Thursday June 29th, 2017

The exercise:

Well, we've made it to the last possible day of the month to do it, so I guess we should get back to The Dream Kingdom, huh?

Because I'm pretty sure I'm going to need four lines of prose tomorrow night.

If I can get caught up on June's comments in the next two weeks, I'll aim to get July's entry in our yearlong adventure up around the 15th. That's the current goal, anyway.

First day back at work went well. Calm before the storm, I suppose.


"A magic carpet, huh?" Dylan watched as first Josh and then Nystor clambered on. "I guess that makes you Jasmine, right?"

"Yup." Olivia nodded happily. "Pretty sure that makes the old guy here the genie."

"The what?"

"I'll leave it up to you two to decide who's Aladdin and who's the monkey," Olivia continued without seeming to notice Nystor's confusion.

"Abu." Dylan said before exchanging uncomfortable looks with Josh. "Anyway. Is this really safer than riding horses? What if one of us falls off or we crash into something?"

"You worry too much - always have." Olivia smiled and then continued before Dylan could question this assessment. "Get on already - we're wasting time."

"Sure, why not?" Dylan muttered as he joined the others on the hovering carpet. "What's the worst that could happen?"

"I would advise you to not think about that too much," Nystor said as the carpet began to move.

"What?" Dylan, Josh, and Olivia said in startled unison.

"The power of imagination," Nystor said with a hint of a smile playing about his lips, "can be just as detrimental as it can be beneficial. So let's all think happy thoughts as we fly through the air at a high rate of speed, yes?"


Greg said...

I like the Aladdin references, but I confess I was hoping you'd have set the destination for them as well! You mentioned a while back that Nystor seemed to disagree with the ransom note's claims and I was looking forward to finding out what his doubts were, but I think I'll have to handle this myself, otherwise the characters will spend the next three months on the flying carpet! Still, at least we're airborne and going... somewhere!

Rather to everyone's quiet surprise Josh had imagined a low, cushioned wall all around the edges of the flying carpet, shaping it like a boat so that, if anything, they seemed to move faster through the air. Dylan had praised it and punched him on the shoulder, which promptly made the wall wobble and fade slightly, so they'd all been a bit more careful not to distract him after that. Olivia was also concentrating, realising now that maintaining the flight was essentially her job, and Nystor was watching over the edges and giving an occasionally commentary on the land below.
"That was where King Brekstan defeated Iggior Ladslaus of the Protectorate of Ice," he said at one point. "That frozen lake, right on the edge of a desert, is like that because Iggior's armour is at the bottom of it. If it could be retrieved it would be worth a fortune." And later on, "That is where King Reinholdt III jousted for two days and beat every other knight in the Dream Kingdom. The accusations of treachery went on for three months until he had the journalists executed."
"It's like being back at school, Liv," whispered Dylan, and there were quiet giggles from all the teens.
"Shouldn't we being seeing the coast soon?" asked Olivia after Nystor had spent five minutes telling them about logging activities in the Goldherald Forest as they flew over it.
"No," said Nystor. "I said that the ransom note said that King Brekstan was being held on the largest island of the archipelago."
"Did you?" said Dylan.
"Yes," said Josh. "When we had the video of the map with all the zooming in and the fish-folk."
"Oh. That was cool!"
"Yes," said Nystor firmly. "Cool. Well, only an idiot would tell people where the King was being held, as it would invite a rescue attempt. The King has a strong imagination of his own, so the sensible place to take him would be the Eskriv Coast. Sometime in the past we believe that a meteor struck this area and split the land into a maze of linked islands, streams, rills and tides that hide and reveal lands as they change. Magic here is often unpredictable, and there are places where it just doesn't work at all. There are theories about that of cou–"
Dylan tried to hide his yawn behind his hand, but Nystor caught it.
"–rse, but they can wait for another time. Much of the folk here are fishermen, so the Islanders have had almost constant communication with them over the centuries. This could be described as the most disloyal part of King Brekstan's realm, but in fairness the folk here see little of the King and it would take an army to keep the Islanders away. On one of the larger islands there is a tower whose foundations were built from the rock and iron from the meteorite, and that is where I would put King Brekstan."

Greg said...

"But what if they think you'll mount the rescue attempt with Prince Reimar?" asked Olivia. "Wouldn't it then be sensible to have the King on their Islands so that you'll take the Prince right to them?"
Nystor's face was impassive, but he was chewing his beard while he thought about that. He didn't look happy. As he finally opened his mouth to speak, Josh interrupted him.
"No, that's not right," he said. "If the King is there then the Rhymer might succeed in rescuing. But if he's not, then even if the Rhymer wins, he gets to the where the King's supposed to be and gets 'the Princess is in another castle'."
"Super Mario?" said Olivia, a hint of disgust in her tone.
"Yeah! Better than Call of Duty!"
Nystor held a hand up, having realised already that the three teens could bicker for hours like this. "Prince Reimar," he said firmly. "Would you all like it if I referred to constantly as Dilfram, Olknecht and Josseeve? Anyway, I agree with Josseeve, the King is another castle, and this tower is likely it."
"OK," said Olivia. She paused. "I quite like Olknecht. It sounds... like a Knight's name."
"The tower is on the edge of the island," said Nystor hiding a smile, "but it's on a high promontory so the only real approach is through the village on the other side. There are four islands close enough to it to have bridges, and they are also populated as they are farm-islands providing food for the village of Sandsekt. The tower is usually referred to as the Lighthouse, or the Lichtenturm in the local dialect, but recent reports suggest that if it's used as a lighthouse it's only to lure ships onto the rocks for looting."
"We can just fly up to it, though," said Olivia. "Easy-peasy."
"We can try," said Nystor. "Though these land-shards are the most erratic in terms of magic in the Kingdom, so I suspect we might have to walk when we get close.
"How are we going to rescue King Brekstan then? If we haven't got our imaginations to use?"
"Magic is erratic, not gone." Nystor sighed. "It would be so much better if you had time for training, but there's so little of it now. You will just have to do your best."
"I can see water!" said Olivia, pointing off to her right.
"Ah," said Nystor, "then we are getting close. Be prep–"
The flying carpet suddenly accelerated and expanded; the carpet surface that had been adequate for the four of them could suddenly have accomdated forty with pack of equipment and probably horses as well. The cushioned wall expanded like an airbag, forcing them into the centre of it.
"What the–"
As suddenly as it had happened the carpet shrank back again and slowed. The cushioned wall subsided and everyone stared around them. Except for Dylan, who was now hanging on to the edge of the carpet with his fingers, his legs dangingly in the air beneath them.

Marc said...

Greg - apologies for the lack of progression. I was just trying to get something written before the end of the month. I will attempt to do better in July's entry!

The armor at the bottom of the frozen lake is a genius detail. Love it a lot. The Eskriv Coast is a fascinating addition to the landscape and I look forward to exploring it. And the meteor shards screwing with the magic (as seen in your ending scene) is something that shall play a major role in what is to come.

Although I suspect in the immediate future, an unplanned landing shall be one of its first forced detours...

All right, reading this has me pumped to continue the tale again. So thank you for that, and you shall be seeing the next installment... Sunday I suppose. Which, going from the 29th to the 23rd, is a slight improvement on June at least.