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Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 25 Mar 2021 16:36
Interesting Times! Sing Ye Bards and Scops! The Day of New Year is Upon Us!
Today is indeed a day to celebrate! For it is the Yare Namedeyand...
Yare Namdeyand is the day upon which the scholars and philosophers of the ancient Collegium of Yllem gather to open the Enumeration of Years and read from it the name by which the forthcoming year is to be known. Since that takes all of about ten minutes, the said scholars and philosophers have turned the whole thing into a "working session" of the college, filled with the readings of scholarly works, discussions, debates, big lunches, concerts of music and even bigger dinners.
In the common calendar of the Eastlands, this event falls upon the third day of Twixtmath. It also refers, somewhat informally, to the actual day of the new year itself, for it is on that day that the year is actually given its name. Formal proclamations of the Collegium are drawn up and despatched to all the lands around so that all folk will know by what name to call the forthcoming new year. And on the day, it's customary in the realms of Werrefolk at least for the monarch to make a speech or meditation of some kind on the New Year's name and the direction that the realm should take.
Everyone awaits the words of the Auntimoanian Empress, especially in these interesting times!
So far so good. Only, the eldest scholars, whose task it is to open the Enumeration have seen a thing unseen in all the long years of the Collegium. A year with two names! And while many years have been given names as ungothroughsome as ink, this year's names both appear ominous and foreboding.
It is with some trepidation and excitement that the doom is officially read out: ". . . the day being the 10th of Newyear (25th of Yastermath); the fifth year of the reign of Yesseraê Wilunnô, in the 2021st year of the Fifth Age of Man, being the 2107th year of the Pesqas Zodiacal Era in the Pwerncas Hipparchian Age in the ninth Age of Stars which hight Calior, the ninth Age of Stars having been born 4208 years ago when the Torras zodiacal era, the Nimbullas Hipparchian Age and the Xora Age of Stars passed away. By these Presents, spoke before the Empress in Parliament and now in Parliament Circus, shall all Men and Denê know the old year of Crownèd Death has passed into the bosom of History and shall clepe the new year that comes that of the Woody Rood & Crossed Wands."
Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 30 Mar 2021 03:53
Interesting Times -- The Sacrifice
The chamber was dark at last and the air was cool and still. Starlight, dim red and bright white, shimmered through the tall windows. A dull, faint clank rang out like a gong in the darkness. The Tana boy lying on the floor shifted slightly and the heavy bronze legging and it short chain attached him to the smooth stone floor by a hammered pin. He was naked and had no means of straightening the pin or removing the legging. He long ago forgot how long he’d been in this place, and though he’d tried, several time, to sing the chain apart, it was strongly made and thaumically hardened. His skill was singing to trees and he loved their lush, vegetative response to his enchantments.
The Tana sighed. His nature was no match for toughened bronze. His ankle chafed at the fetters and his leg pulled uselessly at the chain. The sound of the clinking chain was his constant reminder that here he was a slave. He waggles his knees to and fro momentarily, thinking: No, not really a slave. Slaves among Werrefolk do things at their masters’ bidding. All I do is stand chained to the floor, a target for the students to aim at. I think I am here more furniture than slave. But t least he could stretch out his long wings and his arms and legs in this place. In the dim light he could see the small shelf on the far wall. It was a torture to see the three things neatly piled up there after all this long time: the folded cloth was his racca, which his mother and sistermother had woven for him; and on top of that were his crhroasayan, a knife made from skymetal; and lastly his utwande, no more than a switch of polished urang wood. He’d only been learning how to use it for about a year when he was captured and all that he had with him was taken by the Werres. At least they hadn’t nicked his knife! Skymetal was exceedingly rare and not many knives were ever made from the stuff. That was a treasure no one had bothered to crack open!
He smiled to the stars that he could see through the windows. These few hours of darkness were the only times of peace he had enjoyed in all the years he was here. He often thought about the friends that had left him behind. He was sure they knew he’d saved them by duping the Guards into chasing after him when it was the other two they were really after. He wondered what their lives were like and if they ever thought of him. He smiled, just knowing that his best mates didn’t have to suffer the torment with him. That was enough. The slave was content.
Though contentment is not the same thing as happiness. And the happiness of a star filled night was dashed of a sudden. A faint scraping sound brought him out of his reverie and in an instant he was crouching, listening for another clue as to the meaning of the sound, waiting for whatever, or whoever, was come visiting him. Whoever, most likely.
Soft footfalls were approaching from the far end of the long chamber, slow, measured. Someone was trying to sneak up on him. He could make out the heartshadow of a person. The figure was tall and powerfully built. Almost as tall as himself. The figure was wingless. A Werre, that was certain. As it drew nigh, he began to recognise the shape the shadow cast within his mind and in his heart. He didn’t like the shape. He knew who it was.
“Bearclaw,” said the Tana slave. “I know it’s you. What do you want here. Didn’t you get enough practice on me earlier today? You know you missed more often than you hit me?” The stings of the practice sessions lingered ever in his body. The students weren’t really supposed to use powerful castings on him, as his sole purpose was to stand as a living target. Most of them couldn’t anyway, but several tried. Bearclaw was one of them. He was one of the older students, pretty good at slashing charms, and what he lacked in skill and knowledge he simply made up for with violence. The big Werreish boy paused, then grunted. He never said much, and when he did try to communicate, it was usually nothing more than to growl threateningly at a fellow student. The Werre no longer tried to mask his presence, and his thumping footsteps closed the gap quickly.
A faint motion, a shade of movement to the left caused the Tana to send out his fist. The crisp smack of his fist on the uncovered arm of the Werre, followed by a stifled yelp, confirmed that he’d blocked a cheap shot. Werres surely knew by now that Denê could see well in the darkness, even if they made up stories and never bothered to find out what they could actually see. But Werres were also stupid in a way. They always pretended that what they wanted to see was what was real; and what was real wasn’t what was really there.
Bearclaw snarled and reached out quickly, grabbing the Tana slave.
He yelped with suprise and horror mixed. “Let go—!” He yowled. “What!? Don’t touch me th—!”
The surprise of the sudden and vigorous attack had shocked him so much he stumbled backwards, only to be tripped up by the short length of the chain. He nearly fell, but with a speed he’d never thought possible with such a solid Werre, Bearclaw was behind him!, caught him as he fell, never letting go of him.
The Tana had no defense against this kind of attack. It was unthinkable. It was — something cool and smooth began tracing the line of his spine. He stiffened, his eyes wide with horror, unable to move. He could only hope it was a knife. The pain and the ecstasy mixed in his thumping heart were too much to bear! He snarled and yowled. The Werre laughed slowly and deeply but still said nothing. A heavy glass vessel of some kind was placed before him, between his legs, and Bearclaw’s thick hand and arm made its way slowly up along his belly and chest and to his neck. He squeezed the Tana’s neck with all his strength. He tried to cry out, but his throat was crushed. He tried to fight, to squirm away somehow, but his body gave up and his mind began to wander into strange and horrible places. He could only endure the attack and hope it would end soon.
It did not end soon enough, and the slave’s mind reeled with what was happening to him; his heart felt pierced and his spirit weakened. After a long struggle, the darkling chamber went black. And he began to wander in a place of despair.
The pain in the Tana’s ankle awoke him, reviving him suddenly. He felt exhausted. He knew that a great energy had been taken from him. His body felt the heat drained from him and was now cool as the stones he was laying on. As he opened his eyes, he could see that the stars had whirled their nightly course but a short distance. He hadn’t been unconscious long. The hulking shape of Bearclaw sat hunched over between his feet, leering. He seemed like a monster lurking. He spoke then. The first words the boy had ever heard the fellow say.
“Huhh! You put up too much of a struggle, pigeon boy.”
Struggle? He couldn’t even remember fighting back! He noted with satisfaction that one of the Werre’s eyes was swollen shut and his lip was torn open. There were scratches on his arms and hands that had obviously bled profusely. He could only hope that the eye was broken open and useless.
Bearclaw lifted up the heavy glass vial to the dim light. It was dark and even a Tana couldn’t see well enough in the dark to make out what was in it. The boy turned his head to the side. Shamed. His jaw clenched, but he didn’t say anything. He knew what the bottle was full of, though he had no idea to what unthinkable purposes a Werre would put its contents.
“Hahh! What’s in here is worth a fortune! Especially from the likes of you, crow head! I know what you are, and I’ve studied the lore.” He touched the Tana’s calf and thigh, his head cocked weirdly. “Believe me, boy. This shan’t be our first encounter.”
“You vile...!” the Tana began, but with a suddenness that again surprised him, the Werre had cast his black cloak over him, clenched his leg and flipped him over onto his belly. He threw his arms out to cushion the fall and he tried to push the big Werre away with his wings. He felt a searing pain deep inside him, and his whole body moved with the power of the thrust. Not once, but several times! It felt like he was being stabbed, the pain was so sharp and intense. Over and over! His arms and wings shivered, and his body convulsed. Somehow he knew he was not being stabbed.
