Survival: Chapter 5 of 9

Whateley: “Survival”

[A Whately Universe FanFic]

By Zapper

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Chapter Five

***

“I don’t remember much of Ireland, my parents immigrated to Boston when I was small.” Molly said, with a faraway look in her eye. “Boston, in those days was thriving. There was a growing Irish population and my parents saw to it that I was well educated. My father was a carpenter and had a prosperous business. My mother was a kind woman who loved to tell stories. She used to fill my brothers and my head with stories of Ireland, of elves, fairies, and leprechauns.” Molly said with a faraway look in her eyes.

“I was the youngest of eight children and the only girl. As such you can imagine how I was treated. I was my father’s Princess and my mother’s favorite. I always got the best of everything and if my brothers were jealous they didn’t show it. Then one day, when I was fourteen I got sick.” There was a slight catch in Molly’s throat, but she continued.

“At first we thought it was the flu. Then I started to change. My parents were horrified. They went to the church and brought back a priest. He told them I was possessed by a demon and they tied me to a bed. For the next few days they did everything they could think of to try to ‘cure’ me.” At this she paused to see if she had Kate’s attention. Kate shook her head feeling stunned.

“You can’t cure someone from being a mutant.”

“Yes, I know that. But at the time I didn’t know anything about being a mutant. I was just a scared little girl.” Molly took a sip of coffee as if to collect her thoughts. “When the change was complete I didn’t know what I was. Only that I was some kind of a monster. They didn’t give me a mirror, they just looked at me in horror. My mother sobbed for days. I’m not sure how long it took for me to change. But then one day the pain stopped and I could think clearly. That’s when I started noticing things. I could hear much better than before. My eyesight was sharper and I could see in the dark without difficulty.

The priest took this as another sign of the devil in me. He tried one ritual after another to cast the demon out and for the next few days I . . . well let’s just say they were unpleasant and leave it at that.” Molly said, taking another sip of tea.

“How did you get them to stop?”

“I didn’t, I escaped. You see I’d started to notice, when they left me alone, that I could see these glowing lines running through most things. The lines reminded me of threads and I discovered that I could touch them with my mind. When I did I felt a warm energy fill me and the injuries I’d taken from the attempts to exorcise my ‘demon’ healed themselves. Of course the priest took this as another sign that I was in league with Lucifer. He left my room and confronted my parents, I could hear them in the hallway outside my room talking. He told them that I’d have to be burned or the whole family was at risk. My mother was heartbroken, but agreed. My father was so angry he almost threw the priest out. There was no way he was going to burn his little girl. They decided to appeal to the Bishop.”

By this time they’d both finished their coffee but Molly appeared lost in thought as she stared out the window. Kate almost urged her to continue, but then reconsidered and sat quietly waiting.

“I didn’t know about mutants, and thought that the priest might be right. But I didn’t want to die. So that night I focused on the ropes they’d used to tie me to my bed. I felt the power within the ground and brought it up then I concentrated on the rope. It crumbled to ash. I climbed out of my bed and discovered that I was very weak. I hadn’t left that bed in days and I was filthy. I made my way to my closet and got dressed. Then I picked out a couple of dresses and bundled them into a blanket. I slowly made my way through our dark house focusing on being quiet. It was then I discovered that I can be very quiet. The priest had left and my family was asleep. I went to the kitchen and took bread and cheese, then I went to where I knew father kept his money. I still feel a little guilty but I took all of it. I felt bold then, and almost went into my parents’ bedroom to use my mother’s looking glass but changed my mind at the last moment. I knew I needed to leave and if I woke them I might never get away.”

“What happened next?” Kate asked.

Molly looked at Kate and shrugged, “I left. I made sure to cover myself with a bonnet and a long dress and I ran. I went to the train station and that’s
when I discovered my first glamor. I could get men to do what I wanted if I concentrated.” At Kate’s startled look Molly giggled, “Oh, nothing like mind control. I just smiled and pushed a little power at them and generally men would go out of their way to be nice and do what I asked. After being on my own for a month I met my first mutant, only we didn’t call ourselves mutants. I was in Atlanta and he was a wizard. He took me in and helped me learn what it means to be an Elf and how to control my magic.”

