Simon

2.10: Magical Girl

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART TEN: Magical Girl

“Okay, this is not, like, an encyclopedia,” Chartreuse said, shaking the journal at Simone. “I can’t simply look up ‘escape from spells’.” She paused. “Though that would be handy.”

Simone turned away from the wall. The wizard crossed her arms over her chest – though in making the movement, she ended up looking down, apparently still adjusting to her new female form. “We have to get out somehow. Do you really think we have the capability to play out Wanda’s history?”

“Maybe?” Chartreuse offered. Simone glared. The teenage elf-girl slumped a little. “Maybe not. It did look like Wanda was gaining control over fire. No clue how we’d, you know, fake that.” She opened the journal up again, running her finger down the handwritten pages.

“See if Wanda had to break a spell herself at some point,” Simone suggested. “Then we can duplicate it.” She began to pace a few steps, forward and back, at the T-junction of the castle corridor. Chartreuse turned a little to keep from getting distracted by the movement. She quickly confirmed that the start of the journal was only basic magical information which Wanda had recorded, and flipped further ahead. In doing so, she realized that the book had a tendency to want to open towards a certain area of pages about three quarters of the way through.

Which is where she’d first started reading, upon picking the journal up. And she remembered having seen Qifarihm’s name. On a hunch, she checked the corners of the pages there, and saw that one of them was dog eared. More, there was a star after one of the paragraphs. She began to read in earnest.

“You seem excited,” Simone observed. “What have you got?”

ChartElfLt

CHARTREUSE

“It’s BELIEF,” Chartreuse stated. She began to read aloud. “Today, Qifarihm told me that a large part of why magic works is the belief that it can. Actual truth must be more than that, since not everyone can perform magic, while it can work on non-believers. Yet I think this is why wizardry is a male dominated profession – they don’t believe women can do it as well, which helps that belief to become reality. Meaning all I need to do is change their wizardly beliefs. The same way I changed the beliefs of those boys I burned when they –”

Chartreuse stopped reading aloud. Her stomach wrenched a little, and she snapped the spine of the journal shut. Simone raised a questioning eyebrow. “Dare I ask?”

“No,” Chartreuse said, drawing a quick breath. “You don’t. Suffice to say, I’m not sure if I’m on side with Wanda any more. I, like, REALLY hope she already had the evil artifact by then.”

“Oh kay,” Simone said slowly. “So, do we simply need to ‘believe’ we’re not under a spell? Because I’m now believing I’m a man again, but I’m not feeling it.”

“There must be, you know, limits.” Chartreuse bit down on her lower lip. Then she reached out to shove Simone, her hand merely passing through her companion’s shoulder. So she lifted her foot, preparing to give the other girl a kick.

Simone back-pedalled. “Okay, whoa, what?”

“I, like, didn’t think my hands could affect anyone,” she explained. “But when I believed my feet could, I got to go Wizard kicking.” She hopped forwards and tapped at Simone with the sole of her boot. Successfully.

“Huh. Interesting.” Simone frowned, as she stared at Chartreuse’s foot. “So to what extent is this reality defined by Wanda, and to what extent are we defining it?”

“Dunno. Might explain why I kept the journal coming in. I believed I could, and nothing, you know, prevented that belief. Maybe you should have believed that you still had all our gear.” She nearly lost her balance then, so returned both feet to the ground.

“Okay, let’s extrapolate,” Simone mused. “Anything Wanda can’t account for COULD be used to get us out. Like the journal. Or, um, technology.” She made a face. “Too bad my friend Keith didn’t come along with us.”

“Why? Is he some crazy techno mad scientist?” Chartreuse wondered.

Simone shook her head. “Not as such, but he doesn’t share my opinions, and would probably have an app for this.” Her eyes brightened, and she pointed at Chartreuse’s wrist. “Oh! We don’t need him, you’re still wearing your watch! We can talk to Alice!”

Chartreuse blinked in surprise, and pulled back the sleeve of her top. “You’re right! How did you know?”

“I believed,” Simone said, with a smirk.

Chartreuse paused, briefly wondering if she’d really had the watch all along – but she quickly decided such thoughts would only get them in trouble. She punched in the necessary code to activate it. “Alice! Chartreuse to Alice!” she called out.

Seconds ticked by. When she’d used the device last time, to contact her sister Azure, it had taken close to a minute before Alice had responded. So this time, she waited patiently rather than immediately trying twice more. But she only had so much patience. “Hellooo? Alice? Alison?”

“The device may not work in the spell,” Simone yielded. She began to pace again. “I’ll try to think of something else. Take another look back at Wanda’s earlier stuff.”

Chartreuse reopened the book closer to the middle, and began scanning anew. This section seemed closer in time frame to where they were now – Wanda was talking about having been chosen as the new Apprentice. How she was going to have to work even harder now, in order to counter the prejudices of those around her. Of people like…

“What the hell did you do to the Wizard panel?!”

***

Simone turned, spotting the boy who had been scheduled after her. The one who had pinched her bottom. He was striding purposefully down the corridor. Simone raised her hands defensively. “I did magic?”

Upon reaching her, he shoved her back into the wall, resting his hands on her shoulders to keep her there. “They sounded almost BORED by my act,” he accused. “Me! Iklius, wizard extraordinaire! So I ask again. What. Did. You. Do?”

“Get. Your. Hands. Off,” Simone countered.

“The delusional elf talk, was that all an act? I bet you’d already paid off the Wizards, so this whole trial didn’t matter! That’s why you ran off, so as to not betray yourself to us afterwards, huh?”

“That’s crazy.”

“You’re not going to get away with this.” Iklius paused, then shifted his gaze down from Simone’s face. “Unless you make it worth my while not to stir up trouble.”

Simone frowned. “That’s crazy AND disgusting.”

With a snarl, Iklius reached up to tear at Simone’s blouse. Yet with his hand having moved off her shoulder, she managed to block him with her arm, while lashing out a kick at his legs. Iklius jumped back, she twisted to duck under his arm, and she ran. He shoved her from behind, and she went sprawling. “Chartreuse!” Simone gasped out, spinning her body so that she was face up.

Iklius cracked his knuckles, then took a step closer – then jerked to the side, off Chartreuse’s kick at his hip. “The hell?” he said, turning to look at the empty space. The pink haired elf girl took the opportunity to move around to the front and plant her boot into his midsection. He stumbled back with a wheeze. Simone scrambled to her feet.

“We’re running,” Chartreuse said, turning to look at Simone. For some reason, she looked scared.

“He can’t hurt you,” Simone reminded.

Chartreuse held up the journal, as if it was enough explanation. “Run,” she said, like it was the most important thing ever.

Simone ran. But as soon as she turned the nearest corner, she suddenly found herself out in a courtyard. She blinked at the sunlight, though the sun almost immediately retreated behind a cloud. Turning around, Simone saw no passage – she was in town. The nearby fountain looked familiar, though here it didn’t contain the statue of a naiad. The castle wall loomed behind a number of buildings.

“Oh no,” Chartreuse breathed. “Her spell brought us here anyway.”

“Where?” Simone said in frustration. She realized belatedly that she was wearing a different outfit now, still in a dark shirt, but now with a pair of trousers.

“Wanda’s, like, major life event,” Chartreuse said. “I read it while you were fighting. The earlier stuff was only context. We need to get out of here!”

“Why?”

“Because…” Chartreuse stopped, as a group of six boys stepped out of a nearby building. “Them.”

Simone recognized one of them as Iklius, and another two as wizard hopefuls who had been in the waiting room. “So you came,” one of them said, his face carefully neutral. The boys began to fan out. “Well, we’re not letting you get away with this.”

Simone spread her arms out to the sides. “Guys! I didn’t rig the Wizard trial!” She glanced sidelong at Chartreuse, muttering out of the corner of her mouth, “…did Wanda?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Chartreuse said quietly. “Wanda’s going to attack them here. With fire. It won’t end well.”

“I don’t have fire!” Simone hissed.

“Oh, right!” Chartreuse frowned. “I’m not sure if that, like, makes it better or worse.”

The boys had now encircled the two of them, Simone in the middle. They stood a little ways beyond arm’s reach. “So what do we do?” Simone murmured.

“We finish this,” Iklius answered.

“I don’t know,” Chartreuse said at the same time. “I only know…” She stopped, snapping her head to the side. “Yes, I hear you!!”

