||[Nov. 11th, 2004|05:25 pm]
The skunk scurried quickly through the forest, muttering profanities as he went, his oil drop eyes scanning for the sorceress that had given him his rodent form.|
“Vesgha!” He called out.
“Come here, I have something I must discuss with you”
As if out of nowhere, the sorceress appeared, her form was even lighter than when the skunk last saw her. He tilted his head to the side, observing her.
“You must kill the other Lander, Irat; it is of great importance, I cannot hold the grasp on this form for much longer”
The skunk sneered, barring his teeth, causing the sorceress to laugh at the antics.
“Irat, you forget yourself, you are no longer the intimidating bitch you once were, you are a rodent now, and will be until that human is KILLED”
The skunk sighed, staring back in the direction he had come.
“I have a problem. The wizard knows something is wrong, he has been commenting that I am not myself, I do not think he trusts me”
The sorceress looked upon the skunk in mock pity.
“Oh, my poor darling Irat, whatever will you do?” she said, mocking the skunk.
“It is not the Magician that you have to make trust you, you fool, it is the other Lander. He does not know the skunk well, so you will have a better chance of building up a relationship with him, and it will be easier for you to lure him away from his lovers, and leave him dead for them both to see”
The skunk smiled slightly, his tail twitching in anticipation, causing him to stop and glare at the extra limb.
“I cannot wait to be back in my own true form, this THING on my rear is getting annoying. I cannot stand this for much longer, and I stink like an omnivore, I had to force myself to eat stinking vegetables earlier, I almost gagged at the taste, I probably would have if skunks were able to regurgitate their unwanted food”
The sorceress simply shook her head.
“You will be free of this body soon enough, and will return to your own form. The quicker you get the other Lander to trust you, the quicker it will happen. But you must get him to trust you first; it will be easier to kill him in your weakened state if he is not expecting it. For now, you will have to use brains rather than brute strength to do what you have to, you do not have sharp teeth and strong jaws to rend flesh anymore”
The skunk attempted a growl, the noise sounding a lot more like a snort, at the comment.
“How on earth do you expect me to kill something twice my size with no natural weapons? I am used to being a hunter, not prey!”
The sorceress shrugged.
“That is something you will have to figure out on your own, I suppose, and it isn’t as if you haven’t killed the man, or someone exactly like him before. You know how he fights and you know his weaknesses. I suggest you find yourself an easily concealable knife or something along those lines”
The skunk smiled, showing tiny needle-like teeth as he did so.
“You know, My Lady that might just work. All I really have to do is get the other Lander alone, and I will be set, you will have your miserable magicians, and your physical form, and I will have my pack restored to its true glory, that impure cur will be ripped of his title, and my brother will take his rightful place as alpha dog”
“But you must kill the other Lander FIRST” the sorceress reminded.
“I will start befriending the man in the morning” the skunk said, his ear twitching thoughtfully.
“Perhaps I will be able to find some kind of weapon in the cottage that I could use to do what I must, something small, a dagger, I think, will do nicely, or perhaps a straight razor, they are deadly and sharp, it would all be over so quickly too, and I could get on with my life as a dog once more. I shall go now, and prepare, you will have your physical form soon, My Lady, you know you can count on me”
The skunk turned then, moving quickly and with supreme agility out of the forest and into the valley below, the sorceress watching him leave.
“I think perhaps, I shall feed off your unhappiness while I am waiting, it would do me no good to become too weak to turn you back, after all”
She laughed then, muttering something under her breath and closing her eyes as the power of the animal’s misery began to seep into her, causing her to glow faintly before the light ebbed out.
The sorceress sighed.
“Nowhere near as good as the magician’s sadness, but I do not really have a choice I suppose. It will do until I can get him back, I suppose”
She sat then, staring out at the valley, feeling the ground beneath her for the first time in many years as her form started to become slightly more solid. Soon, she thought, she would be able to actually grasp things and manipulate objects again, and with that, would come a whole new type of magic to control. She smiled to herself, content for the moment to just feel the power flowing through her as she contemplated life, and what life would be like once she was whole again, what she would do to her son to make him pay for turning on him as he did.
“You just wait, Belris” she said softly to the darkening sky.
“When I get through with you, you will wish that I had never birthed you in the first place. I will kill everything you love, take away everything that you have ever cared about and I will leave you alone to rot in this valley all on your own”
Irat did not sleep that night, rather, the skunk sat quietly in the main room of the little stone cottage, staring out into the darkness and contemplating what he would do to make Erik trust him enough that he could get into such a position to end the man’s life. He stayed there, unmoving until the first hesitant rays of light peered over the mountains and started to climb through the windows into the still silent house.
