Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 3

This entry is part 27 of 55 in the series Current

In the days following the establishment of her connection to magic as a force, Lisa learned a great deal. For one, the ley lines of Earth weren’t the great rivers of magic she’d come to think of them as—not compared to how magic manifested on Faerie. In reality, the ley lines were like small streams and brooks, their formerly meager trickles once more burgeoning thanks to Morganna’s ritual years prior. The nexuses where one or more line intersected were ponds or small lakes.

By comparison, Faerie was the magical equivalent of Minnesota: a land of a thousand lakes. Not just lakes but inland seas. And in Passion Gate, so close to where Hyrilius as a fully realized sorcerer had tied together all local pools of power to create an eternal power source for his Vault, it was nothing less than an ocean.

Knowing this gave her new insight into the natives of Faerie and even the fey: they had evolved in a world saturated with magic. It was as much a part of their world as iron or oxygen were part of Earth. Their ‘powers’ were spells they developed naturally in response to their environment.

And as a sorcerer, capable of manipulating external magic on a massive scale, she was now able to create some effects intuitively. It was an aspect of sorcery that Cohl hadn’t even been aware of—couldn’t have been aware of simply because he wasn’t a sorcerer and Hyrilius and his cohorts never left and proof of it.

She called it her sorcerer’s Instinct, and armed with it, she realized it would change how she fought and acted to do her job as a superhero in immeasurable ways.

In a more practical sense, it meant that she was ready to try to unlock Hyrilius’s Vault days earlier than Cohl suggested earlier.

The idea that his pupil has swiftly surpassed him didn’t seem to faze him, however, as he shuffled into their usual chamber carrying a large, leather-bound book under one arm, followed closely by Chilani. “I must admit I am supremely relieved,” he said through Chilani’s translation.

“As I am no mage myself and only know the philosophical and practical aspects of these lessons, I have feared since the day this responsibility fell upon me that I would be unable to properly instruct the Heir. Seeing you advance so rapidly has removed that fear. For that reason, I have decided that today is the day that I gift to you the piece of the Legacy left in my family’s stewardship in hopes of your arrival.”

Striding with powerful steps, he knelt and placed the book just inched beyond Lisa’s folded legs.

“May I present to you, Nyundo Ya Roho Mbaya. I am to understand that its name means ‘The Hammer Against Evil Spirits’.” It was into this volume that He scribed the accounts of every successful spell and strategy he ever used in his campaigns against Maeve—and the key he used to step between the worlds. It is now yours, and whenever you are ready, I can take you and your friends to the place where the unlocking ritual can be performed.”

Lisa blinked. Even with her rapid advancement in terms of control and power, she was taken aback that this had come up so quickly. “You mean we can go home at any time now?”

Cohl waited to hear the question from Chilani before replying somewhat shamefaced. “You will be able to enter the Vault at any time you wish. Where that will lead instantly to a means of you returning to the Blue World, I have no way of knowing and cannot in good conscience say I know otherwise.”

Excitement summarily extinguished, Lisa deflated. “Oh. Right. But that is the first step, right? She put her hand on the book, feeling the hum of trapped power thrumming within it. Less than the Books by an order of magnitude, but measurably stronger than any other book of magic she’d come across. “I’m… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be so rude. Thank you for this. I really do feel honored that you would trust me with this even if I’m not showing it.”

The yeh-ti flared his nostrils and ducked his head. “I can imagine your suffering, being torn so unexpectedly from your home, given a glimmer of hope that turns out to only be just that: a glimmer. I apologize for causing such distress.”

Lisa looked down at the cover of the book. The leather hadn’t been etched or scored, but burned into intricate pattered: swirls that circled themselves endlessly in the corners, mazes along the sides, and extremely fine circles drawing closer to the center, which seemed to move as the book shifted in his hands. At the very center of the cover was an array of symbols she took to be letters forming words: the title of the work. No doubt not the language Cohl used when speaking the title.

The alien letters reminded her that there was an entire other world at stake. Dozens, maybe hundreds of sentient species, all having suffered since time immemorial from Maeve’s intermittent rule. And they had all been waiting ostensibly for her.

