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The kingdom through the.., p.32
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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.32

           Kell Inkston
 
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR: MEEO LETLIND EDITION)

  The three Knights embark on their mission, going down to the first floor, exchanging a set of permitting glances and then splitting up to complete their various tasks.

  Love rushes up several hallways and then ducks into a corner, waiting for Law to do his part.

  There is a slight pause, and then Love can hear a vicious racket from behind her, sounding like the shattering of rocks.

  “HEY YOU FAIRY F****! GET YOUR WEAK ASSES OVER HERE! THERE’S A STUPID, EMOTIONALLY-INSECURE DRAGON THAT’D LIKE TO GIVE YOU HIS OPINION ON HOW WEAK AND STUPID YOUR ARCHETECTURE IS! I’D BET I COULD LEVEL THIS ENTIRE F****** KEEP IF I WANTED TO!” a familiar voice yells with maniac confidence.

  Love is pretty certain he didn’t learn to use that sort of language from her!

  She watches with the profile of a mouse as two groups of guards rush to the source of Law’s distasteful, effective distraction. Love sees they made the mistake of leaving the path to the magerium unguarded; a fortunate turn of incompetence for her.

  Love moves silently through the chambers proceeding to the magerium. Even when navigating Liefholn’s many halls, the intense magical presence of the magerium’s many devices is obvious to her. She’s rather surprised; she did not expect the Liefland Royal magerium to have a mana-signature of quite this size. There must be some really powerful magic contained inside.

  The cloud-eyed Knightess reaches the hall leading into the magerium, the enormous witchwood doors barely concealing the mana signature. Holding them secure is what seems to be a magic lock, probably one that uses a rune key. Love, not one to conserve her spells, goes right into casting the lock off with a specialized, arcane curse, the sort one would learn only after centuries of study; she bets not even Order would know this spell, as her interest in magic has mostly fallen under assault, alteration, and other, more blunt forms of incanteries. Love understands Order would focus on only a few schools of magic, though; she’s far busier than Love with administrative things, and when she isn’t working, she’s usually drinking with Nature and Generosity.

  Almost done with her spell, she detects a presence from behind. Love quickly ducks into the dark, right in the shadow of a torch. A soldier rushes by, uses a rune key in his possession to open the lock, and the doors open for him. He enters and Love can, just barely, hear some chattering from the other side of the door. There is a slight pause, and then Love hears it.

  Softly, so softly, like a sleeping bell, she hears the voice of something she expected to be long gone, ever since they were banished after the Extermination Wars.

  “Ehem,” You see, Reader, the fairies, though most of them were not a near match to the might of the dragons and their kind, had a secret weapon, the oldest of their sort; a kind of fairy that had magic both whimsical and terrible, one that sounded no words, but was understood by all. These ones were called many names: Oldest Spirit, Greater Fae, Truest in the Dark, Highest Faery, God Wisp, but its most common-name is proto-fairy, as it is widely thought to be the first variety of fairy to exist.

  They are unkind creatures, and take great pleasure in capturing and destroying anything that has the concept of pain. They are very quiet, and very magical; in fact, it is widely viewed that they are invincible. So if you hear anything that sounds like sleeping bells late at night, you best watch out, Reader.

  Love winces, she thought the last of them was banished battling the dragons, but it seems that there is still one left on this plane of existence, away from its likelings. The fairies must not have banished this one, directly disobeying the mandate set on their country after the Kingdoms and Powers International Peace Conference, in which they were ruled too dangerous to be left in the hands of fairies, who were widely seen as barbaric in the eyes of the primarily-human council.

  Love, guessing that the messenger was sent to release the Old Breeze of The Forest from its sealing place, quickly exerts her magic to cast a spell of great concealment.

  “Mil’fall!” she casts, finishing her spell, quickened at the cost of exuberant amounts of magic power.

  Just as her body, mana signature and soul signature disappears from all sight, the doors swing open by themselves, the torches blow out and into the hall walks a living blackness, sounding more like the swaying of trees than the steps of a creature. The very tall creature, body aglow with symbols unknown and plenteous, walks out from the doors. It walks just next to Love, and stops. The hallway is assaulted with a choir of sunken bells as it speaks.

  “Where are you, Meeo Jawry Letlind? Where are you?” the creature communicates with its ancient chords, attempting to pinpoint Love’s location by listening to her thoughts. Her spell is sufficient, fortunately, and the Great Faery, its face empty and void, continues down the hall to complete two-thirds of its errand before returning.

