Issue #47 – Everyday People

This entry is part 13 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 4: Confluence

Comic Book Heroes part 1

Lily Goldenmeyer watched her three friends like a hawk as they piled out of her brand new car and into the West London Street parking garage. Just because she liked them didn’t mean she could trust them not to scuff the royal blue paint job or perpetrate some other thoughtless indignity on her beloved vehicle. She deigned even to speak to them during the procedure for fear it would distract them from the task of keeping all clasps, buckles and other hard components away from the exterior. Only when the doors were closed and the security system armed did she relax.

Turning on her heel, she led the way to the commuter pod station at the other end of the parking structure. “So. I have news and it is very shiny, so today is my treat.” She offered a mournful glance at Alice Rankin, a dark skinned beauty who was almost a head taller than she. “I’m sorry, Alice, I know this is totally going to trash your diet. But it’s my special day, so at least order an expensive salad so it looks like we’re all really celebrating, okay?”

Alice folded her arms. What weight she thought she needed to lose wasn’t apparent. “It had better be big news then, because I’ve already eaten all my calories for the day and I’m already missing out on some walking because you wanted to drive somewhere special.”

“This surprises you?” Kim Wayne was a short brunette who looked younger than her eighteen years. “Lily had a choice and one involved driving, she’s taking that one.”

“Plus it’s my car. Plus-plus it’s my news.” Lilly ticked these facts off on her fingers as they reached the small alcove with sliding doors and touch screen controls inside that served as the commuter pod station. On approach, she took out her palmtop and tapped out a practiced combination of commands. “We’re in luck, there’s a four-seater right here.”

Before the words were out of her mouth, the pod rose up to the level of the alcove’s doors. It was a rounded, friendly looking capsule of white ceramic with a flat bottom and sides, girded round with two metal bands that held the magnetic levitation heads that let it glide along embedded rials on the ground and up the side of buildings.

“Mayfield City Transit Pod #3149.” a digitized female voice said from speakers in the alcove. “West London Street to Cayman Boulevard. Thirty-five dollars and fifty cents has been charged to your account.” With that, the doors opened, allowing the girls to enter the cabin and be seated. The moment they were buckled in, the capsule lowered itself to street level and they were off.

“Okay, so what is this news?” Alice snapped after several long minutes of Lily staring at her palmtop, having become engrossed in reading her gossip sites.

“Yeah, we’re all excited!” The fourth girl of the group was Callie Krieger, an athletic blonde who was fidgeting in her seat. She was always doing that. It nearly got her kicked out of the car more than once. After all, she might scuff up the leather interior.

Lily took the time to read one more headline before closing the computer. “Alright, I think I’ve left you waiting long enough. Remember how we all said we should go to college together?”

The others nodded, but Kim felt compelled to point out the glaring flaw in the plan. “But… I thought you got rejected by Dayspring.”

“Dayspring.” Lily said bitterly. “Yeah, they did. And it was stupid of them. So what if I didn’t have all the credits they wanted, I’m an All State cheerleader, I’ve done like a ton of community service—way more than anyone should have to do, dealing with icky old people—and everyone knows my daddy can be very generous with donations.”

“You’re losing the thread.” Kim said. “How are we going to college together if Dayspring won’t let you in?”

Lily grinned. “Because Dayspring isn’t the only college around here, d’oy. So I tried UVA, and they were just as unreasonable as Dayspring. But there’s a private college right here in the city: Emerald. And they let you make up all the credits you need; you just have to pay for them! Isn’t that great? We’ll all still totally be together after graduation!”

The pod erupted in squeals of teenaged glee and congratulations along with all sorts of plans for the future like getting an apartment together. It didn’t die down until they reached their destination on Cayman.

Stepping out with perfect timing relative to the doors, Lily threw out her arms and looked back at her friends. “So. Was that big enough news?”

Even Alice nodded. All of their minds were racing with possibility. “Oh definitely. I was getting worried about what would happen to all of us if we couldn’t stay together.”

Satisfied, Lily led the way across the street. “So was I. But now, there’s nothing to worry about and that calls for celebration and that means a special place.” She gestured grandly ahead of her, in the direction of a door cut catty corner from the street. A nondescript sign proclaimed the establishment to be September Rose.

This drew appreciative ‘oooo’s from the other girls. Restaurants like September Rose existed in every city in sort of a separate but equal tier as their famous and four-star cousins. When the powerful and celebrated wanted to dine well, but didn’t want the fussiness and high profile of one of the glitzy, high class restaurants, they came to those like September Rose.

