The Mother’s Wrath
Not that we were without problems. “I’m going to have to leave the house soon,” I said to Aurora.
“I don’t like that idea,” she protested, running her finger down my chest.
“But I only have one more day’s supply of bachelor’s snuff,” I countered.
She crawled up on top of me, her face an inch from mine. “You’re not a bachelor anymore,” she purred. Yes, purred.
I kissed her, tucking my arm around her and rolling her onto her back. “Is that your way of saying you want kids?”
“I don’t think I’d mind.”
I hadn’t really thought of it. You know, I don’t think I’d mind either. However… “Probably not a good idea until we finish taking care of this runelord business.”
She pouted. “I guess you’re right.” Suddenly she got an impish grin. “Unless, of course, the matter isn’t moot.” Right. I had forgotten the first night. Look, it was my wedding night. I had other things on my mind. Look, it’s the only time I’ve ever forgotten since I started taking the stuff. So hush.
Statistically speaking, we had something like a less than three percent chance of conception not knowing any other factors. I say that because I don’t know what part of her cycle she’s on. She doesn’t know either. Apparently she doesn’t have periods. Yep, covert estrus. Like freaking lemurs.
Can someone explain to me again how she managed to go so long without realizing she was an aasimar?
Either way, it certainly complicates the math. If I knew what portion of the cycle she was on, I’d be able to make a much better guess. The odds are anywhere from “statistically insignificant” to “eighty something percent”. And that, of course, assumes there is a cycle like I’m expecting. What if aasimars ovulate based on intercourse combined with feelings of love or something?
Before you try to tell me that primate biology doesn’t work that way, let me remind you that I’m on an alien planet and talking about a woman whose family tree has enough angels in it to make an entire choir. So what I’m saying, is I have no idea what the possibility is that I might have already set in motion events that could lead to being a father in nine months, and yeah, I might be a little terrified, no matter how okay I am with the idea in the speculative.
Also, I have no idea if it’d even be nine months. What if it’s ten, or eight? WHAT IF IT’S FOUR?! Oh, God.
<Kyle’s not here right now. Please leave a message after the beep.>
What passed as our honeymoon wasn’t all sex and panic. We also spent a lot of time enjoying the wedding gift we got from Kira and Samantha. Before you ask, yes, I was terrified at the possibilities when Kira told me that they got us a gift. But I was worried for nothing.
They got us anime. :D
Well, not just anime. A couple live action series and western cartoons as well. Yes, ponies included. But nothing from more than a couple years after I left. Apparently time travel was involved, because Samantha travels in four dimensions. It’s hard to explain the reasons. Don’t try to figure it out, unless you have a doctorate in calculus. Just trust me on that.
In case you’re wondering, Aurora apparently loves space operas. Despite being light years away from geek culture, I think I managed to marry a geek. And I’ve never been happier. I don’t even mind having to take time to explain all the tech stuff as we go along. I haven’t had to explain basic things more than once. I have friends back on Earth who still can’t wrap their heads around why some spaceships have to spin, but Aurora picked it up well enough after I explained it to her.
We were watching some RWBY when there was a knock on the door. We were wearing robes and sitting on a couch, so I just paused the show and bade the servant to enter. It was our butler, Genji. As an aside note, I’m pretty sure Genji used to be some kind of warrior, unless I really am to believe that he lost his eye in an unfortunate bar tending accident as he claims.
“My apologies for bothering you,” he said. “But there are two men downstairs who say they have urgent business with the two of you, as well as your companions.”
“Who are they?” Aurora asked.
“Belor Hemlock and Abstalar Zantus from Sandpoint. They say that a number of guardsmen have gone missing.”
Somehow, I wasn’t surprised. That damn village just can’t catch a break. “Send runners for the others,” Aurora commanded. “Let them know that we will be down as soon as we’re done changing. Tell Victorica to serve them some tea while they wait.”
He bowed slightly, “I have already seen to it, Madame.”
“We’ll get changed and head down in a few minutes.”
