Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rollalong Hill [part 6 of 6]

Rollalong hill Part 6

Renice pursued the male gnat and rider. The more she watched, the more fascinated she was. The girl rode bareback in a litter of female gnats. Now the girl rode in a saddle on a male gnat. Renice felt her adrenaline rushing every time she came close and the downwind current turned. If he could smell her, Renice knew she could easily be devoured. In the most recent war against the relic tribes and their beasts, gnats had remained neutral, never claiming humans on either side.
All in her troop had been ambushed in the night by a litter. She was the only one to get into the sky quick enough. She watched the gnats move to another camp after hers was slaughterd. The relic tribes sky gliders were devoured too. It seemed that they had now chosen a side. The Vice wanted this girl, and she could see why.
The gnat moved faster every time she caught up. The storm slowed her, forcing against her air with billowing gusts. The lighting cascading around her, she did not have to fear being struck down, but if her wall absorbed any of the charge she could be sent streaming down in flames. She wanted that girl. The adrenaline made her take risks. It had served Renice well her entire career at Unitary. With the female gnats close behind, she could not stop and she could not waver.
Renice wanted the rank of Admiral more then surviving the vengeance of the female gnats. She would be the first sky glider to make Admiral in over 100 years. She just needed them to stop one more time and she could scoop the girl up and take her back to the Vice.
The sky-glider was not a seer as Jax was. She could not see the static shell around Nattalie growing into a vast sphere of energy in the lighting storm. Nattalies wall kept magic at a distance, but the energy around it clung to the wall like a magnetic field, piling upon itself. Lighting struck faster and heavier around that sphere than anywhere in the storm. If Jinx could not reach the edge of the storm soon, the barrier would not hold under the energy compression and the entire mountain meadow would be wiped from existence. Allen had created a terrible weapon of war out of his child. It was the gnats job to make sure she survived long enough to rip the power from the hands of the humans and give it back to the earth.
Jinx hated using her, but it had to be done. The relic beasts, as big and strong as they were would find him a deadly opponent if they thought they could strip her from him and use her without his guidance.
Jinx feared though, that was exactly their plan and his sisters had hidden that dark truth from him. Female gnats were incorrigable secret keepers.

Allen watched the raptor hop from perch to perch, stalking them as they approached the trail of a great host of soldiers. Allen stooped, putting his finger to a footprint. It was a bare foot that had touched the earth. It was large…. The energy seeped into him from the soil. “This is not Unitary.”
Stewart threw his hands in the air, “Of course not!” Stewart pointed to the cart full of weapons.
“How is it that the Relic Tribes have come south to band with the Northern tribes?” Allen knew from his time in Unitary that the Relic beasts of the deadlands only consorted with the human tribes living amoung them. For the ancient beasts of the north to come south to join in a war with humans was unfathomable. The blood of the earth itself would spill in the battle. Unitary had never made it farther then the borders of the deadlands. There was a magic amongst the creatures and men there that no one south of its territory had even touched amongst the highest of magicians.
Stewart tried to hasten their journey northward into the mountains. “Nattalie will be among them, one way or the other.”
Jax became very concerned. “She’s going to be in the midst of this war.”
Allen finally recognized the words of the chief gnat who brought Jinx to his home as a pup. The large male gnat wore a boney human hand necklace that moved as if alive. It stood in his then untilled land and pointed to lightning in the south when he spoke those 17 years ago. “Your daughter will be blocked from all magic, until the day she reaches our lands and frees all living things from the bondage of man.” Allen had not known what it meant, only that Jinx was to be Nattalies guardian until that day. He should have prepared her. He should not have let himself deny what was going to happen.
Jax floated, enraged. “What the hell is going on Admiral.”
Stewart motioned them forward, not wanting to stop. “Young man, we have to get there or she’ll be in even more danger then she already is.”
Allen hushed his uncle. “The chief gnat has a protection barrier on Nattalie.” He waited for Jax to acknowledge that he already knew there was a static shell. His ability as a seer was not limited to people, and he could see the magic being manipulated around them as well.
“Nattalie was born with relic powers.” Even Stewart gasped. “Her ability to pull energy from around her is so intense that it can suck the life from any living thing….” Allen could feel his heart breaking all over again. Maria had been killed instantly when the child breathed for the first time. Allen was out in the field screaming to the heavens when the chief gnat had showed up to place the barrier on her. “I have been keeping the barrier up for seventeen years, breaking the weak points and rebuilding it with my own magic.”
Jax remembered the static shell. “It’s getting bigger.”
Allen nodded. “The Relic beasts promised they would release her from it when she was able to harness the energy.”
Stewart let out an angry laugh. “How the hell is that going to happen when she’s never been trained?”
Allen pointed to the walking mass of scales and spikes that had appeared on the trail ahead. Its rider slipped off and glided through the air like a ghost to their little caravan. His skin was pale and almost florescent, and his bald head was encircled with tribal tatoos. His large long ears flopped and twitched in the breeze. A long braided beard was all the hair that could be found.
Stewart bowed, Allen kneeled and Jax stood defiantly, glad now that Stewart had stripped the Unitary symbols from off his cloths and hair.
The Relic scout hissed at Jax and pointed at the web in the cart. “Is this meant for Shaman?”
Stewart stood greeting the scout with a clap of his hands and a strange curtsy. “It is the nether web, I have completed it.”
The scout looked pleased. “And these two?”
The bag of herbs in Allens cloak was opened, and he had began loosing the dried up concoction into the air. Relics could sense any magic use, like a gnat could smell food. Remelda had told him to save the sleeping plant for when he most needed to escape.
The scout turned and looked down at Allen with curiosity. “You are Allen! Where is the girl?” The chief gnat had said to never trust the humans of the north, only the beasts. Only the beasts had honor and truth. The scouts ears drooped low and his florescence started to dim. He tried to stumble back to his mount but fell over peacefully. Allen had learned through using his shield how to use tiny trickles of energy. The scout must not have thought anything of the tiny bits of air breezing toward him. Jax’s floating wall must have been enough to explain the odd little breeze. “That trick won’t work again.”
Stewart looked frazzled and more then upset. “What are you doing Admiral?” Stewart had drawn more then a couple small daggers from his coat.
Allen put what was left of the bag of herbs back into his cloak. “Didn’t you hear anything I said?”
Jax had caught on quickly and was ready to flee with Allen. “They don’t want the web for peace old man.” Jax pulled more air too him.
Allen finished the statement and started to build his own flimsy wall of air. “They want to use Nattalie as a weapon, not for peace.”
Stewart did not want to believe his web would be a weapon. “But the web collects the flow of energy…”
Allen nodded. “They want to use it to harness her and suck the life out of Unitary’s army.”
Jax couldn’t steady Allen’s floating wall. “Stewart, I need the small web.” Stewart stuck the daggers back into their hiding places and pulled out the tiny version of the nether web.
Jax had only seen a little of what the web could do and was not prepared for the flow that came bursting through when he took hold with Allen.
Allen could see the air, he had not only gained the ability to share in Jax’s energy flow, but in his ability as a Seer. The net of air that carried Jax like a wall was not simply air, but the gathering of hard thin pieces of static, energy masses that balled and became form, invisible to the normal magician. Allen stared at the multitude of formed spheres that kept Jax wieghtless in the air around him. Like Maria had said. Form and energy, and sky gliders created both. “How do you make those?”
“They just form, I don’t know how, I just want to fly and the air does what it needs to.” Jax tried to create enough to make Allen float too. Allen’s energy ran like a broken faucet. It was much more then Jax had ever pulled. “Theres so much!”
Stewart knew how Jax felt. His energy had been a trickle compared to Allen when they joined in the nether web. Allen didn’t ask for the energy, it naturally flowed through him like water flows downstream.
Allan could see for the first time what he had always felt. The magic did come to him, from all around the streams of energy flowed toward him, mostly from the Earth. He could see Jax’s magic resisting the pull like a downstream current he had to scoop water from.
His great grandfather had been from the northern peaceful tribes and his Uncle and Mother had moved south to escape the relic tribes detection. Allen had never discovered why until now.
Stewart nodded at Allen. “You have some relic magic in you as well. Nothing like Nattalie has, but it’s there.”
Steading himself and still holding the web so that he could see how Jax was doing it, Allen lifted himself from the earth. The streams of energy wanted to flow upward into him but began to fall away. As if to compensate, the air flows around him became stronger and Allen felt Jaxs anticipation of something great.
“Do you know how fast we can go with this much power?” Jax sounded giddy and child like with excitement.
“Don’t let me fall Jax!” Allen felt clumsy and peculiar in the air, but holding the web between them Allen could sense that Jax was ready and quite pleased with his ability.
Stewart kicked at his cart. “What am I supposed to do when he wakes up!” Stewart pointed to the fallen Relic, the glow starting to return to his pale forehead.
Allen thought for a moment. “Pretend we were unitary spys, your smart think of something, AND don’t let them use that nether web on Nattalie!”
Stewart yelled some choice expletives as Allen and Jax prepared to head over the mountains to find Nattalie. The giant raptor waited from a distance to follow.
Steadied and gathered up in the wind and spheres of energy Jax pointed to the currents of air flowing high above them. “With this much magic, we can split open the sky itself.”
Allen had kept himself from thinking of his magic as powerful or useful Nattalies whole life. It had become a curse and death to those he loved. But now, it was as if he had reconnected with a long lost friend. The air did his bidding with the guidance of Jax. “I think we can sky-glider.”
The skinned bird of prey could not hope to follow them when the clap of thunder erupted from around Jax and Allen. Even the ground beneath trembled when Allen pulled from the streams that flowed toward him readily. They bolted up through the stormy mist into the clear of the cold blue sky. Jax held on to the web, but reached over and held onto Allen’s arm as well. “Lets get my daughter.”
Jax smiled overjoyed when the Admiral demonstrated once again his legendary power. They bolted through the atmosphere, jetting toward Nattalie over the mountains.
Allen had received message again through a tinker wasp on their journey to the mountains. The gnats were taking Nattalie to the Relic Beasts camped far north of the impending war on the rim of the deadlands.

