c.5 -- Truename
"...and then Phorish said, 'I'll see you next Saturday!' Isn't that exciting?"
"Wait a minute," Siyell said, "I thought you like Merkis."
Ilawara laughed. "Merkis! I am so over him! He's always going on about his secret room under House Ckorza and the people he's 'contacted' there. So anyway, Phorish and I are going to Ramali to see the fair over the weekend. We're leaving Saturday morning, and we'll be back Sunday afternoon, and in class on Monday. No one will ever know. So, we were wondering if you wanted to come. I could find you a hot guy...."
Siyell laughed. "I'm afraid I already promised Tarbiy I'd work on the greenhouse with him."
Ilawara made a face. "Oh, come on! Associate with someone your age for once instead of those stuffy professors. The Tower's already four stories. There aren't even any four-storey buildings in Ramali. Old Tarbiy Siyad doesn't need to add a greenhouse on top of it. Besides which, aren't you already helping him today, too?"
"Oh, you and your promises! Well, alright then. Have fun building a greenhouse. Prof Siyad's plants smell funny anyway. See you!"
Siyell chuckled to herself as Ilawara dashed off to class. Because she was working with Professor Siyad, she had a different schedule than most of the students, and today was a Monday, which meant she had no afternoon classes. She turned toward her dorm, House Chesca.
A familiar woman stormed to the school. Siyell automatically dropped her head, edging toward the shadow of the dorms. "Hey you!" the other yelled. Siyell had been spotted.
"Do you have younger brothers?" Belia shouted. "Can you talk to mine?" Her feet pounded little pockmarks in the ground as she ran closer. Then she stopped. "Oh, it's you," she said with disgust. "Well, I know you're useless." She turned and flounced toward the school.
Siyell shook her head, sighed, and continued. Belia had barely said two words to her in the two years it had been since the School changed. Belia had barely said two words to anyone, for that matter. Most of her friends had left her as soon as she stopped being able to talk down the House Mother and the newer Professors. Siyell wondered if Belia had even said two words to her brother, whoever he was. Siyell hadn't even known Belia had a brother.
She weaved between the Houses, following the beaten dirt path that led from the main School building to the farthest western Houses. She passed between House Jajex and House Kreba. The dilapidated double-House, Merked and Thaneth, leaned precariously over the walkway, and then the path curved gently northward. Where the path turned back west, House Kesmef stood guard. Siyell paused to look. Kesmef was one of the newer buildings, only forty cycles old. It's high, pale roof was her landmark out on the plains at night, a bright spot reflecting the moonlight in the dim yellow-grey of grass and black of sky.
On the weathered spike now sat Nurr. He was nearly fourteen now, but he was small and slight and looked closer to twelve. His dark, feathery hair blew in the wind that swept the storms off the plains. He folded his thin, pale arms against the cold, for he wore neither cloak nor coat in the winter air, and the sleeves of his black shirt were too short. The bright blue sky overhead belied the dark clouds on the horizon, clouds that promised snow. She watched him watching the gathering storm until a pair of students pounded by yelling at eachother about who was making them late, and broke the spell of peace. As Siyell turned to leave, Nurr turned, black eyes bright. He opened his mouth as if to ask a question, but Siyell left before he could speak.
At House Chesca, she changed into work clothes. Then she headed back toward the School, taking a different route so she wouldn't pass by House Kesmef again. She was fifteen and really shouldn't associate with little kids anymore. She wished she'd said she'd go with Ilawara to Ramali. Ilawara's boyfriend, Phorish, was twenty-four and would surely know other people in Ramali.
Professor Tarbiy Siyad was already working when she reached the top of the Tower, but she still hesistated and look around. The Tower felt like the top of the world on the great grasslands, where nothing else was over two stories. She could even see the caravan road winding like a pale river through the brown winter grass, over twenty kilometers away. It was as if she could sprout wings and fly anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.
Then the wind gusted, threatening to pull the curls out of her newest hairdo. She turned and ran behind the one wall of the greenhouse which was standing, avoiding the chilly breeze. Her ears were cold, but she didn't want to pull up her hood and mess her hair up more than it was already.
