Merlin has some ice wine smiling, laughing after he puts the glass to the nearest servant tray, his eyes sparkle like blue ice with each drink. The king is soon to follow out into the open butcher's arena. The king stands before Nickolas, looking at a man staring to him with cold and vacant eyes. He stands somber trying to give the impression of a heartless monster.
Nickolas – “It is so cold here.”
King – “Speak than move.”
Nickolas slowly drops the double axe. Blood drips and looks like his arm is bleeding. Merlin swirls his drink and breaths a frost-filled mist over the glass. The contents turn a crystal blue color and he hand it to the queen, she takes it from him , as Nickolas picks a few stone with a contempt glance for the queen in a confident manner, lifting piece after piece, gathering a few, with one hand, of the broken and shattered diamond spider's eye.
The king finishes killing the spider with a sword from the wayside, and carves with a dagger from his waist until eventually taking an outer carapace of the spider covered in diamonds and glimmering armor from the giant insect. Holding the shell in his arms, he takes it to the preparatory table in the room as he then begins wiping his own hands, leaving the carcass where it lay as the others begin to butcher. he took his piece of stiff hide and placed it upon the table top with the surface below, allowing the blood to pool in the center. He held his hand out, pointing to the servants who then rushed to his side with their trays and empty cups, as he then took one of the chalices, poured the pooled blood from the shell, and makes a toast. "To the tribe of man," said the king. Merlin rises and walks to the king to take his own cup and pour the same red delight. only Merlin boiled his in the metal stein before toasting with the King. "To the age of empires," Merlin replied and answered the king, "Drink we will until the last drop.”
They toast its blood as does the King, Queen, and others, not finishing before Nickolas wiping the crystal blood from his loot and checking his pockets distracts Merlin.
“Merlin,” said the wintry king, ushering for him and Merlin to collide their goblets.
“We must be leaving.”
“With your apprentice," asked the king.
“To the low town,” Merlin answered.
“God speed,” said the king unto them.
Merlin and Nickolas give their final departure salutations, formalities of respect and farewells and leave the premises.
Outside they stand, twin doors closing behind them, at the top of a long road that winds down along the backside of the mountain like a silver snake. The ice lake comes near to the edge of the mountain, a frozen lake atop a silent volcano.
Nickolas, "This is not the road we came."
Merlin, "This is the road that the travelers use."
Nickolas, "This will be our fastest approach to rejoin the others?"
Merlin, "Yes but first I need you take this..."
Merlin slips one of the necklaces he took from within the lower sanctum, wrapped over his hand. He holds it out and wraps his fingers around it, making his hand glow the same color of the water of the vision pool from the coastal court. The light dies out and he hands it to Nickolas. "Wear this, and be well in your journey," said Merlin as he passed the ware with an indeterminate and honest gaze upon his face. "What does it do?" asked Nickolas. "It’s an aid to your regeneracy. You will heal better, hastening your experience between death and reawakening," said he. "Thank you," Nickolas replied with humble gratitude. They begin their dawn tread, within their first paces a Northern Raven flies away, bored of their hap.
Moments later, a wraith comes out and Merlin without a glowing feature causes a wind without light that has a radiant resonance different from the air, but the same color of the near clear icy walls and the grey mountain, that causes the spirit to emanate a vapor-like smoke. To their side is the ice lake, separated from them by a small shoreline and the sharp and jagged edges that grow tall, along the lengthy descending path. A slow and small but steady stream, trickles down the path at one side beneath the morning sun. The spiritual context of the undead wraith, the essence of evil, blows away into the passing wind stream above the trail of tears. Nothing holds the wraith together, having neither dimensional ether nor tangible essence. The ghost falls apart like dust in the wind where shadows fall.
A single sun passes overhead, into the respite of the ice valley and the frozen lake above their location over the dangerous ridge above them. In the shadow of the day, the water that had flowed downhill, had long since frozen in the lower area, Nickolas begins to slip and slide as Merlin watches him slide away, attempting to slow.
Merlin pushes himself forward while sliding on his feet, sliding sideways passed Nickolas who has almost stopped. As he passes, he smiled and gave cross look. "It is only one road down," Merlin shouted as he passed. Without a tall cane, he slides away, wavering in the turn ahead with his face to the mountain and back to the land below them, ahead he threw his arms out for balance at the curve before slipping out of sight. Nickolas pushes himself, gathering his gifted fur beneath him, and briskly slides down the mountain again.