All the girls were so wrapped up discussing who ate there when and who might be eating there right now, that only Callie noticed the placard set in one of the windows near the entrance: Proud Sponsors of Descendants Appreciation Day. Before she could think, her mouth was two steps ahead of her.

“Um… Lily?”

“Don’t worry, Callie, I said I’m paying. Look; if you’re going to be rooming with us, you’re going to have to get used to eating like a person should.”

As usual, Callie let the shot about her lack of wealth slide. “Are you sure you want to eat here?”

Lily followed her gaze. “Yeah. It’s tomorrow. What about it?”

Kim was quick to join in. “Weren’t you talking about going down to join the protest against it?”

To their shared surprise, Lily scoffed. “Oh, that. I thought it was a day just for the Descendants. And you know how I feel about them after they totally wrecked my Scimitar.” They did. Lily had ranted for almost two weeks straight after the Descendants saved her from both Freaque and the Mayfield Mauler, destroying her first car in the process.

“But this is for ‘descendants’. Little ‘d’. See, they stole the name.” She took out her computer again and tapped through a few pages. “And I didn’t care one way or another about them until I saw… this.” She held up the screen so the others could read the headline while she narrated. “Silvio Bartolini, you know the best friend on Wakeful and Restless? It turns out he’s positive for one of the ‘psionic’ genes. So he’s not one, but his kids could be. And Silvio is yummy enough that I would have his anytime. Therefore, I can’t really hate them, now can I?”

Her airtight logic drew nods from Kim and Alice. Callie just chewed her lip.

“Besides, I really wouldn’t mind having powers. Especially flying. That’d pretty much be the best.”

Callie held her breath for a second. What did she have to lose? Free room and board during college for one. But she’d been seeing those ads all over for weeks and really wished that she had people who she could talk to about it.

“What about speed?” She asked tentatively. “Serious speed. So fast you can go up walls and through things without hurting them?”

The others stopped and gave her a blank stare.

“That’s cool, I guess.” Alice said, breaking the awkward silence. “Kind of specific.”

“Yeah,” Lily asked. “Where did you come up with that, a comic book?”

Somehow her body and her voice got away from Callie this time as she grabbed Lily’s hand. “I can show you.” Then she smiled. “Let’s go!”

***

On an intellectual level, Manikin knew the room was stifling and guaranteed to be uncomfortable to almost any human. Luckily, she didn’t get uncomfortable and nor did her charge. Indeed, that was to be expected of The Heir of Hyrilius, a woman who would make a stew of her own bones.

‘Stew’ was probably the most charitable way to describe the steaming blob of mucus-like material the bubbled and glopped at the bottom of what had been the front end of a bulldozer, now propped up above a spell unimaginatively dubbed ‘Flame Without Smoke or Fuel’.

It was composed of the meager remains of Morganna’s original body, plus the dirt of her grave and pulped wood of the tree that grew from it, spiced with a confoundedly long list of reagents from real spices and herbs to abstract magical constructs that had taken Morganna months to prepare and apply.

Today, there was a vestigial foot floating in it. And as she was wont to do, Morganna was crouched in an animalistic pose atop a steel step ladder, watching it. Her pet motes were having a game of chase among the breaking bubbles.

Manikin levitated up just enough to put her head at equal elevation to Morganna’s. “The time approaches, O heir. The day the people of the Blue World have set to celebrate those who have usurped the rightful place of magic.”

Slowly, in jerking increments, Morganna’s head turned. Black hair was plastered in strings across her face from the humidity and her eyes refused to focus on the Manikin. It was as if she was willing them not to. “But you see, it… it… isn’t my foot.” She informed the implacable golem. “Not yet.”

“It is a long process.” Manikin observed, not in the least bit perturbed by what was for Morganna fairly lucid behavior. “In addition to a complex working. It will be a mark of your overwhelming power, O heir, to restore a body so long and so utterly destroyed.” She mentally ticked off the eighty-ninth instance of having to repeat that fact.

Apparently satisfied, Morganna ducked her head in agreement and started down the ladder backward without looking or even using her hands. It was a testament to the training of her current body, that of Tatiana ‘Lady Nightshade’ Farnsworth that she could manage that. Not that she cared. It wasn’t her body after all and Morganna was adamant that she have her own body again.