Suddenly a commanding voice tore through the cool air of the chamber. A brilliant flash of red heat and light punched into the Werre, sending him flying into the far wall. “You’re disgusting, you big oaf! This one’s not for you to play with! It’s mine! ALL. MINE. Understand? Now take your milk bottle and get gone before I sear that stupid brain of yours inside your own head!”
Another powerful shock of magic lifted the Tana up into the air, more gently than Bearclaw’s shoving him about, but the fetters dug somewhat into his ankle again. He found himself flipped onto his back again. His head cracked onto the stone, and though it pained him he wasn’t seriously hurt by it.
What now! he thought. He lifted himself up onto his elbows, but his vision was obscured by his hair falling over his eyes. He could see the wand held firmly and pointed straight at his heart. He recognised the wand. He shook his head, and the mane of midnight black hair fell aside. He looked up. Neyeret. She was the most powerful of the students, and she knew it. He groaned. “Not again! Neyeret! You were just here last night! What do you want this time?”
“You should be more grateful for my visits, crowbrain. Am I not the only one here who loves you? Am I not the only woman who brings you pleasure?”
He turned his face away from her, but she bent forward and flicked her wand up to his cheek and forced him to face her. “You disgust me! Pleasure? Love?” He spat in her face. “You don’t know the meaning! You are filthy and vile! Just get away from me!” Neyeret showed no hint of being angry. She only straightened up and wiped the spit from her cheek on the dark hem of her cloak. She smiled benignly.
The cloak fell from her shoulders, and she sank down onto his legs, straddling them. The aim of her wand never faltered and her glare never lessened. Her words were tender, but her gaze spoke only of hatred. “You know very well what I want. You see, I too know what you are, and I also have studied the lore. Unlike our other friend, the stupid one, the one who doesn’t know which way to even point a wand without casting a hex up his own nose, I know how to get it from you and how to use it.” She lowered her wand at last, tracing the lines of his chest and belly. She smiled. Or rather, she bared her sharpened teeth like a hunting beast. She touched him with the wand. He felt as if he’d been struck and thrown across a wide meadow.
She attacked, smiling as she did so. “Is that not sweet, my love? Just relax yourself. Give me what I want! I will go away when you do — eventually!” She licked her teeth and narrowed her eyes. Quickly, her eyes rolled back in her head and she began to yowl ferociously.
The Tana’s body shivered and his fists clenched. The war within his spirit and within his mind raged again. Again, the shame burned him. Almost as hot as his heart. Why could he not defend himself from these attacks!? He knew that they would never dare attack a fully grown Tana wielding a weapon and a wand. Not even their most powerful wandsmen could hope to defeat a Tana dwimcaster! But he knew that he was no dwimcaster, and no warrior either. He was a slave, a piece of equipment, and had spent the remainder of his childhood and youth chained to the floor of this very chamber. The living target of the Werreish students of wizardry. The victim of Neyeret and her cronies.
He called out once and Neyeret thought it might be a name. She howled with glee: “Woahh! Are you seriously calling someone else’s name!?” She paused for a moment, but never let him go. If anything, she grasped him more frimly. “Who is that you’re calling to? Your boy ‘friend’? I’ve seen how you budgieboys snog each other and paw at each other! Hah! It’s a wonder you don’t get along better with Barebrains! That one would like nothing more than to snog your beautiful face! Or was it your little titless childhood sweetheart?” Neyeret paused suddenly, looked down at her own chest and laughed, almost merrily. She winked in the dim light. Then her eyes flashed and she snarled: “Does she remind you of me? The way you cried out, I’d better not remind you of her!” And with that, she grabbed hold of the soft fur on his chest and redoubled her attack.
The boy turned his head, tears rolling from his eyes. His eyes crossed and his whole body shuddered. He roared as she stole what she wanted from him, and he could not stop her from doing it.
He heard her laugh, and he opened his eyes into slits.
“Why are you crying?” she asked, gently. Her smile broadened and she arched her back and rubbed her long belly as if to stretch after some difficult sport. “You roared joyously enough — and long enough!” He couldn’t remember making any sound. Neyeret sniffed and she drew her cloak around her again. Then she crouched and leaned over her victim. “Really. You refuse to cry out when the students pummel you with magic. You refuse to complain when the lecturers demonstrate how best to inflict pain. Yet you always cry when we’re together, and I give you only pleasure? Why is that, my love?”
The boy opened his eyes and looked defiantly into those of the Werre. “You are vile! I weep not for myself, but for you!” he shouted. He sighed. Softly, he said: “your bright eyes used to dance and your heart was once warm. You weren’t like the others. I could see into you then, as I can see into you now. But anymore your eyes are dead and your heart is black and cold. All is shadow around you, darker than your cloak. You have slain yourself because of what you do to me. You keep hurting me! All of you! You couldn’t do that to me if we fought fair! I do not cry when you throw your magic at me — that’s nothing against what you do to me in the darkness!”
“You liar!” She caught a brief movement of deeper shadow moving in the darkness beyond. Something deep inside her was perturbed, and she failed to follow through on the punch she was about throw. She felt a strange kind of weakness, but she crammed the feeling down deep. She brought her wand descending in an arc and pressed it hard onto his breastbone so that she was sure it must hurt. “I could kill you with a thought!” She snorted, but said nothing more.
In stead, she stood quickly, glaring down at him. She had what she wanted. She aimed a kick at his injured foot and the pain made him yelp.
He closed his eyes again and wept bitterly, drawing his legs up into a fetal position, bringing his wings over his body.
Neyeret turned and left the chamber, her cloak floating behind her naked body.
The Tana remained curled on the floor, his fitful sleep as tormented as his waking hours.
Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 01 Apr 2021 15:51
Interesting Times -- The Battle of Crossed Wands
Loud sounds slowly penetrated his battered mind. He awoke, but remained still, listening. He wondered! The students were in the brightly lit chamber, practicing their dwimmer craft. Yet no one had kicked him awake to begin target practice. He could hear Neyeret’s voice. She was guiding some younger students in the art of casting magic. She was so difficult to figure out: she could be so gentle and nurturing with the young students, tough with the more wayward; and yet with him she was cold, almost cruel. He could hear the powerful smacks as her hexes crashed into the stone wall, followed by the spanks and skinks of the younglings’ attempts.
He tensed as he heard Yorval’s voice. While he felt a deep grief and a bitter hatred for Neyeret, he absolutely loathed Yorval. Neyeret taught her charges how to attack and cause pain, but also to heal and always with a purpose, and never to great excess. Yorval on the other wing, taught no such restraint. He was surely a bully when he was younger. Now, he was simply evil. There was no other word.
“Hoy! You two! In the middle now: fighting stances!” Yorval all but shoved the two youngsters out onto the floor, where they were told to fight each other. Their relatively weak hexes snapped and cracked around them, and some even hit their target! One poor boy was struck several times by blows to his feet, which caused him to trip over his robes and fall. Yorval patted the winner on the shoulder, but the loser he hauled up by his arm and tossed him towards the far wall. “Stand up! Stand up and take your punishment!”
The boy cowered, but eventually stood, shaking with fear. “You lost because you refused to fight hard or dirty enough. Those Denê feather brains who are itching to start a war with us will not care if you don’t fight hard or fight dirty. They’re the dirtiest fighters of all!” he screamed.
Then he just thrust his wand at the poor student and twisted it, causing an excruciating pain in the small boy’s fingernail. His piping screams of pain filled the practice hall and Yorval laughed maniacally all the while.
The slave had had enough. “Yorval!” He called out. “Why don’t you try that on someone who can actually fight back instead of bullying young boys!”
The ploy worked. Yorval stopped his attack on the student, saying: “Shut it, vulture breath!” He turned and with the same ferocity thrust his wand towards the Tana’s body. He cried out with the pain of the attack, but nothing he could do would stop the pain. But at least the poor child would no longer have to suffer at Yorval’s hand.
Yorval closed the distance between them quickly, shouting all the way. “Alright you lot! Form up now! We’re going to practice toasting some chestnuts today! Time to show this lazy beast how strong you really are.” Yorval snarled, barking out his orders.
Before he could prepare, the heavy boot on Yorval’s foot came swinging back and then up like an expert streetballer’s kick and crashed into his already painful ankle. He was expecting a crotch smacker, but this was much worse! The heavy leather connected with his exposed shin, and also drove the metal of the fetters hard and deep into the bones of his foot. He was sure he felt his shin bone crack and his foot was on fire.
Yorval cackled. Then aimed his wand at the Tana’s crotch and yanked it back with a gleeful laugh until it felt like his insides would twist into a knot. He fell to his knees, sure he was going to retch. “Get up, beast! And I’ll consider letting you go.”
“Yorval!! Stop that!” The Tana struggled to get up. The voice that spoke was new. He’d never heard it before. It was sweet and innocent in this place of torture. He looked up. One of the younger students broke away from the group, gracefully pacing the distance to the center of the hall. Her face seemed familiar, like that of someone he knew, though much younger. She stood before Yorval like a warrior from an ancient tale facing a mighty beast. “He is not an animal!”
