Friday, March 14, 2008

Chapter Nine

Najasat sat on his bed, holding the message gem in his hand. He still was not feeling quite well, but he felt worlds better than he had just hours before. His heaving stomach had subsided and the aching in his limbs had dulled, but his head still throbbed just a bit.

He pondered the gem, feeling its cool weight against his palm. He could almost feel the warm of the life that the greyling had given to deliver its message. They greylings had been one of his best acquisitions. He could still feel the turgid heat of their swamp wrapping him when he thought about them. Yes, that had proved quite useful to him. They were just smart enough to pay attentions to things that any good spy would find interesting. Yet, their will was malleable enough to turn toward his aims. The message gem, of course, was his small addition to their anatomy. It made them that much more reliable.

Rising from the bed Najasat walked toward his desk, stretching languidly. Several audible pops issued from his joints as he moved.

“Much better, everything back in place,” he muttered to no one in particular.

Najasat sat down in the chair, placing the crystal next to a bowl that had been carved from some sort of skull. He opened one of the desk drawers and retrieved a rack of small glass vials. Each contained a different powder or liquid ranging greatly in color from drab green to bright red.

Beginning with a luminous green liquid with the consistency of honey, Najasat began mixing the contents of each vial in the carved bowl. An acrid vapor wafted from the bowl as he added the last vial of stark white power. He snatched up the message gem and dropped it into the bowl. It disappeared into the bubbling concoction with a dull plunk. A moment later the gems floated to the surface and then dissolved, tracing a thousand tiny lines of light through the liquid.

Taking the bowl in his hands, Najasat it to his lips and drank deeply. He set the empty bowl back on the desk and leaned back in the chair. He shut his eyes for a moment, inhaling deeply through is nose and exhaling though his mouth. The rhythmic breathing continued for a few moments and then returned to a more natural cadence. His eyelids fluttered open, revealing a startling change.

Najasat’s eyes were opaque silver, like a polished mirror, but cast no reflection. He tensed for a moment as his eyes darkened and then images began to play across them. The images showed a familiar looking Canid leading a Protector of Chanti and a Cairnfolk dressed in mage’s robes toward a yawning cave mouth. A deep growl issued from Najasat’s throat as he recognized the Canid. It was the leader of the pack he had employed to harass the village of Hedgewise. For some reason the Canid, whose name he had never bothered to learn, was betraying him.

Najasat sighed. “These lesser ones can always be counted on to make the wrong decision eventually,” he thought to himself. The Canid had been simply a tool and not an especially effective one in fact. Like any other dog, he could be dealt with in time. Punishment could be meted out as required when any hound turns on its master. But that would have to wait. He found the sudden appearance of these new folk much more interesting.

The images flowing through his mind abruptly stopped, signaling the end of the greyling’s memories. Najasat’s eyes cleared quickly losing their silvery sheen and returning to their original jade green hue. He sat musing for a moment, thoughtfully stroking his chin.

“This could prove an interesting diversion,” he said aloud. “Yes, I think that I will find this entertaining.” He knew that the vision he had received from the message gem was hours old, but perhaps is was not too late.

Rising from the chair, Najasat stretched again eliciting even more cracks and pops from his joints. He turned back toward the bed and walked over to a large chest set near its foot. He opened the chest, retrieving a dark, woolen cloak and then donning it with a flourish.

The cloak covered him from head to toe, obscuring all his features except for his height, which was average so offered no advantage to an observer. Najasat returned to the desk, retrieving a small, rectangular block of obsidian from one of the drawers. His fingers brushed the dark surface of the stone, leaving behind a fleeting sparkle of golden light as they passed.

Satisfied that he had everything he needed for his planned deed Najasat moved to an open area of the chamber and set the obsidian block in the center of the open space. He began to sing a low melody, almost a chant. His voice had a rich, resonant tone, which carried through the quiet room filling with its musical warmth. The obsidian reacted to the mellow tones by beginning to glow. As song progressed ghostly voices joined in, accompanying Najasat’s voice in haunting harmonies. The obsidian responded to the chorus, rising from the floor and hovering in the air nearly seven feet from the floor. At the same time the block began to change shape, becoming thinner, but growing in surface area. Soon the block was a yard on each side and as thin as vellum.

Continuing the haunting melody Najasat walked forward, positioning himself directly beneath the glowing block. He folded his arms across his chest and looked up at the block. Even the bright glow didn’t penetrate the darkness beneath the hood of the cloak.

Suddenly the song changed. Its key shifted, making the harmonies clash. With a flash the block fell straight down toward Najasat. He disappeared into the block as if passing through a window. A hair’s breadth before striking the ground, the block disappeared with a crackle.


A flash of light filled the cave, followed by a crackling hiss. Najasat stood in the cave, transported there instantaneously by the magic of the block and the spell he had invoked. After appearing he immediately draw a willow wand from somewhere beneath the cloak and held it defensively before him.

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