A Wylde Tale by T. J. Schaaf and Cal Westray
Chapter 8: Now You See Him...
“And what work would that be?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but it sounded important didn’t it?” He said with satisfaction.
“Yeah, can I go back to sleep? I’m kind of tired.”
“By all means do, you need your strength.”
And with that, I went back to sleep. I hadn’t slept in a long while, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.
As she awoke, she was greeted by a pair of boots next to her head. As she looked up, she discovered that they were attached to a body wrapped in an old cloth. She could not make out the face very well, for it was still dark.
“Arise dark-heart,” he said in an almost whisper of a voice.
“Fear not, I mean you no harm old one,” she said to reassure the figure.
“There are very few things I fear! And as for harm, dark-heart, you are alive at my will!” He shouted.
“I apologize,” she said nearly biting her tongue, “I meant no offense.”
“I care not what you meant! I only care about what you want. You cried out in weakness for sanctuary, why?”
“Because, I no longer know who I follow: my heart, or my maker.”
“You have no heart, and your maker makes nothing, he only destroys! You chose your dark path over light once, why not do it again?”
“Do I know you?”
“No, but neither did you know my family when you slaughtered them.”
“I do not recall such an event. And this is the first time I have encountered one of your kind.”
“Evil killed my family, you are and follow evil. You killed my family.”
“Fine then, kill me! I am of no use to anyone at this point! Death would be a release from my torture!”
“Then you shall not have release by my hands. Why have you come?”
“I am torn between two worlds. I have never felt this way before.”
“Oh, but you have. Do not remember your first step into the heart of darkness?”
“I do. But this is different. I had a reason then, I do not know why I feel so this time.”
“Your only reason before was your own weakness. You did not trust, and now you may be condemned for that. If you have questioned your path, than that means there must be something else worth considering. What is it?”
“A man. No, a boy. I believe he wields much power. And he may be the key to my destruction. And yet, his pureness has touched my heart. I don’t know what this is.”
“Perhaps you see in him what you lack. I mean that not as an insult, but as a fact. Why did you not kill him when you had the chance?”
“But how do you...”
“I know many things, I see many things. We were all saddened when you left us.”
“Yes, I know who you are. Many people know who you are. Are you one of those people?”
“I don’t know anymore.”
“You trust neither your dark side or light side. That is why you feel this way. Until you find who you are, you are nobody. I will help you find out who you are. But you will be asked to sacrifice a great deal.”
“Why? Why will you help me when you hate me so much?”
“Because as you are now, you are more dangerous then any evil we have ever seen. You know what your destiny was. That is why you ran, wasn’t it? Do not answer, it’s for only you to know.”
“Fine, what must I sacrifice?”
I awoke once again, this time at my own will. After what seemed like a useless conversation, I found out that the bird was sent to guide me. To give me advice so it seems. I was under the impression he was there to confuse me. After getting my things together and dousing the fire, I headed back to what was left of the village. And not alone might I add. I returned to find everything I had said done, and almost to perfection.
It was as if a black shroud had been thrown over them. They had nothing left. The only reason they had come this far, was for revenge. When you have nothing good left to fight for, revenge is a suitable substitute.
And so, I began to prepare. I made good stakes and torches. We refitted the fort as much as possible, and I gave the people a crash course in slaying vampires. I had no idea if we were going to live or die. Either way, something would happen. I did have a brainstorm though. I took a coconut and eventually mounted stakes in/on it so it was like a spiked ball. I figured with my telekinesis, it might come in very handy. At that point, I had everyone pitch in to make the best, and maybe last, dinner they had ever had. For tonight we ate like kings, because tomorrow we might be dead men.
“If you wish to find yourself, you must first learn to follow your heart.”
“You must listen to it. What does it tell you to do? What has it told you to do in the past? These are questions you need to ask yourself and think greatly about. Your very first step determines the road you take. You are once again at a crossroads. You must take your first step. You wouldn’t be here if your heart was completely tainted. That means there is a chance you can be redeemed. But you must first want to. I will leave you now. I will return tomorrow at dusk. You have tonight to decide what to do. Remember, there is no one answer to your problems. Which one is more correct you will have to decide for yourself.”
With that, he almost seemed to float backwards and disappear into the trees. And so, she began to think. What to do, what to do....
Everyone watched as the sun fell and began to pass sentence. What it would decide, only a few knew. And so it fell. They gathered their weapons and formed a circle near the entrance to the fort. After what seemed an eternity, actually twenty-five minutes by T.J.’s Indiglow watch, they heard footsteps. Slowly, the leaves at the forest’s edge parted and her face poked through. He knew she would return. Just as she had stepped through the layer of trees and leaves, she screamed something. It was as if time itself had slowed to a crawl.