“Well, it’s not a person, child, so who cares?” The fact that Yorval didn’t immediately punish the disobedient child piqued the Tana slave’s interest. Who could she be to exercise such impunity? A sister? He dreaded the next thought — Yorval’s daughter? He considered the thought that even monstrous Werres must occasionally produce graceful children.
“Yorval! He’s almost —” The voice of the young girl paused, seemingly considering what it was saying. More firmly this time, having made a decision, she continued: “he’s a person! I don’t like it when you do that to people. Just call him by his name and order him to rise. He’s chained. What’s he going to do? Run away? He’s just like the house slaves. Only he’s a Tana slave. He should be treated like a person, at least.”
The boy stood there in the middle of the chamber, his aching leg momentarily forgotten as he gaped openly at the Werre youngling. He thought for a moment he could see her clearly, could truly see her heart as her spirit shone out for a brief moment as she flung her robes back. He’d never heard any Werre say such words before and wondered what this could mean. He never knew any Werre to be so open to a Tana’s heartsight.
Yorval screwed his face up in confusion. Clearly this child had spoken something utterly alien and confounding to him. “What? Its name? I ... it doesn’t have a name! Issiy! Now you hush girl, before your Mam hears of this talk.”
Issiy, he thought. What a strange name for a Werre...but then so is Neyeret... His thought wandered back to the night before as he confronted Neyeret. He had once been able to see her as clearly. Could it be that Werreish younglings were like Denê in that ability to be truly seen? His thoughts were diverted then by a mighty crash as the huge wooden doors at the far end of the hall swung open and bounced off the walls. Indistinct figures, all tall, stood in the light of the doorway. The Tana boy hopped around on his good foot, his left, to get a better look. Suddenly his heart leapt!
Winged people!? The light of their spirits blazed in his pain wracked and cobwebbed mind, burning off the dust of years. Could it be? Denê! In this place...?
Yorval turned to face the invaders and grabbed Issiy by her robes. She yelped with surprise but he paid no attention. He shoved her behind him, and she slid over to the slave’s binding chain. Her head smacked against the heavy ring set into the stone floor. He knelt down to tend to her, taking her bleeding scalp in his hands. As he did so, he marvelled at Yorval. He had never known the Werre to utter a kind word or do anything other than violence. What was it about this child that made him so protective?
Issiy looked up into the slave’s face as he cradled her head in his hands. She could feel a warmth and a tender power from him. Her head stopped throbbing. And then the warriors were upon them! For some strange reason, she felt no fear in their presence. One of them knelt quickly before them. Although he held a wand in his left hand, he reached down to the slave’s ankle fetters with his right and the metal began to dance and deform, its shape shifting and reforming as she watched. He never looked at either of them, and only when the chain and the heavy ring had disappeared under his hand, only to be replaced by a plaque in the shape of a beautiful multihued red bronze tree set into the very stone, did he glance down to the floor. He smiled briefly, looked up into her eyes and winked. And then dashed off to the battle again. Issiy could hardly tear her eyes away from the delicate beauty of the bark, the intricacies of the veins of each leaf. She felt as if she could put her face to the tree and dive into the world in which it existed
But before she could think further, the slave had stood and scooped her up into he arms. He brought her over against the wall where there would be a little safety.
Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 05 Apr 2021 23:13
Battle of Crossed Hearts
Shouts and yelling broke out among the older tutors and the teachers who were present. Somehow, the school was under attack! And all was chaos among the Werres as the winged warriors began their assault right away, focusing on the more powerful Werreish wizards. Though it seemed as the defenders tried to kill the invaders, they were unable to make any solid hits, and their hexes smacked against the ancient stonework, echoing around the chamber. The attackers sought only to stun and sequester.
Two, though, remained by the door as the others burst in. The shorter one closed the doors and barred them. A shout rang out, a clear voice. It spoke of a wand attack in the green market. Yorval snarled in response. A wave of clear light as of sunlight on shimmering water rolled smoothly across the floor, spilling into the chamber. Werreish students and tutors alike were overcome, scattered, pushed up against the wall. Only Neyeret withstood the first onslaught, remaining standing. But even she was pushed against the wall where she crouched down in wonder at this curious magic. Several youngling students sat in terror between her and the slave, who still cradled Issiy in his arm.
“Issiy!” she called. “Issiy! Get over here!” Neyeret’s voice sounded harsh, but the little girl seemed strangely unmoved by it.
The Denê remaining by the doors after the others had swept in and secured the Werrefolk now advanced. Yorval roared: “What is the meaning of this? Who let these dogs into this place?” The taller figure ran towards Yorval, and the other, a youth, almost of age by the looks of him remained a little way behind. The Tana slave boy could scarcely believe what he was seeing! How could this be? After all these years? But the taller figure had not noticed him. He charged straight towards Yorval, his eyes fixed upon the Werre as if they were the only two people in the world. And as he did, he swept his right hand around in a broad arc, and a dome of shimmering clear solid air flowed down and surrounded them, like a great dome of living glass.
A duelling sphere! That’s what this was. Old memories began to flood back into the slave’s mind. Memories from the time before, when he was not yet a slave, not yet a mere piece of equipment for the use of others. Yorval was alone with the two newcomers. He knew that anyone outside who tried to break in would be stunned and thrown back into the wall with vehement force. And also that whoever was inside the sphere was expected to fight his way out, or else be carried out dead after it dissipated. Neyeret tried to get closer to to Issiy, but the edge of the dome came too close to the wall and she was unable to reach them. The Tana boy chanced to look up, and saw for the first time in Neyeret’s face genuine anxiety. But what was she afraid of here?
“You!” The taller of the two Denê growled. “You attacked Arcay; and now you will atone! Fight me, you coward, and not a defenseless girl! Here in the thaumodrome: your wand against mine. No one can help you, no one can help me. Come on!” he said. His intense gaze boring into Yorval’s own, he teased the Werre with his wand. “Let’s play a little game, shall we?”
The sound of the voice brought the Tana hack from his consideration of Neyeret and Issiy. He knew that voice. Somehow. Though not that voice as it sounded to him then.
“Ah yes! I seem to recall, now,” replied Yorval, regaining his composure slowly. “The titless wonderdog out shopping for lettuces or some such. Not much to cut, I admit. Anyway, we were just out for a little fun.” He licked his teeth. His words and demeanor projected an easy confidence, but his voice, the Tana noted, belied a sudden terror. And it struck the Tana then how much Neyeret reminded him of Yorval. Could those vile creatures be related? And then there was the young girl child. Issiy — Issiy. It struck him too how much she resembled Neyeret. Can she be a young sister, or ... something else? How did she seem to escape being so evil as the other two, or was she just too young yet...? The ways of Werrekind were ever a mystery to the Tana. Yorval continued: “I should have aimed for that medicine ball she had shoved inside her belly. Now that would have been fun to see splash out onto the pavement.”
Their duel began in earnest. Yorval roared curse after curse, his wand glowing and blazing with the raw power he threw along its length. Most of his attacks flew wide. He wasn’t concentrating. The Tana warrior was able to dodge them easily. Though a few hexes managed to hit home. But while the Tana was thrown down several times, and a thin slash crossed the left side of his chest, he got the better of the Werre. He came advancing from the edge of the dome, his wand dancing, seeming to force his opponent’s wand to avoid the place where the Tana was standing.
The Tana growled at last, reached out with his right hand and drew Yorval towards him through the air. The leather of his heavy boots scraped loudly upon the stones in the quiet hall as he tried desperately to halt his own motion. He grabbed the Werre’s left wrist with his right hand and, turning it sharply, jammed his own wand into the other’s left hand, into Yorval’s thenar. With a slight twist, a grating and grinding sound could be heard coming from within the skin of his hand. The fingers seemed to twist and crack and the joints popped and snapped! His whole hand flitted about, twisting back and forth in opposite directions like so many scuffling rats in an alley! The Werre screeched as he watched his own fingers twist about and his hand folded over on itself and spasmed back into place. It was as if every bone within were grinding itself against the others, painfully milling themselves into ever smaller chunks and then even tinier chips and then at last into a mash of bone meal and blood. Yorval howled, almost collapsing, but eventually pulled his hand away. What kind of magic was this!?
Yorval brought his wand up, unwilling to yield. He flung it against the Tana warrior in a rage of raw power. Intense waves of bright and dark energies flowed in a chaotic whirlwind that, if he possessed the self control, could be a devastating attack. The bright wand wielding warrior turned on Yorval and sent blast after blast towards him in return. Each one, struck with the precision and power of an accomplished wandsman. Ponderous bombardons and thundering firelances. Slashes and stabs of searing ruddy light. Yorval, having expended so much effort in his wasted display of raw power, fought back as best he could, but a bully’s hexes and unfocused attacks do little good against those of a trained and practiced wand warrior.
The newly freed slave was certain now he knew who this avenging angel was. It has been so long ... could he have forgotten me? he thought. I know I haven’t forgotten him!
