Gender: Male Age: 54 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Returning time|
I sat in the lawn chair watching as Melody chased Major who had stolen her apple. Ash had once more turned the gargoyle a vibrant pink which it didn’t seem to mind. I glanced at the drakes as they kept diving into a basin and swimming around. Griffin and Dragon were laid out on the edge of another basin.
The cats were somewhere, probably in the shade. The Phoenixes were crooning from the nest box I had made above the front door. They had two rainbow colored eggs which I had told Silver very firmly to leave alone. I sighed, “life is good.”
I turned my head and frowned when I saw Silver walking towards me, “and then Silver brings rain clouds.”
Jasmine chuckled as she worked to shorten the hair on Ash’s two stuffed animals. Silver absently murmured and created another chair and sat, “it is hot out here. Why aren’t you inside where it is cooler?”
I reached into the large bowl of ice and water and pulled Jewel out, “because we are enjoyed the nice day.”
He frowned as he wiped his face and Melody ran up, “Grandfather come play in the water.”
Almost all the children in the neighborhood were in and out of the basins which seemed to stay full and deepen for them. He smiled, “and where is your companion?”
Jasmine snorted, “swimming in a basin.”
I grinned, “well it does look like an otter.”
Melody frowned, “does not.”
I smiled, “have you seen an otter?”
She shook her head and Jasmine growled, “Sinclair!”
I grinned, “ask your mother or one of your grandparents to show you one.”
She nodded and pulled on Silver, “come on grandfather.”
He stood with a sigh and glanced at me, “I need to talk to you.”
I grinned, “I’m busy.”
Jasmine laughed as Silver was pulled to one of the basins where two other children were already swimming. It was a very nice day and I didn’t let Silver or Gloria when she arrived, spoil it. By the time dinner was over the girls were already tired and yawning. Jasmine was relaxing while I cleaned up and Gloria said she would put the girls to bed.
Silver straightened his robe as they left and looked at me, “I need a favor.”
I sighed as Jasmine giggled and stood to follow the girls and her mother, “what now?”
He watched Jasmine leave before looking at me again, “ten leagues outside the south gate is an old castle.”
I nodded since everyone knew about it and he took a breath, “no one has entered it for over five hundred years. The last was a powerful wizard and he left protections.”
I knew that because rumor said many had tried to sneak in and died or vanished, “so what do you want?”
He looked at the nest box for the Phoenixes that I had brought in, “there is a record that said he had a rookery full of Phoenixes.”
I shook my head, “and you think they would still be there?”
He smiled, “I took a trip out to the castle. He left protections against magic but I was able to determine that there was a very powerful time suspension spell inside.”
I smiled, “even if I were to somehow enter the castle and bypass this time suspension spell I would not let you take an egg from a Phoenix.”
He sighed, “Sinclair...”
I shook my head, “Phoenixes do not lay eggs often so they are rare and precious to them.”
He thought and looked at me, “what if the egg was not fertile and wouldn’t hatch?”
I looked at the two Phoenixes, “can you tell if an egg will not hatch?”
Silver snorted but the female Phoenix nodded. I sat back as I thought, “I get to keep anything else I find?”
He nodded and I stood, “I will check the castle and see what I can find.”
I went to help tuck my children in and read Melody a story before I went to bed. I was up early with Jasmine before giving her a kiss and going to get a few things. I had Jewel and the drakes stay when I left. It was noon when I reached the castle. The whole area around it was overgrown but I notice no birds would fly near it.
I could see hundreds of magic strands on the walls and in the air over it. I slowly walked around the castle and when I saw the stream flowing through it I thought I had a way in. I finished my walk around before wading into the water and slowly laying down. I crawled and floated as I pulled myself up the stream until I reached the thick bars.
I looked at the few strands of magic and smiled as I reached for a bar. Time and water had done my job already. I twisted and pulled it back and forth and it fell out. I worked on two others next to it and set the bars aside each time they came out. I shifted my pack off and pushed it through before turning onto my back and wiggling through after it.
I sat up once I was in and pulled the pack on before slowly turning. I had to move carefully, the strands of magic went from wall to wall and crisscrossed each other in the air. I was able to use the silver pen knives to shift the magic strands up where it touched the walls. I took my time and slowly moved in.
I saw the tiny courtyard between the stables and the servants entrance. I could see birds frozen in mid air where they had touched a line of magic, some had decayed and fallen apart. I had to follow the wall around and move hundreds of threads of magic to reach the servants entrance. I opened the door and stared at what almost look like a fog of magic.
I was kneeling and it took awhile to see where the magic was anchored. There were points on each wall, floor and the ceiling. I sighed and began to move the points up one wall and across the floor to the other before bringing them up the other wall. It took an hour to move down the hall until I could look into the kitchen.
