07 January 2013 @ 11:44 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Sixth - Section the Second - Magic - 954AD  
It was morning before I regained conciousness and I felt much better than I thought was possible. And in a way, I suppose I was, if not for the magical concoction Gaius and Alice had made up for me I was sure I’d still have been an a world of pain.

The drink whatever it had been wasn’t a complete cure I realised as soon as I sat up, for one thing my muscles were quite stiff, they might not have hurt, but I certainly wasn’t going to moving quickly any time soon.

Still, I attempted to get up because I remembered that as I had nodded off the rest of the group had still being fighting.

It seemed I was the first to wake up and the first thing I saw when I finally manged to sit upright was the rest of the group sleeping away. It seemed peaceful enough so apparently Alice was right, fighting wasn’t all that out of the ordinary for these people. That was a relief.

I wasn’t sure what to do being the first person up, politeness seemed to suggest that I should get breakfast or something going, but I wasn’t exactly feeling all that steady so I wasn’t sure how good an idea that would be. I supposed though that I should at least refill the waterskins. I felt like an old man as I struggled to get to my feet though, I was surprised my bones didn’t audibly creak as I got to my feet, but at least I managed to stay upright and even walk around collecting the water skins and then heading over to the stream to fill them.

By the time I returned with the water skins Maxim had awoken and was rubbing his eyes before looking at me in surprise.

"Is that you, Geoffrey?"

"Good morning," I greeted him before gingerly sitting down next the low burning camp fire and offering one of the water skins to him.

He took it gratefully and took a deep sip, then handed it back to me with a smile.

"Thanks." He paused for a moment. "You know you're not bad, Geoff, horse riding excepted, I wouldn't let Rod and Richard get to you."

I looked at him in surprised and then smiled myself. "Thank you." I said rather awkwardly, not used to being praised... or having friends really. "Gaius mentioned that you wanted to come to the Labyrinth most of all."

Maxim sat up and gave a nod. "Ever since I heard about it. They say all the Druids and Priestesses of the Lake have faced the maze. If I can get in there, even if I can't make it all the way through...well, I just know that it'll make a difference in how I practise my magic."

I had to admit that comment made me curious. "Are there different ways to do magic, then?"

"'Course there are," he shook his head with a laugh as if he couldn't believe I'd have to ask such a question. "About as many ways as their are people with magic."He made a face. "My way isn't particularly good I have to admit, if my abilities are compared to everyone else's. Gaius is by far the best of us, he picks up spells a lot quicker than the rest of us. Alice is next, she's brilliant with animals and then the rest of them are pretty much even until you get to me. I haven't even mastered summoning yet." He picked up a stick and began poking at the dirt. "Sometimes I wonder if I even have magic. I mean I did something once, but I've done nothing since, maybe I was just imaging it."

I listened carefully, wondering if all things considered it was that good of an idea for Maxim to run into the maze. If it really was a place of great magic perhaps it wouldn't take too kindly to such an invasion. But then I could hardly call myself an expert on the subject so I decided to keep quiet.

"So as soon as these sleepyheads wake up we'll get to see just what the Labyrinth has to offer."

I’m not sure if the rest of them heard Maxim, what did I know about magic and what it could do, but at that moment everyone else started shifting about and rubbing sleep from their eyes.

“Geoffrey!” Gaius sat up and beamed in my direction. “You’re up and about.”

I gave a shurg. “I guess whatever it is you made up yesterday worked.”

Gaius turned to Alice who had also sat up by now smiled just as pleased and the two of them may have give Richard a rather pointed look, but nothing more said.

Breakfast was a quiet affair, the rest of the group, I supposed they were all thinking about the Labrinyth and what was going to happen once they entered it.

But of course there was still some riding to go yet.

I suggeste to Gaius that perhaps I should just remain where I was.

“That’s not such a good idea,” Osric remarked looking up from his horse. “There’s always bandits about and no offense but you don’t look as if you can fight off a rabbit, never mind a bandit.”

The rest of the group concurred with this assessment and I realised to my great dismay that I was defintely going to have to get back into the saddle and for a few more hours at that!

I will say one thing, the rest of the group did at least show some sympathy for me, offering me their blankets to place over my horse’s saddle in the hope that would lessen the impact of the ride and of course Alice and Gaius gave me a poultice to use. I was hoping for more of that magical brew but since it had the side effect of knocking a person out I sadly had to forego it.

I spent the ride mostly praying that the blankets and poultice would work and on the whole they did, it certainly wasn’t a painless ride, but I didn’t feel any worse than I had that morning ao that was something.

We arrived near the entrance of the great Labyrinth around noon, its high shrubbery almost overwhealming in its size and scale. The excitement of the rest of the group was palatable. I meanwhile was beginning to think I really wouldn’t be well served by going inside the maze, if nothing else...well...I just didn’t have the magic.

While the rest of the group were preparing themselves I spoke my thoughts to Gaius. Finally finishing by reminding him I wasn’t exactly in the best physical condition, despite the fact I could at least walk now.

Gaius looked a little disappointed, I don’t know why he wanted me to join them so badly, but he considered for a moment.

“I suppose someone should stay just outside the maze, with something that we can see while we’re in there, in case we get lost, that way we can make it back.”

Actually, that was a very good idea and I was a little concerned no-one in the group had thought about that before, just what was the plan if we all entered and got lost in there? Hope for the best?

“A very good idea, I’d be happy to be the signal man and assure you all get out safely.” I said with a smile.