It was not long before the first sounds of the tiger-fox, Timaz were heard as he went about his business, and after a while the little striped mammal made his way into the main room, nodding at the skunk as he walked past, busying himself with making breakfast.
It was not until the humans came down rubbing their eyes, yawning and looking all together quite ruffled that the skunk began to really take notice of things around him.
He moved toward the breakfast table, a smile on his face as he engaged in friendly conversation with the men, listening intently to what they had to say.
“You seem more yourself today, Arath” Itel commented after a while, before almost choking on his eggs.
The little skunk stood, thumping him on the back with a paw until he released an almighty belch, startling the little fox, who was busy frying bacon in a pan.
“You humans have no manners” Timaz said, his tone light, before moving over to the table and piling up the crunchy meat on everybody’s plates.
Itel had the courtesy to look apologetic before attacking his food with increased vigour, stuffing as much into his face as he could without looking too much like a pig.
The skunk regarded him a moment before speaking, a mischievous grin on his face as he did so.
“Did you work up an appetite last night, my friend? You seem to be awfully hungry all of a sudden”
The man froze, his mouth open wide, a piece of bacon stuck to his fork which was lifted halfway to the gaping maw.
“I can’t believe you just said that, you wicked, wicked skunk. But if you MUST know, yes, I did work up quite an appetite, thanks to these two charming men”
The skunk laughed, eyeing the two men who were doing their best to look anywhere but at the small mammal.
“Why, Erik” he said lightly.
“I do believe you are blushing, and what a lovely shade of red your skin goes when you do…in fact, I believe the embarrassment is radiating off you and making you glow”
Belris laughed then, his eyes crinkling into half moons as he, too studied his lover, who was trying to sink under the table.
“I do believe you are right Arath” he said.
“And isn’t he just so pretty when he glows? I have never seen him turn this colour before, though; I think it is the most attractive so far, what do you think Itel?”
“I think we should stop tormenting the poor man before he gets too embarrassed and explodes all over the breakfast table. I don’t like the idea of having to clean up a mess like that”
Erik mock glared at them all, his eyes narrowed to tiny slits.
“Again with the exploding! I am beginning to believe that perhaps it IS possible to explode if you can’t control your magic and you two are trying to keep it from me or something”
Belris tilted his head, shooting Erik a disarming grin.
“Would we do something like that, precious?”
Erik scowled at him, before turning his attention back to his food.
“You most certainly would, and you know it”
Belris laughed at that.
“You are probably right, but I assure you, you won’t explode, and once you have learned to grasp your magic ability, you will not have to worry about glowing anymore, you are just so full of power that you glow to release some of it, I think, like a vent. It is probably quite healthy, and you should be worried if you STOP glowing, because then maybe you WILL explode, as your magic has no way to release itself, now finish your breakfast, we have things to do today” he said quietly, before tucking into his own half-eaten plate of food.
The rest of the meal was finished in relative quiet, and, once they were all finished a commanded word from Erik had not only the dishes done, but everyone clean, dressed and ready for the day ahead.
The five companions made their way outside, the day had dawned bright and warm, which lightened the spirits of the three men considerably. The fox and the skunk held back as they watched the three humans frolic around the fields playing and shouting at one another as they did so.
The fox shook his head, his ears flicked forward as he watched them, the skunk remaining quiet and withdrawn.
“You would think they were still little boys, wouldn’t you, acting foolish like that. I guess that’s what happens when one falls in love.”
“Hmm, yes, I suppose so” the skunk replied, watching the humans with no real interest.
The fox sighed, waving his paw in the air and yipping loudly to get the attention of the humans, who all filed back to him, sheepish grins plastered on their faces.
“Now is not the time to play” the fox said sternly, eyeing each one of them in turn, pinning them with his gaze.
“You were going to give Erik Kitsam’s memories, not bounce around in the paddocks flattening the grass, now lets move back up to the clearing where you first took Erik to practise his magic, there is a decent path up there, and if anything happens it will not startle the other half breeds. I will remain here; I have some business to attend to”
The skunk looked from the men to the fox, and nodded once, before moving to stand beside Erik.
“With this whole memory thing, will he get the memories back all at once, or in bits and pieces?” he asked.
Belris shrugged a small smile on his face.
“I really don’t know” he replied.
