thulcandran: (Default)
This is, as the title suggests, a random selection from a work in progress. I've had jack shit in inspiration lately. I'm struggling with depression (as the subtitle suggests, I am schizophrenic-bipolar, but suddenly things went boom into the depths), and work is absurdly stressful, and real life is basically kicking my ass. I'm still trying to write. Most of it just never makes it A) onto the typed page, or B) out of my head. Which sucks. So I'll try to pick this back up, and in the meantime, have a piece of story.

As the voice behind him had finished its list, the man had straightened, as if taken by surprise; a moment later, he turned sharply, and with surprising speed for his build, closed in on Jack. He stared, terrifyingly fierce, at the figure behind him. "Leon and Davan both had a hand on this?"

Aside from momentarily clenching around his shoulder, Jack's captor made no sign of fear. Jack was somewhat impressed - if he'd had control of his muscles, he would've been backpedaling with everything he'd got.

"And Xerxes, as I said, and as he'll tell you if he ever actually walks all the way over here. What else would you have expected, Erik?"

Erik's eyes flashed, and he gestured at Jack. "Your thoughts on the key aside, does this look like a Baron, or one of the Powers? Do you really have no concern for what Davan's work, combined with Leon's, could do to a mortal caught in the crossfires?"

Jack felt Caun shrug. "I think they had enough people looking over their shoulders to keep them in line - as do we," he finished, pointing to something off to the left. Before the man could respond, the newcomers were on them, talking, asking questions, pointing in his direction, and generally causing a ruckus. After a moment, one figure separated himself from the group and walked towards him; he waved Caun towards the crowd, and the creature released its iron grip on Jack's shoulder and walked away. It looked something like a lizard, an elf, and a man, crammed into one body, though the result was less disturbing than it might have been.

The man who approached then could only have been Xerxes, Jack realized. He looked to be about sixty. His skin was leathery and wrinkled, his hair white, and his eyes were an electric blue. His beard was trimmed neatly an inch or two below the chin, and his manner denoted a great deal of power. Rather at odds with the rest of his impression, he wore a loose collared shirt and pants - and, all garments being askew, appeared to have dressed in some haste.

He reached up towards Jack's face, an unsettling glow around his hand. After a moment, he released the glow, and nodded to Jack. "You are unsilenced," he said, reaching for a flask clipped to his belt. "I sense no power in you; you understand, our preparations had to be very thorough. We all of us have enemies, in your world." After a swallow from the flask, the glow swirled once more around his hands, and Jack felt his knees buckle.

A pair of strong hands caught him around the armpits and held him up for a moment, until his legs felt solid enough to stand again. "It can take a little time for control of the nervous system to return," Erik said, behind him. "Are you alright?"

Jack shifted his weight a bit, experimentally, and nodded. "I-- yeah. Yeah, thanks."

The man gave his shoulder an encouraging grip (from which he nearly fainted) and walked around, to where the rest of the small crowd stood. Caun glanced at him and said something sarcastic-looking, and he grinned and responded.

"Are you quite awake?" Jack snapped to, and realized that the wizard standing across from him was giving him a rather caustic glare.

"Ah - yes. Sorry. Yeah." He didn't seem to be able to reach any of his usual reserves of sarcasm.

"Well, excellent. Shall we continue, then?" Clearly, no such affliction pursued the wizard. "You arrived here with a key in your hand that is of great interest to us; raise your hand, please, and show it to me."

Jack blinked - briefly, in the back of his mind, he remembered what would happen to him if this key did not arrive safe and sound in his boss's hands by the morning. Something told him, though, that the possibilities of that ever happening had been all but erased. He sighed, and held up his right fist; it took a moment to open, having been clenched shut, and the blood on the key dried.

Xerxes looked at it for a long moment; Jack realized very quickly that he was seeing more than the little metal piece he had pinched from the lamp. After he'd apparently learned all he needed, he looked back up at Jack. "How did you come by this key? How did you know to use it - and how did it bring you here?"

Jack opened his mouth, blinked, and stammered a few nonsense syllables. The wizard sighed and rubbed one hand over his eyes. "You can answer them one at a time," he explained, in a rather overly patient voice. Jack merely nodded.

