The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

31Jul/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0057

Several people worked to strap the young, well-built Ravaleian man into the iron contraption on the hilltop. The man seemed genuinely ready for whatever was coming. He had been told that he would be given great power and that his mind would be enhanced. For a man of below average intelligence in a land of scientists, this was extremely appealing. He had not been told that the mind would not be his own. If he had known, he would certainly have objected.

His lack of protest made Enzi wonder who the man was and exactly what the contraption was supposed to do. The light dimmed over the hill. The Feergrus man looked up. The bright moon Cill was drifting lazily eastwards across the sky much like Feras did in the day, granting light to the evening. However, the dark moon Carn moved westwards and was about to pass exactly in front of the other moon. These lunar eclipses were uncommon, the two moon did not line up exactly every night, but they were not unheard of.

It was possible that the moon eclipse was needed for whatever ritual they were performing. Enzi was not familiar with such procedures, but he assumed such power could not hurt. The greatest scientists of Ravalei stated that no known physical law allowed for the opposite orbits of the two moons. Magic drove the orbs that circled Doulairen. There was little doubt about that. The night grew silent as the people on the hill switched their machine on.

There was a low hum from the contraption. As the moons converged, the ghost grew more distinct. The reason for waiting on the convergence seemed to become clearer. The spirit floated over to the man bound in the contraption and waited. The Storm Queen took her position and began summoning her inner power. Her green eyes began to sparkle as energy swam through her. To any viewing her eyes, they would almost look like a tempest of electricity in a green sea.

In her hands was the magestone. It began to shine with a soft luminescent glow. The color of the glow matched the color of the glow of the Storm Queen's eyes. Enzi imagined it was some sort of sympathetic resonance. She had been practicing with it all day. Now it was attuned to her power. Everything seemed to have come together. Enzi felt that he should stop the ritual, but if he leapt in and it was something innocent or helpful, he would never forgive himself. It was too late to ask now. All he could do was wait, watch, and be prepared.

As Carn came into position in front of Cill, the hilltop was cloaked in darkness. Only the glow of the Storm Queen's power gave any light to the proceedings. It was then that she lit up the hilltop more than Enzi could have ever imagined. Electricity poured from the tiny Ravaleian girl. It struck the contraption and poured through it. The man inside screamed in pain and fear. Enzi sent Mayitso back to get the team as he leapt forward.

Whatever deed the Rava Coast Trading Company was up to, it was not worth the suffering and pain of anyone. The spirit had seemingly vanished. Enzi yelled out to halt the ritual but no one listened. A few of the Ravaleian mercenaries nearby rushed to stop the Feergrus man. One vanished under a mass iof fur. Mayitso had returned. His speed was incredible. The fight on the hilltop had begun.

A terrible voice spoke from inside the contraption, “You must stop them. I can feel it working.”

It did not come from the man bound there, he was still whimpering, screaming, and moaning as the lightning coursed through his body. It had to have been the spirit. It finally had the ability to communicate in the real world. Enzi had several horrible thoughts about what that might mean. He wondered if they meant to trade the bound man's life for the life of the spirit. Such dark magic was unthinkable. Enzi knew what evils the Ahk Separatists delved into. To Enzi, an unnaturally extended life was an act of selfishness. Even more so if it cost the lives of others.

The Irregulars entered the scene and Enzi yelled to them, “Stop the machine and save that poor man!”

The fight began as Eurysa's arrows found their mark on one of the mercenaries. He dropped his blade and grabbed his wounded arm. Ritter clammed into one of the Ravaleians with his shield. The guy hit the ground like a ton of bricks. They did not want to kill anyone unless they had to. Kava, on the other hand, was looking for an excuse to draw blood. Aldebaran had a singular goal. His mighty strength and blade was likely the only thing that could break the contraption.

The Minotaur charged across the battlefield as Mayitso and Kava carved a path for him. His massive blade struck the thing the Ravaleians had built. Iron rang against iron. Electricity sparked down the blade and blew the massive minotaur backwards. A cascade of energy erupted across the machine. The flow of energy tried to arc back to the Storm Queen but she interrupted the stream of lightning she was pumping into the machine. It prevented a backlash to the young mage.

However, the machine failed catastrophically. Cracks appeared in several places as it shuddered, the largest where Aldebaran had struck it. The whole thing vibrated as the electricity spewed out from it wildly. Then the contraption shattered into dozens of pieces. Anyone who was still on their feet were knocked down by a powerful shockwave. Some of the machine was on fire, smoke obscured much of what was going on.

A human voice rose from the smoke, “What have you done?”

