Cerdic the Usual – Ch. 8

Grimm let go of the vampire Patrick and fell back in a defensive position in front of Cerdic. Veron was up and running away from the confrontation. He knew he couldn’t help and motioned for Cerdic to follow.

With a small shake of his head, indicating he wasn’t going to leave, Cerdic watched Jeremy as he started to cast a spell. The geometric shapes forming in the air in front of his waving hands reminded Cerdic of the residual shapes on the tire, and they were aimed directly at Eric’s center of mass. Without hesitation Cerdic yelled, “look out!” and tackled Eric to the ground. The magic went over the two of them and hit a nearby fence post, reducing it to ash.

Eric looked at the fence post and back at Cerdic. “Uh, thanks…how did you…?”

“Later, Eric!” Henry yelled. “We need to deal with Jeremy first!”

Cerdic rolled off Eric and helped him to his feet. “He’s using some sort of aging magic. Be careful.”

“I see that now…my only question is, how did you? But Henry is right. We have a more immediate concern.” Eric moved his left hand and gripped his grimoire with his right. As he made motions Cerdic saw a barrier appear in front of Eric. It covered his body, but his arms were on the outside. He decided that was so Eric could cast through the barrier.

“Grimm. Be careful.” Cerdic turned and joined Veron behind a nearby rock.

Giving a small bark of recognition, Grimm tried to bite Jeremy in the leg, but Jeremy was prepared. He sent a blast of energy at Grimm then turned to ward off a spell from Henry. Grimm was pushed back towards the rock Veron and Cerdic were hiding behind and stood there, menacingly.

Veron nudged Cerdic. “Jeremy is a powerful warlock. Grimm probably wouldn’t be able to get into his inner defense. Let’s just watch.”

“Fine.”

Henry grabbed his grimoire from his side and flipped it open. He turned to a page near the middle and cast a spell on Patrick, the now prone vampire. Tendrils of dark energy erupted from the ground and bound him in place. “We shouldn’t have to worry about you recovering, now.” He turned towards Jeremy. “Two on one, do you think you can take both of us?”

“Maybe. Let’s find out.” Jeremy grabbed his grimoire and opened it to the last page, then he stuck his arm elbow deep into the page. When he pulled his arm back out it was covered in dark black ink, and he held a strange bone in his hand. “The bone of a great old one, broken.” He snapped the bone and Cerdic saw a rush of shapeless energy engulf Jeremy. “Blood of the warlock, freshly spilled.” He took a bone fragment and stabbed it deep into his forearm.

“We need to stop him!” Eric yelled at Henry. “Hit him with everything you have!”

“Okay!” Henry began making exaggerated motions with his hands. “Veron! Run!” He shot a deep red mass of energy at Jeremy. Cerdic noticed, as he turned to run, that the geometry was jagged and unfinished. It seemed to him that the spell was not yet perfected, like Henry was still working on it.

As the mass of energy splashed into Jeremy the energy surrounding him dissipated it into his surroundings. A deep gash appeared in the ground in front of and to the sides of where he was standing. “Impressive. I didn’t know you had spells that would kill, Aelfson.”

With Jeremy’s attention on Henry, Eric attempted to shoot smaller, more precise spells at the energy surrounding their foe. He was casting many small, slightly different iterations trying to see what would get through his shield.

“Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Just after blood of warlock freshly spilled.” Jeremy stuck his arm back into the page of his grimoire and pulled a wand from it. “Wand of wizard, ground to dust.” He cast a spell on the wand and it started to disintegrate, leaving a small pile in the palm of his hand. “Ingested for power unleashed on good.” He swallowed the pile of dust with a slight cough then strode over to his vampire companion. “Sorry, Pat, but I need you to hold still.”

One of the small missile spells Eric had been pounding the energy with broke through. The green flames it was sporting burned up Jeremy’s arm for a moment. “Dragonfire spells! They break through!”

“Shast!” Henry began flipping through his grimoire. “I have one in here somewhere.”

Eric began mumbling something in Latin and moving his arm in very specific, practiced ways. “Draco,” was the last word he mumbled as he shot a green ball at Jeremy.

Laughing hysterically Jeremy reached up and grabbed the ball of dragonfire. “Oh, yes. It breaks through, but I knew it would. I have wards against dragonfire all over my body, Eric!” He gripped the bone in his other hand. “With the bone of Bugg-Shash I sacrifice this vampire and call you forth again!” He began moving the bone down towards Patrick’s prone form when an arrow flew through the air and shot the bone from his hand. It landed in the dirt a few feet away.

