As always, the Wednesday Briefers are a group of authors who write 500-1,000 word flash stories/chapters based on prompts every Wednesday. We welcome authors of any genre, and if you're interested in joining, let me know and I can point you in the right direction! This week, my flash prompt is: Make a Mr. Ed reference.
Take Flight Part 17
Wordless shouting surrounded Birch. He stood, frozen, locked in horror as Sayer changed. His dazzling white hair darkened to black and his skin became gray and pebbled. His eyes, now a malevolent red, began to shine.
“Sayer,” Birch whispered.
His beloved raised his hands and the shouts became fever pitched. Two muscle bound fae, the ones who’d been guarding the inside of the doorway, shoved the butts of their weapons into Sayer’s stomach, knocking him back.
“Move, my lord!” Birch stumbled to the side as they rush forward. The iron door of the cage clanged shut. The guards cursed as they drew the bolt on the lock.
“What did you do?” Birch rushed to the cage. His hands flexed around the bars. He wanted to touch Sayer. He couldn’t reach him through the bars.
“He’ll be fine, my lord. The iron of the cage cut off the magic. It hits Darklings that way at first. They collapse from the loss of the magic.”
“Will he…?” Birch stared at the limp form that looked nothing like the Sayer he knew in either his human or fae form.
“He won’t change back. They never do.” The second guard grunted.
Birch glanced at the guards. He took a deep breath and let go of the bars. “Watch him for me, okay?”
Both fae bowed. “Of course, my lord.”
Walking away from Sayer took every ounce of Birch’s will. He couldn’t collapse in hysterics. There was no one else to save Sayer. He had to find the Alchemist and hope he got a fix on the magic’s source.
Birch began to run. He could do this. His chest hurt by the time Croll guided him to the roof.
The guard turned with his hand on his sword when Birch burst out onto the roof. He dropped his hand and bowed. “Sorry, my lord.”
“Did you see it?” Birch waved the guard off. He rushed over to the Alchemist where he stood at the edge of the roof next Vernon. “Did he draw enough magic?”
“Yes.” The Alchemist pointed toward a large forest beyond the field of flowers where the other Darkling had been. “Out there. I can still see it, even after the flow cut off.”
“Where is Lord Sayer?” Vernon asked.
Birch felt tears sting his eyes. He blinked several times and took a deep breath. “The taint was too much for him when he drew in that much magic.”
“He’s a Darkling?” Vernon gasped.
“Only until we figure out what is causing this. We’ll save him and the other fae too.” Birch swung around. “Let’s go.”
“We’re going without him. Croll, you’re in charge here, as Sayer wanted. We need some fae to go with us. A mix of types, just in case we find something magic could help with.”
“I anticipated that.” Croll headed down the wide stairs. “I have six guards waiting for you. One Dinnshenchas who can manipulate fire, two dryads who can manipulate nature, a Formorian water fae, and Ledishe. They can manipulate air, and they have a special affinity for nature. They stay far from the borders, usually. They’re unable to handle the destruction humans wreak on the land.”
Birch froze on the last step. “And it never occurred to you before to use these Ledishe to track the imbalance in the magic?”
Croll shook his head. “No one ever looked at the problem like you did. We never considered that the magic might be polluted deliberately by an outside source.”
That shocked Birch. It seemed so obvious. “Why else would magic, stable for eons, I’m assuming, suddenly go wrong?”
“We can discuss our nearsighted inability to adapt to new problems in our realm, or you can go find the source and stop it,” Croll snapped.
“Asshole.” But he was right though Birch hated to admit it. He kinda liked that Croll wasn’t all ‘my lord’ this and that to him.
“I want my friend back.” Croll looked away.
Birch felt bad. He’d forgotten that other people cared about Sayer too. “We’ll find the source.”
“Horses? Really?” Birch eyed the tall animal he was supposed to ride. “Where’s the saddle?”
“You don’t need one.” Vernon helped the Alchemist hop onto his horse.
“They’re fae horses. They won’t let you fall.” Ange, one the dryads, grabbed his horse’s mane and leaped gracefully onto its back.
“If you say so.” Birch used a rock to hop up. The back of the horse was a lot wider than he expected, and not nearly as comfortable as it looked. The horse looked back at him and nickered, showing its teeth.
“Um, hi.” Birch leaned forward and patted the horse on shoulder. Land with no cars… so he got stuck riding Mr. Ed. “You don’t talk right?”
The other guards mounted their horses.
“You still have the trace of the magic, right?” Birch asked the Alchemist.
He tapped his glasses. “These don’t lie. South.”
“Let’s go.” Birch grabbed two handfuls of the horse’s mane and held on for dear life. “Flying doesn’t sound so bad now,” he muttered.
Birch quickly grew accustomed to the swaying beat of the horse. Plans swirled in his mind. He knew how to neutralize oil damage, to rebuild ecosystems… but he knew next to nothing about magic. Sayer was supposed to be here.
“I’ll figure it out.” He had the help of the Alchemist, and a variety of fae guards dedicated to Sayer.
“Find the source of the taint, fix it, get Sayer back. Easy as pie.”
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