Issue #94 – The Knight, The Witch and the Gadgeteer (FaerieQuest Part 1)

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series The Descendants Vol 8: The Weaver's Web

The Knight, The Witch, and the Gadgeteer (Part 7)

“Hold on before we get moving.” Renaissance reached into one of the many pockets of her utility kilt and took out a device shaped like a flattened egg about as long as her thumb. It took her a moment to switch it on and then unfold a tungsten spike from its casing. Once that was done, she reached up and stabbed the spike directly into the stone wall near the top of the corridor, her augmented strength allowing her to drive the spike all the way in.

Noticing Occult giving a questioning look, she explained: “Signal booster slash relay router. We’re just about out of range of both our comms and local wireless networks. I’d really rather not poke around down here out of communications with the others.”

“Good thinking.” Alloy was smiling behind his visor. The twins coiled themselves closely around him, keeping what passed for their eyes on Gabraed, waiting for the graymalkin to try something again. For the faerie cat’s part, he ignored the entire party and stalked forward, seeking out the leyline.

Dana, however, was still curious and starstruck, hanging back to walk with the heroes. “So…” She tapped the tips of her armored fingers together awkwardly. “Since you guys are on a mission and you all have codenames… maybe I should have a codename too?”

“You didn’t come up with one when you were at the Academy?” Alloy asked before realizing he was the only one who actually went to the Academy present aside from Dana and what was more, he wasn’t even using the Damascus codename he’d used then.

“Feh. They called me Monopole. That sounds like a science themed porno actor—a male porno actor. I get that most decent magnetism-themed names are taken, but is there really a rule that we have to advertise our powers with our names? I mean no offense, Alloy… Mr. Alloy, but most of your guys don’t. ‘Renaissance’ tells you nothing about your powers. And ‘Occult’? Well obviously there’s no such… oh. Oh holy crap, you were magic the whole time, weren’t you?”

Occult splayed out her hands in a helpless gesture. “Magic’s only been around in a serious way in the modern age about two years now. Your principle still stands: people just assumed I had an amazingly esoteric descendant power.”

Dana nodded. “True. Kind of makes you think what else we think is fake but it’s real, huh? Anyway, I still need a codename, right? You can’t very well call me by my real name, right? I’m in WitSec after all.”

“Monopole really isn’t that bad a name,” Renaissance reasoned, lowering her voice to encourage everyone else to do so as well. The tunnels echoed with every word Dana spoke. “It’s one of those unobtainum materials physicists dream about. Something that displays uni-directional magnetism would revolutionize material science, propulsion, you name it, really.”

The girl’s shoulders slumped. “I guess that’s why Tome was after me, huh? Thanks for getting me out of that, by the way.”

“Any time,” said Alloy. “And as for a name… well the guy you’re allegedly working for… with… whatever… is leader of the Wild Hunt like Occult said, right? How about something to do with that? You know for a codename?”

“If Facsimile were here she’d demand we consider seriously calling her Faerie Jesus,” Occult put in.

Dana snorted. “Yeah, I’m gonna say ‘no’ on sacrilege. But the Faerie angle sounds good.” She balled her hands into fists and looked down at them. “How about a warning to the bad—more bad—faeries and fey that they don’t want to screw with me? Like Cold Iron. Oh, wait! The Cold Iron Knight! Sir… no, I can’t be a sir. What do you call a female knight?”

“A Dame.” Alloy supplied.

“Dame Cold Iron. God damn, that sounds awesome. You guys can call me Cold Iron for short, of course, but I’m gonna go with that.”

Up ahead, Gabraed stopped and turned to face them, hissing in annoyance.

The newly named Cold Iron smirked. “Kitty Kommander says to shut our flat-toothed maws before he stitches them shut. Apparently you don’t ‘prattle’ while stalking prey.”

“Prey.” Occult said flatly.