This wasn’t just her problem or one for her and her friends. There were more out there like Cohl and Chilani who had waited generations for the prospect of freedom from the Queen of Air and Darkness. Now she had the power to do something. Great power and also a great responsibility.

“No, I should be the one who’s sorry. Getting myself and my friends home is important, but there are more important things at stake here, aren’t they? Neither of you would be waiting for the Heir this long if there weren’t. It’s just hard to wrap my head around it. All my life, I thought there was just Earth. Understanding that there are other worlds I was never aware of, that I’m part of something that crosses worlds and stretched back in time is something I need to process is all.”

She swallowed, “I am the Heir and I will do whatever I can for yo and your people. My friends, however, are from Earth. I still need to make sure they get home safe—and that they know that that might take longer than we expected. Let me talk to them, and then we’ll do what needed to be done.”

Cohl briefly paused to converse with Chilani. The daoine woman kept stealing glances at Lisa that she recognized mostly from the same expressions on Warrick’s face whenever they worked with The Whitecoat: hero worship.

Back on Earth, Occult didn’t have that big of a fanbase. Her powers confused people who were used to descendants having one power or a suite of related powers rather than the cornucopia of seemingly random abilities she exhibited. Plus, her costume wasn’t the most toyetic or cosplay-ready in the group. Sure, she did have her devotees who liked her for being mysterious, but those generally weren’t the kind of people who would seek her out on patrol to ask for an autograph or tell her how great she was.

So it was sort of a new, odd experience to see someone looking at her specifically that way.

Meanwhile, Cohl finished what he had to say, prompting Chilani to translate. Very clearly tearing her eyes away from Lisa to stare at the floor, she did so. “We certainly understand, And we would never stand in the way of your needs. Faerie has waited this long for the fulfillment of the great Mage’s promises. Please take all the time you need. Take the Nyundo Ya Roho Mbaya with you for guidance.”

Lisa nodded hesitantly and scooped the Book up into her arms while climbing to her feet. She ducked her head in an attempt at bowing. “Thank you. I’ll be back in an hour or so.” That said, she retreated to the stairs leading out of the chamber.

***

Cohl had given an entire floor over to the uses of his off-world guests and their guides. There were enough rooms for all of them to claim one as their own, but by unspoken agreement the Earthlings decided to sleep in a single room on the principle of safety in numbers. That room was full of cushions scavenged from the other rooms to form sleep surfaces, along with the excess metal from Warrick and Dana’s armor not currently transformed into the generator and the few non-essential items they happened to bring along with them when they were transported.

Lisa found Dana in that room, lying stretched out on a pile of cushions.

The teen girl sat up with a groan the moment she heard the door open, not even looking to see who was there. “Please tell me we’re getting the hell out of here! It’s been like a week and a half and somehow a world full of weird monster people manages to be more boring than a party with my grandma! They don’t even speak English here—what’s up with that?”

Lisa didn’t bother stopping herself from rolling her eyes. “That might have something to do with the fact that Tink says this is an alien planet somewhere on the same arm of the galaxy as Earth. It’s pretty unreasonable to expect them to know even one language we do.”

Still not looking Dana tossed and turned on the cushions. “She also said humans had been here before. And the elf-looking woman knows a ton of languages. And so does Gabby!” Sitting up suddenly, she scowled at her knees. “We’ve actually gotten out of this place a few times and there’s nothing to do because we’ve got no money people here will take. If this was Imago, we’d have made like a dozen badass friends and already had a chance to spit in the big bad’s face.”

This isn’t a TV show!” Lisa said, feeling like she needed to sit down from the sheer shock she was experiencing having actually had to explain that to someone under six. “The natives don’t speak English, we are staggeringly lucky we found two people to help us, and let me tell you this as an actual superhero—we are not ready to face this big bad. If we come at Maeve with just the seven of us, we’ll lose. We’ll lose and we’ll die, okay?”

Even with the stress from the pressure she now felt settling on her, she knew that was the wrong thing to say as the words were leaving her mouth, long before she saw Dana recoil or the fear forming behind the younger woman’s eyes.

Acting before Dana could, she threw up her free hand, the other clutching the book she’d been given. “Wait. Hold on. I’m sorry. I’m… look, this Heir of Hyrilius thing is only just sinking in for me and I’m a little trigger happy right now, okay?”

