Merlin 3:38 “Keep, Qualm, and Carrion” @mjbanks
Merlin: Put on your thoughts about Nick?
Ana: I should reimburse his heartache, for what he ought to do, largely inspiring me to shackle him. What of yours?
Merlin: From our words his lies, to play so much as happy in a larger game.
Ana: Others would revel in happiness. How so much you?
Merlin: I am at odds with the presence of his lacking answer, asked at him was his source of joy, merely to have called it young lustrous “everpresent,” but my pique was met by refute, brooding turned to angers, telling me my import was of little occurrence to a grander scheme, and scheme it now seems.
Ana: I seem to remember stories of knaves who think all are wardens.
Merlin: Riddles to riches this might one of those, should it rain hereabouts, I’d rather have you to bedside manners and silver platters.
Ana: As would I.
Merlin: Rest, the town Kinelplas is close, and there a crafted respite waits.
The town whose encircled buildings make the most of any wall, the framework of craft masterful, the mountains miles to the distance hangs high overhead, and the snow at their peaks hoists white waves to meet a blue ceiling. Not a town of passing fancies it has only a few inns to itself and to it a sparse cropping of distilleries where the region’s finest woodworkers import necessity to the benefice of their carpentry infamy. In the morning the town twice doubles as the fourth moon will imminently mark the first day of an annual market. Braden and his troupe enter the town by covered wagon, hoping to trade a cargo of rare bones for silver, Braden driving, Katyenka anent lounging, Digr with them and watching in the open air for anything that moves more than a mole. Jonak asleep on their commodity, and Agnar sitting at the back with a leg hanging over the edge long enough to near the ground with his body weight certainly easing weight burden to the steeds. Shortly into the town he steps into the streets and the wagon raises a hand length and the horses slow a foot’s pace. The commerce is well in the spring with the winter creations surplus and for sale, enough errant people for him to tower, but remains passerby.
Lightning strikes as a daydream, the commotion triggers Lord Crimson to instinctual flashes of bloodlust, clearing thought and peering from a slightly opened door. The wagon slowly passes thru a different street than Braden and the others, as Crimson sees Sino walking thru the streets, almost as slow as a snail, embodied of lust, springtime, and smiles for the maidens and the coquettes, courtesans of the evening in the better graces of their spirits. Children pester the wagon in a way that Merlin takes his horse-whip and shuns them with raucous-like profanities, in these efforts Sino and Merlin have their backs turned to each other, in passing, and a child gets a view of the windowless eyes of the vampire and the endless reflection of an empty soul causing such a fright the child vanishes and runs with others chasing a fearful retreat. As they exit the carriage, an evening begins and surrounds, a sweeping dusk behind the wizard, a great mountain over a valley and haunting woods, the cold water, the tide prone and recumbent, still for the servant of the cold sea approaching on shallow waves.
Lilith walks on the sea, her crown carved from the heart of an immense sea monster turned to stone and her cape adorned with welded scales, flowing armor in her march to the shore the water wanes and rests her path unto the drying sand, some berserkers ignore her, others stand as guards, and Fenrir meets her.
Fenrir: What need is there of faith in fortune, or have it you?
Lilith: I have composure, unlike some. I need a blade stronger than time and sharper than light, I can only snatch tongues with these claws.
She shows and waves her fingernails, edges sharp almost cutting the breeze and glowing, casually the still water resumes from the tide aside her trace, the mist in her face of high tides and rocky shore.
Fenrir: The berserkers have asked will there be any need for mercy.
Lilith: Of course, there is not – this is neither the time nor place for civility, charged in duty for new tradition.
Troy flies in the sky, halfway between Mt Crimson and Sino’s cavern, along the border of the forest commanded to the white elf warden named Warren. Far beneath the wings of phoenix are Varin the half-elf master-thief, and kindred brethren envoys, looking up to see a seeming meteor, small in nature, followed by she who is named Kylesa when coy and Mara when vile, also at such great heights to seem a small pond egret in flight, they advance toward the town of Kinelplas en tandem.
Sino meets with large Agnar, as the morrow evening rests where gold and transgressions gather to pay the man with heavy hands and lofty morals. The jotun-man cautious for nothing except turning his back to strangers, the grimly Sino visages eager to look down on folk with his eyes clouded, as if sick despite ruddy virility to his flesh.