Nattalie collided with the dry desert sand as Jinx collapsed beneath her. He had run himself into exhaustion, and couldn’t stand. The trickles of energy were getting stronger, and Natt managed a large sphere of water out of the humid air. Jinx gulped it thankfully but then passed out. His head barely rested on the large wet arms. The storm had grown extremely violent when they had reached its end. Jinx had to weave side to side avoiding the fires that burst up around them from lightening strikes. The elder female gnat stood a great distance away howling for Natt’s attention.
“We will tend to Jinx!” Nattalie tried to walk to the elder, but the gnats backed away the closer she came.
“Whats going on!” Nattalie was sick of being left out. Sick of asking. She wanted this nightmare to end.
The storm had started dissipating and the gnats standing on it’s edge all kneeled. “Go to him!” The elder gnat shook her head toward the dessert.
Nattalie had been so concerned about Jinx she never looked into the long horizon of gleaming sand. A large version of Jinx stood a small distance away. It’s giant soft head was covered in grey, and a large silver mane surrounded his neck. Nattalie noticed he had a collar of bones hanging under the shining metallic fur.
Jinx shifted his head, still deeply asleep and panting softly. Nattalie bent down to his broken form. “Oh Jinx, you promised.” Nattalie unbuckled all the straps from the saddle. She pulled it off with all her strength. Jinx never woke even when his fur was yanked tight from the straps catching underneath him.
Her hand caressed his ears limp against his head. She pulled them up and said, “You are my best friend Jinx, please…” It was all she could say.
It was time to be brave again. The chief gnat stood waiting. He watched the human show his son great respect. he watched the woman pull the saddle away from his sleeping body and walk toward him bravely.
Messages had been coming from his son through the various traveling insects for seventeen years. And for seventeen years he could not send a message back. If Jinx had known the truth, would he have brought the human back home?
Nattalie stood under him. Her tiny frame looking up into his eyes piercing his majestic camoflauge. “What now?” The king of the gnats and of all Relic beasts looked down at her puzzled. “You kill one of your own, Jinx practically kills himself to bring me here.” Nattalie did not waver even though tears had once again escaped and began flowing down her cheeks. “Why!?”
The female litter had come close enough from behind to reach in toward Jinx. The elder jerked her paw away from Jinx as if stung by a massive nettle thorn.
Nattalie watch as the king pointed. “They will die trying to reach him if we don’t get moving.”
His voice was harmonious like the other gnats, but it vibrated deeply.
Nattalie watched over her shoulders as the gnats tested the air around them sniffing at it and reaching for Jinx. When they finally got a small grip, when Natt was far enough away, they dragged him quickly to the grass covered ground. The king of the gnats, the one Allen had thought was a chief of a small clan, tried to answer Nattalies questions as they walked. He didn’t have much time. He had already seen his barrier cracking under the static wieght. The sand was starting to pool into stones of glass on it’s perimeter. He ignored the glass stones as they walked. A path was being layed in the sand merely by her presence.
“Jinx promised he would tell you.” The gnat stared only ahead, and would not look at Nattalie.
“Since I am his father, it is my duty to fullfill his promise.” Nattalie was done with being surprised. She just listened and waited. “When your mother became pregnant, the eldest of the Relic lords recorded a vision on his deathbed.” A colossal structure of mounded dirt started to come into view on the horizon. Jinx had run so far, so fast that the day was only half done in the desert. The sun beat down on them heavy and hot. “You are born to take away war child.”
Nattalie didn’t say anything. It was a nightmare, and she would wake soon.
“Humans can not make war without power.” Nattalie nodded and studied the ground as they walked. Beautiful shimmering pebbles of glass pooled up out of the ground in a path. It seemed to end some ways out, but it kept growing as they walked. The gnat continued, not sure if the human was prepared for her task. “You have the magic to pull all magics away. You can stop the humans from destroying our earth.”
Nattalie stopped. She could see the huge dragon like sentinals that guarded the gates to the city ahead of them. They towered into the hot sun higher then any tree she had seen in the Yellow wood. Their scaley heads could have chomped at the clouds. “Me?” She laughed. She really was dreaming. She was almost joyful, “I can’t use magic!”
The gnat put his great furry head down and stared into her eyes.
“You are the one human.”
Nattalie grabbed a hold of his horns like she used to do to Jinx when they wrestled as a child. “I CAN not USE magic!” She giggled, sounding like a crazy Terry from town.
“Because I put up a barrier from it human.” The beast shook Nattalie’s hands from his horns. If he had shaken any harder, or Nattalie had held him any tighter, she would have lost a hand.
It was then that she noticed the bones on his necklace were hands. Lots of adult human hands. “My father? He knew? Jinx knew?” The pain had broken Nattalies tiny lapse into insanity.
The king bowed his head and beckoned her forward. That’s why Jinx had come to them, and that’s why Jinx… “why did the female gnat die?”
The king growled. “My youngest daughter died to bring you to fullfill your destiny.” He snorted something that sounded like “gnat… filthy humans.”
“Tomalu died because your anti magic is so strong, it sucked the energy, and the life from her body.”
Nattalie tripped and almost fell, she caught herself on her already injured hands. “Oh no… Is Jinx really going to be ok?”
The king looked down at her again, pondering the connection she had made with his son. His son.. Had claimed a human for his own. This weak ignorant thing. “Male gnats are not as bound to their magic to live as the females of Relic clans are.” He waited for her to start walking again. “Jinx’s magic has grown strong against your energy over these years.”
They walked past the dragons of the gate. When Nattalie came close, they scooted away like frightened mice. Their claws as large as she was tall spit up dirt which fell into tiny glass pebbles on the sand. Nattalie watched, throughout the city as creatures she had only seen in fairy tales and fable books would dart away from her presence.
She wanted desperately to grab onto Jinx’s dad and hold his mane as they walked. The king sensed her trepidation and held down his noble head, “It will be safer if you stay close. Hold my mane.”

The ground had turned cold, and the structure in front of them resembled nothing around the city. Its massive gears turned and whirled around a singular black sphere floating in the middle. Two massive stone dragon sculptures held a shiny metal roof over the turning rings. The ground below it had a circular border so that it seemed the metal sphere turned in solid glass.

Renice watched from a distance long enough to see the structure, and the relic beasts flee from the girl. She could also sense another very powerful sky glider approaching quickly, more quickly then any sky-glider was recorded to be able to fly. Renice shot off to the Vice’s army camped marching distance to the west in the mountains. They had the weapon! He would need to march soon or all would be lost.

Allan watched the female sky glider fly off to the army camped a few miles away. From high in the atmosphere, and linked to Jax, Allen could see the silken warrior, the Unitary army- tens of thousands- and the so called peaceful tribes in the mountains getting ready to be slaughtered by them. Jax was the first to point out Nattalie. She was with the king.
“No!” Allen did not need Jax to help him fly now. He released the web and fell like a brick toward Nattalie and the gigantic device. All he could keep telling himself was not yet NOT YET.

The battle had begun, Renice had to dart stealthly around the rebel sky gliders, The Vice General would be near the back of the battle. The ugly glowing relic tribe was fighting without the aid of their beasts. The other tribe was carrying strange weapons, and one caught her in the arm and pulled her down. It’s tip poked through the other end of her arm and spread like a hook. She could do nothing but brace her fall.
Stewart stuck a bloodied sword to her throte. He had lost his daggers when the unitary soldiers jumped the outer rim of the camp not but minutes ago, thirteen had been taken out by his quick strong throws before he narrowly escaped their fields of magic. The glider had flown in from the deadlands, the direction Allen and Jax had gone. The woods were filled the the smoke of fires being lit by Unitary and tribesmen alike. His net had been confiscated and carried away by relic men. They were going to try and seize Nattalie before Unitary new what was happening.
Renice could not gather enough air to force the wrinkled old blacksmith off from her. “Unitary will execute you for this crime!”
Stewart let the blade slip slightly into her beautiful tanned skin. “Do you know why you can fly sky-glider?”
Renice became frightened for the first time in her career. She spit up at the old man’s face.
Stewart laughed and pulled another small nether web from his coat. He pulled string from his boot and tied the girls hands to the web. The wire was dark and shined black even in the darkening night. The storm was starting to move backward and lightning was beginning to crash in the distance. “You will fly for me.”
Stewart grabbed her protesting hands and looped his leg around her waist. He pulled the magic through her and stratteling her body flew to catch up with the nether web.

Allen crashed to the glassy ground the static shield had become enormous, and it’s own girth out birthed that of the ancient anti-magic device that lay in the center of Relic territory. The thousands of magical beings that had inherited the city were fled. Only a few elder male gnats patrolled it’s gates.
The king pounced onto Allens legs holding him where he landed. Nattalie screamed from inside the twisting and turning rings of the device. One black sphere had turned into thousands holding her inside it’s huge circumference.
Allen hollered to her, “Hold on baby!”
The king roared in his face. “You were supposed to train her!”
Allen boiled over with guilt and anger, “She shouldn’t have to do this! It isn’t your choice!”
The king released Allen. Inside the field there was nothing he could do to defend himself against the King of all Relics. Jinx was no where to be seen. “Your son would not have protected her all these years just to watch her die!”
Allen could see all the error in what he had done. Nattalie was inside the Nether wheel afraid, trapped and only cried out for her dad. He should have told her. He should have trained her. He should have loved her enough to trust her with the thing she had to now do.
The rings of the giant sphere turned faster. The gap that allowed entrance and exit from it’s center was almost sealed by the speed.

The king stepped toward its spinning mass. “The magic is not yours human.” The king turned and faced Allen. “The magic belongs to all living things,”
The gust created by the turning whipped his silver fur in a frenzy. A metallic fire glowed about his furry face. “If we must die to save this earth, then it is our duty.”
Before Allen could stop him, the king lept into the wheels exploding into a swirling prism of glass dust.
Nattalies barrier, tied and maintained for seventeen years flew open in an explosive shock that tore the very walls of the ancient city from the ground. Allen surrounded himself in a cocoon of the particles that Jax had shown him how to create. Jax. Allen watched him rocket down from the sky above and through the impossible twisting wheels in to Nattalie. The earth stopped trembling and Jinx came running from the city gates darting to a stop next to Allen. Stewart was not far behind flying through the air carrying the giant nether web.
Much to all of their amazement, He hoped to a stop on the back of a Unitary sky glider.

Nattalie watched them gathering outside, She tried to focus through the cloud of tears, she tried to call out for her father, but all she could feel was emptiness. A great sinking void swallowing her in. Jax fell onto the ground in front of her. His face was pale and weak. She couldn’t move to help him up. The void pulled her to the ground, bound her in its darkness.
Jax had heard enough, and he had seen enough ancient texts about the machine to know what the king was trying to do. Nattalie was the catalyst for the removal of magic. The machine was taught to be a myth. An ancient myth.
Jax could hear Stewart yelling from the other side of the spinning sphere. “You have to tell her to pull the magic!” Jax didn’t know what life would be without magic, but if she died, it wouldn’t matter what life was left in him. He felt himself growing weaker as he approached her. She looked at him from behind the fog of dark magic, her eyes distant and terrified.
“Nattalie, you have to pull the magic.” Jax was not sure what was supposed to happen. Nattalie wasn’t listening to him.
Allen shouted from above the sphere. “Nattalie! I’m sorry! Please, if you don’t fight now, the darkness will kill you!”
Leon and a host of soldiers had approached the gates. He had made a terrible deal with Unitary to save his only grandaughter. He would use the Netherweb and kill the tribes of the north. His first true ally in the rebellion, Stewart had swept down from the sky and flown away with the web to this place. His heart sank when he realized that his small akward family stood around the ancient device. Without the web, Leon was useless to Unitary. If that ancient device was the one he had seen in his studies at Unitary, magic would end. All the energy they used to war, to build fires and kill, it would be rendered nuetral and uncontrollable by humans ever again. Nattalie was the true relic lord, The decendant of the very lord that set the magic loose among mankind, was now in the sphere to reverse the process.
Stewart could see Leon approaching. He grabbed the Netherweb and threw it onto the glass pebbled ground. “Save her!” Leon stared down at it, and back at Vice General who waited for Leon to strike.
They had removed the poison. Stewart put a bare foot onto the web. “Save her Leon, or we could all die.”
Unitary had, and was still trying to destroy everything that mattered to him. Leon stepped out of his boot and onto the web. She was georgeious like her mother. Nattalie was the spitting image of his Maria.
Allen flew down onto the web. “Save my daughter.” Allen started drawing from the web. The flows came massive gushing against the force of the machines field, the flows broke like a tide on shore overflowing into the air, the ground, and into him. Stewart threw a wall in front of the soldiers. With Allens flow of magic his ability was more then even ten Unitary master Magicians could hope to disassemble. It was a tightly woven mesh of air and earth, water and fire.
The Vice General beat against it with his hands and stormed away through the soldiers fists smoldering.

