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23 November 2008 @ 05:57 pm
NaNoWriMo Entry: 08  

Chapter Seven: Flee or Flight

Oddly enough, they hardly met anything on the paths leading to the stone. Kalien suggested that perhaps it was because the beasts could sense the malice exuding from the chambers, as they faintly could, and Cairre mostly agreed. His master had been formidable back in the day, able to tame a wild beast with a glare and a word. All the others that had resisted his commands had been duly executed.

He supposed it was because beasts survived on instincts, and with his master’s essence in such condensed form, it was easy enough to realize that the right thing to do was flee. In that way, Cairre thought beasts were like magicians.

“How much further?” Elsith asked, sounding annoyed in a strange, quiet way. Travel had become difficult once again, the ground slippery and uneven, moss making their progress slow and tedious. They all had to keep their eyes on the ground by now, the Ryoheis dancing at their feet to light the way.

“Just a bit further,” Abe answered, leading the group. “How did your boss get through here, anyway?”

“I’m not certain,” Cairre replied, nearly tripping on a stone. Dino was having the hardest time of them all, and had long taken to clinging to the princes to navigate. Fortunately, they let him do as he needed, probably treating him like a relative because of the color of his hair. “Perhaps he flew, or turned himself into a bird.”

Kalien looked surprised and gave him a look. “He can do such things?”

He nodded. “Yes, there was hardly anything that he couldn’t do. If you told him something was impossible, he would do everything in his power to prove you wrong.”

Abe glanced at Elsith. “Reminds me of someone.” Fortunately, the mount was too busy trying not to catch his hooves on the spaces between the rocks to notice, only mumbling to himself about the draftiness of caves and the barbaric nature of the magician who decided to set up base here.

“Have you never been here before, Cairre?” Kalien inquired, curious. He rolled a shoulder into a shrug and shook his head.

“Only twice. My master had not been in the habit of sharing his plans with me. I was his important student, not his accomplice.”

“Perhaps we should be grateful for that, then,” Kalien remarked mildly. When Cairre realized what the prince said, he colored, pleased. Behind them, Elsith snorted, but did not say a word.

“I think it odd that he took in an apprentice in the first place,” the prince continued. “He did not seem like that type of man. I met him once, when he was much younger and still the young magician star of Autopia. He had been, to memory, a very introverted man.”

“You mean he had no friends,” Abe translated flatly, accurately.

“Perhaps,” Kalien acquiesced. “Not to say that people didn’t try. He just… put them off, from what I knew.”

“Roderick Twilight of the Sullen was creepy and suspicious,” Elsith clarified with a scoff, the disdain echoing in Cairre’s head. Cairre didn’t know these things, though, and he told them as much.

“If so, then what is the reason for your loyalty to him?” Kalien asked, looking confused though not judging. Cairre shrugged again.

“It’s not loyalty, I think, so much as just about everything I knew.” Which was true, in a way. Roderick had taken him to the house of Sullen (members: one) when he was hardly ten, and had then pushed him to excel in magic. He did not know why he was chosen, beyond that he seemed to have a natural affinity for it, nor did he know why his master had decided to take a student in the first place.

“Perhaps he thought to teach someone his methods,” Kalien mused, scrapping the moss off his boot at a nearby rock before continuing forward. “Someone to take after his footsteps when he died.”

Cairre thought it best to remind them, “But he never shared any of his plans with me.”

“Perhaps he died before he could impart the rest of his knowledge with you,” Elsith put in, not malicious, but factual. The mage thought this over for a moment, finding sense in that. He did not feel offense that his master had not thought to take over the world with him as his assistant, considering that he had been, in general, disinterested in such affairs, but it was still nice to know.

“Then I am glad that you killed him before his expected end,” he commented, casual. Cairre turned his attentions to Dino for a moment, watching with interest as the younger man generated more of the Lambo and the Ryohei that he was so fond of. He was a fast learner, and Cairre was impressed at his aptitude.

“The cavern with the stone is ahead,” young Abe announced, stopping to look at them. “There aren’t anything inside, but I don’t know if it’ll react differently to, you know, actual living people. And a donkey.”

“Cease and desist with the remarks on my condition!” Elsith snapped. Cairre saw Abe leer, and wondered if the boy enjoyed taunting the easily taunted. He supposed he could see the amusement in that, and thought that perhaps the young ghost had died because of overly angering people in his world.

“Enough, you two,” Kalien said briskly, striding forward with his blades at ready, followed by Rebi’s eager figure. Cairre hurried after them, uncertain of the obstacles ahead. At any rate, their rear was undeniably safe.

The path opened up into a large cavern with a smooth floor and polished walls. A large crystal hovered in the middle, glowing blue in the dark. The light reflected off the walls, giving the chamber an eerie shine. For a second, Cairre thought that the setup was too simple for this to be their target, but Watanuki soon confirmed that it was, walking around it in a circle and watching the compass.

