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    Yeoldebard
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Stolen Dreams - 8. Puddle Jumpers

ILYAS

 

His mouth felt like it was filled with goat hide when he finally woke up. Head pounding, eyes burning, Ilyas groaned as he sat up.

“Good morning!” someone chirped cheerfully.

Ilyas blinked slowly, trying to find a nice boulder to hurl at the voice. He was way too happy right now.

“Here, have some water.”

A skin was pressed into his hand, and Ilyas sniffed it warily, before nearly draining the entire flask.

“Be happy you’re not Elias. I think he got the worst of it,” Hope smirked. “I warned you all.”

Ilyas frowned at the catfolk, who was bent over a tiny cauldron. Elias lifted a ladle to his nose, grimacing before sprinkling something into whatever tincture he was creating.

“Alchemist,” Hope shrugged helpfully. “Though I always thought they were more magic than actual potion making, especially the son of an ascended necromancer. I suppose this will be helpful for giving him brew potion next level. Then he can make his hangover cure for everyone.”

“Please. It is too early for your riddles tiefling,” Ilyas grumbled, rubbing his head.

“Eh, I suppose it would be. If I was speaking in riddles,” Hope smirked. “Don’t go drinking too much now; we’ll all be tired of water by the end of the day. And there’s a riddle for you.”

The Qadiran threw his empty skin at the tiefling with a growl. It was easily caught, the beastbrood laughing.

“Well if you wanted more water, why didn’t you just ask?”

Hope sauntered off, leaving Ilyas to ponder the throbbing in his head. The kineticist had never felt anything like this before. A devotee of the Perfect Man, he would never deign to sully himself with drugs. Was all his hard work to be undone by a stew he hadn’t known better than to eat?

Sure, he could have listened to Hope, should have listened to Hope. But it was certainly too late now. Ilyas was corrupted. All he could do was pray to Irori that the substance that had left him reeling the night before would be gone soon.

The man stood up slowly, rubbing at his head before stepping further into the burned out house. Finding a spot relatively clear of rubble, Ilyas took a deep breath, trying to settle into that meditative state that helped him think. A foot came up, sole pressing into the side of his calf, and the kineticist wobbled, a hand shooting out to catch himself on the charred wall.

Scowling, Ilyas shook his head, before trying again. The stew was still affecting his body, a horrible sign for someone whose body was their weapon. He needed this to clear, and fast. Yet another attempt, and another, just left the Qadiran shaking with effort.

“The Perfect Man forgive me for my mistakes. Let me grow, and learn from what I have done…” he murmured, before bringing his leg up to try again.

Wobbling unsteadily like a neophyte, Ilyas took a deep breath, letting his arms balance his body out. Slowly, carefully, he brought them back in, setting his palms against each other. Finally balanced properly, the man let out his breath, settling into his morning prayers.

Images flashed through his mind of the night before, dim memories made a little more clear by his meditation. Grotesque skeletons haunted his thoughts, a laughing necromancer sending bolts of dark magic that dissipated before hitting anyone. The beasts vanished before they could be hit, and a white fox flung Harrow cards after them.

The whole night had been confusing. What was real? What had only been imagined by his mind?

“Through the Master of Masters, I let my mind flow clean. Cleanse me of impurities, and lead me not to ingestion of poisons,” he whispered, eyes sealed against the growing dawn.

His leg wavered, and Ilyas caught his balance, slowly letting his leg down before repeating the exercise on the other side.

“Peace come to mind. I bring my memories to unity within myself.”

He repeated the prayer like a mantra, focusing on his memories of the night without actually focusing. Images flickered in the corner of his consciousness, devoid of skeletons, but filled with a battling fox.

“I tighten my control; I will not waver. The Perfect Man be my guide,” Ilyas finished, slowly letting his leg down again.

Eyes opened to find Wulfrin kneeling in the opposite corner of the house. The gnome’s mouth moved in prayer, his face almost green from sickness. His hair was shining bright, near blinding red flames in the black of ash and soot. It was as though the experience had revitalized the paladin.

