82/366 – Varis’ Veritable Ventures Vol. 16 (Cont.)

Continued from 81/366 – Varis’ Veritable Ventures Vol. 16

“For starters, stop waving that wand around,” Varis said, pushing himself from the wall. “Now is not the time to get hysterical. We have to remain calm and see who we can help.”

“That’s a good plan,” Aislan said as she walked for the door, “The people need help.”

“Not out there, silly girl,” Varis said, “I wouldn’t open that door.”

“Where are we supposed to help people then?” Gladian asked.

“Let’s start with this man,” Varis said, approaching the bar. “What can I do to help you today?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Peyton asked.

“Nothing, that I’m aware of,” Varis replied, scratching his chin, “I’m just a helpful kind of person.”

“This isn’t the time for jokes,” Gladian said.

“Who’s joking?” Varis asked. “So, good sir, barkeep, what can we do to help you?”

“You said that girl is undead, right?” Peyton asked.

“That is accurate,” Varis said as the sound of crashing furniture against a wall came from upstairs.

“You could stop her!” Peyton said.

“Done!” Varis replied, turning away from the bar, “Come on, my merry companions! There’s assistance to be given!”

Aislan and Gladian watched him march toward the stairs. They shared a look of disbelief before following him. Varis reached the top of the stairs as another crash sounded from the room Peyton had given to the girl.

“Hello?” Varis called as he knocked on the door, “May we come in? We have some undead to expunge from this place.”

What looked like a chair leg punched through the door, stopping two inches from Varis’ face. He shrugged and looked at Aislan and Gladian.

“I don’t know if she wants us to go in,” Varis said.

“Please move to the side,” Gladian said, walking past Aislan. “I’ll open it.”

“I don’t know-” Varis managed before the door opened, and the ‘girl’ inside came flying out.

Gladian screamed as the tiny grey-skinned figure that had once been a tired girl wrapped around his face. He stumbled back against the wall, fighting to get the creature off his head.

“Hold still!” Varis yelled as he pulled a long staff from one of the pouches from his waist. He swung hard at the girl, but Gladian spun to slam her into the wall, and the staff connected with a loud bang as it glanced off Gladian’s armor.

Aislen raised a hand with fingers extended, muttering a quick incantation, and the girl seized up, releasing Gladian’s head before falling to the floor.

“What the hell was that?” Gladian yelled at Varis.

“I told you that I didn’t think she wanted us in there,” he replied before turning to Aislan, “Good call paralyzing her, but you may want to-”

The creature twitched and flipped onto all fours as though she were a crab. She scuttled down the stairs as Gladian drew his sword and swung.

“Shit! Get her!” Gladian cried as Aislan ran down the stairs after her.

“Stay away from me!” Peyton yelled as they reached the bottom of the stairs. He pointed the wand and fired off a spell that erupted in a massive fireball in the center of the room.

Gladian wrapped his arms around his sister, taking the brunt of the heat on his back as he cried in pain. The creature cried an unearthly scream of pain as Varis descended the stairs.

“Whoa, buddy!” Varis said, “I told you to put that wand down.”

Varis pulled a lute from another pouch and plucked the strings as he spoke. Peyton, Gladian, and Aislen all locked in place as the creature in the center of the room, charred and smoking, stared at him with a curious expression.

“It’s time for you to leave, little one,” Varis said, still plucking merrily.

The creature’s limbs began to move up and down in time with the music as it marched toward the front door. The door opened on its own as it reached the entryway and disappeared out into the chaos of the street. The door slammed, and Varis stopped playing, releasing the three others in the tavern.

“What is wrong with you?” Aislan asked. “She could have killed us!”

“It,” Varis corrected, “undead aren’t really he or she per se. Furthermore, this kind barkeep asked if we could stop her, not kill her. I vehemently stand against killing personally, so I-”

“You’re insane!” Gladian interrupted. “You are positively insane!”

“I prefer eccentric,” Varis said, though Gladian and Aislen had turned to speak with each other in confidence. Rather than be rude, he waited while they deliberated.

“I think we have to stop what’s happening outside,” Gladian whispered to Aislan.

“I agree. Should we start by finding the guy commanding these guys and attack him?” she asked.

“It may be hard to locate him,” Gladian said. “What about all the innocent people?”

“Maybe that would be a better task for this guy,” Aislan suggested as she motioned toward Varis.

“Okay,” Gladian said as he stood up and faced Varis. “Do you think you can keep the innocent people of this town safe from the attacking forces?”

“Define innocent?” Varis said. “I find the definition to be rather loose sometimes.”

“I’m taking that as a no,” Aislan replied.

“Wait! It’s not a no! I’m simply requesting further clarification. I could easily save the children that haven’t done anything wrong, but what about the man who is committing adultery?” Varis said, pointing through the wall. “Or the woman stealing from the inn down the street? The vagrants and thieves? I need further clarification because more things are going on than one atta-”

“Stop the attack! For the sake of the gods, stop the damn attack!” Peyton erupted.

“Fine!” Varis said, shaking his head as he walked forward, opened the door and stepped into the swirling chaos of the street where people were being pursued by what seemed to be hundreds of smoke creatures scooping them up. Varis plucked a few strings and floated into the air as Gladian and Aislan came out behind him. He spun in place before nodding to himself.

Varis adjusted his grip on the neck of his lute and strummed a single chord. Everything in the town came to a grinding halt, except the citizens. Every smoke creature vanished as quickly as they had arrived, leaving a single black figure standing on the East tower glaring in their direction.

Varis returned to the ground and looked at Gladian and Aislen with a self-satisfied expression.

“Better?” he asked.


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