Alloy moved ahead of the group, closer to Gabraed. He spoke softly, but was pretty sure the faerie cat could hear him clearly. “Yeah, bout the whole ‘prey’ thing. Whoever we find down here, I want to make one thing clear: killing them is off limits, Fuzzy. I mean sure, if it’s Inexorable, you are encourage to do your level best in the hopes it tickles the guy, but normal people? No killing. I will seal you in a ball of aluminum if I think you’re going to try and murder someone. Don’t try me.”

The graymalkin growled and spat.

“He’s pissed that you guys agree with me and also said something about your mom.” Cold Iron translated.

“Yeah, well your mom smokes catnip.”

Gabraed made an odd yowling noise, rolled one shoulder, then trotted off back down the tunnel.

“That didn’t need a translation.” Renaissance came up to Alloy and laid a hand on his shoulder. “And I kind of have to agree: that was kind of weak.”

“Did Alloy just lose a ‘yo momma’ contest to a cat? And evil magic cat?” Facsimile—or rather Stone Crush’s voice came over the comms. “I should make my way down to you guys to lend my support.”

Renaissance chuckled, keeping her voice so low she was depending on the bone induction mic to transmit her voice. “I think we’ll be fine on that front. How’s the signal strength between here and the surface?”

“I’ve got four bars. Alloy, what’s the play? Ephemeral and Vamanos are still outside standing by.”

Alloy too dropped his voice, deciding it was past time to get serious about this. They were in the heart of enemy territory after all. “You still have eyes on Wayne?”


“Do you see the other Knight? Or Inexorable?”

“Nada. But this place is so damn crowded, I could be standing on them.”

Alloy frowned, looking ahead into the twisting tunnel they were following. Occasionally they would hit a branch and Gabraed would inevitably choose the one leading further down. There were chambers off the main drag, some open, some with old, rotting doors placed across their entrances. None of them seemed to be in use or inhabited. “Or they could be down here guarding the gate. Okay, have Vamanos bring Ephemeral in right inside the staircase we went down.”

“Got it,” Vamanos’s voice broke in. “Are you sure that’ll be close enough? The map being put together from your cameras shows you pretty deep down. Like eighty feet now. Even as fast as I can go… there’s a lot of twists and turns.”

“We need you able to support either us or Facsimile and Darkness. Don’t forget Morganna’s goons might be up there instead of down here.”

He bit back a curse as he almost tripped over Gabraed, who had stopped as the tunnel passed a branch that led off into a T intersection. The graymalkin wheeled on him, teeth bare and claws out for the accidental contact. Isp and Osp dropped to his level and became razor-edged, convincing him that physical punishment wouldn’t be in his best interest.

Alloy looked back to Cold Iron. “What’s going on?”

“Sentry,” the teen translated, “A mote.”

“A faerie creature,” Occult said, using the bone induction mic, “called the least of faeries because they’re little more than a sapient speck of light with little magical power or strength. They often allow themselves to be kept as servants or pets of other creatures, being living light bulbs or talking carrier pigeons. They aren’t usually used as guards because they’re incredibly weak. The only thing they have going for them is being very, very fast.”

Which made them idea to be the ones to go and warn, say… Inexorable of intruders. Forget living light bulbs, they were living tripwires.

“How do we get past them then?”

The graymalkin looked back at Cold Iron.

“Gabraed says ‘eat them’.”

“And this is why we don’t take advice from him,” said Renaissance. “Are they solid? Can I hit them with a polyurethane shot?”

Occult shook her head. “They can pass right through it. I can probably catch it in the force bubble though.” She crept forward, extracting a glass marble from her reagent pouch. Reaching the mouth of the adjoining tunnel, she spied the tiny speck of orange light bobbing near the ceiling and aimed her spell. “Globo de le fureza.”

The mote sensed the spell, but too late. When it tried to zip away, it found itself rebounding off the inner wall of a globe of transparent force.