The Tana warrior slashed with his wand, ripping his opponent’s wand from his hand, sending it clattering over towards the figures crouched along the wall. It sliced through the clear dome and landed near the slave. His heart raced, and he smiled as he’d not smiled in years! Yorval looked around as the wand was torn from his hand, but seeing it was lost, he turned back and was focused on the warrior. The young girl heard the wand clatter to the floor, but couldn’t see where it went.
Although Issiy wasn’t sure where it landed, a third witness did. Neyeret’s familiar voice called out from beyond the limb of the thaumodrome: “Issiy! Issy! Get Yorval’s wand! It landed somewhere by that chickenboy’s legs! Do what you have to!”
Neyeret was right. Where it went was right between the boy’s legs. He turned away from the intensity of the duel, and saw that Issy, the younger Werreish student had shifted her position. She was standing now, looking at him. She had her own wand in her hand. Neyeret kept yelling at her: “Kill him! Hurt him! Knock him out! You know how to do that! Do something before he attacks you! Before he rapes you or steals you to be his slave!”
Her words so startled him that his whole body flinched and he looked over towards Neyeret quizzically. His look changed to one of pity and disgust. “Rape? Slavery? What do you call what you’ve done to me?” He was about to reach down to the stone floor and at that moment the Werre girl crouched down, facing him. She studied him calmly. He was least expecting her to answer him, but that exactly what she did.
“I’d call it very bad business, Tana boy.” She sat before him, her back to the dramatic duel. Lowering her own wand, she tucked it into the pocket of her long skirts and Neyeret screamed in rage. She nodded to the wand lying on the floor between them, indicating the Tana boy should take it.
He did just that. It didn’t feel as polished or as straight as his own wand had been, but it would do. He smiled again, touched the end of it to the dented bronze fetter that still remained brazed around his shin and drew a wiggly line along the thick bronze of it. It broke apart easily.
The young child looked at the ease with which he’d done the magic. The slave who had done no such magic in all the time she had heard tell of him, broke through strong bronze as easily as she could slice paper with a knife. She knew Werrekind had to work so hard just to make anything magical happen, and even among these elite students, few made it look so easy. She spoke quietly, so only he could hear: “Ma — I mean, Neyeret can do that.” The child paused. She waggled her knees together, biting her lower lip with her teeth. Even more quietly she said: “she’s not feeble like the other Werres. Neither am I.”
Something moved the Tana boy to speak to her: “Um...Issiy? If you please young one, can, can you get those things from that shelf up above? They’re mine, I should like them back.” He indicated the small shelf on the wall to his left. She seemed startled by the request, but nodded in compliance. As she stood, her robes fell from around her neck and as she walked over to the shelf, the Tana noticed that there were two jagged scars on her back, between her shoulders. He wouldn’t have noticed had the skin of her back not been raised like a healed wound.
Neyeret was in a rage, just out of reach of the Tana and the child. She howled: “Issiy! What are you doing? Don’t touch those things! Issiy!”
Issiy paid no heed and walked back, giving the things to the boy. He pushed Yorval’s wand into her hands. “Here you can have that back.” He smiled broadly at her as he picked up his own wand. He stood up, a little unsteadily. She thought she could see a bright aura whip around the Tana boy for a moment before fading. She wondered at that.
“Issiy,” he said as he tied the old racca around his waist, knotting it at the left hip. “Issiy,” he said as he sat again. “Why do you have scars on your back?”
She straightened perceptibly and looked frightened; “I — I mustn’t say!” she whispered. “Mam says not to or she’ll rip my arms off too!” She smiled, too cunningly by half, the boy thought. She looked into his eyes, as if willing him to understand.
He drew a breath. “Issiy, did you Mam tear something off of your back?”
She still looked uneasy, but darted a quick glance towards Neyeret who was now watching the duel play out again, and nodded slowly. “I mustn’t say...” Her eyes looked into his, flicked towards Neyeret and then back to his. “But Mam made me pluck the feathers after she tore them off.”
He wasn’t sure where this was going to lead, but he knew deep down something was not right. And then it struck him! He looked up, examining her closely. She didn’t flinch from him. She just squatted on the floor in the midst of the chaos. She examined him closely in return. Yes, she reminded him of Neyeret, but as he looked more closely ... he remembered what he had seen years ago in Neyeret herself! He could see Issiy’s heart, he could feel what she felt. Then the sensation left him and all he could see was a young Werre sitting calmly before him, her knees drawn up under her chin. The thought passed through his mind then that Issiy reminded him of someone else, too. Someone he had not seen in many years. She continued to look at him. She leaned back and began to waggle her knees back and forth. He knew she was thinking deeply. Wait. He knew that, but how? Obviously! He knew that because he did that same lean back and waggle the knees when he was pondering something. “I saw it too, you know. I don’t understand what I saw. It was too much! But I think I saw ... you. Um. Inside you, not just outside you?”
“Issiy...” he began. “Issiy, what are you?”
The child blinked several times, not quite sure what the question even meant. She waggled her knees together again, lost in thought.
A very strange thing happened just then. A small hand found his and grasped it. Issiy had stood again, then curled up happily at his left side. He looked down at her. Issiy was holding his hand in hers, giving him her brightest smile.
* * *
Several loud blasts reminded them that the duel was still in full go. The boy noticed that Yorval had a second wand he’d secreted somewhere and was giving his opponent a pretty good fight after all. He was a bully and a scrapper, and wasn’t about to give up if there was any chance of winning. Or cracking your opponent’s nuts and running away before he could chase you down. His attacks showed no sense of tactic or planning. He just blasted random attacks of shapeless magic. Some hits struck hard and the Tana warrior was thrown back, but most either hit too softly or missed entirely, where they crackled against the thaumodrome’s clear wall. His defensive skills were fair, though, and he was able to thwart or divert many of the Tana warrior’s attacks.
The contest seemed to go on for a long time. Yorval was powerful, but unskilled and untutored. His attacks lacked all discipline and his defenses never followed through. The taller of the two warriors progressively beat Yorval back and down, until by now, they were fighting over the very spot where the broken fetters lay, in the center of the hall.
“Issiy!” the voice whispered. Neyeret. “Get away from that! I told you to take Yorval’s wand, not help this crowhead escape!”
Issiy didn’t move, but she began to shiver. He put his arm around her shoulder and his wing around all of her. “Leave her be, Neyeret. Anyway, she’s already got Yorval’s wand, so just drop it.”
“You shush. I’m not addressing you. I’m addressing my dear little ... sister.” She spat the last word out in a curious fashion.
The boy stood, looking from Issiy to Neyeret. Issiy buried herself in his side, fingering the feathers of his left wing. “Don’t lie, girl. She’s not your dear little sister,” he said with a savage snarl. “You‘re the one who ripped out her wings and you’re her —” He stopped dead, his eyes wide and mouth hanging open.
He looked down at Issiy, whose arms were now around his waist. Then he looked back to Neyeret. “I ... she ... you ...!” He could barely think of the words, let alone get them past his own tongue. “You’re her Ma, Neyeret.”
“Yes, very observant, ravenbrain.”
He felt the little girl’s fists tighten. “MA! Call him by his name! You’re almost as bad as Uncle Yorval!”
He was taken aback, but Neyeret remained unfazed. “You don’t even know my name, Neyeret. You call me ravenbrain and pigeonshit and slavebird and everything else but my name! You never even asked me!”
“Psh. I know your name, pigeonpoop. There’s no reason to call you by it, is there?” she retorted angrily. “But just so you’ll be satisfied — LUPO! — I know your name.”
They were interrupted as many hexes and spells bounced off each other explosively. Yorval was bloodied and battered. The two fighters almost careened into them they were so near the dome’s wall.
He turned back to Neyeret. “How did you know?”
She smiled savagely, baring her teeth again. Her teeth were — interesting. Though her front teeth were carved into sharp points, her canines were long. Much longer than any Werre’s ought to be. “You are mine, Tana boy,” she spat. “You always have been. Is it not I alone who love you here?” He felt Issiy’s arms tighten again around his waist. “I claimed you for my own long ago, and I have fought off all the others who wanted you as well. Including shit for brains Bearclaw.”
Issiy broke away from Lupo and strode toward the wall where her mother stood. “You are nòt the only one! Not the only one who loves him! I ...” She stopped, whether because of her mother’s glare or some inner turmoil Lupo didn’t understand remained unclear.
“Wait,” said Lupo, looking at the child in wonder. “Neyeret, all these years. You’ve come into this room. You’ve shagged me as often as you wanted! You hurt me!” he shouted. He grasped the wand in his left hand, and would have shoved it into Neyeret’s face to release all the pent up anger in him if it weren’t for the sudden yip from Issiy. What power she has!, this little one! he thought. At last he could only sigh. He lowered his wand, and caught a fleeting glimpse of a dark shape, a shadow among the shadows cast by the duelling wizards as it fled away. He whispered: “Issiy — Issiy is my daughter. Neyeret: Issiy is our daughter. Why did you do nothing? You didn’t tell her? You didn’t even tell me?”
“What was I supposed to say? ‘Your Da is the training mannequin owned by the school so the students can practice their hexing?’ Don’t be daft. Anyway: have I not always told you that you were my own? That I alone loved you here? Did you not once think that my eyes danced, that you could see my heart? Did you not realise that my eyes only danced when they saw you?”
Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 08 Apr 2021 03:19
A Voice from the Past
In that moment, several things happened all at once.
The Tana warrior at last found his opportunity and he took it. As Yorval was preparing to cast a deadly hex, he stepped aside, slipping momentarily into the Other Place, and Yorval swung his wand wide, wondering at his opponent’s sudden disappearance. It took him a moment to register that his enemy hadn’t actually disappeared — if he concentrated and looked carefully, he could see the winged figure wavering in and out of his vision, as if he were both nearby and very distant at the same time. For the longest while, he seemed not to move at all! Then the warrior appeared to at one and the same time, amble leisurely around the still figure of the Werre while also rushing towards him. It was in that eternal moment that Lupo thought he saw the warrior notice him, and he thought he saw a glint of recognition. Could it be? After all this time? Lorreg? But in a blink, the warrior stepped aside again, reappearing unexpectedly some way beyond Yorval’s left. From there he sent a jet of red fire against his opponent. Yorval screeched with pain and Issiy yelped with fright. Even Lupo was surprised by the heat and force of it, so close were they to the action now. He held Issiy close and they backed as far away from the fighting as they could.
For the first time, the younger warrior, who hadn’t done any fighting that Lupo ever saw spoke up: “Lorreg! Lorreg! We’re not here to kill anyone! We’re here to teach this bastard a lesson! He can’t learn anything from you if you incinerate him!”
The fire gushing from Lorreg’s wand instantly subsided, taking the oppressive heat with it and leaving behind unharmed flesh. He had not completed the hex. Yorval collapsed, gasping for breath, still convinced that his flesh had melted away, that he was in the middle of a furnace. He dropped his second wand, and it rolled a short distance away as he collapsed to a sitting position. He leaned forward, hands on the cool stone floor and panted.
The great dome of clear, shimmering light dissipated as instantly as it had been raised. Perhaps Yorval’s resignation signaled the duel’s end. Quicker than lightning, Issiy broke from Lupo’s embrace, dashed over to the fallen wizard and grabbed his wand. She stepped away from him carefully, avoiding his grasp and his foul temper. But though Yorval looked up at her scornfully, he made no move to come after her. She backed into Lupo and pressed herself into her Da’s body, staring down Yorval, never breaking eye contact.
At last he came back to himself. “Give it back, you little bitch! Both of them! Them are mine!” Yorval tried to thrust his hand towards Lorreg, but nothing would happen. There was no magic in his bare hands. The dome reappeared as suddenly as it had dissipated! Not cavernous and clear as a fountain, but red tinged, veiled and baleful — Lupo noted that Lorreg was outside the dome! Who could have erected it? He noted that he and Neyeret were both inside, at the edge. Yorval was in the middle. There Werre could just about blast random jets of raw power: he was surely incapable of creating such a construct of magic. He looked towards Neyeret. For the first time ever, she seemed absolutely terrified.
A low growl caused him to turn back. It was Issiy. She ignored Yorval’s commands as he continued to rage on. But her jaw was set. She had a wand in each hand now, both of Yorval’s. She advanced slowly.
Lupo only had a moment to react! He saw that Issiy’s own wand was lying on the floor. With a terribly certainly he knew that she was going to attack him and horrible as Yorval was, he would be defenseless against her incandescent ire. A movement to the side caught his fully attention then — Neyeret had raised her wand! Was she aiming at Yorval? Or would she attack Issiy? He made his choice: “Neyeret!” And with a quick gesture of his left hand, he sent the thick hardwood wand careening through the air. It knocked squarely onto Neyeret’s fingers, and her own blast of magic was sent wide, a brilliant flash connecting with the dome where it exploded into blinding flashes of lightning that were earthed all around its perimeter. There was no way to help Yorval, he knew.
With a terrible force Issiy brought the two wands up and gouts of brilliant, turbulent air blew from the ends, whisked Yorval high up into the air and flung him up right through the dome and against and into the far wall. All was silent as the raging storm within the dome immediately disappeared. Yorval’s body had been sliced as it tore through the magic of the dome, his bloodied corpse pushed into the living stone of the high wall far beyond.
Gentle streams of blood and deliquescent bits of Yorval dripped merrily upon the distant flagstones as if a cool mountain spring had opened up in the wall. Issiy smiled, tapping the wands together as she nodded her head to some inner music.
Lupo was about to speak, but it was Issiy who broke the silence. She looked over to Neyeret, who was kneeling now, nursing her broken fingers. “He won’t touch either of us ever again.” She tucked the wands into the knots that held her wrap at her waist. As she looked up at the rivulets of blood on the wall, Issiy shivered. She thought she could see faint grey shadows flee across the stonework, but she turned, sobbing into Lupo’s chest.
* * *
“Lu — Lupo!?” shouted the older warrior. Lorreg. “I never thought to see you ... !” Lupo’s heart was filled to overflowing by what was happening, meeting Issiy and being rescued by Lorreg.
“Lorreg! Come on! We need to go now — all of us.” shouted the younger warrior. He was amazed by what he’d witnessed in this strange hall of magic and wondered how the child could do those things. “How did you do that, youngling? You must be... !”
But neither got a chance to finish, for just at that moment, a number of older wizards came rushing into the chamber! Somehow, it became known that an invasion of the school had taken place. They wasted no time blasting the entire hall with hexes and curses of every description. The Denê warriors turned to engage the reprisal but they were too few to both fight back, keep an eye on their prisoners and protect the younger students from harm all at the same time.
Within a few moments, they found themselves in the midst of a fight on two fronts, as the tutors and older students sought to join the fray. Those that still had wands began the fight in earnest, while those without sought to hamper the Denê by physical means. The Wand Brothers focused on the tutors and students, stunning many, while Lorreg and Isheltay faced the incoming masters. Issiy stood with Lupo, facing them. He was able to stun or confound a few of them, but Issiy’s wild magic tripped up and tossed many more about.
Following close behind the masters, came a contingent of the school’s guardsmen, the cowards armed with bows. They remained behind the masters, firing towards the wand warriors across the hall. Now there certainly were too many to fight! As the masters pressed forward, one of the warriors near the only remaining path of escape shouted to Lorreg that it really was time to leave.
Lorreg shouted to Isheltay: “Go! Get Lupo! I am right behind you!” He continued to block the masters’ way as Isheltay ran towards Lupo and Issiy.
“Heyo! Here, lean on my shoulder, friend! I’ve got to get you out of here! Come young friend, you too!” Isheltay half led, half dragged Lupo towards the door. Not wanting to be left out, Issiy helped push Lupo while occasionally firing off bit of raw enchantment towards the confuddled masters. Her heart was thumping with fear and excitement mixed: so many strange things had just happened to her, she wasn’t at all sure how to make sense of it all. Why had the Tana slave asked her what was she? He knew she was a girl...but what else could he have meant? And why was this strange young Tana calling her a friend? All the other Denê were fighting the Werreish folk. Why didn’t they just stun her like they did the other younglings?
Issiy looked around for her mother; and she found her. She caught Neyeret’s eyes as the woman raised her own wand towards Lupo’s back. “NO! Ma! Stop! Don’t hurt Da!” Neyeret’s aim held firm as her own daughter looked back towards her. Issiy wasn’t certain if it was the dust or the steam or the tears that clouded her vision so, but her mother appeared so dark. So veiled. Hadn’t her Da said that of her as well?
Even though Neyeret had wept during the confrontation, a darkness held fast to her heart. She could feel it fluttering, like a dying thing trapped for ages in strong fetters. Had she not aimed her wand at her own beloved daughter, the child of her own beloved? She tried to stop herself from doing what she was doing. She groaned and shook violently, as if waging some fierce inner war, but it was as if her hand grasped her wand and her arm lifted it to aim at her lover’s back at the command of a will not her own. She screamed within her mind but found she had no more control over what her body did than she did over anyone else’s. Her hand twisted and with a grimace of disgust thrust the wand towards Lupo. The will within her that was not her own did not care that Issiy was running at Lupo’s back and was now staring back towards her in terror. She turned then, making a flying leap up onto Lupo’s neck, which toppled him and Isheltay into a tangled heap of arms and wings and legs.
Neyeret watched as a brilliant gout of bright blue tinged transviolet lightning roared from the end of her wand. She stared in disbelief as the energy flew towards its target. She marvelled as she watched her own daughter scream at her, fight to save the person her disentangled body was seeking to kill, risk her own young life for the boy she loved. Neyeret collapsed as the energy seared over the heads of the falling Denê. It blasted its way into the wall beyond where it dissipated in a shock that cracked the ancient stonework, causing it to groan and rumble under the stress.
Issiy wept as she watched her mother fall to the hard floor. She saw her level her wand at her own chest. A violent blast of brilliant white light crossed the gap, and Neyeret fell motionless, still gripping her wand. Issiy cried out for her mother, but Isheltay grasped her by the hair and shoved her back down: he saw what was come flying in the air.
