Merlin 3:4 “Adoration for None”
There are but two others and not yet disdained of poesy they are integral to a tale and an invariable phoenix named Alerion but of literary terms a familiar. Firstly, of affection and sate, a woman named Anathema, a fiery mage that in this age is tryst to Nik, dissolute but demure, to boldly venture nature darkly and regarding. With her at present is Troy who is rider of the phoenix, of reflection and second to the wayfarer’s pate and his father the coreligionist pagan known as Merlin.
On this day beneath the sun and the moons Ana stands on a stage the height of a knee, on her head a crimson shawl curls over her raven hair but does not shelter her brow and pale complexion, her conservative clothes are dapper but of dull grey and leather colors natural of boots. As she paces toward center stage holding a lantern it burns bright with the fires of her eyes until it exhausts without fuel or fire, to the opposite side of the stage approaches Troy, whose skin is much of paleness and leather. Dourly inconspicuous he pulls his deep hood from his face to show his snowy pallor as Ana holds her palms toward him, mocking the placement of fear and aversion. He takes an arrow passed his ice blond hair from his quiver and his bow from his side forthwith stretching the string and aiming. As he lets the arrow fly it passes by her intentionally, she turns and runs to the stage edge and acts as if trapped, she turns again to Troy but this time she stands and puts her downstage right arm toward him. Her hand begins to become fire as he, imaginarily unsure of himself aims over and aside her shoulder, this time when he lets the arrow escape it turns to fire and then to ash before crossing her path. The enthralled crowd gasps in lurid amazement, the smallest children at the edges of their seats and emotive parents joining them aside the usual skeptics.
Ana turns abruptly to face the crowd and puts her left palm in the air toward Troy with her other hand behind her back, which she uses to signal him to fling another arrow. Again, an arrow soars loosely across the stage, and again it becomes afire then to ash appearing to become soot and cinders at the palm of her hand. Troy feigns to be in woe and fear as he kneels and offers her the string of his bow, but she holds out her left hand again and the lantern reignites, just as it does his heavy cloak soaked in a thick fuel mixed with balms begins to burn. She brandishes her fists and thrusts forward her arms in rehearsed ceremony, each summons the fire growing larger, and each time with him cowering deeper until he is huddled on the floor beneath the cloak concealment and conflagration, and when he and the crowd are in pyre and procession, she uses her natural magic to subside the flames. Thereupon unsworn Troy throws-aside the once soaked now singed blanket and takes her hand as they bow together pleasing and praised by the audience. In the dark of morrow, the caretakers ignite the evening torches and feasting sup begins for a town and its guests.
As the small village lauds the performance, a group of brigands begins terrorizing their way thru the populace unto the gathering, wizards and sorcery priestesses leading teams of soldiers thru the opposition given by the free people, some immobilized by fear and others complacent, and some by which consider themselves above the struggle. These insurgents are elusive and decadent as they sunder what town militia are not bacchanal or youthful aberrant abet, there is not destruction between the fear and fury, but there is the sign of death as the soldiers take the eldest sons from families.
The mages set their own hands afire to prevent angry mothers from wailing and warring, others use the magic of the old ways, seating the fathers in misfortune to the ground by using earth spells that make leather heavier than the alloys of mining tools. Among the patrons of insurgents, there are four soldiers for every magician to a count of only one and thirty. Ana turns her back to the audience as she stands directly against Troy’s shoulder preventing him from interacting.
Ana: “Flee from here, do only running, go you now.”
Ana faces the approaching guards while pretending to have casually mentioned nothing to Troy who runs post haste and forth leaning in apace escape. Soldiers notice his speedy flit and chase him, but Ana tosses a fabric at fore them as she leaps and lands to bring them aground, knocking a table and goblets she takes one and crashes a head protuberant under cover, and satisfied she looks up to see more soldiers ready to ruin her. Her hands cover with magical fire while she smiles with devilish eyes as they hesitate and revere her, amongst this, their leader speaks.
Braden: “Leave her be. She is one of us and calls no harm. Ana dear, don’t get yourself soiled on my account.”
Ana: “If it isn’t Braden.”
Braden: “Still wrestling in the mud like a boy I see.”
Ana: “I suppose I should be telling you, what to do.”
Braden: “Where was your friend run off? Not to your brother I hope.”
Ana: “The town hasn’t paid us in full, he went for our cut before you and your thugs robbed us blind.”
Braden: “You can have yours, just play with us a while, we used to have so much fun.”
In furtive secret Troy spies from beside a wagon and behind lumber to the happenings and conversations of such so sage and mage.
Ana: “What are you doing here?”
Braden: “We’re heading for economic dictatorship, Vinland is falling into the accreting cesspool of decent, and I reckoned I’d gather some ducats before the ruination.”
Ana: “I suppose the fact that they’re godless doesn’t bother you.”