Professor Siyad picked up a rock about three times the size of his head. Siyell shuddered, anticipating the return of the wind, then climbed to the top of the northern wall. It would be the one solid wall, on which they could grow creepers and hanging plants of various sorts, but it was only two meters high, and they still had a meter to go. The southern two corners of the greenhouse were marked by posts which had been secured to the supports of the Tower itself a few weeks before.
"Professor Katib says glass is too expensive right now," Tarbiy started conversationally as he lifted stones so Gyax could place them. "I think I'm going to see if Nurr has any ideas. I don't like the idea of using magic - I'm sure it won't work as well - but it may be more feasible than getting glass for the greenhouse."
"He's on top of House Kesmef right now," Siyell muttered.
Tarbiy hesistated, holding a large rock above his head. "Well, we might as well ask him now if he's not busy. Would you mind going down to get him?"
Siyell didn't respond, but swung her legs down and dropped off the wall. Anything to get out of the wind, even if it meant talking to Nurr. She didn't let Tarbiy see her face, because she was sure she had a rotten look on it.
"Siyell," Tarbiy said as she reached the trap door which lead down into the Tower, "I just wanted to let you know I really appreciate you helping me. It's nice to know you're not running around with guys twice your age and getting yourself into trouble." Siyell stared at the ground until he continued. "That's all. I just wanted to let you know." Siyell climbed down the ladder into the Tower, closing the trap door behind her.
Siyell slammed a few doors as she progressed through the school. What right did Professor Siyad have to judge anyone by their boyfriends? Everyone one knew times were changing, and things were different now. If things were supposed to be the same as when the Professors were young, why had the new ones come? Siyell decided that she would tell him she couldn't come on Saturday, and go with Ilawara and Phorish after all.
Siyell was still angry, though she had calmed down, when she reached Kesmef. Nurr was still sitting on the roof, staring into the wind. The dark clouds were closer now, but Gyax judged they still had two or three hours before the first flurries fell. She walked to one corner of the cabin, where the alternating logs from the two adjoining walls made a convenient ladder, and climbed up. Nurr looked at her as she stood up on the roof. "You came back," he said.
"No, I just came to fetch you," she said shortly. "Professor Siyad wants to talk with you."
He frowned slightly, concern in his black eyes. "Gyax, are you upset about something?"
"No. Who says I am?"
"Well, you just looked--"
"I look however I wish. No one asked you. And don't call my Gyax. My name is Siyell."
Nurr raised an eyebrow at her. "Your name is Gyax. We just call you Siyell because you can't write your real name."
"I can write anything I want," Siyell snapped. "Gyax isn't my name anymore. I don't want it." She scrambled off the roof as quickly as she could, then ran for the School.
Siyell hesistated in the hallway below the trapdoor to the roof of the Tower. She was thinking about the coming weekend and Ilawara's invitation again. "Why should I show up?" she asked aloud. "I'm not accountable to him," she told the ladder. "He can get Nurr to make his greenhouse for him." She felt embarrassed at her own voice, loud in the small space, and fell silent. It was perhaps four or five minutes later when, still standing there, she heard Nurr's footsteps approaching. She didn't want to see him. She didn't want to see anyone, but least of all him. She tried the only door in the small hallway, which led to a storage closet, but it was locked. No time to get out, and up was useless. Then she remembered that one time two years ago - so long ago it seemed like another lifetime - when she had gone invisible. No one could see her then. She closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to figure out what it was she had done then, and when she opened them, the hallway was grey.
She no longer could hear Nurr's footsteps, though she guessed (hoped) he'd not quite been around the corner from the main hall yet. Nor could she hear the muted sound of Professor Siyad laying stones on the roof above. She couldn't even hear the wind, this time, though oddly enough she felt it. The floor and walls and ceiling were present, visible, though vaguely defined. She waited until she was certain Nurr would have had enough time to reach the roof, then went up herself. She couldn't see the ladder, nor distinguish the trap door from the rest of the ceiling, much less whether it was open or closed, but she could feel them with her hand. On the roof, there was no sign of the construction that had been going on for the last couple weeks, no sign of Tarbiy or Nurr at all.
