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Artimidor Federkiel
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« on: 11 November 2014, 02:51:52 »

Here comes a variation of good old Tom & Jerry stuff, less cartoony and with more text. Served Ximaxian style...  cool Written mainly because of Quellion's priceless pic below that just demanded a proper story to go with it.

Magic and Stuff

Teaser

Peace and quiet reigns in Ximax on a common Prayday afternoon. Magicians are resting, students reading, sages discussing while sipping coffee or cha, and spellcasting takes a well deserved pause. That's the situation - at least until it all goes haywire. The Master himself might be asleep, but his Ximaxian pets are wide awake. Well, in the end just one of them is wide awake technically speaking, but that's somewhat difficult to explain, you know. Because the Master's cat and rat are involved in an adventure that involves alchemy and magic and leads straight into the Netherworlds and back. If only the Master had known what his Ximaxian pets were up to - he'd better have spent his Prayday with, well, praying...

Site version: see here

Download: Word document (15 pages)



Part I
 
It was one of those rainy Prayday afternoons.

Stuff sat in the study with nothing better to do than leafing through a tome, skimming a passage here, marvelling at a sketch of a diagram there, memorizing formulas, making mental notes and drawing conclusions. Pretty much like any ambitious student with too much time on his hands is supposed to do in his spare time – lacking other alternatives, that is. Well, no life-changing events were scheduled to happen in a Ximaxian mage's spire on a Prayday afternoon. That's because Prayday was rest day, and that included spellcasters as well. Master Grorm was probably still sleeping off his intoxication somewhere in the attic, at least a suppressed snoring from above suggested that. The Master had a habit of taking Fastday quite literally, and that meant little food and a lot of drink – so much drink actually that the fast often lasted – involuntarily – the whole of Prayday, and sometimes a good deal into Washday...

Stuff turned a page. He twitched his whiskers as he came upon something particularly interesting that demanded a comment, one way or the other. A twitching with the whiskers was the least he could do. – Whiskers? Ah yes, well, that's because Stuff was a rat, a Ximaxian one for that matter, and sitting up on a bookcase reading one of the legendary guides on magic by Khaelvan III. on a Prayday afternoon was not only something he could do, but something he liked to do. With utmost pleasure. And persistence. Especially on rainy days. Praydays or not. Most of the time he had the afternoon free, that's one of the advantages pets enjoy.



Suddenly the bookcase shook noticeably.

It was enough to derail Stuff's train of thought and make him tilt his head downwards with a rodent's equivalent to a frown. There! His beady eyes caught an irritating cerubell eyed furry presence. Said presence had obviously failed miserably in walking straight past this particular bookcase. Instead it enjoyed rubbing its fire red back on the lowest row of books, causing unease further up in the rat department.

"Quit fiddling with that shelf, you lousy excuse for a cat!" Stuff roared, erm... thought to be precise. – After all, Ximaxian rats have rarely been observed talking (not one single time actually!), and even rarer roaring. Which, all in all, doesn't amount to much precision communication-wise. Stuff himself had always wondered about that striking discrepancy between thought and expression of his species. However, at some point he had given up trying to explain it, concluding that he was simply beyond such petty human questions. Rats had other things on their mind.

Anyway, with the roar – or: attempt of a roar – Stuff thought he had made himself as clear as he could. A couple of storeys further down this was perceived as a... squeak. But it was an agitated, annoyed squeak that demanded attention.

"What's that fuss up there?" meowed the feline agitator by the name of Maelwyn.

Stuff squeaked once more and then again, meaning: "I tell you what the fuss is! You're disturbing my well deserved peace and quiet!"

The feline agitator however decided to agitate some more, now on purpose. Once again he threw his back against the bookcase – this time with verve and definance, so that the looser books were visibly rocking back and forth. Stuff's bookmark, a beautiful feather of a blue glitra, dropped off the board's edge where it was resting on and sailed ceremoniously to the ground.

"Shoo, shoo! Away with you, dratted infernal beast!" Stuff scolded squeakily. "How about following the Master's example? Get plastered by... a bowl of milk perhaps! E-l-s-e-w-h-e-r-e!"

"I'll teach you elsewhere!" Maelwyn meowed back angrily and made a half-hearted attempt at climbing the shelf. At least he drove his paws in the second row of books and looked up, all combat-ready. "How did you get up there anyway?"

"See? No point there in having a serious chase," Stuff made clear. "Better give up before you start. You know, the difference between Ximaxian cat and rat is that the first sports all the lazyness it inherits from its Master and the latter the brains. And as the Master is indisposed, it's the rat that has to run the house, you see? So just do what you do best and help your Master sleep it off." That was quite a mouthful for someone incapable of actually talking.

But somehow the squeaky speech was effective enough. As if by command Maelwyn yawned listlessly, suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to find a cozy place on a cushion by the fire. The change of mind was also motivated by the fact that the loose books threatened to come down not as ceremoniously as the feather before. Continuing to rock the bookcase meant asking for it.

Maelwyn made up his mind. Let rat be rat wherever that beady-eyed nuisance preferred to irritate its surroundings. Let it be the problem of the surroundings to deal with the critter. After all: If you are seriously annoyed, just declare it null and void, the cat recalled a wise saying, and chose to ignore the rat in favour of a decent after-lunch nap.