In surprise and anger Jeremy looked up to see Cerdic holding a small crossbow tied to his wrist.

“Where was that?” Veron looked at Cerdic’s arm. “You definitely didn’t have that before.

“Parting gift from Tibdast. Said I would know when to use it.” Cerdic loaded another bolt into the crossbow. “Apparently that energy doesn’t protect you from mundane weapons.”

“I was with you the whole time. When did he give you that?”

Cerdic shrugged. “Remember when we went out to the car? You went outside first, and he came back and gave it to me.”

“Mundane weapons, eh?” Henry smiled broadly and pulled three throwing knives from his jacket. “Perfect.” He tossed the three knives at once and they buried into Jeremy’s right chest, shredding his lung.

“Stupid treefting Usual!” Jeremy shouted as he started coughing up blood. He took a few steps away from Patrick then fell backwards.

Eric nodded at Cerdic. “Good job. You have a good head on your shoulders.” He walked over to Patrick. “Well, let’s see what the council wants to do with you and your friend, shall we?”

Patrick said something intelligible.

Henry cautiously approached Jeremy, who was still coughing up blood. “Is the energy gone?”

With a glance Cerdic saw the energy was dissipating into the ground. “It will be soon. Give it a moment.”

“I wasn’t asking you, but you seem to know what you’re saying.” Henry waited a few seconds then approached the warlock. “We’ll get that lung fixed up at the council hall. Let’s go.” He carefully picked Jeremy up and teleported immediately.

Eric shook his head. “I’ll be going too. I’ll send a car to pick you two up…” He looked at Veron’s car for the first time since the spells started slinging around. “Uh…and I’ll see about replacing that.” The back-passenger door fell off the car. It was the last door still on it, and the rest of the car was covered in dents and burns.

“Great. I guess I better get my stuff out of it.”

– – –

Veron was able to talk the driver into giving him the car and teleporting back to where he had come from and was currently sitting behind the wheel of a sleek black car with tinted windows. “This is a nice car. I’m pretty sure it’s also warded up.”

“Yeah, it seems to be.” Cerdic looked around the car and saw a lot of overlapping triangles and squares.

“What do you mean?”

Cerdic shrugged. “I started seeing things. I think it has something to do with Grimm.”

With a nod of understanding Veron took a right turn on the road. “Yeah, bonding with a supernatural creature can do things, for sure. Never heard of a Usual having the Eyes of the Magus, though.” He paused. “You do have a bond with a church grim, though. That’s extremely unusual for anyone, especially a Usual.”

“It’s starting to sound like I may not be a Usual.” Cerdic said, jokingly.

“You jest, but that may just be true. I think we need to take a short detour.”

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Cerdic the Usual – Ch. 7

Srathek didn’t like being in human form. Humans were the weakest of creatures he could appear as, but that was the only creature that was on Earth. Sighing to himself he approached a non-descript warehouse in Blackpool, Lancashire. The warehouse seemed abandoned, but Srathek knew better. This was likely a base for the Guardians of Humanity council. One of the few still guarded by people who listened for certain passphrases.

With a swift knock on the door Srathek stated the passphrase. “May Gormaliev not calculate against you.”

The door opened slowly. “And may The Calculating turn her schemes away from you, as well. Enter.”

Srathek walked into the warehouse. “I believe Shane is waiting for me. I’m Stan.”

“Yes, he is. Down the hall, third door on the right, Stan.” The guard closed the door and locked it before sitting back down behind a set of monitors watching the exterior of the building.

“I see you’ve added cameras to the setup.”

The guard grunted an affirmative then motioned back to the hallway.

Shrugging Srathek walked down the hall. “Third door on the right…ah, here we go.” He knocked on the door in rapid succession, three knocks. “It’s Stan.”

The door opened so fast it practically flew off the hinges. “Stan? I thought you weren’t being serious about meeting here!”

Srathek looked amusedly at Shane. “My, my Shane. You sure set the appointment, though.”

Shane pushed his round glasses back onto his face and brushed his long, sweaty, black hair to one side. “I was making the precaution. Do you want to go for a walk, perhaps?”

“That would probably be best, Shane.” Srathek looked him up and down. “You look like you need the sun.”

– – –

Cerdic and Veron sat at a petrol station in the town of Hurst Green. They were waiting for the tank to fill and Cerdic was polishing off a hamburger.

“So, we’re just going to drive back down to Rawtenstall, then?” Cerdic fed the last bite of the hamburger to Grimm.