The distant road was a dull, pale scar across the shining grasslands. The wind howled, storm winds shrieking. Tracers of lightning drew patterns across the sky. Odd, she hadn't noticed any lightning before. The storm clouds billowed, their hollows and bulges appearing like faces that flitted on the wind. They seemed to jeer at her, voices laughing wildly. She turned away, ignoring their mockery. The ground seemed so close. The feeling that she could fly anywhere was stronger now. She felt like a giant, with legs so long she could step off the Tower with one giant step and reach the mountains far, far to the east in a dozen strides. She got onto the low wall which surrounded the roof of the Tower, and was honestly surprised when she had to climb and not just step. But the ground was so close and she could go forever. She lifted her foot...
....and was promptly pulled flat on her back, back onto the roof. An angry face with black starry eyes glared down at her, and then she felt a great wrenching that came from the slim figure pinning her to the ground.
At first she wasn't sure she was back in the real world, for though the stars had disappeared, the eyes were still black, and the face white with fury, no colour at all. And then she became aware that she could hear her own breathing, and footsteps running toward her, and when she glanced sideways she saw Professor Siyad running over and his greenhouse behind him, and when she realized the black eyes and white face were framed by dark brown hair, nearly black but not quite, and she recognized Nurr.
"What are you doing, trying to kill yourself?" he shouted, still holding her down.
She shoved his arm away and scrambled up. "Lemme go!"
"What happened?" Tarbiy said as he arrived. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine! Leave me alone!" She stomped toward the trapdoor.
"Gyax..." Nurr called.
"Stop that!" she shouted. "It's not my name!" She reached the trapdoor.
"Gyax!" Nurr said again.
"Oh, I know," she said sarcastically. "You want me to write it, don't you? Well, watch this!" She pulled her eating knife out of her pocked and stabbed it into the wood of the trapdoor. Quickly, roughly, she carved the four letters of her old name into the wood and then threw the knife away. "Are you happy n--"
The name caught her eye. Gyax. It fit her, it meant her, it was her identity. Suddenly, irrationally, she didn't want anyone to know it. She realized, clearly, that she had never, ever written that name before. Never. Even when her mother was teaching her how to write letters in the sand, she never spelled out her own name. She realized, though she didn't know why, that the name itself was important, that it wasn't just a name, and that it held a kind of power with which she was unfamiliar. She backed away. She backed up until she felt Nurr's hand on her shoulder, steadying her.
The trap door slammed open, hitting the roof with a sharp crack, hiding the name. But Nurr's hand tightened. "Whatever you do, don't go invisible," he whispered. A pale, plump hand appeared over the edge of the trapdoor, and Mother Ana climbed out onto the roof.
Mother Ana look around with a slightly puzzled expression on her face, as if she didn't expect to find herself on the roof of the Tower. "Oh, my," she said. "The wind must have caught it." She spotted Gyax. "Siyell," she smiled, "I didn't know you were up here." Gyax almost laughed. Nurr had been frightened of nothing. Gyax knew Mother Ana; she trusted Mother Ana.
Mother Ana smiled amiably at Nurr and Professor Siyad and glanced again at Gyax. "I'm Achgariikna, who are you?"
"Gyax," Gyax said automatically. She had said it before she even realized she was going to speak.
"Keshef," Nurr said, at exactly the same time.
"I'm Professor Siyad," Tarbiy said, half a moment later. "What did you say your name was?"
The woman smiled. "Just call me Ana for short. Do you mind if I speak to this young man for a moment?"
"Don't let her get me," Nurr whispered in Gyax's ear. "She's going to kill me." His breath trembled, and his hand tightened spastically on Gyax's shoulder.
"Certainly. Nurr?" Tarbiy said, turning toward him and Gyax. "Nurr, what's wrong?"