This statement caused Kate to look closely at Molly and she realized that her new features looked very similar to Molly’s only a male version. ‘No wonder she thinks I’m Elven.’ Kate thought. Molly shook her head and came back to the present and glanced over at Kate. Kate knew that Molly was expecting her to offer her story but for some reason she held back. Instead she asked, “How did you end up out here, by yourself?”

Laughing Molly showed her startlingly white teeth, “That, young man, is another story, longer and full of things that are personal. Now tell me, how is it that you ended up on my doorstep?”

Kate spent a second collecting her thoughts and Molly reached out to pat her hand. “Would you like another cup of coffee?”

Kate nodded mostly to buy some time. She felt like she should trust this woman, but recent experience had taught her to be cautious. Still she needed help and Molly was her best option.

Molly returned with two new steaming cups and sat down. With a sigh Kate said, “My parents are both mutants. I was raised knowing there was a very good chance I’d be one too. Then two days ago I was out with my friends when three mutants kidnapped me and killed my friend Peter.” Kate heard Molly’s quick startled inhalation but continued, “They took me to a house and sent a ransom message to my dad. Part of the message included my finger.”

“What!” Molly exclaimed and Kate glanced over to see shock on her face. Kate felt a cold knot of rage but she forced herself to focus on the story and disconnected herself from it.

“I think that’s what set off my mutation. When I woke up I was like this. It was the middle of the night and they’d left me alone. That was a mistake because it gave me the opportunity to escape.” Kate took another sip of coffee before continuing. “Once out of the house I could see that I was in the country, but I had no idea where I was so I picked a direction and started walking. Before I knew it, I was lost. Then this morning I saw the lake.” At this Kate waved a hand toward the water behind Molly’s cabin. “I was very thirsty so I made my way down to the water for a drink and that’s when I spotted your cabin. I figured it was my best chance at finding help.”

Molly looked thoughtfully at Kate for a minute. “There are things you’re not telling me, like your original name.” Before Kate could protest Molly held up her hand, “I understand your reluctance. There aren’t very many people in this area and even fewer mutants. The closest farm house is the old Stuart place. But they weren’t mutants and when Paul died his son got the place. He doesn’t live there, so I’m guessing that he might have rented it to the people who took you.”

“Do they know about you and this cabin!?” Kate blurted out.

“Hehehe . . . you’re safe for now. Not many know about my cabin, and even fewer could find it. The fact that you could see it from across the lake tells me that you have some magical talents.”

At this pronouncement Kate felt a tension she hadn’t known she’d had fade. She was also surprised at Molly’s comment about magic, neither of her parents had a magical ability. Molly noticed immediately and smiled, “When was the last time you slept?”

“I haven’t since my change.”

“I have a spare bed upstairs, you can take a nap while I see what I can discover about these kidnappers.” Not waiting for Kate to agree Molly took her by the hand and led her to a set of stairs Kate hadn’t seen before. ‘For such a small person, she’s pretty strong.’ Kate thought feeling amused. The narrow stairs led to what must have been the cabin’s attic. The roof sloped down along two walls and at the far end there was a window. Various items had been neatly stacked along the sides and Kate felt a brief desire to explore for hidden treasures. This feeling was surprising to Kate since she’d never been the nosey type and she suppressed it. Just below the window Kate spotted a twin sized bed.

“Go ahead and rest, I’ll wake you in a couple of hours, or when I discover something.”

Suddenly Kate felt tired and stumbled toward the bed. “But my parents, I need to let them know I’m safe. My dad, he’ll try to do something and they might hurt him.”

“Shush, rest, I’ll get word to your dad. What’s his name?”

“Carl Henderson, although the terrorists were calling him Menace.”

“Alright, I’ll see if I can get word to him,” Molly said, pushing Kate onto the bed. “Now, rest.”

Kate couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore and felt herself drift off.