***

Can you hear me now?

It was Alice’s voice. Wonderful, magical Alice. Chartreuse snapped her head to the side. “Yes, I hear you!!”

“Hear who?” Simone asked, looking around.

“Alice,” Chartreuse explained, even as Iklius stated, “Acting insane won’t save you, girlie.”

olga-kolesnik-5sm

ALICE (approx)
Source Site

“Good!” came Alice’s voice again. The bright and cheery sound was totally at odds with the atmosphere around them. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try… try try try try again.”

“We, like, need to break out of a spell! Pronto!” Chartreuse shouted at the sky.

“Ah! That would explain why you’re unconscious,” Alice mused. “As it is, I’ve had to attune myself to your alpha waves – say, have you ever seen that movie Frequency? Where the guy in the future can talk to the guy in the past using the same ham radio? Because this isn’t really like that, but it was a pretty cool movie…”

“I can’t hear her!” Simone said. “What should I do?”

“Don’t fight back,” one boy advised, as he thrust both his hands out.

“Believe in… something!” Chartreuse suggested. She looked back at the sky. If only Carrie were here with them, her girlfriend might have been able to stop time. “Alice! Alice, we need you to come down to the Wizard’s Sanctuary and, like, physically pull some cards off our heads!”

“I can’t leave the station,” Alice countered. “You MAY recall this is why I recruited the both of you? What is even going on??”

“If we fight, they’re dead, if we don’t, we’re dead, we, you know, need an abort option! PLEASE!”

She heard Alice sigh. “Fine. Please hold, your call is important to us.”

“Hold? Hold what??”

“It didn’t have to be this way,” another of the boys remarked. Chartreuse looked back at Simone. She realized that the guy with his arms out had to be using some sort of holding magic, as Simone couldn’t seem to move her feet. She HAD managed to pull a card out of her pouch, but she didn’t seem to be sure what to do with it.

“You could have left town. Instead you came here,“ agreed the guy with outstretched arms.

“Where else was I supposed to go?” Simone challenged.

“Away,” Iklius said. “Because I hate the fact that I’m going to have to punch a girl. Kinda.” He pulled his fist back. Chartreuse lifted her foot to kick. Simone reached back into her pouch and pulled out a small key.

“This key, which hides powers of the dark, show your true form before me! I, Simone, command you! Release!” A glowing pink circle exploded into view on the ground around her, and as the boys looked on with a mixture of shock and confusion, the key expanded out into the form of a staff. Simone grabbed it with one hand, tossing her card up into the air with the other. “Fly card! Release and dispel!”

Twirling her staff, Simone brought it down onto the card. Wind swirled around, the card vanished, wings sprouted off the end of the staff… and the female wizard was pulled airborne. The gazes of the males tracked up, and it occurred to Chartreuse that not wearing a skirt here had been a good plan.

WHAT just happened?!” one of the boys demanded.

“Oh, I’ve seen this one!” Chartreuse breathed. “It’s… um…”

“Magical girl anime,” Simone admitted, as she floated in the air, out of reach. “I do believe in the characters. And it occurs to me that Wanda’s spell could not have anticipated this.”

“Whatever, girlie,” Iklius snorted. “You have to come down eventually, and when you do…”

Simone disappeared. Chartreuse barely had time to register the event, before she felt the scene around her snap out of existence. She gasped at the person she was now staring at.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE TUESDAY FEB 17 EST

BONUS CONTENT COMING ON WEDNESDAY!

Next ->

Advertisements

2.08: Evil Wins

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART EIGHT: Evil Wins

“We can’t leave now, we just got here,” Qifarihm grumbled in response to the small unicorn’s comment. The wizard then went to peek at the shelves behind the pink curtains in his former sanctuary. A couple of days ago, Simon would have thought this to be a rather nonsensical sequence of events, but that was before he’d been brought to this fantasy world along with Chartreuse.

“So, Snowball, can you, like, direct us to a crystal ball?” Chartreuse asked, clasping her hands together pleadingly.

“No,” the pink unicorn retorted. “If you can’t find it yourself, you’re not worthy of me shifting my allegiances.”

Simon walked over to a large purple trunk. “Hey, Qifarihm, is this safe to open?” he asked.

The wizard glanced back over his shoulder. “Probably.”

Simon frowned. But rather than ask for clarification, as Qifarihm seemed to be busy with his own investigation, Simon simply took care to only manipulate the catch on the trunk with his foot. He was pleased when it proved to be unlocked, and the lid flipped up without setting off an alarm or releasing poisonous gas. He became less pleased once he noticed what was inside. “Okay, Wanda has… a lot of weapons,” he observed.

Some were bladed, others were more for blunt force, like mallets, and there was even a bow with a quiver of arrows sitting on the top. The pink motif continued for all of them. “Should we arm ourselves with some of these?” he wondered aloud. “For protection?”

“Risky,” Chartreuse countered. Simon noticed that she’d gone to the bookshelves, pulling down a book to leaf through. “I mean, there’s probably some moral code against fighting an unarmed person, right? Whereas if you, you know, hold an axe, you become fair game.”

“It’s strange though,” Qifarihm remarked, approaching to have a look himself. “As wizards, we use magic. Not military items such as these.”

“Wanda’s been trying to clean up the town,” Snowball observed, trotting back towards the nearby platform housing the bed. “She’s encouraging a more pacifist way of life.”

Qifarihm threw his hands up into the air, or did as best as he could given the magical shackles he still wore. “This is why women aren’t allowed to be Royal Wizards!”

Chartreuse extended the arm that was not holding her book – the one that still held her frying pan. She waggled it at Qifarihm. “Okay, that’s, like, the second time you’ve belittled my gender. Don’t make me regret rescuing you.”

“Indeed, you have to admit Chartreuse’s unconventional approach has worked out so far,” Simon noted. “And she’s a woman.”

The wizard let out a grunt. “Well then, does she have an unconventional way of figuring out the location of this artifact granting wishes?”

Chartreuse opened her mouth as if to reply, but the teenager didn’t speak. Instead, her jaw fully dropped and her eyes got wider. Simon almost asked what the problem was, when a feminine voice behind him said, “If THAT’S why you’re here, you’d have to ask me.”

Simon froze. The remark hadn’t come from Snowball. Chartreuse’s nod confirmed there was someone new in the room. As such, when Simon turned, he made a point of stepping forwards, to slightly block Qifarihm – and he took the key to the wizard’s shackles from his pocket. Palming it, he extended both his hands nonchalantly out behind him.

NenenePinked

WANDA (approx)
(apologies to R.O.D.)

“What is the location of the… artifact… granting… wishes…” Simon asked, despite his breath getting slightly caught in his throat as he saw her. Wanda was actually quite pretty. Perhaps a few years younger than he was, the Royal Wizard (Wizardess?) had light brown hair extending down past her shoulders, piercing green eyes which were staring out from behind a pair of spectacles, and, well, a nice body by most people’s standards. Including his.

Weirdly enough, despite the decor of the room in which they found themselves, Simon had been expecting their adversary to be a witch cloaked all in black with a pointed hat, but her outfit was anything but that. For some reason, Simon found himself making a mental link to “pink power ranger”. Granted, the clothes were not as form fitting, and she wore no helmet. There was also the fact that, unlike a power ranger, she was evil, and the way her arms were crossed implied that all of them were in serious trouble.

On the bright side, it looked like Wanda had walked in through the room’s only door, so it wasn’t a case of her arriving by teleport due to something stupid that they’d done.

“The artifact,” Wanda retorted. “Is on my person. Always. Also, fun fact, since I’m one of the only people who even KNOW about it, I’m guessing you’ve come to take it back. I CANNOT allow that.” Then she smiled. “But if you tell me how to get more like it, I won’t hurt you. Okay?”

Simon felt Qifarihm take the key for the shackles out of his hand. “Wanda,” the wizard remarked, presumably hoping that speaking would divert her attention from him trying to free himself, “you’ve de-aged yourself a bit, haven’t you? Should vanity really be your primary concern these days? What about advising the monarchy?”

Wanda’s hands slid to her hips. “Oooh, Qifarihm. You sanctimonious ass. I can’t believe I was nicer to you after the reality rewrite than you EVER were to me! Even kept you on as my apprentice, much longer than I should have!”