"Nurr, it's just Mother Ana," Gyax said. "She's my House Mother. She's not going to do anything."
"She's a demon!" he shouted, panic in his eyes.
"Nurr, calm down," Mother Ana said, sounding slightly exasperated, and Gyax heard her whisper, "Keshef, calm down," under her breath immediately afterward. Nurr's death grip on Gyax's shoulder relaxed slightly. "Please, I just need to talk to you for a moment. Relax, I don't bite. Please come." And again, "Keshef, come," immediately afterward, under her breath. "Keshef, make things appear normal."
"I'm sorry," Nurr said as he released Gyax and walked over to Mother Ana. He seemed calm, collected, the fright gone from his eyes. "I'm just jumpy today." He turned back toward Tarbiy and Gyax. "I'm not sure how long I'll be gone," he said. "Don't worry if I don't get back until tomorrow."
"Not a problem," Tarbiy said, sounding confused. "See you later." Then Mother Ana and Nurr descended through the trap door together, closing it behind them. Tarbiy turned to Gyax and shrugged. "I wonder what that was all about."
Gyax barely heard him. Nurr seemed to have gotten over whatever it was, but there was still a feeling of wrongness, of something bad going on. She suddenly was very glad the trapdoor had been open, hiding her name, and she picked up her knife and ran over to the door and gouged it until no trace of the letters remained. Then, prompted by her gut feelings, she turned invisible. Her name was glowing blue on the trap door, but it's light was broken, fading quickly, and before her eyes it disappeared. The trap door remained clearly defined, deeply scored, and the scars appeared to be burned into the wood.
The wind made a small frightened noise, and Gyax looked up to see two faces like those she had seen in the approaching storm, directly above her. One cackled with glee and the other whimpered, and they both dashed off, flying back toward the impending clouds. Without thinking or even knowing how she did it, Gyax released white fire from her body, obliterating the slower one, the one who cackled. The faster one froze, then, with dread and terror on its face, slowly drifted back until it was barely over an arm's reach from Gyax. It descended to the level of her feet and cowered before her, still whimpering.
'Don't hurt me.' It wasn't exactly a voice, more a feeling, a fear. 'It wasn't me. I didn't mean to see it. I won't tell anyone. I would never tell anyone. I'll give you my truename in return if you don't kill me.'
Gyax knelt down and looked at the air spirit. Behind the face, nearly invisible, was a tiny body with tiny arms and legs and tiny wings and tiny claws on the fingers and toes. The claws didn't look sharp. The entire body, with limbs, was smaller than the creature's nose. "I won't hurt you," she said.
It jumped up, relief comically apparent on the face, which was slightly larger than Gyax's. 'I'm Hawa. I can help you. The demon will come back. She will have felt that when you killed Sabarq. I will help you. Stay in your world and pretend you don't see anything, and I will help you.'
Gyax stood up and concentrated, and then the world came back into solidity and colour and sound around her. A moment later, she felt a presence by her left shoulder, and the air's voice came silently into her mind, 'Say my name.'
"Hawa," she whispered. And then she saw him, blinking at her from her left shoulder. She was still in the real world, with colour and with Professor Siyad staring at her open-mouthed, but she could see the spirit on her shoulder and, if she concentrated, the largest of the air spirits still flitting about the storm, kilometers away.
'Go back to work,' Hawa whispered. 'Pretend nothing happened.'
Gyax turned obediently and walked over to the wall. "Professor?" she asked.
"Do you know you just disappeared?" he asked.
"I thought the lightning took you away."
Gyax furrowed her brow. "What lightning?"
"You disappeared, and lightning struck where you had been, and then you just now reappeared.
'Your fire would have been visible in the material world,' Hawa whispered in her ear. 'He must have thought it was lightning.'
"I didn't think I went anywhere. Wierd." Gyax shrugged, but inside she trembled. "When Nurr gets back we'll have to ask him about it... he was probably the one who did it anyway."
Tarbiy shrugged. "I guess so."
'Here she comes,' came the whisper. 'Keep working.'
