From time to time, I like to share the fictional pieces I do for my characters. This piece is a dream that Coegi (Storm Sorcerer) had after a particularly lengthy battle.
Taking a deep breath, Coegi held it for just a moment before relaxing and letting it go, allowing the energy to build up within him. Feeling the hair stand up on the back of his neck, he tensed briefly and let the lightning surge crackle fitfully. It was difficult holding the energy like this, but he hadn’t been given the word yet, and he had to be ready. Only by a great deal of painful practice had he been able to do this, so letting the lightning go to soon wasn’t an option.
“Not just yet, Sparky, “ The gnome in the light blue coveralls waved him off, and checked a reading on one of the seemingly hundreds of dials and indicators that covered the wall. Coegi didn’t understand a lick of it…well, that wasn’t entirely true. He understood the project was supposed to convert sea water into fresh water, fresh water that was needed for the interior kingdoms. Magic could only do so much, so the gnomes (as they often did) looked for a technological solution.
After a great deal of experimentation, they managed to invent a device that would sustain the same kind of lightning energy Coegi produced naturally. That device, in turn, would somehow (Coegi really didn’t know) convert the sea water into fresh water. The only problem, was that the device needed to be charged with energy before it could begin to run. Coegi likened it to smacking a mule with a whip. The mule will pull the cart just fine, but you have to smack it with the whip to get it moving. Despite jokes to the contrary…Coegi was the whip.
Focusing his breathing, Coegi stared through the distorted air around him, smelling the tang of ozone the energy created. He could see Kessel leaning this way and that on the step-ladder, her pink dyed pig tails whipping back and forth as she worked. The young gnome as serious as a dragon, but Coegi couldn’t help but smile as he watched. He adored her, after all, and loved to watch her work at something she thought was important. After a final adjustment with some tool Coegi had already forgotten the name of, Kessel stepped back off the ladder and walked over to the reinforced glass panel overlooking the device. Lowering her ever present goggles into place, she waved at Coegi, and stuck her thumb in the air.
“Okay, Sparky,” she shouted, over the roar of the machinery. “Zap it!”
Coegi relaxed and let the lightning surge flow through him. Using his hands, he aimed as best he could towards a large metal globe at the far end of the mechanism. With an air-splitting BOOM, the lighting surge struck the globe and crackled all about its surface. Ignoring the strange sounds coming from the arcane machinery, Coegi took a deep breath, letting the lightning surge flow again. Again, the surge struck the globe. This time, the lightning began to emit from the globe itself, into the depths below.
“Is that good?” Coegi shouted back. It was difficult to hear himself speak over the calamitous noise of the machinery.
“Yeah, Hon!” Kessel shouted back. Walking about the opening in the floor, Kessel consulted with several of the other gnomes working on the project. Here and there, a mark was made on a clip board, or a dial was turned just slightly in some direction. Coegi really didn’t care, he was just happy to have hit the target as requested. Fascinated with the glowing blue arcs of lightning that coursed into the machine, Coegi didn’t immediately notice the tugging at his belt.
“Hey, Sparky. What have I told you about not staring directly at the machine.” Coegi looked down to see Kessel smiling at him, a smudge of grease the only mark against an otherwise rosy cheek.
“Sorry, Kess. I guess I’ve never seen a storm’s power harnessed inside a room before. Takes a little getting used to.”
“Yep, it’s something alright. I think the workmen have the monitoring under control, though. We’ll let the device run a few hours and then shut it down. By the way, you did great. The charge on the lightning surge was exactly within the expected parameters. Do you wanna get some lunch?” Coegi blinked as Kessel’s rapid-fire statements blew past him. He was only now getting used to processing everything she said, as fast as she said it. Kessel stood there patiently, aware that the poor human had to take a moment to think through what she said. Smiling, she extended her hand.
“Sure!” Coegi finally answered. Kessel’s hand was tiny compared to Coegi’s, so he extended a finger and she grabbed it happily.
If any of the other gnomes in the lab noticed the two of them walking hand in hand, they were too polite to make mention of it. Coegi and Kessel managed to get about half-way to the bulkhead door when Kessel froze, causing Coegi to stop short.