Isheltay caught sight of Lorreg, still fighting the remaining masters. Lorreg was preparing to cast a killing hex on them. He yelled a last time “NO! Lorreg! —” Lorreg turned just in time to see the arrow slam into Isheltay’s right side, to see where his young friend falls with a whimper. Lorreg is torn. His glare and expression terrify the Werreish wizards, for in his ire they can see him almost fully revealed and the majesty and power of his true form terrify them. They turned away then to flee; and as they did so, they crashed into the archers behind them. Lorreg sprinted back to see to Isheltay. As he was running, something caught his eye, something about the strange still figure of Neyeret. Torn again, he turned quickly and paused just long enough to catch her up and bring her along with him.
The delay cost Lorreg much. For, as the archers took aim again, their arrows flew helterskelter across the hall. So much for aim! But even a volley of ill aimed arrows can wreak much hurt. He saw that most of his companions were now safely out of the doorway, and several of the tutors that had chased after them were sent flying back into the hall riding bursts of radiant magic. Lorreg knew he could never get his injured charges out through the door and it would be too dangerous to call any of his warriors back to help. Even as the last flight of arrows began their downard arc, he made his choice: he shoved the strange gilr ahead of him and he dove amid the pile of his friends. The arrows fell. Several found youngling students or tutors that had gotten in the way of the illflying birds of prey.
Lorreg took three arrows for Isheltay, Lupo and the strange wingless girls. As the searing pain tore through his body, he spread his wings over them all and brought them all and with a mighty act of will brought them all into the Other Place from which they could find safety.
As suddenly as the great battle began, all was silent again in the great hall. The masters looked around: many of their number lay injured, stunned and dumbfounded by the Denê warriors, yet none were killed. The only dead in the entire room were the children and their tutors that the guardsmen had shot with their long arrows. They marvelled that the Denê had killed no one.
One of the older wand wizards stepped into the center of the chamber. “Hm!” he said, scuffing the floor with his long toed slipper, wiping away the dust and burn marks from the duel. “I wonder. This tree here: didn’t there used to be a heavy brass ring set into the floor? I certainly recall old Master Tipplestaff used to tie up monsters and barbarians for us to practice on.”
Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 09 Apr 2021 23:03
“What are we going to do?” asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer. “We’ve all heard the report, even if her high majesty has not!” The First Magister shot the Chancellor a withering glare, but he rambled on anyway. “This, this strange fascination she has with that female wizard... Surely the Empress has been bewitched!”
“Calm yourself!” said the First Magister, much more forcefully than usual, which several of the high ranking magisters noted. “Peace! I need a moment to think!”
“Well, don’t take too long about it,” said Lady Justice. “We have to have a reply — no, an explanation — well and properly rehearsed before four of the clock! She’ll be expecting...”
“Yes, I know what she’ll be expecting. We all know,” replied the First Magister, more subdued this time.
What the Empress wanted was to see another demonstration of magic. This time without the bunglers and the dilettantes. She just wanted that mysteriously beautiful and powerful wizard. The one that had cleaned up after the greatest wizards in all the Empire and shown them to be charlatans. Or worse: showed them to be inept.
“The problem as I see it,” said the Magister of Policies and Writs, “is that she’s gone. Bloody well disappeared.”
The First Magister focused his scathing glare towards the recalcitrantly unmovable Policies and Writs master. “Thank you ever so much, Magister Obvious. But of course, she’s gone! Problem is, we don’t know where!”
“Really, First Magister? Did we not all hear the reports the master wizards sent this day?”
“What are you getting at, Moreling?” It was unusual for the First Magister to address anyone by name. The Magister of Policies and Writs remained entirely unfazed. He also held his peace. “Well man? Out with it!” screeched the First Magister.
“Is it not obvious? Did not the masters say that they saw one of the Denê fall with his wings outspread onto several others, after which they all disappeared?”
The First Magister let out an exasperated sigh, but before he could say anything in reply, his adversary continued: “She is now certainly within the world of the Denê who inhabit the Empire. And who among us Werrefolk know the nature and extent of their hidden realms? They do not allow us to walk within their realm, though they freely come into our realm whenever they please!”
The First Magister collapsed into the Throne of Delight, one of her high majesty’s least used thrones, as it presided over a theatre the performances of which she utterly despised. He sat in hunched silence for a long while and the other high magisters of the realm considered what to do. Not that they cared much about the First Magister’s predicament: to a one, they were all curious to watch the First Magister’s entire political career be incinerated by the white hot glare of The Empress when she inevitably discovered what had actually happened. And that would come soon enough: the Empress of Auntimoany can not be put off for very long! The only question, in the minds of the sharpest among them, was how to improve their own political position in light of what appeared to be a most interesting and disgraceful fall from power.
After some deliberation, they determined on a plan to bring in the next best thing. Lady Justice suggested just bringing in the second best student. “Just make sure she’s a pretty girl. Oh, and clean her up first!”
But the First Magister had learned something of the better students at the school and asked Justice: “Which one should we invite, the sadist or the psychopath?”
The other magisters smiled at each other, seeing a possible way out: “Why not bring them both?” said Exchequer. The Empress has gone quite mad — ah, er — well, anyway, she should get along well enough with such wizards! And surely Justice can spare a few penitents deserving of an early snuffing?” The Chancellor bowed courteously towards his friendly rival.
The lady bowed graciously in response. Perhaps a way could be found to not only navigate the present crisis successfully, but also see to it that the First Magister be brought down a couple notches. She herself, for example, would make a fine First Magister! She sniffed derisively, yet delicately when she thought about her true rival. Ensuring that penitents spent their long sentences in as much agony as possible was certainly a fulfilling career, and taking a personal interest in some of the more recalcitrant has its rewards, but she was certain also that it would not do to be forever remembered only as the magister whose crowning achievement was the introduction of the Elektrodrome as a bold and modern form of criminal penitence.
* * *
The First Magister’s plan was enacted and the summons went out to the head master to come immediately to the Chamber of Stars with one, or perhaps two most accomplished older female students. Upon entering the spacious hall, the Empress and the high magisters were waiting, along with a number of penitents tied up to a scaffold along the wall. Guards awaited in the shadows, eager to see some real magic for a change.
The Empress, however, as of yet unaware of her magisters’ plot, enquired of the Head Master: “Lady Master Wizard! Master Ulfier, I am most displeased! I see before me only two unlikely students of your school! That one is plain and looks frightened, like she’s about to leak her bladder on the floor and that one looks as stupid as a block of lead! Where, I ask: where is the beautiful wizard who you sent before me not long since? The one called Neyeret?” She said the name gently, almost tenderly; yet she slammed the iron knob on the bottom end of her state staff onto the stone set into the floor of the dais with such power and force that its thunderous boom startled all the visitors, and even the magisters felt ill at ease. A faint hissing, dripping sound could be heard arising from the floor at the feet of the first student.
The Empress remained calm, smiling wickedly at the poor girl as if to say, did I not know you would widdle all over my floor?
Head Master Ulfier. unaware of the plots and politics of court stiffened noticeably. Not one to be accused, even by the Empress, said in curt reply: “I do not understand, lady queen!”
“And how is that so, lady master wizard?”
“All the events of this day were written to you, sealed by my myself and the other master wizards; and I personally entrusted our report to your — well him!” She pointed out the First Magister. “The Firm Mugglewump, isn’t that right, sir? Anyway, we made quite clear...”
“First Magister, if you please, woman! Mugglewump indeed! And for your information,” he shouted, stepping between the Empress and the Head Master, “the Empress is not in the least bit interested in your base accusations and excuses! Bring forth this wizard Neyeret or be gone!”
“Be gone? You dare order me to be gone before the Empress, you tiny brained twitmouse!” She withdrew her wand from her sash, and immediately the guards turned from most interested spectators into proper guards again, on the watch for the least hint of a threat to her high majesty. “I shall turn you into something — unnatural — you toad eyed mugglewump!”
But before she could draw her wand back, the Empress began to laugh! Merrily as few had ever heard her laugh before. She took in the woman staring down the First Magister, marking her a potential ally. Considering also any potential threat.
“Now, First Magister!” she crooned. “Let us hear what the Head Master has to say. I am certain it will be most instructive!” The First Magister hated when the Empress used words like “instructive” out of context. Nothing good could come of it, and now he had to think fast before either the plot was revealed or the other magisters could convince her high majesty of their own innocence.
“Indeed!” huffed Head Master Ulier, ramming her wand back into her sash. “Our report was very clear, lady queen! The school was attacked! Attacked I say, by powerful raven headed Denê wizards. They attacked a class of tutors and students! Surely they would have wreaked much havoc had not the other masters and the guardsmen not intervened. A small number of students died in the melée, an unfortunate mishap. But as I reported, we made clear that three students who were known to be present during the attack have disappeared, a brother and two sisters. Yorval, a promising young fellow. Bit of a sadist, but a dab hand with the hexing! And his sisters, or half sisters anyway, one very young, just beginning to learn the thaumic arts and the second, none other than Neyeret herself! No trace of any of them could be found. Not even their wands.”