“Of course,” Genji responded with a bow before leaving and shutting the door behind him. Somehow, despite the fact that we have magic at our disposal, it took about fifteen minutes to change. No comment.
We made it down around the time the last of our friends arrived. I guess they hadn’t been lounging around in their underwear watching cartoons like we had. To each his own, I guess.
We had some of the tea blend that passes as the closest thing to Earl Grey around here and our guests from Sandpoint filled us in on what had happened. Here’s the basic rundown. Apparently Tower Street had collapsed during the earthquake, taking the north wall of the town garrison with it. No one had been injured, luckily, because the cells in that area were empty. The rest of the town didn’t receive but minor damage from the earthquake, and a few people had received scrapes and bruises from falling objects, but nothing serious.
The first night after the collapse, horrible sounds had emanated from the sinkhole. Guards were sent in during the morning and haven’t returned. Looking down from above, Father Zantus noted that it looked like the catacombs we’d taken him down to in order to cleanse that Lamashtan shrine. The sounds were getting worse and everyone was afraid that eventually what was within would come out to attack the town.
They offered us payment for going down there and dealing with the problem. Several thousand gold, in fact. We exchanged glances and came to an agreement.
“We decline payment,” Geo said.
“Just cover our room and board and we’ll kill your problem,” New!Lenn asserted, gripping the handle of his new axe excitedly.
“And, once your problem is dead, we’ll take its stuff!” Paulie added in his Billy Mays voice.
“That’s worked for us so far,” Aurora agreed with a shrug.
“I LIKE HOOKERS!” Lenn interjected.
“Lenn likes hookers,” I concurred, nodding sagely. “Now the only question is: Who is riding in the hole?” I held up the portable hole for emphasis.
As indicated, damage in Sandpoint seemed minimal aside from the sinkhole on Tower Street and the damaged barracks. A couple apprentice wizards with the right cantrip could repair most of the basic damage in a couple days. I’d have to talk to the mayor about funding that before the small issues grew into larger ones and someone got hurt.
The sinkhole itself was fifteen feet deep at its deepest point. And sure enough, it looked like the catacombs we had explored before. If we looked, I’m sure we’d find the remains of that Runewell we destroyed under the rubble. I turned on my magic sight and was startled by what I saw.
There was a magical aura all over the hole. “I don’t think we destroyed the Runewell as thoroughly as we thought,” I said.
“That certainly complicates entry,” Aurora said, realizing what I meant.
“Or we could just go in the same way we did before,” Geo pointed out.
“It’ll take longer, but it might be safer,” Aurora agreed.
Then Lenn jumped down into the hole. “I’m bored!” he shouted. Guess we were going down the hard way. Aurora flew down and I hopped down into her arms. Meanwhile Geo, Paulie and the other Lenn – I’ve decided that I’m calling him Lenntu, using the sound of the English word ‘two’ to keep him from realizing I was using a number to refer to him – climbed down using a rope.
Most of the catacombs looked as we had left them. The only difference we found was a stairwell that had previously been blocked by debris had been cleared. We had intended to come back and clear it for later exploration, but hadn’t had the time yet. Obviously, someone had. Very recently too, from the looks of it.
We descended into darkness. I activated my suit’s headlamp and cast a light on Aurora’s blade. Others activated their own light sources. A bad feeling ran down my spine triggering memories of horror movies. If we ran across a xenomorph, I was bombing whole thing.
The stairs opened into some kind of antechamber. The walls were covered with the scrawlings of a madman. Most of them were Lamashtan prayers, but there was one verse that stood out. It didn’t belong with the rest. “If magic bright is your desire, to old Runeforge must you retire! For only there does a wizard’s art receive its due and proper start.”
I had seen references to the Runeforge in the library. “VI, index all works containing reference to the Runeforge for later reading.”
“Acknowledged,” the mechanical voice replied. It was still pretty bad at controlling the suit, but it could do this task easily.