“Do you hear that?” Kessel cocked her head towards the lightning machine in the lab.
“What am I supposed to be hearing, Kess?” Coegi struggled to hear something different, but his human ears were no match for the young artificer’s beside him.
“Shhhh!” A moment later she was chucking her goggles at him and running towards the machine shouting. “Garmi! Pilote! Something’s wrong. Can’t you hear that?”
Coegi only half ran after her in protest, but it was soon clear that she was right. The machine (as far as Coegi’s rather limited understanding could make out) didn’t seem to be functioning as before. Going back to the place where he had originally been told to stand, he waited anxiously while Kessel consulted with several of the workers. He watched as Kessel jogged back over to the viewing platform. Making a note on her own clipboard, she turned her head towards Coegi and shouted,
“Gonna need you to hit it one more time, Sparky. There’s some resistance building up, but I think we can overcome it. Just hit the metal sphere one more time, okay?”
Coegi nodded his head in understanding and eyeing the metallic sphere, let the lightning surge flow through him again.
Immediately, Coegi sensed that something was terribly wrong. His lightning surge power was a supposed to be brief, like the spark you get from rubbing your head against wool, and then touching a metal cup. Instead, the lightning continued to flow, and seemed to surge back and forth through him like some horrible tide. Immune to the arcing energy himself, he could see the bolts of energy grow wider and more powerful as they continued to resonate between himself and the machine. The metallic sphere he connected with began to glow with a dull red, and the room began to shake. Bells and claxons sounded as the gnome workers scrambled to get clear of the machine. Hearing the sound of shattering glass, he was horrified to see the platform giving away from underneath Kessel. Struggling to break himself from the lightning, Coegi heard an ear-splitting KRACKATOOM and his world went white.
“NO!! Coegi sat bolt upright on the hard wooden table he’d chosen for a bed. Sweating, he took several minutes catching his breath and wondering if he had been shouting in his dream or out loud. He hoped it had been the former. As the nightmare faded, he looked around the dimly illuminated room for signs that he’d disturbed anyone.
Seeing no one moving around, Coegi threw his legs over the side of the table and peered into the room beyond. Tor, Izzy, and Lilli were crashed on the rather opulent mound of pillows left behind by the gnoll shaman. Smiling, Coegi noted with amusement how while Izzy and Lilli could curl up on a single pillow, the tauren was utilizing six of them. Now as the terrible sounds of Coegi’s nightmare became distant, they were replaced by the equally terrible sound of Tor’s snoring. Oddly enough, the sound was more comforting than anything else.
The smell in the room was pretty bad, but had been abated some by stuffing the gnoll shaman into one of the large canopic jars that had managed to remain intact. The parts of the abominations had been piled into a corner as well, although Iggy seemed to be fascinated by the heads. Coegi was fairly certain that the young goblin was joking about eating them, but he didn’t bother examining them that closely to see if the goblin had made good on his word.
With a yawn, Coegi stretched and hopped off the table that had served as his bed. Padding over to the chamber’s entrance, he peered outside. The sun was just now lowering itself below the buildings, casting long shadows across the sandy ground. Night would soon be here. Peering into the growing shadows, nothing stirred, so Coegi dashed around the corner and relieved himself. Returning to the shaman’s chambers, he met Othlo returning from the room containing the statue. With a silent nod, they acknowledged each other. Standing quietly together in the chamber, Coegi finally whispered,
“It’s still a couple of hours before sunset. Why don’t you catch some sleep, and I’ll take final watch?”
Othlo acknowledged Coegi with a yawn and a wave. Walking back into the room containing the statue, Othlo rolled out his bedroll and curled up on it. Two minutes later, he was asleep.
Quietly tidying up his own sleeping area, he stole another glance into the shaman’s room. His eyes fell upon Lilli and he was transported to another moment. Even after this much time, he could feel the loss. Shaking his head clear of the memory, he sat down within the entrance to the rooms and stared up into the darkening sky. The night couldn’t come soon enough.