The Secret Curia
A young steward accompanied by a guard approaches the chancellor, nervously shaking.
The chancellor stood up from his chair and walked towards the steward, chin raised. He towered above the young man, who lowered his gaze. The chancellor glances at the guard.
“He says he saw something, sir.”
The chancellor returns his gaze to the steward.
“Speak,” he grumbled.
The steward cleared his throat. “Th-they opened a portal, sir. I s-saw it with my very eyes.”
The chancellor cocked his head. “A portal, you say. Are you sure? A portal hasn’t been seen in these lands for over a century.”
“It’s true, sir! The old man was carrying a large book. It started glowing and the portal just appeared out of nowhere.”
The chancellor scowled at the young man.
“Forgive me, sir.”
The chancellor turned his back to the steward and walked back towards his chair.
“Tell me this. How do a paralyzed old man and a young girl escape these halls?”
The young man stammered. “I don’t know, sir th-”
“I wasn’t talking to you!”
The chancellor drew his blade with his left hand and spun it towards the guard, slicing his neck.
The guard grabbed at his neck and fell to the floor, choking on his own blood.
The young man jumped back, avoiding the pool of blood. He trembled, tears rolling down his cheeks. The young steward fell to his knees and lowered his head.
“That’s all I know, sir! Please, don’t kill me. Please!”
The chancellor grinned. “You’re free to go.”
The young steward rose to his feet, took a glance at the dying guard and ran out of the room.
The chancellor motioned at another guard to approach.
The guard swiftly made his way to the chancellor and lowered his gaze.
The chancellor began wiping his blade on the guards shirt.
“Send in the Reaper.”
The guard stared at the chancellor in astonishment, “But sir, it’s-”
“I said, send in the Reaper”
“Right away, sir!”
The Old Man & the Girl
“I’m bored, Mordecai. Read me something from your book!” The young girl dropped to the ground with her arms crossed and pouty lips. She stared intently at the old man – who was sitting on a wooden cart with a large book clutched to his chest – giving him the cutest puppy dog eyes she could conjure in hopes of bending him to her will.
Mordecai erupted in laughter. “Oh Felicity, this isn’t a book of stories. This is my Grimoire.”
“What’s a Grilwarg?” She asked with a perplexed look on her face.
Mordecai chuckled. “A Grimoire is a book of magic. It’s filled with hundreds of spells and invocations.”
“Wow.” She laid belly down in the dirt with her chin resting on her hands, “Do you know them all?”
“But of course! I’ve had a long time to practice.”
“Is that how you summoned the portal?”
“Not exactly, but that’s a bit too complicated for a little girl. I’ll explain it to you when you’re older.”
Felicity slammed her fist and started kicking the ground, “I’m a big girl! Explain it to me now.”
Mordecai smiled. He noticed a group of ants walking towards a small leaf near Felicity’s face.
“Pick up that leaf by your head.”
Felicity picked the oval-shaped leaf up and showed it to Mordecai, “This one?”
“Precisely. You see those ants coming towards you? To them that leaf just disappeared. Vanished into thin air. Much like we did. But the leaf is not gone. You just lifted it into a plane they cannot perceive.”
“Ohhh.” Felicity pretended to understand for a moment.
“Does that make sense?” Mordecai asked, surprised by Felicity’s astuteness.
“Not really.” She paused for a moment and gave the leaf a closer look. “It’s pretty.”
Mordecai and Felicity both erupted in laughter. A gust of wind blew the leaf out of Felicity’s hand.
“My portal!” she yelled as she jumped up and ran towards the floating leaf. As she reached out to grab it, her right foot was caught on a rope which then pulled her high up into the air.
“Help!” she screeched as the rope swung her back and forth off of a large branch.
Mordecai chuckled in amusement. “Just hang in there, Felicity.” He yelled out.
“That’s not funny. It hurts!” Felicity started crying.
“Don’t cry, little one. There’s nothing to be upset about. We’re going to be just fine. This is a hunter’s doing which means we must be close to a village.”
Mordecai’s face turned serious as he heard leaves rustling and twigs snapping in the distance. Artemus jumped out through the trees, wide-eyed and panting with his hunting knife drawn.
“Who are you?” Artemus demanded through a shaky breath.
Mordecai gleamed, “Look at that, Felicity. We found a new friend to join us on our adventure.”
