Thursday, May 24, 2012

Site Write Entry #14: Once More With Feeling

Prompt: May 20, 2012 - Your character is given a chance to recall one person from the dead. Who do they summon and what happens? Knowing that time is short before they have to return to the world beyond, what is the last thing you want them to depart with/knowing?
. . . . . It had been weeks and weeks since she'd let him out. He was probably quite sick of flies. But it wasn't magnanimity which drove Rosoe to temporarily lift the enchantment on her erstwhile apprentice - it was practicality. After all, she had promised to provide him training and she could not provide all of it while he was a toad.
. . . . . "You sadistic, rampaging mons-"
. . . . . "Shhh. I will put it back without letting you stretch your legs," Rosoe warned as she sat back on her hooves, out of striking distance of the recently-released adolescent hoodlum she was responsible for. The transformation back to his gawky-limbed draenei shape always left him disoriented, but she wasn't giving the irritable apprentice any free shots.
. . . . . Athanoor glared at her while he tried to remember how his body worked. The evil monster who imprisoned him simply watched calmly, neither offering assistance nor appearing to judge him. It wasn't long, though, before the voices of the dead started pressing against his skull again. Never in a hundred million years would he admit it, but he was usually rather relieved to be hexed back into a toad, because then the dead ignored him. Now, they clamored for attention. But not as loudly as his mentor.
. . . . . "Tonight, you will call the ancestors." One calloused hand raised imperiously to forestall his cry of dismay. "Control it, or it will subsume you. Now, this will be a directed call made with a ritual focus." She tossed a small wooden box at him and Athanoor found himself still too uncoordinated to catch it. His tongue flickered out as if he'd catch it that way, and the box bounced off his chest. Finding his limbs and remembering the use of hands, he picked it up and opened it. The box held a velvet-covered form as if it'd once cradled something short and slender and rod-like, but it was otherwise empty. "The box is the focus," she explained before he even asked, "not its former contents." For quite a time, Athanoor struggled to focus as she droned on about the magic he was to master tonight.
. . . . . The theory behind the magic explained, Rosoe placed her hands on her knees and watched her apprentice begin the ritual call. She had no desire at all to call up this dead spirit, but it was the only ritual focus for this she had; she didn't even know why she'd kept the damn box all this time. Athanoor had to call up a dead spirit she knew for her to judge if he'd performed the ritual correctly.
. . . . . The campfire flared green as her apprentice tossed a handful of loose sorrowmoss into the flames, and heavy grey smoke billowed. Long years of practice allowed her to know the moment her apprentice slipped into trance and pulled down the spirits of the dead, his own body becoming the horse upon which the departed soul rode.
. . . . . "Where- when- who has called me?" Athanoor bellowed, eyes pried wide and unblinking, his voice no longer his own.
. . . . . "It is I, Leaus," Rosoe said quietly, her face carefully blank.
. . . . . "You spy! You wretched traitor! You listener at doors!" Leaus-in-Athanoor went on in this vein for some time, becoming more and more profane and accusatory.
. . . . . "Enough." The shaman's voice held enough command that the angry ghost stilled, shocked by her transformation from the anti-social scout he'd known to the regal magician she seemed to be now. "Tell me, when was your plot to kill the Prophet to commence?"
. . . . . The ritual she had given Athanoor bound the spirit he horsed in such a manner that it could not evade questions. "As early as sunrise, four days from that night," Leaus answered sulkily. "But you have already found that out innumerable seasons ago! You have run spying to your friends in the Light! You have had me killed!"
. . . . . The answer and the following accusations were enough to assure her that Athanoor had indeed called a true spirit from the dead. The plan had been all along to release the spirit at this point, but instead she found herself asking another question, "How did you die, Leaus?"
. . . . . The spirit riding her apprentice spit at her, but the apprentice's coordination was still limited and so he missed. "My own brother Shields carved out my heart because of your betrayal."
. . . . . "As well they should have." Rosoe flicked a hand at the fire, throwing a packet of deadnettle wrapped in Light-blessed parchment onto the coals. The flames sparkled golden as the acrid smoke rushed towards her apprentice, leaving him coughing - and alone.
. . . . . "Well," Athanoor attempted, "did I-" more coughing, "manage it?"
. . . . . "That you did, my little toad. That you did." She reached out to pat his hand and slip a teacup of green tea and honey into his grasp.
. . . . . "Does it always work that way? The truth-telling?"
. . . . . "Only with that ritual." Rosoe looked away from her apprentice, her gaze distant as her voice grew quiet. "And only with those souls not resting with the Light."

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