Job done, Occult motioned everyone forward. “That should hold for a good ten minutes seeing as he can’t really batter it down. Be careful though: Morganna isn’t insane enough to just leave a single…”

She trialed off because they had turned a corner and found the tunnel widening until it formed a large cavern, the floor of which was dominated by a ring of driftwood soldered together this mud and peat with mushrooms growing from it. Faint green mist hovered at the center of said ring and the room was markedly colder than the rest of the tunnels.

“Is that a faerie ring? As in a ‘you step in it and come out Rip Van Winkle’ fairy ring?” Alloy asked. “Is everyone getting this video?”

“Why isn’t it better guarded?” Renaissance turned a slow circle, expecting to spot the trap soon enough.

Codex’s voice came over the comm. “The Manikin says that’s the gate.”

Staring at the ring, Alloy reached down and removed the chain belt from his armor, transforming it into a sword. “So… do we believe her?”

Not being privy to the comm chatter, Cold Iron was left to consult with Gabraed. “Gabby says this is a Circle of the Crossroads: a shortcut between this world and Faerie. The only thing is, it’s not built right.”

“What does he mean ‘not built right’?” Alloy asked.

After listening some more to words no one else in the room could hear, Cold Iron explained, “He says a Mankind wouldn’t be able to tell because we don’t think in terms of all the lines of power. The ring Is one a crossroads, but it isn’t aligned properly. So instead of channeling that energy, it’s like a dam: blocking up all that power.”

“So… it doesn’t work? It won’t work?” Alloy asked hopefully.

“Not unless it was realigned, no.” Cold Iron translated.

Renaissance slipped a high explosive clip into her gauntlet and turned to face the entrance to the chamber, still concerned about the lack of guards. “How difficult would it be to realign it?”

“He says not very once the builder figured out the problem.”

“The Manikin concurs,” Codex supplied.

At that moment, Gabraed’s head snapped around to the entrance tunnel, teeth bared. No one else heard her until she appeared; bare feet on unworked stone being nearly silent.

Wrapped in Hyrilius’s cloak and wearing the body of Tatiana Farnsworth, Morganna stopped upon seeing the intruders in her secret place. Then a savage shriek tore from her throat and she raised both hands, calling upon powers beyond any of their kin.

Occult threw up a wall of translucent, red, overlapping plates just as a bolt of vivid blue lightning struck into the room, dancing and crackling against the barrier.

Seeing that their only way out was now blocked by what may well have been the most powerful sorceress on Earth, Alloy cursed and shouted into the comm. “Morganna is here! We need to get ourselves out of here right now! Renaissance, use your explosives on the gate, then we’ll try and fight our way out.”

A fusillade of glowing comets of white energy slammed against Occult’s wall, causing the plates to rattle into one another and creak on the verge of destruction. Seeing this, Renaissance didn’t waste time in turning her weaponized gauntlet on the fairy ring.

Even in her madness, Morganna caught what their plan was and, still screaming wordlessly at them, changed tactics, striking at the conjured barrier’s mystical underpinnings. The wall collapsed into boiling nothingness, leaving the five in the room helpless against whatever she chose to do next.

“No!” She finally made sense in her babbling. “Y-you… you must not! The power it… it will…”

Whatever it was saying, it didn’t stay Renaissance’s hand as she fired three high explosive shots into the driftwood foundation of the ring. What convinced her first that she’d just made a mistake was the fact that Morganna turned and fled back up the tunnel when the charges went off.

Plumes of dark gray smoke, accented buy bits of mushroom and wood ejected from the three impact sites and the entire ring seemed to shutter and twist. The green mist collapsed down to the floor, becoming a thick, roiling pool.

Then the shrieking started.

It wasn’t any sound a living thing would make. It sounded like metal being ripped apart by colossal shears. Only on a grand scale. The pool of mist flared to life with brilliant lights that seared out into the chamber, carving patterns in the ceiling and walls.

