Quicksilver Part 5
Originally posted late 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.
"You shall not have your freedom, dragon," spoke Lord Kensington calmly in a biting tone. "I have captured you fairly."
"No, Lucas," Gythernax's mental voice echoed back inside his head. "I will not submit. There is no such thing as a fair capture for a dragon."
"It is better for my legend, then, to capture you." Kensington clenched his teeth as he pitted his weakened magical energies against the mind of the dragon.
Titus jerked his head upward. "Yes?" he spoke to the air.
"Control yourself, lad," replied the calm mental tones of Baergus. "You don't need to speak aloud for the mind-speech. The mundanes are more astounded that way."
"I thought you were dead!"
Baergus chuckled. "So did I. Even us Excelsiors make mistakes. Now, where are you?"
"W-Where are you?"
"In the belly of the Quicksilver, and eager to leave. Now, where are you?"
"Right above you."
"What, is that idiot Ontello pressing the attack? I told him to get out of here."
"Well, the Colossus exploded, and the Quicksilver was badly damaged..."
"No matter. Now, picture where you are. I have a present for the Patriarch, and the teleportation is going to be difficult..."
Goliath was a troubled spectator to the struggle between the dragon and the sorcerer, watching helplessly the ocean rapidly approach as Gythernax spent her energy on resisting Kensington's call.
He was just about to jump so as not to be sucked under with the dropping dragon's backwash, when she again began to gain altitude. "It is over," she said over the wind.
"Good," he replied, patting the dragon's neck. It was then he noticed Gythernax's course altering back to the North. "Gythernax?" he asked.
"As I said, it is over." Goliath looked one last time at his dreams fleeing to the South.
Baergus rechecked that he knew the extents of Kensington's ruined machine, and that Titus had his destination. Then he was gone from the Quicksilver's hold.
He appeared in sunlight, then felt himself falling. He collided with the deck of the Dawn Spear a fraction of a second later.
Titus appeared a moment later, and helped his superior up. "A slight miscalculation, lad," said Baergus, brushing himself off. "Now, where's the captain?"
The Caelixi Excelsior followed Titus' pointing finger to the captain. "Ontello, get us out of here immediately."
"I'm sorry about that, Excelsior, but we have a chance to capture this ship for the Empire." He fixed Baergus with a recalcitrant stare.
"Look, Captain Ontello, I know I strictly am not your superior, but I strongly advise you to leave immediately. Kensington is still alive, and working up quite a magical storm down there."
"Bah, we have him."
"Actually, I think not. His casting is reaching its crest."
Almost in response to the Caelix's words, the air around the Dawn Spear was filled with winged creatures, diving down at the skyship.
"Satisfied?" Baergus began a casting of his own, to counter Kensington's desperate summoning of Illusionary Forces, Phantasmal Forces and a Phantom Monster.
A few short minutes later, it was over. Maintaining the illusion had finally outstripped Kensington's resources, but in the interim, they had slashed the Dawn Spear to ribbons. All the sails were ruined, and the only reason that it remained afloat was the deadly illusions couldn't touch the air spirit that inhabited the hull.
Still, thought Baergus, it was definitely sinking slowly, and drifted lazily in an arc, without any control. He paused a second to wet his fingertip and draw the symbol of Gordestin on fallen Titus' forehead, in the tradition of the Caelixi. He had not thought that the young Caelix would have had the strength to defeat the Phantom Monster, but he had done so. The Angolicus family should be proud of his comportment in this battle, despite its questionable beginnings.
As Baergus walked the deck, he stumbled over another dead body. Obviously none of the attackers, because they dissipated upon their "deaths". Another young sailor, life snuffed out in this pointless battle. That Ontello would be cast out of the navy in disgrace, if he had anything to say about it.
Baergus slipped in a pool of blood, tumbling to the deck next to another of the copious dead bodies. Well, Baergus thought while looking at the blank, contorted stare on this one, at least he went down with his ship. A final bit of redemption. It was not Baergus' way to hold a grudge beyond the grave.
