- Issue #85 – The Ballad of Bad Lass
- Issue #86 – Those Not Forgotten
- Issue #87 – Descendants… In Space
- Issue #88 – Tome of Battle
- Issue #89 – All That Glitters
- Issue #90 – Just Us Sidekicks
- Issue #91 – Rock and Roll Lifestyle
- Descendants Special #8 – The Heart of Rock ‘N Roll
- Issue #92 – Homage
- Issue #93 – Day of Recovery
- Issue #94 – The Knight, The Witch and the Gadgeteer (FaerieQuest Part 1)
- Issue #95 – Into The Woods (FaerieQuest Part 2)
Day of Recovery (Part 4)
Not far from Dana Parrish’s new home as part of the witness protection program, there was a tiny spit of forest with a creak running through it. The place was too hilly and swampy for anyone to want to develop on it, and for years, the locals had used it as a dump for all the big junk they didn’t want to pay to have taken away: old washing machines, lawnmowers, pieces of furniture and even cars marred the landscape. As summer drew nearer, nature was asserting itself there, covering the trash and lost objects in brambles and ivy.
Somewhere in the middle of it all, next to a pool formed when an old bathtub blocked up the original creak, a handful of unseasonable dry leaves danced in a circle despite a lack of wind. Within moments, they vanished and were replaced by a humanoid shape.
‘Humanoid’ was as close as Dana could get to describing it. Gabraed, her mentor and also pet—because he was a catlike fey called a Graymalkin—apparently—referred to it as a ‘daoine’ and said it was something like an elf, but this wasn’t like an elf she’d ever seen.
Elves, as far as she knew, were either short, cute and alternately helped Santa and baked cookies, or were tall, pretty and good at everything. The daoine Gabraed conjured using magic leaves (there weren’t enough ‘apparentlys’ to accurately label a lot of Dana’s life of late) wasn’t anything like that.
Yes, it was tall, but no taller than a tall human and not even a freakishly tall one. Pretty, it was not. Its skin was terribly scarred from a life of battle and partially covered over by a rime of frost. Its mouth was full of needle teeth. Hollow eye sockets held two black balls the size of plums, and its ears extended horizontally from the sides of its head a good five inches a piece..
Dressed in stiff, frozen hides and ratty fur boots and gloves, it wielded not a bow or sword, but a heavy, polished wooden club whose head was carved to resemble the paw of a big cat complete with extended claws.
Screaming in a language she barely understood despite Gabraed’s sincere attempts at teaching her, the daoine stormed toward her, raising the club in a two-handed grip.
Dana ignored the raging elf and extended her extra senses. As a descendant, she was blessed with something of a holy grail (and complete impossibility) among a certain type of scientist: directed magnetism. With that came the almost necessary addition that let her concentrate on her surroundings and feel the ebb and flow of magnetic fields. Armed with this, she found her favorite targets for this exercise and grabbed onto them with her power.
A pair of hub caps burst from the underbrush and sailed through the air toward her attacker. One went high, the other low. Moments before the one up high struck the charging creature in the windpipe, it flipped sideways and smacked him squarely in the face with a satisfying bong. At the same time, the hubcap that went low swerved around and clipped him behind the knees. The twin impacts sent the daoine to the ground with a heavy thud.
As he started to rise again, the first hubcap made a surprise combat to wing him across the back of his skull, knocking him out.
Seconds later, the daoine dissolved into dancing leaves the in turn disintegrated and blew away as dust. From his place atop a fallen log, Gabraed flicked his ears and huffed. He was a larger than average gray tomcat is indeterminate breed: too dark for a Russian Blue, not enough stripes for a Tabby, too sleek for a Maine Coon.
I will never break you from these attempts to render your foes merely unconscious, will I? His lament was broadcast directly to Dana’s head, but the overtones of disappointment were loud and clear.
Dana made the hubcaps hover and revolve in the air. “I told you before: I don’t care how dangerous these guys are supposed to be, I’m not killing anyone.” Here, far from anyone who might see her, she’d shucked the wig she wore to cover what Project Tome had done to her, leaving her bald pate and the port implants wholly visible. She was wearing a pink and black striped t-shirt and a pair of jean overalls.