She lunged forward and screamed, “Look out!”
T.J. had barely turned his head when he saw them, scores of vampires pouring out of the forest. They slowly formed a circle around the camp. They paced like lions preparing to pounce on their prey. Then, a portion of the circle separated, and he stepped through. He slowly came into the light of the torches, and everyone who saw him knew that their fates were sealed. He was a nearly twelve foot tall
behemoth clad in what looked almost like black scales. His face was contorted and his skin seemed to be partially melted off. He had four giant claws on each hand instead of fingers. His legs and arms were like
the trunks of trees. Thorns protruded from his skin, where he had it. Metal bands and chains seemed to hold him together in places. The heads and other parts of his victims hung around his neck and belt. His eyes glowed with a red like never seen before. Two horns similar to those or a ram reached out of his skull and twisted around. And as he opened his mouth to speak, tentacles crawled out and around his mouth.
“You are mine,” is all he said.
T.J. looked over to the girl only to see her bent over clutching her head and crying. She had condemned them all was all he could think. What he once loved, and now hated without even knowing the name of she who condemned them all to death... or worse.
“Thank you, my dear,” the dark figure spoke as he too turned his head toward the girl. “It’s time to feast my children! Torture them all to death, and string the up in the trees. Let this world see that I have arrived. And let the boy watch. And as for you my dear,” he said glaring at the girl. “I shall make sure you never think twice again.”
With that, the once ready to fight army was pulled away from their savior, and were tortured in front of his eyes. The dark one came closer and spoke once more. “I don’t know who you are, or where you came from. I have been watching you, though. You came to power very quickly, and now I shall show you how little you have. The servant took your eye, now the master shall take your soul. But first, watch as those whose lives you hold so dear have the life sucked out of them. You are nothing! You have no power! You can do nothing! You are trapped! You are young! You are weak! But I can end this. I can set you free. I can even give you real power. All you need to do is accept my gift. Accept my power. Accept it and this ends.”
And so, T.J. raised his head, look into the eyes of that which was about to destroy him, and said nothing.
“So be it. Then prepare to die as you watch all these pathetic creatures come to an end.” One by one, the vampires sucked the life from the powerless. Tortured them in ways that would not be appropriate for the author to write, and took a piece of T.J.’s soul with each death.
“You have the power to end this,” the girl moaned from the shadows. “You must protect yourself, you are the key. You couldn’t protect your people, you can’t protect yourself. No one can protect you now.”
Protection! T.J. thought. Of course. With the little strength that he had left, T.J. screamed out in his mind the name of the one thing that might be able to help him.
I am in a dark office with artwork covering most of the walls. At the desk is a hunchbacked figure. I look closely at his face. There is the slightest trace of madness or is it just eccentricity? I also notice a slight family resemblance. We talk about something, I can see his lips move but I only hear snippets of the conversation.
He says. “The trick to teleporting, is knowing how not to teleport.” More conversation. “You are trying to keep from teleporting? Well, stop it!” Without warning, he strikes me in the face and the scenery changes.
I find myself in a dark chamber. I face a glowing blue grand design on the floor that nearly encompasses the entire chamber. A group of six people enter behind me from a heavy oaken door. The sole adult female is the auburn haired beauty I remember from the dreams. The others? A teenage girl in a skirt and black leather jacket. She is with a tallish man with a long brown overcoat, long colorful scarf, and brown hat that partially covers long curly brown hair. His blue eyes convey an uncommon intelligence.
Only the other three men appear to have a family resemblance. One wears a long dark robe and a large billowy hat. He has long dark brown hair and dark eyes. The other two look very similar to each other with black hair and dark eyes. One has a beard that curls around the edges and looks older and is dressed like a nobleman. The younger one wears attire like my original suit. They all seem to have come from different times and places. These last two step on the design and walk the pathway, one after the other.
Blue flames climb up their legs and eventually cover them, but it doesn’t devour them. They reach the center and vanish.
The one in the robe hands me a Tarot card. I look at the portrait. It seems to come alive as I look into it. A rainbow portal appears and I reach into it. I pull and the subject of the portrait steps through it. He wears red, orange, and brown attire; carrying himself with an air of authority. He points to the blue design and seems angry that the two men have left. He talks with the others.
The auburn haired beauty steps to my side and takes my arm. The scenery fades again and we appear in a vast dining room. Rows of tables, dozens of serving people, and a banquet of food is brought in. I walk to the head table and sit on the far right side. Others appear at the head table. The other tables are already filled with people, but it’s apparent to me that our table is reserved for family and close friends. Those I saw by the design soon join us.