Opposite the stairs we came in was a large archway that lead into what looked like a shrine to Lamashtu. I got a sense of foreboding from it and didn’t want to go that way, remembering the mark that the man in the afterlife bar had shown me. The Mother of Monsters and I were not remotely what you’d call BFFs right now, so I didn’t want to approach her little altar there if I didn’t have to. So we went north instead, down a hallway that lead to a room with a crystal clear pool of water.
“It’s a birthing pool,” Bat-Paulie said. “The cultists would have come here to bring their disgusting spawn into the world. I’d suggest no one drink any.”
He didn’t have to tell me twice. “Any secret to destroying it?” I asked.
“I don’t believe so.”
I didn’t want to risk the pool’s contents getting into the water table and causing other problems, so I filled it with an alchemical powder that turned the water into a hard foam, which we pulled out and set aside. I then set a charge in the base of the pool, which I could remote detonate later when we didn’t have to worry about a cave in elsewhere.
We headed back through the antechamber and went down the hallway to the south. There were two rooms off that hallway, though the ceiling had collapsed in one of them. The other appeared to be some kind of meditation cell. Nothing interesting in there aside from more ravings, including another out of place verse.
“On Eastern Shores of steaming mirror, at end of day when dusk is nearer, where seven faces silent wait encircled guards at Runeforge gate.”
An annoyed Paulie explained that in the time of the Runelords, some hack artist had repeatedly used mirrors as a metaphorical representation for lakes, which had been further used by a number of hack poets. The way he described it, he seemed to feel the whole thing was beyond tacky. But it was an important clue. We needed to find a lake with hot springs.
Geo knew one such place. He had heard of it from Shalelu. I didn’t pry further. It was enough to know where it was. I was getting excited. Everything I had read about the Runeforge suggested that it was an excellent place to learn about ancient Thassilon. We might even find something that would help us stop our enemy there. Or perhaps the spell I could use to get home.
Oh, we were going.
We went back to the main chamber, took a deep breath and approached the altar. It was standard Lamashtan, flanked on either side by nine foot tall statues of pregnant women with jackal heads and holding a pair of kukris. On the floor was a glowing image of a three-eyed jackal.
And that’s when the demons attacked. Glabrezu, fifteen foot tall horrors with four arms and lobster claws. They’re said to grant wishes, but with a monkey’s paw level of twist. You get what you want, but with terrible and destructive consequences. And they’re no slouches in combat. Which is why it sucks that there were two of them.
One of them charged us while the other stayed back and kept using the spell I’ve termed “Chaos Hammer” to fire blasts of primordial Chaos at us. Lenn and I were fine, but Paulie, Aurora, Geo and Lenntu all took major hits from each blast. Aurora entered a fury state and challenged the caster to combat, pushing past the other and charging while the two Lenns and Geo worked to eviscerate the melee foe. Paulie helped her by firing arrows at the caster and I unleashed what support magic I could.
It was tough, but we were getting the upper hand. When the melee glabrezu fell, the other called out, “Great Lamashtu! Your servant, Yerrin-Ku, needs your aid!” And that’s when the statues came to life. Because of course they did.
My life sucks sometimes.
I wasn’t sure we were going to pull this one off. Not without losing someone. We could revive them, but it would cost a fair bit. But Paulie had an idea I didn’t. Because I’m not insane.
<Your dead sister lives in your brain.>
<Amendment: I’m not the same kind of insane as Paulie.>
“Pazuzu!” Bat!Paulie shouted. “I offer you a chance to harm your hated foe!”
“What.” It was all I could think to say.
A voice in the wind spoke. “Is that all you offer?”
“Destruction,” Paulie replied. “Do it,” he told me. Do what? I had no idea what he was…oh. I pulled the detonator from my belt and hit the button. The room shook as the charge I had placed in the birthing pool exploded. The image of the jackal on the ground howled in range. “And we’ll do the same to her shrine when this is over.”