Still wide-eyed, Dana nodded.

“Okay,” Lisa repeated mostly to herself, “Now I didn’t mean we’re going to die. Because we aren’t. In fact, just today, I finished my training. I can unlock the Vault now.”

All traces of fear vanished. “So we can go home!”

Lisa felt her stomach roll. Hadn’t Cohl just been admonishing himself for giving her false hope? A sigh fought itself out of her throat and she shook her head. “Not exactly.” She made it a point not to look at Dana’s face when she said that. “The way home is somewhere inside the Vault, which is a place where Maeve can’t get at us. So we’ll be safe. Getting home though? We’re going to have to find the way—and just looking at the Vault from the outside, it looks like it’s bigger than Texas.”

“Meaning it’s going to take forever the search.” After a beat, Dana’s lips quirked. “But at least we’ll be doing something instead of sitting around on our asses, right?”

Feeling some of the oppressive shame lifting, Lisa met the girl’s eyes again. “Right. Now if you want something to do, how about you come with me to find Warrick and Tink. They weren’t in the living room.”

‘The living room’ Is where they cooked and worked most days. They didn’t sleep where they cooked because after seeing how Faerie plants acted, no one among them was comfortable letting their guards down near any type of ingredient.”

“Oh,” Dana shrugged, “they busted in acting all excited and secretive and asked to borrow Gabby. Didn’t ask me along, so I was stuck here to take root.”

Lisa blinked, trying to process that. “Why would they take Gabraed and not you? It’s not like they can understand him without your help.”

“Maybe they finally have a Faerie to English dictionary and just need a guide? Though if that’s the case and they left me here to rot while they finally got out to see the world, I’m going to scream.”

“I doubt that.” Lisa replied, reaching into her reagent bag. From it, she withdrew her divining pendulum. When she first started out, she thought expense was important for magic and used a silver crystal pendant her grandmother gave her mother as a graduation present. Now, she just had a chunk of quartz on a string. It worked just as well and she didn’t have to worry about it being broken or melted in battle.

Dana crawled over to the edge of her pile of cushions as Lisa cast a quick scrying spell. “What’s that?”

The quartz, not exactly the most magically conductive of stones, glowed softly as power coursed through it, setting it swinging gently from side to side. Lisa watched it carefully. “I’m looking for them. Or more accurately, their D-icons. I made every D-icon, so I’m familiar enough with them that it takes hardly anything to scry on them.”

While she was speaking, the motion of the pendulum settled into a steady rhythm and direction, the arrowhead-shaped crystal pointing slightly down.

She smiled. “They’re very nearby. The base of the tower.”

“Maybe they needed Gabby to find them a private spot for some one-on-one action.” Dana suggested, waggling her eyebrows. “I know if I had a boyfriend and I spent a week sleeping with him in a room with a bunch of other people, I’d be about ready to scout this place for somewhere to get some satisfaction.”

Lisa eyed the other young woman. “Didn’t you start all this enthralled with the idea that you were hanging out with superheroes?”

“The mystique kind of runs out once you hear someone snore and share the funk of a week’s worth of no washing machines with them. Thank god there are baths…”

“If you think this is bad, try the smell of just one day fighting non-stop against something like golems or a dragon.” Lisa smirked at the look Dana gave her at that. “Yeah, being a superhero isn’t all cook poses and looking awesome. I was disappointed too. Anyway, let’s got find them, shall we?”

***

The grounds of arn’Chalatt-Hurth were surrounded by a ten-foot wall of baked clay bricks and some sort of black mortar that dried into shiny lines in the masonry. The grounds themselves consisted of multi-level areas of colorful mosaics, brass fountains bent into pleasing, organic shapes, and sandy rock gardens. As was usual for Faerie architecture, there wasn’t a spec of living flora save for a few carefully cultivated lichens.

One of the rock gardens completely encircled the base of the tower save for the main stairs and incorporated rocks as tall as seven or so feet tall in its design, which ran right up to the wall.

