Sunday July 23rd, 2017

The exercise:

Slightly earlier in the month than in June, we return to The Dream Kingdom today.

And chaos ensues...

Work was good today. Hot but good. Big wind blowing tonight should mean cooler temperatures tomorrow.



"Dylan!" Olivia shrieked.

"Hold on!" Josh yelled.

"Help me!" Dylan screamed.

"Everyone calm down!" Nystor shouted.

"Grab my hand!" Josh said as he reached for Dylan from the opposite side of the carpet. But just as their fingertips brushed another transformation took hold, sending Dylan wailing out of reach. "Damn it, Olivia! Hold this thing together!"

"I'm doing my b-"

"No." Nystor's voice brought with it a momentary calm, as if through the force of his will alone - or perhaps it was the strength of his imagination. "Olivia, focus on flying. The carpet will hold on its own - in some form or another. Just get us down safely."

"Which island should I aim for?"

"The nearest, child. Don't overthink this. The power of the meteor shards is greater than I expected at this distance. Put everything you have into landing this thing and then we shall go from there."

"You okay dude?" Josh asked, his hands having returned to his sides where they were gripping the carpet. Hard.

"I'm all right," Dylan replied. "Just trying to imagine having really strong ar-aaaahhhh!"

The carpet had morphed once more, but this time the edges had gone from a soft fringe to razor sharp spikes. Dylan let go, a trail of blood tracing his descent.

"Nooo!" Olivia screamed.

"Dylan - parachute!" Josh shouted.

"Focus, child!" Nystor said sternly. "Focus on f-"

"Hold on!" Olivia yelled. "I've lost control... we're going down!"

The carpet dipped, soared, dipped again. It briefly leveled off before entering a steep nosedive. Nystor began muttering a spell but only moments later they crash landed in a grove of towering trees.


Greg said...

Good luck with the cooler weather! Malta is reaching highs of nearly 40 at the moment, and though overnight it falls to the mid-to-high twenties the humidity means it feels much warmer. I'm optimistic that in Kiev, though it'll be warm, it should cool down faster in the evening and feel cooler!
Chaos has indeed ensued! Though I'm not surprised with that wild magic around. I'm impressed that they got as close to the ground as they did before things started falling badly apart, and I'm wondering what spell Nystor was going to cast that he didn't just imagine. Is there a second school of magic you've not told us about yet? ;-) All in all we have a bunch of shocked, possibly traumatised children, plus a mysterious mage and a kidnapped King. What could possibly go wrong(-er)?

As the carpet careened headlong into the stand of trees branches whipped past everyone. Olivia and Josh stopped screaming abruptly when they both got mouthfuls of wet leaves, and Nystor stopped his muttering and was suddenly surrounded by a pale blue glow that the tree branches snapped off against. The carpet wasn't slowing down as the ground got closer, despite the splinters and leaves flying in all directions, and Olivia stared helplessly at the mossy rocks that littered the hillside between the trees.
The wall that Josh had put around the edges of the carpet suddenly billowed outwards, expanding with a noise like the tearing of a huge roll of fabric. It became translucent, cushioning around each of them individually, and as the carpet embedded itself in the ground with a spray of moist brown earth they bounced helplessly around as the wall deflated.
"What was that?" gasped Olivia. She ran a hand through her hair, dislodging more leaves and twigs. She was very glad she kept it short, and wished (not for the first time) that her parents would let her have a buzz-cut like her Dad. "Did you do that? Or did Nestor?"
"I had no hand in it," said Nestor, standing up. The pale blue glow faded away as he looked around. "I imagine that the wild-magic did something unexpectedly kind for us."
"No," said Josh, shakily. "No, when I put the wall up I was thinking about airbags. That was the airbag inflating. I couldn't think of anything else since we were going to crash."
"What is an airbag?" asked Nestor, his face creasing as he considered the word. "A bag full of air? How can that be efficacious against disaster? There was a time when Queen Hevestan II had a bag that contained the winds, but that was ripped apart by the Ifreeti–" He caught the look on Olivia's face. "It can wait for another time," he said. "I suspect we have journey enough ahead of us still."
"Great," said Olivia. "Looking forward to it. Where's Dylan?"
All three looked around, but apart from the landscape – now inset with a red and white persian rug – there was no sign of any people.
"Where's anybody?" asked Josh. "I thought you said that Islanders lived here?"
"I said the Islanders visited here," said Nestor, his tone a little severe as he realised his lessons hadn't sunk in well. "These are sparsely populated lands and the edges, where the coast is, are where the houses are."
"Do you find coasts away from the edges, ever?" asked Olivia, and Nestor ignored her.