"Ah, not worth it," Maelwyn seemed to grumble in his typical catty grandeur as he finally turned around. "At least the kuatuskull produced one good idea for today, and that is there's nothing better than a good day's sleep." Day or night, sleep always feels right, was one of those mottoes cats adhered passionately, and the Ximaxian sort was no exception.

Stuff watched Maelwyn as he strolled off, head and tail held high, wallowing in his own pride. Cats! the rat commented and shook his tiny head, imitating master Grorm's preferred gesture of displeasure against life, the universe and everything.

But as soon as peace had once again settled in the study, it felt almost too quiet somehow.  Aside from being occasionally annoying, the cat really was no use at all, Stuff concluded. It wasn't even up for the traditional cat and mouse game and posed as much danger for a rat as the cushion it was sleeping on!

It was then that Stuff was struck by an idea: How about shaking it all up a bit? He raced to a reference book nearby he had looked at a while ago entitled "Alchemy - Purposes and Dangers", subtitled "What to do and why, and especially what not do, and why not", written by a certain Olmin Herbbrewer II. (writing about the mistakes of his father who seemed to have perished "in herb brewing action").

Hmmm... Where was that passage again? – Ah, there! It read:

"Word of warning: Certain kinds – or to be precise – very specific parts of certain kinds of vegetables, fruit or vegetation in general can cause severe irritation to the skin and should be handled with the utmost care by any alchemist. Even more so if used in conjunction with other substances known to react to these elements and thus intensify said irritation. The fine hairs of common rose hips for example are known to cause itching (mild to aggressive, depending on various factors like freshness and quantity), as are the seeds of the exotic mucunprur. If combined however, crushed and grinded properly, these two components make quite a powerful powder, much stronger than high quantities of just a single ingredient. Be especially careful when handling... blah, blah, blah..."

Stuff had read enough. – Ha! Maelwyn needed to be taught a lesson! He had begged for it for so long, and some itching powder might be just right to do the trick. With a little bit of effort even a lousy rat should be capable of preparing an effective mixture! (Not that he had lice. The cat was another matter.)

In a jiffy Stuff entered the alchemy lab, climbed the mantlepiece and surveyed the whole army of small bowls Master Grorm had organised there on a rack. Thankfully the labels in front of the bowls were neatly alphabetized, so that even ratty rascals had no trouble finding what they were looking for. Usually Master Grorm made brews, potions, ointments or powders out of these ingredients, which subsequently would serve as reagents to help the one or the other spell do its business a tad more effective than without.

Anyway... Just the powder is what we're here for. That would be enough to terrorize a feline fellow, Stuff knew. No need to use it as a reagent for an enchantment. But well, teaching the cat some manners would have its advantages... Then again, rainy Prayday afternoon activities would also be more boring with a cat that tended to behave itself. So Stuff just stuck to the original plan: Make some powder and apply it to the guinea pig subject in form of a sleeping victim of the feline kind. Oh, and be prepared for some reaction... He twitched his whiskers in excitement.

Well, producing the powder indeed proved quite the feat. Endowed with intelligence, but way too tiny paws handling mortar and pestle was not as easy as Stuff had thought. (Literally, as the thought indeed was easy. Such shortcomings occurred regularly to a brainy rat like Stuff.) Fortunately the mortar was located a level below the rack with the bowls on it, directly on the mantlepiece. By moving the rose hips and mucunprur bowls around Stuff got them finally in position so he could tilt them enough and drop its contents into the vessel below.

Ha! Now that went rather well, didn't it? Stuff thought.

Poppycock!

Right at the moment when he wanted to savour his accomplishment Stuff and his excitement ran into one of the bowls nearby. While the latter simply overturned due to the rat's artistic way of crashing into things (an elegant nosedive with the bowl landing on his back - now try that if you want to!), the whole incident resulted in sending most of the bowl's load down to the floor where it spread beautifully like freshly fallen snow, forming an idyllic carpet made of white-beige flakes. Even the cat was decorated a bit with the blessing from above, but luckily didn't feel irked enough to raise a paw and continued its slumber. Phew...

Stuff scurried to investigate. The label on the maltreated bowl read "Chips of Light Stones". Hmmm... Well, they were a wee bit glowing, but if providing some additional light was all they were capable of, that shouldn't spoil the fun.

Ah well, Stuff thought by himself and went on to work on grinding the contents of the bowl.

Excited the rat
picked up the porcelain made pestle with his tiny claws, scurried along the mortar's rim and set out to do a couple of laps around the vessel, balancing on its edge while at the same time making a lasting impression on its contents pestle-grinding-wise. The scratching noise of his tool proved the plan was working – exhausting, but working. A little rest, another couple of rounds, and the same procedure again. And again, and once more. Until the point when everything in the bowl had turned into a fine, bloodred powder with a few tiny decorative grey sprinkles, all ready to let doom descend on a still purring cohabitant...

There it went: One final push and the mortar tipped over, its whole contents raining down on the unsuspecting feline subject that lay next to the fireside, cuddled up in form of a ball...