And I told you that there is a war on the horizon. Mercy may mean your destruction and in turn the destruction of many more. Gabraed paced atop his log, giving her the imperious looks cats were so god at giving. Even if you wish never to take the life of another Mankind, I will warn you that many fey and faeries have the ability to heal more quickly than anything of the Blue World. For them, unconsciousness will not last nearly as long and thus it will not be a lasting solution.
“Then think of something else!” Dana shouted at him. “You talk all the time about magic and faerie powers. Isn’t there some kind of magic knockout gas or something?”
Gabraed sniffed. We have no need of such a thing. We just kill each other. In most places at least.
At that comment, Dana narrowed her eyes. “’Most places’? What about in the other places?”
The graymalkin blinked at her, realizing his slip. Unimportant. The lands under Hyrilius’s Ban are the only places where Maeve’s reach will not extend.
“This all sounds suspiciously like something I should know about if I’m going to be Faerie Jesus or whatever,” Dana pointed out. “I thought you said Maeve was the major big bad that even the Errolking can’t go toe-to-toe with—who was the Hyrilius dude that he can just ban Maeve from places? Can we just ban her from Earth?”
Gabraed let out a little kitty sigh and hunkered down on the log. First of all, it’s ‘Ban’ not ‘ban’. That none of your languages can’t make a distinction makes me marvel that your kind managed global communication. A Ban is a great undertaking of magical construction designed to impose the will of the worker upon an area.
“Okay,” Dana used her power to rattle a washer/dryer to make sure nothing was making a home in it, then hopped up to take a seat on top. “So who was the guy that made this one? He sounds like he had major power.”
That he did. The greatest sorcerer of his age, born blessed with substantial command over magic and the Chosen of the Book of Tranquility.
He’d explained the Books to Dana, at least the basics of how they contained source for Earthly magics, so she nodded at this.
In his time, when Maeve invaded the Blue World, he rallied the other great workers of magic together and declared war on her. Of all the beings that ever stood against Maeve, Hyrilius was the most successful. He even managed to form a foothold in Faerie, one that still endures thanks to his Ban. In the long drag of time since then, Maeve has thrashed endlessly but has never managed to pierce into the lands behind the Vault and Thorn.
“Then how the crap are we not out there looking for a way to do that same thing for Earth?” Dana was fuming by then, arms folded with a pout on her face.
Gabraed got up and hopped off the log, striding toward her with a smooth, feline glide. Many reasons. For one, all that Hyrilius did in Faerie is lost behind the Vault and Thorn. On the Blue World, those who know anything at all about magic in general are rare. It is likely none at all remember Hyrilius.
“So we’re just going to fight a super-wizard and her armies with just magnetism? I think you’re over-estimating just how much I can do with this. That wellspring metal stuff you told me about? Yeah, I have no idea if it’s even magnetic. This isn’t going to work. I need to at least learn something about magic. What about these Books? Are they still around?”
I have no doubt they are, but you are forgetting one other important point: you are a child among your people. This limits your movements for the time being. If you were to leave to seek out the Books, it would be noticed. Alarms would be raised.
A sly grin formed on Dana’s lips. “Except… it’s summer vacation. People my age are expected to get out of the house for somethings. Gabby, I’ve got a plan: we’re going to send me to camp!”
Somewhere outside the town of Newton Cove Massachusetts, reality itself twisted and shredded under the immense pressure of a mighty will. The tear manifested as a jagged, green-glowing gap floating in open space amid the branches of a wild hedge.
Though it was only the size of a human palm, it proved more than enough space to allow its intended traveler to pass through it just before it ceased to exist. The creature that came through was a tiny and reasonably humanoid if only three inches tall. It’s body was covered by armor made from the metallic green chitin of some insect, complete with barbed mandibles that made up the pauldrons and the jewel-like wing casings the made up the hip guards. Beneath the armor, it wore a suit of black silken material that covered almost all of its naturally clay-red flesh save for its face with its beady, black eyes.