At the bottom of hill, the plains begin to sing the lonely ghost song, the howl of the weather gives off the sounds of turmoil and unrest of the undead in the winds above their head.
Merlin – “There are many great things belong to the cold, and with anything of worth, there is envy."
"Even with the dead?” asked Nickolas.
Merlin – “So many ghosts of war here..., they feed on each other until only the worst of the worst survive fighting for what they no doubt believe will be their and only their redemption at the city of light.”
Nickolas – “They war from beyond the grave?”
Merlin – “Their souls still wander.”
The two travelers shuffle along within the essence of the shadow song of the midday fields.
With pale skin in a black coat, a creature long of fanged teeth sweeping sneaked through the walk of the seminary, hustling with drive and clarity of vision. Within both silence and stealth, he dashes through the gardens and courtyards decorated with vines in the moonlit open night air. As behind him an explosion of great magnitude exacted it purpose to ultimately destroy a building with malicious raucous, as he slips into a covered walk behind aspiring ferns as many run to the disruption, abandoning the vicar of the medley in his quarters.
Our vampire let himself in through the closing door and began a torrent of death, snapping necks and venting arteries as he made his way to the sleeping chambers of the high pontiff. He stands holding the high priest, holding him hostage to negotiate a surrender of the inadequately armed guards, whom each held only an ornamental spear from the walls for curtain reeds and flag posts. With their surrender the rendered them unconscious one by one starting with their leader, and by time awakened they, the vampire had tied and lashed them to the chairs and posts of the room. Two rooks, two knights and the bishop tied as they watch the vampire set glass containers of explosive powders across the floor in front of the doorway, on windowsills and in the laps of those with bent knees.
Vampire John, “If you break the glass, you might become ash.” He turns to two of the guards and drains them, one left lifeless by an extreme loss of blood, the other an inhalation of his soul, viewed by those that wait tied and remain. He then placed a few empty vials and a length of the fuse with the second drained man. "What do you want?" cried the priest in utmost desperation. "I would like you to pray please." the word please held long and with intimidation, displaying the teeth before he truly smiled, laughed, taking a jacket from one of the dead and walking from the quarters. From outside the domicile blasts larger than did the first, close behind him walking passed a stone cross and away from an intrinsic fire.
The vampire with a strong and continued inclination for explosives spends the following day procuring supplies for his skill in the alleys and halls of the lower end of the city where the clouds cover until midday when the sun breaks out from a rainy morning. The shadowy vampire lurks among the city in wait of its lord, a chimera demon with the traits of seven creatures of the dawn and dusk.
Scales of a snake, fangs of a cat, claws of a hawk, eyes of the night wolf, wings of a dragon, the blind hearing of the vampire, in the body of a man, hidden in a shape-shifting cloaking disguise among a tall collar of a trench coat. Rain wet hair pushed away from his eyes hanging off to the side of his face, with complexion fair as any other man, the lineage of a chameleon hunter caste. Alongside the demon strode a werewolf minion who answers to the beckoning of Fenris, who accompanies the virtuous demon into the public thoroughfare where an announcement to a large throng is commencing. It is a declaration made by the leaders of the church, made apparent by the red carpet to a podium outside of the gates of a royal estate within the city, and the numerous men in robes and large hoods, among them the vampire with a penchant for explosives now in a much larger hood. Stealing a leg of lamb, the two stop and listen in attendance from the rear of the crowd.
Vicar – “We are criminalizing the owning of explosive by magicians and jesters and anyone else who is not a miner. If the palace sentries locate any said items, by the king’s decree, you will face imprisonment by the guards to await trail. That is all.”
The church vicars head through the gates in front of their property but as they do the vampire, who favors fire as a weapon, walks away with them. As they retreat into the confines of the complex he exits from the fanfare telling the speaker in seeming adoration, “I'll be back shortly your eminence,” brushing his hand against the speaker as the pontiff turns away unbeknownst of the clues to a vicious plot.
As the crowd begins to clear the scene, as the vampire exits the property of the church, the chimera demon in disguise drinks from a greenly glowing ampoule and tosses the glass to the ground, a wave of scales like cutis anserine, sheen once over but stay hidden. As he had drinks, a green air glows and a magical curse overwhelms a confident pontiff who stumbles over the ground holding one hand to the side of his head behind the hidden demon who walks away ambivalent.
