Monday, July 28, 2008

Chapter 18c: The Wizard's Apprentice

Rachelle didn't think she had any tears left, but they soaked the chest of Wellan's tattered robe. She didn't know if the tears came from the stabbing pain in her head or her sense of loss with the passing of the wizard. Probably both.

Sharp spikes of torment shot through her head every few seconds and when the sharp pains ended a throbbing ache remained. Her mind fought to sort through the pictures that pulsed within her imagination, memories of ancient times, Wellan's life. Her thoughts remained a jumbled assortment of information, each piece floated in her mind like a single sentence or paragraph from a book, individually making sense, but not forming a whole story. Rachelle moaned as pain shot through her head with the force of an icicle being slammed between her eyes. Her mind tried to sort and catalogue centuries worth of knowledge and feelings. It overloaded her senses, making her brain feel as though it would explode at any second. Her existence had become pain and confusion, lost in a place between her world and Wellan's.

The creaking of hinges penetrated through the dull ache. The Duke, a guard, a memory? She didn't lift her head; a sphere of pain enfolded her and left little room for anything else.

Footsteps padded across the stone floor. The smell of mulch and decay filled her nose. A gurgling chuckle intruded on the pain, menacing. She looked up with bloodshot eyes.

A naked man stood at the foot of the bed. A silhouette stood before her, its skin glistened, slick and black like oil. Teeth that matched his skin shone from obsidian gums. Two black marbles glittered as they stared down at the wizard, studying the deceased with a proud smile.

The black eyes travelled to Rachelle. "Ud move, goshling. Der Shaaaman est mine."

She stood on legs that that threatened to betray her. The room tilted and the nude man disappeared from her vision as memories again flooded her mind. A thin man in baggy robes sat leaning against the gnarled tree bark looking up at her with a smile. He held out a smoking pipe with an inviting smile. The flash lasted mere seconds and when she returned a guard stood in the doorway.

She opened her mouth to call to him, beg him to help, but stopped. The armored man gazed at her with blank eyes. His mouth opened and closed, drool slid down his chin and dangled precariously as it swayed with the rolling of his jaw. The abominations are here, in the palace. All is lost.

The black man stepped around the bed with the grace of a dance and faced Rachelle, a black dagger pointed before him. "Ud move, goshling."

Without a seconds thought she lifted the chair and held it before her, the legs pointed at the black horror. Her pain betrayed her and she wobbled to the side as another spike of pain drove between her brows. Images flashed before her eyes for a mere fraction of a second. A night sky full of stars filled her vision. This slim light of a crescent moon shone in the heavens as a shooting star streaked across the sky and plunged into the earth with a blasting roar several miles away. The scene changed to a small dim room, a menacing chuckle greeted her return to the present. Black hands held a leg of the chair and jerked if from her hands, almost pulling her to the ground.

The black dagger rose into the air, poised to plunge into her heart. She cried out. Her hands rose before her face to block the blow she knew she couldn't prevent.

A bloodied hand, middle finger bitten to a stub, struck out from the bed, grasping the black arm and pulling the blade away from its target. The obsidian man snarled and turned to Wellan, driving the knife deep into his stomach. Runes on the knife glinted green then faded.

The wizard grunted, ignoring his attacker and turning his head to Rachelle. His eyes remained glazed over, but no pain shone from them. He grunted as the knife struck home again, then whispered, "Remember the demon in the cave...the wolf..."

Her mind grasped Wellan's words, flew through the images and information until they locked onto that one instant in the Wellan’s life. Again she saw the five men, the enormous wolf with red hot coals burning deep within his throat. Smoke drifted out between it’s yellow fangs. Once more she felt the power flare up within her, brought forth by her will. She felt it burst out of her and slam the demon into the wall. Power, raw energy flashed from her being, brought forth by her will to use it.

Before she realized it she stood before Wellan again. His weak hands tried to grasp his attacker’s arms as they plunged the dagger into his stomach over and over again. His hands slid off under the black man’s frenzied attack.

With a scream she reached deep into herself and grasped the golden light that represented that power. She sucked it up into a tight ball and sent it racing down her arm and through her hand. It burst forth with the sound of thunder, raw energy barely controlled. A golden radiance unleashed with the fury of the nine hells. It slammed into the obsidian man and sent him flying into the air, crashing through the window and sailing backwards to land somewhere in the courtyard three stories below. The bed flipped over and slammeded against the wall, trapping Wellan beneath it. The undead guard at the door flew four feet across the hall, slamming head first into the stone as though he were launched from a catapult, cracking bricks and splattering gore in a red spray across the rough surface.

Weakness touched her muscles, she felt drained. The room became a blur and she tasted blood. Bracing herself against the wall she wiped her forearm beneath her nose. Blood smeared the back of her arm.

Ignoring her exhaustion and blood for the moment she stumbled to the overturned bed. It wobbled and tipped over as Wellan crawled from beneath it. He knelt on the ground with his intestines hanging from his gutted stomach, the gashes he received outside the city walls opened again and dripping pus.

He looked up at Rachelle and gave her a crooked smile. "Get me something to wrap my waist in and I will try and get myself pulled back together. Then..." His nostils flared, sniffing the air like a hungry wolf, milky eyes open wide. His tongue licked cracked lips then he shivered and squeezed his eyes closed. His voice returned in a rough rasp, "Then we must flee."

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