Veron sighed. “Yes, we are. We need to get you back to your handler and the railroad may be compromised. You remember the hyb-” He caught himself and looked around to see if anyone was listening. “The guy you met on the train?”

“Yes.”

“He may have been working for Albrite. We can’t be too careful.” Veron paid for the petrol and started the car back up. “Let’s get going. Southward bound.”

Cerdic shrugged in the left seat. “Aren’t you supposed to be in school, or something?”

An annoyed expression crossed Veron’s face. “First, it’s summer, and second no. I finished school and am a full-time agent.”

“Well, don’t you need to be on your assignment, then?” Cerdic said sheepishly.

“I guess they think I don’t need to worry about it.” Veron shrugged. “Let’s just get you home and back to work, shall we?”

“Sure.”

– – –

Veron and Cerdic sat on the shoulder of a country road next to the car. Grimm sat nearby, watching the road, though there weren’t any cars in sight. The back-right tire was flat, and the spare tire was on the road. The jack kit was lying open without a spanner in the kit.

“Well, I could have sworn I kept a spanner in there.” Veron leaned against the car. “My phone died and yours doesn’t have service. Man, we’re so lucky.”

“I know, I know.” Cerdic checked his phone again. “I just have the wrong carrier, I guess. Do you think your phone is charged up now?”

“Doubtful. It doesn’t turn on until it’s at 20% or more battery.”

With a sigh Cerdic stood again. “I’m going to take a look at that tire. Something’s bothering me about it.”

Veron shrugged and patted Grimm on the head. “He’s a strange one, you know. Maybe you should bond with me instead.”

Grimm cocked his head to the side and barked lightly.

“Yeah, yeah. I know. Gormaliev didn’t make a pact with me for a reason.” He slumped a little. “Don’t know why, but she has her reasons.”

Cerdic looked over the flat tire. When he looked at the right angle, he could see some sort of collection of triangles slowly fading away. They seemed to be made of shadows. Shrugging, Cerdic pulled on the rubber of the tire. It flaked away, as if it had become brittle. With a tug the rubber ripped from the wheel and Cerdic was able to see the inside of the tire. The tube was torn to shreds, but the inside of the tire had score marks all along it perpendicular to the rotation. He picked up the rubber and walked back over to Veron.

“Hey, Veron. Does this look like a normal flat to you?”

“What?” Veron stood and looked at the rubber Cerdic was holding. “Is that flaking off?”

Cerdic flicked the side of the tire and rubber flakes fell to the ground. “Yeah, I think we’ve been sabotaged.”

“That’s not good. Looks like necrotic magics.” Veron pulled an amulet out of his trouser pocket. “This is an emergency amulet. Do I need to use it?”

“There’s another thing, I saw something. It looked li-” Cerdic was cut off as a series of popping sounds went off.

“Shast!” Veron gripped the amulet and said something that sounded latin. “Help will be here soon. Keep your head down until then.” He dragged Cerdic down and around the car. He reached up and pulled a sheet from the back of the car. “Umbra,” he whispered as he pulled the fabric over Grimm, Cerdic, and himself.

The fabric was see-through from the inside, but Cerdic could have sworn the fabric was tan like the interior of the car.

A pair of feet worked their way around the car and when the person came into view Cerdic put a hand over his mouth to keep himself from gasping. He was a lanky with sunglasses, and blood streaming from his mouth.

“Pah, the local wildlife taste disgusting. Too bad we have orders not to feast on the targets.’

“Do you see them?”

“Nah, there’s nothing over here. Did Shane know who they were, exactly?”

A burly man came around the other end of the car. “Uh, a pactless Aelfson and a Usual.” He froze mid-step. “Grak! They activated an emergency amulet. Someone’s coming.”

“Well, let’s hurry, then. They must be cloaked. I’ll try sniffing for them.”

The burly man sighed. “And why, pray tell, were you not already doing that, dear vampire?”

With a sigh the vampire sniffed the air. “Because I still had the smell of my meal in my nostrils…they have a dog with them.” He walked right next to Cerdic, Veron, and Grimm. “Should be right here.” He groped in the air over their heads. “Odd.”

Rolling his eyes, the burly man started to bring back his leg as if to kick. He never completed the action, as a new set of popping noises surprised the man. “Quick, let’s get out of here.” The burly man made motions in the air with his hands and Cerdic saw geometric shapes forming around it. As the shapes started to intertwine a dagger-like triangle smashed through them, breaking them to pieces. As the shattered shapes dissipated two other men circled the car.

“Ah, Jeremy and Patrick.” Eric said. “What are you doing here?”