After shaking a few hands, the vicar falls in the distance. The vampire notices Fenris and joins the two, the chimera demon and his two men walk away into an alley. At the first door of the alley Fenris enters and in an instant steps out and nods his head in accordance. In close quarters, the chimera grabs the vampire and throws him into a mirror clenching the throat, blood seeps from the cuts in both his hand and his captive.
Chimera – “You were supposed to have killed the deacon!"
Vampire, "He might have a double," He said with an inkling of confusion.
The pale demon in black armor, pulls him away from the broken mirror to which the vampire holds no reflection, “he might,” said he loudly as he smashes the mirror with him again, “have a double, john!?” he smashed him into it again.
Fenris stands to the dark end of the hallway, listening for patrons from the house to enter the hallway, as a man enters from the alleyway, “is there a problem,” asked the man, to whom the chimera replies, "he could not pay for his pleasures.”
“Can you pay?” asked Fenris showing a mouthful of canine teeth. The man drops his money and runs. The poly-demon turns his attention back to Vampire John.
Chimera – “See, a man who knows what need be done.” He pushes the vampire into the glass.
Vampire – “All knowing lord, wait!”
The chimera demon begins a raspy spell as he shows his true form the chimera has armor-plated teeth, as if he had once bitten a freshly made sword of a smith before immersion into water. During a coarse incantation, he grabs a piece of the broken mirror and slices vampire john's throat. It does not kill him, but silences him as he cringes in writhing coil. He coughs up blood as the chimera plucks an eye and eats it, hoping he witness the gore running down his face. The fiend grabs the neck, burning the throat with fiery scorning hands and slams a narrow candle into the open eye socket.
“Fenris,” said the chimera, and the werewolf Fenris, strikes a match and lights the candle. With another shard of the mirror, he stabs the throat again and then cuts the wall above their head. The vampire is dying, the wick of the candle still burning in the well of vampire john's right eye, burning in the well of the eye into the cranium, wax rolling poetic. The chimera makes a third and final incantation, and he slices the wall again.
“As you can see, Fenris wants to eat your heart, but I want to send you to the fires beyond.”
The tear becomes a hole, a fiery hole, in the hole at the bottom venom inside dripping to the floor from the tear, melting down a small area in the wall. Within the opening, begins an eruption of fire in the wall from above his head to just below his shoulders and small arms of the rotting dead pull the vampire off the ground and into the wall as the hole begins to set fire to the wall as the hole closes. In the alley, the chimera demon hides his appearance once more. Fenris, the shape-shifter of wolf and man, has not changed but for his grin and returns his appearance to that of a man as well.
Chimera – “I want you to cull the priest, we are the law.”
Fenris – “Should I end his life?”
The devious monster collects his thoughts, the time, place and severity, showing temperance as he pauses and replies as if it were a foolish question of Fenris.
Chimera – “Go to the sick and dying diocese and kill him while in disguise.”
A long road leads straight away, passed the lake, and the water’s edge, along a steep mountainside as far as possible to the town. Ana, Troy and his still yet unnamed phoenix, wait in rummaging keep. Only yards away, a short and moment’s distance is a second road, perpendicular to the one below their feet at the foothill basin of the mountain, the basin road exiting exactly to the right into the plains.
Troy and Ana are selling stones to a barker and shopkeeper, wide open to the street, as Merlin and Nickolas approach from far into the distance. The storekeeper who had traded often is guile and sly with dealings asks Ana, "I must buy this for less, I must pay for my friend who is not right you see." an absolute deceit, his friend laughs.
Ana – “It's for money to get this boy to Avalon.”
Shopkeeper – “You've been selling those all over town, there is no doubt that they come cheap to you. Be kind and make sale of which I can afford.”
Without notice, a thieving predator of the street attacks Ana, getting her wrapped into his arms in front of him, with a knife to her throat by some sense of surprise.
“Let her go, we will pay you,” said the elderly owner with a sense of disparity. Ana notices Merlin put his arm out in front of Nickolas far down the path.
Ana – “Worry that my allies will not sever you from existence.”
Bandit – “I’m not worried about that little boy and that little bird. Now drop your purse to the ground," he angrily said to the side of her face.