The Caelix closed his eyes and quested outward for signs of life. There were few, very few. He found the first mate was still alive and with an ungainly heave, stood up. Clambering back to the rear deck, he roused the unconscious crewmember. She sat up, dabbing blood away from her scalp wound.
"Claudia Ziva, you now have command of the Imperial Skyship Dawn Spear, such as it is. Captain Marcus Ontello is dead, as is most of the rest of the crew. Please gather the survivors and escape to shore."
"And you, Caelix?" she asked, still in a daze.
He smiled grimly. "I will guard our rear. Your late captain may have had the right idea. This Kensington needs to be taught a lesson."
And that was that, thought Kensington, admiring the way the Dawn Spear started drifting aimlessly with the wind above him. Summoning illusions like that was tiring, but they seemed to be his only option given his current state. Now, he would have some leisure to finally destroy the barbarian vessel, and depart before any more appeared. The battle had distracted the mages above long enough that the water elemental savaging the Quicksilver had been easily dispatched.
A trumpet call above him caused him to look up. It was.. a blue dragon? No, too small to be a dragon. A drake, perhaps. The drake settled to the deck and the familiar figure of the barbarian mage, now streaked with blood, jumped to the deck.
"Kensington, you have gone too far now. I was willing to let you repair your ship and be on your way, since you had been taught an important lesson. Now, however, I will have your life. Your head on a pole would be ironic, no?"
Kensington sneered back, "Who is it without a ship now? Your toy ship looks ready to fall from the sky. You were so mighty you could not repulse my minor assault?"
"I think it took more out of you than you admit, Kensington." He waved the Azure Drake forward, who leapt at the other mage with open fangs.
Kensington stepped back in startlement, taking a claw rake down his left side. He grimaced in pain and struggled away from the drake. While it was considering the question of where its prey had gone, Kensington summoned a Whip Vine. When the drake attacked again, the vine wrapped itself around the drake and held it fast.
But then the mage himself was on him, sword in hand. Only a lucky step to the side kept him from a nasty gut wound. He backpedaled hastily while he called one of his Auspecular Swords. He parried the other mage's next slash easily with it.
"I will have your head, personally, Kensington," grunted his opponent.
"You're outclassed, barbarian. I'm obviously the much better swordsman. Stick to your pretty creatures." He jerked his head toward the bound drake.
"No matter, I will still defeat you!"
"With what? You have no good spells ready. You're just trying to stall until your reinforcements arrive. Don't bother, they're far off. You give yourself up now, and I promise you your cell won't be too uncomfortable."
"Never, Kensington." There was fear behind his eyes, however.
There suddenly came a wrenching, splintering sound from above. Both mages looked up in surprise. Kensington smiled, while the Caelix looked on in horror.
Gythernax had returned. The re-enthralled dragon fell upon the disabled Dawn Spear with a fury, ripping masts away to clear a landing space on the deck. The remaining living sailors fled to the other end of the deck as the dragon dropped her bulk on the bow, causing the whole ship to wobble. She started to rip up the planking with her sharp foreclaws.
"Gythernax! Break the spell!" yelled Goliath, still on the dragon's back. He pounded uselessly on her back to increase the impact of his words.
"Too late, little one. I - and you - are Kensington's now."
"Never!" Goliath leapt down to the ship, going down through the broken deck. He started scrabbling aft, in hopes to steal one of the lifeboats.
"No, Goliath." Gythernax plucked Goliath from the wreckage, not ungently with a foreclaw. "We will find out how well you swim." She negligently flicked the mongrel over the side and went back to destroying the ship.
The two mages watched in dark fascination as the dragon pulled apart the skyship. Finally, the Dawn Spear broke apart, and with an ethereal wail, the air spirit that kept it aloft escaped back to from whence it came. The spirit's wailing so distracted the dragon that she didn't immediately take wing and fell for long moments with the last of the wreckage. But she broke free and glided back towards the Quicksilver, awaiting Kensington's next command.