“I have never had to actually perform the spell before, so I don’t know how, or even if it WILL work”
“I hope it does work, I really want to know what this other ‘me’ knew, even if they are not truly my own memories, I want to know if I loved Itel as much as I love him now. I NEED to know that”
Itel smiled then, a bright, sunshine smile that lit up the entire area.
“You love me?” he asked.
“In such a short time, you love me already?”
Belris and Erik both nodded.
“How could I not?” Erik replied, moving to embrace the other man.
“You love me so passionately, so completely, how could I not love you for that, if not for anything else”
Belris moved towards the two men then, wrapping his wings around them and holding them close.
“I love you both, too” he said softly.
“I think, perhaps that this was the way things were meant to be, the three of us together, two of us would not be quite whole, we draw our strength from each other, and can support each other much more as a group rather than a pair, and it feels right, doesn’t it? I think, perhaps, this is fate”
Itel sighed, his face sad for a moment.
“I don’t know whether this makes us stronger or weaker, because I know, I would not want to live without both of you by my side now, if one of you were to leave, or were to be…killed, I do not think I could bear it”
Belris held him tighter then, placing a soft kiss on the top of his head.
“But if one of us were to go, you would have the other to support you, to help you through it, and all would be well, with time, the disaster that befell you last time would not happen again, because you would have the love and support you needed to go on. This is what makes me think that we were meant to all find each other, Itel, don’t you see?”
Itel thought about that a moment, absently stroking the soft feathers of Belris’ wing as he did so, making the man twitch slightly at the tickling sensation.
“Yes, I think I do see what you mean, Belris, I think, perhaps, if you were there for me when Kitsam….well, when what happened to Kitsam happened, that maybe things would have been better, maybe the whole situation with the salt would have never happened, and perhaps, things would have been a lot different to the way they are now, many creatures that are no longer would still be with us, and I know it is selfish of me to say it, but I am glad it happened this way, I am glad you brought Erik from wherever he came from, I am glad he is here with us now”
The skunk cleared his throat, causing the three men to turn to face him. He smiled briefly before speaking.
“I hate to break this up, but, I think, perhaps, we should get going, and get this done, I mean, the quicker the better, don’t you think?”
The three men agreed, and continued their trek up the mountain path, chatting quietly amongst themselves as they did so.
When they finally reached the top, they sat a while to catch their breath, the path, though relatively clear, with useful railings along the side, was still steep, and it took a lot out of them to walk uphill for as long as they had. Belris smiled at the two men, as he watched them, and without any warning, stood, launching himself into the air with a few powerful strokes of his massive wings, and, airborne, flew himself all the way back down the mountain, leaving Erik, Itel and Arath to contemplate exactly what he was doing.
It was not long before the winged man returned, swooping magnificently down and landing on his backside, looking sheepish, a large basket in his lap.
“I um, sort of forgot a few important things in the hurry to get up here” he explained, putting the basket down beside him and standing up, brushing the dirt and the few leaves that clung to him, off his pants.
“Now, I think we should probably get this thing done, and then we can all have lunch, which Timaz has so nicely prepared for us all”
Erik smiled, eyeing the basket of food greedily.
“Why don’t we eat now, and do whatever it is you are going to do after?” he asked, snatching at the basket, which Belris quickly put out of reach.
“Well, first of all, because you only just had breakfast, and second of all, because I don’t know exactly how this is going to effect you, and I would rather you be doing this on an empty stomach if it is going to make you feel ill”
Erik nodded, looking at the basket longingly, and pouting just a little.
“Will it take long?” he asked.
“I am kind of hungry again”
“You are always hungry, aren’t you? For one thing or another”
“So what if I am? Actually, I don’t think I am really hungry, I think I just need to be doing something, otherwise I get bored, do you know what I mean?”
“Yes, I understand what you mean, I think I will try to keep you occupied in one way or another from now on, it might make life a little easier. This shouldn’t take long, and then you can do whatever you like once it has been done, now don’t go anywhere, I have to set a couple of things up, I cannot do magic without crystals anymore, most of mine was taken when my mother was vanquished, I do have enough to perform this though, with a little help from these” He produced four beautifully sculpted gems, each about the size of a fist, which were crafted into four different animal shapes.
Erik stared at them, awed by their beauty.
“Can I touch them?” he asked, his eyes wide as Belris tossed them, to him carefully, one by one and he inspected them, marvelling at the detail that had gone into each before carefully handing them back to the winged man.
Belris smiled softly, winking at Erik before he spoke.