“Look,” Kalien gestured, prompting everyone to move forward to see what he was talking about. “There is something inside.”

And there was, a dark cloud swiveling and roiling inside the stone, seeming like a living wisp of thick mist or perhaps fog. When he stared at it too long, he thought he saw a face grimace at him. Cairre blinked and the image disappeared.

“Let’s destroy it,” Elsith declared, purposefully trotting around the thing to look for a weakness. It would be the same from all sides, his master a fan of symmetry.

“I’ll do it,” he said softly. “When I break the cage, the mass inside will go for us, but I believe it will target Prince Elsith. It would be in everyone’s best interest to scatter and duck.” He ignored the doubtful looks thrown his way, because despite that, they trusted him enough to move about as he had instructed. Kalien stayed behind Elsith, at a ready to support his brother even if his blade would probably prove ineffective against magic.

He stared at the stone, then, imagined it breaking and shattering. In his eyes, cracks formed around it, starting from the top and traveling their way down, interconnecting and merging as it progressed. In his mind’s eye, it was reality, as he willed it to be. Cairre was only vaguely aware of the sharp crack reaching his ears, as he focused on willing imagination and reality to become one, the stone in his mind like thin ice or perhaps brittle rock.

“Cairre!” It was only when Kalien cried out his name that Cairre lost his focus, and he looked up to see that his goal had been achieved. The mass was rising from the cracks, making their way around the breaks in the stone. It coalesced into something more solid as it formed in the chamber, a cloud of screaming mouths and ghostly limbs.

It was, he recognized, malice given life and form, and he wondered how his dead master could have sired a terrible thing such as this. Cairre did not think that even a hundred years from now, he would be capable of developing enough madness and hate for something like this.

The mass roiled and contorted, twisting into itself. It stopped, all of a sudden, and dived for him, its keening wail melding with its angry howl, making the chamber echo with horrific noise. Surprised, he threw up a hand and with it, a barrier of ice. It slammed into the barrier, writhing, and the barrier started cracking. Cairre could feel it damaging his magic and he wondered how in the world it could have that much power when it was merely the throwaways of a dead wizard’s nightmare.

“Cairre!” Kalien cried in horror. “Why is it attacking you?!”

“I do not know,” he gritted his teeth, willing the barrier to become thicker and wider as the mass tried moving around it. “It may be,” he started, losing his focus for a moment but recovering in time to push the malice back, “It may recognize me as my master’s student. The magic, it is looking for its rightful owner.”

“Well,” Elsith declared, suddenly at his shoulder, “Your owner is dead and so should it perish.”

He wanted to tell the prince that things were not that simple with madmen and the leftovers of their hate and magic, but Elsith rarely understood magical things and there was a need for him to keep the wall of ice up. Cairre opted for silence, and wished that Elsith would keep out of this. He would figure something out soon, despite the ringing in his ear and the growing mass of spite battering at his wall.

“Enough of this!” the prince bit out, and Cairre stared in horror as the horse charged, diving gracefully around the barrier and leaping for the nameless enemy. Cairre half expected him to pass right through, but hate was solid and Elsith crashed into it, causing it to roar in anger. The noise was almost deafening.

“Elsith!” He did not know if the cry came from him or from Kalien. He thought that perhaps they had both said it. The prince was tangled with the mass now, its tendrils coiling around his neck. Elsith retaliated by kicking and biting and twisting around, and amazingly, Cairre saw that it was slowly being damaged, weakened by the prince’s angry offense.

“Cairre, Cairre, what are we supposed to do?” There was a haze in front of his eyes and, seeing that the mass had changed its focus from him to the prince, he let the barrier down. The feeling was familiar, used as he was to duels with his master. He tried not to think of how he had never won, instead frantically rifling through his mind for ways to protect his charge.

“I--” he murmured, feeling his blood pound through his head, “I will try to catch it and allow Elsith to gain an advantage.” The prince did not seem affected by the cloud, though there were ugly gashes on his hide and Cairre could see that he was starting to bleed at the nose and ears from the exertion of denying the magic. He had never been so impressed with the prince’s reason until that moment.

He gazed at them in rapt attention, imagining a net to catch the cloud, avoiding the horse in the process. The net twined around the solid, massive smoke, starting with its extremities, over the mouths, muffling its anger. It stopped moving as he willed it to, finding it easier to attack it now that its focus was elsewhere. If that was the case…

The words he said were ones he had heard from his master’s lips, but something he had never uttered on his own. His master’s essence completely paused, then, the sudden silence surprising before it changed course and made for Cairre again, the only thing stopping it in its tracks the net that Cairre had woven around it. It wailed angrily, almost woefully, and the magician cut it off from all movement. Elsith barreled into it again, mouth foaming, and bit it until it faded away into nothing, a sad and lonely existence disappearing into the dark.