Greg said...

Josh tried to stand and sat down again, suddenly pale. Olivia looked past him, seeing how the trees formed a small copse that straggled up the rocky slope, back where Dylan had fallen off the carpet. The climb looked ok, if muddy, and she wondered if there was a way to imagine it easier. Nestor frowned when Josh sat down though, and came over to him, kneeling beside him.
"Art thou well?" he said, his voice gruff.
"I don't know," said Josh. He sounded slightly distant. "When I stood up my leg looked wrong."
Nestor leaned over him and ran rough, brown-spotted hands over his both his legs. "Hmm," he said. "The leg is not as straight as it should be."
"Is it broken?"
"Are you in considerable pain?"
Josh shook his head. "Then it's not broken. The bone cries out when it is separated, and the mind must listen to it. I think you have been affected by the random magic here and your leg has been reimagined as that of something else." Josh's mouth dropped open. "I can fix it, but not here. Can you walk?"
"I can try," said Josh. "Why can't you fix it here?"
Nestor gestured behind him. "That slope. I can feel the shrapnel from the meterorite buried in it, it's strong. That is surely why the carpet came down when it did, I think it may have pulled towards it. We need to be some way away from it before I attempt to fix your leg. In fact, you should avoid imagining too much around here, the results can be unpredictable."
Josh had looked behind Nestor when he gestured. "Um, Nessie?" he said. Nestor raised both eyebrows until they disappeared into his tangled hairline. "Did you tell Olivia that yet?"
Nestor indignation was drowned out by a grinding sound like a man going through all the gears in a manually-operated car without knowing about the clutch. He turned, half-rising, and saw Olivia staring at the slope in shock. Rising out of it like a submarine rising from the sea, spilling liquid earth in rivers of mud to both sides, was a shining glass-and-steel escalator that went from the foot of the slope to the peak. Spaced at regular intervals along its sides were statues of people in armour, holding weapons and looking angry, and the steps of the escalator were a deep red colour like blood slowly drying in the sun. The rivers of mud thankfully ran away from them, as they were fast moving and were rapidly cutting a deep channel in the moist soil.
Olivia turned away from the escalator and saw them looking at her.
"I was just t-trying to find a q-quick way to the top," she said, stammering slightly. "I thought we should find Dylan as soon–"
"What is this monstrous contraption?" said Nestor, raising his voice over the grinding noise of the ascending machinery. "Does it grind up enemies?"
"It's an escalator," said Olivia, shrugging helplessly. "I was trying for the one in Scottsdale Mall, but... I think I must have remembered something from DeviantArt as well. Maybe?"
Nestor shook his head in puzzlement. "Nothing you say makes sense," he said. "What does an escalator do?"
"Carries you up," said Olivia. "Faster than walking."
"And is it safe?"
All three of them looked helpless at it. The ground around it shivered, made unstable by the rivers of mud still sluicing downwards.
"It had better be," said Josh weakly. "I don't think we can stay here much longer."

Marc said...

Greg - ah, the spell that was not imagined was probably a mistake on my part. Just wanting him to begin trying to do something but have it not happen in time. I'm sure I can cover for myself though!

Really enjoyed your description of the escalator, both its arrival and its appearance. And Josh's leg being different is a neat addition to things.

Now, to see what's happened to Dylan and figure out what comes after that...