“Okay, now, I want you right over here, Erik, sit on the ground in front of me, and stay as still as you can, try not to distract me if you can help it, I am going to place these four crystals around you, and then I will begin”
Erik nodded as he moved to where Belris wanted him, Itel and Arath moving out of the way to watch with interest as Belris went about his business, placing stones here and there and chanting in a low voice as he did so. All four creatures were surprised to see the stones begin to glow, and were even more surprised when they began to move.
The crystal in front of Erik, which was shaped like a horse, tossed its head, trotting on the spot, the one behind him, a bird, flapped its wings before settling down to preen it’s feathers, the other two, an otter and a racoon stood where they were, tilting their heads and cleaning themselves, regarding him with curious eyes.
Erik remained as still as he could throughout the process, staring at the miniature horse figurine in front of him, as it pranced and showed off on the spot, its head bowed regally into its chest as it high stepped, and then, it was motionless, a blinding light shooting from it and engulfing him. He was vaguely aware that the other three were doing the same thing, and then the memories came. Memories of a young boy, running to a lady that looked exactly like his mother, but was not, memories of a man that looked like his father did, memories of children he had known as he was growing up, past lovers, friends, all the same, but entirely different, and then the memories of Itel appeared, images of him sneaking away from the human village to the castle for a few stolen moments with the man, of sneaking out again before first light, memories of how Itel had held him when his mother had died, how he had discovered he was more powerful even than the magician he had grown to love, memories of training, of being unable to grasp his magic power, of almost destroying Itel in the process, memories of a vow he made to himself never to practise again after that. Images of Itel trying to get him to use his talent, and then the acceptance that the accident had scared him so deeply that he would not. All this came to him in a matter of moments, and eventually, the final, most terrifying image came to him, the image of his own death at the jaws of a large red and rust Doberman bitch.
The whole experience would have lasted about three heartbeats, but it was so exhausting that when he finally came out of it, he collapsed, exhausted on the soft earth below him, panting heavily.
Belris and Itel moved toward him, Itel helping him sit up and letting him lean against him while Belris crouched in front of him, clicking his fingers to get his attention.
“Hey, buddy, come on, don’t pass out on us, look here, look here, atta boy.” He said, as Erik finally focussed on him.
“Don’t ever do that again” Erik said groggily.
“God my head hurts, oh, yeah, and it worked by the way” He moved to stand, failing miserably and resting his head against Itel, who stroked his hair, whispering soothing words to him.
Belris smiled kindly, plopping down beside the two men, and grasping Erik’s hand in his own.
“Are you okay now?” he asked softly, his eyes searching Erik’s as he did so.
“I think so” He replied.
“It was just a bit of a shock, you know, so many memories, most of them of people who look and act very similarly to their counterparts in the real world, in fact, the only people I cannot place are you two…even some of the animals are familiar, but are in their more simple forms in the world that I came from, and everybody’s name differs, it is strange. And Itel, I am NOT Kitsam, as you thought I might be, but I now know who murdered him”
Itel sighed, wrapping his arms protectively around Erik.
“I think, deep down I knew that to be true, but tell me, do you recognise who it was that killed him?”
Erik shook his head.
“Yes and no” he said.
“I recognise her as a dog I worked with in an animal shelter once, she bit me rather hard on the leg, but here, no, I don’t know her, she is a Doberman, and she walks on her hind legs like Timaz and Arath do, her ears are cropped and her tail is docked, and she is not black, but red. Do any of you know her?”
Arath shook his head, moving to sit by the three men.
“I do not know of her, or of any Dobermans in this area, but then, I am not exactly friendly with dogs, as I would be considered a tasty snack to their packs”
Erik laughed weakly.
“It seems like I…or rather, Kitsam was sort of the same deal, but the thing that doesn’t make sense is, this dog seemed to seek me out from everyone else, she seemed to be hunting me, she lured me out, stalked me, herded me away from anywhere where someone familiar would find me, and only then did she kill me. I could probably take you to Kitsam’s remains if it is your custom to bury and remember your dead in such a way.”
“If you could, please, I think, perhaps it will give me some kind of closure if I have a chance to say goodbye to him, if you know what I mean, but for right now, I think you need to rest and have something to eat, we can deal with everything tomorrow when you are feeling better.”
Belris nodded his agreement, wandering off and returning with the basket of food, they ate quietly, the winged man and the magician watching Erik carefully for any signs that he was getting better or worse, and, once they were confident that it was, indeed, just a shock and that he was over it, all four of them made their way slowly down the mountain path and back to the little cottage surrounded by the intimidating stone wall.