Thursday, December 21, 2023

A Dissonant Chord - Part 7

In part 6, Ikram met a man named Arasen who told him he could help deal with Ikram's sodden problem. Arasen took Ikram to meet his wife Indirra. They revealed to Ikram that he and Indirra are both invokers. Indirra showed Ikram her enchanted mirror which allows her to move the interior space of buildings between the real world and an alternate location. That night, Ikram agreed to help Arasen and Indirra rescue their friend Kendi who was imprisoned by the Cove and together they concocted a plan for the next day.

34th day of spring, year 132

In the morning, we set our plan in motion. We put a leather cover over the mirror. I tied Arasen's hands, roughed up his face a bit, put the mirror on my back and went to the jail. I explained to the guards that I caught him stealing from my employer. I said I tracked him to his hideout where I captured him and found this very expensive mirror. I took off the leather cover and explained that my rich employer is preoccupied today but he will be visiting tomorrow to see if the mirror is from his wares, after making a list of missing items. "A thief, huh? We'll handle him. We'll make sure he tells us where he's hiding the rest of the loot," the guard said. I nodded to the guard to move away from Arasen and said to him in a low voice: "My employer has an unusual request. He would like to speak to the thief tomorrow and he would like him to be intact for that talk." I passed him a purse with forty arrowheads. He weighed the purse in his hands and said: "This is enough for me to delay the interrogation, but you realize I ain't the only one here. I believe another one like this would be enough to convince my colleagues too." I pulled out my purse and passed him another forty arrowheads. "Of course, I understand. Please do make sure that the thief is in good state until my employer talks with him." I said. He nodded with a smile and I left. When I got back to Indirra, we experimented to see if she could let me absorb mystical energy from her. We succeeded, but it was really taxing as the energy felt very different. Reusing my "eating" analogy, this felt like eating something that was still alive and then feeling it stop writhing inside me when it died. We then went to sleep.