Gyax watched out of the corner of her eye as something rose up through the closed trap door. It had a black, bestial snout, yellowing teeth, and dim red horns curling in front of black cow ears. It rose until its shoulders were visible, broad black shoulders with brown and red spotted armour, or perhaps a carapace. It didn't look one bit like Mother Ana, but Gyax felt that same sense of an incredible power to hurt that she had felt when she first met Mother Ana.
She watched out of the corner of her eye as she worked on the wall as Hawa flew at the thing, screaming. The demon laughed. Then it spoke, and like the air spirit, its voice was more thought than speech, but its words felt like they were branded rather than whispered, and Gyax flinched and dropped a rock.
"Careful," Tarbiy warned, but Gyax wasn't listening to him.
'LITTLE BREEZE, WHY DO YOU WANDER SO FAR FROM THE STORM?'
'I came to defeat you and take your power,' said Hawa. The demon laughed again. 'Don't laugh, demon. I am more powerful than you think. I have already defeated the one called Sabarq.'
'WAS THAT HIS NAME? DO YOU THINK ONE DEMON IN ALL THE HELLS KNEW WHAT HIS NAME WAS? YOU DEFEATED A MERE BREATH OF AIR, LITTLE BREEZE, ONE OF YOUR OWN KIND. NO SPIRIT OF THE AIR HAS EVER DEFEATED A DEMON.'
'I will be the first,' Hawa said, 'and I will do so now. I challenge you, demon! Fight me!'
The demon chuckled. 'LITTLE SPIRIT, THAT IS ONLY THE FIRST THING YOU MUST SOLVE FOR YOURSELF. NO DEMON WOULD BOTHER TO WASTE TIME ON THE LIKES OF YOU. YOU ARE NO THREAT.' The demon began to sink back through the floor. 'SOME OTHER TIME, LITTLE BREEZE. I WILL COME WHEN YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE ME STAY. CALL ME THEN, LITTLE BREEZE, AND IT WILL BE MY PLEASURE TO DESTROY YOU.' With a last chuckle, it faded away completely.
"How did you get it to believe you?" Gyax whispered when Hawa had returned to her shoulder. "Why didn't it know it wasn't you?"
'When we are joined like this, you see the spirit world,' Hawa answered, 'and your power shines through me. The demon only saw the power; he had no way to know it wasn't my own.'
"What about Nurr?"
'He is in Hell,' Hawa answered calmly. 'And stop whispering, you'll draw attention. Just think.'
'We can't just leave him there!' Gyax thought fiercely.
'Yes we can,' Hawa said. 'It's too dangerous.'
'Fine, I'll find my own way then,' Gyax thought, dropping off the wall.
'NO!' Hawa screamed.
"I'm going," Gyax said aloud to Hawa, putting as much determination as she could in her voice.
Tarbiy picked up another rock. "Where to?"
Gyax shook her head and brushed past him. He reached out and grabbed her shoulder as she went by. "Siyell, where are you going?"
"I have to go to the bathroom," she said, then pulled away and went for the ladder. 'Help me,' she thought to Hawa as she climbed down into the Tower. 'If you know a way, tell me what it is!'
'It doesn't matter,' Hawa said sullenly. 'He just went to Hell just now. No one can touch him for twenty-four hours.'
'So we just leave him for the demon?'
'The demon can't touch him either.'
'Why should I believe you?' Gyax challenged.
'You have my truename,' Hawa said simply.
'So?' Gyax asked irritably.
'So? What do you mean, So?' The air spirit's mental voice was incredulous. 'What happened last time you told someone your truename?'
'Mother Ana turned out to be a demon and took Nurr away.'
'You told the demon...? Yes, I guess you did, didn't you? Are you stupid?'
'She knew it already anyway,' Gyax thought. 'She's my House Mother. Of course she knows my name. The entire School knows my name.'
'And why would you use your truename to claim a door? It's a wonder you're not enslaved already... wait...' Gyax felt the air spirit jumping around in her head, looking or maybe feeling for something. 'No, you're not enslaved. You're damn lucky, that's what you are!' And the air spirit fell silent.