“Yet part of me knew something was wrong. That’s why you had to throw me in the dungeon.”

“Hah!” she countered. “I threw you in the dungeon because even as an apprentice you couldn’t stop talking down to me! If I’d had a magical means of dealing with you then, I would have!” She adjusted her glasses, causing them to flash in the light of the room. “Which, by the way, I now DO have. So please. Turn that key.”

Simon heard the click behind him, Wanda threw a card into the air (where had that come from?) and abruptly the room went pitch black. In retrospect, it had to have been lit by magical origin, owing to the lack of any windows. Though rather than stand there pondering the original source of the light, Simon decided it was better to flatten himself down onto the ground. Which was fortunate.

Red electricity crackled through the air around him, which seemed to be coming from Wanda’s position. For a moment, the bolts hit a shield, sparks rebounding crazily about the room, and then the initial barrage became countered with a whiter lightning from where Qifarihm stood. Simon crawled desperately away from the two wizards, heading back towards Chartreuse and the secret escape passage, wondering if the best plan might be a quick exit.

“Give up, Wanda,” Qifarihm shouted. “You know no mere female can best my wizardly powers!”

“Keep talking, Qi,” Wanda shot back. “Your misogyny gives me strength!!” She seemed to be circling to the side, the red and white sparkler show rotating with her, each side of the battle briefly flaring up, then down in strength.

“You know,” Chartreuse muttered, her voice close enough in the dark to make Simon gasp in surprise, “kinda seeing why Pelinelneth wanted that guy kept locked up. You know?”

“What??”

Chartreuse interpreted his befuddlement at her choice of topic to be an invitation to expand on her reasoning. “Qifarihm. He’s a real charmer at first, but I think that’s, like, to draw women in. In the end, putting him in a position of power. So while he doesn’t mean any personal harm, his personality could be why the, you know, palace guards liked throwing women into his cell.” She let out a sigh. “You know, you shouldn’t have, like, let us out after all. I don’t think I’m rooting for him any more.”

A fireball suddenly lit up the area, and Simon jerked his gaze over to see it balanced on the tip of another piece of card stock which Wanda held in her left hand. Her right still creating the electrical sparks. She flicked the card, tossing the fire towards the elder wizard, Qifarihm stumbling back. He was barely able to extinguish it with a gout of water before it could strike him. As he did so, the red lightning nearly won out, before the set of sparks between the two combatants re-stabilized.

“Are you rooting for Wanda then?” Simon sniped at Chartreuse.

“Yeah.”

She’d said it without hesitation. Simon gave her a look, but owing to the darkness, added the reminder, “Women’s rights or not, Wanda’s EVIL.”

“Nope. The artifact is. The one that’s, you know, always on her person.”

Simon almost countered that it was still Wanda’s fault then, for picking up the thing or getting duped by it in the first place, but he held his tongue. Because firstly, assigning blame was really pointless at this stage, and secondly – Chartreuse’s remark had pointed out a serious flaw in this battle.

Wanda wasn’t wishing.

“Meaning,” Simon said, dropping his voice even more, “she has it now. But she isn’t wishing for Qifarihm or us to be incapacitated or anything. Why not?”

A pause. “Huh,” Chartreuse remarked. “Maybe so she can play fair?”

“Or she can’t use wishes directly.”

“Or her artifact’s, like, out of magical batteries or something.”

“Either way, this means we have a chance of taking it away from her!” And if his addiction-withdrawal theory was correct, her magical powers wouldn’t be as potent against them afterwards.

“You know, maybe once we explain what’s been happening in town, she’ll, like, hand it over nicely?”

There was a flare of white from the continuing battle, causing Simon to look back towards it. The male wizard seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the red electricity on Wanda’s side was fading. “Or maybe Qifarihm will win, saving us the trouble.”

“Hmph. I wouldn’t put that to a vote,” Snowball nickered, having approached the two of them. “She’s toying with him. Positioning him.”

“Oh? Positioning him for what?” Chartreuse asked.

The unicorn didn’t answer. Simon squinted at the two wizards in the flickering electrical light… and he could see what Snowball meant. Despite the fact that Qifarihm was starting to overwhelm the female wizard with his sheer power, by having alternately pressed her attack on the left or the right, Wanda had been able to steer Qifarihm back towards the middle of the room. Keeping herself out on the periphery. But what was the point of herding him to the centre of the–

Qifarihm took a step forwards, to press his advantage, and a blood red circle blazed into view, magical symbols running around the circumference. He was standing dead centre. Red cards rained down from the ceiling. In an instant, it grew so bright that Simon was forced to blink and look away. When he looked back, there were spots on his vision, and all was darkness. Even the lightning had ceased. The ensuing silence was incredibly eerie.

A pair of fingers snapped. Light was restored. Meaning Simon could now see how Qifarihm had been turned into a statue – pink, naturally – in the middle of the room. A card fell from off his face, revealing a rather surprised look. Other pieces of red paper littered the ground. Simon shifted his gaze over towards Wanda. She was breathing heavily, face flushed, glasses slightly askew, droplets of sweat trickling down her face… yet her look was determined, and despite her obvious fatigue, she kept her arm raised, snapped fingers held high.

Simon’s gaze automatically tracked back to the trunk containing the weapons. “Oh, PLEASE,” Wanda rasped. “Be my guest!”

Simon didn’t move. He stayed on the ground as Wanda slowly approached them, the heels of her pink boots clicking rather deliberately on the floor.

“Okay, so, the wishes you’ve been granting, they–”

“Shut up,” Wanda snapped at Chartreuse, eyes blazing. “You have no idea, NO idea what I’ve been through to get here!”

Simon cleared his throat. “Be that as it may–” He didn’t get any further before Wanda’s look and hand motion told him not to say any more.

“Now, Pelinelneth said you were instrumental in getting her back here,” the brunette stated. “You’ve also helped me deal with Qifarihm. So I’m willing to give you some latitude. You can either stay, and become Pelinelneth’s personal servants. Or you can be wished away, never to return – unless you bring another wishing device.” She cracked her knuckles. “Or, you can continue to babble, meaning you WILL see what it is I went through!!”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE TUESDAY FEB 3 EST

Next ->

2.07: Pink Link

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART SEVEN: Pink Link

“Am I dead?”

“No,” came the somewhat reassuring response to Chartreuse’s question. She even recognized that the person who had said it was Qifarihm, so her neurons couldn’t be too scrambled.

“Then why’s it so, like, dark?” Chartreuse continued.

“Simon’s used your torch to go investigate things at the top of the stairs.”

Chartreuse nodded, then realized Qifarihm wouldn’t be able to see that. “Ah,” she clarified. “Then I didn’t, you know, imagine him rescuing us.”

“Nope.”

There was a pause. “Why are there, like, stairs in the dungeon?”

“We’ve moved out of the dungeon area and into some back passages known only to me and a few select other individuals. An emergency escape route. All wizards should have one.”

“Ah!” Another pause. “How did I get here?”

“Simon carried you. Or at least pulled you along. I helped as much as I was able, but it was awkward enough to bring along your gear.”

Chartreuse winced a little. She knew she could afford to lose a few pounds. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize.” She heard him change position in the dark. “Your vision plan seemed to work wonders, I’ve remembered an entire past which I’d previously forgotten.”

“Oh, good!” The mild headache she had now at least meant something then. “…So what exactly did I, like, say?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Jumbled pieces. I was kind of spiralling the future back into the past, not exactly my, you know, forte.”

A faint glow appeared from above, enough to allow Chartreuse to see there was an staircase there – and to see Qifarihm shrug. “I’ll let Simon explain. He has a theory.”

The pink haired teenager looked down at the former Wizard’s manacles. “We not find the key for those yet?”

“Releasing my magic would be something of a tip off,” he explained. “Your companion thought it best to pursue Pelinelneth without resorting to magic. I granted him that point. A wizard can only cast so much before needing to recharge anyway.” He then turned to look up as Simon came into view. “She’s awake,” he noted.

Simon smiled, turning his flashlight, taking care not to shine it right in her face. “Hey! That’s good news. Beats the bad news I have – if Pelinelneth did go back out to the courtyard, she’s caught. Or being pursued. For whatever reason, there’s hardly any guards that I can see out there. And I wouldn’t have figured them to give up the search.”

