Wow, it’s been a busy week. Had a novella come rushing forth and demand to be created. Then we set up Mystichawker Press to start doing themed anthologies. See the submissions page to find out more about the two anthologies we’re taking submissions for.
So I finally got back to Dr. Gnome today. I’ve been thinking about Alchemy and the little guy all week and have had several exciting thoughts which you’ll get to see play out over the next week or so. But here’s the latest installment.
The sound of sword cleaving bone rang across the hillside. A loud thud shook the mountain as a manticore went down. Another of the beasts bounced off Alchemy’s hastily erected shield. The wizard glanced over his shoulder toward Staghorn. The big Ursa was down. The dead manticore covered the lower half of his body. The Goblin on its back leveled its exploding rod at him.
Alchemy frantically flicked his wand. “Burn!” a huge fireball erupted. It seared across the hillside. A deafening boom from the exploding rod sounded as the fireball engulfed the Goblin’s green head.
“Alchemy, look out!” Dolce` screamed behind him.
The wizard dropped to the hard ground and rolled just as one of the Goblin-ridden manticores avoided his shield and flew at him. He gestured at one of the large boulders nearby and then made a similar looping gesture toward the manticore. “Snare!” This was the first of the beast that flew low enough that the spell might work. A rope formed between the rock and the monster halting the thing in its flight and bringing it down to the ground. With a shudder the manticore died, having broken its neck in the crash. The little green Goblin flew from its back and rolled down the hill.
There were still at least two manticores in the air. They circled high above. Alchemy wanted to run over and check on Staghorn. He resisted. He needed some rest. Too many spells in a short time were starting to weigh on him. Dolce` handed him a water skin.
“Here, you need this.”
The water was warm, but refreshing. After savoring a long drink, while not taking his eyes off the circling manticores, Alchemy handed the skin back to the Elven woman.
“Thanks,” he smiled at her. He wished the Goblins had waited a little longer before starting their attack. With any luck they’d all get out of this with their skins intact and he could explore Dolce` sweets later.
Pointing it straight up, Alchemy flipped his wand around in a tight circle. “Burn!” he tried to visualize the fireball erupting right below the closest manticore. If the magical attack appeared too soon, the beast could easily maneuver away from it. Too close and it wouldn’t do much damage.
The fireball appeared right where he needed it to. The manticore saw it and tried to swing away, but it was close enough that even with the change in course, it still managed to catch the center of the monster’s wing. The beast’s scream was eerie as it plummeted toward the hillside. The Goblin baled off its back, and some kind of strange green cloth bubble carried the little green man slowly toward the ground.
Alchemy wasn’t in the mood to have the little man get away. He pointed his wand at the green bubble. “Burn!” The bubble wasn’t maneuverable like the manticore had been. The fireball struck it. It burst into flames. The Goblin screamed as it fell toward the hard unforgiving ground of Manticore hill.
The last Goblin wheeled his manticore and headed for the far side of the hill. The wizard was too powerful. The little green man had lost count of how many of his brethren the Elf had killed since coming to Buteamore. It would take more than Goblins and Manticores to bring him to heel.
On the far side of Manticore Hill, a large cave opened up amidst the nesting monsters. The Goblin turned his mount downward and landed.
“Where are the others?” a Troll asked, coming to take the reins of the manticore.
“The wizard and the Ursa killed them,” the Goblin snarled. “We need something bigger and stronger than manticores and exploding rods!”
“Then take the wyvern,” the irritated voice of Dr. Gnome sounded throughout the cavern.
The Goblin paled to the color of new fern leaves. He looked across the cave to where two massive Trolls struggled to drag an enormous beast out of the shadows.
As the last manticore flew off toward the north, Alchemy ran to where Buck Staghorn lay beneath the last monster he’d killed. Part of the Ursa’s large form lay under the manticore’s gore covered body. With the carnage covering so much, it was impossible to see where the fur of the manticore stopped and Staghorn’s began.
“Staghorn are you alright?” Alchemy called, running toward his friend. Dolce` followed a few steps behind.
The big Ursa didn’t respond. Alchemy’s heart raced as he cleared the short distance to the scene on the downward slope. Staghorn’s massive sword stuck out of the neck of the monster. It had cleaved through the head and stopped when it struck the massive shoulder blades. Gore still dripped down from the blade onto the Ursa trapped beneath the carcass. The huge furry chest wasn’t moving. Alchemy knew this wasn’t a good sign. He dropped to his knees beside his friend.
“Buck?!?” he called as he tried to see if the Ursa was breathing.
As he touched the side of Staghorn’s face, the shaggy head rolled with an unnatural jerk. A large hole dominated the other side of the Ursa’s head. Alchmey felt warm tears start to roll down his face. Staghorn had died defending him. He’d never had another person do something so selfless before. How was he going to tell Gavin? His friend had been so happy the last few days, and it was due to the Ursa, that now lay dead, buried under the body of a monster.
A soft hand touched his shoulder. Alchemy turned and looked up into Dolce`’s violet eyes. He knew his own were watery with tears.
“He must have been a good man,” she said softly, running her finger up Alchemy’s face to catch one of his tears. He just nodded as he stood to move away from the carnage.
The sound of an exploding rod, followed by a lead ball bouncing off a boulder next to them turned Alchemy’s attention down the hill. The Goblin rider of the dead manticore stood there frantically pouring something into the rod.
Alchemy grabbed Dolce`’s knife and flung it at the little man. It landed with a satisfying thunk in the bald green head and stuck there.
“I think that’s enough from you,” the scratchy voice of a Goblin said from behind them.
Dolce` screamed before Alchemy could turn around.