The Head Master sighed and shook her head. But before any of the others could speak, she continued: “Lady queen, the plain truth is, your high mugglewump here ordered us to bring in our next most promising students. We were told to make sure they were pretty girls, and were to clean them up before presenting them. We were not told why. We were only told that you already knew everything and wished to see more of our students perform. However, if these two are not to your liking...”
After a brief pause, the Empress, raised her hand gently: “No need, Lady Head Master. You may go. You have done your duty most admirably.”
Ulier and her students bowed deeply as Yesseraê rose and returned the greeting courteously. She sat again upon the Throne of Divine Thought, saying nothing. The wizards departed, and the door closed softly behind them.
Yesseraê knew to count to four before acting.
... one ...
... two ...
... three ...
... four ...
“My lady — !” She smiled inwardly. These old logs were so predictable. The First Magister had begun what was undoubtedly a well rehearsed speech carefully designed to cast blame far and wide, on everyone but himself. But before he get more than the two words in, one of the lesser magisters interrupted most energetically. Lord Hummetydumm or somesuch.
“Hush you!” The Empress noted the severe breach of court protocol. This actually caused the First Magister to stop talking. She was delighted, and said nothing. A speechless First Magister was a novelty not to be missed. “That wizard was right! You’re a lousy old mugglewump! You told us all that our beloved queen knows everything. That’s what you said, too. You said: the young tart knows everything she needs to know about this disastrous affair.”
The First Magister roared, but Yesseraê rose suddenly and strode down from the dais, heading straight for the First Magister! To the consternation of many magisters (and, truth be told, the delight more), she laid hands on the First Magister! She grasped him by the collar of his robe, taking a handful of the costly cloth and also the heavy gold of his state torc. “Guards! Guards! Unhand me, lady! I am First Magister!” But the guards made no move to act against their Empress. It was a thing unheard of for a monarch to lay hands on a high magister of the bureaucracy. The others took note of the subtle change in the chamber’s atmosphere, though several could only stare in wonder. Only a few could just make out the shadow of the future as it unfolded into the present.
“Parliament House, seven of the clock!” she growled. “Let every House be present!” As she turned, Yesseraê slipped the torc from the First Magister’s neck, letting it fall with brilliant clang into the stone floor. The door behind the throne closed behind her, leaving the hall in stunned silence. Without taking any further notice of the magisters, the corporal ordered his guardsmen to take the penitents and march them from the hall.
The magisters filed out by ones and twos, whispering quietly, wondering. Only the highest were left then. The First Magister had said nothing all the while. He was, perhaps for the first time in his long life, utterly unsure what to do next. Visibly shaken, he straightened the pince nez that rested upon his long nose. He looked down and began to stoop, reaching for the fallen torc. As his fingers neared the dull reddish gold, they seemed to hesitate of their own volition.
A voice spoke then, almost tenderly: “I wouldn’t if I were you.” He looked up. It was Lady Justice. He had always loathed the old toad, and now he hated her all the more for the gentle caution she spoke. She too turned and left the hall, never seeing whether he heeded her advice or not. He knew, after all, that she was right. The old Emperor himself, now three and twenty years agone had placed the torc around his neck. Only a monarch can bestow — or remove — such a badge of high office.
His fingers opened towards the gold.
Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 14 Apr 2021 18:27
The Healing and the Unhealed
Lupo stretched in the early morning sun. These first days of freedom had done much to revive him, and the last years of his life, he felt certain, would fade into sad memory as he took up a new life among his friends and kin again. The house of healing was just as he’d remembered it! Hadn’t he and Lorreg and Vârro and the rest of the gang been in here often enough with scrapes and gouges and broken wings plenty of times! Nadara was still the chief healer and she was as feisty as ever. At least she didn’t roll her eyes and tsk-tsk scoldingly when saw his injured leg. She must have seen from the look of him that he’d been through much sorrow.
So long had he lived chained to the hall of magic’s floor that he knew nothing of what was going on outside. He heard bits and snatches as folk went about their business. The mad Empress of the Werres — he had thought there was an Emperor. The increasing hostility of the Werres towards the Denê — that was no surprise. He had felt their ire upon his body daily. The forthcoming of the Hidden Queen — that had excited everyone, and also cast a shadow of gloom. Surely her being stirred to action portended a great change forthcoming in all the lands of the East! But he couldn’t yet go out and discover more. He desired only to watch over Issiy as she was healed of her many hurts.
And wasn’t Issiy a wonder!, and a favourite among the healers. It was surely a grief that she had never lived among Denê all her life, but she was sure to be completely healed in body and spirit and very quickly at that. She was most surprised to learn that her spirit body had remembered the shape and location of her wings, and was delighted as the healer tasked with her restoration pressed his hands here and there so that she could feel them upon her back again!
He heard folk stirring within. Issiy was excited to carry on with her task of exercising her ravaged wing stumps. The healer sat behind her, sometimes pulling at the air by her shoulders or else pushing. “Feel my hands against your wings, young one! Close your eyes to the world and see with your wings! When I push, you push against me! When I pull, you pull against me! The stronger your spirit and your mind know the place of your wings, the quicker and stronger they will grow!”
Some of the other kids came to see the new girl. A few wept because she didn’t have any wings; one boy teased her because of it. “What happened wingless girl? Did the physicks steal you away and pluck you?”
“No!” she cried. The boy got a surprise as she twisted about, and the wind of her phantom wing blew cold through his body. He shivered. She stared him down. He relented, smiling shyly. She no longer feared telling what happened. She got right into his face and retorted: “We lived among Werrefolk, little boy. My Mam had to tear me wings off so I wouldn’t be taken up by the physicks. Just as her own wings had been taken off!” His eyes widened with wonder and terror in equal parts. She smiled and grabbed his left wing and spun him around. “Would you like to know what it feels like?” The boy squealed and shrieked as she pulled him this way and that by his wing arms, making horrible crunching and crackling noises into his ear. The other kids were naturally delighted!
Neyeret though was a different story. She crouched huddled up in the farthest corner. The dark shadows had been driven from within her heart, but still her body quaked and she wept in despair. Her hands would often try to fend off things that everyone around was certain were not really there, even those who could see what was unseen . She moaned and cried. Arrane, the healer tasked with her care would often sit by her. Whenever and however he tried to comfort her, she would recoil in horror or disgust or collapse in a fit of shaking and weeping.
“I fear for this girl, Lupo. Her heart is dying. Things, dark things, have been gnawing at her heart for so long. Like worms they were. Her life must have been a torment that perhaps we shall never be privy to. But I fear more for your baby: he is not quite ready to be born. I have seen him and I believe he has been within her for nearly ten months, and if she dies, he will die too. Her body is as hale as can be for having refused food and drink since coming here; but her spirit body is collapsing within her! I can do nothing. I think the last hope for your son will be for you to try and comfort her. The soulmenders have seen the things she has done to you and to others. I have only sensed the shadows that haunt her. It is no wonder she writhes in hopelessness. But hope she must have if either or only one of them is to survive! You must reach out to her — you must find her wherever it is she is wandering and bring her back.”
Lupo didn’t know how to heal or soothe a broken spirit, but he sat down at Neyeret’s side all the same. She looked up and saw him there. She turned away from him, sobbing and shaking. He managed to get her to lie upon a warm fur anyway, and he lay down at her back, draping his right wing over her body. He smoothed her hair and stroked her arm and her chest. Eventually she stopped sobbing and fell into a dark and tortured sleep.
Re: Some Snippets from The World: Yeola-Camay
Posted: 16 Apr 2021 23:12
All was dark, as if a ferocious storm of cloud had blotted the black starry sky from her sight. All around her was ruin. Toppled grey stone and grey, broken and charred timber. The baleful light of fires illumined the city with weird red shadows and the subdued cries and pitiful moans of the displaced, the injured and the dying rose all around her. Dark shapes, shadows, perhaps, flitted between trees and dark alleyways. Black things followed her, leaping from her sight when she turned her head. As she walked, she saw some mothers breaking their children’s wings, twisting and snapping them until the children shrieked with agony. Others pulled the babies from their sisters’ wombs, snapping their necks with soft, delicate crunches. She turned away and saw little girls, their backs bleeding, plucking feathers from their own lifeless wings. Neyeret could not remain here. She sought for a way out of this crowded place of woe. Cold hands seemed to push her from behind, tug at her hands. She felt burned. They led her only deeper into the crowded place, their overlong and thin dark white fingers elegantly introduced her to the moaning crowd.
Her hands! She lifted them up and looked. They were blackened and scaly. She could smell the drying blood upon them. She tried to clean them on her wrap, but she found herself naked and the blood smeared on her thighs. She broke from the cold grip and began to run, searching for a fountain or grotto where she could wash her self.
