Arcane Inkdustries

Magical writings in a Mundane World (Tuesdays and Fridays)

Author: Jack Holder (Page 1 of 45)

Making Friends, Part 8

Badgers are actually notorious for their screams. In battle, as children, in parental moments that children are not supposed to know about. They are loud, and occasionally obnoxious in their exclamations. This was something that Theolonius Bricklebook personally strove to be personally above. He was a familiar, and intelligent, he had something that other members of his race did not have. He must persevere and better himself.

But when a death goddess of vengeance has taken your grip on gravity and spun you willy nilly through the very skies above, a scream or two is called for. It may even be called the measured and appropriate response. And Theolonius Bricklebook was notoriously measured and appropriate.

“Wheeeeeee!!!!” Bethany’s screams of delight were a perfect counterpoint to the badger’s terror. She clutched tight at Arlyle’s hand, laughing at the wind rushing above and below her. The girl loved flying with Arlyle, and now they had a new friend to enjoy it with!

Arlyle kept smiling. She had to endure other beings right now, and that was a terrible turn of events. But Bethany was happy, and that made everything better.

They flew past the lake, past the great trees. Passed the long, rolling hills, to the mountains of the west. Arlyle sped towards the frozen peaks ahead, and stopped just before them. There, tucked between the mountains the broke the clouds, and the hills that swept low, were white grasslands. The fields were shrouded in a thick fog, completely covering everything.

Arlyle touched down just outside the Meadows, letting Bethany and Thelonius catch their breath. To some, this new land may have looked malevolent. To Arlyle, it was just odd.

“Welcome to Murky Meadows,” Thelonius said. “The fog settles in most of the year. Clissandra likes it that way.”

“A witch that doesn’t like the sun.” Arlyle looked to Bethany, checking her over. “Doesn’t seem nice.”

“Or maybe she has one of those skin conditions where too much sun is just not good for her.” Bethany said. “Or all her plants are fog plants, and even her magic. Maybe that’s it.”

Arlyle shrugged. They were here for an adventure.

Thelonius nodded to the center of the fog. There, jutting out of the murk, was a single stone spire. Green moss and trees dotted around it. And as Bethany and Arlyle walked up to it, the spire shuddered, and split open.

The Witch of the Murky Meadows strode from her spire clothed in pale purple. An apron was over her great cloak, the hood obscuring her face. She shuffled forward, dipping her gloved hands into a basket and pulling out dark seeds. She spread a few along her path as she went along her day.

Bethany took a deep breath, and called out. “Witch of the Murky Meadows?”

“Not today, children,” The Witch said. “I’ve too much to do.”

Bethany frowned, and ran up to her. “Witch, my name is Bethany. I am eight years old, have been to Fairyland and like my fog to be a bit more yellow, though your purple in the white is very pretty too. And I am here to spend time with you on an adventure!”

The Witch looked at her, and pulled back her hood. She was old. Lines crossed over her face. She had golden eyes, though the left eye was much paler than the right. Her mouth was set in a thin line, looking over the young girl.

“Would you…like a cookie?”

Bethany squealed, and ran over to the Witch. Arlyle’s eyes flashed, and she appeared next to the Witch before Bethany could grab the cookie. Arlyle sniffed the basket once, and nodded. No poison today.

Bethany accepted the cookie, and pointed to Arlyle. “This is Arlyle, the Scourge of Darrenfell, and my bestest friend. We are here to help you.” She made a yummy sound. “Also, you make amazing cookies.”

The Witch looked around, searching, and she spotted Thelonius. Her face set further.

“Thelonius, what have you done?”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

Making Friends, Part 7

Thelonius Bricklebook may have been a loquacious and brilliant badger for his species. Eloquent, loyal to a fault, and self-conscientious enough of his personal hygiene to keep it from becoming a nuisance. A perfect badger familiar, in his own opinion. However, he did not fully count on the necessities of working with an eight-year-old girl, or even the cutest little death goddess of vengeance. Case in point, trying to journey back to the Murky Meadows.

Theolonius stuck his nose back into the hole, preparing for the trudge back to the Murky Meadows.

“We’re going that way?” Bethany asked.

“Absolutely,” the badger said. “We have a couple days of travel before we get back to Clissandra, so we really should get a move on.”

“Not getting in.” Arlyle said.

“Ari!”

Bricklebook stood on his hind legs, and stared.

“You said you were going to help.”

“Bethany did.” Arlyle said. “And if we go, we aren’t going that way.”

Bricklebook started, and stopped, and started again. “Do you know the way to Murky Meadows?”

Arlyle’s mouth barely opened before Bethany interjected.

“No crossing planes without permission!” Bethany said.

Arlyle folded her arms, and huffed. She did promise, but she wasn’t going to like it.

“And we need to find a way to get to the Murky Meadows…” Bethany trailed off, and smiled weakly to Thelonius. “Though, maybe not something so small, Mr. Bricklebook?”

“Small?” Thelonius sniffed and tucked his head further in. “I may admit to a certain, well, snugness to my method of transport. But I assure you, there is comfort, there is warmth, there is…”

“Down.” Arlyle said. “No going down. No going in.”

“But…how…you, dear madam, are a goddess!” Thelonius exclaimed. “Make it work!”

“I’ll make…”

“Mr. Bricklebook.” Bethany patted the badger on the head, smiling. “Can Ari and I talk? Alone?”

He bristled, but relented. He inspected his tunnel as the goddess and her worshipper wandered off. The badger muttered about structural support and a host of architectural words that may or may not have been homonyms of each other.

Bethany laid a hand on her goddess’ shoulder. Calm, understanding. She looked at Arlyle, concern on her face.

“No underground,” Arlyle muttered.

“No underground.” Bethany agreed. “No more caves?”

Arlyle looked up at Bethany, and gripped her hands. She squeezed tight, not letting herself nod. The girl could not imagine. Could not comprehend centuries, millennia passing by in one’s own tomb. Trapped, losing one’s own self-identity. All the while the drip, drip, drip of the caves echo in her clay jar.

Not underground. No caves.

If Bethany understood any of this, or even thought of it, she didn’t let on. She hugged Arlyle like she always did, and whispered close. “We’re having an adventure, best friends!”

The girl turned to Thelonius, and kept the smile up. “I’m sorry, Mr. Bricklebook, but we cannot go in the tunnel.”

Thelonius sighed, and waved his tunnel goodbye. “Then how do you expect we reach the Murky Meadows?”

“Which way are they?” Arlyle asked.

The badger scrunched his snout, and thought. He pointed west, and a little north. “Maybe a league?”

Arlyle cracked her knuckles, twisted the crick out of her neck, and nodded. “Okay, hang on to Bethany’s hand.”

“Why?” Thelonius asked, even as Bethany grabbed his claws.

“If we cannot go down, and walking overground would take too long…” Arlyle’s eyes darkened, and she finally smiled.

“Then we must go up.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

Page 1 of 45

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