Quicksilver Part 4
Originally posted Oct 27, 1997
Stay tuned after the story for a Magic card based on it!
The region known for generations as the Kingdom of Noloder; the second day of the month of Neevalan of the four hundred seventy-ninth year, as the free city of Rhodessa reckons time In that place and time, a visitor appeared, like none that the plane of Tolagrand had known.
Knocked unconscious by his own Shatterstorm, Baergus dreamed of planes far away. Ones that he had visited once or twice, in his infrequent journeys away from Tolagrand. He railed against the folly of casting Shatterstorm in the midst of so many machines, but, Istella willing, the Lord of Threshold was stymied. Hopefully, he was dead or otherwise unable to exact revenge, as he feared that the other mage was stronger than him. He also hoped his body was not drowning or crushed in the belly of the Quicksilver while his mind was elsewhere.
The land of Noloder expressed its approval of the dragon's and mongrel's alliance. With Goliath as a conduit, it ever so slowly mended the bones the dragon broke in her fall to earth. With remembered skill surprising to him, Goliath set these bones, then allowed the life energy from the forested isle to flow into them, knitting them back together. Then, with a massage of his hands, the power reattached snapped muscles and tendons. After an exhausting time, Goliath wiped the sweat from his leonine forehead and slumped his eight-foot frame against a fallen tree.
The dragon gathered herself together, flexing her newly repaired wings with glee. "I thank you," she spoke in the common tongue of Tolagrand. "Both for the healing and the gift of the tongue. Both you, Quintillius, and the land."
At the mention of the name, the mongrel had a flash of memory long forgotten; that of knives and water and fire, of magic great in scope and small in effect. Of one whose name was "father."
"Is that not your name? I gained it during your medical attention."
"Maybe long ago. I've had many names, but mainly I am just myself. The latest name is 'Goliath.'"
The dragon wrinkled her nose. "From that bastard Lucas, I bet. It sounds like a name he would give. He may have captured me, but he was unable to change my name, Gythernax!" She reared up on her rear haunches and breathed a gout of flame into the air. "I am Gythernax, and I will be my own again, though this be a strange plane. Let us escape before Lucas can reestablish his hold on me. He is busy just now, his engines broken."
"Yes, freedom. Something that you hunger for, too. Jump up." She lowered her neck to allow Goliath to mount her. "You know this land better than I. Where shall we go to leave Lucas and the others behind?"
Goliath screwed up his face, willing long-forgotten lessons to the surface. It had been a long time since he needed to think of things beyond Noloder. "We are on the west coast of the island of Noloder," he started hesitantly. "To the north, is the Empire of Aquilaria."
"So, we go south." Gythernax flapped once and launched herself into the air.
"...to the deserts of Artaq and Salaq," continued Goliath. "Once we're there, we can head west to eventually lose ourselves in the forests of Zoamistragoria. That's near the free city of Rhodessa." He smiled at his remembered geography.
"We shall have to worry about that later. After we get far enough away from the mighty Lord of Threshold that he can't reestablish his link." She pumped her newly-healed wings into almost a blur, flying south with all the haste she could muster.
"What in the Abyss?" cursed Captain Ontello, as he watched the dragon that had so recently plummeted into the ground take off and make south as if her tail were on fire.
"Should we follow?" asked the helmsman.
"No, if Kensington's creatures are deserting him, even if they can somehow heal themselves quickly, we have no need to concern ourselves with them. Now." He gripped the rail tightly, looking down at the smoking remains of the Colossus that had so recently been batting at them as a child would at a butterfly. "Titus!"
The Caelix was startled out of his own open-mouthed examination of the wreckage. "Sir?"
"It looks like the Excelsior broke the interloper's toys," he said, sweeping his arm to encompass the Colossus and the smoking ship standing off the coast. "But he may have perished, given the pyrotechnics coming off that ship a few minutes ago. I'm sure you Caelixi can detect each other? Find him!"
"Uh, I'll try, sir." The Caelix closed his eyes and sent his senses questing out to the Quicksilver. A couple minutes later, he blinked and looked around for the Captain, who was now on the other side of the deck. "Sir?"
"Out with it! I'm busy!" Indeed, the Dawn Spear was closing with the apparently dead Quicksilver.
"I can't find him anywhere! And they're close to getting the ship operational!"
"It certainly isn't going anywhere...." Ontello replied, peering at the ship with a critical eye.
"I meant the weapons!" Almost as if on cue, a ballista bolt thudded into the hull of the Dawn Spear.
"Well, Mr. Angolicus, then you had better soften them up a bit, eh?" He turned and exhorted his own ballista crews to return fire.
Dizzy from the smoke, Kensington climbed through broken hatches out of the terrionic generator room toward the main deck. Fortunately, the destruction of his machines didn't seem to have holed the hull, so at least the Quicksilver was still seaworthy. Undoubtedly, the barbarians on the other ship (the Dawn Spear?) would be taking advantage of the slight setback, so he would need to be on guard. But first, because his outside eyes and ears were all gone, he'd have to get to deck to check out the situation.
Suddenly he had a thought. But what about the dragon? From what he knew of Shatterstorm, she would be unaffected. He tried to create a connection, but all he got back was excruciating pain. That's right, she plummeted to earth. He would heal her later, when he got the chance. She was useless in that condition. Well, the pain would teach her a lesson.