I look at the food that is before me and reach for the cup of tea. Before I reach it, the scenery fades again. I appear in a restaurant that is ornately designed and designed for atmosphere and privacy in dining. I look at the sign on the wall. “The Richoux.” That sounds familiar, a place I have been to many times for tea and dinner. My companion and I are seated and tea is brought to us. I reach for it and I receive a shock...
“What?” I am awake and alert. In my bed!
“Wylde! Tell me what you remember. Now! While it’s still fresh in your mind.”
I see the face of the auburn haired beauty in Cassandra. “Cassandra, I thought you were with me.” I describe the dream. “Cassandra, I think I was able to teleport!”
“Get dressed. Quickly! I want to try something.”
I get dressed. “Ready.”
“Remember the details of your dream. Remember the design on the floor that the two men walked. Mentally imagine walking it yourself and tell me when you reach the center.”
I mentally see the design before me and step upon it. I walk every line, turn, and bend. Carefully I follow every tracing, like it’s part of my very being. I reach the center. “I am there.”
“Now, visualize the grove in Dragon’s Peak and step forward.”
“Very well.” I visualize the grove, the ring of stones, the plants, and other details. I step forward and the room fades, replaced with the grove. I turn around. I am in the grove and Cassandra joins me in seconds, seeming to step through from thin air. “Cassandra, I did it! Just like you did, it was incredible!”
“It was impressive! The style of magic you used was not powered by ley lines, but by something else. Probably it was powered by whatever that pattern was that you saw in your dreams.”
“Pattern! Yes, that’s what it’s called. I remember that now, I have walked it before. But... that’s all I remember. I walk it and I disappear, reappearing somewhere else. Just like in the dream, but I was also able to teleport without walking it.”
“Let’s see. Don’t visualize the Pattern. Visualize the room in your wagon and step through.”
“OK.” I visualize my room in every detail. Even the way the blankets looked when I pushed them aside. I take a step forward and the grove fades and I appear in my room. “Well, I’ll be...”
“You probably are.” She smiles. “But I am pleased with the results. This is much more than I expected. Now, get back to bed.”
I didn’t feel like sleeping, but I didn’t argue and I get into bed. I plan to practice this new talent and perfect it. Also, I need to memorize the details of strategic places I can teleport to. I feel much better about facing this fire warlock. Maybe I will remember more each day. To dream of places, people, things, and powers. I have much to do, but it can wait. I quickly fall asleep.
Morning. I have a lot to think about. I remembered nothing more about my dreams. One thing I am sure of is that Cassandra is not the auburn haired beauty. The resemblance is uncanny, but it’s not her. It doesn’t change anything. She is already gone before I got up. I fix some breakfast and head out.
I am early for the meeting with the officers but I first stop by Colonel Wynne’s office. I salute. “Colonel, I will be missing a few meetings. Someone can brief me on any important points tonight.”
“Why, Wylde? We need every idea we can get.” He looks disappointed.
“I am working on the problem. But I need time to test my ideas. I don’t want to risk anyone until I try some things first.”
“Try what things?” He looks dubious.
I have an idea. “Have you had your coffee yet?”
“Yes, but I’m sure I could use some more.”
“How do you like it?” I smile.
“Very well. Wait here, please. Don’t move.” I visualize the meeting hall break room. I take a step and I appear into the break room. No one here. Good. I pour a cup of coffee and visualize the Colonel’s office and take a step. I appear in front of him. “I hope you like it hot.” I hand it to him.
“What?” He is definitely stunned by what he witnessed. “You just faded out and back. How?”
“I have been learning spells from Cassandra and I discovered some abilities I had before. Teleporting is one of them. Colonel, I intend to face the fire wizard. It will take time to learn more spells and plan a strategy. I don’t want anyone else knowing there may be two mages, yet. Tell the others, I am doing reconnaissance work or something. I just need time. Something we are running out of. I need to ride to areas outside of Talladale and familiarize myself with important strategic positions between here and the invading army. I also need to learn how much I can teleport at a time.”
“I understand. That’s a valuable trick you have, even more so if you can move supplies or troops. Blast! It’s hard to believe having a mage in my command. Usually mages lead armies. You don’t intend to take command?” He looks puzzled.
I laugh. “No sir. I wouldn’t dream of it. I am an undercover man, not a commander. Talladale and Dumayn needs you. Besides, having a few tricks doesn’t make someone a leader. It’s something I hope to teach the fire wizard.”
The Colonel laughs. “I would like to see that. Very well, you are on a special fact-finding assignment.”