Let there be itches and twitches!, Stuff thought triumphantly, satisfied with his work. Then he used a nearby curtain to glide off the mantlepiece and make a bolt for it, leaving the tomcat below unbeknownst what hit him.

Erm... Something hit him alright.

In the form of a what could commonly be described as a boom. Or a ka-boom. Maybe even a ka-booooom, as the thunderous sound was long, loud and rolling. It shook the whole tower like a tiny earthquake, puffs of smoke shot up here and there and colourful sparks were flying in all directions like the famous firework displays by Ximax greatest magi on the day of Foyrocar.

KA-BOOOOOM!

Yep, Stuff had heard it as well. Though only the first bang. Others followed, including a drawn-out "Meeeeeeowww!" but all these noises had lost their edge, due to the fact that the rat had turned half deaf already thanks to the first ear-battering explosion.

Stuff just stood there, transfixed, rooted on the spot, surveying the fireworks. In awe. However, this time he refrained from the applause when the mists cleared. It didn't seem appropriate. His first analysis suggested that he might have had slightly underestimated any effect of chips of burning stones when hit by sparks of fire. Which wasn't entirely impossible, Stuff had to admit in retrospect, given the fact that the powder had been dumped over an area that included a fireplace. And yes: An active fire indeed had complicated the situation even further.

Boom, boom, boom-dee-dee-boom... The last remnants of a fading catastrophe echoed through the room.

Stuff rubbed the dust from his eyes, then valiantly moved into the battlefield. There it was, the chosen guinea pig in form of a tomcat, still overwhelmed by the unannounced fireworks display. The subject also featured an arched back (quite typical for the feline sort, if the circumstances suggested to make one), a maw that was agape, and one of that cat's paws was reaching out as if it meant to claw someone.

Especially striking was that the cat didn't appear to show signs of any itching whatsoever. Evidently because it was so transfixed due to the whole affair. Or petrified. Yes, petrified. That hit the nail on the head.  Uhmm, Stuff thought all of a sudden: Petrified...


Part II

"...much stronger than high quantities of just a single ingredient. Be especially careful when handling..." This time Stuff turned the page. "...handling such mixtures near inflamable objects and/or a fire source. Especially, do not bring it in close proximity to further fire based reagents. Any such combination might lead to unpredictable reactions. Results might be instantaneous and devastating. Even a case of a cockroach turning to stone has been reported in this context, but could not yet be confirmed."

Ha, works with all kinds of vermin. I can confirm that!, squeaked Stuff. Do I get a prize now? However, he was nervously twitching his whiskers.

It didn't help either that the text finished with the ominous "In conclusion: Act only with utmost caution!"

On that other note he added a word in his thoughts that summarized the situation most poignantly: Drat!

Arguably the little experiment had gone a tad too far. Nevertheless, a couple of minutes and some superficial research later, Stuff had a decent plan how to breathe new life into a tomcat temporarily bitten by the passivity bug. At least he thought so. And actually it was quite simple. Yes, there indeed was one ultimate way to get rid of all kinds of enchantments. All it took was a shortcut through the Netherworlds... This time he would follow instructions to the T.

Splendid, Stuff thought of his plan. Master Grorm would be proud of me.

That was before he tried it.

*****

A while later an unusual sight presented itself in the vast halls of the mage’s spire. If somebody were watching, they would have rubbed their eyes in disbelief:

A rat with a plan scurried through the rooms, a strange contraption attached to its tiny body. It was made of string, hastily and crudely fashioned into a harness. Thanks to this contraption the tiny critter managed to have a much larger object in its tow, and while it had its difficulties with it, determination helped to get things going. The object? Well, it looked like a distorted odd sculpture portraying something bearing resemblance to a feline. The way the whole scene appeared it could have been some piece of performance art carefully orchestrated by one of those fancy New-Santhalan artists. You know, they always try to express the strange and weird through the common and familiar, thus making some sort of comment on the world in general or, say, the Santhran in particular. For a spectator’s eye – thankfully non-existent – the fact that a rat dragged an immobile cat around might have contributed to the perception that someone tried to make some sort of arty statement here.... But no, none of that kind. It was really just a rat dragging around a cat (not quite itself at the moment), and it was all for good reason.

Stuff and company finally came to a halt.

The towed in cat statuette was now resting in midst of a circle on the floor, a circle drawn with chalk, as was a plethora of arcane symbols surrounding it. The symbols themselves were encircled by a ring of candles placed within small chalked down triangles, and in the space between the triangles hexagons had been made that held bowls with ashes, leaves, roots, powders, salts. The room was known as the “Incantalla”, as any proper mage knew of course – and Stuff had just learned – and it served the summoning of anything Netherworldly. Thankfully Master Grorm had prepared pretty much everything for an upcoming procedure already, so all that was required for a rat with a mission was to trigger the summoning. Piece of cake!

Now one thing should be noted at this point: Summoning wasn’t Stuff’s specialty. Which explains why he thought he could pull the feat off. After all, his sources made the alluring promise that pretty much every enchantment could be undone by hurling a victim through a dimensional gate (as a by-product to the actual summoning). Sounded quite straightforward. And it was exactly the thing Stuff needed right now. It would solve a very evident problem. But well, repercussions were bound to happen.