“Worry about me,” Ana said.
She begins to glow, causing the robber physical shock, but Merlin and Nickolas stop the violence before she can burn him alive. Nickolas comes running in from the distance and leaps to kick the villain at his side, but when they collided Nickolas was left absorbing half of the shock administered to the robber, ultimately saving the robbers life, as Nickolas begins his change of death in the dusty street, he awakens shaking his head commenting, “Electrical.”
Merlin makes jest, “She is usually more mad, give your money to this shop keep and be on your way.” He does of course, ambling off with one arm wrapped around him to his side where Nickolas had leapt to kick him and the other to the side of his head where he had struck the ground in his fall.
Merlin – “We were never here,” said Merlin to the shopkeeper. The old man nodded and they leave whispering and knocking the dust from their clothes. Troy now has the leather armor, by and of the means of Merlin's request, and wears a brace of his arm to ward it from the bow strings and lancing blades accompanied by a nearly hidden dagger and a small but straight dagger, cleverly but not perfectly hidden in his belt inside of his cloak.
A small discussion of commonplace worries as they enter an inn with a sign above the door that reads The Fetter's Ampoule, disturbing a preened and clean raven without a tufted mane, from its perch on the bottom half of the door, as they enter the tavern filled with supine and dullard day drinkers.
With an eye on the door, they sit and count their coins and collected wealth, within the alehouse as they reminisce, trading stories of the elves’ world and others. Ordering a meal, they start a fire as the brightness of the outside world begins to lose a battle with the clouded sky.
Ana – “…And do you remember Lucian in the dragon box?”
Troy – “What is a dragon box?”
Nickolas – “They put you in a large wooden box, with a dragon, and the only thing separating you is a board as big as the side of one of the walls.”
Merlin – “The dragon can reach under the board easier than you can. If it gets mad it might breathe fire through the board, or out of the side and attack you like a meal in a box, very agonizing.”
Ana – “Only wizards ever survive.”
Troy – “It sounds dreadful.”
Nickolas – “It is tragic.”
Ana – “They also put people to the test of flame to drive us out into the open.”
Troy – “I’m sorry I don’t understand.”
Nickolas – “Magic is not always welcome.”
Ana – “They often taunt magicians to be heroes.”
Nickolas and Ana sit comfortably together as a group of men enters the slum and gutter dwellers pushed aside as the gathering heartily girded men possibly bankers, clear a place for themselves.
Barkeep – “What can we do for you gentlemen?”
From within the group a fat man walked to the bar and says, “That is to say who gives fullest measure of good morality and general pleasure, shall be given a supper, paid by all.”
“Here in this tavern or in every hall, sir?” asked the barkeep. The hefty man says, after first catching his fat breath says, “Give this lot a round of your cheapest wine and bring us your best.”
The heavy man drops a pouch of coins directly into the owner’s hand. After looking into the bag the owner says, “Let me stow this and run down to the cellar.”
“Very good,” replied the hearty man, and he then walks to the back of the room to join his friends.
Troy – “Where did you learn your skills?”
Merlin – “I was born with them, as were you.”
Nickolas asks, “A new race?”
Ana – “No, we are the children of the gods.”
Merlin – “At one time every soul, on every world, was a special god, but then came children with no gift or power. A child of name not worth mentioning, was born a human, murdered by accident by another deity of the heavens, and from this came forth a fearsome war. For many families and fires died in the war between the Vanir and the Aesir until the cause forgotten. They fought at this point for ages for control of the kingdom of humanity…, to which the victor is Odin, who rules from the great and holy house of Aesir as we speak.”
The large men grew abruptly quiet and held their cups in the air, to which they raised their own in apprehension, taking a drink as both of their conversations resume.
Troy – “So I’m not the new race?”
Merlin – “You're the old race.”
“So are you," said Ana to Nickolas.
Merlin – “You're parents had no doubt some small trick they used to grow their fortune, or sow their fields.”
Troy sullenly contemplated then takes a large gulp of his mead, as the loud men in the back made a cheer to some fallen comrade, drinking drafts of vintage red and yellow ales. In the silence, Merlin stands and walks to the boisterous party.
Merlin – “Would you like to see some magic, my fortunate friends?” said Merlin to the men in the back of the room. They give a jovial cheer and Merlin walks over to them and their mess of spilled cups and stained cards.