Jax felt himself fading inside the sphere. “Nattalie please… Just… live.”
Nattalie could see him, she could hear him, but the darkness just grew stronger. The void pulled at her and threatened to crush her in it’s wake. Another person would die. How many would die just so that she could live. She could see now why her father had kept the magic from her. It was overwhelming… It made her very breath feel backwards. Jax fell with a thud to the glass floor beneath them.
Nattalie couldn’t let any one else die. She felt for the energy… the smallest trickle… anything.
At first it was like grabbing a spiders thread, she grasped and grasped at a shadow that elluded her.
Nattalie screamed shaking the structure around her. Jax was dieing. “Make my energy yours and heal.”
She pulled at the slippery string of energy, begging for it to grow. “Make my energy yours and heal.”
The void grew stronger, and the structure rumbled and shook.
Allen, Stewart and Leon chipped at the spinning metal around Nattalie. The spinning rings made the energy disperse and splinter when they tried to throw it in.
Leon bellowed, the wheels had started to screech under the pressure. “This isn’t working! We need to break the device!”
Stewart nodded to Allen. Allen pulled. He pooled from everything around him a massive lake of energy beneath the two skilled wizards beside him. The two men pulled from the earth pure beams of static energy. It seeped up through the web and coalesced into a tall cylinder form.
Jinx stood barring their path. “She has to finish Allen!”
Allen felt his body being absorbed into the flows of energy he pulled from below. This is why others had died pulling magic from within. Soon he would be sucked into the tide. Form into energy.
“Jinx! She doesn’t have to do this! She doesn’t have to die!”
Jinx picked up his fathers bone necklace and tossed it over his head. “The magic does not belong to man Allen!” Allen didn’t know how much more he could feed the magic and not be absorbed..
“Jinx! I can do it for her! Let her go!”
Jinx looked in at the dieing man, the woman falling into darkness, and the father ready to be engulfed on the web.
All relic beasts had a pact with the earth. To protect it at any cost. Unitary and man alike was sucking the life out of the planet with their frivolous use of the magic gift they had been given.

Nattalie started to pull at the thread of energy. The void sucked at it, breathing it in hungrily. The pull became bigger, the thread now a flow, It tumbled and spilled into the darkness. Jax stirred beneath her. She screamed to the heavens. “Make my energy yours and HEAL!” It was working. Nattalie felt the light wash in like a tidal wave over the void. Nattalie felt faint. She had to stop the death.
Nattalie pulled more. She pulled even though it flowed freely washing over her. She pulled and could feel her flesh wishing to burst from her bones.
Jax stood. It was working… She was doing it.
Jinx could see the particles of magic being swept from all around into the sphere. It was being drawn into Nattalie. Even from the horizons, waves of energy flowing in.
Before the pool was completely drained back into the earth from which it belonged, Jinx jumped out of the way, “Now!”
Stewart and Leon hefted two massive bolts of energy at the stone dragons holding it’s top, and its base.
The dragons shifted, started to crumble, and then fell in giant chunks onto the spinning prison.
The rings spit the first few chunks out into the Unitary soldiers. The wall had dissolved, being sucked along with the rest of the magic into Nattalie.
The web was useless now. Allen ran to the wheels, they started to falter as the base started to tumble.
He had to save her before she was absorbed by the earth.

When the wheels finally screeched to a halt Nattalie was engulfed by a pillar of energy, reaching into the darkening sky. The storm had caught up to the gates. Lightning struck into the pillar from the edge of the storm. Jax pounded against the glass case melting upward over Nattalies body.
Jinx padded in softly and stood, his whiskers grazing the beam and sizzling off.

Nattalie smiled, the light gathering so brightly. The void had gone. She was euphoric with inside it’s embrace. She could hear Jinx purring from outside her, “You have to give it all back to the earth Nattalie.”
Nattalie could hear him, but she couldn’t understand.
Her father cried from below, “Let go honey! Just let it go free!”
Jinx shook his head sadly at Allen. Leon looked at them both, a necromancer no more. “Fools.” Leon stepped up to the light. His hands burning, he shoved one arm into the beam and onto Nattalies forearm. There was no pain, his arm was being absorbed by the light. He lost his Maria, and he would not let Allen lose his granddaughter. “Nattalie, Your mother would be so proud.” Leon cried as he yelled into the loud humming of the light. “Just let go!” Leon shoved his other hand in onto her arm. “Let go Natt!” Allen watched the old man throw himself into the beam. His image burned into the mass of light. His face and content, his smile like Maria’s. k
Allen threw his cloak off, knowing what he had to do. The herbs. There were still the herbs. Allen ran to the beam and thrust the bag into Nattalies face. The energy swept it away. Allan pulled out his boney arm, his tiny finger bones flopping uselessly. The flesh burnt and healed over onto the elbow.

Jinx watched his elder sister approach from the back. He knew what she was going to do. She looked at his necklace, grinned and bowed before she jumped into the beam.

Nattalie could hear them. An old man telling her to let go. The elder gnat, her voice so beautiful echoing in the flow of light. “It’s time to let go.”

Stewart and Allen stood helplessly. Jinx Howled into the sky mournfully. The storm swirlled about the beam of light. Lightning crashing into it, wind whipping up it’s long shaft.

Nattalie could hear Jinx crying. She could see her father pounding his fists to the ground angrily.
Nattalie could feel her mother brushing her hair away from her face. She whispered into her ear. “Let it go back to the earth baby.”

She let go. She let herself fall onto the glassy ground overgrown beneath her. She fell down into Jax’s capable arms. Soldiers scattered when the energy around them refused to aknowledge their bidding. Stewart stood wielding the large heavy hammer left on the abandoned steps of a clay hut. Jinx stood snearing, his large white teeth glaring under the black gums of his pulled back lips.
A couple soldiers stood for just a minute longer as if to debate the fight, and then scattered into the cooling desert sand.
The last of the ancients, a male gnat tied not to magic but to a human family, left the city barren and filled with the ghosts of magical creatures that could not survive when the magic was freed from their bodies.
Nattalie woke a day before the arrived back home at Rollalong hill. She couldn’t remember anything passed Jinx’s sisters stealing her away from Jax. She laughed when she found out no one could use magic anymore, and to hearing she was the cause, she burst into snorting giggles. “Serves all you right! Isn’t that right Jinx!” Jinx had recovered most of his strength. And rolled Nattalie over like a swatted mouse and playfully nuzzled her into the fall leaves. Jax tried to escape when Jinx reached out and pulled him in to the dog pile but couldn’t.
Nattalie pulled at his dreadlocks, “Now you can’t fly away from me ever again!”
Jax smiled, “I couldn’t fly away from you even if I did have magic.”

The story was told for generations, that the sky had ripped open, and a storm flew across all lands, sucking the magic out of every man woman and child. For generations people left behind stories of magical times and magical beasts that towered over trees, and stalked man like prey.

Allen only cared about his generation. The new one was quite a surprise, and Stewart was more then happy to show Allen how to make a cradle from carved wood and something he called nails.
Unitary crumbled without its magic. Free people fought and won against their now useless abilities to manipulate energy. A simple club made from a fallen branch had taken the Vice General out of the battle back in the mountains that night, and Renice the sky glider was said never to have found her way out of the desert.
Allen’s arm never healed, Uncle Stewart had made him a wooden one with hinges and straps. But he still got to hold his grandchild. It was not long before a rumor surfaced that the Unitary Emporer and a few of the high council had been chased out of a northern territory and were heading for Rollalong hills’ neighboring town. After spending a good few hours with his daughter, his son-in-law, and his new grandson Allen pulled Maria’s favorite sword from over the fireplace. Jinx lay huddled against the hot stone wall, taking up half the room and snoring loudly.
“I have a trip to make to Withering Stones.”
Bandits had grown overly brave on the trails between towns now that magic was useless.
Nattalie smiled, cooing at her baby boy as Jax went to the cupboards for some bread. “Would you bring me back some of that fine blue yarn they are making out there now a days?”
Allen smiled. It wasn’t really a secret, not technically. “I’ll be back soon.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rollalong hill {part 5 of 6}-EDITED

