? You don’t know what happened to your friends, where they are, whether that is connected to me or not. You really do need training. You haven’t dealt with nearly enough magical foes to understand how it works.”

“Nonetheless, we are not simply going to accept your word that our friends are in… ‘minimal danger’. Kareem straightened his shoulders. More than the others, he knew the astral and therefore likely magical power the man they faced wielded. “You do not seem intent on violence, so tell us what we must do to win them back.”

Setting aside his drink, Winceslao rocked more in his chair. “Hmm. Better. But most of the time you’ll have to figure that out yourself… or realize that I didn’t expect to leave some of you out and it might not be up to you to win this game.”

Kareem mentally linked to the others, explaining the bare bones plan he was putting together. At the same time, he shook his head. “I’m sorry, Mister Winceslao, but that isn’t acceptable. You know enough about us to know that much.”

A slow smile spread across the disciple of Hyrilius’s face. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

To Be Continued…

Series Navigation<< Descendant 109 – Old Devils – Chapter 01Descendant 109 – Old Devil – Chapter 03 >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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7 Comments

  1. Who knew Faerie had the Spanish Main? Not me.

  2. Cool, I’m all caught up again. Good to see you’ve time for this again Vaal, and yes it is a good read. Comments are turned off for arc 106 & 107, if you want those typo-checked I’ll need to add the list to a more recent chapter or something – let me know?

    Typos for this chapter

    (The first chapter in this arc thinks it’s in the Old Devils arc, this one thinks it’s in the Old Devil (singular) arc.)

    let’s TM distract them.”
    lets TM distract them.”

    (Possibly intentional? Winceslao here, Wenceslao in the chapter he first appeared in. Multiple references in each chapter.)

    the intervening space.”
    the intervening space.

    they faces.
    they faced.

    Maeve perse.
    Maeve per se.

    in… ‘minimal danger’
    in… ‘minimal danger’”

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