She reached the floor and turned, moving over to the far corner of the building where a number of stolen and/or makeshift tables made up her sorcerous laboratory. Each was arrayed with canisters and flasks and vials of every sort, holding various reagents it had taken Manikin a solid six months to gather through a combination of prospecting and theft.

Various implements and vessels littered every surface, some already in use; boiling over smokeless fires, or soaking in eldritch baths. Live insects hung in cages of twigs above and several species of small furry mammal, slick amphibian or scaly reptile were stored in cages of terrariums beneath.

In passing all these, Morganna grabbed up a wooden stool, taking it to the far end of the lab where a small, hobbyist forge was set up and kept perpetually at the ready. The device represented three weeks during which Manikin had been forced to learn how to use the internet and the concept of home delivery. The simplicity of then knocking the delivery man unconscious and taking the package had been cathartic even to her heart of wood and wire.

But Morganna wasn’t preparing to use the forge, only to examine the fruits of her earlier ministrations there: A pair of wrought iron arm bands that looked like shackles with neither loops for the chains, nor a mechanism to lock them, and a silvery coin with a diameter about as long as the second joint of her thumb.

With more care than she usually took with things, she lifted one of the arm bands. Fire and sweat had given it its symbolic shape, fetters for one who could not be fettered. The reflection of the light revealed the magic’s work. The band was not as rough or plain as it appeared. Instead, it was covered with fine, flowing lines running to very small runes carved into the edge of the piece.

Long minutes passed in silence as she obsessively examined the runes and symbolic ley lines on both bands. Satisfied with those, she took up the coin. There was no need to hold it to the light to see its inscription: A Roman letter ‘I’ imposed over the sigil that indicated the same word that the I stood for.

“Does it… work?” Morganna asked, her eyes never leaving the coin. “Will these talismans transfer to my knight all the power of the saint of the invincible?”

Manikin turned her head and looked to yet another section of the rank and humid basement. Another monument to her loyalty to the Heir of Hyrilius stood there, a painstakingly shaped circular stone table upon which was lain the legendary armor touched by St. Drausinus, patron saint against enemy plots and of invincibility. It lay in the center of a web of chalk lines and poured silver sigils and it’s surface was glazed with a clear poultice of boiled sugar, honey and herbs. And atop all that was a twin of the coin: the all important sympathetic link.

“Indeed, it will, O Heir.” She finally said. Morganna didn’t seem to care how long it took her to answer. “And through the talismans, the Knight Inexorable need not have a pure heart to benefit from the saint’s blessing.”

Morganna held the coin to her breast and a smile played over her lips. “Yes. Only… only loyalty to me.” A brightness came to her eyes. “I know what his incantation will be now. To receive his power.” She turned her head and her mad eyes met the Manikin’s. “You have found him then? And you will go to him tonight?”

Manikin nodded. “He was one of the first to suffer at their hands, these Descendants who oppose you. From him, they have taken freedom, camaraderie, power, position, and dignity. And because of them, his life is now fear and self loathing. Within him burns great ambition and potential which has gone unkindled due to lack of opportunity. I have no doubt that he will take up the coin and that he will serve you happily if it gives him the power he has longed for.”

The motes had finally noticed Morganna’s absence and swarmed over the lid of the makeshift crucible in search of her. They circled and danced around her in a kaleidoscope of whirling light before three broke off from the pack to watch as Morganna picked up the bands in her free hand.

Yellow, violet, blue. Renst, Naife, Habsi. The three motes that were the spokes-motes of their kind with Morganna. Monarchs among the lesser fairies.

“Is Knight thing?” Naife was the first to ask. It hovered over the coin, apparently admiring the reflection it cast. “Is how Mankind get rid of nasty not-magic?”

Renst did a loop around her wrist as she handed the coin and then the armbands over to Manikin, who swaddled them in a square of red silk. “Magic is being much better than not-magic!” Habsi agreed with a wordless exclamation that sounded like someone ringing a bell over-enthusiastically.

“It’s…. It is… not the end.” Morganna said, eyes fixed on the bundle in the golem’s arms. “They are many. They are varied They… they are powerful. Not the end. But a beginning. Let them know that magic will not sleep or be cast aside. That it is… like this Knight… Inexorable.”

Series Navigation<< Descendants Special #4 – Some Day In MayIssue #48 – Inexorable >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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2 Comments

  1. Just a note, but at first Fredrick’s wife’s name is Jill, and then it changes to Laura.

    • Thanks, fixed. I think Jill was originally the girlfriend he had when he manifested the first time.

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