***

Kate slid silently through the rocks. He could hear his prey up head just around the slight out cropping of rock. The grunting noise, that Kate supposed passed for a language, echoed over the frozen ground. Kate eased his head around the rock and spotted the Frost Giants. A male and female.

Kate pulled back remembering what Dux’ Tueor had told him of these creatures. Strong and tough, with thick hides that resisted magic and cold, two of Kate’s favorite weapons! This was what made the hunt more challenging. Kate focused on the power within, it felt like a knot of cold that burned with greater strength every day. Slowly Kate drew the power up and wrapped it around himself. Once ready Kate moved silently around the rocks.

The giants were focused on something on the ground between them. From where Kate was it looked like a polar version of a bear. Only this beast with white fur was much larger than its southern cousins. The male giant was facing Kate while his mate squatted with her back to him. Kate took two more steps and the male looked up, directly at Kate, blinked and then looked back down at his dinner. Kate felt a dragonic grin lift the corners of his invisible maw. Two more steps just to be sure the range was right then Kate opened his mouth and sent a blast of lightning directly into the male’s chest.

The blast came with a crack of thunder and the male frost giant was thrown back into the rocks. The female moved surprisingly fast for a creature of her size. She picked up a club that looked like it had been a small tree and tried to turn toward Kate. However, Kate hadn’t remained still. As soon as he’d blasted the male he was moving charging toward the female.

The frost giant swung her club in a backhanded swing blindly hoping to hit her attacker as she turned. Kate ducked the blow and surged up using the power in his hind legs to propel him forward. Kate’s forelegs hit each of the giantess’s shoulders, his foot long talon’s sinking into giant hide without trouble. In the same move Kate lunged burying his jaws into the giant’s throat. Kate’s weight and the momentum of his charge bowled the giantess over. Kate’s massive jaws nearly tore the giantess’s head from her shoulders and Kate felt a rush of dragonic glee as her hot blood hit the back of Kate’s throat.

Then Kate’s world exploded in pain. Kate felt himself thrown to one side as the male giant’s massive war club hit him on the shoulder just in front of his right wing. Kate rolled sideways over the rough, frozen, ground coming to his feet facing the male giant’s berserker rage at the death of his mate. Kate didn’t have time to think about it, but he knew that his right foreleg was injured and he could still fly, if needed.

Kate opened his mouth and hit the giant with a second lightning strike at point blank range. The giant raised his war club to block the strike. The power of the lightning shattered the club and caused the giant to stumble back a half step. Kate could now see that his chest was blackened and burned from the first strike, but he was far from out of the fight. Kate didn’t want to give the giant a chance to recover and snapped his wings down while leaping forward.

Kate surprised the giant, he hadn’t thought that Kate could cover so much ground so quickly. This was a mistake those who can’t fly often make when judging distances for those that can. Kate tried to get his jaws on the giant’s throat just as he’d done to the giant’s mate but the giant managed to get both hands around Kate’s neck, just behind his head. Kate sank the talons of his left foreleg into the giant’s shoulder hoping to force his arm back but the giant ignored the pain. Kate tried to use his right foreleg but it wasn’t responding. Then the giant began to squeeze. Kate’s hide resisted the pressure but the giant was strong!

In desperation Kate used his tail for a second to help with balance and snapped his wings to lift up, slightly. The giant hung on but Kate managed to get his rear-legs up, off the ground and in tight to his belly. Then Kate racked them down in a cat like movement. The talons opened the giant up from collar bone to groin.

The giant threw his head back and bellowed in pain his grip loosened. This was all the opening Kate needed. He surged forward pushing off with his hind legs, now on the frozen ground. Kate’s jaws clamped down into the giants throat while bearing him over. Kate again felt a hot rush of blood. The giant thrashed around for a moment and then went still as his blood pumped out onto the snow and ice.

Kate lifted his bloody maw to the sky and roared in triumph. At the sound there was an answering roar and then Dux’Tueor glided down from where he’d been watching Kate’s hunt.