'Hawa, tell me how to save Nurr now.' She felt a sharp sting in her head and reeled, clutching at the base of the ladder for support. 'What was that?' she thought blankly.
'By the Berjiw! You don't even know how to use your own truename? How did I end up stuck with something like you?'
'You don't have to stay,' Gyax thought confusedly.
Hawa laughed bitterly in her mind. 'No, that's just it. In giving you my truename, I bound myself to you, and you can't release me without using your truename.'
'Tell me how, and I will.'
'I already have to stay with you. Why should I teach you how to control me, too?' And the air spirit fell silent.
c.6 -- Merkis
'Hawa, tell me,' Gyax thought for the thousandth time, tears soaking her cheeks and left arm as she rested her head on the desk. 'Hawa, please.' And finally, 'Hawa, are you still here?'
There was no answer, but Gyax could feel the presence of the little spirit. It was late: the crescent moon would be high outside and almost everyone would be asleep. Curfew was hours ago, but Gyax still sat in a darkened classroom in the school. The slightest sliver of green that shone from the moon and the light of the seventeen stars barely made it far enough through the sky to silhouette her right hand, which rested in the window.
'Hawa, I have to help him.'
'Why?' Hawa's thought came, disdainful. 'It's just a human child.'
'He's my friend!' Gyax thought angrily. 'And it's my fault he was taken away. I should have believed him.'
'You might as well go to bed,' Hawa thought. 'I'm not going to tell you anything and you have class tomorrow.'
'Hawa, if you don't tell me, I promise I'll make your life miserable as long as I live... and if Nurr is right and I'm part elven, that could be a very, very long time.'
Hawa snorted. 'How are you going to do that without using your truename?'
'I imagine I'll figure it out eventually,' Gyax replied. 'And even if I don't, you're still stuck here. Do you know what it's like to live with someone who despises you? Who degrades everything you are and everything you do? The way you look. The things you eat for breakfast. If you answer a question correctly, you're brown-nosing. If you answer it wrong, you're a fool. If you don't answer at all, you're stupid. If you don't come with everyone else, then no one likes you and they all want you to leave, but you still can't get away. If you do, then you're just a scaredy cat. But we already know you are anyway. Coward. Up on the roof, you only came to me because you were afraid. You only spoke to the demon because you knew you'd be destroyed if you didn't. Coward.'
'Enough!' Hawa snapped. But Gyax could feel the creature trembling through their empathic link.
'Who is that you picture?' Hawa ventured, projecting an image back into Gyax's mind. Gyax recognized Belia.
'No one important,' Gyax said dismissively. 'Just someone who used to pick on me.'
'Well, stop thinking about her.'
Gyax frowned at the spirit. 'Why?' She purposely pictured Belia more clearly just to see what Hawa would do. The way she would stand with her hands on her hips, glaring everyone down. The contemptuous way she used to toss glances out of the corners of her eyes at Beren and Gyax, before Mother Ana came...
'I couldn't get you into Hell even if I thought it would work,' Hawa cried. 'Stop it!'
'Stop what?' Gyax asked with mock innocence. 'I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to do anything, remember?'
'If you stop, I'll tell you!' Hawa gasped.
Gyax stopped thinking of Belia and instead glared at the air spirit cowering before her.
'Thoughts are not the language of truenames....' Hawa shuddered and paused, as if to catch his breath. 'Emotions are. Memories.'
Gyax sighed, her glare softening and her thoughts turning from anger to some calmer emotion, a cold loneliness of the kind that will grow into resolve if given instruction. 'So how can I help Nurr?'
'I can't help you,' Hawa said.
'I can't! I don't have that power.'
The spirit hesitated.
'Alright, alright. But we can't keep using these names. Someone will overhear, pick it up from our thoughts... especially around him. We need names without power.'
'Well, I've been going by Siyell lately,' Gyax said. 'What do you want to be called?'
Hawa thought a moment. 'Call me Eroen. It means wind in the tongue of the nomads.'
'Eroen,' Gyax repeated. 'Who is going to help us?'