  Her time is very limited, the Old Fae will likely catch Dresmond and Law and then turn around to find her.

  Meeo waits a few seconds after it’s out of sight and then, again to her fortune, the same guard comes out with the rune key in tow. The spook guard, named Sirragan Spik, is knocked out by a mysterious foot from nowhere and is looted of his precious rune key.

  The Invisible Love uses the key and the doors open up. The Knight rushes past the various magical devices, objects, creatures in cages, seals and what-have-you, up to the pocket dimension; a large tear in the fabric of creation. She pokes her head in, notes the comfy surroundings, the multiple guards, and Order constrained with more magical items than Love can count in this quick moment. Love gets to formulating a plan, and then leaps into action.

  From left to right, the five guards are as follows:

  Goltrei Merritman, a Dwarf who hates humans like the plague,

  Matimerial Ilsovyne, a High Fairy who is the leader of the squad and Pitch’s highest-ranked operative; he’s keeping a close eye on his pocket watch.

  Spirran Setlisay, a grey spook, standing nearest to Order’s holding place, squatting up and down with intense, adorable seriousness.

  Setlin Serian, a red spook that is dancing back and forth with stoic composure.

  Aevywn Hannendyn, a master elf archer staring vacantly towards to pocket dimension’s fireplace.

  “How much waity batey time and fatey do we have remaining? Check you gear-bellington ensemble, if you please” Aevywn asks with a slow gesture of the head. Matimerial glances to the hands on his watch.

  “Round five minutes more ‘fore we make travel and prepare her destruction,” Matimerial says, charged with being the one to lead Order out to the center square to be executed.

  “Aye, couldn’t come sooner, I say,” Goltrei adds. Matimerial shrugs, and sighs.

  “How is our held quarry, Spirran?” he asks.

  “Good is prisoner, Report to nothi-- ... Look there why? What see you?” Spirran asks Order, seeing her trail with her eyes what looks to be the presence of concealing magic entering the room; the silhouette is very large, about the size of a doorframe. The muted Order begins shaking her head violently the moment Love goes up and tears in half the magically-barring slip that inhibits dimensional travel; Meeo is now free to use Everlock.

  “Is something of grim accord, Spirran?” Matimerial asks, noting Spirran’s strange response.

  “Looking is prisoner. Something at staring.”

  “It would not be outside of humanity’s grief to see higherling beasts before one’s death. Such is their bleak condition,” the fairy says as an invisible Love sets Everlock in-between Order, Spirran, herself, and the four other fairy-folk. She steps atop Order’s mass of magic restraints and begins casting a few spells. The moment she starts with her magic Matimerial sees his watch glint blue.

  “Sorceries nigh! Search and behold our trespasser, Setlin!” he says to the anti-mage spook with sharp alert the moment he detects the presence of mana-flow inside the dimension.

  Pardon, Reader: I know you’re engaged but I need to pass this by you. Spooks have different unique magics the
y can make use of based on their body color. There are all sorts of lists and studies done on this, but what you need to know right now is that red spooks can release a mist that can detect the presence of magic, and grey spooks are, among other things, capable of increasing the potency of nearby spells. I understand you must hate being interrupted from your nice cozy story like this, but I would simply hate for you to be left in the dark. Please, read on.

  Following his commander’s order, Setlin Serian releases a red mist from his vaporous entirety, as is the unique spook spell (or “spookery”) of the red spook variety. In the next second the mist magnetizes to Love and outlines her clearly on top of Order’s holding place. The moment the outline is clear, the group can hear the sound of a door being open and shut at a quickened pace, causing it to disappear just as quickly. Aevywn draws her bow and rapid-fires several bolts at the presence, intending to end this fight quickly and get home soon to fetch her two children for the High Tea celebration. All of the enchanted arrows stop flat in the middle of the air, each denting into what sounds to be invisible wood.

  “What witchery becomes us on this, our most harrowed of nights?” Matimerial asks in shock as he finishes unwrapping his magerium-prototype staff to begin flinging his fury of fire spells at his target, all to be enhanced by his grey spook companion.

