Issue #5 Legends of Chaos and Darkness

This entry is part 6 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 2

The lead pipe laid before Warrick deformed wildly, like some living thing struggling against unseen forces as blue sparks danced over it. Flecks of black material shed from the surface, leaving gleaming gold beneath. In a matter of seconds, a six inch length of lead piping had become a palm size irregular chunk of gold.

“I guess all that glitters can be gold.” Laurel said, trying to hide her awe. She, along with Cyn and Juniper were sitting cross legged on the grass a few feet from where the Freeland House property terminated at the shores of the ill named Lake Standish, which was simply a very large manmade pond separating the Freeland House property from its neighbors.

Cyn leaned over the newly transmuted chunk of precious metal. “Okay, the tentacles are one thing, but the new ‘philosopher’s stone’ capability pings you ten for ten on the weird-o-meter.” The tentacles were too concerned with prodding the end result of Warrick’s newly discovered powers to take offense.

Warrick himself shrugged. “Just when you thought I couldn’t get any weirder, eh?” the last few days had given him time to come to terms with this bizarre new facet of his powers much like he had come to terms with the sapient tentacles. He picked up the piece of gold and used a more familiar aspect to pull a piece off as if it was putty. A few seconds of concentration transformed the piece he had taken into a simple gold band. “Any more Middle Earth jokes, Ms. Brant?”

Laurel picked up the ring and gave it a once over. Sure enough, perpetual geek he was, Warrick had etched a rough estimation of a familiar line of script into the bauble. She couldn’t help but laugh. “Do not meddle in the affairs of metal controllers, for they are clever and quick to sight gags.” She tossed the ring back to him. “I think you’ve won this round, Warrick.”

“So… what do I do about this?” Warrick asked, shaping the remaining gold into a perfect sphere and tossing it up and down in his hand.

Laurel shrugged. “It’s up to you. It seems to be totally under control… except you’re tending to tarnish odd coins and such when you do it; and all my analysis say that the black material created as a by-product is inert; so I don’t see any problem leaving things up to you.”

“Are you kidding?!” Cyn burst out. “You can turn lead into gold and god knows what other crap metals out there into other kinds of liquid cash! There’s only one thing you can do with it!” In one of her trademark lapses in subtlety, she darkened a spot on her forehead to resemble a dollar sign. Everyone smirked at that, but Warrick shook his head.

“Nah, Cyn. That’s not only really unfair, but what happens when my cans-to-gold scam floods the gold market – gold’s valuable for a reason, right?”

“Then you make platinum!” Cyn almost shrieked in her excitement. Her best friend was a literal goldmine. It was almost more than a girl could handle.

“I think this is why Ms. Brant said she trusted Warrick with deciding what to do with it – because, you know, he won’t… well… destroy civilization with his powers.” Juniper spoke for the first time since the impromptu demonstration.

Cyn gave her a dirty look. The feud was over (before Juniper knew it had begun), but on occasion the brunette would say something Cyn was sure was meant to raise her hackles. “That’s not it.” She sniffed, “I mean my plan wouldn’t destroy civilization…” The others gave her amused but pointed glances. “.. per se…”

Laurel chuckled. “I have no doubt that you’d stop short of that, Cyn – but even with the sizable allowance we give you kids, you seem to go through it faster than anyone else.” She patted the pouting girl on the head. “Besides, this isn’t your responsibility; it’s Warrick’s.”

“So what do you plan on doing with it?” Juniper asked Warrick.

The young man shrugged. “Well, I think I finally know why I was in all those chemistry classes at the Academy – too bad I never paid attention. At the very least, I should know what I’m capable of, so I guess it’s time to hit the books.”

“I don’t agree with this plan.” Cyn said, “Isn’t there a happy medium between ‘live like a golden god (literally)’ and ‘boring chemistry lesson’?”

Juniper laughed. “How about this; we help Warrick pick up some useful books… and in return he orders AND pays for some complicated coffee orders you like ordering at the?”

Cyn grinned. Sometimes, Juniper did prove her worth. “Deal.”

“Don’t I get a say in this?” Warrick asked. “I mean I don’t actually need you two to help me get books on chemistry.”

“Nope.” Cyn said. “You’re out voted.”

