Saturday, 26 February 2011
#SampleSunday – 27th February 2011
Another chunk of The Last King's Amulet. Just running on from last week.
A few days passed in a drunken blur. I struggled against the booze but it was pointless, and after a while I stopped struggling. There wasn't really any point. Every day Sheo came and talked to me, laughed with me, told me stories and tried to get me to tell him things I didn't know.
I really was a useless sorcerer. I knew a few tricks at the one carat and below level. Nothing. I had never spent the money on the spells and never had the money for the larger stones. Yes, my family had much larger stones but no way they would let me get my hands on them. I would sell them for drink. That thought made me laugh. Later in the day it would make me cry. I was a drunk. What did anyone expect?
The mist wasn't anything to do with being drunk. At least I didn't think it was. It was hard to tell. As it began to clear, swirling more thinly around me, I began to see hints of bushes, flashes of color through the mist that might be flowers.
“Wassit?” I spun around and the garden spun with me, flowers flashing by. I stamped one foot down to get my balance and stood there, concentrating on keeping upright.
The voice came from behind me so I slowly turned around. And there she was.
“Can you hear me?” She sounded urgent, concerned.
“'Causican.” I gave her a big grin, threw my arms wide, “Jess'ca!”
“Jocasta,” she stepped toward me, puzzled.
“Jecazta, 'sright! Hellow!”
Her pretty face creased into a frown as she stopped a couple of paces away. “You're drunk!”
It took me a while to formulate a reply. “I am,” I told her at last. “V'ry v'ry drunk. Bu' ish nomifalt.”
She blinked a couple of times, shaking her head. “It's what?”
“No mi faul'”
She shook her head, disbelieving her senses. Did she have senses? In a dream? I stared blearily about, staggered a step. Maybe in an illusory place you had illusory senses. That triggered a thought and I tried to explain it at once. “Of cau'se, iyusyryspefam!”
“What?! Sumto! Did they do this to you? How... why are you drunk?!”
“Drugz,” I swayed a bit but caught my balance. “Gimmi drugz.”
“What?! You want drugs?!”
I shook my head violently, lost my balance and fell over. As I lay on the ground looking up at her and trying to stand she faded a little, turning her head and said, “To hell with this, I'm getting him out of there.”
Someone answered her, it was just a sound, nothing I could understand, recognizably a voice but nothing more. She turned back and looked at me. “I'm coming for you.”
I giggled. “B'beddafwimmi,” this struck me as unspeakably funny and I laughed like a drunk.
She shook her head and moved away without moving, or so it seemed, I could hardly see for laughing, then the garden was gone.
I'd forgotten what hell a bad hangover can be. I couldn't even say 'never again' because I was looking at a jug of beer and thinking how much better I'd feel after I had had some. And it was true, that's the hell of it. I would have drunk some water instead but there was none. It all came down to how long I could hold out against the drink, and I didn't feel it would be long.
Sheo was sitting at the table too, looking at me and waiting.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked him. “I don't know any magic worth talking about.”
“Well that's a lie, and we both know it.” He fished into his pockets and brought out my sorcerers loupe. “You don't have one of these unless you are a student, so I'm guessing you are an enrollee of the college of battle mages, a wealthy student, not an acolyte..”
I stared at the damning loupe. I didn't want to tell him how I had really come by it. “That's not mine.”
“Sumto, why lie? It was found in the saddle bag of a brown mare with scar on her face. Your mare. I checked. I talked to the man who found her. It was a while before it came to light of course, they had no idea what it was, some cheap bauble magnifying glass. They thought it was funny, making things bigger. It had changed hands several times, purchased, gambled. It took me a while to trace it back to you, but I did. I'm glad your horse was so marked by that scar or I might never have found out it was yours.” He tucked the loupe away. “I have already enjoyed the use of it.”
There was nothing I could say. Tell him the truth, the full truth? He wouldn't believe me. Well, they would find out soon enough. The booze was going to break me, especially when they took it away, as I knew they would. The very thought made me reach for the beer, protectively. They wouldn't take this beer away.
Maybe I could drink myself to death if I was quick about it.
I was on the bed. It was moving but I couldn't.
Luckily long experience has taught me to sit up, well propped with pillows, when I feel like this. A less experienced drinker would lie down and promptly throw up. I was tempted to do that, lie on my back, throw up and then breath in, but I wasn't drunk enough, or maybe I was too drunk to actually physically move. It was hard to tell. I had something important on my mind. Illusory spell forms. Thank god I had told Jocasta - if she was real, which I doubted - but then I doubted my own sanity let alone anything else. Illusory spell forms. It was brilliant. Genius. If a shaman called a spirit to watch, a sorcerer could then create spell forms - not real ones, but illusions that had the shape and form but didn't do anything - and the spirit could tell you what they would do if you made them in reality. If I was right about the nature of the perception of spirits, of course, and that was yet to be proven. But it would open up a whole new era of spellcasting research if I was right. Another good reason to die, I thought, and take the idea with me. At least the spirits could tell me if I was right. I giggled at the thought.