*Well done, Dux’Primus, but why did you close with your prey?*

Kate looked up at his mentor, his blood still roaring within him from the fight. *They would have resisted most of my distance strikes*

*Most, but not all. You and I are dragons of a dual nature, while we are shunned by our metallic and chromatic cousins we have advantages they lack.*

Kate grunted and looked down at his leg. He could feel that it was starting to heal and reached into his well of power and then sent a wave of energy through the limb.

*You should have stayed airborne and veiled. Hit them with lightning and then veil. Hit and veil. They would have tried to take you out by throwing rocks, but those would have been easy to avoid. The fight would have taken longer but you wouldn’t have been wounded.*

Kate felt annoyed at the lecture, but recognized the wisdom. Why put yourself at risk if you didn’t need to. Kate sent an acknowledgement toward Dux’Tueor.
*I’ll do better next time.*

***

Molly lifted a trap door in the floor of her kitchen revealing a set of steps descending to her work shop. Her heart raced, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so excited. ‘After all of these years, I’ve finally met a male Elf!’ she thought. He’s young, of course, and untrained but he had so much potential! The charm Molly had tried to use to get him to let down his guard and trust her had been both powerful and subtle. He’d effortlessly detected and defeated it!

As Molly descended she waved her hand and dozens of candles flared to life. The work space under the cabin was bigger than the cabin and had a pair of doors that led to tunnels. There was also an arch of stone to one side of the room with a set of seven glyphs etched into its surface. If Molly needed too, she could activate the arch and return to civilization with a single step.

Moving in the opposite direction Molly went to the far end of the rectangular chamber. There she found a small circular table with a dark green cloth draped over it and an object on the table under the cloth. A hand carved chair sat next to the table and Molly settled into it before removing the cloth. Candlelight reflected from the polished dark wood. Setting the cloth to one side Molly turned back to the object, which turned out to be an ornate wooden bowl.

Molly waved a hand over the bowl and chanted a few words. The water within was crystal clear and it responded to Molly’s chanting by spinning around faster and faster until it had created a tiny whirlpool. Abruptly Molly stopped chanting. The water rose up into a column that slowly transformed into the figure of woman sitting at a desk writing. The figure stopped what she was doing and looked up, and then she turned her head to look at Molly.

“Mistress Eawren Lanethial?” The voice was faint but clear.

“Carwin, I hope I’m not interrupting.”

“Nothing so important I can’t pause to talk to my mentor.” Carwin responded, her voice becoming stronger as her statue stood up and turned to face Molly. As it did the water forming the desk dropped back into the bowl. “Do you need my help?”

“Just a little information, dear.” Molly said. “A young boy just stumbled onto my domain and he claims he was being held by a group of mutants. According to the boy they sent a grisly message to his father, Carl Henderson, of Astoria, demanding a meeting. Can you see what you can find out?”

Carwin nodded, “I’ll start searching news sites and see what I can find. You know if you’d allow it, I could have a satellite dish installed on your property. Solar panels and a battery would provide the power. So you wouldn’t have to worry about power companies or workmen trampling around your land.”

“Now why would I need any of that?”

“Well, there’s this thing called the internet. You can use it for all sorts of useful things.” Carwin said mildly.

Molly’s laugh was light and full of humor, “But I’ve got friends and former apprentices who can use it.”

Carwin smiled impishly in response, “If you’re considering taking another apprentice, this young man perhaps, he’ll need to access the internet. His parents will want to be able to send emails and he’ll need to take classes on line. As well as stay in touch with the modern world.”

At this Molly looked more thoughtful, “I suppose you’ve got a point.”

Carwin’s face registered her surprise at this sudden change. “I’ve been trying to get you to let me connect you to the outside world for a decade and all at once you’re considering it?! This boy must be very special.”

Molly leaned forward, “He is. He’s the first Elf I’ve met in years. He’s the first male Elf I’ve ever even heard about. And he’s strong. He didn’t even know I had a ward over my property to keep strangers away. I tried a simple trust charm and he shrugged it off like water, and he’s got no training!” The excitement in Molly’s voice was surprising.