“Treeft,” the vampire swore. “I told you this was a trap, Jer.”

Jeremy sighed. “No, Pat. I told you to hurry. You were taking your time.”

“Grimm. Bite the vampire, will you?” Eric looked directly at Grimm, through the fabric.

Breaking out of hiding, with a snarl, Grimm chomped onto Patrick’s leg. The vampire cried out and started striking at Grimm. Most of the blows passed right through the grim.

With the fabric moved Cerdic and Veron were in the open. The second man that had arrived with Eric pulled the two of them to their feet. “I’m glad you used the amulet. I remember you telling me once you’d rather die than be rescued by me.”

Veron half-heartedly punched the man in the shoulder. “Shut up, cuz. Just deal with these guys. Henry won’t give Eric all the credit, will he?”

“Oh, fine.” Henry made a series of jerking motions with his hands. “Lux!” A ray of sunlight went directly into the vampire’s face. Cerdic noticed that the geometry that made up the spell was also designed to melt his sunglasses, and they did so readily.

With a loud shriek Patrick fell to his knees. “My eyes! My eyes!” He groped at his leg, trying to grip Grimm. “I need blood, now!”

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Cerdic the Usual – Ch. 6

~ The events in Domhan, continued… ~

Craig walked the group to a set of narrow, steep stairs that lead below the temple. “Here is where you will have to continue without me. Will your companions be joining you? Normally the high priestess would go alone, but there have been occasions where they bring others if you wish.”

“I’ll take them with, thanks.” Morana motioned to the large skeleton. “After you, brother.”

With Doenranak following Morana and Veviir taking up the rear the group started down the narrow stairs. As they went Doenranak applied a powder around his eyes and cast a spell.

In the cavern below the temple was a collection of large, milky blue crystals. To Veviir, Morana, and Morana’s brother the crystals looked mundane and they started searching the rest of the cavern for anything of importance. To Doenranak, however, there were spirits tied to the crystals. He cast a spell on himself to hide from the others and quickly made his way to one of the crystals. He started talking to the shadowy figure bound to it, in hushed tones.

“Can I trust you?” Doenranak asked the figure.

It responded with a vulgarity. “Treeft you.”

Doenranak moved to the next crystal. “How about you?”

“Yes, you can. I won’t harm you, not that I really could.” The shadowy figure resembled a satyr.

“I believe you. Do you wish to return to life?”

“Of course, I do.”

“Will you give me your word that you will do nothing to myself or my companions if I do this for you?”

“You have my oath.”

“Very well.” Doenranak started to trace out a circle and set up a ritual to return life to the spirit.

While Doenranak was focused on setting the ritual up his companions battled three giant spiders able to move in and out of phase with reality. He was confused, at first, as to why they were acting like they couldn’t see the things, then he remembered he had enhanced his sight with magic earlier.

A short time after that they disappeared behind a wall. He hadn’t seen a passageway there before, so he assumed they had found a hidden area. At this time, he realized he should probably see if this creature was evil with his magic rather than take it at its word. He hummed a few notes and sensed the creature’s primary motivation in life. It was evil, pure evil.

Doenranak recoiled from the feeling of his insides being twisted into knots and stopped setting up the resurrection spell, instead he cast a different spell. He banished the creature from Domhan, then turned to seek out his companions.

The shadow demon felt himself being freed from the crystal. He rejoiced silently, then he realized that he wasn’t being resurrected, but instead he was being evicted from Domhan. Unable to do anything but go along for the ride he waited for something else to happen.

The next thing the shadow demon saw was the light of day. He had been trapped in the cave for so long he had forgotten what the sun felt like. Soaking up a little he turned and looked for somewhere to plan his revenge. He would need a way to return to Domhan.

– – –

~ Present day, Earth ~

“So, a leprechaun knows what I am?” The shadow demon sat on a fauteuil chair. “Kill it.”

“It’s not that simple, Srathek. It can tell when one of us is nearby.”

“Then send a normal human to do it. We have some of them in the cult, yes?”

“Yes, Srathek, we do.” The cultist bowed his head. “Your will shall be carried out.” The cultist backed out of the room and shut the door.

“How did a leprechaun find out about me?” Srathek, the shadow demon from Domhan, stood from his chair and shook his head. He mumbled something, and his form coalesced into that of a human. “Time to find out.”

– – –

Cerdic and Veron walked into the forest, electric torches ready in case they needed them. Grimm followed behind, sniffing every tree he could without losing sight of Cerdic.

“Come on, Grimm. You can’t smell every tree every time we stop.” Cerdic picked up the church grim. “Just come with me, boy.”