ROLLALONG HILL part 5--> Edited

Without a saddle, Jinx’s sister had been very difficult to hold on to. She fell off twice before the massive hairy creature stopped, and the largest (whom Nattalie found out was the eldest alpha of the clan) told her she would have to hang on much tighter or she would be carried by mouth the rest of the journey.
Nattalie had been terrible frightened when the Gnats threw Jax against a tree and carried her away, but the elder told her that Jax was lucky not to be a light snack, and Jinx would be along shortly. It was difficult to understand that the great beasts wouldn’t hurt her when they growled and snorted so much at her as they rode, but hearing Jinx would be coming along made things much more adventurous and a lot less like a strange childhood nightmare.
There was a lot of time to think for the first hours after she learned she could brace her feet and arms tightly into the thick coarse fur. Prior to that all she could do was try pathetically to hang on and try not to get eaten for holding too tightly. Now she locked her grip and found the ride near tolerable. She began wondering what had happened to the life she had before Jax showed up at their farm.
Nattalie had seen her father heal many townspeople while she was watching from the knothole in her bedroom wall. She was incapable of doubting that her father would heal Jax when he was found.
The moons’ light was starting to dim, and one had already set. Dark turned to dawn. She was exhausted but afraid to close her eyes and fall off the gnat again. She was hoping Jinx would have caught up to them by daylight. He was smaller and much easier to ride, even bareback. He too though, had secrets. She couldn’t trust him or her Father, and so far the only one that hadn’t lied to her since their lives got turned upside down was Jax.
She couldn’t stop thinking about all the unanswered questions. Why were they running? Why had Jinx pretended he couldn’t speak efficiently? Why had her father never mentioned that he was a hero at Unitary? What were those soldiers doing at her great Uncles house? She felt hunted, and now she wondered if she had been in peril for much longer then when this all started. Jinx had lots to tell her. And she hoped he would tell her before they reached the mysterious destination.
She longed for the days where she only worried about how to slip off the farm and see what magic the kids were learning up at the school house.
As the light began to come over the huge thundercloud shaped mountains in the horizon Nattalie thought she could see a person skimming the treetops in the orchard full of glowing fruit blossoms to the east. She smiled as the great beast below her slowed panting and growling. Her father had fixed Jax! She started formulating a plan to talk Jinx into sneaking away so that she could talk to him. The Gnats had to rest soon, Jinx should have caught up by now. The elder nudged Nattalie off the back of the resting mount, and motioned to another sister, now laying ready for her to ride. “Aren’t you going to rest?”
Nattalie wanted to be brave and tell them she would go no farther without Jinx, but choked on the words when those huge black pools stared down at her from their spirally barricade. The elder spoke harshly, but it still came out with a beautiful tone. “We can not. You must be into the deadlands by sunrise in two days.”
Nattalie climbed up onto the gnat laying impatiently chewing on a large limb that had somehow emerged, bloody and torn. The elder would say no more, ran into the wood and came back out swallowing something that resembled a giant legless lizard. The elder placed her forehead onto her exhausted sister, their horns linking just slightly. The elder began singing. It started low and then became a loud and trembled hum. The gnat she pressed against fell over, silent and peaceful.
“Whats going on!” Nattalie felt like crying, but she couldn’t be sure why. “Is she dead?” The gnat below her stood, bowed her head and howled sadly into the dirt. The elder only looked out to the mountains glowing copper and bright from the approaching day.
Nattalie felt her bravery grow, and her fear of the great beasts shrink. She couldn’t let Jinx’s sisters just die… No matter how mad she was at Jinx. She ran over to the beast trying to find the magic in the air. She had seen him do it, he placed one hand… Nattalie tried to reach her tiny hand under it’s great heavy head, but could only get her fingers squashed by it’s twisted antlers. She had seen her father place his hands on the head sometimes instead of under. The gnats never interfered. They watched, all of them humming sadly.
Nattalie could feel tiny bits of energy welling up inside, but nothing would build enough for her to make even a small impulse go into the gnat. It was a giant black hole, and her heart was feeling heavier as she tried to fill it. She felt tears crawling down her face, but she could not stop, she had to keep trying. She had heard him say, “Make my energy yours and heal.” When a child was dying at the school grounds. A bad magic had gone horrible wrong and exploded the child into unconsciousness. Her father had healed him. She had to be able to do the same. The dark emptiness she could feel got colder. She pushed every little trickle she had and sobbed, “make my energy yours… please don’t die.”
The humming from the sisters was the only thing she could hear, and all she could see was the dark empty space when she closed her eyes. If she could only pull more. She knew, without any of the gnats telling her that this one had died because of carrying her. Jinx had found them and was laying next to Nattalie humming. His big wet nose finally pushed her hand from his sisters face. Nattalie jumped into his big furry embrace and pounded his chest with her useless fists. “Why Jinx!” Jinx let her pound on him until she had nothing left, and when she fell to her knees the elder called Jinx to her. He lay in front of her as she gave him a strange whimpering growl.
Jinx ran into the orchard and came back with the saddle. He lay it in front of the elder and she snorted and then nodded in acceptance as she looked to her sister laying dead. Nattalie was too tierd to fight, and too tierd to care why it was all happening. She just wanted to climb onto Jinx fall asleep and wake up back at home in her bed. She wanted to wake up and find out none of it was real. Jinx had fastened and buckeled most of the straps but Nattalie had to do the last two because the clasps were too small for Jinx to manage.
Nattalie stopped stepping defiantly in front of Jinx. “You tell me the truth Jinx.”
Jinx nodded.
“Are you going to die if I ride you? I’ve already ridden for so long.” Nattalie once again felt despair at how much Jinx had given to be by her side. She wouldn’t let him die. They would have to drag her dead body before she would let Jinx die beneath her.
Jinx craned his big thick neck toward the saddle. “Only a female gnat will die carrying you.” Nattalie felt relieved, but terrible that she had really killed Jinx’s sister.
“You promise you will tell me what all this is about?” Nattalie grabbed his horn gently and stared into his Deep blue sparkling pools. His orange day lid blinked over it adjusting to the daylight. “Promise.”
Jinx nodded and nudged her to the saddle. “I promise, but we have to hurry.”
The next leg of the trip Nattalie slept waking on a few occasions to hear the Gnats swiping through a heard of miniature elk lopping them up into the air and then down into their giant gaping mouths. Jinx would spit the antlers off to the side as they ran. Nattalie woke a few hours after the group had gone through some damp smelly swampland. When she looked back at the vast terrain filled with grass taller then the gnats and trees weeping branches cascading into wet squishy ground, she regretted not being able to see it from the inside. She was traveling the world, seeing it for the first time and she was too scared or too tired to look at it. Jinxs’ sisters were not in sight, and it seemed that they were alone on the soggy path almost through the edge of the mountains. Jinx stopped at a clean puddle of water built up from condensation from the mountains side.
Nattalie took the chance to ask, knowing it would be harder when they took off again. Her stomach growled as she asked, “Where are the deadlands?”
Jinx finished lapping up the bit of water that was left. “Another day north. Then a few hours west.”
Nattalie shifted in her seat and remembered the cookies in her pocket. She pulled one out and then hugged Jinx as she chomped. “You haven’t had any rest in four days Jinx, can’t we just stop for a while?”
She was more concerned for his safety after watching his sister die. Jinx was not incapable of lieing to her. She also needed to get her legs stretched before they petrified into the mounted position.
Jinx only shook a little and rested down on all fours to let Nattalie get off easier. “We can rest until my sisters catch up. Elder said we can not stop.”
Nattalie remembered seeing Jax early that morning. “Oh!” Nattalie’s legs gave out and she found herself flat on her back grinning up at the cloudy sky. “Jinx, what if Jax could carry me in the sky?”
Jinx seemed perplexed for a moment and laying his great head sideways against his paws to look at her sniffed at the air. “Jax is very far away, even if a sky-glider could carry two, I am faster.”
Nattalie knew that Jinx might be correct about the flight speed, but if it could give the Gnats some time to rest and catch up to them later it seemed worth a try.
“He was at the orchards this morning, I’m sure he’s not far behind.”
Jinx answered her again, sure that she was mistaken. “Jax is with Allen and that tastey old man very far West.”
Nattalie knew what she had seen. Maybe Jinx was lieing again. “I’m telling you I saw him sky-gliding over the Lonelyfruit Trees.”
Jinx sniffed at the air again. He stood completely still and turned his head like a snap, smelling the back of the breeze. “I am grabbing some food, and then we have to go.”
Jax wasn’t the only sky-glider. He was just rare. Nattalie got the sense that they weren’t just being hunted, Nattalie was being tracked like prey.
Jinx only took long enough for Natt to brush off and pull her bag inside out into a rain jacket. She could shove most of the things into the saddle. The sky was growing darker and thunder rolled ominously in the distance. Jinx hopped over and down a steep rock face from above and hunched for her to get on. “We can’t wait for my sisters, Unitary is not far.”
Nattalie did not know why unitary was threatening, why her father and the gnats wanted to get away from them, but despite his deception, Jinx only protected her. She would not doubt him now. Nattalie left the things she was going to put on the saddle laying in the dirt. It was really one of her favorite dresses. She had hoped to wear it one night for Jax. Nattalie had just grabbed hold of the hand braces when Jinx shot off into a leaping run.
Jinx’s muscles started to tremble not long after they had reached the end of the rock-strewn path. Rain drizzled from the sky. Soft specs of water started to saturate his fur. Lightning started to flash out in the fields below them. The rocks gave way to green meadows full of exotic ground cover. There were tall weeds full of small interlaced red blossoms, and there were short enormous blooms of every color. The grass grew thin, and it grew thick. The smell felt overwhelming, like pleasant toxic gases. The colors radiated through the dry green grass even under the dark raging sky.
Jinx passed a herd of striders who whinnied and galloped away as he panted. Nattalie wanted to know so badly what was happening, but could only feel concerned about Jinx as his speed grew faster under the lightning and thunder above.

Allen, Stewart and Jax woke to thunder echoing inside the caverns and loosening stone from it’s walls onto the makeshift beds. They gathered up their things after munching on some dryed nuts and berrys that Stewart kept packed in a large sack hanging over the graying stallion’s back.
Jax was first to be ready. He went to the caverns mouth to fly around and seek their trail to Nattalie. He had gathered just enough air on the rim of the barrier when two swooping skin winged raptors swept down to pluck him from the mountains edge.
Allen was not as quick as his uncle. One fell, loudly tumbling into the pine grove below, a black dagger wedged through it’s throte. The other screeched barely grazing Jax’s shoulder as it watched its companion fall dead.
It flew away quickly looking back on them with dark slits for eyes. Allen watched it fly west. Stewart checked Jax’s wound. “It could have killed you.” Stewart was talking to Allen more then he was to the young sky-glider.
“Was that a relic beast?” Allen watched it’s tail, long and thin slice through the air as it perched striking distance away on another part of the mountain face.
Stewart seemed lost for words. Jax prepared his wall of air again.
“You can’t fly against that thing Jax.” Allen put a firm hand on the boys other shoulder.
Jax was not pleased. “Your daughter is out there with a litter of gnats, running to heavens knows what, and you want me to be cautious!?” Jax was finally realizing that his whole career with Unitary had been a lie. They used devices to torture old men. They used poisonous magic on their enemys, and they brought war to peaceful nations for no other reason then to gain power. He was on the right side now, and he knew it, Nattalies side. His yearning to know Nattalie was safe was more powerful then his disgust with Unitary.
Allen could feel Jax’s magic vibrating the air around them. It was growing. High emotions had a way of drawing in more then a person was intending, or usually capable. “Jax,” He let go of his shoulder, and Stewart looked upon him with pity. “We will see Nattalie safe again, I will move this entire Earth to make sure that happens.”
Jax started to nod and release the air about him. “What am I doing Admiral…”
Unitary had deceived him, and Allen could remember that same feeling when he realized how much destruction had been unnecessarily cast about in the wake of their wars. “Exactly what you wanted to do when you joined them.” Allen pulled from his cloak the dagger he had been awarded by the Emperor of Unitary Capitol. Soldiers only received it when they had achieved the rank of Admiral, or the title of high magician. Allen had gotten both titles from the same ceremony after his grand victory in the deadland borders. He had barricaded thousands of Relic Beasts into an earthen Coral and allowed his men to rain upon them horrendous fires until they all burnt.
Allen showed the dagger to a downcast Jax. “This means nothing if I don’t try to make things right by the people I hurt.” Allen walked the dagger into the pool of anti-magic gathered at the end of the tunnel. Jax and Stewart had fallowed. He dropped it in. The rare jewels glittered even from far beneath the waters calm surface. Lighting cracked open the sky and rent a tree into splintering ashes beneath the cavern.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rollalong Hill {Part 4 of 6}--edited