There we go..., Stuff thought as he brought the final piece of the puzzle in position.

It was a tiny cubical object, not larger than the rat himself.[1]  The cube was glowing, first in ocean-blue, but then changed colours every few seconds to red, yellow, green and back to blue again, all the time slightly vibrating, almost bursting with the magical energy stored within. It was a small, but incredibly powerful magical artifact, known among magicians as a famous "portal breaker", which Master Grorm had acquired for quite a few sans, a true treasure of arcane mastery. It was way too precious to actually be used of course. It was just too powerful and arcane and more of a collector's item.

However, within a few blinks the artifact was bound to be disintegrated by a rat in order to correct a previous judgemental error that had resulted in magical fallout. Too bad. Sacrifices needed to be made.

There. Now the artifact rested solemnly next to the statuette, formerly known as Maelwyn the cat. Stuff quickly moved outside the drawn circle, as the summoning instructions wisely ommitted to mention that it was a great idea for warm-blooded beings to stay inside. One (at least right now) not too warm-blooded cat should do.

It lasted a while until the cube started to react.

Then came the flash.

The tiny object began to rattle, jump around and radiate very seriously. The changing of its colours intensified dramatically – clearly it was drawing further magical energy from its surroundings.

A moment later the candles in the triangles and hexagons lit up, one after the other within the blink of an eye. White smoke rose up to the ceiling, which got thicker and thicker, forming heavy wafts up there. The bowls of ashes, leaves, roots and what have you began to sizzle and crackle ominously.

In midst of it all the cat itself started to dance, or – more precisely speaking – to revolve around its own axis. Obviously no discernible dancing steps could be expected from a petrified cat, and so it moved as if thrusted around by a phantom hand following the beat of some unheard ghostly melody.

All of a sudden the room went dark. The candles had gone out.

Only their white smoke that by now had filled almost half of the Incantalla was still visible for some reason and it rolled around majestically, then broke on the walls like heavy surf on a shore. The smoke dispersed further and continued rolling in the other direction, only in tinier curls, thus eventually filling the entire room.

Geez Louise! Stuff thought. It was the first time he witnessed first-hand what happened behind doors in a room like this, and he didn't particularly like it. It was just a first taste.
The floor began to tremble. At first barely noticeable, then disquietingly noticeable, finally with a force that threw Stuff up and down as if it were playing ball with him. Something approached from to wherever the portal was connected to, accompanied by the sound of rolling thunder...

What had once been a mere sizzling and crackling simmering somewhere in the background now turned into a dominating, shrill cacophony of noises. A gruff, almost tangible ripping sound finally buried all other noises as it tore violently through the fabric of space:

Keeeee-keeeee-kriiiiissssSSSSH...

...which was followed by a no less alarming...

Kaaaaaaa-kaaaaaaaa-reeeeeesssssssssSSSSSHHHH...

...reverberating again and again with an unreal hollow echo arriving from, well – how to put it? – nowhere and everywhere at the same time...

Kaaaaaaa-rashhh... kaaaaa-rash... ka-rash... rash... ash... ash...

Ah yes, repercussions had been mentioned: Stuff had finally arrived at this point. And within an instant he discovered several flaws in his original ratty logic:

For one, the cat disappeared. Hrmpf. That was because opening a dimensional gate meant also sending the contents inside the circle through said gate in exchange for something else. In this case it was a stone cat meant to be de-petrified that went on a journey. Well, summoning is a two-way thing. So, saved or not, Maelwyn was gone.

Second, more summoning basics: While Stuff had focused on the one side effect that was relevant for his needs, the summoning procedure also had a primary effect. Duh! The primary effect was opening a passageway for a gargantuan demon to pay a visit.

The horrific beast first let out a blood-curdling roar, still hidden in the fog, then peeled itself out of it and showed itself in all its hideousness to the audience. Well, actually the demon looked a bit confused and irritated out of its sickly grey, yet extremely muscular skin. Now that it had arrived in a Ximaxian Incantella, the creature looked for someone who had torn it out from wherever it had existed before. However, instead of a great wizard all it spotted was a one single rat, which – to make matters even more confusing – had all of a sudden turned... uhm... mousy.

The demon to the contrary was tall, almost reached to the ceiling – yes, it even needed to hunch over to fit into the room! It stalked around like a goat on its hooves and howled in a strange mixture of desperation and lust for revenge. As it threw its heavy body around looking for other creatures which had participated in the summoning and which it might destroy, horns could be seen protruding from its putrid back here and there, and a long tail swept over the floor. Its mighty claws were willing to squish whatever happened to come their way, be it wizard or tiny mouse, or even a wizard mouse.

Put together, problem one and two resulted in a third. This was the very pressing one: How by the Twelve or the abysses of the Netherworlds would a tiny rat be able to get rid of its brand-new playmate? The fellow didn't turn out that well, and probably didn't have much to offer on the fun scale. And now that Stuff was presented with an alternative, Maelwyn seemed clearly preferable...

The beast didn't tarry. It lunged out with a roar to extinguish something. Due to the lack of mighty wizards, the rat would have to take the brunt.