A flask was shoved into Ilyas’ hands, and the Qadiran startled, frowning at Hope.

“Feel better?”

“Yes,” the man replied, making his way out of the house.

“Good. Your fire might not do much today, but we still need everyone in fighting shape.”

The sound of plinking metal caught Ilyas’ ears. Glancing around the dismantled campsite as he began working on his own bedroll, the man found Elias whacking small metal balls into a pouch, his hands black with lead. A small spinning tumbler sat at his foot, the catfolk spinning it constantly as he knocked out the series of moulds with balls in them. He seemed to take as much care in crafting them as he did in creating his elixirs. It was interesting to see someone so chaotic act so… diligently.

Nearby, Amethyst was shuffling her deck near her horse, already packed. She pulled a card and frowned at the image on the other side, before shuffling it back into her deck.

Even Ramiel was hard at work, his stores packed, and his morningstar in hand. Lines of blood ran down his arms, signs of self flagellation, and Ilyas grimaced as he watched the aasimar walk through his own exercises.

“Ramiel.”

Hope’s tone was sharp, and the hellknight scowled at the tiefling.

“Do whatever it is you need to do to call Abapad. We will need him today.”

“I’ll call him when I feel the need. Do not make deals with the devil for me,” Ramiel snarled. “Or I will offer you as the sacrifice.”

“That’s not nearly the threat you think it is,” Hope scoffed. “Just keep him close. I’d rather not die today.”

Ilyas frowned as he pulled a brush out of his saddlebag. Stepping up to Jawhara, he began knocking the soot off the horse’s legs, cleaning his friend up as he contemplated his companions. What deal was Ramiel making with the devil he summoned? How was Hope’s divination so accurate? And was that Amethyst fox real?

 

ELIAS

 

Yona bounced at his side as they rode through the craigs. In the distance, Elias could see water shimmering, the Tuskwater, or so Hope claimed. Fog covered nearly all the land along the coast, even at midday, but the tiefling had an answer for that too.

“Druid. He’s being forced to hide the Stag Lord’s fort. We’ll figure out where it is soon though. Or later. Depends on what Amethyst decides.”

The tiefling was swaying on Elluin’s back, studying the land around them. He suddenly trotted to the front of the group and exchanged a few words.

“We’re dismounting here!” Amethyst called a moment later, sliding off her jennet.

Elias followed her example, Fedha tossing her head with a snort as she was posted to a rock. Yona slid out of the saddlebags, and Elias looked around for the tiefling.

“Hey, should we go in with guns loaded?”

“No idea what that means, but if it means ready to attack, affirmative.”

The catfolk shook his head with a sigh, pulling out his measure. Thirty seconds later, Yona was full, the weapon nearly gleaming in the midday light.

“There is something to be said for the discipline in keeping a weapon clean. But perhaps gleaming in an area frequented by bandits is not the way to go,” Ramiel frowned.

“And walking around without your pet is not a good idea either,” Hope called back.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Ramiel snapped.

“Look, just summon him, and I’ll pay whatever price you want,” Hope sighed.

“No.”

The hellknight dismounted with a scowl, pulling out his mace. Elias turned away from the aasimar, digging through his bag for the day’s elixirs. They went on his belt, and he adjusted the foot long bayonet on his hip before following the group along the road, on foot.

“What are we even looking for?” he demanded.

“Water,” Hope shrugged. “Okay, fuck it, we’re close enough. There’s a water elemental up on that ridge who’s guarding a dead adventurer. For those who are interested, the adventurer still has good gear, including some preserved rations. For those who need justification, an adventurer died. Could easily be a hunter next time. Or worse.”

Silence fell over the group as they reached a fork heading up toward the ridge. Finally, Ramiel let out a sigh, and began digging a pentacle into the dirt with his heel. Pulling out a dagger, he nicked a finger, letting the blood fall into the summoning circle.

“Abapad of the Silent Flame, Ramiel requires your aid.”