Outside, a man in an immense black hood draws a knife on the demon but is useless to everything but cowering at the ferocity of the ghastly being in its true colors. The chimera impoverishes the soul of the criminal, which had been the one who attacked Ana at the storefront from earlier, to depletion. The chimera holds his victim with armored gloves made of viciously sharp gauntlets, which like talons and the locking vise of venomous vipers piercingly latch into the back of the lowly criminal.
From the roof of the adjacent building, Fenris leaps down to the alley, between the chimera and the main road. The commotion causes a passerby of the street to look down the alley anon, with an arch of the chimera's penetrated claws, the victimized white zombie cringes, already hanging low in his shoulders, nearly lifeless and waves to the walker. Fenris looks back after the pedestrian passes and says, “My reconnaissance complete, I will enter in the midnight.”
Chimera – “Dispose of this and feed on one of those victual sellers; you cause me wanton attention and fray.”
Fenris – “…and to meet you again, lord?”
Chimera – “Show after the time of an ides fall…at my lair.”
Of wolf and man, Fenris turns and vanishes around a corner of the steamy dank alley in a vanishing instant swiftly shifting out of sight and out of mind.
The chimera enters the establishment with minimal stealth, much ado spirit and verve alone and smug. One of the regular patrons notifies the disguised chimera that the bankers are buying holiday drinks for all. Throwing knives in the back drunk, the bankers bet money on who is the first to hit Merlin but consistently he is impervious because of his magical wind spell usage. As the chimera sits enjoying the entertainment while feigning his powers from one of the nearby souses, Merlin notices but considers it immemorial because it looks like smoke from the pipes and fireplace in the room drifting.
The chimera, still in sheep's skin, camouflaged of attributes of man, greets a free drink brought by the barkeep. The large man, who hurls the daggers and Viking axe, is a wrangler and buffoon, he has a store of tavern stories, filthy in the main, his was a master hand at stealing grain in swindling keep, but not a skilled artisan of impalement. For his throw no more than half, even made it between Merlin’s shoulders, most often in cloisters of clumsy thwacks, far from Merlin's bother. The hurler turned to make a snide comment to his cohorts who rebuke to him a disappointment in his ability to maim the wizard, so he bottoms a tankard, and turns throwing a dagger, reflected it flies across the room.
The knife hits Nickolas in the throat and they immediately drag him into the alley and set him on some boxes as the chimera laughs overwhelmingly amongst the concerns of everyone, seeking nor truth or consequence. The knife thrower wails in discontent and profusely apologizes outside as Nickolas regains, the big man apologizes again profusely, begging Nickolas to thrive. Nickolas tells him, “It isn't as bad as it seems. We'll just patch things," bloody and discontent.
Merlin – “Are you well?”
Nickolas – “Yes, but now sober.”
Merlin laughs to the banker's confusion. Merlin, Ana and Troy enter the barroom again, silent but without sullen appearance. As they do, their silence leads the room to believe Nickolas had just died, but as Nickolas enters with his arm over the banker, the crowd cheer, as Nickolas rejects the assistance in walking.
Anxiety drowned in astonishment fills the contention of the chimera's thoughts. Quietly his manners well taught withal for the super beast, as he waits for a proper time to abscond the undead Nickolas, who in normal instance should be. He had seen what Merlin could do, but does not know the limits of his abilities, so he waits unmannerly but quiet.
The binge of inebriation continues as everyone drinks away from lucidity, as the silent chimera slows his drinking. With sympathies and tender feelings, the group comes to understand or accept what had happened in their own logic. Nickolas sits and drinks strong red wine ‘till all is hazy confidingly, with Ana herself becoming lofty, as she and Nickolas continue a reticent flattering and prevarication.
“I've become a river,” said Nickolas as he stammered to his feet, beginning toward the alley. The ruthless demon, creeps along the walls in a mask of shadow, in the rolling commotion of the bankers, noticed only as he passes afore the fireplace, by Merlin as a distracting movement at the edge of his consciousness. Concerned he moves toward the back exit, but temporarily halted by the drunk and disorderly the finest beggar of the room, asks Merlin for more magic, becoming insistent on more parlor tricks. Nickolas exits as does the hellion, in the alley where the killers run, the chimera creature apprehends Nickolas, slipping away unfettered.