Sino: My list you make to have delivery.
Agnar: Ale of snake tears, and diamonds from the Dvergar Mines.
Sino: I cannot suppose the latter was by easy acquisition.
Agnar: Disallowed, was I, near the mines, let alone in them, rude lily-livered rabbiting trolls in caverns, fatuous little drunkards, the time foregone was in waiting to find them elsewhere.
Sino: The recreant task is done. Here is gold for the trouble, but tell me of your pack. How many are you now?
Agnar: The dirt man, whisperer, Braden and his arcane bride-to-be, and I, are five-
Sino: …and the light-foot, Varin?
Agnar: With a warden behind a part of the border of the elf home.
Sino: Devils beside themselves – and Merlin, administered the toxin yet?
Agnar: The cambion has not been with us longer than whence you and I have last spoken.
Agnar’s deep and bellicose voice stops as they wait for a wagon at the alley’s end to pause and move forward. Sino tosses him a pouch filled by gold.
Sino: To explain your time spent, cut your forearm and tell your allies you won the gold in an arm wrestling wager… that the loser lost poorly and thus you took his life and money.
Agnar: Are they ever different.
Sino: To the most adamant they are not. I have sacrificial business here; take your troupe before caution takes the town.
Agnar lifts his sleeve and cuts his arm, like a needle dragging his skin he doesn’t flinch. The storm of the distant tides begins to roar, lightning on the horizon reaches like arms of the sea.
The afternoon begins filling with streaks of evening colors and light in faded ambers of the sky. The empty store held open doors perchance for pawners and preservation have closed, their neighbors less fortunate or better stocked eventually also trudge to the drinking yards and feasting pole marquees, traders join them or gather in a border camp surrounding the city, to rest before leaving or to purchase in the morn.
The doors creak shut for the day, the tired have gone to graze, the partial clouds recede for the sky to show the moon, its light snuffs the black-magic torches at the beach, and the warriors become massive wolves. Brazen and tortured animals becoming predators of curse and nightfall, Fenrir forming first soon runs ahead of them to the grass above the sand to listen and smell the air, making no sound taking in the night below the old moon. It points its ears toward the town, to the pack, to the left, then to the right. None do they run, they lurch as lurkers and walk as stalkers, heavy with the burden of deep anger, and soon their canine faces begin emerging from the shadows of the forest.
A small shop owner dies behind its door, the sound of strangulation and a broken glass, Sino takes his sword and slices the pendulum bell and catches it, sets it to ground and leaves without a sound, quick to leave before seen so much as closing the door quietly from without. Rising his eyes he sees Merlin, stand they at odds and cross opposed. Sino’s eyes fill with radiant water and steps aside, only to have Merlin’s eyes fill with fire and step afore him.
Sino: You should not be here.
Merlin: Is that a threat?
Sino: How did you find me?
Merlin: (Pacing) A trail of mistaken death, closer here because you never kill without the spirit.
Sino: What you see is purity… I am the spirit you seek, that they all seek!
Merlin: You are the product of poor digestion.
The wolves begin nosing their way thru the out-town camp, any who wake disturb their hunt, large wolves with the look of death stop only to leap and lunge ravenous at their innocent usurpers, still quiet, still stalking.
Merlin: Never you could understand that strong feet need not stand on others.
Sino: It is always the bastard to beat the child and never a moment’s notice.
Merlin: You take one more step and I will put that theory to the test.
As the screams, begin soon a howling as the beasts attack, the storm of the ocean crawls near, heavy with tumult. As the first lightning thrown strikes the ground Sino lifts his toe in dash toward Merlin, black magic villain at white wind sorcerer, Merlin takes stance, but only as coy façade, the battle begins with Sino being thrown, Merlin angry, empowered and experienced, throws him with the power of three men. Without hitting the ground, Sino crushes a crater into the wall, thunder hammers from the first lightning, the ground shakes and the sky rains. As the last of fifty wolves enter the chaos, two of which spot and attack Merlin and Sino. Whereas Merlin decides to kill the beast, Sino chooses a defensive of abortive escape.