“But that means they’re not after us yet,” Chartreuse reasoned. “Or they’d be, you know, searching again.”

“Well, the only other direction your Pelinelneth could have gone through these passages would be to Wanda’s – to MY sanctuary,” Qifarihm corrected.

“No choice but to do that then,” Simon yielded.

“Um, wait, so what’s your, like, theory based on whatever I said?” Chartreuse asked, standing back up by supporting herself against the wall. She managed to do it without feeling too dizzy.

Simon blinked. “What? Oh, that… well, the impression I got is that this Wanda must have been corrupted by the artifact. She seized power – and then you said addiction. Implying she’s now hooked on wishes, or granting wishes.”

“Magic can corrupt a person,” Qifarihm added. “Which is why only certain people have magic abilities in the first place.”

“So I figure,” Simon continued, “If we can prevent her from wishing, or get the evil item away from her, she may sink into some sort of withdrawal, enough to allow us to restore… whatever’s normal here.”

Chartreuse bobbed her head, then regretted the action, lifting her hand to her temple. “Makes sense,” she agreed. “So what’s this artifact?”

“We still don’t know that,” Simon conceded.

“And how do we, you know, restore what’s normal?”

“Not sure.”

“What about preventing Wanda from wishing, like, bad stuff against US even as we try to reason with her?”

“We don’t have a plan there.”

“Ah.” Chartreuse pursed her lips. “Well, it will be impossible for her to foil our plan when we don’t have one!” she offered cheerily.

***

The truth was, Simon hoped that Pelinelneth would have the answers to some of Chartreuse’s questions. In retrospect, perhaps they should have done one of her vision things with the crystals and the cards back when the elf girl had first told them about her missing memories. But at the time, they hadn’t known she was anything more than a transformed villager.

“I don’t know that we want to try reasoning with Wanda anyway,” Qifarihm said, as he began to move off down the passageway. Simon noticed that the wizard didn’t seem inclined to tote their supplies, now that Chartreuse didn’t need help, so he picked it up off the ground himself. “From what I remember,” the older man remarked, “the girl didn’t react well to authority.”

Smallville-Jensen-Ackles-33

SIMON (Approx)
Source Site

Simon fell into step behind Qifarihm – though noticed that Chartreuse was still a bit unsteady on her feet as she started walking. He reached out a hand for support, but she waved him off.

“What do you remember about your sanctuary layout?” he asked Qifarihm, figuring that talking might slow the wizard down a shade. Plus the information could prove useful.

“Pretty standard stuff,” Qifarihm answered. “Big library area against one wall. Shelves on another with ingredients for potions. Raised area off to one side with my bed. No windows. A bit gloomy, but I liked it.”

“Alarm system?” Simon wondered.

“On a few key items, not on the room itself. Though it might be best not to touch anything without checking with me first.”

“Fridge?” Chartreuse asked.

“What?” Qifarihm said absently. Simon shone his light back at her. Chartreuse shrugged.

“Just, you know, we haven’t had anything since breakfast.”

***

There was a soft click, and a section of the bookshelf swung forwards for the second time that day. She’d been interested the first time, when the elf had edged in. This time, since the activity was a rerun, she was less intrigued – until she saw the man in the ragged clothes stride in, arms outstretched. Qifarihm. She hadn’t seen him in months! He was followed by a younger man, who had a key out, presumably to unlock the manacles on the wizard’s wrists. And then an even younger girl, with hair that matched the room’s decor, who seemed to be brandishing a frying pan.

The three of them looked around cautiously. She decided the best course of action would be to wait and see what they did.

***

“It’s very pink,” Chartreuse said at last, feeling like someone should speak. Even if it was to state the obvious. Seeing as the floor of the Wizard’s Sanctuary was dark pink, the walls a light pink – and there was a large pink-purple couch adjacent to the bookshelf area. The room wasn’t all pink, to be sure. The books were various colours, the few paintings on the walls also incorporated yellows and red, and although a shelving unit seemed to be behind pink curtains, the contents of the jars behind looked to be a variety of colours again. But pink was definitely the dominant theme.

PinkRoom

Pink room is pink?
Source Site

“Yes,” Qifarihm said, disgust in his tone. “Typical female.”

“Excuse me?” Chartreuse countered, frowning as she turned to point her frying pan back at the wizard.

“She was always on me about my drab colour scheme, so obviously redecorated the first chance she got,” he said, unfazed by Chartreuse’s look. “This sort of atmosphere is NOT conducive to doing magic.”

“Not, like, YOUR magic maybe, but I’d have thought you’d appreciate some colour after that dark cell!”

“Well, at least Wanda doesn’t seem to be here,” Simon cut in, before Qifarihm could speak. “We should quickly scour for clues about Pelinelneth or the artifact.”

Qifarihm seemed to change his mind about what he’d been about to say. “Right. Keep an eye out for a magic mirror or a crystal ball, we could use those to get a sense of what’s happened the last hour or so.”

“Alternatively,” came a new voice, causing Chartreuse to jerk her gaze up. “You could ask me.” There was an elevated platform off to one side of the room, which Qifarihm had said was where he slept. Standing there in front of the bed, looking down at them, was a small pink unicorn.

Chartreuse blinked, and briefly rubbed her eyes, then looked again. The unicorn was still there, looking to be a bit larger than a house cat. It jumped down onto the ground, bypassing the few steps that would otherwise have been necessary. “Okay,” Simon remarked, sounding rather nonplussed. “Thought that was a statue.”

“Oh. My. God,” Chartreuse blurted, barely able to keep herself from running over and hugging the creature. “Friendship is magic!”

“What’s magic?” Simon said, glancing sidelong at her.

“Friendship! And don’t tell me you’re not totally thinking it too!” Chartreuse accused. Though it occurred to her then that perhaps they didn’t have that show on whatever world Simon had come from.

“When did Wanda acquire a miniature talking pink unicorn?” Qifarihm asked of no one in particular.

The unicorn made a face. “I’m Snowball.”

Qifarihm’s eyebrows shot up. “My white CAT?”

“Formerly a cat. Now a unicorn. You seem to have regained your memories. Does this mean you’re going to reset things to the way I remember them? Because from what I’ve seen, you don’t stand a chance.”

“Wait, you remember the way things are supposed to be?” Simon asked, startled.

“Of course. First, I’m not human, and second, Wanda has been keeping me here, isolated from changes. Appearance notwithstanding.” Snowball began to trot back and forth as she spoke, almost as if she was pacing. “You see, unlike her silly elf, I’m perfectly content to remain here.”

“Right, well, we need to find whatever artifact has corrupted our dear Wanda,” Qifarihm said dismissively. “Where is it, what does it look like?”

The small pony flicked her tail. “Don’t know. Wanda locked me up after she took over, only letting me out after her elf companion didn’t work out. I guess by that point she’d decided to be more cautious. Oh, and don’t go on with the ‘dear Wanda’ nonsense either, it’s partially your condescending attitude that got us into this mess.”

Qifarihm blinked. “Was it?”

Snowball altered her tone slightly, attempting to sound male. “Don’t touch that! Only male wizards are allowed to do the deep magic! Go find me some herbs!”

The male wizard attempted to cross his arms in response, but found the action difficult with the shackles on. Putting his hands on his hips met with similar results, so he simply shook his finger in the air. “Well, now that you mention it, she WAS very full of herself! After all, it’s not like a female could ever achieve Royal Wizard status.”

“Excepting how she IS the Royal Wizard,” the mini-unicorn pointed out.

“Illegally! Using a wish!”

“Excuse me,” Simon said, breaking back in. “Not to break up this discussion of the patriarchy, but we’re on a deadline. Do we know when Wanda’s coming back?”

“No,” Snowball said, turning to look at him. “She’s off dealing with the elf I mentioned, who showed up here an hour ago. Who are you, anyway?”

“Oh, er, I’m Simon Black. This is Chartreuse,” he said, indicating her. “We’re the ones who broke your mage out of the dungeon.”

“And let Wanda’s elf into the castle!” Chartreuse added. In the end, she’d managed to keep herself from ‘squeeing’ over Snowball by trying to cross reference some of the pony’s comments in her head. Best to info dump onto Simon now, to see if it made actual sense. “Because it’s got to be, you know, Pelinelneth! Wanda wanted her as a confidant, but Pelinelneth wanted out, so that’s, like, how our friend got her memory wiped and ended up living in a basement out in town! Also, it’s why she knew about the secret passage in here and didn’t want to let Qifarihm out of the dungeon and stuff!”