...

There was a muffled noise.

Ayyyeeeeeee... The demon wailed in frustration.

The strike hadn't quite succeeded. It had been stopped by an invisible barrier that engulfed the summoning circle.

Ah, Stuff thought, Master Grorm set it all up splendidly! If he had been familiar with the sneering gesture of sticking out his toungue, Stuff would have done so.

Another strike hit the invisible wall with a loud thud. And then one more.

A visible crack appeared in the invisible barrier.

Uh-oh... Stuff made in his mind. Then he pulled himself together. You wait, Stinky. No need to hurry. Let me think of something...


Part III

Master Grorm was flying. And what a treat that was!

The Volkek-Oshra orc looked down on the citizens of the magical city that were milling around below. He was quite fascinated by the incessant to and fro he was watching from his lofty vantage point. It reminded him of the ever present commotion an ant hill had to offer, where everyone was heading towards somewhere else for some reason, where the whole community was busy and never came to a standstill the whole day long – only the frequency of the milling about changed occasionally.

Master Grorm liked his flying, but even more so he enjoyed making a sport out of swooping down on the chaotic masses every now and then – ah, that's where the real fun was! Like an eagle he suddenly used to shoot towards unsuspecting victims walking the cobblestone of a plaza, as if he were about to pick up prey... Suddenly panic struck the ant-like two-legged creatures, and they screamed and scattered in various directions, pointing at the mad orc in his red robe who was at it again! And there was nothing that could stop him! Hahaaa!

After the scare interlude he once again soared towards the skies, his ascent accompanied by an impish chuckle that eventually turned into a full-hearted evil laugh... Brouhahaaaaa!

Finally he spread his arms, transforming them into wings. His robe fluttered with a roar in the wind and gave him the necessary support for circling another round over the uneasy anthill below. Ah, what an elated feeling to have near divine powers: to turn ants into chicken any given moment – and all that without casting a single spell!

Ahhhh... oh--hooooaaaa.... Ooooooooops!

In his hubris the orc had just scraped past a spire. Missed it by a a mere hair's breath!

Well, he thought. Before the ant-like chicken get together to pick up pieces of a crashed orc – maybe it's time for a little journey elsewhere? The sky is the limit!

Thought so, then passed Dragonsbane Tower on the Outer Ximaxian City Wall and continued with veering off towards the western part of the city, the Hallowhall borough with attractions like Valgure's Magical Emporium, a large plague column (oooi-oi-oiiii, another close encounter!) and all those many taverns, among them the infamous "Wasted Wizard". Flying along he left the famed Magical Academy with its twelve prominent towers behind before floating over the rugged ranges of the Zirkumire Mountains that engulfed the Xaramon peninsula…

How about an excursion into, say, a cloud? he mused and was already on his way, heading towards the one he had just named "that one" on a whim, which otherwise could also have been referred to as the third one from the left.

Excited Master Grorm dove into what from below seemed like a giant ball of cotton wool. Everything turned white around him, as if bliss had made its home there.

Well, the orc didn't quite know what exactly to expect he would find inside a cloud. A dream like this should provide ample opportunities, he then mused. However, as he thought so it occurred to him at the same time that he thought that he was dreaming. And he thought that such thoughts on thinking can’t be thought in dreams. Except maybe when he was just about to wake up... Or so he thought.

He dismissed all that and flew on exploring. Whatever happened, he'd be prepared for everything. For everything maybe, except for what actually hit him.

Because there was something that hit him. And it hurt, no joke.

Suddenly Master Grorm had the feeling he wasn't flying through a cloud anymore and something had brought him back to a reality he had successfully escaped for a while. And at that point that thought about thinking about dreaming in a dream strangely made a weird kind of sense...

Well, as he was still in the process of untangling his thoughts, the opposite occurred, though: a major headache set in. The orc wanted to open his eyes and focus on his surroundings, but all he could see drowned immediately in a blurry haze, and then there was nothing anymore... nothing at all... absolutely nothing he would ever be able to clearly remember...

*****

"Giddy-up, boy! Go! By the nine-tailed cat of Minich! Go! Move! Mooooove!"

Stuff drew a tenuous breath. He was in a precarious position, but quite confident that things would be sorted out. They had to! Precarious for one was the fact that a demon was trying to tear down the magical prison he was trapped in. That was noticeable because of the noise he made and the walls that shook.

Kadooom... It went downstairs. Kadooooom-doooom-doom...

The other thing was that Stuff was riding on the head of a full-grown orcish mage, whom he had just awakened, sort of.

It goes without saying that a rat, even a Ximaxian one, isn't trained for riding orcs. Stuff scuttled about, trying to regain his footing which his tiny paws and hind legs regularly lost. He rocked back and forth on his unusual means of transport, never coming to a standstill. He felt like a helmsman on a ship battling the waves in a storm – and he had the suspicion that he was already seasick from the first few steps the orc had taken. It was even more complicated than that, because aside from trying to successfully ride on Master Grorm's head without falling off, Stuff was also busy with dangling a small golden pendulum in front of the orc's eyes. It was another smaller treasure from the mage's valued collection of artifacts, which had just been plundered once more to help out a pretty clever rat. Or a rat that thought to be pretty clever.