  “Some sort of dark magic, I’ll handle this,” Goltrei says with a dagger-sharp glare and his anti-magic hammer lifted. Goltrei rushes forward towards the invisible door, poising his weapon to obliterate whatever presents itself in front of him. Everlock bursts open with a high-level frost spell, its blizzard spewing out of the door and instantly dropping the room’s temperature to the deep negatives. The lightweight spooks and Matimerial are instantly knocked against the wall of the pocket dimension, and are held stationary by the freezing wind. Aevywn, like most elves, are sensitive to extreme temperatures, pushing her to unconsciousness as an angry Goltrei faces the current of freezing hail. As her enemies struggles against the current of frosteriel-ever-fluent, Love leaps from out of Everlock and delivers a swift, magically-accelerated kick to Goltrei’s face knocking him out amidst the sub-zero air. The torrent of great frost resides, and the three conscious ones are released from the windy hold.

  “By Pitch’s wing! Humans are to be feared! Gallin was true to speak so awedly of you, dark Knight!” Matimerial shouts as he finishes unveiling his staff from its inhibiting wrappings. Suddenly the staff, overcharged with occult magic, bursts into a dark flame, its sentience screaming back into existence.

  “HEY! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR?!” the malignant spirit yells as the staff takes flight from Matimerial’s hands and into the air.

  “I beckon your aid, angry spirit. Waste this one that opposes us!”

  “WHAT? SHUT UP YOU SHIT FAIRY. I DO AS I PLE--” the large spirit spots Love, who recognizes the voice.

  “Oh my, Terioth,” Love says with a wide look about her as her cloaking spell phases out. The spirit, now gaining elephantine size and the color of a forest fire, grins.

  “WELL WELL, LOOK WHO WE HAVE HERE; MUST BE MY LUCKY DAY.”

  “Eh, I don’t think this is the time for you to--”

  “HAHA! FINALLY! ALL THOSE YEARS OF BEING SEALED ... YES, SURELY, MY TIME OF REVENGE HAS COME!” Terioth yells while he takes deep breaths and fills his lungs with unholy fire. Love quickly begins with her counter-spell.

  “Noble Spirran, make haste!” Matimerial exclaims, commanding his grey-spook companion. Spirran the spook wastes no time in using his spookery to enhance the level of the flames in the area. Love feels a sharp rise in the temperature around her.

  “SCREAM IN FIRE!” Terioth exclaims through his spirit as his frog-like chest extends from the well of flames inside of him.

  “Vulcan shell,” Love casts just as Terioth releases the spew of fire from his core. A wall of anti-fire rises in front of her, protecting both herself and Order from the flamethrower. Terioth takes another breath, but not quickly enough to stop Love from leaping back inside Everlock. He coughs and suppresses the flames, then looks over to Matimerial when he speaks up.

  “True, you two are of acquaintance?” the fairy asks as the two spooks stumble around in shock.

  “YEAH, WAS FIGHTING FOR OVERLORD TORMENT IN THOSE DAYS. SHE WAS ONE OF THE KNIGHTS TASKED WITH DESTROYING HIS HELL GATE ARRAY,” Terioth says, referring to an older war in an older day.

  “You were dismissed back to a darker plane by her?”

  “CORRECT, FAIRY FLESH. COME WITH ME AND I WILL ALLOW YOU THE HONOR OF HELPING ME KILL HER.”

  “Tis a dangerous endeav, my dark one. Perhaps patience may prove more fruitf--”

  “**** YOU. OIT-DAMNED COWARD FAIRIES- USELESS IN FIGHTS EVEN TWO THOUSAND YEARS LATER. I’M GOING IN ALONE,” Terioth says as he brashly approaches the door. Amidst Matimerial’s warnings, Terioth opens Everlock and begins forcing his muscular mass through the cute, colorful frame of Everlock.

  Matimerial and the spooks watch as Terioth enters, looks around and is then tackled to the floor by a group of long, dangerous run on sentences: horrible creatures that exist only by their rare necessity, when too much needs to be said at once and not enough space or punctuation exists to bridle them to the plane of common-sentence existence; additionally Love takes this moment of distraction to exit Everlock, bow drawn and ready to hold up the fairies as Terioth is pulled into Negative Space to do battle with the dangerous, horrifying extensions of prose. With no time to cast a spell, Matimerial slowly falls to his knees and drops his magic catalyst, eyes focused with anger. The two spooks follow his example.

  “Very good, now stay put,” Love says with a smile as she steps back, closes Everlock and begins undoing Order’s bindings. Order’s expression is a mix of surprise and discontentment as Meeo removes the muting slip of magic paper from her lips.

  “Meeo, this isn’t what I had in mind,” she says with a sharp glare. Love hums.

  “Ahh, I suppose you would have preferred been executed then?”

  “No, I mean ... yes. Meeo, it would have been better for me to just die than you to get caught up in this more. You were supposed to prove my innocence.”