“Ok, it should be around here somewhere.” Veron turned on his torch. “It’s getting a little dark, so better safe than sorry.”

A figure approached the light. “Who’s there?” Cerdic set Grimm back down and turned on his own torch. He pointed it toward the figure.

“I’m Tibdast. Veron knows me.” A balding man with white hair covered his eyes. “Not in the face, please.”

Cerdic lowered his torch so it wasn’t pointing directly in the old man’s eyes.

“What are you doing here? Don’t you have a pub to run?” Veron walked forward and pretended to punch Tibdast in the shoulder.

Tibdast shook his head. “It’s not a time to be joyous. You need to leave, now.”

“Why, we’re on a mission from the council.” Veron cocked his head to the side. “You aren’t hiding information, are you?”

“No, the leprechaun is as good as dead.” Tibdast reached out and turned Veron around. “You need to go now, Aelfson. Take the usual with you. You know what happens when a leprechaun dies.”

Veron’s eyes grew wide with terror. He started moving back towards the car. “Cerdic, we’re leaving.”

“What?” Cerdic looked at Tibdast. “Why are we leaving?”

“Because when a leprechaun d-“ Tibdast was cut off by a gunshot. “Sorry, we’re going my way now.”

Suddenly, Cerdic felt like he was being pulled in a hundred different directions at once, and he couldn’t see anything. This feeling lasted for only a moment, but he would never forget it. When he could see again he found himself in a pub, sitting next to Veron. The pub was empty and Tibdast was polishing a mug at a counter. Grimm was sitting next to Tibdast, watching him polish.

“What happened?” Cerdic shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. “Last thing I remember we were in the forest, then I felt like I was being torn apart.”

Tibdast set the mug down on the counter. “Veron’s not awake yet. Give him some time.” He pulled a shot glass from under the counter and filled it with a golden liquid, then walked over and set it in front of Cerdic. “Here, this’ll refocus your thoughts.”

Cerdic sniffed the concoction, it smelled strongly of alcohol. “Well, at the very least it’ll wake me up.” He swallowed the liquid, it felt like swallowing a mouthful of honey. The blanket of fog immediately lifted from his thoughts. “Wow, you weren’t kidding.”

Grimm hopped into Cerdic’s lap and curled up to take a nap.

“What, why did you do that?” Veron lifted his head off the table. “Cerdic’s not teleport certified yet. He could be out for a week.”

“No, I’m fine. I woke up first.”

Veron looked over at Cerdic. “Really?” He sighed heavily. “Tibdast, give me the virgin martini, will you?”

Tibdast rolled his eyes and poured a golden syrup into a blender with water and ice. The sound of crushing ice made Veron squeeze his head in his hands.

“Couldn’t you have mixed it before I woke up?”

Tibdast shut off the blender and poured the iced drink into a glass. “Where’s the fun in that?” He put the glass in front of Veron.

“It’s called courtesy.” Veron drank the iced drink without tasting it. When he was done he put his thumb in his mouth and pressed it to the roof of his mouth. “Brain freeze! Ow!”

“So,” Cerdic interrupted, “where are we?”

“And where’s my car?”

Tibdast chuckled lightly. “Your car’s in the parking lot. As to where we are, we’re in Tibdast’s Pub.” He motioned around the empty pub. “Three guesses who owns the place.”

Veron stood up and started walking to the door. “Tibdast, you brought us here, you explain. I’m going to make a call.” He went out the door and disappeared.

“So, you heard him. Explain.”

“You’re going to need another drink. A strong one.” Tibdast poured another drink and set it in front of Cerdic. “This one and the other one are on the house.”

“Thanks.”

“So, the leprechaun was shot while I was talking to you. I had hoped I was early enough to make you leave before it happened, but I’m not good with timing things.”

“Okay, but you said something about Veron knowing what happens when a leprechaun dies. What’s that?”

Instead of answering Tibdast turned on a TV. It was on a news station. A reporter was standing in front of a burning forest. Something about the flames looked off to Cerdic, like they were moving against the wind.

“That’s what.” Tibdast shut the TV back off. “They explode.”

Veron walked back into the pub. “The Council isn’t happy you teleported us, but they are happy you saved us.”

“Government at its finest. Happy you saved someone, mad at how you did it.” Tibdast shrugged. “What’s the cover story they’re going to feed the news for the fire?”

“They aren’t. The news is reporting it as a campfire gone out of hand. The council will fabricate some people to blame, and that’ll be it.” Veron shook his head. “They only wish we would’ve gotten that information from the leprechaun.”