The artifact had done its job of hypnotizing the mage pretty well. First Master Grorm had to be wakened of course. His howl from pain inflicted by the piece of metal had been heart-warming. A pity, but there was no way of avoiding that. One cannot hypnotize someone already sleeping.

But then the orc had been instantly won for the cause after Stuff had begun to rhythmically swing the pendulum in front of the mage's eyes. Like a freshly made golem, eager for some action, Master Grorm had risen and stomped ahead as if there was no tomorrow.

And that’s where we are now.

"Ho! Not so fast!" the rat squeaked, struggling to rein the result of his latest attempt in dabbling with magic for a good cause.

"Ooooooh... ahhhhh... eeeeeek!" on the other hand were the actual sounds the heroic rider produced. They expressed pretty accurately how things were going.

"Right, right, RIGHT, you obstinate pighead of an orc!" Stuff squealed.

That however didn't amount to much. Nevertheless, moving the pendulum further to the desired direction did. The orc’s head turned, and his feet followed.

Kadooooom-doooom-doom... In the meantime the unwanted playmate below made clear he was still there. Doooom-DOOM!

"Coming, coming, comiiiiiing!" Stuff answered all paws full with directing the orc downstairs.

"Left now, left now... NOW! LEFT! YOU... There, there... That's it! Good boy!"

Indeed, after a few minor crashes into tables (thump!), glass cabinets (rattle and clang!) and walls (ouch, ouch and triple ouch!) that resulted in a bloody nose of the used vehicle (so sorry!), Stuff finally got the knack out of it. Eventually Master Grorm and his bloody nose plodded valiantly downstairs towards the Incantalla. Hypnosis has its advantages in times of need. Oblivious to everything around him the orc headed straight towards Stuff's special friend.

Kadooooom-doooom-doom... that one made again, banging on his crystal cage, apparently bent on attracting attention.

"Let's keep the introductions short", Stuff squeaked as Master Grorm came to a hault in front of the still trapped demon. "Stinky, Master Grorm - Master Grorm, Stinky. Now be nice to each other!"

The rat's whiskers twitched nervously. "While I leave you to exchange pleasantries, please excuse me for a bit. I have work to do, pals!" he concluded his short speech and hopped from the orc's shoulder.

It didn't matter much that none of his addressees could understand what he was squeaking. The both of them didn't even pay attention, each in his own way:

Master Grorm still just stood there like a piece of furniture in front of the whole summoned mess and took in the affair without batting an eye. Lacking the drowsy rhythm of the pendulum his expression was empty and his mind seemed on hold.

The summoned mess on the other hand found joy in bellowing demonically, howling and roaring between drawing disgusting rattling breaths filled with contempt. Moreover the beast reeked like a recently erupted Netherworldly volcano which still hadn't had enough yet of torturing otherworldly bystanders with its sulphuric vapors.

Again and again the creature's massive fists pounded on the walls of its invisible prison, which was seriously cracked all around by now. Any moment the enchanted crystal might...

Oioioi, Stuff thought. He didn't even want to imagine what the enchanted crystal might do in a moment. Oioioi...

A moment later it did. Burst, that is.

With a noise like a wagon load of glass being disposed unceremoniously on a stone floor the last resistance of the extra powerful, two- and threefold reinforced magical protection, the pride of a magician who had worked on it for weeks and weeks and weeks, gave way. Once and for all. In fact it was more like one single drawn-out deafening noise when the crystal shattered and broke into its tiniest bits. It fell apart like an eggshell, only loud and spectacular, revealing its grizzly occupant in all its infernal glory.

The demon howled in triumph. Finally he was free...

Master Grorm? No change there. He still looked on without batting an eye, freed demon or not.

"Harrrrrrgh..." sounded the demon's attempt to start a conversation.

Master Grorm was not impressed. He didn't have much to say in reply to such a relatively unspecific opening. And he was still mesmerized of course.

"Sorry again for interrupting your discussions", Stuff suddenly whimpered. In the meantime he had quickly mounted the orc again. He now had squeezed a piece of paper between his teeth. It looked funny that way, but Stuff’s whole tiny body was atremble on his unique observation post.

The demon looked a bit irritated at the stunts the little fellow pulled off, or maybe even amused – hard to judge given his ugly distorted features. That much was obvious however: he was taken aback a bit by the audacity of the little critter. Now he hesitated in his rampage. Curious he watched the rat buzzing around on the orc’s head with its peculiar load before seriously considering to destroy him along with his pedastal in orc-form. After all the little fellow had some entertainment value, and a grace period of a few moments seemed appropriate.

Stuff was still scrambling about maniacally. Finally he managed to position himself carefully above the forehead of his brown skinned friend, then leaned forward as best he could. He unrolled the scroll he had transported up to this point, covering the orc’s face.

The demon raised an eyebrow.

„Come on, dratted orc!“  Stuff squeaked at the top of his lung.

Master Grorm didn’t really transcend his role of playing furniture at this point in time. While he was far off from, say, embodying the essence of a dresser, he was getting closer the longer he stood still.

The demon frowned. He didn’t quite see the point in Stuff’s latest feat.