Rollalong Hill part 4

The moonlight from the two great masses in the night sky provided so much light reflecting off Hallow lake that everything glowed firey blue. Sparkling and still, the lake was known to produce an anti-magic within close proximity. No one had ever drawn energy from the water, the depths below it or anywhere near it’s shore.
Allen’s great uncle had chosen this lake for that very reason. He would have built the work shop in the lake had he been able to find a way to keep the water ferrets from attacking the lumber he placed as support beams into the soft gewy ground. Water ferrets were not aggressive, and avoided humans at all cost, but in this lake, just as in any other parcel of land that bore no magic, the creatures of the earth held their territory at any cost. Out of the ground and silently approaching the large shack, Allen could see the orange glow of fire from torches on the other side. Men were conversing, soldiers.
A loud voice roused the soldiers into silence. “We rest, and head to Roll-Along. One guard every hour needs to patrol the barriers border.” Allen snuck through the open back door of the workshop nearly knocking over a bench full of tools. There were hammers and strange turning devices. Some of the metal that Allen had sensed from underground was spilled like dust out of a glass jar. He did not need magic to smell the potency in those small granules. Without the magic he could not determine their use, but knowing his uncle it was something dangerous.
The leader of the small band held a small device in his hand. Allen looked in the small crowd for Stewart. If his uncle had been captured, it was not willingly or without a tussle. The large wrinkled old man was tied to the great Yellow maple that grew by his forge. Stewart had taught Allen to blacksmith as a young man, but Allen could not see the purpose in working so hard without magic at that age. Now he thanked his uncles teaching on a daily basis, and started to feel guilty that he had never shown him proper appreciation. The Unitary soldiers had his uncle bound and stretched onto the tree as if they had been torturing him.
Allen felt rage well inside him. He was too close to the lake to do any damaging magic, and seven men was more then even he could take on without the earth’s help. He needed something sharp.
The moons shimmered through a cloud sending streams of light into the room. Allen recognized the mirror like reflection of swords in a large rack in the corner. He would have to remember to ask his uncle why he was creating so many weapons. As far as Allen knew only a bandits nest would need so much un-magiced force. When Allen pulled a long light blade from the metal rack, he noticed that it was not only the racks filled with swords, but chain mail hanging from the beams, and some kind of mechanized bow, twenty of them at least hanging on pegs on the adjacent wall. He grabbed two of those for good measure, along with a sack of tiny arrows that belonged with them.
He needed to release his uncle quickly, but he wanted to avoid unitary. He needed a distraction. Without use of their powers, the soldiers would find a Gnat a very big distraction. He had to find Jinx and Nattalie.

Jinx held Nattalie back. She protested silently kicking gently at the massive paw set down in front of her.
“But Jinx!” She pointed to the old man tied to the tree. “That has to be him, and they are going to kill him!” Jinx sniffed at the air. “Allen is there, we wait for him.”
“I’m sick of being left out.” Nattalie walked back into the curtain of trees where Jax landed with an awkward thud from out of the sky. “Are you all right Jax?” Nattalie helped him up as he brushed off the pine needles sticking into his silk pants.
“I’m fine… that damned lake and it’s anti-magic.” Jax could feel Jinx staring disapprovingly at him from the shadows of the large trees barely disguising his mass.
Jax smiled at Nattalie. She didn’t use magic, she used her own powers to survive. He tumbled and fumbled whenever he was around her, not just because he couldn’t use the air to steady himself, but because he could see a beauty in her nature. Beauty was only a magiced disquise in the woman he had met at Unitary.
Nattalie felt herself blushing. She had grown up in a town where her tomboy attitude and non-use of magic was revolting to most of the boys in town. She had few friends, and never a boy that smiled at her that way. Her heart echoed softly against her insides.
“Jax, do be more careful.” He snickered at her, and she shook her finger at him. “A sky glider indeed. More like a ground thumper.”
A soldier was sent out to patrol, and Jinx watched him with his lids fully drawn. Gnats had two sets of eyelids. One was for sleep, the other was for protecting the eye from daylight. With both drawn he could see far more distance than that of almost any creature alive. His brown pools now shimmered a deep blue. His sisters would claw his ear off for what he was about to do, but he could see Allen on the other side of the lake searching for them. The soldiers would discover Allen if they looked out from their small camp.
Jinx had glided over to Jax and Nattalie. “You two will have to do your mating strategies later.”
Jax about choked, and Nattalie looked like she wanted to faint. Jinx pointed out to the lake. “A soldier is coming, and I have to help your father. Make her stay here Jax,”
Nattalie started to whine, but Jinx pulled out his long thumb claw. “Jax,” Jinx waited for him to look into his eyes. “No human knows the true extent of our ability to kill.”
Jinx’s fluffy dog like tail seemed to extend and grow a large scorpion stinger on the end. The Gnat swung it onto the ground in front of the two. “Don’t make me show you how it works.” Jinx could see that Nattalie was once again angry, and Jax a bit terrified, but the young human would not let Nattalie come to harm.

After Jinx snuck off into the woods, Nattalie plopped to the ground annoyed. “Why are there so many secrets!” Jax took up Jinx’s spot at the trees, starting to wonder if he really would find out why Allen had kept so many secrets.

Allen knew Jinx had seen him. The glimmering blue flashes of his eyes reflected the light of the moonlight like two gigantic fireflys behind the trees. It was the only clue any man would ever see when a Gnat stalked at night. Jinx swept up behind him. Allen whispered, “I need a distraction. A big fierce hairy one.”
Jinx snorted a little. “Did you know Allen,” Jinx was glad he did not have to pretend he was feeble at speaking anymore. “My sisters would love to eat you.”
Allen nodded in the dark. He was not Jinx’s master, and he could not pretend to be anymore, especially in these wood. “I’m sorry friend. Please forgive me.”
Jinx snorted again. “Is the old man the one you need free?” Allen nodded.
Jinx grumbled as he strode up to the soldiers, hackles raised. “Another damn human…Good thing I love your pup Allen.”
The soldiers were quite surprised when Jinx’s growl turned into a screaming howl. Standing and clawing at the air, there was only high pitched yelling and dust left when the men escaped as quickly as possible. Only Allen’s uncle remained, passed out and hanging from thick sailing ropes tied to the tree.
Jinx stomped into the dirt, a bull ready to charge and left to make sure the men did not venture back.
Cutting the ropes with the sword he had taken from the workshop Allen caught his large muscular uncles limp body before his head cracked against the ground. Allen gathered up an old tent cloth and some spears. Stewart woke long enough to say “I’m so sorry Nattalie.” and was back asleep being dragged on a make-shift gurney to where Nattalie and Jax were supposed to be.

[[[[ Dilema… do I want Natt to be captured by Unitary and make this story longer then I intended, or do I want to keep it within the 5 days so that I can actually finish it without making it another unending project?]]]]]]