Braden: “I’ve come to the conclusion that they have no imagination, dullards of the highest order, sensationalists driven by emotion, of what should be better translated as without logic or conviviality, animals of instinct and incest, lower life forms.”
Ana: “In your strife to become puritan you’ve become a murderer?”
Braden: “You can tell my wroth by the count of the dead, and there are none.”
Sabian: “Father, we think these are all.”
Braden: “Good work Mr. Carrow, you may have found your calling.”
Braden slaps Sabian on his shoulder to dismiss him then begins to sidle Ana, looking back to her once then speaking to the humble worried crowd, slow in steps to intimidate the village sons and their parents. He signals to his anent friend, another witch of cloak and dagger desperate to intimidate, lean and tall her with her white hair it is the longest of the entire prospect and tied with four bands about its length into a single tail down her back. It silkily drapes over an emblem of a dragon in a circle between the shoulders of her long overcoat, her eyes hold lightning that dances around her fingers wrapped around a dagger of pure silver.
Katyenka: “These atheists are fundamentalists of the worst kind, rapists and fascists of monarchies come…and easily gone, living the grandest of untenable socialist utopian delusions, that you can rule as plutocrats like megalomaniacal emperors who disallow paupers to touch you and choose of pure vitriolic dissonance that you will not speak to them directly. We will allow you to return to those ways in peace, so long as we learn where you keep your most valuable relics and get the proceeds from this gathering for our time.”
Braden: “The strongest of a village keep its best secrets, tell us where your coffers are and your families will live.”
The sons and brothers stand along the stage facing their families, hoping to know what best will better the situation, nonetheless keeping silent and sweating. A mother shouts to her only son and unjustly struck is sent to the ground, her husband seeking vengeance is dealt a heavy blow to the head so much that he is not dead but dreaming as the mages flare their furor in display of powerful magic. Where the clouds push a distal fog are thereupon five ominous sorcerers among the large crowd of soldiers and citizens, in addition to Katyenka, Braden, and Ana.
Ana: “Stop this Braden.”
Braden: “In lax arrogance you deny what you do not understand, now that you might spare me your imaginations, tell yourselves what you must to justify your destruction of art, freedom, and expression.”
Anders: “You must leave, you do not understand our practice, and for such I am sorry you are heathens.”
Braden: “Fain am I to hear you sing, Katyenka, compel his truth forthwith.”
The boy sweats hard enough that the drops roll from his face, his hands bound like the others he tries to stretch himself free unsuccessful begins to cringe and lean aback Katyenka and her double-edged silver knife. Near his skin small strands of electricity arc into the beads of sweat causing him nauseating discomfiture and abbreviating his perception of reality and replacing it with pain, closer still his cries become loud with terror filing his blood as his eyes try to roll into his head. Some of the other boys try to assist him, but Braden reaches his hand forward and a wind knocks as many that stand to his side of Katyenka, into the stage front as black lightning pierces their minds and burns their clothes, to her side other his loyal guards pull three their shoulders from her waist as she laughs. Again, she tortures the young man as Ana’s hands begin to flame with vengeance.
Katyenka: “Realize that councils who supersede and disarm sovereign states are what start wars foremost.”
Braden: “Aright, you can stop. We are here for an artifact! If you know where you keep enchanted things, feel free to tell us. If we cannot look for it here, your mothers will be the first to Valhalla.”
Ana: “Promise me no one dies, and we will have truce.”
Braden winks at Ana, Katyenka puts the tip of her dagger beneath the same boy’s chin, as he begins to pain he begins to speak.
Anders: “Leave us if we tell you.”
Katyenka: “We’ll certainly stay if you don’t.”
Anders: “There is a door in the floor of the bakers! Take with our wealth your delusions!”
This secret revealed causes several of the fathers to attack a mage in unison, but the one they have chosen should not be touched by humans, in soon as they clamor they begin to fall, to other wizards magic nullifies attack with visual threat. Ana sets the ropes binding the wrists of the young men to heat and ever slowly decay, as an isolated wizard disguised as a warrior dressed very simple throws men behind him as he walks with great strength and fortitude, when insurrection has ended so does her spell, interrupted succinctly as Braden speaks to her.
Braden: “There’s no one left to save. We are heading east, unless we find what I need, in which case we are heading to Biarmaland. You’re welcome to join us if you still please.”
Ana: “I’ll be fine on my own thank you.”
Braden: “That may not ever be true; beyond mortals and monarchies, a war comes to these walls of reality; let me keep you safe.”
Ana: “I hope you find what you seek, but I cannot, I am betrothed now.”
Braden: “Find him, and find Merlin, then seek the western shore and never return.”
Braden releases Ana’s hands from his, a sorrow chills her heart from anxiety of sage memories she cannot find to requite, concern races thru her thoughts to quandary what words had effaced warning and alarming sincerity. The invasive magicians and mercenaries leave the crowd to search the bakery cellarage, when not incurring their ambitions they talk of what beneath lies, and leave empty-handed.