“Ah, Lord Kenazar! I see you ordered a blizzard for my arrival! Brilliant!” Prig slung off his white griffin-fur cloak and tossed it to a servant, who plucked it from the air with a flourish.
“Anything for my dearest friend and confidant,” Lord Kenazar answered from his alabaster throne. He lifted his regal, robust frame from the cold seat and lowered himself down the steep ivory steps. “It was nothing to prepare appropriate weather for the Lord of the North.”
The two clasped hands. Prig settled one hand on the Lord’s cheek, gazing into his eyes. “It has been too long, old friend.”
“Indeed.” Kenazar turned away. “And I fear it shall be longer until we see each other again.” His frame shuddered once under a muffled sob.
“We must separate the crystals. For the good of the kingdoms. You will keep your portion here, and I will carry the others and scatter them to the seven corners of the globe. And our men will continue to try to find a way to destroy the pieces.”
The two turned to an alcove off the throneroom. There, the Aurora Chrysalis shimmered under its own brilliant light.
Prig continued, “We saw what happened when Grimgalad controlled it. He used the weather as a weapon. It must never be used that way again.”
Lord Kenazar nodded. “I know. I hope you are not offended I used it one last time to greet you.”
“Of course not, my heart. Of course not.”
.Something sizzled, like the sound of a great wind meeting a terrible rend in the hot, hot earth. A dumpy woman stood in the midst of the throne room. Something tiny – insects, perhaps? – crawled up and down every part of her skin, her clothing, her dumpy hair. “So, this thing over here? It controls weather?”
Lord Kenazar tilted his head. “You do not belong here.”
“Of course not. Your author never dreamt me up. I come from somewhere else.”
“Author?” Prig stepped forward, a hand on his dragontusk rapier.
“Yeah, author. You two do know you’re characters in a book he’s writing, right? Or is a she? You never know with authors. They’re a feisty lot.” The woman gazed at the Aurora Chrysalis. She murmured to herself.
Prig drew his blade. Lord Kenazar muttered an incantation. The two circled in opposite directions.
“Yeah, see, none of that will work. I’ve already been rejected from a story.”
Prig thrust at the woman. The blade skittered across the insects crawling around her skin. Kenazar released the spell, and the oxygen sucked out of the room for a moment.
The woman raised an eyebrow. “You can’t hurt me. You can’t remove me. But this thing… I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time.” She placed her hand on the crystal matrix. Sparks flew where her skin made contact.
“You can’t take that!” Kenazar bellowed.
Prig tackled her. As he collided with her, that same sizzling sound hissed.
Prig vanished in a flurry of…
…a flurry of words?
“Well, that’s great.” The woman shrugged. “I really wasn’t attempting to wipe any people out quite yet.”
“People?” Lord Kenazar growled. “Stop speaking nonsense! We have been alone since you invaded my throneroom! Leave at once or I shall wipe you from existence!”
“Yeah, like I wiped your friend from existence?”
“Well, that could be useful information,” the woman responded. She turned back to the crystals. “Now, I just have to figure out how to take you with me.”
Lord Kenazar drew closer, beginning another incantation. He finally saw – the insects on her skin. They weren’t bugs. They were words, crawling all over her. Words in a language he did not understand, but words nonetheless.
“All right. We’ll try this, and I’ll get right out of your hair.” The woman nodded. “Let’s do this.” She held out her hands on either side of the crystals, breathed deeply, and vanished with a sizzle.
There was something he was supposed to do… something about the weather, and saving the kingdom. He was sure his author had it all lined up.
But now… now his author seemed to be drawing a blank.
Almost as if someone had stolen the idea right from his imagination.
This is a Barrelbottom Tale.