A Prim and a Prophet
Chapter 15: A Mage’s Wish

Copyright© 2019 by Christopher Podhola

“If a man follows a voice within his head, he better make sure the voice belongs to someone who speaks with his best interests in mind.”

Excerpt from the diaries of Panpar

Claude Belsk enjoyed watching the stranger die and his role in bringing it about made the pleasure of it even greater.

The stranger’s death wasn’t unwarranted. Killing him (or having the others at the table do it for him) was a necessity. The stranger was a liability to his plans, and he had to go. That didn’t stop him from enjoying it. Watching the other men from the game beat the stranger to death, seeing the man’s blood drip from his face as it turned black and blue from all of the damage, was intoxicating. He could never be that brutal himself. He was too refined for that, but letting them do it? And watching? That was a different story.

Claude’s search was finally over. He found what he needed to get back to his home world (or at least the item letting him know the time had come) and all he had to do from that point was find the maker of the quintarin the man was wearing.

“I told you. All I want is the pendant he wears around his neck,” Claude said to the other men.

They stood around the body of the stranger, tucked deep into the forest near the Night crawler, as a fly began to take interest. It crawled its way up his neck, soon to be joined by more.

Zip bent down, grasped the chain that dangled from the body, and was about to yank it free.

“Wait,” Claude said. “Let me do it.”

“I can’t believe you participated in this for a stupid trinket, but whatever floats you down the river, man,” Zip said.

Claude bent and removed the quintarin, deciding not to wear it just yet (there’d be time for that later) and slid it into his pocket. Zip referred to the vessel as a trinket, but it was anything but stupid. It was his ticket to finding a way back to where he belonged—Messolin.

With his reward in his pocket, he had no other reason to stay. He turned and began walking the way they came.

“Where you think you’re going?” Zip asked. “We got some cleaning up to do here. Can’t jest leave him here and fair is fair. You got what you wanted; now you can give us a hand buryin’ him.”

Without turning around, Claude answered. “I’ve no interest in covering this mess up. You want it covered, friend, cover it, or leave him for the wolves. Either way makes no difference to me.”

“I said fair is fair,” Zip said. “Now give us a hand.”

Claude ignored him and continued to walk away. Three steps further he heard the click of a gun. Claude turned around and a smile crossed his face.

“Go ahead and shoot me,” he said. “I’ll give you one shot to kill me before I end your life.”

“What? You don’t think I’ll do it? Got one dead man on my shoulders here already. Two won’t make no difference.”

“Pull the trigger,” Claude demanded.

Shir mah vet um ta’ren vin bah! Claude thought in the ancient tongue. (Take the muscle from his muzzle and render his weapon useless).

“Last chance. You’ve threatened my life with a weapon and according to Messolin law, I’m within my rights to kill you. Pull the trigger or die without a fight.”

“What the hell’s he talkin’ about, Zip? I ain’t heard that law before.”

“Don’t know. What he said don’t make no sense.”

“Just kill ‘im, Zip,” one of the other men said. “He ain’t gonna help anyway, and he didn’t help kill ‘im either, so we’re better off with ‘im buried next to our other friend, here.”

Zip must have seen the logic in that statement. He pulled the trigger, expecting to hear the roar of his gun. Instead, there came only a click. He had time to give his gun a stupid look, before the branches in the tree above him reached down and snatched him from the ground.

So lem bai ta’rut mai ven boiyet mai va’rum. So ‘ayel maruk veiman zu! (may the forest have life for a moment and repay their debt to their oppressors).

The trees began to snatch all of the men from the ground, the bases of the trees growing mouths that didn’t exist before, barked jaws yawning wide, as the branches shoved a meaty feast into them. The trees chose not to devour the men completely, but left the arms and legs of the men sticking out from their trunks as the animation spell wore off, leaving a gory reminder of what happened the day Digger Margraves entered the grey.

Claude held his thumb out as he walked along the side of the highway. Reaching into his pocket with his other hand, he pulled the quintarin from his pocket. He still didn’t know exactly where he needed to go, but he did know the vessel would lead him there. He knew from the moment he first laid eyes on the stranger, there were two minds attached to him. There were only a few possible ways for that to happen. The stranger suffered from a split personality disorder, he was the only male Prim ever, or he was wearing the vessel made by a Prim. The last possibility was the one he hoped for and it was the one, which turned out to be true.

Claude put the necklace over his head. It was the only way he could find out who was attached to it and the only possible way he could find the Prim who made it. Finding that out and getting that Prim to take him back to Messolin, was the only way he could ever return to his homeland. He had a debt to repay to the one who sent him across the veils, but he could only do it if he were there.

Ssso glad to make your acquaintancsse, Isolem’s voice greeted.

Claude could immediately recognize the tinny sounding voice of a Moog and the soft way they pronounce their s’s, never like the bu’zz’ing of a bee, and always like the hi’ss’ing of an air leak. He’d heard enough of them speak in his lifetime to make the connection. “Can it, Moog,” he ordered. “I didn’t put this thing on to make friends. I know Moog well enough to know that you always want something, but I want something too. I need to know who made this necklace so I can get back across the veils. You tell me that, and I’ll do whatever it is you want.”

That’s what I want, Isolem replied. And also to kill the Prim. After you get across if you want. Or before. Either way is fine with me.

“Done,” Claude answered. “How do I find her?”

There is a well on Lake Amicolola. Go there and wait.

“She’ll come to me?”

Yessss!

“What happened,” Margraves asked John.

John stood just inside his office, in front of the door, instead of directly in front of his desk, almost as if he were ready to make a quick retreat if he needed to.

“What do you mean, Richard” John replied.

Why, whatever do you mean, kind sir, Margraves’ mind mocked. He couldn’t remember where he heard that statement before, but John’s comment brought it back to him. John’s demeanor remained cold, stoic, and unreadable as it always was, but there was no doubt he was playing stupid. Margraves just didn’t know why.

The director half stood from his chair, placing both hands on his desk, leaning slightly forward, in an aggressive stance. “Are you actually going to stand there and play stupid with me?” He could feel the blood coursing through his neck, and his face felt hot. “The very reason I pulled you from the field, and kept you from doing all the things you say you hate, was because of these two twins! To help me corral them--keep them harnessed until we can control them,” he said. In the beginning, his statement started in a normal tone, but by the end, he was on the verge of yelling. He walked around to the front of his desk and sat on the edge.

“She took me by surprise,” John said, standing straight. He made a slight adjustment to his suit coat, but his face remained a stone.

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