Legend Seekers: Mysterious Magic - Part Eight
Pemero struggled with the waves, struggled to hold on to his prize. He could feel its power running through him, bolstering him, providing a new and unlimited source of energy. It was intoxicating; overpowering. All of the things I could achieve with this! Just think of all the pets I could help, all the places I could go, and no one would dare to stand in my way!
Concentrating on a mental image of a frozen stream, Pemero jabbed the staff towards the distant beach, where his ‘friends’ awaited him. Silver-white tendrils spread across the sea and anchored themselves on the sand. Slowly at first, the surface of the ocean turned to frost, then the frost thickened into a narrow pathway of solid ice.
Awesome! It really works!
With new-found confidence, the cub scrambled onto the new platform and began to run. As he did so, the ice collapsed into the sea behind him and faded as though it had never been there. Just like the tower.
Seth felt his jaw drop several inches. Was he really seeing this? How could it be happening?! The Pemero who had entered the tower could never have done this. But... the others saw it too, for they had turned to look at Pemero, and in their faces he saw the beginnings of hope.
“Hey, you guys! This is amazing!” Pemero yelled, waving the staff in the air cheerfully. The gems faded from almost transparent to milky-solid, like marble, and back to translucent again. Angela openly stared at the thing, wide-eyed, and Harold the Grarrl cocked his head as if trying to get a closer look. Only Afton remained unaffected.
“All that treasure, and you chose a pile of old stones and metal. Nice going, cub.” He sneered, turning away.
“Now, for the second part of our deal.” Seth regarded the staff with nervous eyes, but continued regardless. “The moment you touched that staff, you became mine... or, should I say, a part of my little team. Until such time as I see fit to release you from this contract, you may not go directly against anything I ask of you.”
Pemero growled deeply at the Kyrii. It was a low trick, and he didn’t like it one bit... especially considering that at one word from Seth, his new-found staff would be powerless. Luckily, he came upon a solution even as a wide, complacent smile took its place on Seth’s features.
“How about,” Pemero said, choosing each word carefully, “I make a deal of my own?”
“Go ahead. Others have tried in the past. None have convinced me. Ancient magic is irrevocable. Try all you want to break the contract; it won’t change a thing!”
“Oh, I think you’ll be quite agreeable,” Pemero said softly. “You see, this staff gives me the power to channel magic... and to bend and shape magic channelled by others, as you already know. However, it also has the power to awaken magical ability...” I hope...
It worked. Seth’s eyes grew bright with excitement. “So you say,” he said quietly. “But how do I know you’re not lying to me?”
“Trust me.” Pemero favoured him with a smile. “Nothing is forcing you to release me if I can’t honour my word, right?”
“He’s right,” Angela said, and there was a note of pleading in her voice. “He’s just a cub, Seth. Give him a chance.”
It was a tempting offer... since he could remember, Seth had wanted to be a magician. He had gone to the Faeries, and they had tried to train him... but, as they had told him, he lacked the basic understanding necessary to use magic. Too many rules and regulations! None of that would matter now. It was being handed to him on a silver platter, and no Faerie could ever take it away.
“I see you’re interested, Seth. All I ask in return is that you free me...” He cast an eye over the other pets. Angela smiled. Afton flinched angrily. Harold stared back. “And these three, too.”
“What!?” Seth snarled convulsively. He had gone too far to drop it all now... but suppose the cub found a way to break ancient magic with that overgrown toy? Then, his contract would be meaningless... and he would be left with nothing. After years of work, he would be left with nothing...
“It’s your choice. I can’t stay long; the Faeries have found us.” Pemero peered at the horizon, where three overlarge orange stars flared brightly in the gloom... except they weren’t stars, and he knew it. “I give it three minutes before they land, and then you’ll be in very big trouble.”
Three weeks had passed since Jen’s first reading of the book. As Kail told her on numerous occasions, she was a natural with magic—and this was no exception. Already she was growing used to speaking with her mind rather than with her vocal cords. It was getting easier to slip into the ever-flowing stream of magic, and each time she was able to absorb more of it. Despite these minor victories, she was having a difficult time with predicting the future, although her tutor promised her that perseverance would pay off one day.
You have done well, Jen. Kail grinned proudly at her. It has been wonderful working with you. It gets lonely in this place, and most of the visitors turn out to be fools... or enemies.
Thank you, Jen responded curtly. She knew it was almost time for her to leave. She had grown used to life in this quiet underground library, but she knew that time was trickling past... she couldn’t spend her whole life studying at the expense of putting her studies to practice, and she knew that, too. You have been most kind to me.
He fell into silence. Though Jen sensed thoughts bubbling away behind his mental shields, they were too obscure to make out. After what seemed like an hour, he carefully unclasped the cloak he was wearing and, with infinite care, placed it over Jen’s shoulders. It was a magnificent thing – glossy-black fabric as fine as spun silk; smooth and soft to the touch yet completely waterproof and fireproof. An amethyst Gallion was set into the clasp, with eyes of emerald and claws of ruby.