„What are you waiting for!?“ Stuff squealed in pain, having difficulties to hold his position.

Master Grorm wobbled a bit. The scroll seemed at least to have caught his attention, sparking doubts that his existence as furniture was all there was to it.

„Confronted with trusted items, actions or texts, the hypnotized is likely to be able to identify objects, repeat what he is suggested to do or e.g. read while in hypnosis.“

Stuff remembered that text. He was hoping Master Grorm would as well.

The demon wasn’t bothered with academical questions who had read what, why and when. This was getting ridiculous. He had quite enjoyed a scrambling rat, but the exciting stuff seemed to be over and done with.

"Harrrrrrgh..." he complained and opened his giant four-fingered hand, presenting his razor sharp claws, ready to put an end to the flagging effort of a show.

„Iraiá, méph’guouró!“ Master Grorm suddenly let out. It was more of a whisper, though, which sounded like a personal note rather than a menacing threat directed at someone in particular.

The demon couldn’t quite follow.

„RAAAAAAAAARGH!“ he snarled back in full force making up in volume for the wizard’s timid attempts.

„Rethaiá ác sáh’énh morasthián! Ánh!“ the mage continued nevertheless reading from the page in front of his hypnotized eyes. The good thing was: he didn’t actually see the monster that was now approaching, steaming with rage.

Stuff did and nearly toppled over, but had a narrow escape from his doom, saving himself from tumbling down at the very last moment.

But well, the demon now had had it. He grabbed the next item he could find, which happened to be a lectern, and hauled it in the direction of the rat, the mage and everything they represented.

Luckily, he missed.

In striking out the giant however already had managed to sweep away pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, be it bowls, candles, bookcases, tables, chairs, and all the rest that wasn’t nailed down but unfortunate enough to be in the demon’s way when he was expressing his emotions.

„Iraiá, méph’guouró! Rethaiá ác sáh’énh morasthián! Ánh!“ Master Grorm repeated composed and calm. This time a tad louder though, as if scolding a tiny tot once more not to play with matches.

The massive beast now swung his arm directly at the mage.

To which the unfazed orc once again said the very same thing: „Iraiá, méph’guouró! Rethaiá ác sáh’énh morasthián! Ánh!“

Something happened then the third time around he recited that. The air crackled, sparks sprung out of nothing, hung around for a bit, then disappeared again. The atmosphere suddenly changed and became dense, laden with an aggressive energy, pregnant with impending discharge of something magical that became almost tangible now. Whatever it was, it was present everywhere and could be felt in the tiniest recesses of the room…

The demon reared its head, sensing a force he hadn’t reckoned with. Apparently taken by fatigue by whatever happened around him, the swing he was about to deliver suddenly lost its power in midst of execution. The beast’s long arm eventually slumped listlessly to the floor.

The orc raised his voice, reiterating: „Iraiá, méph’guouró! Rethaiá ác sáh’énh morasthián! ÁNH!“

The words Master Grorm now spoke he spoke with determination. The constant repetition of the familiar phrase had ignited the mage’s dormant willpower. With it he provided the mantra with the magical focus it needed to actually take effect.

More and more sparks emerged and shot through the room, were drawn to its center, swirled around the hexagon and the demon. The natural afternoon light that had been shining through the window quickly lost out to the constantly shifting colours of freshly appearing sparks that took over lending everything an unreal vibrant taint.

The demon’s once triumphant roar changed into a painful wail.

„IRAIÁ, MÉPH’GUOURÓ! ÁNH!“ Master Grorm now shot out his mantra again and again, like arrows targeted at his enemy. Once that had been triggered, he was caught in a loop, repeating the same thing over and over until the point of exhaustion.

In all the pandemonium Stuff found that he wasn’t needed anymore and quickly abandoned his post, watching the face-off from a safe distance.

As before when the creature had been summoned, the floor began to tremble. And tremble some more. So violently that the whole building began to shake with the ground. Bricks loosened, the walls staggered and swayed. The pulsating colours of the sparks that now circled the hexagon turned darker and darker, all the while drawing closer and closer to the heart of the room and the demon…

The longer all this went on, the more the magical whirlpool merged with the beast that had become a prisoner again. The creature twisted and turned inside the ring of dancing energy that surrounded it, reached out, tried to attack the ceiling or the floor in hope of another escape route. But it was all to no avail. The magic closed in.
The beast howled and yowled without ceasing.

„Oioioioi…“, Stuff squealed. „Oioioioi…“

„IRAIÁ, MÉPH’GUOURÓ! ÁNH!“ Master Grorm recited slowly and unperturbed as his hypnosis demanded.

But the tumultuous noise that emanated from the well into nothingness that now opened swallowed it all: the howling of the beast, the squealing of the rat and the orc’s reciting of the mantra.

Finally, with a last piercing agonizing shriek, the writhing demon was sucked into the portal. Then it was gone, history. As it was drawn into the expanding blackness towards its destiny, the demon’s wailing changed into something else, replaced by another tormented sound that grew louder and louder, the more the demon’s screech mellowed in the distance. That other sound had undeniable similarities with a meow. Only that it seemed eternally drawn-out, unusually so.