“DONE!” roared the voice gleefully. A trio of large air elementals appeared and began attacking the statues, letting our party focus on the glabrezu. Once he was down, we then moved on to the closest statue, felling it quickly. All in all, it went rather well, I thought. “Do not forget your bargain,” the voice in the air spoke again. “Or I shall destroy you.”
I still don’t know if invoking a demon lord was a good idea, but it had been done. And the price was something we would have done anyway. So, no harm, no foul, I guess? I just don’t know.
I started making my way towards the altar to blow it up when the glowing jackal image moved from the floor to the wall holding the shrine. “You will pay for your insolence!” a woman’s voice shouted at us from the image. Aurora screamed in agony and collapsed. Lenntu and Geo also crumpled to the ground, though Geo seemed more fascinated by what was going on than in pain.
Lenn roared and enraged, conjuring his halo. He was still in pain, but whatever was happening wasn’t affecting him like the others. Paulie didn’t seem to be affected. Because he was a tiefling, maybe? And for some reason, neither did I.
“It’s a concentrated Evil aura,” Paulie said. “She’s trying to warp our very beings and make us demonic. It wouldn’t affect me. Not sure why it’s not working on you.”
“Earthlings are protected from this kind of thing. Anything that affects your alignment directly, remember?” Kira said.
Right. “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in him.” I began walking towards the altar. Forget waiting til we were done. I was going to smash the damn thing here and now.
“NO!” the voice commanded. I could feel Lamashtu bringing her will to bear on me. She could not change me, but she could bring me pain. Pain unlike anything I had ever felt before.
My knees began to buckle, but I pressed on. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” As I continued on, the pain became excruciating. I heard Paulie collapse beside me and tried to continue to press forward, knowing that if I could just destroy that stupid altar, this would be over. “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.”
I was still but a man. And no man could match wills with a god. The pain was too great and I collapsed, writhing in agony. “Kyle! Get up!” Kira called to me. “You’re stronger than this!” She began calling out to me in my other names, the names I had held in my past lives. But I was in too much pain. I kept my eyes shut, begging for the pain to end.
Then one name caught my attention. I can’t even remember it now, but it got a response. “Ced…win,” I responded automatically, opening my eyes.
“I’m here! You have to get up!”
“It hurts too much!” I protested.
“I know it hurts. But you have to do it, for Aurora.”
I looked reflexively. She was writhing in agony, clutching her abdomen. A part of my brain, divorced from all the pain, thought that was significant. But why? And then it dawned on me, a multitude of information coalescing into a single thought. I actually laughed through the pain. “So much for less than three percent,” I said. There was no doubt. I couldn’t give up. I struggled and pushed myself to my feet.
“HOW?!” the voice demanded, intensifying its will upon me.
I almost fell again under the further intensified pain, but pressed on, hobbling towards my goal. “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” I hummed, trying to focus, as I continued my slow, arduous trek the remaining ten feet. At last, I reached the altar. “I. MAY. FALL. But not like this! AND NOT BY YOUR HAND!”
Then I put my gauntleted fist through the altar. A forceless explosion – sound and fury alone – erupted through the room and the jackal projection was gone.
The pain gone, I rushed to Aurora’s side. She had passed out from the pain. She had already been partially warped by the dark magic. “Please, help her,” I prayed, harder than I ever had before.
I heard Essielle’s voice. “I’m sorry. But we can only help those of Earth. That’s the rule.”
“That’s a stupid rule!” I bellowed. “And what about free choice?”
She seemed intrigued. “What do you mean?”
“She chose Earth!” I said.
Essielle appraised me. “By the Lord! You’re telling the truth!” She considered Aurora for a moment. “We can extend protection to her to protect her free will as you receive it now, but I’m afraid we won’t be able to fix anything already done. You’ll need to find someone who might be able to help her. Act quickly. In a couple hours, the damage will be irreversible.”
We would have to flee the shrine for now. We didn’t have anyone who would know how to help her with us. Not unless… “Paulie.” He had seemed to know a bit about what Lamashtu was doing.
“Do you know a way to cure them?”