'A man named Merkis. He lives somewhere in this place.'
'Good, you know him. I don't suppose you know where he'd be?'
'He lives in House Yviter, on the northeastern side of campus. He's three years ahead of me, but he's my best friend's ex-boyfriend. She also said he has some sort of secret room under House Ckorza, which isn't being used right now.'
'We'll go look for him in House Ckorza, then. Make sure you remember Nurr's truename, but don't say it. And don't go invisible... it will attract attention.'
Confused but willing to accept the strange advice for the moment, Gyax followed Hawa down the stairs of the Tower and out of the main schoolbuilding and across the lawn toward House Ckorza. The waning crescent overhead barely let Gyax see the ground in front of her feet, and she prayed it kept others from seeing her sneaking around at night as well. Hawa outlined a plan as they went, and they silently thought the details back and forth until they were ready.
Drawing a deep breath, Gyax rapped soundly on the door to House Ckorza. At the same time, Hawa glided through the seams in the walls, soft as a breath of air. Gyax willed her eyes to see from Hawa's, her voice to come from Hawa's mouth. Glancing back, she saw an odd picture of herself standing tall at the door, eyes glowing as if lightning danced across them in miniature. Looking down, she saw lines and runes glowing red and orange across the floor. 'Clumsy,' Hawa muttered, pointing out weak points in the weave. Though she could not understand the writing, Gyax could see that at those points the lines were snarled, with many stops and starts. In the center of the tangled web, in a more even, more neatly drawn sphere of sigils, was a single complex rune that stretched in three dimensions. It was this rune that rose, stretched, and spun into a stairwell leading down. Up the stairs came Merkis.
He saw Hawa immediately. He blinked his grey eyes rapidly, otherwise too startled to move. "Who...?" he managed.
"Eroen," Gyax and Hawa replied together. Gyax's voice sounded oddly firm and calm despite the strain of what she and Hawa were doing.
Merkis ran a hand through his limp, brown hair, brushing overgrown bangs back from his face. "Eroen..." He took several deep breaths as if gasping for air. "Eroen. You... you heard me," he stuttered. "You heard and came to me?" He looked Hawa over again. "A darkling?"
"Of course," Gyax-Hawa said condescendingly. "You know the ritual to bring me wholly here, do you not?"
Merkis gulped and nodded spasmodically. "I, uh... I...."
"You what?" Gyax-Hawa snapped.
"I, uh... need... I need your name," Merkis said. "I mean, I don't know any other way to do it. I wouldn't presume... I still can't believe you answered me."
"Keshef," Gyax said. "Now listen carefully!"
Gyax felt faint, and she wasn't sure if she was still standing upright or not. She could barely concentrate on maintaining the odd duality which allowed the air spirit to manifest a visible form and an audible voice, and was more than willing to let him take control of the conversation.
"Listen. This is very important, and I don't have much time left to tell you, so I don't want any questions." Hawa waited only long enough for the young man to begin nodding again, and continued. The spirit felt Gyax weakening, and spoke quickly. "The ceremony must finish at precisely one hour and thirteen minutes after high noon tomorrow. No later, and certainly no earlier. You will be drawing from the two-hundred and eighteenth circle. And before you do anything else, you need to replace your imeldren runes in the fourth sphere with omeldren."
Merkis nodded again. "Of course, of course. Anything." He stood there trembling, waiting.
"Now, you fool!" Hawa snapped as he dissipated. Merkis scampered down the stairs which coalesced into the rune-web behind him as Gyax collapsed outside and Hawa breathed a sigh of relief.
'Fool,' Hawa muttered again to himself as he watched over Gyax's sleeping body. 'Any would-be demon summoner ought to know that imeldren is a word of calling, while omeldren is a word of recalling....'
|17 Sep 2005|| Heather N. Nicholson|
Hey! Just checking back in. I left you a comment awhile ago, but it's gone, so I thought I'd leave another. when are you going to update? I love your story, but you haven't posted anything new in forever! Let me know, and I'll be back to check it out!