Faerieland: Part 32

And then things got weird. Well, they didn’t become instantly weird, but soon enough.

Amy had put a spell on me that allowed me to see in the dark, and more importantly to see through illusion. I hadn’t seen anything when I looked at Daniel because he wasn’t an illusion, but as he sensed my memories I sensed his.

As I connected, I knew without doubt that there were illusions in his mind.

It all came in a cascade of images, sounds and feelings. I felt his anger and fear as Haley and I disappeared into the floor, and his determination to find out what had happened. I heard Earthmover order everyone to their rooms,  and everyone’s voices as he’d messaged the League. They’d divided into groups. Camille, Izzy and Cassie were in his, and like us, they’d walked the darkened halls of the compound’s rock warren.

That’s where I found myself following two memories at once. In one they walked toward the stairs to the basement, Daniel telling them, “Nick’s in this direction. I don’t know where, but we’ll—”

And then they were caught. Daniel only knew that he was in the middle of darkness, and that all the walls had disappeared. For all that he ran or flew, he never found the walls, and always he had a sense of something big watching him from the dark.

I could feel him reach out with his mind, and never quite connect with it.

Then the scene switched. They were in an office together—Camille, Cassie, Daniel and Izzy. Earthmover sat behind a rock desk on an intricate rock throne inlaid with gold.

That seemed wrong, and as I thought it, Daniel thought, I know. I don’t know how I missed it then—outside of the magic, obviously.

The more I looked, the more it looked like a medieval castle. It had a high ceiling with tall thin windows, a fireplace, and pillars decorated with gold and silver.

Weirdly his desk also had a computer.

I also noticed that whoever did the interior decorating had a thing for dragons (or possibly for Game of Thrones). Tapestries on the wall showed dragons burning towns, and dragons mating in the air. Interlocked dragons decorated the edges of the tapestries.

Saying it didn’t fit with what I’d seen of Earthmover was an understatement. For one, he seemed to go with a minimalist “make rock beautiful” approach. For another, he had a house down in the suburbs below the foothill like all the rest of the compound’s permanent residents.

Daniel knew that. I knew that. Everybody knew that.

In a deep, throaty voice that wasn’t Earthmover’s, Earthmover said, “I have an important mission for all of you. The reason I sent Nick and Haley away is that they’ve been possessed by demonic forces. They need to be kept away from the school. You’ll need to help me stop them if they escape…”

And then they were in the school’s halls again, but now they were looking for us.

With a cracking noise even that disappeared, and Daniel and I stood together against an infinite black background—just the two of us.

Daniel shook his head. “We were supposed to get you under control and then bring you to Earthmover, or whoever that was.”

He stared off in to the distance for a moment. “I don’t know what would have happened to you, but I was prepared to do it for the good of the school. I’m sorry. I should have seen through it.”

I shrugged. “No worries. I don’t feel right about throwing your father and grandfather at you like that.”

Daniel nodded. “I need to do something about that. Anyone could throw that in my face, and if I go berserk it will make me look bad and take the team along with me.”

He stopped, and took a breath. “It still didn’t feel good.”

“I’m sorry.”

Daniel stood there, saying nothing for a moment, and shook his head. “It’s okay. We need to get back to the real world now, and fix this mess.”

Then we were back. I lay on the floor next to Haley, gravity holding me down. Daniel stood next to Cassie and Camille, the shattered mess of store and hallway between us.

Daniel turned toward the two of them. “We’ve got to talk,” he began.

He barely got the words out when Cassie twisted, pointing the gun at him. Its muzzle grew bright, but it never fired.

Cassie stared down at it, her jaw dropping, her face illuminated by the gun’s light.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Samita let go of the pepper shaker she’d been holding. It zoomed across the floor, out of sight to anyone who could still stand, and then flew upward, giving Cassie and then Camille a shake to the face before either of them knew what happened.

Then it hovered next to Daniel.

At the same moment, I suddenly felt several times lighter. I knew exactly why when Camille flew over Cassie and Daniel to land in front of Haley, offering her a hand up.

When Haley accepted it, she pulled her into a hug, and then me, crying and apologizing the entire time. She let go in time for me to hear Cassie tell Daniel, “Congratulations. You’re the first person the gun hasn’t shot on demand. It tells me that it won’t shoot allies when it’s not sure I’m in my right mind.”

Vaughn had already pulled himself up, and grinned at her. “Then we’re safe forever, right?”

Cassie pointed the gun down. “It says it’s willing to shoot you any time you’d like.”

They laughed.

Then Amy and Izzy crashed into the hall behind us, shattering the walls around them.

13 thoughts on “Faerieland: Part 32”

  1. against and infinite (an?)

    Part of my brain says “nunh uh, memories are always real, regardless of origin”, and part says “but, you know, magic”

    1. I actually did think about that. I majored in sociology and took a number of psychology classes as well. And yes, if you’re modifying the brain, they would be modifying the same stuff–connections between neurons.

      That said I’m writing a story which includes magic, so it could be that illusionary memories are created and maintained by a different system. I went with that option.

  2. I love the gun’s response here — it’s funny, and it’s showing more long-term investment and restraint than I would’ve expected from Mr. Kill Them All It Will Be Glorious!

    That said, it highlights how troublesome I find it that Cassie was willing to shoot Daniel the instant he seemed compromised. Even under illusion/mind-control, and with what he thought was a demonic invasion to stop, Daniel was concerned that his actions might hurt or kill Nick. Cassie was going to straight-up kill Daniel the instant he was willing to talk (I assume the gun doesn’t have a reliable stun setting or they should have gone in spraying that around. And the gun probably wouldn’t have objected to using it on a teammate). That might be the ‘safe’ move, but it’s pretty cold for anybody who calls themselves a hero; it is way outside Cassie’s usual MO, and it is ridiculous for use on a compromised teammate.

    So, did Cassie get different/ stronger mind-control than Daniel? Or is this the dreaded effects of using Abominator tech?

    1. That remains to be seen. Though it is worth mentioning that Cassie’s more impulsive than Daniel in general, and forcing her to do things that she definitely doesn’t want to do might have unpredictable effects.

      Of course, that’s likely only part of what’s going on there.

  3. Well, it took me about a month to catch up. This series is excellent and has much more character development than the Big Two’s monthly offerings. Now to set up a RSS

    1. Thanks. I’m glad you made to the present.

      Unlike the big two comics companies, I don’t have to keep characters the same forever. They’ll lose substantial readership if they make permanent changes.

      1. That is one thing I really like about yours and other web serials. The characters grow and mature. We see in the current arc that Sean is no longer a self-centered jerk.

        1. It is true that Sean has actually grown as person. For better or for worse, he isn’t totally changed. What I’m going to try to do is still stay true to the character’s history. Because while is improving, he still has his issues.

          On another note, thanks for donating.

  4. Slight edit here:
    With a cracking noise even that disappeared, and Daniel and I stood together against and infinite black background—just the two of us

    Should be “an” not “and”:
    With a cracking noise even that disappeared, and Daniel and I stood together against an infinite black background—just the two of us

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