His face did the thing it does when he’s swapping personalities. “Like, sure, brah. They need some serious positive vibes. Like, teleport them to the positive energy plane for, ya know, two seconds so it’ll cleanse them but won’t incinerate them.”
That was beyond my capabilities at the moment. Also, it was insane. “Any other options?”
“You could try mixing a healing potion with some kind of righteous holy brew, then have them drink it. Then, right after they swallow it, hit them with a lesser disease curing spell.”
That was certainly less insane, and we had plenty of healing potions as well as wand charges for the disease curing. The only question was where to get a ‘righteous holy brew’. Do I whip out some tea bags and holy water?
“Use the mug, Luke,” Kira said, doing her best Obi Wan Kenobi impression.
Realizing what she meant, I pulled out the magic tankard of Kira’s from my pack. I prayed as I spoke the magic word, filling the tankard with a weak alcohol. Then I dumped in our strongest healing potion as Paulie pulled out the wand.
I lifted Aurora’s head and put the mug to her lips. She drank a small amount as Paulie cast the spell. The change was gradual, but began almost immediately. Soon, Aurora was completely healed. “The child will be fine as well,” a man’s voice said in my ear. “Give some to your friends as well, if you wish.”
I nodded and gave Lenntu a drink. His flesh began to return to normal as well. Lenn remained unaffected, so I went to Geo next. I offered him a drink and he declined. He seemed fascinated by the change, which had primarily affected his tentacles. Instead of suckers, he now had pointy hooks, like a Humboldt squid.
Only Geo would find the good in being mutated by an evil demon goddess. But it didn’t seem to have affected his personality, so I decided not to press the issue.
I returned to Aurora and gently woke her. She hugged me tight and cried. I had never seen her cry because of the pain, and I’ve seen her take some major injuries before. The pain she went through had to have been excruciating. Far beyond anything she had been through before.
I knew the feeling. I wanted to do the same, it had hurt so much. But I didn’t. I almost wasn’t strong enough for her, I could be strong now.
I also refrained from mentioning her “delicate condition”. It was likely far too early for her to have discovered, and I wanted to let her enjoy the experience. She’d only have her first pregnancy once.
While I held Aurora, I looked around the room and discovered another out of place verse among the rambling prayers scrawled on the wall.
“Each stone the grace of Seven Lords, one part of key each ruler hoards. If offered spells and proper prayer, take seven keys and climb the stair.” It sounded like if we went to the aforementioned lake, we would probably find a number of statues or otherwise marked stones. Casting spells of the proper school on each would activate a hidden receptacle and give us access to a key. It was a fairly common ‘access code’ used, I’d seen it before in other, smaller ruins, though I couldn’t remember seeing it required that one needed all seven schools before.
To say that I was intrigued would be a gross understatement.
Once everyone was healed, we moved down a hallway to the south. About fifteen feet in, the hallway opened into a chamber that had a number of signs of battle. There was blood everywhere, splattered higher than Lenn’s head on the wall, as if one of the victims had been taken straight out of a manga. We also found a number of small bones that showed teeth marks. Geo confirmed that the bones were humanoid – the missing guards, perhaps – and suspected that the teeth marks were from some kind of canine. We gathered up the few bones and put them in a sack for burial, or perhaps cremation.
Continuing on, we didn’t have to wait too long to find the creatures that had attacked the people. Someone had a kennel stocked with yeth hounds, fiendish canines from the evil planes granted to servants of evil entities. They were mildly dangerous, but the tight quarters worked to our advantage. Hit and run or flanking tactics wouldn’t work, so they were easy targets for Lenn, who seemed angrier than usual.
On the wall of the kennel, we found another verse. “On frozen mountain Xin awaits, his regal voice the yawning gates. Keys turn twice in sihedron, occulted Runeforge waits within.” It sounded like we went up a path from the lake to find the door for our keys, but it seemed vague without seeing it. I was sure it would make more sense when we got there.