Tibdast smiled. “Are you forgetting who I am? I know what you need to know.”

“The Council wanted to handle this without your help, but I guess now you’re the only way we’ll ever find out.” Veron sighed. “Well, tell us.”

“Shadow demon, from Domhan.” Tibdast turned his back on Veron and Cerdic. “Oh, I need to go.” He pulled a set of keys from the wall. “Lock up when you leave and then put those in the post slot.” He tossed the keys to Cerdic and teleported out of the pub.

“Who is he?” Cerdic asked.

Veron shook his head. “The closest thing on Earth to a god.”

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Cerdic the Usual – Ch. 5

~ Two months ago, in the realm of Domhan… ~

Three figures walked up to the temple in the middle of the plains. They had been traveling East of Brangmar for one day. The three of them were surprised. There were very few settlements outside the city and those that existed were far away, or so they had thought.

Doenranak Ironspeaker, a human in flamboyant clothes, shrugged. “Well,” he said in a very gruff voice, “looks like a temple to me. Anyone want to knock?”

Veviir, a male centaur, shrugged. “Well, why don’t we have the cleric of The Morrigan knock? She’s a priest, right?”

Mumbling, Morana SilverAxe walked to the temple door. Her dwarven sideburns blowing in the wind. “It’s a temple. Have the cleric knock. Every time.”

Doenranak glanced at Veviir. “So, you think we’ll make it to these Deathlands within a week?”

The monk shrugged, his shoulders rippling with cords of muscle. “I dunno. Last time I went out here we got lost for five days then gave up. We need to deal with those undead, though.”

“Agreed.”

Morana knocked at the door, the skeleton of her late brother standing next to her in a robe that fooled no one. “Be ready, brother. We may need you.” Her brother stood taller than a human. She never had the heart to tell him that he was adopted in life, and now, in death, it didn’t matter anymore.

The door creaked open slightly and an acolyte peeked his head through the crack. He saw the holy symbol around Morana’s neck and recognized it as the symbol of The Morrigan. He pushed the doors open wide. “Hello, priest of The Morrigan. Welcome to the temple.” The human looked over Morana’s shoulder to the human and centaur in the distance. “Are the bard and monk with you?”

Looking back Morana realized they had backed away when the door to the temple had opened. “Yes, they are.” She sighed and rubbed her temples, then called out to them. “Get your behinds over here! They’re offering to let us in!” She turned back to the priest and saw that he too wore a holy symbol of The Morrigan. “Will you let a fellow follower of The Morrigan spend a night in this temple?”

“Yes, yes. Of course.” He turned to another priest. “Go tell the acting high-priestess we have guests for the night.”

The two other adventurers joined Morana and her brother to enter the temple grounds. Nobody commented on the large skeleton that appeared to be under Morana’s control.

– – –

While Veviir was content to stand around and help a little with the daily tasks of the priests before bed, Morana and Doenranak started moving about the temple.

“So, you’re the acting head priestess?” Morana walked next to a human woman in a simple robe with a small amount of filigree on the collar.

“Why, of course. Nobody has risen to the rank of high priest or priestess since the last war. This temple to The Morrigan is more focused on the war side of the goddess. Only those who have served in war or shown valor in combat may rise to that rank.”

Morana smiled. “Does that mean I outrank you?”

The woman smiled slightly. “Only if you can prove to us you have been tried by combat. Perhaps you will have a chance to prove yourself, but in these more peaceful times I doubt it.”

In the shadows behind Morana and the high priestess, a dark figure passed from door to door. Doenranak was searching for papers important to the temple. He found a document room and slipped inside. He opened a few scrolls and came across some ancient, important texts. He pulled out his quill and some parchment. He copied a few scrolls and by the end his handwriting perfectly matched that of the scrolls.

Smiling to himself Doenranak pulled another scroll and read through it. This scroll mentioned a cave below the temple with a guardian of crystal inside. He copied that scroll too, and then left the room in search of the stairs below.

When he got down there he saw Morana speaking with the high priestess.

“So, only the high priest or priestess can go down there?”

“Yes, basically.” The high priestess nodded. “Only the true high priest or priestess can go down there. We haven’t had one for a long time.”

Nodding to himself, a plan formulating in his mind, Doenranak went back to the quarters the temple had provided for them.

– – –

Veviir was still standing outside the door to Doenranak’s and Morana’s quarters. He didn’t seem to have moved or breathed since the previous evening. He nodded at Doenranak as he left his quarters. Drawing in breath he greeted the human. “Good morrow, Morana’s already talking with the priestess. Shall we join them?”