I shook my head but started moving the strands of magic. I stopped at the pantry and was able to determine the food was still good. I got a glass and filled it from my water bottle before leaving. I worked on the hallway until I had it clear to the stairs. Through the large arched doorway I looked into the great hall.
It was like the hallway, covered in a fog of magic. I knelt and kept looking as I realized something with brighter strands was glowing in the center of the hall. I shook my head, it would take at least a day to move enough strands to reach the glow. I moved to the end door and checked it before moving a few strands of magic.
If this was like other castles it would lead out to another part of the castle. The guards armory, practice area, barracks and the rookery. I was careful opening the door and sighed at all the strands of magic. Again it was as if the area were covered in a fog of magic. I stood and thought before turning to move back to the great hall.
I looked at the brighter strands in the hall. I began shifting and moving points of contact. I had to go from wall to floor to wall as I slowly moved the strands. I glanced at the window when it began to grow dark and moved back to the hall. I went to the kitchen and started shifting strands to reach the stove.
Once I was finished I was able to start it and spread out my bedroll. The stove kept me warm as the night cooled. I smiled when I heard my daughter Melody whisper goodnight. I was up early and searched the pantry before eating. I used the knives when I returned to the great hall as the sun brought light to the high windows.
I could see through the fog of magic to a pedestal with what looked like an hour glass. I grinned and began to move to strands again. I was moving further away from the doorway and moving the strands up when I reached each the wall. The strands on the floor became thicker the closer I got to the pedestal.
Time seemed to slow and stretch as I moved back and forth and forward an inch at a time. The sun moved across the sky as I inched across the room until I was only a few inches from the pedestal. I froze when I heard footsteps from a suit of armor. I moved back to the door and stepped into the hall and looked back as a suit of armor walked into the great hall.
It walked straight to the pedestal and shifted before reaching out to lift the hour glass and turn it over. I spun and began running as all the work I had done vanished and the strands of magic started sliding back into place. I reached the door just ahead of the magic and moved out and to the stream and dove in.
I quickly crawled out through the bars and turned to look back in. The strands inside the wall stayed where I had put them. It was awhile before I moved back in and saw that all the strands outside the Keep had not gone back. When I checked the door and hall it was to see it full of magic like when I had first seen it.
I shook my head and went out the way I had come in. I moved around while looking at the castle wall and finally smiled. I moved to the wall and started climbing, at the top I had to hold on while using one hand to shift the strands of magic. It took me awhile to climb onto the wall and I had to rest by then.
From where I stood I could see the rotting remains of three men. I looked around as I realized the rookery was across from me. A thick wall went from the outer castle wall across to the rookery tower. It didn’t take long to cross to the tower and make my way onto the rookery roof.
From there I worked my way down and into the stands and nesting area. There were six mated pairs of phoenixes frozen on stands or nesting boxes. I slowly began moving and shifting strands of magic until I reached the first bird. I moved carefully as I slipped the strands off it. It shifted and started to spread its wings and I shook my head, “don’t move yet.”
It looked at me as it seemed to tense and I went back to moving the strands until I was sure it was free. I straightened, “okay you are free now.”
It shifted and made a pitiful chirping sound as it looked at another phoenix on a nesting box. I hesitated before giving it a caress, “I will free her.”
It took me until just before it began to grow dark. I had freed all of them but the hard part was coming. I had to carry each out to the castle wall and send them to the trees. I put all the eggs in my pack before climbing down and starting to walk. The phoenixes followed as I returned to the city and home.
I opened the door wide and turned to look at the phoenixes and they finally came in. Jasmine and Gloria were in the kitchen as I walked into my library, “Jasmine!”
I set my pack down as the phoenixes found places to land. I began pulling eggs out as Jasmine came in. I grinned, “I need something for them to use as nests.”
She looked at all the birds, “I have never seen this many together.”
I looked at the birds, “come show me which eggs are yours.”
Only half opened her wings to glide to me. They each touched eggs and I moved them aside. Jasmine returned a few moments later with six small chests floating behind her. Inside each was soft cloth and I gently placed the eggs in them. I moved things around in the room so the chests were on the upper shelves.
I looked at the phoenixes, “you and your eggs will be safe here.”
I opened a window and it was a little while before they settled and I took a single egg that had not been claimed. In the kitchen I sat with a sigh and Jasmine smiled as she made me dinner. Gloria kept biting her lip and I smiled sweetly, “yes?”
She snorted, “you didn’t get anything else?”
I shook my head, “I have never seen anything like what was in the Keep. The strands of magic outside were just those that had escaped and slipped out. Birds were caught and frozen in mid air, most were dead. From the wall I saw three men that had climbed up and been caught.”
I shook my head, “they were long dead. I think anything not inside the Keep only gets part of the spell.”