Four shimmering wings, not unlike those of a beetle, beat rapidly to keep the being airborne. Their soft buzz provided the only sound within the hedge for a long while. With calm, military precision, it checked the satchel hanging from its shoulder, the belts of pouches ’round its hips, and the many, many tiny knives concealed on its person.
Satisfied, it snatched a pouch off its belt and flew out of the hedge.
The forest was quiet and still. It had been warned about the Blue World’s unsettlingly docile plant life but still kept a wary eye on it while settling down on a bare spot of earth. The world smelled just as strange: less raw and vegetable, more like minerals and flame. Keen, pointed ears rotated and twitched until they honed in on the distant sounds that indicated a settlement.
Keeping that location in mind, the pixie—for that is what he was—poured a milky orange liquid from the pouch out into the dirty. The meticulously-crafted concoction spread out into the dirt, transforming it into mud and causing it to pile up onto itself. It spread more than its initial volume suggested and the area it covered sketched the rough figure of a person about five and a half feet tall laying down.
Soon enough,t he mudcraft rose up, the material hardening as it jerked upward like a puppet on strings…
Which is precisely what it was.
Bearing obvious but finely articulated joints and bright orange, angular markings over its body, the pixie battle doll stood at attention, head lolling forward as it awaited its creator’s will.
The pixie reached into another pouch and came up with a preserve autumn leaf too large to have fit into the pouch to begin with. Speaking in a language only very recently heard on Earth, he threw the leaf so that it struck the battle doll on the forehead. The air around the artifice rippled and the clay doll became the semblance of flesh and blood.
Naked, but appearing in all ways human, the battle doll took a deep breath and straightened its posture.
The pixie smiled. He had work to do.
Maeve commanded it.
The Manikin knew a mistake had been made.
The certainty of this had grown more and more certain with every action the woman called Morganna took, from abusing the damaged souls of her Knights, to her mad plan to reunite herself with her long-dead body.
Denial had reigned in her mind for the longest time. Yes, Morganna was mad. Yes, she cared nothing for anything that was not herself or her unfathomable goals. But she was powerful. Talented. Certainly she was the one Manikin had been made to wait for.
Surely thousands of years waiting in silent darkness in the Vault hadn’t been wasted.
There was hope that one day Morganna would had clarity at last and come to see what had to be done. One day, she would prove herself worthy of being the Heir of Hyrilius.
Or perhaps she just never wanted to think of the one who gave her life as just a mortal man as prone to flaws as anyone. That his creations could also be flawed meant that she herself was flawed. Admitting that earlier probably would have saved much trouble and failures.
But she couldn’t lie to herself, delude herself, any longer: Morganna was not the Heir.
The Vault had reacted to the blood of Hyrilius. The physical blood of a daughter of his line. The tests had sensed the real Heir buried deep within and arranged themselves for her, not Morganna. It was only by dint of true madness that the sorceress won through and gained access to most of the legacy.
Manikin looked down at the leather bound Book in her hand. Tranquility. Hyrilius had been the Chosen of Tranquility the last time it came to pass that Chosen were needed and the Ring of Creation formed.
That time was coming again. She could feel it because that was part of her purpose. She was a creature of prophecy and she could feel them as they fell into place. Gods of guile walked as men. The first Guardian had spilled its rage on Avalon. A new Age of Heroes was spreading over the Earth. Someone had walked the ways of possibility. Another had fallen through the doors of time.
The War of Kings had begun and the first player was the Queen of Air and Darkness.
Someone had to take up Tranquility. If not the Heir herself, then she could at least help choose a candidate. Morganna, of course, could never be trusted with it.
That night, the night Manikin couldn’t resist the pull of her purpose any longer, she only managed to take the staff and the Book. Morganna kept all of Hyrillius’s Legacy too close at hand to risk trying for more. So she took those and vanished into the night.
Where she was going, she knew she wouldn’t be welcome. It was possible she would be destroyed on sight.
It would be a small price to pay If it meant her mistake was rectified, and the worlds could be saved.
End Issue #93.