Alloy shook himself from the initial shock of the display to call out, “Run!” to the others. Acting more on his desire than his order, Isp whipped out and grabbed Renaissance by the waist, pulling her away from the rapidly disintegrating ring.

Of to his right, he saw Occult throw and arm around Cold Iron’s shoulder and start to pull the girl toward the exit while Gabraed was fixated on the lights, his posture low and ears flattened in alarm.

That was all he could make out before The pool and the lights exploded outward, washing over all five and turning the world green.


Returning to consciousness was a feeling that Renaissance found to be a distressingly common sensation ever sense joining the Descendants. Unlike in movies and such, those blackouts were often short term and felt more like the record of the world had skipped rather than coming to hours later.

This time was different especially in how different everything around her seemed to be from where she last remembered. The chamber had been dank and quiet and close with the wet, cold smell of ‘cave’ all about it. Now the air was fresh—more fresh than she ever remembered, smelling of green things and sweet nectar. There was light from somewhere and things chittered and sang not too far away.

She was in a forest. Maybe she’d been blown so far clear of Forsworn House that she’d landed in the nearby woods? Unlikely, seeing as they’d been eighty feet deep in solid rock. If she’d been blown clear, it would have been in pieces too small to be confetti.

Slowly, she opened her eyes, finding herself staring at ash. The ground all around her had burned very recently—possibly upon her arrival. Her eyes caught sight of a glimmer of something like gold at her midsection: Isp. She followed the tentacle’s sinuous form across the scorched landscape to where an armored figure lay.

A lump started forming in her chest until she noticed tiny motions there to suggest he was alive, just still more or less out cold.

With some effort and soreness, she sat up and got a better look around. The burned area was a rough circle extending about twelve feet from them. There was evidence of burnt tree trunks and exposed boulders around them—this hadn’t been a clearing when the blast of flame or possibly plasma hit the area.

That wasn’t the part that worried her.

No, what worried her was the fact that as she looked around, the local flora and fauna was losing its fear of whatever had decimated the area and were returning to their normal behaviors. A small, furry creature with six splayed limbs scrambled to the edge of the burned area and sniffed around. It let out an alarmed squeak and turned too late to see a glossy green leaf at the end of a flexible stalk swat down on top of it. The leaf enveloped the creature, conforming to its body shape before the stalked rose up again, a struggling form wriggling inside the leaf.

All around her, odd creatures scuttled and the plants moved. Some of them even seemed to be lining themselves up in her and Alloy’s direction.

After seeing all that, Christina Carlyle had no doubts where they were: Faerie.

End Issue #94.

Series Navigation<< Issue #93 – Day of RecoveryIssue #95 – Into The Woods (FaerieQuest Part 2) >>

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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  1. Typos & similar

    for others and other
    for others, and other

    slowly buy surely
    slowly but surely

    “I wish, Tink were here,”
    “I wish Tink were here,”

    an instant fire break made of lithium suspended in tightly wound barbed wire.
    A fire break is a clear area intended to slow wildfires. I’m not sure what the name for this is – an instant fire barrier maybe? – but fire break isn’t it.

    come out here to
    came out here to

    and either send them
    and either sends them

    scrounge up an information
    scrounge up any information

    told me you tow
    told me you two

    Digi-Book or Reason,
    Digi-Book of Reason,

    Gabraed say on a bus stop bench
    Gabraed sat on a bus stop bench

    and the fruits started to split open, revealing three men and four women
    There’s four fruits and they’re each ‘man-sized’, right?

    that the never made
    that he never made

    speak the tounges
    speak the tongues

  2. Typos

    all the part I’ve
    all the parts I’ve

    need to breath,
    need to breathe,

    like and aura.
    like an aura.

    Which doesn’t seem the usual amount. I’ll take another look later.

  3. This is about to turn into a gigantic fustercluck with four separate factions getting in each other’s way, isn’t it.

  4. and latch on
    and latched on

    wizard staff wearing
    wizard staff while wearing

    seemed the take
    seemed to take

    enough t make
    enough to make

    walk around with this.
    walk around with this.”

    not to go somewhere likely.
    not to go somewhere lightly.