When Allen arrived at the site, his uncle in tow, Natt was no where to be seen. He hurried and set the gurney down when he realized Jax was laying in the shadows twisted and still. Allen scooped him up and carried him away from the barrier of the lake to heal him. Jax had to know where she had gone. Once the energy had seeped from Allen’s own flesh to tell Jax’s bones to mend, he finished cooling and soothing the knot on the boys head to wake him. Someone had thrown the boy against the tree and cracked his skull.
Jax woke in a sudden startled, “Nattalie!” but quickly realized he was alive thanks to the Admiral once again. “The Gnats took her Admiral!”
Allen shook his head. “You amaze me sergeant.” He was not sure why the gnats had taken her under their protection, but there was no one safer then someone welcomed into a Gnats litter.
Jax just looked at him perplexed. “The gnats! We have to get her.”
Allen wondered suddenly how attached this young Unitary soldier really was to his daughter. “She will be fine Jax.” His big arms scooped Jax up into the air pocket that Jax had instinctively created. “You are one lucky kid, those gnats would have definitely loved your taste.” Jinx had always said that humans rarely tasted good, but a human male wasn’t too bad when the hunger took over, and a human sky-glider was irresistible. Female of any species was very indigestible to Gnats, but in a pinch would be better then nothing.
Allen felt the earth for Jinx. He had been using his magic long enough now that it didn’t sweep over him from static build. It was like filling a cup of water, once you got used to it, there was no effort. It simply flowed now. Allen could feel Natt and Jinx’s sisters moving quickly, and even further north. Jinx was coming from the south dragging his uncle.
He walked up too them, dropped the gurney and licked a small wound on his hind leg. Jinx sighed. He coughed like he had a hairball and spit out a soldiers belt. “They taste better cooked.” Jinx coughed another piece of clothing up and sniffed loudly at the breeze. He knew Natt was with his sisters. She would be safe for now, and he motioned at the old man lay snoring in the contraption he dragged from the lake side.
Allen lay his hands to the earth below Stewart, tucking one firmly below his head, and the other firmly under his back. Like someone had poured ice cold water over him, the man sat up fists swinging.
He almost clocked Allen in the jaw before Jax had time to make an air wall to protect him. The old man’s fist pulled out of the invisible shield like a stick from deep bubbly tar.
“Allen!” the old man threw his hands down to the ground and sprung up like a jumping horned beetle. Stewart paid no attention to the Gnat staring quizitively at him from the end of the gurney. The old man’s joy turned dark quickly. He spit in anger at the Admiral, “The Unitary is planning on attacking the peaceful tribes of the north! They want to wipe them out!”
Stewart had pulled a dagger from inside his boot and held it accusingly in Allen’s face. Jinx stood and growled. Stewart waved his hand dismissingly at Jinx. “You’re not going to scare me any more then your litter tried to Gnat.” Jinx’s head shot sideways and he sat loudly grumbling under his snorting.
“Tell me you don’t have anything to do with this Allen!” The old man was stronger then Jax’s air shield. It couldn’t be possible… The knife steadily, and slowly cut through the air toward Allen as he protested.
“Uncle Stewart!” Allen reached up but was having more difficulty pushing through the shield then his 40 years elder uncle. “They kicked me out before Nattalie was born, I have no love for Unitary, only for my family.”
Stewart pulled the knife out of the shield effortlessly and dropped it into the boot. The strange little family had now become even more deadly. “An Admiral, A gnat, and a sky glider…” Stewart picked himself up and whipped up air and water wisking away the dried blood and dirt that covered his cloths. Stewart didn’t hate magic, he just believed that wasting it needlessly was abuse of the world that provided anything a man needed without magic.
Stewart pulled out a wet stone and some small knives. “Why are they off to kill my best customers, and why are they after Maria?” Stewart stood sharpening his daggers as Allen explained. He pulled them from many different cubbyholes of his leather overalls. Jinx still pondered the many ways he could barbecue the tender thick meat dripping from the old mans bones.
Allen seemed a bit worried when he heard Jinx utter “Delicious.”
His stomach and lack of sleep where getting in the way. Jinx was worried about Nattalie. He knew she would be protected, but they were taking her to the Relic Beasts. Jax was smelling awfully tasty too.
Ignoring Jinx Allen explained as he set out the weapons into a pool of the moonlight shining through the trees. “Necromancer Leon has told me that Unitary wanted Maria and I to have a child.” Jax gasped.
“Leon?” Stewart pulled out a larger crossbow from the pile and a handful of arrows, giving no sign he cared one way or another about Leon.
“Did you know he was Maria’s father?” Allen couldn’t accept it, but it was still there nagging.
“Leon has been fighting with the Rebels of the deadland Relic tribe ever since Unitary sent me to assassinate him when Maria was three.” Stewart had been in Unitary for a very short time, and dropped off their records as ever have existing. Allen joined Unitary to spite his Mother for rejecting magic knowing that she hated her brother for having joined. She only forgave her brother on her deathbed shortly after she received word that Allen was disbanded and returning home. He never made it home to tell her that she had been right. He never got to tell her he was sorry.
Stewart suddenly stopped and put a oversized hand on Allen, “I’m sorry Allen, they had a device that pulled the truth from me no matter how I tried to lie. They know about Nattalie.”
Jinx had spit out a large compass like device coated in gold and soft carved wood. Stewart looked down at it disgusted. “I had no power over it,” Stewart kicked it in front of Jax. “Unitary scum bags.”
Jax gasped again. “But those can only mask the truth.”
Allen picked it up admiring its detail. “Uncle…” He put the device into his cloak pocket. “They know about Nattalie?”
Stewart hung his head nodding. Allen knew that his uncle would never have told them willingly.
Jinx was already standing and ready to snapp a nice chunk of dinner from the mans arms. Allen had to think, but he had to rest. They were no good to anyone without sleep. “Jinx, do you know a safe place to rest before we head out to find Natt?”
“Not far north.” Jinx looked up at the second smaller moon and yawned ferociously. “Sky glider can show you, at the base of the mountains.” Jinx stuck his big wet nose into Jax’s face. “You’re lucky it was my sisters who have her.”
Allen and Stewart gathered up their things and prepared for the long walk up to the mountains. Unitary would know soon what was happening, and they had to find Nattalie. Selfishly Allen only wanted her to know the truth before she found out anymore of it from strangers. The Relic beasts never lied, and they were incapable of deception. Nattalie would dig the truth out just by asking the right questions.
Jinx had run off into the woods and came back with a dangling leg still sticking out from his massive mouth. He gulped it down like a bird would a fish, and spit the boot from between his teeth. He stopped briefly in front of Allen licking the blood from his chin as he spoke. “I need to be with Natt.”
Allen reached up patting his old friend tightly in the chest. “I know. I won’t be far behind.”
Jinx had turned to leave but stopped to say, “That boy loves her.” And then he ran off into the wood. He would clear the valley and catch up to his sisters very quickly. Female gnats were more dangerous, but male gnats could outrun even a glider if they needed to.
Allen watched Jax gather up his wind and steady himself. He floated in the air just as any man would stand sturdy on the ground. “I’ll be rate back.” Jax waited for Allen to nod and shot off into the sky.
Stewart was ready to go, and pointed back at the workshop. “We need to go get some things from the shop, I have an order to fill with the Relic tribe.”
Allen went with him, knowing that the men would not come back to the lake, he could hope that Jinx had eaten all of them, but Jinx would have told him if he had. Among the things Stewart collected in a large wagon his old stallion was pulling were three small caskets of the deadly powder, a huge pile of swords, two suits of oversized chain mail, and a shining copper chain net. It was a giant web of thinly stranded metal wires. “What is that?” Allen’s curiosity had overwhelmed him. As a child he never could resist asking his uncle what the odd items were that hung in the workshop. He felt like a kid again, amazed at the craftsmanship and artistry his uncle was capable of.
“Do you remember the fable of the farie fire?” Allen couldn’t remember all the details, but his mother had told him the tale any time he wanted to protest her ban of magic in their home. He wished he had not forgotten it. Nattalie would have loved the tale as a child.
Stewart finished loading the cart and began shutting down his forge fires. “The faries are extinct now, but they could have saved themselves.” Stewart pulled some magic from the air and began creating a large ball of flames from the dieing fire inside the furnace. “We humans, just like the faries think that magic is a singular ability. We think that the fire I am creating is only for me, and that I alone control it. The faries believed that they only need protect their own fire to be safe.” Stewarts flames where turning slowly as they grew. “ The fable said that each farie in the tribe had created a fire that made them immortal. As long as their fire glowed safely, they couldn’t be harmed.” Stewart pointed at the furnace “Make your own flame Allen.”
Allen obeyed. It was the size of Stewarts when he continued, Allen listened intently. “That is not your fire…” Stewarts flame came slowly closer to Allen’s. “This is not my fire.” Stewart grabbed a bucket of water he used for cooling the blades. The flames were licking in the air at each other violently. “Let go of the fire Allen.”

Allen did not know what was going to happen. He watched and released. The two flaming balls expanded and consumed each other. They wisped and stuck long ravenous tongues to the table beneath them. Stewart had already released his magic. “The faries selfishness destroyed them. They never realized they could work together and so died.” The fire swelled even more and cascaded down onto the table in a frenzied freedom. Stewart threw the water over it and smoke was quickly swept away by a strong wind. Jax had found them from the sky and was landing close behind. “If their tribes had worked together, their fires could have glowed for eternity.” Stewart held out a small copper web. “Just touch it.”
Allen poked at it and felt a zap. Stewart let out a small laugh. “Ok now grab it.” Allen wondered if the old man would kill a Unitary Admiral, nephew or not. “It won’t zap you if you hold it.” Stewart continued knowing the Unitary soldier now listened closely. “If just two had found a way to share their flame, they might not have been wiped out by a breeze.” No one knew how the faries had all died, but many speculated their immortal fires had extinguished in a war.
Allen grabbed hold of the copper web. Suddenly Allen could feel not only his energy drawing toward him, but the energy that surrounded Stewart like a massive pulsating fog. “Now we both draw the flame.”
It was so simple, like rowing a boat, the two energys combined in a current that massed the flames in front of them. It was as if the two of them weren’t using separate energies. Stewart answered his unasked question. “Maria would have told you… It’s just energy and form. One man can give it purpose, mankind can give it a greater purpose.” The fire started to grow too large to control. Stewart slapped the copper web out of Allen’s confused hand.
Stewart put a finger up to his lips and motioned at Jax to come closer. The flame ball had burst onto the ground and been quickly snuffed out by the shield Allen created around it. “It is never separate, it all belongs to this world.” Allen was surprised by his own ignorance once again. He did not know the magic could overpower his control and gain it’s own will to expand.
Jax stepped into the faint light of the embers glowing in the forge furnace. He sounded sad as he said, “At Unitary they teach that the faries died out because disease had corrupted their fire. Disease snuck into their magic because they would not help Unitary bring peace to the world.”
Stewart sighed. “Do you know why you can fly and others can not young soldier?” There was clearly distaste for Jax’s uniform in Stewarts tone. Jax shrugged. He just could. Gather up the air like a wall and let it carry him away, that’s what he did. Stewart poked at Jax’s chest with the dagger he had silently drawn from yet another hiding place. No one but those close to Stewart would know he was once Unitaries deadliest assassin. Not because of magic, but because of his skill with a blade. “You fly soldier, because the earth lets you.” Stewart stomped his foot on the ground. “My place is here, and your place is up there.”
Stewart sliced at the air around Jax. If he had never met Allen, Nattalie and Jinx, the old man would have seemed a cruel crazy joke, but he stood respectfully as the man sliced his rank badges from the uniform and then the ruby beads from his front dreadlocks. Stewart could have sliced him to pieces with or without the air shield. Jax watch him slip the knife back into a secret poket of his overalls. “You fly because Unitary has not decided you are enemy and poisoned your soul.”
They traveled silently for rest of the dark night up into the caverns that Jax had found. There was an anti-magic well deeper in the caves, a place safe from magician and unitary alike. Jinx had said it was safe by leaving his saddle at the entrance way when he ran under Jax to point it out. He only looked up once to acknowledge that Jax had seen him then he headed north to find Nattalie. Jax had debated following Jinx from the sky, to leave the Admiral and his uncle to fend for themselves. The two old ox’s could probably take out two troops of unitary single handedly without magic.

In a land a few hours flight away, the vice general of Unitary council sat listening to his sky-gliders report. She was the only other sky-glider left in Unitaries army. The rest had been shot down while spying on the Relic tribes gathering in the mountains. She wore stretched silk bottoms and fine Rubies hanging from her braided hair. She waited patiently for instructions. As he had just found out, the other sky-glider was about to go into enemy camps.
The General walked to a locked ornate box that stood by the fireplace of his acquired accommodations. The family in the home had been glad to stay at a relatives house when the Vice had told them he would be staying with his army in their town. People this far away from the capitol had more respect for Unitary. Those that could smell the decaying land close to the great temple, were growing rebellious. The fires of rebellion had to be extinguished. The Vice General had his orders, and the uprising had to be annihilated at any cost. He handed a small vile of green sparkling vapor to Renice. She would obey, like a good soldier.
“You must open this under Sergeant Jax’s nose.”
She did not ask why or what. “You will be rewarded greatly if you bring back the girl.”
Renice smiled. Her thick long blonde braids dangling as she saluted. “Yes sir.” She was off the balcony and headed back to follow the Gnats.
Vice bellowed down to the guard at the front door. “Bring me the Aunt.” He twirled a small parchment in his hand as he sat. The magic that hid the secret message had been easily deteriorated by poison, and he could see the exact gathering place for the mighty Relic Beasts and their human tribe.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Rollalong Hill ( Part 3 of 6 )-edited


