Root Position - “Wave Goodbye” [Living Empires]

scene 4 by Layman Kingsford

Molg roared and met the teeming horde with his axe raised high. One arcing sweep severed three goblins in half. Patryk looked to be passing out as he dropped to his knees to face plant in the mud. Ferrys was unconscious and bound while Qwentyn was left standing alone with no one paying him any attention.

Six goblins were charging toward Trenton. He noted that another, standing beside the Flame witch, was drawing a bow with an arrow pointed at him. The witch ignited the tip of the arrow with a snap of her fingers.

Without thinking, Trenton focused Flame power on the arrow and burned it to ash as the marauder pulled the string to his pointed ear. The goblin dropped the bow with a yelp.

We’re all going to die! We’re all going to die! was the only thought running in his head. The next thing that popped into his mind was something he had read in adventure stories about Scion Hara’k Na’ruth. Old Lady Matricia, who had been a parent to him after his birth mother died, kept him occupied with an unending supply of fictions. How she got her hands upon so many of the periodicals that were hard to find in these remote baronies, he had never learned.

Tone- and Wave-Signed Hara’k Na’ruth was one of the ignominious scions of history. Whether the fiction Trenton had read held any amount of truth, he did not know, but in this story Hara’k Na’ruth had been facing an army of one thousand soldiers sent to subdue his magic-fueled rampage across the continent. It told how he faced the oncoming soldiers with calm aplomb and casually placed his own fingers around his neck. Within moments, every person in the army had dropped to their knees gasping and choking for breath as they drowned in spit that had risen inside their bodies to choke off their throats.

It was that scene that popped into Trenton’s thoughts as the sixteen or so remaining bandits worked to kill him and his friends. He had never tried it before, but he let the cool tingle of Wave power flow and he mentally reached out for the liquid inside each of the goblins’ bodies. He could feel it, like thread-thin rivulets coursing through tunnels and concourses in their anatomy.

He grasped it with his magic and guided the fluid up into the throat of each bandit. Almost immediately the hooting an caterwauling ceased. Trenton opened his eyes, not realizing that he had closed them, and saw each of the small green-skinned people spluttering and gasping for breath. He was horrified. After a moment a couple of them even had eyes that looked to be bulging from their heads.

Save my friends. Save my friends. Save my friends. Trenton kept his focus despite the growing abhorrence he felt for himself and the pity he had for his victims.

Molg was glancing about, blinking with incomprehension. Qwentyn had rushed to Patryk’s side and was pulling the lasso from his wounded brother’s neck while simultaneously trying to help staunch the wound in Patryk’s abdomen.

The clearing by the road was soon eerily quiet. The pile of charred bodies was still hissing softly with steam and the ground was littered with nearly two score of dead people, their small bodies looking childlike in the stillness and bright sunshine.

Trenton breathed heavily and felt on the verge of gasping, not from exertion - the magic he had just unleashed had felt remarkably easy - but with tears of repulsion. He bent over and vomited. 

Molg started cleaning blood from his axe with fabric torn from a dead bandit. Patryk appeared to be alright for the moment sitting cross-legged with Qwentyn’s short cape wrapped around his waist and wound. Qwentyn was gently reviving Feryys who was still laying in the mud like a black puddle of cloth.

Trenton didn’t want to face his friends yet and have to answer awkward questions about what they just witnessed. Plus he was in shock at the deaths he wrought, so he decided to traipse back down the road to fetch their horse and wagon. They would be able to scrounge better wound care supplies from their belongings on the cart anyway.

By the time he made it back to the scene the triplets were sitting together on a log while Molg was gathering up and tossing goblin carcasses onto the extinguished bonfire. Trenton led the horse and wagon up to the elves.

“Let me find some clean cloth to make a better bandage for you, Patryk,” he said, not daring to make eye contact with any of them.

“Banner idea,” Patryk said in a raspy voice. “I feel as if I’ve been run through.”

“You have, Brohstra,” Qwentyn confirmed. “The bleeding proves it.”

“I should also like one of my spare hats, perhaps the maroon one,” Patryk said. “The one I was wearing before we were so rudely booed...”

“Ungrateful audience full of ruffians,” interjected Feryys, whose face was already swelling with red and purple lumps.

“...has been trampled into the mud,” finished Patryk.

Trenton rummaged around for a clean towel and handed it to the bare-chested and blood-smeared dancer. “We’ll want to find a phsyiker when we get to the next town.”

“Most assuredly,” Feryys agreed. “I am already throbbing all over my body. I’m not sure how much walking I have in me.”

“Nor do I have the energy for a long travail,” Patryk said. He was unbinding the blood-soaked cape with Qwentyn’s help and they tightly wound the clean towel over the wound. “I should like to put on clean pants as well, but I fear I have not the mobility to do so.”

“I don’t think we should linger here much longer,” Trenton suggested. “Maybe we can ask Molg to carry some of our gear in order to make a bit of room for the two of you to sit in the back of the wagon.”

“I suspect we can purchase the ogre’s help if we offer him some food,” Qwentyn said.

“What should we do about all this?” Trenton asked gesturing about the clearing. The ground was trampled and muddy and littered with weapons. The bonfire pit was now overflowing with small green bodies.

“The authorities can deal with the mess,” Feryys said. “It is of no concern to us. We are the victims here.”

“The nearest authorities are back in Renclaw, a day and a half away,” Trenton stated.

Qwentyn stood and dusted off his outfit. “No matter, Brohstras. It looks as if Mork is done tossing bodies on the fire. Let us be on our way.”

Feryys and Patryk both groaned in unison as they stood up. Feryys looked to his hobgoblin friend. “Perhaps you would be so good as to relight the fire? That way the we might get some credit with the constables should we ever be questioned as to what happened here.”

Trenton nodded. “Sure, Feryys.” They called for Molg to join them and when the ogre was far enough away Trenton focused his Flame power on the pile of bodies, honed in on their clothing and other easy combustibles, and reignited the entire pile with a roar. The heat felt close to burning their faces even a good thirty paces away.

Molg was perfectly willing to heft a large trunk onto either shoulder after Qwentyn said he would hand-feed him strips of dried meat as they walked.

Feryys and Patryk clambered gingerly onto the back of the wagon and Trenton got the horse moving. No one looked back at the inferno that was quickly eradicating the carnage.

Feryys’ voice carried over the wagon after they had passed out of view of the clearing. “Trenton, you never told us you’re a Scion.”

Trenton gulped, expecting fear, rejection, accusations or worse.

“For sooth,” Qwentyn agreed. “We could have been using water tricks in our show all this time.”

Patryk added in his thoughts. “I already have an idea for a water dance set beneath cascading rivulets of colored mist.”

Trenton let go of his held breath. The elf brothers were taking this development with the same childlike acceptance that they viewed everything. He let himself smile.

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