Banish all the World Ch. 05byStultus©
Let me make a mea culpa now. I fully admit that I can be an annoying git at times. I complain constantly about having to work for a living but still love to put on an act by wearing a three piece suit for my standard working outfit. There is no need to discuss the duster coat and the boots… this is Texas. Love it or leave it.
I complain and resist anything that smacks of authority and play the big tough loner act, even when it pushes away old friends and prevents me from making new ones. I have to do things my own way… not the 'right' way or even the BMA way. We don't even need to discuss my phobias about privacy and security.
In short, I'm a slightly undersized pismire badly compensating for my various insecurities by far too often shooting off my own pie hole when smarter folks would shut up and listen more. I'd like to blame this social deficiency on the fact that I don't get laid nearly as much as I'd like to. My critics, and there are many, would say it's those very flaws that actively wreck my attempts at romance. Oddly, I've always heard that women tend to prefer confident and arrogant assholes… but in that case I ought to be one of the best fucked men in Austin.
Faults aside, and I confess to having many, I'm a very loyal person to my friends. If someone depends upon me then I will do my damned'est to do what is expected and necessary. I'll show up on time when asked, try not to bitch excessively, and cover their ass when necessary. Today, my friends had gone off alone into the dragon's den and now I needed to see if I could get them out again more or less in one piece.
I had a really bad feeling about this, however, and my hopes sunk even more once I could see inside.
The front snack bar area was empty and both side doors were open to the theater above. The sounds were wild and eerie and bright but unsettling colors danced against the walls as if a wild kaleidoscopic show of light and sound was being held inside. I found some cotton balls in a first aid kit underneath the cash register and wadded them into my ears. The noise was just too unsettling and alien and I didn't want to understand anything that it might be saying.
Inside the grand old theater an odyssey of lights was indeed being unfurled near the screen. Not projected, but rather a vortex as links to a thousand different worlds and Planes of Existence vied with each other for a tiny slice of our world. I risked a quick glance at this mega-portal but didn't like at all the sight of all of the things that were looking back at me. I kept my eyes low to the ground and my soul securely locked down tight.
The audience of about five hundred had filled the theater, mostly all seated but tendrils (or tentacles) of energy were touching the enraptured people, ensorcelled to the extent that their minds were no longer their own. In fact as I watched, I could sense that these minds were now being devoured and in some instances a complete body replacement or transformation was occurring as various unknown visitors replaced their captive hosts.
Already it was much too late to save anyone. The two police officers I had spent the afternoon with were now mindless and soulless husks, now occupied by two dissimilar creatures that now started to glare at me balefully.
I had to find Harriet and Henrietta – fast!
Dodging several energy tentacles that were questing for me, I made my way down to the very bottom front of the theater next to the stage and there I found them. Both were alive, and more or less themselves still, but their battle to hold off a horde of probing tendrils was clearly a losing one. Harriet had was holding her sister's hand and was visibly straining to keep up a protective energy shield around them.
I didn't think I'd be able to break through the shield to try and pull them both out but someone somehow my hand passed easily through and I suddenly found myself holding Henrietta's right hand with my left. She opened her eyes and smiled at me and I could clearly hear her voice in my mind.
Then things started to get very strange.
"I knew you would come." She said calmly into my mind and without a trace of the crippled stutter than she normally spoke in.
"Harriet is now going to try and shield all three of us, but she can't hold it for longer than another minute. We have many things to do and we have very little time now, but now we have a chance. Do not try and talk or argue – just listen and try to follow my lead. Relax your guard and let me into your mind for a moment."
I'd like to say that I relaxed, but I keep my thoughts locked up pretty tight. It didn't matter to Henrietta, she surged into my mind like a barbarian horde armed with a battering ram. She popped herself inside and for a very long moment or two made herself quite at home moving the furniture around and knocking down a few side walls until the accommodations suited her.
"Your mind is so narrow and constricted!" She muttered. "It's a wonder you can cast any magic at all! Way too many firewalls and tiny power channels locked behind protective doors… when will you ever learn that sometimes a good offense is indeed better than a great defense? Now I've got some fighting room… we're going to need to cast some pretty powerful spells and I need you to actually channel the casting! First, you're going to need your other bracer from your workbench at home… we're going to need all the juice we can get. Translocate it here and let's get started!"
Translocate it here? That was miles away… no top Wizard I could think of could do that! Impossible!
"Stopping thinking and do it – yes, you can. You've got nearly unlimited power at the moment with your bracer gorging itself upon the loci here. With my assistance, you'll do fine… we don't have time to argue!"
So I concentrated. I thought I'd have to focus so hard that I'd probably shit myself, but at just a thought the other bracer appeared right onto my left arm and I was locked and loaded for battle. I surged with such uncontrollable power that I was sure that I would burst into a ball of pure energy, but somehow Henrietta kept me grounded (barely) to reality.
"Good. Now we can begin and not a moment too. Harriet's shield will collapse in a second and then they will attempt to take her, but I'll bring her part of our soul into my body for protection for just a few more moments, but that's all that we will need. We can't shield ourselves, shut down the connection to the other worlds, and destroy the things that have already arrived here, but there is a way to accomplish the last two critical things. We're doomed, but you knew that already. Harriet loved you very much once, but I had to remind her that I knew that we would both die young soon, but maybe saving the world in the process. Still she cries sometimes at night at what could have been. Isn't life… and death a bitch!"
I was too stunned at this to think let alone speak. Harriet's shield abruptly failed and she let out a loud sudden cry just before a dozen energy tendrils pounced upon her now lifeless frame, which still held her sister's hand tight even in death.