I looked towards the other room where we heard soft cooing which was answered by our two Phoenixes, “I think the only reason the phoenixes were safe was the amount of spell strands in the rookery.”
I looked at Jasmine, “the inside of the Keep had so many strands it was like a fog. I found an hour glass in the great hall and managed to move enough magic to get within a few inches. That was when a suit of armor came in and turned the hour glass over. The strands began returning to where they were and I barely made it out.”
I ate and then went to see the children before washing and going to bed. I was up early and kissed Jasmine before giving her the egg for her father. I called for Jewel and the drakes as I left and stopped at a weapon shop. I bought a light cross bow and a dozen bolts before heading out of the city.
When I reached the castle I pulled out salt and a long bladder from home, “stay away from the castle.”
I looked at Jewel and she nodded as the drakes chirped. I filled the bladder with water from the stream and added the salt before putting the bolts in. I leaned it against a tree as I looked at the castle. I made a small camp and turned a little later when I saw the wagon. Silver and Gloria were walking on each side and Jasmine and the children were on the seat.
I frowned as they headed towards me and caught Melody as she leaped off the wagon without warning. I swung her around and gave her a hug before setting her down and reaching for Ash. I helped Jasmine down, “why are you here?”
She was looking at the castle, “you are going back in?”
I turned to look and absently caught Griffin, “yes. I think if I can clear to the great room I might have a chance to stop the spell.”
Silver cleared his throat, “you don’t...”
I shook my head, “people may be trapped in there. When the suit of armor comes I plan to shoot it with a bolt soaked in salt water.”
Gloria hissed, “that could cause any magic to fail and...”
I sighed, “I know what I am doing. Since the bolt is moving fast and not solid salt or brine soaked the effect will or should be local. What I want is for the spell on the suit to fail and unravel. That way it cannot renew the other spell.”
I looked at Jasmine, “if it works I should be able to unravel the other spell on the hourglass and cancel the spell.”
She nodded and glanced at her mother, “but I am going in with you.”
I opened my mouth as Gloria chuckled, “Silver could go.”
I looked at her carefully, “or you.”
She snorted before looking at a frowning Jasmine. She sighed and then smiled, “I think I will.”
She looked at Silver who was trying to keep the girls attention away from the castle, “you are going to babysit.”
I grinned, “I like the pink beard look.”
We put up a tent and let the girls play in the stream while I talked about what I was going to do. I glanced at the cats when they walked out of the stream and frowned, “were you inside?”
Jasmine laughed as they flirted their tails and sat together, “they are a rule unto themselves.”
I had thought about insect dust or spider webs but when I was inside I had not seen any insects. That told me the mage had been very careful when he created the spell. I took the crossbow and bladder and made a check of the stream. I went all the way to the servants entrance.
A couple of strands had slipped out and I moved them before clearing the door and opening it. I began moving strands and slowly moved into the hall. It was a little while before Jasmine and her mother came in. Jasmine smiled as I turned to see her mother wringing the water from her dress.
I went back to work moving the strands, “so what mischief did the girls get into?”
Jasmine chuckled, “Melody made Major larger and turned Sara’s hair a awful shade of purple. Ash grew a pink beard on the gargoyle I haven’t been able to remove yet.”
I grinned as I kept working, “I don’t think the gargoyle minds.”
Gloria snorted and Jasmine laughed, “no it doesn’t.”
They created light as it grew dark and I finally reached the doorway into the great hall. I tried to ignore the strands as I looked in to see the hourglass. It looked like it had been turned today so I had time. It was hours before I was close to the pedestal once more. All the spell strands seemed to come out of the hourglass.
It was dawn when I had finally cleared a portion of the pedestal and the hourglass. I hoped I had time and wouldn’t have to use the crossbow. I used a glass cutter and carefully made cuts. I pulled out a tiny leather bellows and tapped the hole to pop the glass out. I slipped the tiny tube in and began sucking the sand out of the top.
I had to pull the bellows out a couple of times to spray the sand into a silk pouch. Jasmine pulled me back before the last few grains fell through and into the bottom. Everything seemed to still before suddenly the spell strands faded and disappeared. I was quick to move back to the hour glass to cut a hole in the bottom and removed the sand.
I listened while working but didn’t hear anything or anyone. When I was finished we went to open the hall doors and started out into the bailey. Tiny bird skeletons littered the ground and even a couple of human remains. On the walls I saw a few more and finally crossed the bailey to the huge wheel beside the castle doors.
I turned it and it pulled the thick beam out of the door brackets. Once the beam was clear I had to force the doors open. I saw Silver watching and turned to go back inside to explore. I found the suit of armor just off the great hall and made sure it wasn’t going anywhere. I think the best find was off the workroom. It was a large room filled with sleeping mage companions.
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