“Good thinking,” Simon said, off her expectant look. He frowned. “I wonder, do you think Pelinelneth could even BE the artifact? Did wishes start getting granted in town after she showed up?”

“Find me a crystal ball and maybe I can answer that,” Qifarihm reminded them.

“I think you should all leave,” Snowball snorted. “Come back when you have a chance of winning.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE THURSDAY JAN 29 EST

(some extra time to vote, due to grading exams)

Next ->

2.06: Passed Tents

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART SIX: Passed Tents

Simon reached out to touch Pelinelneth on the shoulder as they reached a dead end. She flinched, shrugging him off. “Don’t panic,” she said. “There’s a hidden door here.”

“I figured,” Simon answered. “I thought maybe we should have a plan before striding into the dungeon.”

The elf girl briefly pinched the bridge of her nose. “Nothing to plan. On the other side is the end of the corridor housing the cells. There shouldn’t be any guards there. We creep in, get Chartreuse, and creep back out.”

Simon frowned. “How do you know that’s the setup?”

“I DON’T KN–” Pelinelneth caught herself. “I don’t know. Ever since I got inside the castle, I just know things, okay?” She looked back at the blank wall. “Though I guess it’s possible the dungeon’s more heavily guarded right now. Or that some guard is holding the keys.”

Simon wondered if there was a delicate way to ask whether Pelinelneth was starting to remember things that she, herself, had wished forgotten. Because perhaps she had been at the heart of this wish situation since the beginning? But he was pretty sure ANY way of saying that might get him trapped in this corridor. So instead, he said, “Do you know any illusion magic?”

“Nothing convincing, or I’d have been able to get into this castle without your help!”

“It doesn’t need to be convincing, only distracting,” Simon pointed out. “Giving me time to steal the keys or blind a guard with my flashlight.”

“There’s that,” Pelinelneth yielded. “Okay. Give me a moment to rally my mental forces, then we’ll head in.”

As it turned out, she didn’t need to do anything – there wasn’t a visible guard. But there wasn’t a visible keyring hanging on a peg either. “There may be a guard with keys at the main entrance,” Simon reasoned quietly. He looked around. Three cell doors were closed, but there were little windows allowing him to peer into the darkness.

He determined which cell held Chartreuse almost immediately, and not merely because it was the only one where he heard noises. He knew of no one else who spoke that way. “Chartreuse!” he hissed just outside her cell. The voice stopped – he hadn’t been quite sure what she was saying, only hearing the word “like” clearly – and he heard footsteps approach from inside.

“Simon?” the girl responded.

“Yeah, we’re both here.” Simon grinned at Pelinelneth, who simply shrugged and motioned back towards the passage. He double checked that the door was locked. “Ah, any idea where they put the key?”

“Not in here!” the pink haired girl retorted. Simon rolled his yes. “Though what IS in here is, like, a Royal Wizard. So if you, you know, can get us a metal cutter, we can magic our way out.”

“What did she say?” Pelinelneth asked, taking a step back. Simon saw that her entire posture had changed. If he didn’t know better, he’d say she was afraid.

Chartreuse had apparently heard the question. “Well, this guy thinks he’s the Wizard’s apprentice,” she added. “But I, like, caught a flash of his past – unless it was, you know, his future – and he’s actually the top guy.”

“Wait – HE?” Pelinelneth said, as if to clarify the gender. She now didn’t look afraid. She looked annoyed.

“Qifarihm,” Chartreuse clarified.

“Bless you,” Simon said.

“I’m leaving,” Pelinelneth concluded.

“What?” Simon said, turning as Pelinelneth strode away, back towards the secret door. It occurred to Simon that he didn’t yet know how to open it from this direction. “But we agreed that we have to get Char–”

The silver haired elf stopped and pointed back at the cell door. “Qifarihm has to stay locked up. If getting her means getting him out too, no! Now, are you coming with me or not?”

“Go with her!” Chartreuse gasped.

“I can’t keep leaving you!” Simon objected.

***

Things fell silent after that, leaving Chartreuse to anxiously dance back and forth from one foot to the other. Had Simon left? On the one hand, she was still worried about the elf girl being without some sort of moral conscience. On the other, she really didn’t want to be locked up here for several more months. “Did… did you, like, leave?” she finally called out, feeling torn.

Chartreuse01

CHARTREUSE

Still silence. Then, “No,” came Simon’s voice. “But I haven’t found anything I can use to force the door. Sounds like there’s only one guard out front though, he’s grumbling about the others being called away to help search. He should have the keys. I think I can blind him with my flashlight, then knock him out. Hold on.”

“Use my, you know, frying pan!” Chartreuse suggested brightly. “That is, if my stuff is still out there!”

“Uh huh.”

There was another extended silence. Finally, the sound of a keyring, and a key being tried in the lock. Chartreuse breathed a sigh of relief, and looked over at Qifarihm, who had resumed his earlier position in the corner, drawing little shapes in the air. “We’re getting out!” she said, smiling at him.

“That’s probably the guard throwing your friend in,” Qifarihm said.

“Have faith!” she countered. More jangling of keys, as a second, and then a third was tried. At which point the door swung open, and Chartreuse saw her companion, standing in the doorway with a partial smile on his own face. Without a second thought, she rushed out and gave him a hug, almost knocking him over as for some reason he hadn’t been expecting it.

“Thanks!” she added. She then looked around the dungeon area, which was pretty much as it had been when they’d tossed her in – except now with an unconscious guard in the entryway. With a familiar kitchen implement sitting on his chest. “Frying pan?” she said, her smile getting wider.

Simon didn’t meet her gaze, shifting it off to the side. “My punches may need work,” was his only remark.

Chartreuse decided not to push the point – she had bigger fish to fry. Not in the frying pan, granted, but since it was there… sure enough, hurrying over to the guard, she found a pouch containing the rest of her crystals, and the WristWatch device for contacting Alice. She immediately switched the device on.

“What are you doing?” Simon asked, following after her. “Shouldn’t we track down Pelinelneth now?”

“Heck yeah,” she agreed. “But first I need a, like, deeper scan of Qifarihm. As I said before, I saw stuff when I read him. But my specialty is, you know, the future, so I need the Epsilon Project to, like, hook me up with an expert on the past.”

Simon blinked. “Who?”

Chartreuse let out a breath. “My sister.”

***

Azure absently reached out to pick up the phone when it rang, since it was on the table next to her in the living room. But she continued to focus most of her attention on reading her book. “Vermilion residence.”

“Azure! Thank goodness. I, like, need your help.”

“Sure,” the blue haired girl fired back, without missing a beat. “Then I ‘like’ need twenty bucks.”

“Azure, I’m on another planet in another dimension or something and this call is being routed through, I dunno, subspace. I need to, like, do a historical reading on someone! Can you give me some tips here? Please??”

AzureC

AZURE

Chartreuse’s younger sister looked up from her book, then over at the phone in her hand. She pulled it back to her ear. “Is Carrie giving you drugs?” she demanded. “Because if so, that’s not a healthy relationship! We covered that kinda thing in PE class.” She smirked.

“Azure, I am being totally serious here! Stop grinning like that!”

Azure’s smile faded, and she set her book aside, switching the phone to her other ear. “Chartreuse, even assuming this isn’t some stupid prank – you read the future, I read the past. That’s how it IS. Have I ever tried to horn in on YOUR territory? No! Besides, you use crystals, I use cards. Incompatible. You’ll simply have to deal.” She frowned, realizing the inadvertent pun. “So to speak.”

“Cards is fine, Simon, like, has some of those! Also, different world, so I think different rules, in that I already picked up on something. So please, at least, you know, tell me what shape would be best for penetrating into a past that’s been, like, walled off by some magical wish granting artifact! Okay?”

Azure resisted the urge to simply hang up the phone, mainly because the question did pose an interesting challenge. Plus hanging up would give her sister the last word. So she mulled it over for a few seconds instead, wondering what sort of geometry could be used to twist over and around a mental block like that. The answer, when it occurred to her, was ridiculously simple. “Phi,” Azure said at last.

She then hung up immediately and reached back for her book. After all, if this was seriously serious, her sister would redial.