"I'll have to thank Lord Kensington later for this, if we survive," muttered Captain Wellwarden from the Quicksilver's bridge.
"Sir?" said a nearby lieutenant.
"Nothing. Get those ballistae working! We need to keep the other ship away long enough to make repairs and escape."
"We're not running from the natives, are we?" asked the lieutenant, aghast.
"What do you think? Our instruments are gone in a flash of light, the Van de Graaffs have collapsed, the cannon never worked on this plane, we've lost helm control. and Lord Kensington is missing. We're going to have a very tough time just getting home, let alone with a a skyship raining bolts on us." He fought to keep the panic out of his voice.
"Captain! Skyship is approaching!" came a voice.
He looked out of one of the port windows at the closing ship. "Man the ballistae! We need them working now! They're not paying a social call, men!" He leaped from his chair to oversee the crews personally, as intraship communication was down as well. "I'll throttle his scrawny neck if he survived..."
Kensington finally fought his way up to deck, falling out of a hatch onto his hands and knees. Despite the unfamiliar pain from many scratches and bruises he gained in his fight to the deck, he forced himself to stand and take in the situation.
The skyship was closing, firing ballistae at the smoking hulk of his flagship. He could detect only a few bolts travelling back in the other direction, and they were all missing. Damn! he cursed under his breath. His crew was not trained to fire upon flying ships. Something that would have to be rectified. But first things first.
Time to get some mana the old-fashioned way, without the generators, he thought. He faced the island of Noloder and began to pick apart the unwilling flows of mana. This would take a while.
"Mr. Angolicus! Let's see some magic! They're wounded badly, but they still have some fight in them!"
"Working on it, sir...." answered Titus through clenched teeth. Finally, the spell was complete, one of the most difficult he'd ever done, certainly. The water elemental, although it would be considered small by planewalker standards, was his. He ordered it to swamp the other ship.
"Well, Titus, that's a bit more creative than just tossing fireballs. The Caelixi may have some redeeming attributes, after all."
Titus thought that the captain's veiled insults were getting a bit much. He'd better transfer to another ship before did something stupid to the captain.
"Helm! Get us over the ship! They probably can't raise their ballistae that high!"
"Sir?" asked the first mate.
"And we can't depress ours that low. Yes, Claudia, I know. We'll wait for the elemental to soften them up, then board the ship. That is, unless it actually downs the ship, and then we'll capture the survivors."
Claudia smiled. "Yes, sir."
Baergus finally returned to his body, and a world full of pain. He stirred, and began to mentally inventory all of his limbs. They seemed whole and functioning perfectly. Confident that nothing was broken, he forced himself up through the pile of detritus that had settled upon him. As he brushed the dust from his blue robes, he took stock of the room. A ruined machine stood to the side, the one that Lord Kensington used to channel mana. Interesting, even in its broken state. Perhaps it would help the Empire, if its function could be restored.
Baergus drew in mana, feeling with his senses the extents of the machine, and preparing to teleport out with it in tow.
Fortified with the blue and green mana from nearby Noloder, Kensington flushed the pain from his body and made a prodigious leap to his pentacle room, the clear dome of which had been shattered by either an explosion or a stray ballista bolt. No matter, it made getting to the pentacle from the outside easier. A sweep of his hand with a bit of blue mana cleared the glass shards off the pentacle, and he took his usual position in the center. True, there were no terrionic generators to enhance his power, but it was still a mystical focus.
First, he saw the water elemental savaging the bow of the ship, making it bob up and down. The skyship seemed to be standing off and merely watching the show. Good. Time to heal and recall the dragon. He located her presence, and poured healing energy into her to remove the pain she radiated. Strange, it wasn't working. He increased the force of his will to see what was the matter.
"Gythernax! You traitor!" he shouted mentally.
"Gythernax? What is it?" shouted Goliath over the whistling wind, noticing that the dragon's flight had become erratic.
"He's.. he's trying to re-exert his will on me..." came the reply, as the dragon started losing altitude at a frightening rate.
"Gythernax! Fight it! Remember, freedom!" called the mongrel, patting the dragon's neck.
"Freedom..." The dragon trailed off as the water became frighteningly close.
To be continued...
And, as promised, here is your free card...
Spell may only target an opponent's creature. Opponent loses control of target creature, and it does not count as being under any player's control. It remains in play, however. At beginning of each player's Upkeep, that player flips a coin. If it comes up heads, he gains control of the creature.
"A dangerous spell, but useful in desperate circumstances."
|Copyright © 1997 Tim Bailey|
- Noloder = NO-lo-der
- Neevalan = NEE-va-lan
- Istella = is-TELL-ah
- Gythernax = gie-THAER-nax
- Artaq = ARE-tack
- Salaq = sah-LACK
- Zoamistragoria = zoe-ah-miss-tra-GORE-ee-ah
- Rhodessa = roe-DESS-ah
- Titus Angolicus = TIE-tus an-GOL-ih-cuss
- Baergus Noladro = BEAR-gus no-LAH-dro
"Shatterstorm" is property of Wizards of the Coast. This story should not be considered as a challenge to any trademark or copyright of WOTC. The rest of "Quicksilver Part 4" is Copyright 1997 by Timothy Bailey. All rights reserved. This story may not be distributed for profit, with the exception of the normal charges for online time.