“'Snofunny,” I admonished myself, waving a finger pointedly. “'ssherius.”
I became fascinated with my finger, holding it in front of my face and turning it around, remembering them breaking it, and breaking it, and... I waggled it experimentally. “Worksnow. 'sgood.” I turned it about again, looking at that one finger from every angle. I wondered how I would see it if I were a spirit. I wondered how soon I would find out. They didn't care if I died, they'd given me plenty of opportunity. They'd probably turn me into a zombie, lock up my spirit in dead flesh and interrogate me that way, or call my spirit back and enslave me as they had Jerek. That was a memory that wouldn't fade in a hurry. That poor, broken, pitiful child. A tear dribbled down my cheek.
Death is no escape, he had said. I believed him. They didn't care if I died, not much. If I jumped out that window, the one with the shadowy figure in it... That was odd. I watched the apparition slide into the room. Wisps of fog drifted after him. It was the ghost of Sapphire come to show me the way, he put his finger against his lips. I had no intention of making a sound. There is no point in talking to a hallucination. Unless it was a ghost, of course. I could ask him about spell forms.
I laughed. He ignored me, taking a quick turn around the room, listening at the door, then heading back to where I lay propped up in bed, watching him. He crossed the room silently. Of course silently, spirits don't make any noise. No bodies. No noise. That's obvious.
He gestured for me to get up. I giggled and shook my head.
In death his eyes were just as I remembered them. Ice cold, to go with his glacial expression. “Get up, you fool,” he hissed. “We have to go now.”
I blinked blearily back at him, sure that spirits were not supposed to call people names or hiss at them. “You're alive!” I accused him
“Hush, dammit. Get up.”
I tried. When I didn't move fast enough to suit him he grabbed me by the shirt front and dragged me up. He was definitely real. He didn't look that strong. Though, to be fair, I had lost some weight.
He pushed his face close to mine. “Some of us are risking our lives for your drunken, no good, worthless carcass, and some of us would appreciate it if you would cooperate a little bit!”
I nodded dumbly, chastened as only a drunk can be. A tear came to my eye and I told him I was sorry. Tried to give him a hug.
“Oh, for gods' sake,” he seethed almost silently. “Come on.”
It was foggy out. I couldn't see anything. I wanted a drink. “Beer.” I started back in and he stopped me.
“Wait, listen. Jocasta is here, down there, waiting for you.”
I looked over into the sea of fog, seeing nothing much more than a few feet of wall under the balcony. “Down there?”
“Hush, dammit,” he hissed. “Yes.”
I swung one leg over the balcony and lost my balance. I would have fallen if he had not held me.
“Wait. I have rope.” He swiftly looped it around me and expertly tied it so that it was snug under my arms. “Now try.” I did. I was barely over the edge before I lost my grip and fell. I didn't realize I was in danger so didn't make a sound. I heard the rope slipping through his fingers harshly, then I jerked to a stop. After that I descended more smoothly, swinging around in a slow circle and feeling sick and dizzy, seeing nothing but the fog and occasional flashes of wall.
I couldn't wait to see her. I had to tell her something important; what was it though? Her loupe! Damn, I'd lost her loupe! She was going to go crazy at me. I started climbing the rope. I had to go get it back. It didn't work very well, Sapphire was lowering me faster than I could climb, and I couldn't climb worth a damn; my feet touched the ground and a second later the rope fell out of the air on top of me. “Damn, damn, damn!” I growled, quietly. I didn't want her to hear me.
She'd heard me.
I looked around. She wore white and almost blended into the fog, just her dark hair standing out around her pale face. Big green eyes met mine and held me spellbound.
“I'm sorry!” I blurted.
“Shussh,” She raised her hand and there was a flash of non-light so fast I could barely see it. I caught a glimpse of a stone that must have been eighty carats.
“I lost your loupe, they took it.” To my amazement, I couldn't hear myself speak. I hesitated a second, then laughed. It was bizarre, not a sound. I could feel the movement, knew I was laughing, but couldn't hear it. “What did you do?” I wasn't deaf, it was just that the sound made no sound. I stamped my foot to test the theory and sure enough, my shoes rang on the cobbles. Jocasta grabbed my arm and my attention. She really did have the biggest green eyes ever. “I've missed you,” I said and tried to hug her.
“Sumto,” she hissed, “you're drunk.”
I nodded earnestly, remembering something important. I leaned back and shouted up to Sapphire. “Bring the beer!”
Damn, he wouldn't hear me. I gave Jocasta a little shake, pointed up and then made a drinking motion, my hand gripping an invisible glass. I have never seen anyone flush with anger quite that quickly. I watched the process, fascinated. “You're mad at me, aren't you.”
“You are a drunken fool, just like my father said.”
Under the circumstances, I think that was a bit harsh.