She heard water flowing! Around the corner she ran towards the sound. Shadows parted before her and there was the fountain, its dark grey stone cold. The twin waters would be refreshing! She grasped the stone ledge, leaned forward and drank deeply. The water was strangely warm. She thrust her hands into the flow and tried to wash. The water was dark, and things swam in it. She looked up: carved deep upon the stone was the figure of a winged woman — a Tana girl. Her belly was distended and the water flowed from between her legs. Birth water and dead & broken babies flowed commingled from the girl’s sheath. She spat it out but the waters clung to her arms and ran down her breast, turning bloody and staining her pale skin. She turned to the other stream of water, seeking to wash the filth from her lips and her hands. This water too was hot, and she looked up. Carved deep upon the stone was the figure of a winged man — a Tana boy. His gaze was turned to his mate at the other side of the fountain. The waters flowed from his bone. The water splashed upon her head and face, rolling down her neck and back, and it burned her.
Neyeret ran through the night, trying to escape the monochrome grey of the ruined city. Shadows and fell shapes pursued her. She dodged into the ruins of a stone walled church. It had long been ruined and the war outside seems to have left it in peace. The grass growing upon the stone floor was cool and soft, but wrong. She rubbed her eyes and paused for a rest in a tall curved place, a broken flat stone was there. It was white and silver and the light of the high Moon filtered through the ragged clouds, inviting her to rest. She closed her eyes and slept. She dreamt that her eyes saw differently, and how weird that was! She wondered what it could even mean to see differently. But before she work out the riddle, things were stirring.
She awoke with a start! The dark things fled to the corners of the space as she opened her eyes. She saw around her shapes in the darkness. Grey and light black and dark white, they stood before and around her. They said nothing. They only waited. She heard a scraping sound behind her and turned around. The moonlight spilled onto the high stone wall. Dust and bits of debris began to flake from the wall. Fingers protruded, then a hand and lastly a face! It was Yorval, but ... he was dead already! She screamed and the figures around her stirred, wailing, almost tenderly, inaudibly. Yorval, still dripping dark, thick red blood and minced flesh, could only croak, his hands reached down towards her, trying to grasp at her. His voice spoke words horrible and painful to hear. Her ears stabbed with pain as the incomprehensible words fell upon her like gobs of congealed blood mingled with shredded organ meat. Neyeret turned again and now the shapes became people. Rotting corpses, newly dead liches. Their faces were contorted, but she recognised them. Werres and Denê alike. Their wounds gaped as they showed them to her. Menacing voices spoke, close to her right ear.
you can find no hope in this place halfling — the power of this place is broken and there is no peace for you here
The voices were many, yet spoke in accord. A terrible whisper. The dark shapes and the shadows walked among her dead victims. Cold hands held her arms and legs; caressed her engorged breasts and her distended belly. She screamed, and with an effort broke from their grasp and ran again. Their talons raked her skin and she bled, her flesh sloughing from her bones. Out into the darkness under cold white stars and a black night sky she ran.
She ran and she could hear a quiet rustling sound far behind her; and a deep mirthless laughter from even further away. She leapt over a low stone wall and found herself in a necropolis. The crowded mausoleums and temples lined the narrow lanes. She could hear the creak of bronze hinges opening, the crackle crumble of cement being dislodged and the moan of stone door seals being shifted as death came to life around her.
A voice spoke out. A living voice! Neyeret could discern no sensible words, but she headed towards it, feeling strangely drawn. Standing upon a flat altar were two figures, two Denê. One was a boy and his wings were dark and long and his feathers gleamed in the bright light of the Moon. The other was a girl and her wings were shorter. Their faces seemed familiar to her — she was sure she recognised the girl. She was sure she could put a name to the beautiful face if only she could rest a minute and think! The boy too looked familiar, like she had known him all his life. The couple turned towards each other and in the place of death began to mate. Before they were done, the girl’s belly had swollen and a young child soon stood between them. A girl. And they mated again and the girl’s belly swelled a second time and soon enough another young child stood between them. A boy.
And then she knew! She could put a name to the tall boy with the long gleaming feathers in his dark black wings! She tried to speak it.
lies — pay no heed
She turned away for a moment. It must have been a phantom.
“Ma!” cried the little girl suddenly! Neyeret turned abck and looked up and there were only the two children and the tall boy. She found herself surrounded again by the dark shapes of her dead. They whispered to her, revealing dark secrets and black forms walked among them and they too whispered to her. They told her the truth: they must have because she could recall everything they said about her.
The voices from the stone altar sounded ever more distant. “Ma! Come with us!” the two children called to her. The tall boy stretched out his left hand. It was open, beckoning to her. His eyes wept. She thought she could feel something in her heart. Something about that boy.
lies — all lies!
The whispering voices spoke clearly, as if they were next to her.
they are phantoms — they do not exist in your world — to follow them is folly — to follow is to die
In an instant, bright light entered the necropolis, moved among the decaying graves. Voices called out. The dead shapes surrounded her! They overwhelmed her! She fell but sought to regain her feet and she fought to remember why she wanted to get up so badly. She managed to clamber up onto the smooth altar stone. The voices were right. No one was here. There were no children. No tall boy with long black wings. It was all a lie. Only the dark shapes and the shadows that veiled the painful light. She was afraid and ran as hard as she could from the voices and the light alike! She thought she could hear laughter. The light must have been tormenting her.
She fled into the soothing darkness. The rustling as of long dead and dry leaves followed in her wake.
She ran through the ravaged city. Everywhere was tumbled stone, old & worn and black and broken trees, grey and desiccated. But her feet found their nimble grace and she leapt the obstacles easily. She exulted at the feel of the breeze rushing over her body as she ran. For a brief moment her heart leapt and she wondered at a strange sight: was that a blue flower tucked among green leaves and tendrils? Strange in this dark place of grey shades and hues of black and white. She skidded to a stop and turned back to examine the wonder.
false vision — you deceive yourself
But she couldn’t locate the strange flower. She must have been making it up. She looked up into the sky and saw only the black Sun and the grey clouds racing overhead. She looked at the earth and saw only withered and hoary weeds and dark white and dull stones. She looked upon her body and saw only her rotting breasts, parted to reveal gangrenous ribs and a withered heart; her round belly had deflated as her baby’s water leaked through the wounds in her side.
Her heart sank as she came at last to the crossing of two broad avenues. She stopped short when she saw there a statue. A traffic cop. Its tall cap with City Badge at a smart angle still stood proudly in the middle of the rubble littered way. She picked her way forward and saw a figure emerge from the shadows of the statue. A curious shape: his long wings were pallid and the edge feathers were white, and white were his hands and face and deep and dark were his eyes, like gleaming and translucent black diamonds. All else was veiled by a cloth wrapped around his body and his head. His argentine skin was radiant under the black night sky full of black stars.
“Don’t go down that way!” the boy cried. “That road is for me.” He opened the garment. Neyeret could see then that he revealed a long arrow thrust deep into his right chest. His death wound. The thick and red blood, congealing and aromatic, smeared down his side, his thigh and calf, pooled at his foot. “Your way lies back! Those who love you await you there!”
Love ... ?
lies again lies — look around you at the dead — what is love?
Neyeret was frightened by the voices whispering into her ears and she turned and fled! The pale winged boy called out to her, but his voice faded as she ran pell mell down the broad way. The cool wind was in her hair again and caressed her body and the gibbering of the dead was behind her now. She had but to run, she knew, and she would be free of them!
As she ran onward, meadows replaced the fallen stonework of the ruined city. Dark under the brilliance of a million black stars, the fields lay fallow and dead. She saw to one side people gathered. Dozens of Denê — the two strange children she saw just a while ago. They were tall now and grown beautiful. They had spouses and children and kin and friends of their own, and they were all weeping as they beckoned to her to come to them. Her gaze turned towards them. Perhaps...
She ran on in terror.
A small boy sat by the curbstone. In his hand was a tiny blue flower. He smiled, holding out the flower.
falsehood — phantom visions that only serve to torment thee — free yourself of the false visions
The road before her, its once broad paving stones now given way to graded dirt, ran down now with a long gentle slope to a shallow ford. Beyond was veiled in deep fog that rode upon the river. A boy came running through the meadow, much faster than she could run! Would he attack her? She turned her head quickly: he leapt the curb and was pounding along the road now! Try to kill her? She turned again and she could see him clearly. It was the beautiful tall boy with the beautiful children that had beckoned to her. Would he rape her? Force her to make his babies? Force her to... But why was he chasing her? She turned a third time: his eyes were weeping. Sad eyes that had known little happiness. She knew those eyes, she knew the face and the whole body of the boy that followed after her. He was close now.
The fog was just ahead. How could the phantom know her name? The voice was in her ear, striving with the other voices. Her heart throbbed with fear.
“Neyeret! No, don’t go in there!”
She glanced to her left. He was there, matching her stride for stride. Their wings touched briefly, his shoulder grazed hers as they ran on forever. For a moment she wondered. Have I not always loved him? The strange thought came as she redoubled her effort. Wasn’t it all a lie? But which was the lie, and which was the truth?
“Neyeret! I can’t follow you there — come back with me!”
She turned a third time. She was unsure what to think. The boy had suddenly stopped running, his trembling hands outstretched. His long black wings were lowered in defeat; he was sobbing. It was all a lie. Wasn’t it? She slowed, torn between turning back and running from her attacker. And the fog surrounded her. Neyeret heard a word through the fog: love......!