Warrick pretended to be crestfallen, despite not really minding. “This is going to happen all the time now, I can tell.” He smirked as an amusing thought came to mind; with the recent addition of Juniper, there were four girls in their little circle of friends (discounting the shrinking violet, Melissa). “Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the coven.”

***

At one time, the Dungeon had been a night club. Before that, it had been an antique store and when the block had been converted from an apartment complex to a commercial center, it had been an arcade. In each incarnation, its various owners saw fit to keep the original name and fit their establishments’ theme to it.

As a café (which it had remained for the last six years), the Dungeon took on a hybrid theme of medieval setting and cyber-café. The effect was an interesting study in mixed genres, with computers arranged on stout tables of simulated oak, illuminated by faux torchlight. Combined with reasonable prices and live music on the weekends, these features made the Dungeon a popular hangout for the high school crowd.

Kay and JC were sitting at a table littered with open magazines when Warrick, Cyn and Juniper entered.

“Well, I don’t believe it, JC,” Kay said melodramatically upon spotting the trio. “Cyn and Kaine are still alive – looks like I owe you at flavor shot.” Her hair was its natural black, save for vivid green highlights where it was cut off at her chin level.

JC, as Warrick and Cyn had learned by this point, had a knack for dressing in a matter counter to any concept of appropriateness for the environment. This day he wore a sweatshirt stamped with the seal of Dayspring College and cargo shorts. His hair was covered by a black and yellow bandana. “Sweet.” He grinned. “You guys just saved me a whole dollar. Glad you’re alive.”

“I’m glad our life is worth a dollar.” Cyn said dryly.

“Hey, is this the new girl over at the boarding house you told me about on the phone, man?” JC asked, ignoring Cyn’s bating. Early on, Cyn and Warrick had fabricated the story that Freeland House was a boarding house for teens. They left the details intentionally vague and luckily, no one asked many questions.

“Yup.” Cyn said, jerking a thumb at Juniper. “Juniper, these are JC and Kay the friends were we talking about.”

“Pleased to finally meet you.” Juniper said as the others moved to take seats at the table.

Warrick picked up one of the magazines on the table and flipped through it. “Car mags” he noted. “which of you is getting a car?”

“Me.” Kay said proudly. “After a year of having my license, my dad’s finally caving.”

“Somehow, I doubt he’s going to cave to the tune of a three hundred thousand dollar sports car.” Warrick said, noting a few images in some of the other magazines Kay had been perusing.

“A girl can dream, can’t she?” Kay said wistfully. “besides, I need something to reflect my rock and roll lifestyle.”

“Kay, hon?” Cyn raised an eyebrow. “You don’t have a rock and roll lifestyle. I mean you don’t even have a band yet; Snackrifice is basically you on keyboards and lyrics and Lisa on bass. You’re missing like half a band.”

“Details.” Kay scoffed. “Hey, Juniper, right?” she had the predatory look in her eye that Juniper had associated with Cyn. Hesitantly, the brunette nodded. “You play an instrument?”

“Not a note.” Juniper said. “But I can sing.” The moment she said it, Juniper wondered if she was making a mistake getting involved in whatever Kay was doing. She wanted to make friends, yes, but she had only met Kay moments before.

“Excellent.” Kay steepled her fingers in an intentionally evil looking manner. “Just wait until I tell Lisa we’ve got a lead vocalist!” She wallowed in her own self satisfaction for a moment, and then realized something. “Hey, where’s Lisa anyway?”

JC shrugged. “No idea, but she didn’t seem like she felt very good last night when she called me.”

“Poor kid.” Cyn frowned. “We should probably go see how she’s doing later today.”

***

After returning home from her visit with her aunt Tay, Lisa had decided to hide the painting under her bed. Somehow, she felt that her parents would object from such an opulent gift from her aunt. In point of fact, she hadn’t even looked at it.

So for three nights, the painting was under Lisa’s bed as she slept. On the day following the third night, she slept late – until noon. And when the sun had reached its zenith, it wasn’t Lisa who awoke.

Morganna. That was the name that presented itself in her mind. She remembered being called by another name, but that was unimportant. She was Morganna le Fay; a dazzling beauty, a mind whose genius was unmatched and one of the most powerful beings in the 12th century AD.

Of course, this wasn’t the 12th century. A few cursory moments rifling through her new body’s memories told her that the year was recorded as 2074. She had spent over nine hundred years suspended in the web of soul trapping spells the ‘unknown’ artist had woven over the surface of her image. Her thoughts had ceased the moment she had seen her own face on the vellum.

