Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Chapter 14 and 15

Chapter 14: Help


            Liquid fireworks drizzle down from the tent-castle as Arnold creeps along the floor of the market square. He spots the train ticket salesman and makes his way over to him, placing the silver ball back into his satchel.

            ‘Could I talk to you for a minute?’ Arnold smiles to hide his anxiety.

            ‘What’s it concerning?’ The man asks, somewhat startled by Arnold’s sudden appearance.

            ‘I’d prefer talking about it in private if you don’t mind.’ Arnold gives a nervous smile again as he glances over the ticket salesman’s shoulder and then behind him.  

            The man counts his tickets and receipts and looks around. ‘Alright, hop on,’ he says, pointing to the hovering platform.

Arnold steps onto the platform and they sink into the ground. The warm pressure presses on his body again as they travel to a hollow cave. They stop and both step into the cave.

            ‘Is this private enough?’ The man asks.

            ‘This is perfect!’ Arnold lets out a sigh of relief as the man laughs.

            ‘Nobody else can get down here, so you can talk to me about whatever you need to.’ The man’s voice echoes slightly in the cave. He looks with concern at Arnold.  

            ‘I need to find a bearded witch. Do you know of her?’

‘Yeah I know of a bearded witch! I went into her tent one time and threw out my back. I can show you where her tent is. Is that it?’

            ‘Well, I need to get to Sysmiosis after that.’

            ‘Sysmiosis is surrounded by the Willo forest, so you’ll need someone to take you underground.’ He stands up and sticks out his hand in an official manner.

Arnold stands for a moment in disbelief, ecstatic to have the help. ‘I’m Arnold.’

He shakes his hand.

‘Let’s go find that witch!’ Lance steps onto the platform and Arnold follows. They’re whisked forward and then rise up above ground on an alley street outside of a red and white striped tent.

‘That’s where you’ll find her. I’ll stay out here and keep a look out!’  


Chapter 15: Potion


Arnold steps into Vialba’s tent without slipping this time. The room appears the same, except she’s not at her desk.

‘You again?’ Arnold hears Vialba’s voice as she appears from behind the back wall. ‘Why are you still here with that medallion?’ She asks. A crystal globe to Arnold’s right begins to glow purple.

‘I came back!’ He says. ‘You were right about the medallion!’

            ‘Of course,’ she says, laughing as her hair blows in an absent wind.

‘But you didn’t tell me the whole truth.’ He says, looking at her.

‘Yes, well, it was the only way to get it out of here! I can’t leave this ice shack. And besides, it was fate that brought you here. So, what now?’ She waits.

            ‘I have ingredients for a potion!’ Arnold says.

‘What for?’ She perks up like a cat.

‘An antidote.’ He pulls the list out and hands it to her.

            ‘Follow me.’ She looks over the list while walking through the back wall. Arnold follows, nearly slipping a few times on the ice on his way.

            The back room is a mix between a science lab and a kitchen, with wooden shelves and fire-stove tops. Vialba lights a fire-stove as Arnold enters. He takes in dizzying steams of smoke laced with spices and coughs as he gets closer to Vialba.  

‘Some of these ingredients are rare.’ Vialba says as she looks at the list. ‘I definitely have a supply of ginkgo leaves.’ She opens a cabinet drawer, grabs a glass bottle, and places it on the counter. ‘Chopped lizard skin and fairy blood too, but I’m not sure if I can help you with the tooth of a pink ostrich ant and fresh bark from a tree. I’ve never heard of a pink ostrich ant and I don’t know where to find one. As for the bark, I haven’t seen or heard of a tree for a long time.’

‘I know of a forest!’ Arnold says.


‘Yeah. It surrounds Sysmiosis! I need to go there after this, so if we can get everything else, I can try to get bark when I go there.’

‘It would be risky but it’s up to you. What about the pink ostrich ant?’

Arnold thinks for a moment. ‘Didn’t you say that’s a creation dress?’ He says, pointing at her red dress.

‘Yes.’ She looks intrigued by his suggestion.

‘Do you have any control over it?’

‘I usually don’t, but when I held that medallion it did act very differently. I noticed afterwards that it produced a book that I had been thinking about at the time.’ She leads him back out to her front room, sits at the desk, and holds her hand out.

Arnold hands her the medallion.