***

Chartreuse sat on the floor of the corridor, in her circle of crystals, with Simon’s cards making a spiral pattern out towards Qifarihm. The spiral probably wasn’t exactly golden, but she’d made a point of dealing an ace, a six, an ace and an eight out first… though she hadn’t been sure what face card to use for zero. For his part, the supposed Wizard merely sat across from her with a bemused look on his face.

“This is highly unconventional,” Qifarihm remarked, and Simon got the impression that he wasn’t entirely convinced he was even free yet. Which, in a sense, he wasn’t, as he still had on a pair of shackles.

“That’s why it will work,” Simon said, with a confidence he didn’t entirely feel.

“I love you both, but please, you know, hush,” Chartreuse interjected, before going back to quiet murmurings of “Ohm, ohm”.

Seconds stretched into minutes, and right when Simon thought maybe he should speak up again, Chartreuse gasped and looked up towards the ceiling, blinking rapidly. Then she began to speak. “Wand, a wand, a wand, ahhhh!”

“A wand?” Simon repeated.

“No, Wanda,” Qifarihm realized, sitting up straighter. “I know a Wanda. I’m her apprentice.” He frowned. “Now wait a second…”

“Wiz… you… she… wish…” Chartreuse babbled.

Simon caught on. “You said Qifarihm is the Palace Wizard. Was Wanda HIS apprentice?” he asked. “Until she wished for their roles to be reversed?” Chartreuse bobbed her head, though it was difficult to tell if she was actually nodding. “Did she create this wishing artifact then?” Simon pressed. “Or did Qifarihm?”

Simon glanced back towards the Wizard, but he seemed to be getting lost in his own recollections. So Simon returned his gaze to Chartreuse, who was now swaying her head around in what looked like a figure eight. “Artifact… unknown… found… pasta… round pasta…”

Simon adjusted her inflection, as the mage had before. “Passed around?”

More head bobbing. “Wanda… no… weevil…”

“She knows evil? Or she’s now evil?”

“She… Pel in hell in elinelinel…”

“Pelinelneth? Is she evil?”

Chartreuse started to get an annoyed look on her face, her breathing coming more rapidly. “Elinelinelinel…”

“Is she Wanda?”

“EL-IN-EL…” Chartreuse coughed, the noise sounding strangled. “First… wish… corrupt… add diction… oaf… ukkk…” And she keeled over.

Simon quickly ran to her side and felt for a pulse – it was present, and she was breathing regularly, though she had fallen unconscious. That determined, he looked back over at Qifarihm. “Could you make sense of that?” Simon demanded.

Qifarihm seemed to be gathering his thoughts before speaking. For the first time, Simon found the torchlight around them was enough to take in the Wizard’s features. Nothing really stood out – the guy was older, but taller, his shoulder length dark hair seeming white in places. He was also thin, probably due to malnourishment, his clothing little more than rags. “I was the Wizard, and Wanda my apprentice,” Qifarihm said then, attempting to rub his chin despite his metal bracelets. “Yes, I’d somehow forgotten that. Not sure why the memory was blocked, when so many other wishes are known.”

“That wish might have been one of the first,” Simon suggested. “It sounds like maybe whatever artifact is causing this, it corrupted your apprentice.” He frowned. “And Pelinelneth is somehow involved. Based on her reactions, she must be afraid of Wanda, yet also dislike you… so she has something against magic? And she’s been in the castle before, so finding her will be difficult.”

“Well, if you break me out of these,” Qifarihm said, holding up his wrists. “With a key off that keyring, I might be able to locate her for you. Of course, my use of magic will alert others who are sensitive to it.” He shrugged.

Simon nodded, glancing around. It had been at least half an hour, probably more, that they’d been down here undisturbed. It wouldn’t last. “We need to get out of here either way.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE LATE WEDNESDAY JAN 21 EST

Next ->

2.05: Deep Thoughts

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART FIVE: Deep Thoughts

Being a magician, Simon had a fair understanding of the art of misdirection. And while he had lost sight of the elf Pelinelneth, he could still see the guard who had been intent on pursuing her. So he made a point of looking where the guard was not looking, figuring that the silver haired girl would try draw his attention away from her.

The difficulty was, even though the castle courtyard was large, there were still statues, shrubs, and even a few trees that could be used for concealment. Simon had to duck behind a shrub himself when the guard stopped and did a full scan of the area. He only poked his head up when he heard movement again – seeing that the guard had also heard the movement. It was coming from within the leaves of a small tree. The guard marched over and looked up. “Come down out of there!” he declared. The dense leaves merely rustled again.

Simon turned his attention back to where the guard wasn’t looking – and saw a flicker of long silver hair disappearing INTO the castle wall. With the guard still ranting at the tree, he hurried over as fast as he could. Up close, he could see there was a nearly invisible door, still slightly ajar. Beyond it was a staircase leading down into utter darkness. Before heading down, Simon fumbled in his pack, finding the flashlight. He then took the stairs two at a time.

He nearly ran into Pelinelneth at the bottom, as she had stopped, staring ahead into the pitch black. “Pelinelneth!” he hissed.

She had half turned already, and now nearly bolted at the sound, but once she saw it was him, she froze instead. Her eyes widened. “You have a portable light? It doesn’t even flicker!”

“Flashlight,” Simon said. “Also known as a torch.” He smiled. “Not as impressive as you making those tree leaves move.”

Pelinelneth gestured vaguely. “Elves have a certain connection with nature. We can also see better in low light than you.” Her eyes darted down again to the flashlight, and back up. “That said…” She stepped forwards and extended her hand, obviously hoping he would hand the device over.

Jensen Ackles

SIMON (approx)
Source Site

Simon shook his head. “You want it, you’re stuck with me too. Now, you want to tell me why you and Chartreuse didn’t stick to the plan?”

She shrugged. “You were going to fail. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity, and we had the advantage of surprise. Your friend agreed with me.”

A frown tugged at Simon’s features. “Really? Because she seemed rather concerned about leaving you alone in here. For that matter, how did you know about this passageway? It seems well concealed from the outside.”

Pelinelneth opened her mouth, only to close it again. She reached up to tug at one of her ears. “I just did.”

“Then you’ve been in this castle before.”

“No. Yes. No. Shut up.”

Simon quirked up an eyebrow. “You’re not sure?”

“I said shut up.” She turned to look back down into the darkness of the passage.

Standing there in the ensuing silence, it occurred to Simon that perhaps Pelinelneth’s uncertainty was due to the memory block she’d described. She had no memory from before the start of the year – perhaps because she had been in this castle? Could being here previously be the reason her memory had been wiped in the first place? Of course, the elf might simply be lying to him. He was finding it increasingly hard to trust her.

After counting to twenty in his head, with Pelinelneth doing nothing but staring away from him, Simon decided he might as well speak up again. “We need to rescue Chartreuse.”

Pelinelneth sniffed. “She’s a girl. She can take care of herself.”

***

“If you do not answer our questions, we will throw you into the dungeon.”

Chartreuse cleared her throat. “See, here’s the thing,” she said. “The questions I do know how to answer, I either, you know, won’t, or actually it’s more likely you won’t, like, understand my answers. Whereas the questions I do not know how to answer, I obviously can’t. So, you know, there’s not much point asking me anything. You follow?”

The guard stared at her. He’d managed to snatch the frying pan away from the pink haired girl after only a momentary tug of war, and he now had her standing with her hands up, facing the lowered portcullis. He would have to wait for his comrade to return and raise it before bringing her inside. That shouldn’t take too long, but he’d rather hoped to have some answers before then. Which was looking increasingly unlikely. “What is Pelinelneth’s plan?”

“Who’s Pelinelneth?”

“The elf who was with you. She ran inside.”

“See, I still think elves are the short people who work with Santa. Okay, possibly tall people if we’re talking about Buddy from that movie, which, true, tells us we shouldn’t, like, think all short people are elves, but let’s not get into Christmas in the middle of the summer. Okay? Now, what was your question again?”

The guard blinked. “I don’t remember.”

“Then can I have my frying pan back?”

“No.” The portcullis began to rise into the archway. He saw the girl tense, and reached out to grasp her by the shoulder, lest she bolt. “Forget it. You’re going to the dungeon until you learn to talk sense.”

“So your dungeon is like an English class?”

