Monday, October 16, 2017
How about a Snippet from Coven Codex? Check this one out.
Snippet # 04
It was more than she could bear to stay one minute longer in the library. The talk with the seer had been overwhelming. There was so much to think about and so much to evaluate that Zhanna could not think of anything at all.
The pressure to do something, anything at all, was driving her to MOVE. The young witch was not ready to think in such a long-term perspective or about assuming such horrendous responsibilities.
Zhanna desperately wanted to go back to being a child right now. No responsibilities, Baba telling her everything she needed to know. She had never realized what a horrible weight knowing the future could put on someone. In this very isolated case, she thought ignorance might be bliss.
<< Are you done wallowing yet? There’s only so long that you can flop around in the depths of despair and feel sorry for yourself. At some point, you have to decide to get up out of that pit and go on. >>
<< Dascha! That is not fair! What she told me was scary and horrible. What if I do the wrong thing? >>
<< Well… That’s why you have friends and a familiar. We provide additional information. We keep you company in your journey. And we also apply appropriate slashes of our claws when you feel sorry for yourself. >>
<< Ouch! That hurts! >>
<< Duh!?! >>
Limping slightly, Zhanna quickly caught up to Mikhail. If he thought anything unusual about the fact that she had acquired a limp in the last few minutes, he was smart enough not to make a comment. Zhanna kept pace with him for about half a block, before asking him, “Exactly where are we going?”
“We are headed toward the building that I told you about. The one that I scouted earlier. It appears to be a reinforced building that has very controlled access. There are strange signs at the entrances to the building, and I was hoping you could tell me what they say.”
“Whoa, why are they strange or what makes you think they are strange?”
“I guess you’re just going to have to see them and make your own decision.”
The building the Mikhail wanted to visit was about two kilometers away from the library. He and Zhanna walked in companionable silence, with Dascha ranging in front of them to act as a scout part of the time and taking off whenever something of interest caught her attention.
Occasionally, Dascha would come back and drop something in front of Zhanna for the witch’s examination. On one of her exploration loops, the item that she dropped in front of Dascha clinked as it hit the ground. Both Zhanna and Mikhail came to a dead stop, crowding together closely as they bent over to examine Dascha’s find.
The object was obviously metal, but of a substance that Zhanna could not immediately recognize. It was shaped like an open “C” with a metal band extending at right angles to it terminating in another open “C.” The second open curve was smaller than the first.
The entire surface of the metal was covered in patterns that confused the eye. Staring at it left Zhanna with the impression that the carvings were moving ceaselessly and that they were repeating some form of a pattern.
“Mikhail, what do you think of this? Do you see the lines or words moving?”
“I don’t see any words. I just see squiggly lines that are not very distinct, and that appear to be crawling all over the metal.”
<< Dascha, what do you see? Can you see the moving words and the incised images? >>
<< Yes I see all that, but I also see strange-colored threads that go from many places into this piece of metal. The colors are different than uncorrupted elemental magic. I don’t know what the magic is, but I feel like it is important to find out. >>
Zhanna thought for a moment. She knew that Dascha had better instincts when it came to recognizing strange magic. The familiar’s new training in the identification of magical energy raised her skills far beyond those of her witch. If Dascha could not tell what type of magic was involved, then the witch knew that she would be lost.
Dealing with unknown magic was dangerous. It could be potentially powerful, risky, or both. Without some clue as to its nature, they would be at a major disadvantage in using, resisting or fighting the artifact. She certainly was not going to touch it with her bare skin until she knew more about it!
Deciding to do further investigation at a later time, Zhanna reached into her belt bag and brought out some of the precious silk that her Baba had given her for handling unknown magic. Carefully avoiding touching the surface of the metal with her hands, Zhanna wrapped the object up and stored in its own little drawstring bag.
When Zhanna straightened up, she saw Mikhail staring at her with wide eyes. “What is the matter?” she asked.
“I was just thinking that you have progressed an amazing distance in your training. Your abilities are increasing by leaps and bounds.”
Zhanna thought that there wasn’t much of an answer that she could give to that without sounding either like she was asking for approval or bragging, so she contented herself with a nod of acknowledgment. Tucking the drawstring bag into her larger waist pouch, the young witch set off once again in the direction that would take them to the mysterious building.
It’d taken them less than an hour to get to the destination. They could’ve moved faster, but Zhanna was busy building a personal guide to Blagogarsk. Every time that she explored more of the city, she updated a section of her map. The cartographer at the library was helping her learn how to draw and keep decent maps, something that she knew was valuable and rare. Once she got back from this trip, she would make sure to immediately update her central map, including her notes and impressions.
Thinking about how her map was shaping up, Zhanna was lost in satisfied feelings and thoughts of a job well done. She was pulled abruptly from that reverie by a rumbling snarl from Dascha.
<< What is wrong, Dascha? Why are you snarling? >>
<< The road and the sidewalks, the buildings and even the gutters are threaded with strange lines of magic. Some of them look and smell like the ones on the metal piece that I found, but others have a color that pulses an evil rotten green. >>
Quickly, Dascha told Mikhail what Dascha had said. She did not even finish the first sentence before his weapons were in his hands. Glancing around he said, “I wish I could see it. I knew before when I came this way that I felt like something was watching me the whole time. And the closer I got to the building, the more I felt like I was going to be attacked. Nothing happened, but I was uneasy the whole time.”
“Do you feel that again? Has anything changed?”
“I feel it again, but it doesn’t seem to be as strong this time. On the other hand, there are more of us together instead of just me. Perhaps that affects how I’m feeling.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Zhanna noticed that Dascha was creeping forward as if she were on the hunt. Eyes gleaming, the tip of her tail twitching, the cat was slinking smoothly toward one of the gutters. Breathlessly, Zhanna waited to see what would happen.
So suddenly that Zhanna jumped even though she had been expecting it, Dascha pounced on something in the gutter hidden in the debris. Instantly, her familiar was in full battle mode, fighting against something that was only partially materialized.
Zhanna moved to the right, knowing that Mikhail would move to the left. Their time in the Badger Hole Bar and the battles there had taught them to automatically cover each other.
With a clear area of fire, Zhanna should have been able to come to the aid of her familiar. But she couldn’t quite focus on what it was that Dascha was fighting. She could hear Mikhail yelling that he couldn’t see anything either.
Desperate to understand what it was that they were battling, Zhanna slipped into the semi-state that would allow her to see through Dascha’s eyes without interfering with the familiar’s actions. They had only practiced it twice, but she couldn’t think of anything else that would get her the information that she desperately needed.
The witch certainly wasn’t going to yell and ask questions of her familiar when Dascha was in the middle of a fight. And Dascha wouldn’t answer anyway. They had been trained better than that.
There was a moment of disorientation as her eyes adjusted to a different depth of field and color spectrum. Swallowing the spurt of nausea that seemed to accompany the transfer, Zhanna took a deep breath and focused through Dascha’s eyes. The cat was intent on the creature that she was fighting. The image burned itself into Zhanna’s brain with the force of a firelance.
The sight of the enemy was so startling that Zhanna involuntarily took a quick step back, catching her heel on the uneven pavement and falling backward. Mikhail dove to soften her fall, but was unable to catch her. Zhanna landed too quickly for him to succeed, falling away from him with speed accelerated by her instinctual disgust.
The slamming of her body into the ground and curb broke Zhanna’s attention and focus. Now she was only seeing through her own eyes. But the image that had seared into her brain and memory would not easily go away again.
Filled with horror, Zhanna scrambled her feet and ran toward her embattled familiar, screaming instructions to Mikhail as she ran.