With that decision made, Gaius called the group back together to inform them of my new position in this endeavour and asking for some suggestions on what exactly I should use as a signaling device.

Eventually we decided on a long pole with one of the horse’s saddle covers as a flag. Of course we didn’t actually have a pole to hand nor a saw so I wondered how exactly we were going to get a branch or anything of that nature to use. Of course, I had forgotten what magic could do.

Richard almost casually reached out his hand towards one of the imposing trees not too far away and with an incantation brought down a massive branch! I almost jumped out of skin, which proved to be a poor idea, I definitely hadn’t recovered from the ride down.

Now that we had the pole I wondered how exactly I was supposed to raise it, especially with my muscles still stiff.

Of course magic took care of that as well, which did make me wonder what my role as the signal man would be exactly.

We needed to move the branch closer to the maze before raising it, of course, which was some tow hundred feet. This proved to be a geoup effort, excepting me.

It was quite something, seeing them work in tandem like that, for the first time I noticed something. Their eyes. As they lifted and moved the branch their eyes glowed golden. I had never noticed before.

It was Gaius and Alice who raised the branch once Maxim had secured the saddle blanket to it, not by magic though, which I had to admit made me feel better, although I could certainly see why he wanted the Labyrinth to have some effect on his abilities.

In the end, it appeared that my job would simply be ensuring the branch stayed upright although if it began to fall I really didn't know what, ifanuthing I was going to be able to do, it looked far to heavy for me to hold. Gaius assured me it was very stable and that I should have no trouble at all.

I nodded and wished them luck, Richard and Ian had the grace to look awkward and then without a further word, although a significant look seemed to pass between them all, they turned and headed through the entrance of the maze.

I watched as they rounded the first corner then disappeared...and that was the right word to use, they truly seemed to disappear. The ground and the path into the labrinyth were covered with leaves and when the group first entered I clearly heard the crunching sound of their footfalls, but once they round died that first corner, I no longer heard a sound.

At first I shrugged it off, the walls of the labrinyth were probably just extremely thick and thus blotted out the sounds of those inside it. Looked up at the tall branch with the red blanket fluttering in the breeze. That would ensure that they remained safe.

The first half an hour passed by rather slowly and quite uneventfully, in fact I found myself more than a little bored and wishing I had brought along something to read. Since I had neglected to do so I instead took in my surroundings, wondering if magical places had different fuana and flora to other more mundane areas. Frankly, I wasn't able to see anything that stood out, excepting the maze, of course and I wasn't game to move any closer to it.

As three-quarters of an hour became one I started to feel uncomfortable, a sensation I chalked up to Gaius and Alice's magical brew starting to wear off, certainly my body seemed to feel very twitchy indeed. I looked back to the camp and wondered if there was any of it left, I didn't relish the thought of my body suddenly exploding in pain here all by myself. But at the same time I didn’t want to move too far away from the branch or the entrance to the maze, so I stayed where I was.

As time continued to pass I became more agitated and it wasn’t all down to the discomfort my muscles were in, I had a sense that something was wrong, and finally I decided to call out, they couldn’t have got too far into the maze surely?

But my calls went unanswered and there was more than that, a fog seemed to be moving in, a fog that came from absolutely nowhere and made no sense at all. It was past noon now, not the time fog usually formed at all and it hadn’t rained recently nor was it a particularly warm day, could the fog be magic? As soon as the thought occurred to me I felt that was the answer, but why? And who had conjured it? Was it one of the group or was someone else here?

The thought made a shiver run down my spine, I felt exposed and unprotected, what defence would I have against some with magic? None at all. Even as I had that thought though I noticed a thick branch on the ground, which I siddled over too and with some difficulty managed to bend down and pick it up. As I hefted it in my hand I really didn’t know what I’d do with it, but it made me feel a bit more secure.

At least until I heard the scream.

It tore through the silence and seemed to jolt my very bones, and I couldn't tell if it was human or something else. I couldn't even tell if it came from the maze or from somewhere behind me. Although in any case it was bad, bad news, I clutched my own branch tighter and began to pray. For the first time I considered how Christianity warned about magic, but it had been talking about tricksters and shysters, surely, not this type of magic. This type of magic was like nothing I'd heard of before. And that was frightening, because I had no idea what it could do.

Another scream rent the air and it sounded like it was just in front of me, the fog had rolled in over the labrinyth and all around me, obscuring the entrance, I squinted, thinking that I saw a shadow and that someone was coming out, but a minute passed and nothing materialised.

My heart was thundering in my chest so loudly it was a wonder I could hear anything, let alone the tiny noises like leaves cracking under foot that had me turning in circles expecting someone or something to appear at any moment and attack me.

But nothing came and eventually I was so dizzy I had to stop. I wondered how much time had passed. Where was Gaius and the rest of the group? Should I go I into the maze to look for them? Dare I go into it? That question seemed moot because I couldn't see the Labyrinth anymore and I couldn't tell which way I was facing. The maze could be to my left or right and I wouldn't even know.

Then came a noise that was so loud it rattled the very ground, a noise that was indescrible, it was not human nor was it animal, at least it wasn't an animal I knew of. As it died away I was gripped by panic and began yelling out the names of the group, wishing desparately that a familiar face would appear. But no-one did appear, in fact the fog got so thick I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face! The air seemed to become more and more oppressive, not like air at all and I found myself struggling to breathe. I was suffocating! Dying! I had no idea what to do, how to escape. I was going to die here, all all alone with no-one to tell my parents what had happened to me.

And then...something grabbed my arm.
Current Mood: scared