“Do you ever sleep?”

“No.”

“Well, let’s go then. We have a cave to search.” Doenranak walked swiftly towards the main hall, knowing Morana was expecting to leave.

“What?” Veviir asked, but Doenranak was already gone. “Ugh, humans and their impatience. Remind me of minotaurs sometimes.”

“So, we’ll be going. Trying to find out about those rabid undead in the deathlands.” Morana nodded to the head priestess.

“Actually, I’ve heard something about those caves.” Doenranak wedged himself into the conversation. “Can we see them?”

The priestess turned to Doenranak. “Only the high priest or priestess can. The official one, not acting. We don’t have one now. Nobody has seen war and risen to that station in nearly a century.”

Morana shook her head. She knew where this was going.

Smiling Doenranak motioned with his arms. “But we’ve seen war. We’re from north of the Mushroom Forest. War is always waging up there. We came down here for rest and relaxation.”

Sighing Morana nodded. “Yes, we’re from the north. We’ve seen battle.”

“Well, there’s still no reason to go down there, but if you wish Morana you can become head priestess here after your adventure is complete.”

Doenranak pulled a scroll from his pack and unfurled it. “Well, according to what I know about your order today is a holy day.” He pointed out a few dates on it. “See, that’s today.”

“Let me see that scroll.”

Doenranak handed the priestess the scroll. “Sure. It’s just something I found back in Brangmar.”

The priestess scanned the scroll. “Hmm…so it is a holy day today. May I keep this scroll?”

“Of course. I have made a rough copy of the information on it. I don’t need the original anymore.”

“Craig, would you kindly take our guests to the stairs. I need to store this scroll in the archive.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

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Cerdic the Usual – Ch. 4

A small car pulled into the train stop outside a small village. A teenager got out of the car and waved at Cerdic. “Hey, McNiall! Over here!”

Eyes rolling Cerdic started walking over to the car. “Call me Cerdic.”

“Nope, I call you McNiall until I know you better.” The boy motioned at the back seat. “Dogs in the back,” he motioned at the front seats, “people in the front.” He paused and looked like he just remembered something. “Oh, my bad.” He held out his hand. “I’m Veron Aelfson. Nice to meet you, McNiall.”

Cerdic shook the outstretched hand. “Nice to meet you, Aelfson.”

“Yeah, you can’t call me that in public. If you want to retaliate you can call me Smith, that’s what we go by in normal society.”

“Mr. Smith. You don’t happen to know a John Doe?”

“Funny, funny, droll. Get in. We have to find that leprechaun.” Veron opened the back door and put Grimm in the back seat by opening the dog crate and letting him walk in. “I’ll put the crate in the boot.”

– – –

“So, Smith, what can you tell me about leprechauns?”

“They draw people away from danger of the magical kind by pretending to tell them where their gold is when they get caught. They resent being caught by shape changers and werewolves. They don’t always wear green clothes as depicted in modern culture and are often confused with gnomes.” Veron motioned at a notebook labeled journal on the dash. “Page 75.”

“Eric said I wasn’t allowed to read the lore books yet.”

“Well, I say you should read about the creature we’re going after. I’m the field commander and I’m making a field decision.” He took a sharp left turn, causing the book to fall into Cerdic’s lap. “There, see? Read.”

“Well, if I’m not supposed to I’ll just blame the kid then.”

“It tends to work, especially since I technically outrank you.” Veron flashed him a quick, broad smile then focused on the road again.

“Right. Seniority and all that.” Cerdic picked up the book and turned to page 75. He began to read aloud. “The minotaur…really?” He thumbed backwards a couple of pages. “The leprechaun. There we go.” He glanced at Veron. “Why do you people always get the page for minotaurs first?”

“Oh, I could’ve sworn it was on 75. Odd. Did Eric turn to minotaurs first too?”

“Yeah.” Cerdic read the information on the page. He noticed some secondary script to the side that was in seeming jibberish. “What is this stuff to the side?”

“Oh, just scribblings. Nothing important.”

“Scribblings? Looks like letters to me.” Cerdic shrugged and looked back at the English. “So, not much is here. They seem to like using scarves and can usually be found in forests. You guys already mentioned everything else.” He looked back at the strange script.

Grimm barked a few times, surprising Veron who swerved a little into the right lane.

“Woah. Glad there’s no oncoming traffic. Do we need to stop for the little doggie’s room?” Veron glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw Grimm pawing at the door. “I’ll take that as a yes. Pulling over.”

