Chapter 11 - Steps to Success.
Sitting on the floor in a comfortable position he gathered his power and focused his mind. Reconfiguring the doorway wasn’t difficult but it was time consuming, so he knew he would be sitting for a while. As he was taking stock of available power and energy he noticed the formulae for his weight manipulation spell was gone. How long had he been unconscious?
Reaching into a his shirt he pulled out a little bag on a leather cord. Carefully opening the bag he reached two fingers inside. Gently he pulled out a thin quill. Looking around he didn’t have any good writing surface so he rolled up his right sleeve.
“Uh Oh,” he called out while pressing a tiny amount of power into the device. Slowly and in as tiny script he could manage, he wrote on his arm, ‘current date and time.’ Carefully he set the quill on the floor and held his arms straight.
“1361, seventh month, 12th day, 3:48 local time.” The words appeared on his right arm. Each one an angry dark red as an unseen quill dragged its sharp point across his skin. The tinge of black from the ink disappear as the magic faded. As soon as the ink faded a second message scratched itself across his skin in the same place. “300 credits deducted from account.”
Elric tucked away the pen and hid the pouch under his shirt. Pulling out a black hankerchief from a pocket he wiped up most of the blood. Folding the black cloth he tucked it into a different pocket. Carefully he rolled down his shirt sleeve, then he got to work on reprogramming UL-DR2142.
When he finished casting the spell he was finally able to divert attention to the person sitting by him. About halfway in reconfiguring Norman had approached him slowly and carefully sat down ten feet away. Since Elric didn’t want to waste the spell he ignored the shorter man.
“I’m sorry for the wait.” Elric said as he turned towards Norman. The short man had a wine bottle and a little wicker basket next to him.
“No worries, I brought some food and water.” Norman said standing up and moving closer to Elric.
“Excellent, I can’t remember the last time I ate something.” Elric stayed sitting and waited for Norman to get close. As soon as Norman sat down, “Hey it’s been a long day. What happened on the way here.”
Norman’s eyes widened and he quickly shifted his weight. Instead of sitting on his rear he now had a foot under him. After a moment of silence he relaxed a little but kept a foot underneath.
“While I wont lie to you, know there is some information I an not privy to nor can I divulge.” Norman said as he slowly lifted a hand and tapped his forehead.
“I understand.” Elric said and Norman pulled a loaf of bread out of a basket he had been carrying. He broke the loaf of bread in half and held each end in a hand. When Elric reached for the left one, Norman pulled a small piece off the edge and ate it. He then handed the bread in his left hand to Elric.
Elric tentatively took a bite of the bread, noting it was still warm and fresh. As he chewed he watched Norman remove the cork from the wine bottle, then take drink from it. Before swallowing he gargled a bit of the wine.
“I appreciate the show, but its alright. If he wanted to poison me it would have been done or has already been done.” Elric said once he finished chewing. Briefly Norman winced at the phrasing. “I take it I have been poisoned.”
“In a way, I told you not to drink more than a sip of the beer.”
“I’ll try to remember that in the future.” Elric reached a hand out for the wine bottle and took a small sip of it. Focusing into the magical spectrum he reviewed the bottle and bread. No magical auras, which wasn’t completely reassuring, it was some comfort.
Minutes passed as they enjoyed the fresh bread and wine. When the wine bottle was almost empty, Norman took the last drink and after he swallowed his hands suddenly went to his neck. Elric leapt to his feet to help the suddenly choking man. Norman stopped choking and smiled at Elric, they both start laughing.
“Thanks, its been a tense day.” Elric said after his heart calmed down. He resumed sitting on the floor.
“You are welcome.” Norman picked up the empty bottle and rose to his feet. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours to get you. You can stay here for the night or I can return you to town.”
“Will I be safe here?”
“Yes, but due to the energy of the place,” Norman waved his right hand in a big circle above his head. “People do not sleep well. Not as restful,”
Elric nodded his head and watched the short man turn around and head down the hallway. Before he was out of sight, Elric started reconfiguring the second door.
When almost finished, Elric started to understand why people didn’t stay the night. Even though he was sitting and the spell wasn’t very draining, he felt like he had been jogging. Pushing through his weariness he was able to finish the spell. Giving himself permission, he lay down on the floor and stretched out.
Muscles unravelled as the cool stone floor drank in his warmth. When his eyelids started getting heavy he immediately sat up. Though Norman had said he was safe, he didn’t want to test that.
Slowly Elric stood up, feeling as if he had been running for hours. After casting the unlimited doorway spell a few hundred times in the past couple of months, he knew the toll it took upon him. This weariness was not from that. He hadn’t felt this tired when he awoke, so didn’t think it was an after effect of whatever Lichinstein had done to him.
Once he was standing he felt a little better. Hoping a distraction will help, he conjured a small construct made of magic. Mist appeared in the air in front of him as he pulled magic from around himself. A little figure about two feet tall appeared as the mist.
He gave it instructions on how to enter the door and which route to take. It was the old pathway. The creature wouldn’t survive but as soon as it was destroyed Elric would feel the connection sever.
The creature entered the doorway and disappeared from sight. Briefly Elric pondered if a scrying spell could be modified to watch and test trap designs. His mind raced over possible ways to reduce the magic investment.
Thirty seconds later, Elric felt the connection disappear. The suddenness jolted him out of the train of thought he was riding along. Summoning a little more magic he created a message spell with a twist of his own making, it delayed activating until he said a keyword.
Norman arrived twenty minutes later. As he got closer to where Elric was, he noticed little shapes running around. With a start he stopped and drew his cloak around him to blend into the shadows.
Slowly and carefully Norman closed the distance. Silently he pulled out his sword from a sheath and held it so the cloak covered the shiny blade. For a brief moment he thought he saw a small gang of little people attacking Elric. He started running in to slaughter them, when he saw they were all moving together in sequence.
Together as a group, Elric and six little figures stomped their feet, left, then right, then left again. Their arms held out straight to the elbows, then like a pendulum they swung their hands back and forth.
“Norman, you care to join us in dancing? Easy to learn, wont take a fortnite to get the hang of it.” Elric said as soon as he caught a glimpse of Norman running towards them.