‘Okay, let’s try this.’ She hums quietly while clenching the medallion.

An ostrich slides out, then a big pink ant.

‘You’re on the right track,’ Arnold says.

‘Summa,’ she hisses.

A creature slips out with the body of a pink ostrich and the head and legs of an ant. Two sharp white teeth jut out from the mouth. Arnold tries to grab the creature, but it nips at him and slides away.

‘Zaraka!’ Vialba opens her eyes and they shoot bolts of light out. The ostrich ant freezes in its tracks. Vialba walks to the back room and returns with a jar and a hammer. She places the jar below a tooth and taps it two times before it falls in. She whispers into its ear and it unfreezes and enters the scatter of the alley-street. ‘Good idea!’ She tosses the medallion back to him and they walk through the wall to the kitchen lab. Vialba attends to a thick stew brewing on the fire-stove. Arnold watches.   

‘What are you making?’ He asks.

‘I’m making some tea.’ She pours a cup and slides it to him.

‘Thanks,’ he says.

‘I’m also making sticky stew goo!’ She shows Arnold the list. ‘Number 5!’

            Arnold nods.

‘And we have an eternal flashlight for number 4!’ She laughs.

‘Apparently,’ Arnold says. ‘What do you need it for?’

 ‘We need it for a flash bulb grain mixture.

‘Oh!’ Arnold laughs, still confused. ‘What’s that?’ He asks.

Vialba pulls a few containers from the shelves above the stove and makes a flash bulb grain mixture in front of him while explaining it. ‘You mix grains with mountain honey and spirited rock chalk.’ She tosses a few clumps of hay into a bowl and adds a pure brown honey ball. She crushes a few pieces of white rocks and the bowl contents change into a liquid that thickens as she stirs. ‘Once you’ve got a nice soup mixing, you need a spark on it.’

‘That’s quite the process.’ Arnold says

‘I’m surprised I remember how to do it to be honest!’ She laughs.

‘Hello.’ A man’s voice comes from the other room. Arnold and Vialba go to the front room and Lance is there.

‘Vialba, this is Lance,’ Arnold says. ‘He’s helping me out.’

Vialba extends her arm out. ‘My name is Vialba’

‘It’s great to meet you, Vialba. How are things going in here?’

‘Very well,’ Arnold says. ‘We have most of the ingredients here, and a few are being made as we speak!’

‘I’d better check on that,’ Vialba hurries to the back room.

‘We might have to find some bark from the forest outside of Sysmiosis, Lance. Is that possible?’ Arnold asks.

‘Should be. We’ll just have to be quick and careful.’ He pauses. ‘I hate to tell you this Arnold, but I have some disturbing news.’

‘What is it?’ Arnold asks.

‘The half-wizards are putting up wanted signs around town with your face on them. The signs say you’re wanted dead or alive. The reward is 500 coins.’

Arnold turns white.

Vialba appears from the other room. ‘I’ll need the Eternal Flashlight now Arnold. Are you okay?’ She notices his worried face.

‘I’d better go keep watch,’ Lance says as he walks out of the tent.

‘I’ll be alright,’ Anrold says to Vialba. She turns the lights out when they enter the back room. A small candle wavers on the counter, dimly lighting the room.   

Arnold pulls the medallion and opens it. It shines a bright beam of light. 

‘Okay,’ Vialba says, ‘slowly move the beam towards the soup bowl. You don’t want to touch the soup with the entire beam. Just let the edge of the light touch it.’

Arnold moves the beam towards the bowl. The edge of the light touches the soup and a blue and yellow flame erupts on its surface. The flame lights up the entire room and the soup hardens and crumbles until the flame dies down. 

Vialba turns the lights back on and Arnold puts the medallion away.

The bowl is empty except for a small key resting in the middle. Vialba takes it and places it in a pot of dirt, sweeping some dirt on top and pouring water onto it. Within seconds, two chives rise out from underneath the dirt. She pulls a single strand out and breaks it in half. A multi-colored mist sparks out from the break. She takes a mouthful of tea and spits a mist onto the chive. An arch of white fire erupts, forming into a white bowl that lands on the far counter. Arnold watches in stunned silence. 