While they were pulled over to let Grimm do his business Veron went to the trunk and pulled out an ice chest with sandwiches and soft drinks in it. “Want one?” He offered a sandwich to Cerdic.

“No, I ate on the train.” Cerdic was still looking at the scribblings in the corner of the notebook page. “Does that look like the Norse rune for ‘th’ to you?”

Veron took the notebook back. “Fine. They’re my personal notes. This isn’t the first leprechaun I’ve been sent to find. The first one warned of a mana storm. Usually they only warn of things that affect non-magical humans. The mana storm did cause headaches in non-magicals, but nothing serious. In warlockes, however, it caused debilitating migraines if they didn’t ingest Blue Ash.”

“Sounds nasty.”

“It was. My parents had a difficult time working through that storm even with the Blue Ash.”

Cerdic grabbed a soft drink from the cooler. “What’s Blue Ash?”

“An ash that’s made from burning wood that’s been infused with healing magic. Well, what we use is. True Blue Ash isn’t found on Earth.” Veron whistled at Grimm. “C’mon boy, we need to get where we’re going.”

Grimm plodded back and jumped into the open back seat. He tried to close the door himself but failed.

“Here, I got it.” Cerdic closed the car door then motioned to Veron. “After you, Smith.”

“No, after you, McNiall.”

– – –

A small copse of trees just outside a busy city came into view. Veron pulled off the paved road onto a gravel one and continued heading for the copse. “So, this is where the reports are coming from.” He pulled his cellphone from his pocket and started texting on it. “Just sending in a progress report. We have arrived.”

“You could wait until we’re actually stopped to do that.”

“I could, but where’s the fun in that?” Veron tossed the cell on the dash and returned his attention to the road. “I don’t know why you’re being sent on this mission. Pretty much anyone else would do.”

Cerdic nodded. “Eric said you were on a less important mission. I got the feeling everyone is on some sort of assignment.”

The car came to a stop at the end of the gravel. “Well, we’re just a short walk away now. As for everyone being on assignment, you’re probably right. My family has been going back and forth all over Europe. I get to stick around the same general area, but they’ve been from one end to the other and back at least once each.” Veron got out and let Grimm out of the back seat.

Exiting the car himself Cerdic pulled a compass and an electric torch from his pockets. “It’s going to be dark in a few hours. You have a torch, right?”

“Yeah, we’ll probably need them.” Veron pulled his own torch from the door pocket of the car and put it in his jeans pocket. “I think the leprechaun will want to tell us what’s wrong, but it will try to keep away from us at first.”

Grimm walked around to the trunk of the car and pawed at it.

“Yeah, I think maybe we should eat first.”

Veron walked to the trunk and opened it. “Good idea, boy. Here.” He tossed a couple of sandwiches at Cerdic. “One’s tuna and the other’s ham and swiss.” He pulled out a couple of drinks and two sandwiches for himself and shut the trunk. “Here.” He handed a drink to Cerdic.”

Cerdic ate the tuna sandwich and half of the ham and swiss. He gave the rest of the ham and swiss to Grimm.

“So, the thing that’s going on is some powerful guy is building up an army of informants. Apparently a Medakus went missing in Oregon in the US and his mom is certain he was trying to find his father who is also missing. She claims that Warren Albrite is behind it. Here in Europe we’re trying to find our own informant amongst his informants so we can find out what he’s planning. A magical event that will affect non-magicals is not something we want on top of that.”

Setting the drink bottle on the top of the car Cerdic turned to look and Veron. “And how much of that were you supposed to let me know?”

“None of it, but you need to know how important this leprechaun hunt is,McNiall. It’s not some vacation. It’s very important.” Veron shoved the food trashin the trunk and shut it. “Let’s go.”

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Cerdic the Usual – Ch 3

Cerdic the Usual

“Ah, Cerdic. Just the clerk I was looking for.”

Cerdic looked up from the drawer he was putting folders in. “Mr. O Cuidighthigh?” Before there was a response he added, “did I pronounce that right this time?”

“Close enough.” He handed Cerdic a piece of paper. “When did you put in for a vacation?” Continue reading

Cerdic the Usual – Ch. 2

“Wait. We’re in the United States now?” Cerdic looked at the lift panel. All but one were now lit. He thought the one that wasn’t lit may have been the button Eric had pressed before, but he wasn’t sure. “Where else can this thing go?”

“Not now. I need to take you to the council chambers. They should be finishing up soon.” Eric motioned down the hallway. “This way, quickly.” Continue reading