The next thing she recalled was the moment that someone had disrupted the magic. The idea of cleaning paintings other than cursory dusting had been unheard of in her time. But someone had used some mixture—a chemical, her new body’s old mind supplied the word, to remove the filth of centuries in a vault somewhere. And with it, the magics had dissipated, allowing her to touch the world and influence minds in the most subtle ways.

First was the man, Liedecker. He was rich and grasping and it took almost no effort to convince him to make an easy profit. That was all it took to find her way out of his private art collection where she could never find a new body.

Then the thief. Her given name was Farnsworth, but she was one of those who knew their own true-name; Nightshade. Her nature was bombastic, fearless; making her a bit more reckless was also no effort for the powers of Morganna. That had led to her feeling fear, a fear Morganna used in conjunction with her fondness for her kin to find her way into the hands of the young woman – Morganna’s new body.

Flexing Lisa’s hands experimentally, Morganna rose and crossed the room to the dresser. Rifling through the young woman’s memory told her some suitable clothes could be found there. She dressed quickly in a powder blue sundress with a leather belt wrapped thrice around her waist. Scowling at her lack of head accessories, Morganna made note to find one of those… stores? Yes, that was the word, and procure a proper head covering.

Thus prepared, Morganna left the tall domicile her body remembered was called an ‘apartment’ and struck out into the overgrown forest of similar stone towers called Mayfield. Along the way, she pillaged more of her body’s memories.

‘Magic’ as this time knew it was… tricks. Not even tricks, it was the kind of slight of hand and legerdemain practiced by cutpurses and charlatans. The body ‘knew’ that magic wasn’t real and regarded anyone who believed otherwise as unstable or misguided.

“Then… then… tell me what I was… held by for nine hundred years.” Morganna mumbled as she walked. The world had changed greatly in her time imprisoned; alchemical concoctions based on the essence of creatures dead for millennia or the harnessed power of lightning (or a facsimile ‘generated’ by burning other dead things, or leashing other natural phenomena) provided mankind with the key to wonders that even magic hadn’t imagined.

“But without magic it is… nothing. Meaningless.” Morganna muttered, stopping at a ‘Don’t Walk’ sign as her body’s instincts demanded. Machines powered by alchemy and lightning rumbled past her. Supposedly, they had been created to allow men to travel faster, but in this setting, it seemed that a horse at a trot could outpace them. ‘Traffic’; when too many of the modern machines clogged the designated pathways they were allowed to travel.

Rules. Without magic, things had to follow rules. And because of those ‘rules’, such as those governing where a vehicle could travel, this ‘traffic’ thing happened. Morganna crossed the street with the light and noticed one of the machines had been abandoned in front of a store. “But… if… if someone were to use magic in conjunction with one of these machines…” she wondered aloud as she slowly circled the thing her body told her was a ‘motorcycle’. “Then she could… the rules wouldn’t mean… anything to her and she… would get the maximum convenience from the machine.”

Sitting astride the machine, she quashed down the protests of her instincts. Taking this thing was wrong, but that was a rule. Morganna was beyond rules. Uttering a few words, she delved her mind into the machine, finding its mechanisms and forcing them into her control. “Live” she verbally commanded the device and it roared for its new mistress.

Yes, these machines were delightful. There had been no resistance as there would be with a human or creature of Faerie. There was no chance that it would shrug off her control – no chance for it to break free. This ‘technology’ was at her whim.

“This is… is… is…” She searched for the word as she often found she had to. “Perfect.” Focusing, she forced her new body as well as the machine into the astral plane. Bystanders stopped and gaped as the girl and motorcycle both became translucent, then faded from being.

Once in the rose tinted environs of the Astral, Morganna smiled. As she suspected, the vehicles and therefore the traffic didn’t make an impression on the Astral plane. She could travel the streets at maximum speed here, without need to care about ‘traffic’ or the local laws her body had tried to make her fret about.

Now she could get down to business. She needed reagents for more complex, longer lasting spells; snake venom, the skins of frogs of newts, and the soft organs of vermin, for starters. Her new body told her that such things were conveniently gathered together for her in one place in this city of towers.

Commanding the motorcycle to roar once more, Morganna set off toward her destination; the G. M. Logan Zoological Park.

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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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