Lisa and Dana, guided by the scrying pendulum followed the garden around the side of arn’Chalatt-Hurth until the came upon a peculiar sight: Warrick was atop on of the huge standing stones, lying flat on his stomach so his head and forearms hung down into the narrow gap between his stone and the next. Tink, sporting her goggles, was dashing around the periphery carrying a squirming bag and calling out instructions excitedly.

“What the…” Dana started as they drew closer.

Her question was partially answered when something burst from the shade provided by the rocks, followed by both the gray blur of Gabraed and the silver one that was Isp. While the fey cat was fleet of foot, he was no match for the sapient tentacle, which flashed past him and flowered open into something like a metal net, which swiftly ensnared the first shape and swept it into the air.

Said air was split by panicked thrills and whistled coming from inside Isp’s trap.

“Yes! One more for our side!” Tink whooped and ran over to the tentacle.

Lisa stared for a second before glancing to Dana. “Okay, I’m with you: What the hell?” She put on more speed in approaching her friends and teammates. “Tink, Warrick? What’s all this about?”

As it turned out, Isp was the first to reply, presenting its catch like a proud fisherman. The creature caught in the net’s strands resembled a small bear, or a very fat weasel. Its fur was dark brown, shaping lighter toward the belly. Along its back was a thick band of darker brown, lozenge-shaped scales that ran from the crown of its skull to the tip of its tail. Its paws seemed too large for its body with long, thick, rounded nails on each of six toes. Even as Lisa watched, it pressed its digits together, forming the nails into a single shovel on each paw.

“You… decided to hunt rodents?” was all Lisa could think to ask.

Tink looked up, cinching the squirming bag closed. With the index finger of a free hand, she pushed her glasses back up her nose. “Oh. Well we didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up before we were sure, so we needed lab animals to test.”

“We asked Gabraed to flush out some kind of non-sentient vermin and he’d get to eat whichever ones he caught before the twins.”

Starting to go cross-eyed, Lisa decided to just cut to the heart of things. “Okay, but why do you need lab animals again?”

“Oh,” it only just then occurred to Tink that she hadn’t explained the whole thing, “We were taking stock of what we had again and Warrick made a comment about wishing we could just mirror portal back home. Then it occurred to me that we don’t actually know the maximum range for the mirror network and never actually tried using the D-icons to open a portal.”

A smile spread across her face. “Well, Warrick made a steel mirror and we tried—and the portal connected.”

“Sweet, then we can go home!” cheered Dana, “I don’t know what you’re really talking about, but it means we can go home, right?”

“As soon as we know the portal won’t kill us going through it,” Tink cut her off. “Considering where we are, traveling home means traveling faster than light—faster than anything humanity can conceive of. Taking the Special Theory of Relativity into account, we might explode into particles, or blow a hole through the planet by striking it at infinite mass. So we’re going to run some experiments before we try going through on our own.”

Warrick sat up on his rock, grinning broadly. “But we’re dealing with magic here, so I’m going to say it’s a pretty safe ‘yes’. Guess you don’t have to complete your Heir training after all, Lis.”

But Lisa shook her head. “Actually…

To Be Continued…

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2 Comments

  1. ‘Nyundo Ya Roho Mbaya’ – is that Swahili? Those yetis/yeh-ti’s get around.

    Typos

    one or more line
    one or more lines

    left and proof
    left any proof

    sorcerer’s Instinct,
    (I’m not sure instinct should be capitalized here.)

    that He scribed
    (Again, capitals? Later in the same paragraph ‘he’ is in lower case.)

    all cook poses
    all cool poses

    intricate pattered:
    intricate patterns:

    Where that will lead instantly
    Whether that will lead instantly

    I have no way of knowing and cannot in good conscience say I know otherwise.”
    (This looks like Cohl’s repeating himself? Maybe intentional, maybe not.)

    forever the search.”
    forever to search.”

    can for yo and
    can for you and

    type of ingredient.”
    type of ingredient.

    thrills and whistled
    thrills and whistles

    • This is the first time we’ve run into a Hyrilius artifact not filtered especailly for Lisa. Every use of his original language is Swahili, since there are no easily available translations of older African languages.

      All the He’s and His should be capitalized as the Faeries revere him. Instinct is part of the name of the concept, so that’s capitalized too.

      Thanks for the corrections!

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