Elias heard the rush of flames and it gave him an idea. Pulling a long worm out from under the musket, the catfolk stuck it into Yona’s mouth, tapping the end into the lead ball that was set inside the barrel. Fishing the ball out, he tucked it carefully into a pouch on his left hip before reaching for the pouch on his right leg. Another ball emerged, tiny grains of powder stuck inside the metal, and the chemist let it fall into his gun, before tamping it down again.

Hurrying after the group, Elias’ ears perked up at the sloshing of water. They rounded a corner and came face to… well, he assumed it was the elemental’s face. A dozen tentacles reached out from a roiling body, and Elias could see a distorted corpse on the other side of the animated water.

He brought Yona to bear, thumbing the hammer back. Pulling the trigger, the catfolk folded his ears as the hammer fell. A shower of sparks ignited the powder inches from his nose, and the amurrun forced himself to hold still for the split second it took for the lead ball to shoot from his barrel.

Surrounded by flame, the ball cut into the water elemental, sizzling and hissing as water became steam. A bit of rock shattered on the other side of the creature, but Elias barely noticed, already preparing his next shot.

The elemental struck back with a vengeance. Each tentacle snaked forward, grappling Abapad and Wulfrin before they could react. The water almost seemed to solidify, pinning them down as bits of impurities cut into their flesh, and Elias winced, fingering his one healing tincture.

It wouldn’t work on anyone but him; the mixture was unstable, and it was only his body that would react properly to the healing energies. The amurrun had no idea why that was, but it meant that he was responsible for himself. It was one less person for Amethyst to worry about at least.

A tendril of water slapped across Elias, drenching him and Yona. The amurrun let out a blistering series of curses, reaching for his bayonet. There was no firing the weapon now. Even worse, the powder he had just added to Yona, nearly nine silvers worth, was now wet and worthless until he could dry it out, a process that would take at least eight hours.

“Oh you scummy millwater, I’m going to mop you up and use you to clean my tailhole,” the amurrun snarled.

“That is hardly sanitary,” Hope frowned, his fingers working through the complex arcane gestures of a spell.

Ice formed on the tip of the tiefling’s arrow, a snowball growing on the missile as he loosed his bowstring. It struck the elemental with a surprising thunk, bits of ice growing from the watery contact.

Elias plugged his bayonet into Yona’s muzzle before charging forward. Dodging around the other melee fighters, he shoved the spear into the patch of ice.

A crack spread from his strike, shattering the ice instantly, and the water around his musket sizzled. Vibrations shook the liquid, and suddenly the creature began shrinking, a loud gurgle filling the air as it soaked into the ground. One last tentacle shot out, spearing through Abapad’s armour, and the devil grunted, starting to dissipate as the tentacle splashed into the dirt.

The devil burst into flames suddenly, vanishing as fast as he was summoned, and Elias heard a surprised gasp from Ramiel.

“It was… it was that easy?” the aasimar breathed, looking at the steaming spot where his devil had stood.

“Guess so,” Hope sighed, unstringing his bow.

Copyright © 2021 Yeoldebard; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Hope really has no mercy - even for the poor guys suffering from a heavy hangover. 🤣

 

And Abapad seemed taken abapack by his sudden demise (sorry that's probably the driest thing I wrote all year 😅) but at least Ramiel gets a free pass for now.

 

 

Edited by IkeNeko
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1 minute ago, IkeNeko said:

Hope really has no mercy - even for the poor guys suffering from a heavy hangover. 🤣

 

And Abapad seemed taken abapack by his sudden demise (sorry that's probably the driest thing I wrote all year 😅) but at least Ramiel gets a free pass for now.

 

 

That pun... I'm groaning so hard, you just can't see it...

the naked gun facepalm GIF

And Hope really has no mercy when the people around him are making a nice adventure into the wilderness more hazardous than it needs to be.

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9 minutes ago, Yeoldebard said:

That pun... I'm groaning so hard, you just can't see it...

the naked gun facepalm GIF

Good! Means my work here is done - now I can rest... 🤣

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