***

“Whether she can take care of herself or not, we’re not leaving her behind,” Simon declared. “Not this time.”

Pelinelneth blinked. “When else did you leave Chartreuse behind?”

“Not Chartreuse. Becky. I had to…” Simon made a gesture of dismissal. “Long story, not relevant to what we’re doing here. Point being, we’re going back for Chartreuse.”

The silver haired elf shook her head. “That would be really, REALLY stupid,” she countered. “Now that I’m in the castle, the place will be going on high alert. We have to locate the artifact while there’s still time!”

“Artifact?”

“Or, you know, whatever’s causing the wishing.”

Simon could tell she was verbally back-pedalling. He knew neither he nor Chartreuse had let on about there being an ‘evil object granting wishes’ – so how had Pelinelneth made that leap? He resolved to follow up. Later.

“Chartreuse could help us do that,” Simon pointed out. “She was able to get some sort of impression from the fountain area before we reached it. Same thing could happen here.”

The elf sighed. “Yeah, I’d much rather SHE be down here with me.” Pelinelneth crossed her arms. “Though I guess SHE’D be insisting on going after YOU!” She peered closer at Simon. “What IS it about you two, clinging to each other this way?”

Simon supposed that a part of it was the fact that they were facing the unknown together. In a world where they weren’t sure who else to trust. What he actually said was, “We’re a team.”

Pelinelneth continued to stare for a moment. “She said that too.” The elf turned away. “Though not like it’d be romance, you’re twice her age.”

“Not quite that old,” Simon began to protest, only to fall silent as the elf reached out and, pressing on a panel, opened another secret door in the wall. He shone the flashlight around the perimeter. “How did you even know that was there?”

The elf girl gave a resigned sigh. “The same way I know that at the end of this long passageway,” and she gestured down the original corridor, “there is someone who can help me. Or possibly destroy me.” Her hand slid down the new door and her gaze fell to the ground. “So I don’t know. And maybe I’m not ready to know yet.”

Simon tried to look at Pelinelneth’s face, but the way her long hair fell, his view now was partly obscured. “So where does this new passage go?”

There was a beat before she responded. “Ultimately? The dungeon. That’s where they’ll be taking your friend.”

***

Chartreuse had vaguely expected a medieval torture chamber. So when the dungeon turned out to merely be a stone cell with a heavy wooden door, she was somewhat relieved. “So, what, you, like, keep me here until I’m shouting ‘I’ll talk, I’ll talk’?” she asked.

The guard shoved her inside the room, making her stumble. “Usually,” he answered. “Except you talk too much. So we’ll only come for you if we don’t learn what we want some other way. ANY other way.”

“Well, that’s a bit–” The door slammed in her face, and she heard the sound of a keyring. “Rude,” she finished.

A chuckle came from behind her. “I’ll be glad of some company, at least.”

The pink haired teen managed to quash her urge to scream, merely turning around and stepping back until she was against the nearest wall, waiting desperately for her eyes to adjust to the low amount of light. She half expected to see a talking dragon, or a hulking man looking like he wanted to molest someone, so again, when it turned out to be a somewhat handsome looking guy wearing shackles, she felt a sense of relief. Still, she kept up her guard.

“Um, you get those bracelets for, you know, good behaviour?”

The man held his arms up. “These? No. They prevent me from doing magic. They’re carved with runes.”

“Ah. That’ll rune your day.”

He advanced on her and attempted to extend a hand, as if to shake. His shackles didn’t prevent the movement outright. “My name’s Qifarihm. I’m the wizard’s apprentice.”

Close up, Chartreuse noticed that he was probably older than Simon, with wisps of white in his darker hair. “I’m Chartreuse. Aren’t you a bit old to be, like, an apprentice?” She reached out a tentative hand to accept the handshake. His grip was surprisingly firm.

“I’ve wondered about that,” Qifarihm admitted. “But then, with the reality rewrites, perhaps I used to be a lot younger.”

The teenager let out a low whistle. “Then you’ve, like, heard about the wishing? Even deep down here?” As his grip relaxed a little, she pulled her hand free.

“Yes. It’s why I was imprisoned.” His brow furrowed. “I think.”

“You think therefore you are?”

Qifarihm smiled. “How very philosophical. No, I mean I think I was involved when this first began – but my memory has been blocked.”

Chartreuse blinked. “Oh! So do you have ANY memories from before this year? Or are you, you know, an underground person too?”

He tilted his head slightly. “I don’t quite follow what you mean. I’m not even sure where in the year we are. I’ve been down here for months. Perhaps even years.”

“Years?” Chartreuse said, eyes widening. Though that would explain the smell.

Qifarihm nodded. “Rather think the palace guards like throwing people in here with me. They hope that, in talking to me, others will lose all hope of escape.”

“OR you’ve been planted down here BY the guards to, like, learn stuff about the underground from me that they otherwise couldn’t,” Chartreuse realized. She narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m not stupid, you know. Granted, kinda unfocussed, but then, aren’t we all, sometimes?”

He managed to lift his hand to rub his chin. “That’s actually a good point. And I can’t think of anything I might say to convince you I’m sincere.” He stepped back. “As such, I’ll just hang back in the corner then, in the hopes you decide to trust me.”

Chartreuse nodded curtly, turning her attention back to the door. She swiftly determined that it was indeed locked, and seemed quite solid. There was a small barred window, which let in very little light, and it was a bit higher than Chartreuse could reach to see out. Listening, she couldn’t hear anyone – though if she was in here with a collaborator, why would they need anyone outside?

She looked back over her shoulder at Qifarihm, who seemed to be drawing little shapes in the air, to no effect. Perhaps Simon’s paranoia had rubbed off on her. Was there any reason NOT to trust this so-called wizard?

The female mystic frowned. They had taken away her frying pan, and her WristWatch device, and the crystals she’d been carrying – except for the one she’d managed to secrete away before they’d frisked her. She searched for it now, pulling it out before walking back to her fellow prisoner. “Here, let me check your aura,” she decided, holding the crystal up. “That will give me some sense of you at least.”

“All right,” he said, a bit bemused.

She circled the crystal around his head, closing her eyes, trying to allow herself to be receptive to any vibes he might be putting out. Almost immediately, she sensed that he meant her no harm. But there was something else there… something that she sensed she might be able to access, if only she could go a little deeper…

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE TUESDAY JAN 13 EST

Next ->

2.04: Pan Handling

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART FOUR: Pan Handling

Simon was going to die. Or at least be seriously hurt. Chartreuse had received that impression from touching his shoulder, not long after Pelinelneth had decided that the magician would be the one to use his hypnosis to get past the castle guards.

Regrettably, she didn’t know any more than that. Impressions weren’t like her visions, they were random flashes she received, usually through touch. Telling him “Don’t do it,” had been her first reaction.

“What? Why?”

“The hypnosis will, like, go badly.” She sometimes hated how she couldn’t articulate her concerns.

“How do you know?”

Chartreuse02

Chartreuse

“I just, you know, do,” Chartreuse said, trying to keep her frustration from bleeding into her tone. “But you could, like, take me on as your magic assistant!” Because staying close to Simon, she could react more easily once she recognized the actual danger.

Simon sighed, pulling free of her grip. “That again? I said I work alone.”

“But you could DIE,” she protested.

“Don’t be silly, I’ll be more careful than I was at the fountain,” he countered. He looked towards the silver haired elf girl. “Pelinelneth, am I liable to die merely for approaching the guards?”

“No way! They generally like hearing about what’s happening in town. Moreover, you’re not on a wanted list or anything. Like I am.” She smiled fleetingly.

Simon looked back to Chartreuse. “Satisfied?”

“No,” the pink haired teenager retorted. She found she was unable to keep the pouty expression off her face. “These feelings, when I get them, are rarely, you know, wrong.”

He sighed. “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. But I’m not accustomed to having an assistant. Let’s just have some breakfast, get changed, and head out. Okay?”

It wasn’t okay, but what else could Chartreuse say about it?

She had at least insisted upon bringing Pelinelneth’s cast iron frying pan along, despite the bizarre looks the others gave her. But she’d seen Rapunzel. She knew what she was doing. Though at present, what she was doing amounted to hiding in the shadow of an alley, a good twenty or thirty paces from the archway and portcullis that barred the way into the castle grounds. The place which Simon was approaching.