Allen moved quickly underground. Surrounded by the soil, he was also surrounded by the energy that forced itself into his very body. Most men had aptitudes for earth, and most women had aptitudes for air, but like Maria Allan had the ability to tap all four elements, but the one that was drawn to him and most powerful was earth. Maria would scoff at this explanation. She believed that there were no elemental divides. She always tried to tell Allen that there was only energy and form. What people claimed were elemental draws, where simply the energy that would draw in the quickest and easiest for a that particular person. Some energy was easier to tap than others, and those that could not understand the power could not give it true purpose.
Allen understood what she tried to teach him. He even could feel it in his draws now and then, but as he tried to explain to her, he did not have to ask for the energy from earth, it simply swept into him without cause constantly. After Maria introduced Allen to Ramelda for the first time over spirits and humble cakes, Ramelda divulged to Allen how to block the powers from coming into him on their own. She had taught Maria to block other peoples magic, but Allen had been a hopeless cause. It took far more skill then strength.
The stench of evil seeping down through the earth became stronger as he took the next fork. He would be upon the magician soon. Dark magicians were not all bad people, but this one had commited murder at least once. To enchant a dagger with that much disease, he had to take a human life.
Allen hoped that he could find the magician and from underneath bind him as Maria had taught him. He could feel her whispering in his ear even now as he thought about the teachings. She had told him it was easier to teach a man while naked in bed, and it certainly worked better for him.
Allen felt the darkness from above growing very strong and spoke to the earth around him. “I will protect her Maria, at any cost.” Allen was struck by thick green vapors and haulted. A large burrowing beetle popped out of the tunnel to his left. “He knows your coming Allen of Rollalong.” and the beetle flopped out and ran away down the dark passage. Who sent that enchanted beetle? He was relieved and curious. The vapors were probably a trap. More murder. The wizard above had to be relinquished to the land, if for no other reason then knowing his Nattalie existed. Allen summoned up water from the ground. A deep underground river ran close. He did not want to draw too much or too quickly. The mole worms had let him use their tunnels, but he doubted they ever would again if he destroyed them. The water puddled up under the green vapors.
Allen pulled the air into small swirls grabbing up the poison and pushing it into the tiny lake. He knew partly his daughters frustration. Air had always struggled against his pull, and the tiny whirlwinds could have been large tornados if it had been Maria.
Before the green gases had been swept away Allen recognized the figure of a tall thin man standing at the far end of the cave. Not really a man, this necromancer had been banned from Unitary lands long ago. Before even Allen had filled his first cup of water. The first thing all students were taught at Unitary was the figure, shape, smell, and evil of this man.
Allen did not have time to put up a binding. The man had him paralyzed and shut off from the energy pulsing around him.
His voice was soft and full of tenor. Allen had always imagined a hissing snake, but now it sounded just like his grandfather. “Allen, at last we meet.” The man stepped forward creating a luminescent ball to light up the cave.
Allen stood quietly, waiting and feeling for the pulse of the Earth to creep closer. Besides teaching him how to create the shield that now cut him off from magic Maria had also taught him how to break the shield someone else created. It wouldn’t take long. Allen had years of practice breaking and creating shields. A little more then seventeen of them.
“Oh,” the man sounded disappointed. “Maria is gone, how sad.” He put a long fingered hand down toward the puddle that had sucked away the poisoned air. “Do they still teach about me at the Unitary? What an evil bastard I am?”
Allen did not have to nod. “Great Necromancer Leon. I think that is what they called me.” Allen could feel the static building outside of the shield. He only needed one spark to make it through. The wrinkled up old wizard waved his hands in the air. “You are strong Allen, but if you break that shield, I will only recreate it stronger.” Allen knew that the stronger a shield was the more likely it would be to suffocate the one inside.
Allen stared the raven haired old man in the eyes, velvety red and glimmering from the faint green light. “What do you want with my daughter.”
The wizard was truly shocked that Allen knew anything of his plan. There was more to this ‘Admiral’, the sky glider had called him then he was led to believe. “You mean my grand-daughter.” Allen coughed and then let the static seep through. A little more and he would have enough energy inside the sheild to throw it over the dark wizard and suffocate the truth out of him.
“My Maria was NO relation to you old man.”
“Don’t you ever wonder why Unitary treasured her so? Do you question why the Unitary you served let you render the land desolate in sacrifice for their causes… Their wars?”
Allen hissed at him. “Murderer.”
The Necromancer sighed and swept away Allen’s shield. “Kill me then.”
Allen had already drawn so much hot energy from below his feet that there was no way for the dark wizard to shield him. It would only take a thought to render him ashes. “What?” was all Allen could muster.
“Tell me Allen,” The wizard sat upon his knees holding himself up with a thick ivory wand. “How many did you kill for Unitary?”
Allen could not answer, there were entire armies enslaved by him and his troops, and more killed by his magic then by the weapons on the battlefield.
“Why doesn’t the poison seep through your viens from the deaths you caused?”
“Tell me Necromancer, before I kill you too.”
“You thought you were righteous.” the old man dropped his cane. “Guilt is the disease that runs through my magic, just as evil runs through the Tyrant of the South. It is not always truth that determines how our magic flows.” Allen felt nauseous. It had to be a trick.
It was then that Allen separated his forces and applied anti magic to the man.
“Tell me why you seek my daughter, and I will release you from your guilt.”
“ The Unitary has taken everything from me. First they took my wife, killed her in war. Then they took my daughter, and used her to drive me out of the land. And now they have taken my grand daughter. I am not as powerful as I used to be when I was their Admiral, the poisons of guilt have destroyed my body.” The necromancer did not fight the sheild, and was no longer threatening.
“The dagger and the sky glider?” Allen tightened the shield, thickening it as the old man started to wheeze.
“Once you have the disease, it only gets stronger if no one will heal you.” He referred to what Allen had thought was murder to create poison. “I was there, waiting incase he did not make it to you. I could have saved him if you could not.”
Allen’s head started to swarm with thousands of nagging questions, doubts about what Unitary had done in war, what he had done for them. “Why? I could kill you with a thought old man for coming for my daughter that way.”
“Unitary can not be trusted. You are a unitary admiral, the boy was a unitary sergeant… and let me tell you how hard it is to drag a sky-glider from the sky, it was all the power I had left to subdue him for you.”
Allen started to see the truth in it, but could not shake the teachings of Unitary. “You’re telling me that everything they taught… The war against Necromancers, the battle to ensure freedom from dark magic, all of it is lies?” Allen was confused by what he should focus on, his daughter was safe for now, and his whole life was coming into question. Everything he had done was all for poloticians?
“They call us Necromancers because they want you to believe we are evil. They have placed this poison into us, they created the tainted energy that loops into the enemy wizards. Between guilt and their poison, there is no way to make it pure again” His eyes began to water. “My Maria thought I was an evil man because of their lies!” wheezing the wizard spat onto the ground.
Allen released his hold, letting the old man breath, but did not allow any sparks to seep through the shield.
“Leon,” He hated using a name for what he was raised believing was the most evil war lord of all time, but Nattalie was more important. “Do you know why Unitary is after Maria?”
The old man’s face was covered in concern. “They want your children. They want her to bear your child, and then they want that child to be raised the most powerful wizard of war to ever be created… and in their name conquer…. Everything.” Leon actually began to sob. The Great Necromancer was nothing more then a poisoned old man who had lost everything to Unitary.
“I have to find Nattalie, do not follow me old man.” Allen sunk into the earth below him in a whirl of cascading dust. He did not believe this man was Maria’s father, or his story about Unitary. One of them would have seen the lies, Maria would have seen the lies, she would have told him about her father… Allen could not concentrate and ran head on into a low hanging tree root. He was unconscious for hours.

Nattalie climbed off from Jinx and onto the floor of an old abandoned storage shed. Jinx had spotted a barrell of rain water and hurried to gulp it all down. Instead of lapping it up, he had done what he saw his humans do. He picked it up like a giant cup and began to drench his hot throat. Water dribbled in streams down the thick mane of fur.
Nattalie opened her bag and pulled out a fresh shirt and pants. She would have to wash her cloths whenever they could find fresh water. Unlike most people, Nattalie learned to do everything without magic. Anyone else could wisk up some water and air to clean their cloths. Weavers could fabricate clothing from the fibers around them. She had loved watching the town weaver create dresses for the other girls.
“Why won’t he teach me.” She wondered aloud to herself, but Jinx had strolled silently back to her and answered.
Nattalie had never heard Jinx speak words so clearly and precise. “Magic does not belong to man.”
Nattalie must have given away her shock, and tried to speak, but could only say, “what?”
Jinx sighed and motioned for Nattalie to sit. “What man uses for himself…” Jinx struggled a bit and then with his gums pulled up, looking ferocious his words came out even better then they had before. “The energy of this earth does not belong to one person.” He sniffed the air and paused. “It belongs to every alive thing.” Jinx growled then and sniffed some more at the air. “Wait here.”
Nattalie was tierd of being thrown about and left out of the secrets. She new she was in terrible danger and no one was explaining any of it to her. She pulled from the saddle that Jinx had removed a bow and arrows. Her Aunt Hannah had taught her how to hunt when she found out Nattalie could not use magic. Hannah had told her it was pure joy to provide for your family good food naturally, and admitted it was the only thing she loved more then doing magic. Hannah’s great uncle had taught her how to make the bow and arrows just as he had taught her father to tend land. Nattalie bet that her great uncle would tell her what was going on. She had never met him, but they were only three days from his farm.
Jinx walked through the large door carrying a very frightened and trembling man in his jaws. He spat him out on the ground and placed a very powerful paw on his chest and neck.
Nattalie had to be careful not to give away Jinx’s secret. “That’s the man from the fields!” Nattalie pulled the arrow back and aimed it at his belly. Magic would not stop a Gnat, and the bow was probably unnecessary but Natt did not want to take a chance. “Why are you here, and what kind of trouble did you get me into!”
Jinx winked in approval. He tapped his large thumb claw on the hard floor behind Jax’s ear. Jax could feel the deadly swiftness with which it would tear his face from his skull. “Your father sent me North, and when I sensed the Gnat, and saw you in here, I thought it was going to hurt you.” Jax looked up at the beasts head nodding at Nattalie.
“Let him loose Jinx, he does not mean us harm.” Natt knew that Jinx would not let him go if she was incorrect, but had to pretend he could not talk to her.
Jax did not move rate away. He tried to tell her what was going on as quickly as possible so that he would not be killed, some drool dripped down onto his sleeves as the gnat lowered his head and stared into his eyes. It was almost as frightening as watching the Admiral unleash his magic.
“ The Unitary Council is about to wage a long terrible war, and they wanted your mother and father back to fight it for them. They sent me to get them, but along the way I was pulled down.” He heard Nattalie gasp, she had heard of sky-gliders and was almost giddy with excitement.
“You fly?” The danger had lept straight out of her mind, and now she wanted to know everything about the handsome stranger. Jinx had not growled yet, so she knew so far, it was the truth.
“My name is Jax, and I must say Nattalie you are more beautiful then your father described.” Jinx growled.
“You’re lieing about something Jax.” She pulled the bow back tight against her shoulder. Jax realized that she like her father could not be lied to. He had not realized that she was creating an anti-magic barrier, under the circumstances a Gnat could make anyone forget about magic.
“I’m sorry. I’m a seer.” It was only the second time in his life he had divulged that secret to someone other then his mother. This family certainly was the most unique bunch he had ever met, and a Gnat as a pet! The Unitary was never going to believe him. He must have sighed a little too much, because the Gnat’s breath was blowing the dreadlocks away from his face. Jinx nodded again to Nattalie.
“The great beast who is very hungry and drooling on you is named Jinx.” Nattalie lowered her bow again.
Jax stuttered. “Ni.. Nice to meet you Jinx.” Jinx took his paw from the mans chest but settled it in swiping distance.
“How did you get diseased Jax?” Nattalie pulled another cookie from the saddle and offered it to Jinx. The long fat tongue snatched it up from in front of Jax’s nose. The Gnat didn’t seem as repulsive and terrible as he was taught in Unitary, but definitely more frightenening.
“The Necromancer Leon pulled me down and told me I had to bring him Maria,” He did not want the girl to be in any more danger, he had rethought wishing to have never been assigned as he looked upon Nattalie. “He was really after you.”
Jinx sniffed the air again and motioned to Natt that he had to go scout. Nattalie nodded back to him and encouraged Jax to continue. They talked for a while, much longer then Nattalie had expected to. He explained to her how sky-gliding worked but would not demonstrate. He asked a couple of questions about her and Jinx, but Nattalie only wanted to hear about Unitary and the dark wizard once he refused to show her how he flew.
The day was growing dim. Nattalie realized that Jinx would never be gone so long without a good reason and started packing up the saddle and bag. Jax looked around expecting the walls to fall down around them unsure of why Nattalie suddenly seemed so paniced.
“Jinx has been gone too long.” Nattalie helped Jax off from the floor. He felt the strength in her arms when she practically tossed him onto his feet single handedly. Nattalie let out a quick laugh, “It’s amazing how strong a person can be when they can’t use magic.”
Jax didn’t ask. She could use magic… and from what he could see from the large distance it took to be out of her anti-magic barrier, maybe more then her father and mother combined. A great static wall had blocked it from view before, but now he knew what it meant. He wanted to know everything, and at the same time he had an intense desire to protect her, not only because a Gnat might eat him up and shit out his bones, or because her father could literally rip his limbs off and use them to pound stakes into the ground, but because he had never wanted to be with someone this much in his life.