The tunnels led to another chamber, with nothing within, at least to the naked eye. But my eyes weren’t naked, they were wearing their magic blue glow that indicated I could see magic auras. So I easily spotted the trap at the entrance to the mist-filled hallway to the north.
It was some kind of mind affecting trap. That much was sure. But what it did exactly, I don’t know. I didn’t need to. I was having trouble dispelling it, so Paulie placed a magic suppression field on the doorway and we walked right through.
A ways down, on the right side of the hallway was another chamber. Inside was the man who had scribbled all those prayers and strange verses on the wall. Lenntu had earlier nicknamed him “the Scribbler”. Sounded like a third tier Batman villain to me.
Didn’t fight like one, though. This was more like a fight with Bane, even if he wasn’t a big guy(for you).
This time, the tight quarters worked to our foe’s advantage and he resisted our magical flashbang, so things went pretty poorly initially. Several big wounds were taken just pushing into the room. If not for her adamantine armor, Aurora might have been incapacitated by a powerful blow at the beginning.
And that’s before you consider the magical trap within the room. It was a forbiddance field, likely attuned to Lamashtu’s alignment – Chaotic Evil, in case you’re wondering. It hurt Aurora and Lenntu the most. Geo partially resisted its effects. It would have likely had a lesser effect Lenn, who fully resisted anyway. Paulie and I took turns firing from the hallway, so we didn’t need to enter.
Our foe was fierce. It was not going our way, despite the numbers. And to make matters worse, I was having trouble hitting the Scribbler, since Geo was on the other side. And that’s before we consider his magical wards making it hard to see where to attack.
“Use your full fire option, Master Kyle!” Geo shouted.
“But then I’ll hit…” I started to respond, before realization finally set in. Right. Hitting Geo was irrelevant.
I popped around the corner and held down the trigger. Hot iron slugs tore through the bodies of our foe and our ally. When the gun was out of ammo, I reloaded and fired again. And again. Geo fell first. The Scribbler gave me a look. “You would sacrifice your friend to kill a foe?! Impressive!” He charged me, leaving himself open. Lenn buried his axe in the man’s back, felling him.
We tended the other wounds, while waiting for Geo to literally pull himself together. I went into the room. The pain was intense, but bearable compared to that from earlier. A few moments later, the spell had been dispelled and we could take stock of the chamber and the enemy.
Paulie knelt by the body. He reached out and carefully closed the man’s eyes. “Rest well, Xalassia,” he whispered. I couldn’t place which of his weird personalities had taken control now.
“You knew him?” Aurora asked.
“We grew up in the same town. His parents were devoted to the Peacock Spirit. I think they would be disappointed to learn he had joined the service of Lamashtu. I always suspected he would come to a bad end.”
“Shall we give him a proper funeral?” Lenntu asked.
“A pyre would be nice,” the tiefling said.
There was another body in the room as well, that of Corporal Jaren Basvear, a guard we had met before. Xalassia had kept him preserved, likely to use him for knowledge of the world above. There was no telling how long the man had been trapped down here. This was also supported by the fact that he had taken a number of notes along the walls, all about the situation in the rest of the world. An uncomfortable number of these mentioned us.
Additionally, there was a final verse. “And now you’ve come and joined the forge, upon rare lore your mind can gorge. When you slough the mortal way in Runeforge, long your work shall stay.” It sounded like little more than a closing stanza, but it seemed to hint at immortality for the denizens. The place would be dangerous in the extreme.
Once Geo was up, we revived the fallen corporal, who was incredibly grateful, though sad for the others who had fallen beyond our ability to raise. We then took the body of Xalassia up to the smashed Lamashtan altar, where we laid it.
I gave it the most spectacular pyre anyone has ever had, using thermite. Thermite cleanses all. And it would ensure that the other demon lord could find no fault with our thoroughness in the destruction of the altar. Then, in case he planned to hold us to our words in a more literal sense, I blew up the ashes. I did not want any fiend having anything to hold over us. I still wasn’t comfortable with Paulie having invoked him, but it was over and done. No use worrying for now.