35th day of spring, year 132

Next morning, Indirra said she was only able to sleep because of how drained she felt after the absorption. We got out and got to the jail. Indirra waited about 200 steps from the jail while I went to speak with the guard. "Good day. My employer would like to speak with the thief and he asked me to check that everything is in order. Is the mirror here?" I asked the same guard. "Good day sir. Yes, he is here and we have the mirror too," he replied. "Excellent. He'd be most grateful if you could chain the prisoner here in this room and have the mirror ready. He'll be here shortly." "Alright, alright, let me go get the prisoner and, here, put the mirror wherever you want," he said as he handed me the mirror. I placed the mirror next to a table in the entrance room. I stepped out and went to hide with Indirra. "Ready?" she asked. "I believe so," I replied. We nodded at each other and then looked at the graveyard next to the jailhouse. I thought of a fiery giant, and presumably Indirra did so too, as planned. Whoosh, a three-meter-tall primordial made of red-orange flames appeared as if someone lit a fireplace up, in the middle of the graveyard. People around started screaming: "Primordial! Gods save us! Run!" A guard came out from the jailhouse, saw the "primordial," put his head back through the doorway and shouted so. A moment later three guards were out of the jailhouse. One ran away in terror. The other three were looking at the now moving "primordial" and were asking each other what to do. "Now is our chance!" Indirra said. We both ran across the street, past a few panicking residents and into the jailhouse. None of the guards even saw us, all focused on the fake primordial. The mirror was exactly where I left it, and Arasen was chained to a chair next to the table. Indirra ran directly to the mirror and touched it. Almost immediately, the view from the door was replaced by an equally bright but completely amorphous veil and all the sound and screaming was gone. "Are there more guards?" I asked Arasen while Indirra hugged him. "No, they all just ran out. Kendi is chained in the back cell," he replied. We tried to find the keys for Arasen's chains but it looked like one of the guards took all the keys with him. I used an invocation to rotate the lock's mechanism and it worked! The two of them used their knives to cut Kendi down from the wall where he was tied. He was roughed up badly. Indirra tried to hug him but stopped when he squirmed. After getting him some water and checking that he was not infected anywhere, he looked at me. I introduced myself, and Arasen added that I'm after the Cove. Indirra immediately shouted "And he's an invoker too!" "Who's holding off the guards?" Kendi asked. We explained that we used the mirror and how we got it into the jailhouse yesterday. "Really smart. Thank you," he replied. "No! Thank you for holding out that long!" Indirra replied. "So what now?" he asked. "Now we break the back wall," Arasen said and explained the plan. Indirra kept tabs on the astonished guards who had no idea what had happened, while Arasen and I broke the back wall and Kendi rested until it was nighttime. Indirra came to the back and told us that the guards seemed to be freaked out by the whole disappearance of the jailhouse's interior and had not entered the building since the sun went down. So we would be able to skip the step of smoking the guards out. I wrapped Kendi's wounds and made a splint for his broken arm. Then we waited at the back exit while Indirra went to a point where she could see if anyone entered the alternate building. Once she saw it was clear, she flipped the mirror and came back to us. I took a look outside the hole in the wall and saw no one, so we covered the mirror and moved out. We headed away towards the darkest alley we could find, but as we entered it, a back door opened and a drunk man got out of it. He saw my face in the light of the building. His tired eyes opened wide and he drunkenly shouted, "Hey!...It's's the Graycliff asshole! Guys! The Grayglidiot!" We ran as fast as we could, given Kendi's condition. We could hear commotion, probably the warrior explaining to his friends what he saw. We accidentally dropped some of the chemicals that we would have used to create smoke. I looked around and found a nice wooden board that we could hide behind, as it looked like a house wall from the alley. We hid as a group of three warriors passed by us. One of them was saying, "You drunk idiot, you do this every payday. I hope it's not another dog again..." We waited a few minutes, and while waiting, I realized how bad I was at sneaking and that I should rely more on my senses and in finding better hiding spots, like the one we were hiding in at that moment. I shushed Indirra and Arasen, who were talking, and listened carefully for any signs of the warriors. "I'm telling you we must have missed them! Just go back, I can take them on myself, I don't need you bastards." The warrior started looking around for us in any dark place he could find while his friends left him. Eventually, he sat down to rest, mumbling to himself. "Can I invoke sleepiness on him?" I whispered to Indirra. "Maybe, especially now that he is drunk," she replied. I focused on him and started to feel sleepy myself but then I jolted, and he did too. I fell backwards on Kendi, and broke the splint on his broken arm as he fell with me. He screamed in pain and quickly shut his mouth with his hands, but it was too late. The warrior ran towards us. We all, except Kendi, grabbed our weapons. I took aim where the warrior would come into view. It turns out the warrior had considered this danger and instead kicked the whole wooden board that we were hiding behind onto us. We tried to push the board off of us, but the warrior was already plunging his sword through it. Some of the wood that splintered off cut my forehead. I jumped and rolled out from under the board, but the warrior kicked my back and threw me to the ground. I turned around and stabbed his leg with an arrow as he punched down on my head. Indirra was moving the mirror away while Arasen grabbed the warrior from behind to throw him down. Dizzy, I stood up as Arasen started fighting with the warrior and was quickly thrown to the ground. The warrior lunged towards me again, and I failed to stab him as he kicked me in the gut. I crashed into the house wall and pushed off of it to launch myself towards the warrior, only to get another punch in my face. While I was recovering, the warrior lifted his sword and tried to say something, which I did not understand. I needed just one good opening, but I was clueless when it came to brawling. But I had no other option but to throw myself at him. His sword cut me on the ribs, but I did stab him in the neck. He stumbled back as I held my bleeding wound. I made the arrow in his neck pull out and held his wound open (through invocation) to maximize his bleeding. He tried to stop it, but within a few seconds, he slumped to the ground in a pool of blood. I jolted back to Kendi and picked him up, and we all ran towards where Valeri was waiting for us. We put Kendi on her and set off toward my old campsite outside Greatrock. Kendi, and we, were safe.

In the next part, seeking answers, Ikram communes with the spirit haunting him, and through their contact, a bargain is struck and secrets revealed. But he has to turn his focus on more mundane issues, preparing to further harm the Cove of Lament.

To be continued...

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