People run thru the mud, the drops of rainfall into puddles, but unheard beneath the torment of growls and the sounds of war. Hordes of men fight the beasts and lose unless ten to one, wet coats of heavy fur spike in the temperament as they hunt for Sino, any militia attacking the beasts embattle fangs and terrible claws. Each beast prowling for Sino searches roadway and rooftop, seeking magic and thus any torch attracts the beasts. As this bloodshed scatters rains fall into red pools, and Crimson fights by subterfuge, a tripping here, an incendiary cocktail there, and swifts into a house full of family and strangers where the youngest son sees his fangs and stabs him in his chest. Crimson looks to him with near utmost disappointment, removing and dropping the dagger.
Crimson: The heart is mostly ornamental. (A werewolf slouching and lurking outside, sniffing for scents, of which the dead have not). Have any spears to kill these beasts?
Regtaf: This sword.
Noss: I have a pickaxe.
Crimson: Too short, and too heavy, how can you have no spears in this town?
Regtaf: We have knives and chisels, some hatchets and axes, we are carpenters mostly, try the outsiders.
Crimson cracks the door open and sees Malachi in the street and, who sees it open with Crimson behind it and rushes to accompany. The mother of the family screams.
Malachi: Do shut your face, there are bear-men trying to eat people out site.
Crimson: How many?
Malachi: Thirty, maybe forty abound.
Crimson: Graces fie! Do you simple folk have any cord or rope? (Touch of sarcasm)
Regtaf: Very much so, sir, please do not hurt my family.
Malachi walks to a tall standing clock, Crimson gets the rope, the family cowers, Malachi tears a large metal post from the frame of the clock, and the bells within it make despised sounds, the werewolf near takes notice, the hiders are running short on adrenaline and headfirst into hysteria.
Crimson and Malachi enter the rain and hurry to a short wall putting their backs to it. The werewolf approaches, one eye scarred closed, snarling from the rooftop over them, Crimson points and begins running as Malachi lassoes the great beast and Crimson spears its heart, driving it to the wall. He withdraws the pole, the other puts his foot to the creature and draws cord tight as the thing is bludgeoned by the other with a single deathblow. The next wolf approaches them affronted, angered by the fallen and overconfident with ingrained malice.
(Katyenka/Katina) and Braden are a combinatory force, using the water, or the pools of blood, to their invariable advantage in the streets. She is quick, her silver daggers she electrifies beasts in puddles to kill them, but mostly stunning them, if the many swift and crooked currents shock Braden he channels the power into a single bolt that kills with certainty, but their powers are limited and must in paucity combat between spells. Braden avoids discovery as he safely hides behind a wall tho deciding to track the beast, his power gathering in the storm, he summons a sphere of manna around the lycanthrope, it snarls and smiles confident as the sphere grows and fills with a radiant fog. Braden looks past the werewolf at Katina, before the creature can turn-about, she touches the orb spell of air and fire and a large implosive thunder crushes and strikes it from several points, of silence it collapses.
Jonak stares to a dog, almost hoping it lie in the street, with a voice full of broken glass and wretched strings asks it to leave, and it does not do as told and leaps at him. He drops to the ground as it dives over him, running into a crowd he listens to the storm then calls for help, ordering them to defend the women, anyone that can hear him begins shooting arrows and attacking the berserker.
Digr sits in comfort, with a knife and an ale having gathered more water than wine, relaxed with a crowd of women and children behind him huddling, a massive werewolf approaches them like a feast of sheep, he waves his finger to warn animosity, but respect will not. He points to a wolf’s paw protruding from the mud, the crowd squeamishly jeers as it moves to them, only to watch it sink. A bit of toying with portative states of sinking and a third approaches, the second howls, the third laughs then sees prey, the second barks to warn, an unintelligible beast, as this so much the second tempts approach and slightly sinking. A task demeaning the creature it lashes at Digr, only to be sunken a little further, and for that lashes from waist at the farthest dog to halt it. The sorcerer rises and draws a sword, cutting claw and fatal stab to follow, only to point the blade at the second.
Digr: If you so want me, or them, leap over the river of shit made of your weak brethren.