We returned to the surface as heroes to Sandpoint once more and spent the rest of the day helping to seal the ruins for good.
That night, Aurora and I retired to our quarters and slept. Once more, I dreamt of another time and another place.
“Watch the claws, Old Crow!” I shouted at the wizard flying nearly fifty feet above us.
“Don’t worry about me! Just do your part!” the wizard, a man of thirty six who looked no older than twenty nine, grunted back.
“You’re going to need to move a bit to the left!” my twin brother Cedwin complained. He looked about seventeen, which suggested that I was also seventeen in this memory. “No! Your other left!” he shouted when the wizard went the wrong way. I giggled.
It wasn’t the reaction one would expect on such a deadly battlefield. The dragon we faced had destroyed two towns and seemed unstoppable. But the wizard had a plan. We would lay a trap. The dragon was said to be too strong for mortal weapons, so we would seal it in another plane of existence.
At last, the dragon, angered beyond reason by the wizard’s hit and run attacks, followed him into the proper spot. “Now!” the man called out.
Cedwin fired his catapult, launching a mithral chain weighted at either end with massive iron balls into the air. The hit was dead on. The bola tangled up around the dragon’s wings and sent it crashing to the ground.
Right into the center of the hidden mithral rune circle I had been tirelessly forging into the rock for seven straight days. I cut my hand. “By the offering of my blood, I command you! Bind the wyrm!” I wasn’t doing magic. Not really. I was just invoking the contract signed on my naming day.
A swarm of pixies carried chains of black metal attached to metal clasps, which they closed on the dragon’s limbs. The dragon roared in anger, sending the pixies fleeing in terror. Many of them cowered behind me.
I gently patted one on the head. “It’ll be okay. You did good,” I told her. She and the other pixies beamed.
“Do it, Storm Crow!” Cedwin called out.
The wizard landed. He carved the same runic symbol that was on the ground into his flesh using a sliver of the same mithral I had used to forge the circle. “By my life, I bind thee! So long as my soul remains on this world, you shall never return from the place of binding!” The dragon roared and attempted to attack him, but was held in place by the chains. “Begone! And trouble this world no more!”
The dual rune circles glowed and the dragon disappeared in a flash of light. The dozens of us there let out a cheer. “We did it!” I shouted, exultant. Lost in my excitement, I threw my arms around the wizard’s neck and kissed him.
He was shocked, but moments later he decided that he was fine with being kissed by a beautiful young maiden and returned the kiss. I felt his hand on my backside. A few moments later, we separated and I saw Cedwin staring at me, his mouth agape. “Umm, sister…”
“Not a word,” I said.
He shrugged. “Your secret is safe until Mom asks.”
“Coward.” I grinned at the wizard. “You’re not afraid like my brother, are you?”
“Any man who doesn’t fear your mother a little is a fool,” he said. “But courage is doing things in spite of fear, not because you lack it.”
“Doing things, you say?” My tone was flirty.
“And beautiful women.” He kissed me again, hungrily.
I was suddenly very warm. “You didn’t happen to prepare any teleportation magic today, did you?”
I woke up to find Kira “sitting” in a chair on the other side of the room. “I’m glad that dream didn’t go any further,” I said.
“You and me both.”
“Take it you aren’t going to tell me any more about all that yet?”
“Not yet. However, I will say that I was relieved when you swore off men after that lifetime. You’ve never had good taste in men. Anyway, I’m off to visit Samantha for a bit. Catch you in the morning.”
I grinned. “We’re going to find us a Runeforge.” And perhaps a bit more than that, though I didn’t know it at the time.
And thus begins chapter 5. Sorry this one took a while. Moving, weird work schedules(we've gone through three different people who would have covered my weekends!), and some other stuff killed my free time to work on this.
On an interesting note, apparently I'm going to Kyle's hometown in September. My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago(we've known it was coming for months) and they're doing the memorial at some kind of military cemetery there. So I'll know more about it than my previous quick look through Wikipedia and google maps told me.