Kensington looked back towards the Baergus, ready to resume the hostilities, but the Caelix had discarded his sword for some gauntlets. "Kensington, an eye for an eye, a ship for a ship, meet your doom." Baergus gestured with his Gauntlets of Chaos at the dragon and drake. The gauntlets crumbled, and the drake ceased his struggling. "Enjoy your stay in the Abyss," muttered Baergus darkly, before leaping overboard.
Kensington glanced from the drake to Gythernax, openmouthed.
Gythernax felt her compulsion to follow Lucas' will wither away, replaced by another's. But this one was much more amenable to her heart's desire. The first task: destroy the Quicksilver. With pleasure, she thought. She alighted on the foredeck and with one smash from a foreclaw, destroyed Maximilian Lucas' thrice-damned casting pentacle. A feeling of pleasure washed over her. Now for the rest of the ship.
"Damn you, Caelix!" shouted Kensington as his dragon attacked his ship. The buckling deck caused by the dragon knocked him from his feet. He brought a Disenchant to his lips, but... there was nothing to use it on? What magic was this? Damn! Damn! Damn! And he had no white mana to use it, anyway.
The only thing he could think of was Enervate, which slowed down the dragon. She slumped against the deck, her energy drained. Kensington immediately regretted the spell, as the dragon's bulk crushed even more of the Quicksilver. And then a short time later, Gythernax's energy returned, and she continued the ship's destruction with renewed fury.
But the cessation had allowed him to free the drake and mount it. He surveyed the destruction from above, seething inside. "You leave me little choice, Baergus Noladro, of the Caelixi." Pulling mana from Noloder, he released a Hydroblast at the dragon. She wailed once in pain, then blew apart. "It will take long for her essence to reform in Threshold, and she'll be even more intractable than before. And I'll need to replace the Quicksilver."
He prepared to make the long planewalk back to Threshold, but something struggling in the water caught his eye. "Ah, Goliath, the source of all these troubles," he spoke as he saw the leonine head bob above water. "You will be part payment." He urged the drake lower, and had him pick the exhausted mongrel from the water. "Yes, you'll mitigate the cost." Then he was gone.
The sharp eyes of Baergus picked out Kensington's exit from Tolagrand, from the shore on which the merfolk he had summoned had deposited him. "Damn him. I know that he'll be back, but I doubt it will be soon."
"What makes you think so?" asked Claudia, one of the few survivors of the Dawn Spear.
"I saw in his mind that the Quicksilver was his only ship he would deign to cross planes on. There are others, but very small and unworthy for the Lord of Threshold." He sighed. "I hate letting him escape anyway, but getting him to lead us directly to Threshold is worth it."
"How?" she asked, puzzled.
"We Caelixi must keep our secrets. Now, let's see if we can rescue any of those Threshold sailors. We'll find out more about our friend that way, at least." He slowly, got into one of the skyboats and ordered it back over the water.
And, as promised, here is your free card...
|Tap, discard a card at random: Choose target creature opponent controls. That creature's controller must reveal a random card from his/her hand to all players. If the casting cost of this revealed card is greater than or equal to target creature's power, target creature is buried.|
|Copyright © 1997 Tim Bailey|
- Noloder = NO-lo-der
- Neevalan = NEE-va-lan
- Gythernax = gie-THAER-nax
- Titus Angolicus = TIE-tus an-GOL-ih-cuss
- Baergus Noladro = BEAR-gus no-LAH-dro
- Gordestin = gore-DESS-tin
- Claudia Ziva = CLAW-dee-ah ZEE-vah
"Illusionary Forces", "Phantasmal Forces", "Phantom Monster", "Azure Drake", "Whip Vine", "Gauntlets of Chaos", "Disenchant", "Enervate", and "Hydroblast" are 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 5" 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.