The portal closed again, leaving Maelwyn sitting in midst of the hexagon. Half covered in soot, hair standing on end, meowing. In that eternally tormented drawn-out way. But well, after a while it did end after all. So the journey couldn’t have been that bad.

He seemed quite alive, Stuff concluded, satisfied with his heroic self. Mission accomplished.

Then silence descended.

And Maelwyn spotted Stuff.

And Master Grorm, completely exhausted, snapped out of his condition.

And Stuff darted off.

And that was when the whole spire came down in an enormous dust cloud. Its inhabitants only barely escaped the tower's complete destruction...

What more is there to say of this eventful day? Well, the saying goes that one just doesn't find the traditional cat-mouse chase in Xaramon. That's because it's highly likely that one participant in that sort of action would be of the Ximaxian kind. Whether it's a Ximaxian cat or rodent, intelligent creatures like that don't lend themselves to such trivial pursuits. You'd rather find them playing a board game, some would say. As always: Exceptions confirm the rule. Case in point: One Prayday afternoon when a flame red Ximaxian cat was indeed seen chasing a Ximaxian rat around the ruins of a recently crumbled wizard's spire. Nobody knew exactly what had transpired there at the spire. None could say either why the cat and mouse game had suddenly been revived in midst of good old Ximax. But it had something to do with magic. And Stuff.



Footnotes.

[1] No need to try any of this at home, children. Board game dice for example won't work to summon anything remarkable. Except maybe willing players from nearby rooms if they hear dice rolling.
« Last Edit: 29 December 2014, 16:35:39 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged



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« Reply #1 on: 13 November 2014, 03:43:11 »

OK guys, I'd say part I can already be checked out if someone is interested, so I've posted this one :) All in all 4 Word pages so far, this time no horror, existential musings, poetry, just a good deal of fun. Hope you enjoy!  cool
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« Reply #2 on: 30 November 2014, 08:30:18 »

What a cute little story! I like that Stuff!

There is a problem there with the Burning Stones chips. I think it is not possible for Stuff to grind them in the mortar, they would go off when hit - or in the case of Black Stones, they wouldn't go off when falling down . Look here: http://www.santharia.com/resources/burning_stones.htm

I propose, that he mixes his two components and when finished, he turns over a bowl with chips of the lighter stuff (Light Stones) - which fall just a few handspans (this way not going off). When he throws the whole stuff from a high shelf on the cat, it may ignite. He can carefully mix it up though.
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« Reply #3 on: 02 December 2014, 02:37:12 »

Ah ok, I'll try to fix the burning stones thingy after I've finished the second part, Talia. Of course in a story like this I take some liberty for the story's sake, so don't expect magic to work in the next parts exactly by the book - after all I try to write about a wild ride undertaken by a simple rat, which cannot cast powerful magic all by itself...
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« Reply #4 on: 02 December 2014, 06:32:14 »

No problem, Art, but as this burning stone issue is easily to solve I thought it's better it is correct... if any other magic is a bit off - there are only a few people who would see that and I'm not one of them ;)

Waiting for the next chapter!
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« Reply #5 on: 06 December 2014, 17:38:05 »

Part II was just posted (4 more pages) - hope you enjoy! More to come...
« Last Edit: 06 December 2014, 18:08:28 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged



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« Reply #6 on: 08 December 2014, 05:00:45 »

Read Part I.  Loved it, Art.  Has a wonderful rhythm to it.  Will read Part II when I have a bit more time.  I only had a small edit, otherwise very nice. :)

Quote
The feline agitator however decided to agitate some more, now on purpose. Once again he threw his back against the bookcase – this time with verve and definance, so that the looser books were visibly rocking back and forth.
  Should this read defiance?
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« Reply #7 on: 08 December 2014, 17:30:27 »

@Talia: The light stones thingy has been changed now, changes in yellow.

@Alt: "Definance"... Er... *hehe* Sounds like a word taken from the financial world. In times when banks crash and you get no interest rates worth of notice you might better think about "de-financing". Which means: Put your money in your pillow instead of financing dubious banking business with it :) Clearly that was on Stuff's mind here!  :D
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« Reply #8 on: 18 December 2014, 18:39:16 »

Part III, the final part now completed and posted... Makes 16 pages all in all. Word document for downloading coming up this evening! Hope you enjoy!
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« Reply #9 on: 19 December 2014, 04:04:46 »

Just added links to the post above with the link to the updated story on site and the download link. :)
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« Reply #10 on: 21 December 2014, 21:47:14 »

 :D Part II now finished.  Simply enjoyed it as before.  I wonder though, if rubber band fits.  Do we have rubber, and are we sophisticated enough to make bands with it?  It might be nit picking, but that line kind of took me out of the scene for a moment.

Would not string or thread work, perhaps hastily and crudely fashioned into a harness?  Just a suggestion.  I will read Part III in my upcoming Christmas holidays.
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« Reply #11 on: 22 December 2014, 03:01:54 »

Thanks for the pointer, Alt - I've now changed that passage accordingly. Rubber indeed doesn't sound right here, so that makes sense. thumbup And good to hear that you enjoyed part II! Hope you'll have fun with the final part as well! grin
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