  6. Typos etc.

    Whether or not she makes contact to Maeve or not,
    Drop one of the ‘or not’s

    succeeding in a making
    succeeding in making

    all her council.
    all her counsel.

    puppet?The One
    puppet? The one

    “Alight. Calm
    “Alright. Calm

    station? ”It

    into what could only be called the dungeons and into
    into what could only be called the dungeons and then into (also, the sentence might be better broken up.)

    working an she
    working and she

    • nervous about contravening
      nervous about contradicting

      substituting steel for titanium
      If the final material is titanium it should appear first in this phrase I think.

  7. on he semblance
    on the semblance

    stylized and functional
    Maybe ‘stylish’ rather than ‘stylized’? Stylized isn’t impossible here though.

  8. As soon as the car’s sensors registered that the ride was paid for and no bags or passengers remained in cabin or trunk, started the engine and drove off.

    (it) started the engine and drove off.

  9. >She wished she knew what ‘guile’ meant, but there wasn’t time to grab a dictionary. She had to find a way inside.
    >At a loss on her own, she did what anyone else would: she turned to the internet.

    So, did she look up ‘guile’?

  10. >Pink’s Party Cannon

    I seeeee.

    In other news, I would strongly disagree that “there wasn’t time to grab a dictionary.” There’s always time to fetch a Sweetie Belle!

    • I’m not even a huge fan of the show, but I am absolutely fascinated with Pinkie and the Crusaders. It’s how to do Fun Personified and Child Characters right.

  11. Typos

    un-used outbuildings:
    unused outbuildings:

    soon on Quintilian,
    soon on Quintillion, (I think that’s the name you’ve used before.)

    The kill them.
    Then kill them.

    until the fall unconscious.
    until they fall unconscious.

    around her often,
    around here often,

    Nonetheless,s he
    Nonetheless, she

    Darkness cloaked in his invisibility
    Darkness cloaked in her invisibility

    imitation of stone Crush.
    imitation of Stone Crush.

    • Warrick as Wilburforce
      Warrick was Wilburforce

      and span him
      and spun him

      no reason both of them get sidelined
      no reason for both of them to get sidelined

  12. “… or through inaction allow to come to harm… ” In discussions of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, it’s been pointed out how incredibly open-ended and impossible to reason out in advance this’d be. It’d cover actions on the spur of the moment I guess but if there’s any enforcement while making plans it could be hell to live with.


    But Warrick as
    But Warrick was

    all that,s he
    all that, she

    I witness—the
    I witnessed—the

    freelev platforms
    freelev platforms.

    all. ; why
    all; why
    all. Why

    gate to faerie
    gate to Faerie

    looking ever inch
    looking every inch

  13. Typos

    you are encourage
    you are encouraged

    And evil magic cat?”
    An evil magic cat?”

    made them idea
    made them ideal
    (Also, is that sentence commentary from someone, someone’s thoughts, or just the invisible narrator?)

    soldered together this mud
    soldered together by mud

    The ring ls one
    The ring is on

    any of their kin.
    any of their ken.

    shutter and twist.
    shudder and twist.

    throw and arm
    throw an arm

    before The pool
    before the pool

    ever sense joining
    ever since joining

    the stalked rose
    the stalk rose

  14. Ha, after the “Faerie Jesus” comment, “Dame Cold Iron” sent my brain straight to Kipling:
    “He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
    With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
    “See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
    Show Iron — Cold Iron — to be master of men all.”

    “Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
    Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
    I forgive thy treason — I redeem thy fall —
    For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

  15. >Seeing that their only way out was now blocked by what may well have been the most powerful sorceress on Earth

    A phrase to chill any hero’s blood. Seriously, say “your only way out is now blocked by what may well be the most powerful sorceress on Earth” the next time someone asks you for directions.

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