To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below. *** For three days the odd foursome traveled northward toward the long-abandoned Mystic’s Pylon. Onandon spoke at great length about the history
To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below.
For three days the odd foursome traveled northward toward the long-abandoned Mystic’s Pylon. Onandon spoke at great length about the history of his order and their reserves of forbidden knowledge all along the way. And though Billy and Princess Byrns seemed resigned to him, Sabine approached every claim with skepticism.
“Centuries ago, all of this civilization was destroyed in a succession of ever-greater wars,” the mystic said as they began their journey through the Forest of Noirkwood. “In those days men were not ruled by kings, but their leaders were chosen in formidable races.”
Sabine raised an eyebrow. “Races?”
“Indeed. Men would run roughshod over the realm and punch their fellow’s faces in an act known as, ‘casting the ballot.’ Whoever cast the most ballots upon their constituents earned the right to rule that land.”
From the center of the formation Byrns said, “That’s monstrous.”
“Indeed, their ideas probably seem monstrous and strange. Look to those ruins there.” Onandon pointed to a meadow where a great set of faded yellow arches stood. “That used to be a church where they worshipped a pale god who fed millions poison.”
Sabine raised her left hand up and, from the corner of her mouth, asked, “Is there any truth to that?”
You want to know why this guy is the last of the Mystics? Dahkhal asked. Because they devolved into a bunch of raving conspiracy nuts who got diminishing returns for the bunk they were spewing. Ask him about chemicals in the fingerling potatoes.
“… I’m sorry, what?”
Just do it.
Sabine looked toward Onandon. “Um… what about chemicals in the fingerling potatoes?”
Billy called out, “Oh please, gods, no! Don’t get him started on this, he’ll never—”
“Silence yourself, Billy,” Onandon said. “It’s information all the world needs to know.”
For over and hour, Onandon wove a magnificent thread about the downfall of the previous era of mankind, which began with trails of chemicals in the sky infecting the water supply with something called, “fluoride.” This substance, when introduced into potato plantations, caused the crop to grow progressively smaller with each succeeding generation and developed tiny, root-like tentacles to walk upon, and it was discovered they gave off mind-numbing agents when fried in oil. The evil governments of ages past used these genetically modified foods to make the thoughts of the population weak and malleable through mass-marketing tiny orders of delicious, brain-smoothing frites. Thus was the plan to fill the population with micro-chips. When Onandon reached his long-meandered conclusion, without a single pause to breathe, he circled right back to the beginning of the explanation to reiterate it all over again.
When a great, gruff voice called, “Oi, hold it there,” Sabine sighed with relief. She regretted it when a trio of tall, bulky, grey-skinned, wart-faced trolls stepped onto the only path out of the forest. The two on the outside gripped a pair of two-handed axes while the creature in the center stood with hands reached into his pockets. Onandon stood tall without hesitation, Sabine looked back and forth between their opposition, and Billy, despite sweat on his forehead and shaking in his boots, stepped in front of Byrns and laid a hand on the Sword of Flion.
The troll in the center, biggest of the three, slipped a pair of comically tiny spectacles onto his snout and raised a roll of parchment. “Sorry for this, friends. Border patrol. Won’t be a minute.”
It was Billy’s turn for a thankful exhale. “Oh, thank goodness. Finally, something easy.”
“Well, we certainly hope so,” said the central troll, his companions nodded in tandem. “You all eaten your share of crustacean recently?”
Before any could respond, Onandon asked, “What is that supposed to mean?”
The patrol troll didn’t look up from his document. “You’re coming up from Serekson, right? Heard you had a nasty outbreak a bit ago. Just making sure you’re all healthy before you head any further north.”
“We are a free people in the south,” Onandon said. “And you cannot impose your will upon us.”
Sabine turned toward him with a wrinkled nose. “Wait, you haven’t been eating lobster? For gods’ sake man—”
“I suppose you wish to frisk our weapons as well, you barbarians.”
Frustration edging into his voice, the central troll raised his hands. “Always with the barbarian talk, isn’t it? The trolls are always the big stupid lunks aren’t they? Listen here you little twig—”
“Billy, he’s going for the sword, draw it now, defend yourself and the princess!”
Sabine didn’t see any of the trolls show any interest in their escorts, but the boy cooperated anyway. The instant the blade was drawn, both its steel and, strangely, Princess Byrns began to glow. The three trolls each took a step forward and, as soon as the blade’s shimmer reached them, each let out a monstrous roar and rushed. Unable to take stock of the sudden change, Sabine was knocked to the ground before she could draw a weapon of her own.
Onandon put out his hands, and a war hammer appeared in his grip. He smashed the weapon’s head into the face of the bespectacled troll, whirled around, and shoved the pointed tip at its opposite end into the nearest enemy with his axe half raised.
The remaining troll bounded past the downed Sabine and raised his axe high over his head. Byrns screamed and Billy raised his oversized sword as best he could with his wobbly hands, but it was clear the motion would mean nothing. Onandon bounded over, cast a ballot into the last troll, and finished him off with a swing of his hammer.
“Saving your whole bloodline yet again, am I boy?” Onandon scowled down at Billy.
“Silence yourself, Billy.” The hammer disappeared from Onandon’s hands as he looked toward Sabine. “And you. Some soothsayer you’re turning out to be so far. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?”
“I… come on. Don’t be such an ass.”
No! Dahkhal said. Tell him you foresaw him making a petty remark!
“I—I mean I saw—”
“It does not matter. Come.” Onandon turned and walked away.
You missed a prime opportunity, damn it!
Sabine did regret that, just a little, but was faster to turn her attention back toward her charges. Byrns stood with a consoling hand on Billy’s shoulder.
Sabine asked, “You two all right?”
“The troll didn’t even get a chance to do anything,” Byrns said. “We’re fine.”
“If he’d gotten that much closer, we’d be painted across the grass.” Defeat slipped into Billy’s words. “What am I even doing here?”
“You did just fine,” Byrns said. “If we’d really been in danger, the sword would have saved us, right? Isn’t that why we have it?”
Billy groaned. “I’m only good for carrying the thing around. I’m no better than a sheath.”
“Except a sheath stays close when it’s in use!” Onandon called back. “Come!”
Sabine scowled toward the Mystic and cast a last look through the forest, first at the two teenagers, then to the limp bodies of the trolls. With Dahkhal’s ring up to her mouth, she asked, “Did you see the way that thing lit up?”
The sword and the girl both, then the trolls went into a rage, Dahkhal said. You agreed to this job awfully quick. You’d better figure out what the plan is here, or that Mystic’s just going to have you walking up to Groan’s face to try angering him to death.
To Be Continued…