"The lamp, it was a dinner, and I set the fire," he said finally, after thinking a long moment. Xerxes blinked at him. "Um. Sorry. I took the job, the slippery - lamp in the not on fire, all the cops and the gates. Key in study not found, last found, my skin all - all hung, dead."

Xerxes sighed, looked back at the key for a moment, and grimaced. "Okay," he said. "We'll leave that question off for now. How did you know to use it?"

Jack shook his head. "I no, it shadow. Cops, shouting, gates, shadow and I ran."

Frowning, Xerxes looked closely at him. "Do you know what you're saying?"

"No! It, things, talk... can't."

After a long moment, the wizard snarled something, stooped down to the ground, and drew a hand across the ground in a slitting motion. "Come here," he said, taking a step back.

Jack took a hesitant step forward, and the whole world around him seemed to explode for a long, long moment - sounds, music, notes stretched on like taffy, birds warbling like thunder, and the light of a thousand thousand colors pierced his eyes. He clapped his hands over his ears, and everything stopped.
thulcandran: (Default)
Thanks to Leareth of the PPC for the prompt "Corrupted blood pool," though I rather doubt this is what you were going for.

Erik grinned at him from the parapet, shaking his head. Jack bit his lip briefly, and turned back to the little stream. He'd bet money he knew what was going on in the knight's head; for all Erik's high-minded sense of morals and straighter-than-sunshine spine, the man had quite a twisted sense of humor, in his own right. Part of it, apparently, included things like this. Though... perhaps it was understandable. His cooking skills were at stake, after all. Setting his teeth, Jack turned his back to the fortress and set off down the brookside, his steps light and, to an outside viewer (he hoped), carefree.

Erik had gone from snickering quietly to outward guffaws by the time Jack had slid into the little brook the third time. From the watchtower, he had an excellent view of the proceedings, all the way down to the dip behind the first hill - more than enough time. As his comrade slipped his footing and soaked his head yet again, he leaned helplessly against the wall and gasped for breath between laughs.

Footsteps behind him, quiet, steady, very familiar indeed, sounded around the bend, and Xerxes leaned up on the ramparts beside him, watching the scene below with a raised eyebrow. "Fates preserve us," he commented after a moment. "He really is hopeless at the tracking."

Catching his breath, Erik grinned at the older wizard. "Oh, yes," he said, pointing to the wood on the opposite hill. "I'll be surprised if he comes back with aught more than frogs, at this point."

Xerxes chuckled and glanced past the view, to the farther hill. "What did he bet you?"

"Ah, he seemed to have some sort of problem with the meal of the last night," Erik explained ruefully, turning back to the tower to retrieve his stave, which he'd set aside with some foresight when Jack turned out onto the path. "I believe the words exchanged were 'roadkill,' which is some slight, I gathered, on lean, rangey, and unsavory animals killed by accident, in his tongue, 'charred excuse for a casserole,' and 'a child could do better,' in that order, more or less."

The wizard winced. "Oh, dear. He hasn't had your cooking before, has he?" Upon the immediate glare Erik turned his way, he raised a hand, laughing. "Don't try it! I accepted one of your bargains for the last time ten years ago, master camp-cook."

Erik gave him a slightly miffed look and leaned back. "Well, we shall see. My watch is up at noontide, and I'm for the cots-- for better or worse, it's his supper tonight."

"His -- no! Foolish knight, you've doomed us all!"

* * *

And so it was that Erik came to be leaning against the doorframe, brows drawn in some amount of shock, as his young apprentice, with several nasty cuts along his arm already bound, handed across a bowl of something that, he had to admit, rather resembled stew. Jack couldn't help but laugh at his expression.

"Did you know there's an old trout pond halfway through the wood?" Erik shook his head wordlessly. "Ah, I thought not. Did you know that a tunic bound at one end makes a passable net for trout?"

Erik grimaced. "Your point then, I'll concede." Curious, he gestured at the bandages with his free hand. "Did the trout draw first blood?"

Jack coloured slightly and turned back to the pot; Erik had to strain to hear his mumbled reply. "...the carrots did."


thulcandran: (Default)

May 2013



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