The old wizard did not follow Allen until he was far from sensing him. Leon knew his daughter would have never mated with a man that could not see truth, or that was evil in any form. His wife had been the same way. Right was right, and wrong was wrong. After he healed Allen’s concussion from running into the tree leg, his slipped silently away. He regretted now approaching Allen in the way he had. It was not as it seemed. The Unitary spys had given him very bad information. But as it is with Unitary, lies and truth hold no great account in their capitol.
“Some great Admiral.“ Allen rubbed at his temple and hoped he had not lost too much time. Allen knew that the necromancer would follow. There was truth in what Allen had heard, but he refused to believe that some of it was not personal truth. He had killed so many for Unitary, and now they would find his daughter, and make her a murderer. If only he could have told her the truth, his lies had set her up to be the perfect soldier for them, and he must stop her before the sky-glider told her about the static shell. She had to know the truth before she hated him as Maria hated Leon. It only drove him faster.
The knot on his head kept him from loosing concentration. Leon had made sure not to heal it completely so that Allen would be more careful. Soon the caves were not quick enough and Allen shot up out of the earth. He whistled to a grazing Centimount standing by a fruit tree. It was almost night, and he had some traveling to catch up to Jinx.
Being so tied to the earthen powers did not only grant him access to the energy coursing through it’s viens, but the ability to communicate basic needs to the sentient living things around him. He would have been eaten by Jinx and his entire litter of sisters had he not been able to ask for forgiveness. The centimounts long slender legs bent to the ground so that Allen could ride. It gave him a disapproving look at not being more polite about the ride.
Allen patted the large spotted neck, saying “forgive me, my young one is in terrible danger.” The strider, snorted and stood a towering mass of speed. They would be able to avoid the Yellow forest and head directly for where Jinx had sent word he would secure Nattalie. Allen hoped she would not be too frightened when she met Jinx’s family.

Before Nattalie and Jax had a chance to step outside of the shed, Jinx popped his head around the doorframe and halted her. He looked perplexed, something Nattalie was not sure she was reading correctly. She would think it was fear, but Jinx had never been afraid of anything. Nattalie’s jaw dropped when he spoke in front of Jax. “My sisters would like me to bring you…” Natt looked at Jax who was far more confused. Only mad Terry in town had ever shown that much confusion in a single gaze, but he had been staring at an invisible purple elf that burped the alphebet at the time. At least that is what Terry had told Natt.
Jinx snorted at Jax. “Not you… they will eat you.” Jinx tried to be appologetic. “Fwiend.. Fly away and find somewhere safe to hide, we will come get you if Allen says it is ok.” Nattalie felt her heart race.
“My dad is there?”
Jinx shook his head sadly, “Not yet and we don’t have much time.”
Nattalie went to grab the saddle but Jinx growled at her. “No, they would kill you for even owning it.”
“ok.” Natt felt like a timid mouse trapped by a bunch of cats. She grabbed the cookies for safe keeping and placed them in her bag along with the fire starter.
When she went to follow him out she saw Jax frozen in fear, but ready to follow. “Jax, go hide already! I doubt talking is what makes Gnats deadly.” Jax did not want to die, but he did not want to explain that he let the Admiral’s daughter walk into a den of female Gnats. A male gnat was one thing, but a female gnat was bigger, stronger, uglier and deadlier.
Jinx turned to give him one last chance to fly away. Now that the anti-magic barrier had left with Natt he could gather up the air and set himself in a very tall very far away tree. He hoped that being close enough to see the static wall around Nattalie would not be close enough to be smelled.

Natt watched Jax float away up into the trees of the Yellow Valley. He headed toward the Yellow forest when she turned back to Jinx. “My father has told me nothing Jinx, and now your hiding things from me too!” Jinx still looked rather anxious. He was scared. Nattalie realized then that maybe some things she didn’t want to know. Jinx did not have to tell her to be silent as they approached the five gigantic gnats laying by a shallow pond. Each gnat had spotted brown and white fur, much more corse then Jinx had. Their horns were longer and twisted down like a ram in front of their sunken saucer like eyes. Natt had always thought Jinx must be attractive for a Gnat, and now she could see he was a beautiful gnat, and also very small.
Jinx whispered down to her, “They will not speak human, do not talk to them.”
The smaller of the five stood and growled at Jinx, its shadow casting over Nattalie like a bad omen.
There was a lot of growling and snorting as Jinx went from one to the next. He bowed in front of each, and then lay flat nose to the ground in front of the largest. After Natt was finally through shaking she waited patiently for Jinx to come back to her. Instead the largest one that Jinx lay in front of walked passed him nipping at his head. It floated gracefully, powerfully toward her. Her fear had been renewed. She had never doubted Jinx as a protector, until now.
The grumbling was low and gutteral as it stuck it’s great black eye into her face. The horn wrapped around it like a shield, Spiraling down like a funnel into that deep unblinking eye. Nattalie was fascinated by the emptiness inside the darkness. She was always told Gnats could not use magic, but now it seemed, looking into that horrible pit of black that they might be part of the magic itself.
The Gnat backed away suddenly and beckoned Jinx. He seemed to crawl on his belly to Nattalies side. Natt decided she should be kneeling or doing something other then standing. She knelt down next to Jinx and hoped that she wasn’t about to be devoured.
Jinx meowed softly a few times as the large gnat bellowed a fierce roar into Jinx’s ears. Nattalie did not know what to do but she could not watch Jinx be hurt when all her life she had been under his gracious care. Nattalie threw herself between the large gnat and Jinx. She started pleading, knowing that they could understand her. “Please don’t hurt him!” She felt herself ready to puke at the prospect of getting chomped in half by the beast. “Please… don’t hurt him.”
Jinx shuttered beneath her. She could not tell if it was relief, or release. The large gnat then spoke. It wasn’t as grumbly as Jinx, and almost sounded harmonic. “Child, I don’t hurt anyone I don’t eat.” The thing snorted at the two of them and walked back to her perch amongst the others. “Jinx,” she motioned for him to get up with a nonchalant wave of her massive paw. “Protect her, guide her, but do nothing for the father.” Jinx seemed to protest with a large awful cry.
“Dad?” Jinx would not look at her.
“Child,” the beast could have been a singing choir of faries, the voice was entrancing. “We protect only our own, and Jinx has chosen to claim you as his. He will never be able to choose a mate. He will be banned from our circles, and he most certainly will never be allowed in our presence again, but for that,”
She walked back to him, nuzzled his neck affectionately and turned her massive back to them. “he and you will always be under our protection, and never in our presence.”
Nattalie could feel her heart breaking. All of this was for her, he had given up everything from the day she was born, for her. “Jinx no… you can’t.”
“You are my human Nattalie,” he smiled sadly at her, “my greatest fwiend.” The five Gnats howled into the trees sending loose leaves, dead branches and birds of every kind skittering away.
Jinx pushed at her to walk away. It was not far that Natt could see her father and he waited for Jinx to trot toward him before he would come any closer to the den of gnats. Jinx hurriedly told him, “They will kill you Allen, you must go quickly and meet us at the Hallow lake.”
Again without explanation or any aknowledgement that she was there, her father sunk into the earth like the sky had pushed him under, and Jinx tossed her onto his back like a skinned carcass. Nattallie waited until Jinx stopped running before she lept down to get answers. Jax was not far behind in the sky stopping just short of her static shield and landing.
He had seen it all, and felt it all. Being a seer was a curse more then a gift. With beasts of such ties to the earth there was more intensity in the sight than there ever was in humans. The creatures that lived in the north were said to be deadly to seers because of the overwhelming power of their emotional projection.
Nattalie was glad to see Jax. He approached in the middle of Jinx trying to tell Nattalie that she should be grateful she has not had to bear the burden of such horrible secrets.
“Oh Jinx, I love you but father has been completely unfair!” She even stomped her foot like a kid having a tantrum. Jinx looked like he was laughing at her.
Jax said, “You mean, you really didn’t know about the barrier? Those gnats could have…” Jinx lunged at him grasping his neck in a sharp quick grip.
“Say nothing.” Jinx looked down into the seer with his brown pools, they glimmered and shined with a need to eat. “Can’t I just eat him Nattalie?”
Nattalie had not realized what had been said had anything to do with her. “No, you can’t Jinx, but father is full of aged tender muscle.”
Jinx dropped Jax to the ground and did not take his eyes from him. “You’ll know soon enough why Allen has done all he has done.” Jinx was telling Jax to keep quiet, no seer needed to be present to figure it out.
Jinx nodded and snorted at the boy and went back to Nattalie. “Hallow Lake?” Nattalie had never heard of any of the lands other then Yellow forest and Hallow Lake. Her Aunt lived at the end of Hallow Lake, and her great Uncle had a tool shop at the lake. “We get to see uncle?” Nattalie smiled unable to contain the excitement of finally meeting the man who her father had so much admired.

Allen had traveled very quickly by dividing the soil underground. He could sense something was wrong up ahead. He stopped and listened to the flows of energy coursing through the earth. Soldiers footsteps, and blood. Not a lot of it, and sulfur… and another one, metal he did not know. Allen backed away feeling for his way to Jinx and Nattalie.