Vialba’s face is glowing. ‘We’re nearly there! Remain silent now until you see I’m done.’ She reaches over, grabs some ginkgo leaves, and crushes them up in her hands. ‘Larayeechee,’ she hums. She rubs her hands together while pieces of the Ginkgo leaves fall into the white bowl. She grabs a cup of chopped lizard skin and sprinkles it onto the leaves. The bowl begins to shake and then melts into a mushed blob that stretches into a living lizard. The creature opens its mouth and licks the air. Vialba takes a vial of fairy blood and pours it into the lizard’s mouth.

The lizard licks its lips and morphs into a hovering balloon that floats upwards until Vialba pokes it with a pin, releasing a tiny hummingbird-fairy from its suffocating drift.

The fairy flies over to the ostrich-ant tooth, packs it into a small green sack, and dives into the sticky stew goo. A glowing shockwave spreads through the room, creating a thick smoke. Two bottles of glowing pink liquid remain after the smoke clears. Arnold coughs as he watches in amazement.

‘Okay,’ Vialba says. ‘It’s done.’ She walks over the counter, picks up the final mixtures and hands them to Arnold. ‘All you need now is the bark,’ she says. ‘You’ll need to add a small piece to this mixture within a few hours or we’ll have to restart the process.’

‘We’ll get there as soon as we can,’ Arnold says.

‘When you get the bark, place it in one of these bottles and say the word on this paper.’ She hands Arnold a piece of paper. ‘That should complete the antidote.’ The urgency in her tone makes Arnold nervous. Is he up for the challenge? What if he should fail? He shutters at this thought, but summons up courage while pushing doubt to the far corners of his mind.

‘I wish I had something to thank you with,’ he says.

‘To be honest,’ Vialba says, ‘you have given me more than I would ever have imagined.’ She smiles at Arnold.


‘Yes,’ she says, ‘this process has given me some of my power back and somehow freed me from this ice prison! Things are starting to change, Arnold, and it’s because of you!’

Arnold feels the ice melting slowly below his feet. ‘Will you join us?’ He asks.

‘I have some urgent matters to attend to first, but I’ll come find you along the way!’ Vialba struts proudly out of the tent and vanishes into the alley-street.

            Lance comes in just after. ‘Is it done?’ He asks.

            ‘Yep,’ Arnold says.

            ‘Great news!’ Lance says. ‘We should get out of here quickly before someone recognizes you. Arnold nods in agreement as Lance places his platform down.

            But it’s too late. A giant pirate grabs ahold of Arnold and carries him down the street.

            ‘Yaaarrr,’ he says, ‘them wizerds be lookin’ for ya! I’m gonna get me some coin!

            Lance looks up to see Arnold in the tight grip of a giant pirate. He runs behind them, attempting to keep up, watching as they enter the freak show tent. He creeps inside and follows the chatter that echoes from the end of a long hall-way.

            As he gets closer, he hears the wizards screeching and the pirate grunting in an argument.

            ‘Whatever he’s got plus the reward’s my only offer!’ The pirate yells as he grips Arnold tighter.

            ‘You better watch it!’ One of the wizards hisses back.

            Lance takes a quick glance inside the room. The grizzly cheetah hops around the far corner, while the pirate swats at it with one hand and holds Arnold in the other.   

            ‘Yar not getting him at all, ya half wits,’ the pirate begins to walk towards where Lance was peeking from outside of the room but the grizzly cheetah shoots a bug dart and stings his arm. The pirate growls in pain, throws Arnold near the edge of the room, and turns around to face the wizards.

            Lance takes the opportunity to grab Arnold and pull him out of the room. They step onto Lance’s platform and vanish before anyone notices.

            ‘Thanks, Lance! I thought they were going kill each other and that id be caught in the middle.’ Arnold rubs his waist and pulls out his map.

‘Yeah, I’d like to see their faces.’ Lance laughs.

‘I wouldn’t,’ Arnold says, still shaken up.

            They look at the map.

            ‘Sysmiosis is here.’ Arnold points, ‘and there’s the forest surrounding it. Can you get us there?’ He asks.

            ‘No problem at all,’ Lance says, ‘we’ll have to get pretty deep to avoid the water, but we’ll manage.’

            As they drop down diagonally, Arnold’s ears pop. Strange cracking sounds erupt around them. Fossilized eggs and bones lay inside the dense layers that surround them.




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