Cairre breathed a sigh of relief and staggered forward to check on Elsith, the mount having stopped in the middle of the chamber, breathing hard and wild to look at. “Elsith?” he called in concern, his head throbbing from the effort of staying upright, the sudden drop of malice in the area disorienting. He had not noticed that before, the pressure of hate making the air heavy, but he knew now that it was gone.

“Do not call me by name, how many times do I have to tell you that?” The reply wasn’t heated, and Cairre could see the strain on the steed’s form. “Before he could do anything about it, however, he felt his mind go light and his feet grow heavy, rooting him to his spot.

“Stormbringer?” Elsith asked, face suddenly very close to his that he could see the blue of his eyes clearly and the red running down a gash over his temple. “Are you all right?”

“Mmmngh,” he replied, and everything went black.


He woke up to gentle rocking, a strange tickling at his nose, and the feel of sliding off of something. It was mostly the latter that forced him to awareness, which he regretted immediately upon realizing the painful ache of his head. Cairre pulled himself up before he completely fell down and realized that he was slung over Elsith’s back, and that he had just tugged himself up by the prince’s precious, precious mane.

“Do not sit up, Stormbringer,” was the sharp command. “The ceiling is low and you will only damage your head further than you already have. I do not wish to be responsible for your foolishness.”

“I apologize,” he murmured automatically, settling back down uncomfortably. The situation was strange at best, and awkward at most. If it wasn’t for the pain in his head, Cairre would try to make sense of it more. “I can walk,” he offered.

“You will and can do no such thing,” Elsith retorted. “Stay there until we find a place to rest.”

“I am grateful.”

“As you very well should be. But you did a splendid job in there earlier, so there is no need to be.”

On any other day, Cairre would be better at figuring out what Elsith was leading to, but he felt tired and a little feverish, and did not say another word. Kalien was walking beside them, hand resting on Elsith’s side. He saw rather than felt that the prince’s injuries had been healed, and realized that Kalien must also be exhausted.

The prince caught his eyes and smiled at him, the gesture small but sincere. Cairre tentatively returned it before closing his eyes, settling down for another troubled sleep.


The next time he woke up, it was to the sight of stars overhead and the feel of being on the cart, out in the road. He sat up, groggy, and blinked at his surroundings.

“The compass has shown us the next target,” Abe explained at his ear. Cairre stupidly stared at him before nodding. “You’ve been sleeping the past day,” the ghost added.

“Oh,” he said. “That is very long.”

“A little,” Abe replied dryly. “How’re you feeling?”

Cairre paused to check himself. “Better. Well-rested.”

“Good. Eat something. I’ll tell the princes.”

When he looked around, he found Dino and Rebi handling the cart, and their party back in the plain. The Wall was nowhere to be seen. Kalien trotted up to him and clapped him on the back.

“Cairre! How are you?”

“I feel well, sir,” he answered, still attempting to figure out where they were. “Where are we heading?”

“To the east. The compass has spoken. It seems that we need to break all of the stones, my good man. Would you happen to know how many we would need to destroy before this chaos stops?” At Cairre’s blank stare, Kalien explained himself. “The area where the stone was found lost its malice and chaos once the stone was broken. It was a curse, and we need to undo all of them.”

“How far did this malice reach?”

“Far enough.”

“Then perhaps half a dozen?” he guessed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He felt that his hair was standing up everywhere, and he patted it down.

“I suppose we will know of the compass stops pointing, yes? Very well! We shall continue traveling and eventually, we will rid Autopia of them all.”

Cairre realized as the prince went back ahead, that he had never seen Kalien as cheerful. He had changed a lot, from their first rather unfortunate meeting, and Cairre realized that this might be the prince’s true nature.

“If you are done gawping, perhaps you will deign to explain to me what exactly it was that we faced? If we are taking care of more of them, I would like to know the best way to defeat them.”

Cairre stared at Elsith, thoughtful. “They were the leftovers of my master’s magic that he trapped into crystals of his making. His magic was powered by madness and hate, as you saw. I am not certain how we are to defeat it,” he confessed, “Aside from the way we did just now. Next time, however, I will know exactly what to expect and it should be easier.”

Elsith, surprisingly, seemed satisfied by the answer. “Then we shall work together from here on. I will find a use for the others. You should rest, there will be more for us ahead.”

The magician nodded, and the horse moved away.
Lynlyn: stein snerkskye_kestrel on November 30th, 2008 09:05 am (UTC)
“Cease and desist with the remarks on my condition!” Elsith snapped. Cairre saw Abe leer, and wondered if the boy enjoyed taunting the easily taunted. He supposed he could see the amusement in that, and thought that perhaps the young ghost had died because of overly angering people in his world.

... LMAO.
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノ: Ehehe...yukitsu on November 30th, 2008 09:06 am (UTC)