I can’t accept this, she gasped, running her paws over the fabric in wonder. You made it yourself, didn’t you? He looked at her earnestly, as if seeing her for the first time, then nodded.
I think you will make a fine magician, Jennifer. I cannot wear the cloak forever, and as such I would rather pass it down to you and see it used well.
Thank you so much, Kail Selvar. You don’t know how much this means to me.
Go forth now, Jen. There is little time. He placed a paw on her shoulder, ruffling the fur there, and she felt herself begin to evaporate. Her vision doubled; half of her was suddenly seeing a grey beach covered with the sparse beginnings of a seedling forest, rising from the ashes of destruction. Then the study faded away completely, and she was left kneeling there in the ashy sand.
A slight breeze danced through her fur, brushing away the dust and cobwebs that had gathered there, and her cloak billowed slightly like a curtain of rising smoke. Somewhere to the east, Geraptiku remained, much the same as it had been for thousands of years.
Farewell, Kail Selvar. I will not let you down!
They sat in silence as the specks of light grew bigger and brighter, and gained definable, Faerie-like shapes. Seth grew paler all the time, faced with a decision that seemed to be physically draining him. Before long, the choice would be taken from his paws.
“I accept your offer, Pemero,” Seth said at last. “If you can awaken magic in me and clear my name, I will release all three of you.”
“You’ve made the right choice.” Pemero grinned. It was better than he had expected. Seth was stubborn and used to getting his own way. Instinctively, he had the knowledge to use the staff... in fact, it was almost like the staff was using him. “Hold out one paw.”
Almost delicately, Pemero placed the dark end of the staff on Seth’s outstretched paw. For a moment, it seemed to glow with golden energy. A snap of what looked like purple lightning shook Seth, and he fell to the ground, still glowing. He blinked several times, breathing heavily, steadying himself as the aura began to dissipate.
Gradually, he pushed himself back to his feet.
Just like that, the contract was over. It felt like a physical weight was being lifted from them—their lives were their own again. Even Afton seemed cheerful for a change.
“Thank you! Oh, thank you so much, Pemero!” Angela grinned. “You did a wonderful job.”
Somewhere nearby, a compass was blinking red and blue, signalling discovery of the target. Lisa pointed, and all three Faeries turned towards the ground.
“Hey! You!” A trio of angry fire Faeries landed smoothly on the beach several feet away from the group. Samila was at the head of the group, and she approached first. “What have you done with Pemero?”
“That’s me.” Feeling slightly guilty for no reason he could define, Pemero placed the end of the staff firmly in the sand, and looked her in the eyes. “I’m okay now. I’ll tell you the full story when we get back to Faerieland.”
“Lisa, see to it that these four don’t get away.”
“Wait!” the young Kougra said urgently. “None of these pets are at fault!”
Peonie turned to face him and raised one eyebrow. “...none of them?”
Pemero gulped, and looked at the ground. “No. I... I left Faerieland on my own. I got lost but they took me in... They took care of me, and painted me this colour so I wouldn’t get caught and thrown in jail... or worse.” None of the Faeries looked convinced. Pemero was a polite cub, all things considered... and he had been happy in Faerieland. If not, he would have told one of them, wouldn’t he?
Samila sighed sadly.
“In that case, thank you all for taking care of our young friend here. Pemero... I’ll talk to you about this later. At least you’re safe now, no harm done, and that’s all that matters.”
“We’d better be heading back to Faerieland,” Lisa warned. “Fyora might get mad if we’re back too late.”
“You’re right. Let’s go. Um... I hate to impose, but do you think you could give Pemero a lift to Faerieland?”
“Her name’s Angela,” Pemero said, “and I can carry myself to Faerieland now.” He picked the staff up again and conjured up a thick, dark cloud, which hovered like a menacing mist just above the ground. The sisters exchanged a surprised glance, but said nothing. It wasn’t the time or the place.
Silently, Pemero stepped onto the cloud and allowed it to carry him up, towards the sky and Faerieland. It kept pace with his guardians no matter how hard they flew, and the journey was a short one.
It looked much the same as it had done when Jen had left it behind, three weeks ago... but there was a difference in the air of the place. Previously, a sense of decay and destruction had permeated everything, made time move more slowly, and fostered sickness. There had been no essence of life – the whole island had been no more than a wasteland.
Now, in the feeble beginnings of a new rainforest, Jen saw hope for bringing life back to Mystery Island... and although it would never be quite the same again, perhaps a new start was better than nothing at all.
So, encouraged by her new found skills and by the new life around her, Jen tended the young plants and enriched the soil where they grew. Bit by bit, the leaves turned from their sickly white colour to a variety of vibrant greens. It was slow progress, but the work was enjoyable.
Then, one day, she developed a slight headache.
It grew into a big headache.
Finally, as she looked out over her fields of sapling trees with pride, it got bad enough to bring her to her knees. What is it? Am I sick? she wondered desperately. Without really understanding why, she looked up towards Faerieland... and the ache passed, all at once.
It was then that she made her first prediction, although it was really closer to intuition: Someone or something is watching me...
To be continued...