Chartreuse looked to the elf. “Why does the castle even have guards? I mean, the palace could, you know, keep that gate with the iron bars down, staying safely locked away.”

Pelinelneth smirked a bit. “First of all, the royalty don’t want to look like they’re distancing themselves, otherwise people will start wishing things against them. Secondly, if there was no external presence at all, we in the underground would have found a way to batter our way inside by now. And finally – this is all an experiment on their part anyway.”

The teenager blinked. “Experiment? What?”

“Well, it has to be, right? Obviously their court magician is running some sort of horrible test on the general populous, demonstrating to the king how granting the wishes of the poor public will destroy society or something.”

The elf girl took a deep breath. “Which is why, for instance, the guards are now giving Simon the benefit of the doubt as he walks up. They want more data. They need the information about how their little experiment is going down in town. And they can’t get it through interrogation alone.” She frowned in irritation as she flicked some strands of silver hair back behind her ear.

Not for the first time, Chartreuse wished Pelinelneth wasn’t so good looking. She couldn’t seem to keep her attention from wandering over the elf’s form when she spoke for long periods of time. Chartreuse bit down on her lip. She wasn’t normally this distractible, was she? No, it was probably something in the water. Or Pelinelneth being an elf. Yes.

That decided, she turned to focus on Simon instead, while lightly spinning the frying pan in her hand. Somehow, she had to keep him out of danger!

***

“I am here to entertain,” Simon said, in answer to the guard’s question. “By what name shall I call you?”

“Nothing,” the guard said. “Why are you really here?”

“Okay, I’ll call you Nothing, while your partner here is Nobody,” Simon declared. He fanned out the cards in his hand. “Now, pick a card, any card.” Doing a few warm up tricks seemed sensible, otherwise the hypnosis might be too obvious.

Nothing exchanged a glance with his partner. Nobody scratched his head. “Gives us something to report,” he remarked.

“Mmm,” Nothing said, more warily. Even so, he chose a card, and then replaced it when asked. By shuffling carefully, Simon was able to deal the cards back out into Nothing’s hands until he got to the one that had been drawn.

“Pretty good,” Nobody yielded. “You wish for magical powers or something, stranger?”

“More like ‘or something’,” Simon answered, to try to keep them guessing. He didn’t recover his cards, figuring it was better that the guard’s hands were full. “Now, check this out. Small red ball in my right hand. Except now it’s in my left hand. Or not there at all. Look, it’s here in my pocket.” As he spoke, he continued to palm the object and misdirect their attention.

“Don’t gawk. He’s got more than one of those,” Nothing the guard said to Nobody.

“I do,” Simon admitted, revealing two balls. “Or possibly none.” They were gone. “But now, here’s something else, keep your eye on this.”

He held up the pocket watch and began to swing it back and forth. “Watch it carefully, don’t let it disappear like the balls, breathe slowly, deeply…” The difficulty was, while he had Nobody’s attention, Nothing was a bit more cynical. And he only had the one pocket watch. And he was an amateur. Could he pull this off?

***

“I’m not sure his trick is, like, working,” Chartreuse worried, trying to keep from fidgeting.

“Even if he fails, we should still be able to make a run for it before the guards can get that gate closed,” Pelinelneth observed.

Chartreuse turned to the elf. “What?” she found herself saying again.

normal_li_bing_bing_00009

Pelinelneth (approx)
SOURCE SITE

“We can run inside while they’re dealing with Simon,” Pelinelneth elaborated. “Arresting him or whatever. Who cares? He’s the more expendable one, right?”

“What??”

“Your Simon was fooled by Sirene, he doesn’t have special powers, he’s not very outgoing, and he seems to take things WAY too seriously. I know that if I, in fact, wished the two of you up, you’re the one I’d want to keep. Hmm?” She winked, and again flicked at the bangs of her hair.

Chartreuse felt a flush in her cheeks, but the effects of the flattery were quickly overridden by concern. “Simon’s not, like, expendable,” she insisted.

Pelinelneth arced an eyebrow. “No? In talking last night, I got the impression you two didn’t know each other that well.”

“True. I only met him yesterday,” Chartreuse admitted. “But that’s not, you know, the point. We’re a team!”

“A team? He doesn’t let you act as an assistant. He even sticks to his whole ‘I’m a man, I don’t need help from girls’ deal when cooking. Probably only sees us as sex objects!”

“I let him cook last night because I don’t, like, do it well.” Chartreuse clutched harder at the pan in her hands. “I-Is this why you picked Simon to handle the guards? Because you don’t, like, care if he’s injured?”

Pelinelneth didn’t answer, simply looking back towards the gateway. Chartreuse now felt extra anxious. “And why didn’t we wait to get more help here? Why not try this trick along with, you know, more of your friends from the underground?”

Another flicker of a smile. “Because they know me too well.”

Chartreuse swallowed hard. “Pelinelneth,” she began softly, not sure what she could say to guide the elf’s moral compass. But that’s all she had time for.

“It’s not working. Come, NOW,” Pelinelneth hissed. She grabbed for Chartreuse’s arm, pulling the girl along for two steps, before breaking out into a sprint for the castle gate.

Chartreuse knew she wasn’t the most physically fit person in the world, but she desperately tried to keep pace. As she ran, she looked ahead at what Simon was doing. He still had his pocket watch out, and one of the guards before him, the one closer to the interior of the archway, seemed to be in a bit of a daze – perhaps the hypnosis HAD worked? But the other guard was reaching out for his companion. He almost made contact, only to spot Pelinelneth sprinting their way. At which point he rushed to get inside the archway. Inside to where, Chartreuse realized, the mechanisms for lowering the portcullis must be. Something clicked in her mind, and she tried to run faster.

***

Simon was now sure he couldn’t get both guards under at once. But he nearly had Nobody, so with a subtle suggestion, he could perhaps get the two of them to play against each other… except now Nothing was pushing past, trying to head inside. “Hey, wait!” he objected, reaching out for the guard’s shoulder. “The show’s not–”

He was shoved back HARD against the archway wall, enough to momentarily knock the breath out of him. Which is when he saw Pelinelneth sprinting madly for the entrance, Chartreuse charging up behind. Had their hiding place been discovered? Were they in trouble? He had to run interference. He charged for Nothing again, grabbing the guard’s arm. “Hey, stop, you can’t, ungh–”

Again he was shoved, and this time with no wall, he stumbled back, off balance with his arms pinwheeling through the air. The guard reached the mechanism for the portcullis, releasing the gate. Simon saw Pelinelneth dash past in a blur of silver hair. He stumbled back another foot – and then with a WHANG, something very hard hit him in the ass, causing him to stumble forwards instead, and fall on the ground. The sensation was almost immediately followed by a clatter, and then the sound of the portcullis spikes crashing into their resting place on the ground.

Simon flipped his body over so that he was sitting face up, throwing his arms back as much for stability as to keep his bottom from completely touching the ground.

He saw Chartreuse, still on the other side of the heavy iron gate, in a very similar position. She was breathing hard, the frying pan on the ground next to her. Simon frowned. “Did you just hit me in the–” He stopped, as he realized how close to the gate Chartreuse was. So close as to have the end of her dress caught beneath one of the spikes. Which meant that a few seconds ago, he must have been…

He swallowed, making a mental note to take the pink-haired girl’s feelings more seriously from now on.

***

She’d managed to save him. She’d even managed to save herself, by allowing the recoil force of her swing to propel herself back onto her own ass – it had seemed more sensible than trusting her tackling abilities. Though it now occurred to her that this put her on the wrong side of the castle gate. The side without Simon and Pelinelneth.

“Simon, go,” she wheezed, reaching out for her frying pan. “Pelin… can’t, like, leave… her alone!”

“But–”

“GO!” Chartreuse repeated forcefully. The guard beside her, who had seemingly emerged from whatever trace he might have been in, now reached out to grab the teenager. She jabbed back at him with her trusty kitchen implement, while looking pointedly at Simon, trying to get across that she could take care of herself. In fact, the other guard, the one who had lowered the gate, had already dashed off after Pelinelneth – and after what sounded like a mumbled apology, Simon gave chase as well.

Chartreuse let out a long breath of relief… then a few more breaths for good measure. She wondered where Simon would end up.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE FRIDAY JAN 9 EST???

Next ->