“Do you have a spare map? It would help with my field work.”
“Certainly. Do you need any men to assist you?”
“No sir, not yet.
“Oh yes, the Armagh Valley. Good place to start. Here’s the map.” He slaps my shoulder. “Just let me know what your plan will be. I hate surprises.”
“Not all surprises, I hope.” I salute.
“Most surprises. Good luck, Major.” He returns my salute.
I leave Colonel Wynne’s office and return to my wagon. After reviewing the details of Armagh Valley, I pocket the map. I decide to visit Madame Moonscrye before leaving. I find her in her wagon reading Tarot cards.
“Good morning, gifan suni.” She has a look of pain in her eyes.
“Good morning, Madame. Anything significant in the cards?”
“There is evil loose on the land, it will spread here. But there is good to face it.”
“Who will win?”
“The answer is uncertain. Events are yet to unfold, they may move in our favor.”
“I have been learning new spells from Cassandra. She has also opened my mind to some memories and abilities that were lost to me.”
“That is fortuitous news indeed. What abilities do you possess?”
“I can teleport again. I can sense magic and wards. I can access ley lines.”
“Good news indeed, gifan magi. It has a nice sound to it, don’t you think?”
“Not a mage yet, Moonscrye. I have much to learn, but there is little time.”
“Less time than you know. You should learn more now instead of going sightseeing in the woods.”
“How did you know? Never mind. That bad?”
“I wouldn’t pry if I didn’t think it was necessary.”
“I appreciate your concern.”
“The boy you are searching for. Do you have the picture of him?”
“May I borrow it?”
“Certainly.” I hand it to her.
“I want to do some scrying. If he is around, I will find him.” She puts away her Tarot cards and takes out a crystal ball. “Go learn more spells, gifan magi. May the goddess guide you.”
“Thank you, misler.” I visualize the grove and step through.
I see Cassandra tapping into the nexus. She pauses, sensing my presence. “Good morning, Wylde. I will be done soon.”
“Take your time, Cassandra.”
A moment later, she withdraws her contact with the nexus. She stretches with a yawn. “I feel much better. Thank you for being patient. What is on your mind?”
“I haven’t had the chance to thank you for last night. It means a lot to gain even a few memories and talents.”
“My pleasure. But there is something else on your mind.”
“Indeed.” I discussed my conversation with Madame Moonscrye. “She was insistent that I learn more spells and that we are running out of time.”
“Time. An eternal problem. People are always try to find ways to gain more time or do more with the little time they have. It’s surprising what you can do with very little time.”
“Enlighten me, please.” I smile, humoring her.
A small bird flies off from one of the circle’s stones. Cassandra waves a finger at it. “Hold!” It’s held, just feet away from the stone. It appears that time stopped around the bird, still aloft but caught in a web of frozen time. She walks over to it. “The effect is brief, giving you enough time to fight or flee. It works best if the subject is distracted.” She reaches out to touch it. When her finger reaches it, time resumes and the bird flies off. “Any interaction with the object trapped, breaks the spell.”
“Very nice. Defensive spells are quite valuable. Do you have time to teach me a few spells?”
“Of course. Let’s first perfect this spell and then we will do others.”
Madame Moonscrye focused her talents on seeking T.J. After hours with little success, but enough leads to continue her search, she reaches something. The mental energy that is channeled through the crystal ball catches her fully. Frustration, pain, treachery, sorrow, and more. He calls out for help.
She sees the scene develop around him. It’s night where he is and a large dark figure looms over T.J. with malice and evil. A girl is sobbing nearby. T.J. is about to surrender consciousness. Carnage is all around him and vampires feast upon the newly dead of the small village. Moonscrye screams at the horror.
Her mind, is amplified by the mental energies expended by T.J. and the crystal ball, she calls out. “Gifan magi! To me!”
I learn a few more spells. Cassandra teaches me how to create spells of my own design. All it takes is imagination and the technique to link the concept and steps to utilize the ley line energies. I can now learn any spell I need - if there is enough time to prepare it. The most valuable lesson I have learned so far.
I practice the creation of a light spell I designed. It’s not entirely ready yet. It’s at that moment, that I hear the call from Madame Moonscrye in my mind. [Gifan magi! To me!]
“Cassandra, Moonscrye is calling me. Something is wrong! I will be back.”
“Before you go, wear this.” She puts a necklace around my neck. “Now go!”
I visualize Madame Moonscrye’s wagon and step through. She is sitting before her crystal ball in pain.
“Gifan magi, see this image and go!”
I see the image in my mind. Disgust at such creatures build in my mind, as I step through.