  “Was I?”

  “Yes! But ... but we don’t have a choice now. We’ll work with what we have. Come on,” Order says as she gets up and brushes herself off.

  “What do you have in mind?”

  “... We wait for Oa, strike when it’s busy with Pitch and Tylvania, that’s our best chance ... Wait, damn, then again we do have Aoline and Lain’s conditions,” Order asks as she hops up and to keep an eye on the high fairy and his spook comrades.

  “Worry not, Ran. I have it all squared away,” Love says with a nod, right hand gently stroking the string of the bow. Order raises her brow at Love with a look of concern.

  “That so?”

  “One could say I’ve taken out a very potent insurance policy.”

  “You need to be upfront with me, Meeo. What did you do?”

  “Shh, it’s a secret,” Love says, holding her finger to her lips complimented with a wink. Order stares at Love as if she had said something stupid, but expectedly so; a slight tilting of the head, direct gaze, and raising of the eyebrows.

  “... A secret?” she asks.

  “Yes.”

  “... Alright, whatever, let’s just get out of here.”

  “Gladly; come along this way and we’ll be back in the mag--” Meeo stops herself, hearing the dreamy, harrowing “ding” of a Faery bell. Love and Order share a pair of shocked glances.

  “Is that what I think it is?” Ranalie asks.

  “It is, apparently Liefland cheated on the war agreement and kept one or two around.”

  “Shit! You’re kidding!”

  “Now, Ranalie, I feel such a dirty exclamation wouldn’t really be prop--”

  “I can’t believe it. I don’t have Monument- there’s no way we could fight it!” Order exclaims as the two of them see what appears to be a magic darkness e
ntering the Magerium at the other side of the portal and approaching.

  “Hmm, this won’t do at all. Ranny, this way please,” the cloudy Knightess directs as she turns around to Everlock.

  “Foolish vagrants. The first of our noble kind is not one that can be escaped,” Matimerial says with a wry grin, overjoyed that the Faery has now finished with Dresmond and Hos’Rayull, and is now approaching its final mark.

  “Humans are doomed, mission success,” Spirran says with a few foreboding squats. As Order and Love open up Everlock and close it behind them, the both of them realize that the ringing has not stopped.

  “Come here, Meeo Jawry Letlind, Ranalie of Reane, Come here,” the ancient, calm voice says to their minds. The two Knights are suddenly overwhelmed with the gripping desire to go back through Everlock, and meet with the great nature spirit.

  “Lock it,” Order says, pushing her hand against her forehead as she battles the headache. Love quickly complies and locks the white and blue door behind the two of them.

  “Your door will not help you. Come here,” the Faery commands as it extends through the door using arcane magics of great, dark whimsy. The bells grow only louder as the two fight its influence.

  “Charge your bow,” Order says as she gets on knee and begins casting a trap-spell. Again Love is compliant and speaks a few soft words to her next arrow. The two, both beyond-master-level magicians, finish up their spells in roughly the same time, just as the whimsical, consuming presence leaks completely through the door.

  “Release!” Order says as the towering great Faery lays its sight upon them. The trap-spell, obeying its creator, leaps to life and explodes straight up, engulfing the Faery in its powerful vertical flame. Order, having forgotten that this is negative space, sees the Faery not burn, but freeze. At the same moment Love fires her arrow, charged with weakness, into her target, smashing its head clean off in a in a shocking display.

  The Faery regenerates in the following three seconds, and looks down to them.

  “I exist out of your realm flesh-ones. Surrender and come here,” it says, grasping enough of Meeo’s brain to bring her shortly to her knees. Order is of a slightly stronger sort when it comes to dealing with mental influences.

  “Get up, Meeo!” Order says as she tries to pull Meeo to her feet and then, seeing that she is unresponsive, picks her up and starts running.

  “No need for that. Come here,” it says again, its mental arms grasping at Order’s mind. Ranalie looks behind her and sees that the distance between herself and the Faery has not widened, as if she’s running on nothingness. She begins casting another spell to counteract the sound of the bells in her mind, now reverberating through her entirety.

  “No need for that. Your mind has grown weak,” it says, gradually dictating her body. Suddenly Ranalie feels a complete blankness in her head, the magic words she was thinking of have now been covered with pages upon pages of the sound of these deep bells.

  “Very good. Your will has grown weak,” it says again, this time bringing the Masteress Knight to her knees, and then flat on the ground.

  In the next moment she feels an army of warm, welcoming hands pick her up, and engulf her in their collective heat.

 
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