The wolf leaps, but fails, the ground parts like a book before it can the opening closes and the sword repeats for the last, as had the first, swung quickly thru the air a sound of silver radiates from its edge until blood falls from it red. Sino watched and approves, Digr doesn’t know him and only thinks to be selfless, Sino makes run from Merlin, pursuing him thru every pack of wolves he can find to slow Merlin.
Agnar, survivor of orchard fire entrapments and being fed to a hresvelgr near the northern lakes, a felon and outcast to his king directly, faces a werewolf with arrogance, the creature having increased size by lycanthropic condition is still slightly smaller than him, who is himself of pure strength and muscle. They lunge like towers, hands at throats claws begin to cut so he twists the paw and hurls creature to the ground by its mane. It intends to disarm him by trying to bite his hand-off, but Agnar punches it squarely, harder than a fist full of hammers. Attacking the creature in the mud, claws are met with a head butting, fists are met with bites toward the body, a lunge lifts them both into a wall, but in the air he grabs the creature by its throat, and by the ground it cannot breath. The next moment he breaks its neck with a slamming to ground, and a large stone to make sure. His large boot rises and steps to the ground with a heavy sound and only his next step to stand over the defeated, disgusted by the brevity of battle and the mud on his face.
Sino still runs, this time thru the werewolves gathered around the steeds, who must be dealt with else they might hoof and kill an unwise predator, thru them they catch his spryly passing scent, the horses rear-up, and when first they hit the ground they do so running, carrying Sino atop the fastest, saddleless and spooked. Thereof the werewolves renewed enraged give chase, it is wont to do for Merlin to let them pass or suffer trample and claw. Leaving the town passing Jonak, the whisperer, watches every ravenous wolf leave battle running with their pack, he tells the proud men to relax and they unanimously begin collapsing with sobriety, he smiles and follows walking sideways examining the paw prints dissolving in the rain. Ana stands in a small storefront, clutching her stomach, facing a werewolf, cold fills her mind and fire fills her eyes, the storekeeper in a ball beneath the table. Jonak tries to lure the creature with taunts and thrown things, but it does not detour. The cowering tent owner speaks as the grinning creature slows toward her.
Relles: It has our scent, run!
Ana: What were you selling?
Relles: I do not understand.
Ana: Today – what were you selling, was it spears?
Relles: No, we’re carpenters; we make only weapons of bows and arrows.
Ana: Why does no one in this town have any spears? Give me an arrow.
Relles: I only have arrowheads remaining, see. (Grabs box shakes.)
She grabs a handful of arrowheads, light and little hammered steel sharpened precisely, she turns her back to the werewolf, and it walks with swagger of four-footed beast. She turns around with eyes of death and in her hand a cluster of fiercely radiant disaster, releasing an expansive cloud of sharpened fire, spinning thru the air the beast leaps to her to mitigate the objects, but is met with death by burning holes of pain, quick to shock and beast quick to drop, slightly twitching and then not. Lilith watched and leaves impressed, walks by Merlin, causing him to worry and start a fire in the palm of his hand, she is no longer in front of him, and she stands beside him taking his wrist and lowering his arm with consolation.
Lilith: You may calm yourself; fear not, efforts would be spectacle before your demise, my queen still gifts you favor.
Merlin: Better to know. He is, however, escaping before I can catch my breath. What in heaven will you do if he catches the sunrise before they him?
Lilith: Yes, in heaven…., do you see that building, that one there, with the red blanket for a door?
Merlin: I appreciate the offer, but I have standards.
Lilith: In a moment, it is going to burn and I am going to walk into the fire, from there my men will call for me when they have lost the scent, and I will rise and point the way. Do you know what that means?
Merlin: I can bet you must tell me.
Lilith: (Close to his face, an unbridled precision rage.) It means that I’m a better bitch than any dog belly-up under my feet. (Walks-away) If you should kill him before I do, preserve the body and bring it to me.
Walking gracefully passed him, a sable and flowing unreflective dress in tow with only the faintest sign of blood and fire, she walks into the fire of the burning building, thereafter the rains begins to quench the fire, and soon the water washes the cinders until it is clean without soot. Merlin approaches Crimson and Malachi, they are taunting a werewolf. A trumpet summons the lagging hounds of hell to the hunt of the dark sorcerer.
// Merlin 3:38 “Keep, Qualm, and Carrion” @mjbanks