“Oh, wow, a male Elf? Are you sure he’s not just a mutant that looks like an elf?”

Molly leaned back, “It’s hard to know for sure, but physically he looks like an elf. His magic is instinctive, powerful, and has a wild natural feel. Similar in many ways to my own. Yet different . . . . I’ll have to do some tests to know for sure.” Molly said shaking her head.

Carwin nodded, “Give me an hour to do some research and then I’ll do a sending.”

Molly nodded. “Thank you, Carwin.” Then she waved her hand over the bowl and the image of Carwin collapsed with a small splash.

“Now let’s see what those three mutants are up to!” Molly said to herself. Her chanting took on a different tone this time and when she waved her hand over the water it shimmered and then the image of the farm house where Kate had been held came into view. There was a van parked in front but no one was in sight. Molly moved her hand over the image and it shifted from one angle to another. Then a person flew down out of the clear sky. He wore normal street clothes and had dark hair, a muscular build, and a hawk like nose.

The door to the house banged open and two other men walked out to meet the flying mutant. The three looked enough alike that Molly figured they were brothers and the three were likely responsible for taking her guest.

“What did Allura say?”

“That we’re all idiots, and that she’s coming here to make sure we don’t screw up again.” The flyer said.

“What when?” The brother with a little grey at his temples asked.

The flyer tossed a gem onto the ground. “Uhm . . . now, I guess.”

The gem started glowing and a line of energy slashed up from it. When the bright purple light reached ten feet it sort of turned sideways creating a circular portal in the air. After a second a woman stepped through. Even though she was scrying the scene, Molly had no trouble seeing the woman. She was wearing a black dress and was hunched over like a crone. Her grey hair and walking stick gave Molly the impression of age. Although, she seemed to move on light feet toward the brothers and as she did the gate snapped out of existence. When it did Molly noticed that the gem crumbled to dust.

“Fools! I need that girl. Her father must agree to take me to the cave, he’s the only one to survive the trip. What have you done to find her?” The woman’s voice was strong and cracked over the three like a whip.

“Mistress Allura, we are searching, but she mutated.” Ripple said, only to be interrupted by Dirty. “She must be an Exemplar like her mother because she tore the bars off the cell we had her in!”

Molly waved her hand over the bowl causing the scene to zoom in. “That woman looks familiar.” she muttered.

The figure of Allura became much larger and Molly saw that even though her hair was grey and she was bent over, she had almost no wrinkles. In fact her face was quite pretty. Then Allura froze and looked up at Molly, “Fools, someone is spying on us right now!” She lifted her cane and the crystal mounted into the handle flared purple.

The scene collapsed and the water within the bowl burst into steam. Molly leaned back just in time to avoid being scalded. After a second she rubbed her temples feeling the start of a headache.

“I know that face.” Molly said, her eyes still closed. Then it came to her, she’d attended a gathering to celebrate the winter solstice a decade ago. It had been hosted by a Wizard going by the name Solas. He’d specialized in the manipulation of light and Molly had attended because she’d been interested in some of his more advanced glamors. Solas had introduce his apprentice, Allura, to the guests. In Molly’s mind’s eye the girl had been a stunning beauty with long dark hair and fair skin. There was a strong resemblance between the crone she’d seen and the girl she remembered. It was like Allura had aged fifty years in the last ten. Except her face. Her face remained youthful, Molly wondered if this was more of a curse than a blessing.

Continuing to massage her temples Molly stood up and paced around the room trying to think. Allura had been gifted, but not particularly strong. The gate spell alone spoke of strength. Then there was the fact that she’d sensed Molly. Molly knew that her touch was light and subtle, only the most skilled mages would have been able to detect her.

“In ten short years the apprentice goes from student to master?” she said. Then Molly shook her head, “The signs are all there, she must have done something to gain so much so quickly. But at what cost?” Molly knew the ambition and foolishness of humanity and felt pity for Allura. “I wonder what is in this cave and why is she so desperate to have it?”


CONTINUED IN CHAPTER SIX



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