Artemus struggled to maintain his composure. His heart was beating out of his chest and his blood was pumping so fast he could taste it on his tongue.
“What are you doing here?” he mustered through labored breath. “Who else is with you?”
He saw no sign of the woman from his dream. Just a young, pale-skinned girl and a rangy old man. The girl was caught in one of the snare traps he had laid out this morning.
“Hello there young master,” Mordecai responded in a jubilant tone. “I have been known by many names in my lifetime, but my friends call me Mordecai. This little one here is Felicity. She seems to be a bit tied up at the moment.”
“Get me down from here!” Felicity’s face was turning bright red as she attempted to untie herself from the snare. She noticed the hunting knife Artemus was holding. “Hey mister! Cut me down with your little sword”
Artemus slowed his breath as he began to process what he was seeing.
“It’s a knife,” he replied.
Mordecai grinned, “She’s right. Looks more like a short sword to me. That’s an interesting blade. Where’d you find it?”
Artemus hesitated at the question, “It was a gift from my fa-”
“GET ME DOWN FROM HERE!” Felicity scolded.
Artemus walked his way over to the base of the tree where he had anchored his snare. He cut the rope and slowly lowered Felicity down to the ground. She quickly untied herself and ran back to Mordecai, punching him in the arm.
“Ouch! Just because I can’t move my arms doesn’t mean I can’t feel them.” Mordecai said through laughter.
“Good!” She raised her chin and crossed her arms.
“You’re paralyzed?” Artemus placed his blade back in its scabbard.
“It’s a curse!” Felicity responded.
Mordecai smiled, “It’s called Sorrow Peak. My spirit is perfectly awake, but my physical form is but a lump of melted wax.”
Artemus gave the two a blank stare. He started breathing normally again and walked towards them. “I’m not sure I completely understand, but I need to get you two back to the village. It’s not safe here.” Artemus lifted the handles on Mordecai’s cart and wheeled him down the trail. Felicity skipped alongside the two.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Oh, forgive me. I’m Artemus. I live here in Lunnon. What about you and your grandfather?” Felicity reminded him of Virgil’s daughter. The sight of his comrades’ mutilated bodies flashed in his mind.
“He’s not my grandfather!” Felicity retorted. “We’re on an adventure.”
“What kind of adventure?”
Before she could respond the high pitched ring of a blade sang in the air and a tree toppled over onto the trail, blocking their path. A large figure in a white robe with gold lining approached the group. The upper part of his face was covered by a matching hood. He was wielding a long, thin blade in his hand which emitted a black smoke into the air.
“Grim Grasp?” Mordecai muttered under his breath.
Artemus drew his blade and stood in front of the old man and the girl. His blood boiled. “You! What did you do to my friends?”
The man continued walking forward, lifting his blade into the air. Artemus ran towards him, sliding in between his legs and delivering a slashing blow to the back of his knees. Now behind him he delivered one more blow to his back. The large man stood firm, unfazed by the damage. He didn’t even bleed. He turned towards Artemus and lifted his blade once more.
“Stay away from that katana!” Mordecai yelled to Artemus.
Artemus jumped to the right as the man swung his blade, barely dodging the blow. The air pressure from the blow left an imprint in the ground. Artemus laid on the ground in astonishment with his eyes wide. The man lifted his blade into the air again. Artemus rose to his feet and spun away from the man’s strike. Artemus quickly swung his own blade at the man’s wrist, cutting off his hand which was wielding the strange blade.
A thick black smoke spouted from the man’s wrist and detached hand. He kneeled down and started to reattach it with his other hand. Artemus ran back towards Mordecai and Felicity.
Artemus grabbed Mordecai’s cart and darted around the fallen tree. He looked back to check on Felicity but she wasn’t there.
“Felicity!” He saw her standing in front of the robed man. They were both standing still, staring at each other.
“Where did your soul go?” She innocently asked the man.
“Get away from him!” Artemus shouted.
The large man lifted Felicity onto his shoulder and ran into the forest brush, disappearing from view.
Artemus turned to Mordecai who was in deep meditation.
“What are you doing, old man? That thing just grabbed Felicity!”
Mordecai opened his eyes and looked at Artemus with an expression of concern on his face. “He’s headed to your village. They’re in grave danger.”
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