As the smoke cleared the human who had been strapped to the machine stood there and he spoke in the same voice that had just been heard, “Wait, I did not get smarter, but what is happening to me?”

The man jerked suddenly and spoke again, “You have ruined my plans. There is something wrong.”

The man jerked again, “Why am I talking other stuff?”

After another of the odd twitches, “This is most interesting. I wonder.”

There is a pause and then the spirit exits the body of the young man. The young man shakes his head, then the spirit suddenly dives back into the body and the man shudders and twitches. Then after a few moments it stops. The man looks up with cold eyes full of cruel intelligence. The machine had not worked as intended. However, Dellin Garm could now possess living creatures. He erupted from the body of the young man and flew into the captain of the mercenaries.

The captain stood and spoke with a cold voice, “Kill the intruders. Slay the witch as well, it is obvious she has betrayed us to her friends.”

The spirit flew back to the young body and possessed it again, “Yes. This is much better than planned. I can possess any body I need. If one fails, I can move to the next. This will work out perfectly.”

The young man looked around, “I guess I said that out loud. This will take some time to get used to. Eliminate the enemy!”

The mercenaries moved to slay Enzi's Irregulars and the Storm Queen. The young Ravaleian mage was exhausted from her spell. The mercenaries for the Rava Coast Trading company were well trained and well equipped. Luckily, several were already wounded from the fight and the disastrous explosion. Kava practically slavered at the opportunity to fight. The vodyanoi leapt into battle, chopping at her foes legs as she danced around near the ground.

Aldebaran used his great strength and wide swing to keep several foes at bay. Ritter pummeled his foe with hammer and shield. Eurysa's arrow sought weak spots in armor and often found yielding flesh. Enzi subdued several foes as well. The young man saw the direction of battle and growled at the incompetence of his men. It was merely five monsters, an old man, and an exhausted mage. He was disappointed in the direction of the battle.

“I will make all of you pay for this!” Dellin yelled through his puppet body.

The ghost evacuated the body, leaving it to fight and die in the battle. Most of his witnesses would be dead and gone. Only the Storm Queen's survival would be able to reveal anything. Luckily, he had thought of this as well. Expecting her potential betrayal, he had his mages place several interesting spells on the magestone she used. It would keep her from being a threat until she could be properly dealt with. The ghost fled into the darkness, headed back to Calal.

***

The battle was over. The foes had fallen. Of the participants, only the Storm Queen remained. She sat on the ground, dazed and confused. She had dropped the magestone at some point and it had rolled away into the remains of the machine. She had a blank look on her face. What once had been thunder and lightning now seemed as if the storm had passed. Enzi shook her a little ans the young Ravaleian girl shook her head. Clearing her mind some, she looked up at the Feergrus man.

“Where am I? What happened?” she asked, “How did I get here?”

“What do you last remember?” Enzi asked.

“Some people from the Rava Coast Trading Company said they wanted to meet with me to discuss some business arrangement,” she replied, “Now here I am. I feel terrible. What did they do to me?”

“They had you use your power in some sort of ritual to put a ghost in someone's body,” Enzi stated, “Do you know who that was?”

“I don't remember anything like that,” she said, “I am not a big fan of their company. I can not imagine agreeing to help them without some serious coercion.”

“Well, with the loss of memory, I imagine they did something to magically help that,” Enzi said.

The Storm Queen scowled, “I will make them pay for this.”

“It seems they planned to kill you as well,” Enzi said, quickly coming to the conclusion, “The ghost probably got away. It can possess people now, It may find a way to strike at you.”

“It would take powerful magic to overwhelm my mind,” the Storm Queen said, “But they have the resources for that. They are another servant of order. Trying to control everything. That they would dare try to control me. This is something I can not allow to stand. We should get back to the base camp. There are more of their people there. I hate to think what they are trying to do there.”

Enzi was not sure that he could trust the young girl. She had certainly proven flighty in the past. However, he had certainly seen fire in her eyes at the betrayal of the Rava Coast Trading Company. He had no idea how much of what she had done was of her own free will and how much was magical compulsion. The group left the hilltop and headed back towards the southern front. The magestone lay forgotten in the rubble. The spells upon it had kept the Storm Queen from remembering the potent artifact.

The group traveled despite the late hour. Adrenaline kept them awake, though that was certain to wear off soon. When it did, Enzi hoped to be somewhere safe. All of them could use some rest. In order not to alarm the guards, the group finally made camp outside of the military encampment. They could more easily enter in the morning, when no one would mistake them for evil creatures prowling in the darkness. Enzi expected a few hours of sleep would be enough. Unfortunately, they were all awakened by a rather loud commotion in the nearby base camp.

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