"Now," Henrietta said with a tone of sadness, "we have just a moment before they come for us. Raise a shield around us for a moment while we teach you the summoning spell you are going to need to cast. You will have only one chance and it must be done right with every ounce of power that you can channel... every last drop!"
My shield went up in the nick of time and we must have had hundreds of energy tentacles and tendrils trying to force their way in to devour us. As Henrietta whispered the words that I would need to command the summoning, I became increasingly horrified.
We weren't just summoning some major entity; we were going to command a God, the Zoroastrian deity of primal fire - Yazata Adar. A spirit capable of burning the entire world with fire and scouring it clean.
"Now Zak, knock all of these energy probes back and let your shield encompass the entire theater outside, nothing inside must be allowed to escape, then together the three of us will start the summoning."
The shock wave of my shield clearing us some working space actually blasted out three full rows of seats, and their stunned otherworldly occupants who had just been getting their bearings in this new world. This got us some breathing and fighting space. I expanded out my shield to enclose the entire El Marvelo and we started the summoning.
With both Artifact quality bracers and standing in-between two large Ley lines, I was channeling enough power to be confused with a demi-god myself, but still it wasn't enough. I channeled more and more until I was nothing but a part of living magic circuit that feed impossible amounts of power into another new vortex that summoned the deity of fire from his normal place of existence.
At last with a burst of flame, Yazata Adar arrived, ready to purify the world with his flame.
The heat was like the surface of the sun and it scoured everything in its path. Tentacle, tendrils and unwelcome visitors were all burnt to cinders at his touch and soon his flames filled every inch of the entire theater until the very edge of my exterior shield was met. It held back his divine wrath, but barely.
My left bracer melted right off of my arm as if it were flowing water off of a rock. One of the Arcane Stones shattered on my right bracer, oddly enough the 'new' one that I had purchased. The three 'irregular' ones were glowing red but holding on. In fact the entire bracer was glowing orange as if it they had become magical plasma rather than man worked gold and silver.
"Our time is done now," I heard the faint echoed whisper of both Harriet's and Henrietta's voices merged together, "our bodies are about to pass. The gateways will still be open for another moment or two and we will let our combined spirit pass into one of them, or maybe all. It will be an adventure of many lifetimes, but we will never return. We wish you well Zak, both you and your new little friend."
A moment later their bodies still hand in hand burst into flames and into carbon dust upon the burning floor. My own clothes were now on fire as well and I became as a human torch, but yet my skin was unburned.
I thought at the last moment I heard the faint echo of a tiny voice far away saying "I love you Zak" but I wasn't sure. I was more than half insane with the amount of magical power that I was still channeling.
Still I kept up the shield imprisoning the God of Fire until I was certain that everything had been destroyed, the El Marvelo was gone, as were the terrible gateways to a thousand forbidden places, and the entities that had come uninvited to visit… and stay. Nothing was left but a pit of fire and utter ruin.
When I was certain that my sphere of primeval fire was now burning deep into the limestone under where the theater used to be, I decided that enough was enough and it was past time to put this atomic blowtorch back into his proper home. There was just one little problem… I had no idea how!
This was where my 'new little friend' entered into the events. He was sitting right on my right shoulder watching the show until he reached over into my ear and pulled out the cotton.
"Mate, if yee be wantin' to turn off the sun now, I wouldn't tell thee nay!"
I was so startled that I nearly lost my concentration on my shield. Once that genie was out of the bottle I didn't think a hundred BMA Wizards could ever put him back in again. The world would indeed burn.
My little visitor was tiny, maybe about two inches tall, but I learned later that size and even appearance with him were absolutely meaningless. He had brownish skin and a leathery but happy sort of face complete with big eyes and long pointed ears. I knew what he was in an instant but didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Their odd race is known by several names, including brùnaidh, ùruisg, tomte or gruagach, but most folks just call them 'Brownies', probably rather inaccurately.
They're considered the single most magical race known, even more so than elves or other creatures of faerie. They have been reported on dozens of alternate worlds and planes and some Wizards even speculate that they originate from a world of nearly pure raw magic, that they can assume any form and use any and all sorts of powers as effortlessly as breathing. They're rare on earth, most of the usual reported sightings and legends of them being of a similar, but significantly weaker cousin creature, but they have been known to find humans 'curious'.
If anything could survive the divine fire of a God, it would be a Brownie.
"Mate, not to rush yee, but I'd be gettin a move on… that Fire God is looking a wee bit irate!"
"Ummm… like how exactly?" I wondered, a bit too out loud.
"Yee must know its name… you called it here! Banish it… a mite hastily if me were thee!"
He had a point. I'd called the entity here, in theory that gave me a lever to push it back home a bit easier than it would be otherwise.
Still channeling so much energy that my sole remaining bracer was now a solid mass of magical plasma energy I began loudly reciting the Command of Banishment. The divine being just glared and at me and willed me to burn. I felt the pain of his touch but still my will held firm, once again in an even louder voice I commanded him to Depart and his flame began to weaken. Once again I was sheeted in flames near to the temperature of the surface of the sun, but I remained whole.
Finally with a third even more forceful command to Depart I felt the vortex to his plane reopen and he was finally Banished. My shield collapsed and in the backlash of the released energy I was expelled from the flaming ruins of the theater much like a seed from a ripe melon.
For the second time in one week I was flying through the air on course with another emergency crash landing into the Colorado River. This time I didn't complain so much about the water being ice cold.